Kali Mena! (Have a Good Month!)

Trip Start Sep 14, 2008
Trip End Dec 15, 2008

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Flag of Greece  , Macedonia Region,
Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ya Sas!

Sorry about the delay on this blog guys, with school actually giving us homework we've been doing our best to fit everything into the day. So our last blog was about the island, and to be honest this week really hasn't been that interesting. Classes got harder, we learned some more Greek, and Megan and I had a small little dinner party with our roommates and caught up on Heroes and One Tree Hill. The first night we bought some veggies from the little market across the street and got a bunch of vegetables for one euro. Red onions, green onions, green and red bell peppers (Although they look nothing like ours, they taste exactly the same if not better!). We used some pesto sauce Megan had bought in Agistri and I cooked up some chicken breasts with olive oil, oregano, and garlic salt. Mom has taught me well : ) Thursday night was our last night of classes for the week since Megan and I were cool and made sure our schedules didn't have classes on Friday, and we tried to coordinate a big plan for both of our buildings to hang out and go to a bar. So Megan and I got ready, hung out taking goofy pictures in her room, and waited for our friends to come over so we could head out. Unforunately that never happened. We ended up getting ditched by both buildings and in the end it was only Allie, Megan, and I. Instead of letting the night go to waste we decided to go for dessert and headed to the waterfront looking for a good place to grab some. Our first choice was Flocafé, since we had been there before and loved it, but unforunately it was closed when we made it there. So changing our plans once again we decided to keep walking and try and find another place to have dessert. We cruised past a lot of bars and when we got to Aristotle square, we changed our plans again and decided maybe Parfait would be a good choice. In the other direction. So as we started walking back we heard someone say "Look at those Americans..." Megan and Allie seemed to be oblivious though and just kept walking, I kept my head down and stayed behind them hoping that who ever it was didn't want to start anything. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.
I turned around and....surprise! It was a friend of ours from school, Stefanos, who just happened to be working at the bar that night. I stayed behind and chatted with him for a little bit until I noticed Megan and Allie were still wandering away. I said bye and when I caught up with them a hostess was agressively suggesting we sit at her bar. Of course Allie and Megan didn't want to be rude so we got ushered to an outside table that had small little couches for seats and it was pretty comfortable. Since our orginal plan was for dessert and we weren't keen on getting drinks, we flipped through their menu to see what they had. Before we had a chance to do so however, our waiter came by and handed out three glasses and opened a bottle of water and poured it into our glasses. Now, in Greece, if you have bottled water it costs extra. Tap water is free, but if you don't specify you'll pay at least 2 euros more on your bill. Which sucks. So before I even had a chance to say "Ohi" or "No" he filled our glasses and asked for our order. Allie asked for some time and as he walked away we realized that all this bar had was drinks. What sucked even more was that we couldn't just get up and leave because now we had to pay for our water. So we sat there and tried to devise several escape plans to leave without being noticed. But everytime we looked around our waiter made a motion to come to our table. As the girls sat there and tried to think of a way out, they sent me to ask Stefanos if the bar he worked at had desserts. And as was our luck that night, his bar didn't either. So we sat there and wondered how much the water was and if leaving 1,20 euros was enough. Allie and I put our money on the table but felt so awkward that anytime our waiter was close we would grab the money quickly afraid he might ask us why we were trying to leave so quickly. We did that little game for about five minutes until the party behind us got up and left. A bus boy came by and grabbing his attention we asked him how much the water was, "Poso kani, nehro?" And to our surprise again, he said..."Free". Before he could even scrunch up his face to ask why, we bolted from the bar weaving through the tables and away from our waiter.
We continued down the waterfront to Parfait and when we got inside decided to deviate from the usual Gelato we got and get some of the sweets they sold instead. Allie got a strawberry cheesecake, Megan got a portion of milk chocolate mousse coated in a shell of almonds and milk chocolate, and I got a white chocolate thingy with caramel swirls and a cookie-like crust on the bottom. Letting our feet rest for a bit we sat back and ate inside the cafe enjoying the rich flavors and watching the nightlife go by. On our way back the girls' feet were killing them from walking around all night, and when Megan and I got close I gave her a piggyback ride all the way to her door. And judging by the looks of the other people walking by, piggyback rides apparently aren't all that common.
Friday was the start of an amazing weekend here in Thessaloniki. Megan and I woke up early to start our day, taking our postcards to send out, and exchange the cash we've been unable to trade in until now. We started off with the bank first which for a Friday was EXTREMELY busy. They had a number system rather than lines, and we were 200 and 201 of the current 170. So when we finally got out of there we decided to hold off on the post office and instead checked out the shopping district for some warmer clothes and the gold Mom wouldn't stop raving about before we left lol. We visited a ton of places and in the process I bought 2 shirts and hoodie type thing, while Megan got a really nice white jacket and a cute purple top. We decided to try TGI Friday's for lunch since someone had raved to me before about how good it was, and we headed that way hoping for an experience far better than Applebee's. 
TGI Friday's is right next to Aristotle square and much like the bars and other restaurants that line the square, Friday's offers both indoor and outdoor seating that gave us a great view of the bay and square. We also happened to see that this weekend was the Thessitival, some kind of kid festival, and saw a stage being set up along with tons of booths and games. Our waitress was great, and had a huge red hat on that was really hilarious. We ordered a Chicken Pesto Sandwich and a Kung Pao Chicken, and they were both amazing. The best American food we've had since we've been here. When we were done, and quite stuffed at that, I had some pico de galo left on my plate and despite my protests, our waitress took my fork and fed me some more of it, insisting I had one more bite.  
While Jared made a new friend in our waitress, the rest of the time we were trying to ward off the dozens of people that stopped by our table. I think we finally saw gypsies Mrs. Davis, but rather than coming after us in the streets in packs, people of all ages (from 6 to 90 years old) tried to sell  us bootleg movies, cigarettes, mini toys, lighters, tissues, flowers, and balloons at our outdoor table. Each person had something completely different and random. At least we figured out how to get them to leave us alone--by not paying attention to them. Go figure. After lunch at our new favorite place, Jared and I started walking back home. Then we remembered that we still had postcards that we needed to mail out. We walked into the large building and stood in front of a woman behind one of the counters. I asked for stamps to mail our letters and postcards to the US and she handed me enough for mine and then moved over to stick them while Jared got his. I turned around and motioned Jared to go next, but a tall woman stepped in front and cut him off. We waited for her to finish, and Jared moved up. A second later a fat woman swoops in and takes his spot once again. What was the deal here? Finally, Jared got into the Greek spirit and stepped in front of the others and went straight for the counter. We stood at the counter next to the teller while we tried to fit the massive stamps onto the small space provided on the postcard. It was like a magic act trying to get them where both stamps could be seen, but also the address.
On our way back from the post office, I stopped at a shop on the main strip and purchased a scarf, which are ridiculously popular here. Since it has been chilly here, I figured it was probably a good time to buy one. Jared was a little tired of shopping by this point, so we made our way back to the apartments without any other stops. We came back to Jared's apartment and started writing the blog for the day, but when we decided to save it as a private draft because it was not finished, his computer froze. We couldn't believe it. We had just written so much and it was all lost now, so we decided to get over the loss with a quick nap. When we woke up, I took my new clothes back to my apartment where Allie was getting ready to go out with everyone to a hookah bar. Jared and I were straved at this point so we told them we would meet up with them later and headed for a local taverna. We went to a cute, small little place we had been to a couple of weeks ago where the owner was so nice and helped us learn some Greek words. Since the weather was pretty nice and I had my new jacket on, we thought it would be a good idea to sit outside. The woman who served us was so nice and friendly--the people there are just amazing. Jared and I shared an order of tziski and fried cheese, which are basically really yummy cheese sticks in the shape of a ball. I tried the spagetti napoliane and Jared had the Greek meatballs over rice. Both of our meals were absolutely delicious! This place could definitely be another regular for us. After eating, we walked back to the apartment and saw that everyone was still there and had not left for the hookah bar yet. I changed and we walked with the group down to the White Tower where we were meeting up with some other people who were already out. When we all met up, some of them decided that they would rather go to a bar first and then to the hookah place, so we went along with it. We stopped at Baraza which was actually a really cool, fun place. It was packed downstairs, so we were led up to the second floor where we crossed a bridge inside that looked down onto the bar and massive crowd below. We split up between a table and couches across from each other and enjoyed the music and interesting lighting effects they had. We didn't stay too long before some of us wanted to leave for the hookah bar, so we split up again and decided to meet up there later. Jared and I didn't want to take a cab, but we weren't sure exactly where the place was and the other girls didn't want to walk in heels, so we hopped in one. It ended up being such a waste because the guy took us in a huge circle around the downtown area and then past the bar we were originally at and down a little further to the hookah bar. Jared was very upset, but with every reason to be. We tried to forget about it and walked into Alla Arabia.
I was if we had just stepped into the Middle East. There were drapes hanging from the ceiling and grand chandeleir in the middle. Belly dancers were scattered around the first floor dancing inbetween tables. Every so often they would shine a spotlight in the center of the floor and a dancer would come out to perform. The first was actually a man dressed in what seemed like a woman's costume, but with a black mesh top rather than a bra.  He shook his hips and contracted his stomach just like a woman would, but he was having a blast with it. He seemed so happy skipping around and shimmying for us that we couldn't help but cheer him on. Next on stage was a fire dancer who balanced a pole lit on both sides on her head and hips. It was amazing how she was able to spin around while balancing the fire on her head--or at least it was until she dropped it on the rug and right at the feet of a group of women at the front table. Whoops! She picked it up quickly and went about her routine again, but then dropped it again when she tried to balance it on her hips while she swayed back and forth. The next fire dancer used two poles rather than one, but she managed to keep them in her hands the entire time. Apparently the belly dancers also use snakes when they perform, but we had already missed it. It was a good time once everyone had arrived, and we shared an apple-flavored hookah (I didn't like it very much though). We left a few hours later and caught another cab back to the apartment; thankfully that one wasn't too expensive though and the driver was nice. And that was the end of our Friday.
Love and miss you all! Talk to you soon.
Megan and Jared
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