Friday, April 27, 2012
Men peeing publicly in parks, pornography on every street, and creepy whistles in our direction.
This was not the sheltered world
I was raised in, and suddenly I wanted nothing more than to be in Conway, Arkansas, where the world is safe, where things are familiar, and where THERE AREN'T SEX MUSEUMS!
When it was established that we all equally hated Amsterdam, we went back to our hostel and ate peanut butter for supper. Then we took the earliest train out this morning to Belgium.
Thank Heavens for Belgium, where the world again seems safe.
p.s. On the plus side, we toured Anne Franks house (pictured). So it wasn't a total loss.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Tomorrow, we are touring the rest of the city! I cannot wait to see all of the Holocaust/Hitler areas.
Our traveling story continues. :)
Monday, April 23, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Then we toured the city in the rain this morning and EVERYTHING was closed because it's Sunday so Information wasn't open and it was impossible to find The Sound of Music sites. So we took a train to Vienna (got a sleeper car, score!), ate schnitzel and apple strudel (big deal here), and saw a few cool places.
Austria is alright.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
I'm crying as I type this because my heart is so heavy. I can't even begin to describe how much this semester has changed my life. The 36 people I traveled here with have become my family.
We have cried, prayed, worshipped, sang, laughed, loved, walked, ran, flown, floated (in the Dead Sea for goodness sake!) together. What could bond us more?
We have walked where Jesus walked, seen where our Lord was crucified, where He walked on water, and sat in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We shared little things, like trying our first REAL Greek gyros, to big things like cruising the Greek islands, riding donkeys and camels, and forming inside jokes along the way.
I am forever changed and forever grateful that this was in Gods plan for me.
HUG, always on my heart and never ever far from my mind.
If you are in my group, know that I ADORE you, that you mean SO much to me. And it's fiiiine. Caliorexi!
Friday, April 13, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
“Today was perfect,” I wrote in my journal late last night.
In the late hours of the afternoon, we opened the sliding glass doors that lead to the backyard, fired up the grill, and turned up Abba. It felt like summertime, with burgers and hot dogs grilling, chips, coleslaw, baked beans, and fresh squeezed lemonade.
When the food was eaten, we took pictures for our HUG Spring ‘12 poster that will soon hang in the staircase at the Artemis along with countless others. Then, it was time for s’mores!
When the sun finally set a soccer game broke out in the backyard, and then that turned into a dance floor. I stood back, wrapped in a fleece blanket, and watched my group. It was like a cheesy scene from a movie—music, people dancing, everyone laughing.
Emily came and gave me a hug, then turned to watch with me.
“This is great, isn’t it?” she asked, and I nodded.
“Man, I love our group.”
Then we jumped into the (freezing cold) pool for a night swim and now I’m sick as a dog.
Was it worth it?
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
How obsessed our group is with food has been the running joke of the semester. It’s funny to think back to the beginning of the semester when relationships were new. Instead of two or three pieces of bread with lunch and dinner, we ate one. Instead of cereal with a side of pastries for breakfast, we chose one or the other.
The more comfortable we grew with one another, the more uncomfortable our jeans became. Soon, there was no judgment at the dinner table if I ate more than one dessert because HEAVEN FORBID I call you out for the TWO gyros you just ate.
There became an unspoken agreement of sorts. Eat what you want and I won’t say anything, as long as you don’t say anything to me. In fact, let’s encourage each other! (That’s what Christian brothers and sisters are for, right??)
If I had a penny for every time I heard, “You’re only in Greece once!” in reference to food, well, I would have eaten even more.
Now we all have the hope of starvation while on free travel (backpacking for two weeks). The HUG Chub, as we affectionately named it, has got.to.go.
But so I’ll never forget, I present to you our groups
Top Food Choices of Spring 2012:
Gyros. Pronounced (h)year-oh. So what is it? Pork or chicken, tomatoes, tzatziki sauce (or a different sauce, called Sauce), lettuce (in some), onions, and the best part: french fries. All wrapped up in a warm pita. I order mine like this: “Pork gyro, no onions, extra Sauce.” And it’s fabulous every time. I’m a little worried that I’ll never find a good gyro place at home because I’ve been spoiled to real Greek ones. Lord help me if I never have another good gyro. May I rest in peace. (Hint: If ever in Athens, go to Sabbas in the Plaka. Don’t sit, just go to the side door and order one from the counter. It’s cheaper. Wahhh, I already miss Sabbas!!!!!)
Ice-cream. Conveniently across the street from a gyro place called Dimitri’s in Porto Rafti (where campus is) is a cheap ice-cream and dessert shop. One of their best flavors is strawberry. It’s frothy and smooth and too good to be true! One day, I had just gotten out of the shower and I heard a knock at my door. Still wrapped up in a towel, I opened the door and Tori (sweet thang) handed me two scoops of strawberry ice-cream. For no reason at all. Her generosity was sweeter than the ice-cream, but just barely. If you’re ever in P.Rafti, give it a try!
Waffles. A couple of weeks into the semester, a small group ventured down to the beach and found a waffle place right on the water. They came back proclaiming the good news to all at the Artemis: Nutella drizzed waffles with an ice cream flavor of your choice, topped with dollops of whipped cream and syrup. We all but practically ran. They cost a pretty penny, about 6 euro, but sharing it splits the calories and the cost. It’s a bonding experience, really. Guys, I really don’t think I can explain to you how good these wafs are. We decided that Heaven’s streets were made of these. So get excited.
Taz pizza. Every week we get money to go out to eat on, because food truly is culture. One night in Porto Rafti we found a restaurant called Taz—specializing in pizza and crepes. You might have to sit in a place that has Tasmanian devils adorning the walls, but the cheese pizza is worth it! (!!!!) I think it’s the crack cocaine they put put in it that makes it so good. That’s the only explanation. (Emily, one more Taz pizza before we leave?)
Falafel & Schwarma. Good ole’ Israeli food. What are they? Falafel is fried chick peas (sounds gross, tastes good) stuffed into a pita with some sort of sauce and lettuce. Schwarma is shredded chicken (or pork) in a pita with sauce, lettuce, and onions. Schwarma was my favorittttte. It was seasoned and tasty and what we ate every single day for lunch while in Israel. So uh, where do I get these in ‘Merica?
Palmie Bistro: Crepes. I’m sad to say that we didn’t find Palmie Bistro until late February, but we have certainly made up for it. They have the best dessert menu of any restaurant in any country in any universe. Celeste and I usually split the Banana Caramel Nutella Crepe. (I hope your mouth dropped open when you read that.) OR we get the Hot Chocolate Pie, which is pretty much warm brownie batter in a bowl. Both were definitely favorites this semester. The plus side? How hard could it be to make Hot Chocolate Pie? I can not cook some brownie batter any day.
Cookie Cake. Here at the Arty, we celebrate every birthday. Our director, Mama B, makes the birthday boy/girl their favorite cake. Once she made her famous cookie cake, it became everyone’s request! We can dominate some cookie cake, that is for sure. I hope we have another birthday party before we leave.
Baklava. We got our first baklava in Bethlehem (cool, I know) and it did not disappoint. It’s nutty, flaky, oily deliciousness. This dessert was all over Israel, Turkey, AND Greece. So I ate it a lot. I’m not ashamed, no I am not.
Teropita, or τεροπιτα. Cheese pie. Yes, you heard me. It’s a buttery croissant with melted cheese inside. These bad boys are at the breakfast table every morning, and if you have a hankering for one in the afternoon, you can find them easily at the THREE pastry shops across the street from the Artemis.
Last but not least, Fitness Yogurt and Master Crumble cereal. Love it. Surviving off of it for free travel. I’ll add pictures of these find items tomorrow!
Monday, April 9, 2012
This week I am
I am also planning free travel (10 countries in 14 days) and beginning the packing process.
Posts to come:
-Greek food (what I’ll miss, what I won’t)
-A Day in the Life at HUG (so I’ll never forget)
-and maybe a cheesy montage/video blog, because I love to see myself on camera.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Friday, April 6, 2012
Ephesus: coolest archeological site ever.
It was hot, and we toured the city for nearly three hours, but it was still my favorite place that we visited in Turkey. I still cannot believe that I got to go to Ephesus. Reading the book of Ephesians will hereby never be the same.
There were two neat things about Ephesus that stood out in my mind:
1. It still looked like a city.
I could vividly imagine what the city might have looked like back-in-the-day because a lot of it still stands! There is still a road, columns, buildings, houses, a huge library, and the theatre. I have seen a lot of rocks this semester, let me tell you. For instance, the Temple of Artemis—one of the 7 wonders of the anicent world—only has ONE column standing!
Ephesus wasn’t like that. And I loved it.
2. The Cross
The neatest part is that the early Christians had carved crosses into so many things. I love that after all of these years, we haven’t lost sight of how important the cross is in our lives.
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” –Galatians 6:14
A friend asked me, “How was Turkey?”
Surprising. Turkey never ceased to surprise me in spectacular ways. When I boarded the plane in Athens for a short hour-long flight to Izmir, I was convinced that I was going to a desert. Surely there was tan sand, warm weather, cacti.
I imagined never seeing hair, the country being predominantly Islam. And I was scared of the food. So scared, in fact, that I planned on (and eagerly awaited) losing some of the HUG chub that week.
Turns out, I am incredibly naive. Turkey is insanely beautiful. There are mountains. There is a coast line. It was spring time and pink blossoms were widespread. The food was good—seasoned, grilled, and just spicy enough.
Not to mention the sites we were privileged to visit. EPHESUS, Troy, Pergamum, Sardis, and Istanbul!
For now, here are photographs of the unknown beauty that abounded. Stories to follow, promise.