Busy week visiting schools and getting infrastructure (read: wifi, telephone and balcony railings) into the apartment. We met our landlords, whose parents owned the apartment we’re now renting. We also did practical things like buy laundry baskets, brooms and mops, nightlights, a coffee maker, etc. Clothes dryers aren’t common so we hang laundry in the sun. It seems everyone has a utility/laundry porch here, just like we have laundry rooms in the US. We have slick little Miele appliances – a washing machine and the coolest three-rack dishwasher.
School visits were very interesting. We visited 2 Greek private international schools, where English is the primary foreign language (an hour a day of instruction) and 2 other schools, one American and one British, where the language instruction is the inverse. We’ve decided that Greek school will be the best way to immerse the kids in the culture and learn the language. Could be a bumpy ride at first … luckily we have Papou to help tutor us. We also bought picture books with letters and sounds at the toy store so we can start learning. Greek lessons can’t come too soon for me – I mistakenly ordered a coffee “scato” when I should have said “sketo”. After the bartender recovered from laughing, he explained that sketo is no sugar, while scato is ‘um, shit.’ I assured him that I did not want poop in my coffee, just milk and he told me to come back in an hour for more instruction. Maybe I’ll stick to beer – they’re just one word orders.
Spent several evenings in the Voula Plateia, or square, which the kids love. Papou bought them scooters so they can buzz around just like the scores of local kiddos. I don’t know how crashes don’t happen every five minutes with kids on bikes/scooters and waiters with huge trays walking from the restaurants to the outside tables, but I haven’t seen one yet! The square is busy every night and Fridays and Saturdays are incredibly busy. The kids’ (and probably mine too) favorite restaurants are the psistariás, or grill restaurants, which serve pork or chicken kalamaki (bamboo skewers) and kebabs (a long skinny spiced meatloaf). They have other things too – salads, horta (boiled greens with lemon and olive oil – completely wonderful), gyros. French fries abound. I convinced myself that the fries must be cooked in olive oil, this is Greece for goodness sake, thereby making them healthy, and then I saw a gallon of corn oil. Sigh.
Voula and its neighbors – Glyfada, Vouliagmeni, Varkaza – are the closest beaches to Athens so lots of city residents flock to the area on the weekends. Dance clubs abound and on weekend nights you can hear the beat of the music and see the spotlights. There are also lots of beach ‘clubs’ where you pay a fee to get in and you get 2 chairs and an umbrella. We went to the beach in front of a place called Balux, a club/restaurant/bar set up like a house with tons of different rooms. No beachwear allowed inside; nice clothes only, parakalo.