Crete

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After a very busy weekend on Olympus in addition to copious amounts of school work, my friends and I decided to spend a weekend in souther Greece. We booked our flights and airbnb packed our bags Thursday night and prepared to leave to the island of Crete on Friday afternoon. School flew by on Friday. After class finished we met at the hotel around 4:30 pm arrived at the airport around 5:30 and were on our 7pm flight to Crete. We arrived around 8pm in the city of Chania and hopped in a cab and made our way to our beautiful airbnb. It was the most perfect little blue house right on the water. We dropped off our bags and made our way to a restaurant on the water. There we spoke to locals, ate fresh seafood, drank delicious local wine, and enjoyed the sounds of the crashing waves. After we finished eating we ran to the convenient store by our house to get snacks and drinks for a little movie night.

We woke up pretty early Saturday morning and began to explore the city. We stumbled upon a market that had fresh fish caught earlier that morning, fragrant flowers, and fresh fruit.. After exploring the bustling  market we stumbled upon a cafe for breakfast where we ate fresh greek yogurt with local honey and fruit. Along with this we fed our caffeine addictions with our beloved Freddo Cappuccinos. Shortly after we made our way back to the house grabbed our beach bags and hopped on a bus to go to the beach. We spend most of the afternoon building sand castles, playing in the Mediterranean, and laughing together.  DSC00409.jpgWe took the last bus back to Chania got dressed to go to dinner. We ate right by the water again in the city center at a wonderful restaurant. Dinner lasted about 3 hours, and we even got free dessert. We decided to explore the city a little more after dinner. DSC00421.jpg

The next morning consisted of more exploration, shopping, and more fresh sea food. We said goodbye to the beautiful city of Chania late in the afternoon to head back to Thessaloniki. Although the island was very different from Thessaloniki we fell in love with another part of Greece.

 

 

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A Sunday Stroll to the Home of The Gods

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It has been quite a while since I have written on here so let me fill you in on my exciting adventures. The weekend of October 8th&9th was an unforgettable weekend. This was the weekend I hiked 9,000 feet up and down Mount Olympus. Just 12 months ago I could have never pictured myself climbing a mountain in Greece on one of my free weekends in college. I saw myself spending weekends shopping, eating, and studying at my favorite local places. Things turned out a bit different though, I guess life turns out how you least expect it. The weekend left me speechless nonetheless, it was something I will never forget and always cherish.

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The weekend began on Saturday morning around 11am when our group of 50 piled into a charter bus to drive about two hours to the base of Mount Olympus. When we arrived all I had  was my back pack, running shoes, camera, water bottle, clothes, and a good attitude with great friends. We arrived at the base, hopped off the bus and began our assent. This would consist of about 3 1/2 hours of climbing plus breaks.The beginning consisted of avoiding the mules and trying not to slip on the mossy rocks. After about 30 minutes into the climb I finally fully appreciated my surroundings. It was so silent you could hear the wind through the trees and the crunch of the sticks below our feet. After being in bustling Thessaloniki, I welcomed the silence of the mountain. The fog was like a heavy blanket around the large trees. It encompassed us in our own little world on Olympus. As I climbed the distractions and stress of the world slowly melted away and I appreciated the beauty of the mountain. We talked, laughed, tripped over rocks, and ate a lot of chocolate in those first two hours.

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The last hour and a half to the lodge became more difficult. It was steeper and much colder, along with this our bodies were getting used to the change in altitude. This was the point when we realized that the coming hours on Sunday to the summit would be incredibly difficult. The terrain began to change, we broke through the dense forest and fog to an area with less trees and even more rocks. The rocks were not kind to our ankles but the view was breath taking above the trees.  Around 6 we finally arrived at the lodge, tired and hungry. We dropped off our bags on our bunks,  put on warmer clothes,  and admired the view over a dinner that consisted of spaghetti, chicken noodle soup, and hot chocolate. After dinner we explored the area around the lodge and talked to our classmates. As the sun began to set I grabbed my camera and we made our way to a rocky area to admire the beautiful sunset over the clouds. We stayed on those rocks until our fingers were numb from the cold. We made our way back to the lodge sat around the fire for hours and then bundled up with the little extra clothes we had to go look at the stars. The ocean of stars above our heads was magnificent, so magnificent we stayed in the 36 degree weather until midnight.

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The next morning began with breakfast at sunrise and frantically preparing for the 9 hours of climbing ahead of us. We left around 8:30 and quickly realized that this would be a very difficult day. It was steep and cold- we finally broke completely through the trees and the sun was harsh.  The view and silence was still equally beautiful but was occasionally interrupted by our tired complaints. The last three hours up the mountain were arguably some of the most exhausting hours of my life. My legs ached and lungs burned and it seemed as if we would never get there. The paths were narrow and treacherous truly testing our already tired legs. Some parts were so steep I could easily extend my arms about 5 inches and I would be touching the rocks in front of me.  Each time when we thought we were finally at the top, we kept climbing. We climbed and climbed and climbed until we reached the throne of Zeus. I have never experienced something so magnificent as the moment we reached the top. I immediately took off my jacket, felt the icy wind on my bare arms, walked to the edge, and stood in silence admiring the home of the Gods. Our aching bodies were energized once again when were arrived at 9,000 feet. We took pictures together- I even took a picture in my spurs shirt. After, I sat in the grassy area eating my lunch watching the clouds seamlessly glide through the mountains. The sun was warm on our faces. Quite simply were were in a state of pure bliss up there…until we realized we had to walk all the way down.

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The hike down was 6 hours after an incredibly taxing morning. The beginning part of our decent was spent in a single file line at the edge of a mountain trying not to slide off.  Our knees began to ache and our legs were shaking but we just kept going  down and eating our chocolate. The terrain changed once again to dense forrest once we reached the last lodge on the way down. When we got there all of us quite frankly just wanted to be done but we still had over two hours of walking down the mountain. It took a lot of forced positivity and rallying to keep each other going. Blisters were bad and my knee caps felt like they were about to pop off. Our fingers were a little swollen as well due to altitude sickness and dehydration. In light of feeling quite miserable we found humor in the little things and focused on getting to the bus before the sun set.  After what seemed like an eternity, many blisters, and scrapes we finally saw the blue bus. This was a moment almost as blissful as when we reached the top. We sped up our pace and sat down on the bus at 7:06 pm. What a day, a day with 17 miles to be exact. We slept the entire ride back and celebrated with Gyros and an early bed time.

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I can easily say that weekend was one of the most mentally and physically challenging weekends of my life. We were pushed to the limit, and exhausted in every way possible. Even though the weekend was exceptionally arduous, it was worth every rolled ankle and sore muscle. Most 18 year olds cannot say they spent a weekend hiking Mount Olympus, but I did and am so lucky.  I fell asleep Sunday night admiring my experience, trying to ignore my sore muscles. Needless to say my muscles were sore until Thursday, a small price to pay for an incredible weekend.

Best,

Marisol

 

5 gyros in 5 days with 0 regrets

Week three in Thess has now concluded and I am still trying to wrap my head around all the wonderful things that have happened since September 10th. I have eaten way too many gyros, fallen in love with Bougatsa, visited Halkidiki, started my first college classes, discovered that Ouzo is not pleasant, watched sunsets on the board walk during my evening runs, made new friends, laughed until my stomach hurt, and now see Thessaloniki as my second home.

Thessaloniki is a warm, welcoming, and vibrant city that makes me smile every time I step out of my room. The locals have become some of my favorite people. Their kind, hospitable character makes us all feel like a part of their extended family. The culture  has opened my eyes to the true important things in life. The Greeks have taught me the value of coffee, cuisine, olive oil, wine, pride in ones culture, positivity, and the vital importance of family. Each evening I sit on my balcony to study, and enjoy listening to the plates clatter, laughter, and the chatter of my neighbors  at their nightly family meals, something that does not happen very often in America these days. I am so used to the fast pace of the US,  the slower pace of Greece is refreshing and beautiful. I am reminded every day here to worry less, smile more,  and enjoy the simple things in life.  We have taken in some of the traits of the locals, one of my favorite being nightly family meals with my friends. After our long days at school we meet for dinner, take a deep breath, and enjoy each other’s company. Of course this only lasts for about an hour due to homework and program activities, but its the one of the best parts of my day.

I am currently in five  classes- Greek, Microeconomics, Politics of the EU, Business Calc, and the Global experience. I am loving the all of them except math, but if you know me thats no surprise. With just two weeks of classes complete, I am becoming more confident in my decision to double major in Economics and International Relations. Math isn’t ideal, but I would have to say its the most interesting math class I have taken so far. My Greek is improving, I was able to have a conversation with a girl at my service learning. Service learning is required for all northeastern students here in Greece. I will be volunteering at an Nonprofit protecting children’s rights and could not be more excited to give back to the community that has already given me so much.

This past weekend was spent on the beautiful beaches of Halkidiki. We ate even more delicious gyros and admired the Aegean. Tomorrow we leave on a day trip to Phillippi and Kavala. Next weekend is husky hunt, and my two day Mount Olympus hike. Lastly the week after is a small weekend trip to the island of Crete with three of my friends. Its pretty clear  I am constantly busy here, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. My days arent filled with normal college activities and football games, instead I’m traveling around Greece and enjoying the serenity of the boardwalk.  My experience is definitely unique, but I am so lucky to have this opportunity.

“We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.” ~anonymous

Best,

Marisol

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a night on the board walk

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Escape the room event 

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Planes, Greek, Food, Oh My!

Today is the one week mark of my departure from America. The past days have been full of jet lag, excitement, Greek coffee, adventures, and a lot of feta cheese.  In sum, the past 7 days have been pretty amazing to say the least. The apprehension that once filled my mind about studying in Greece for three months has now been replaced by a new sense of confidence, independence, and eagerness for all I will experience in the coming months.

The adjustment has been surprisingly easy, a trip to Ikea and a few pictures had our small room feeling like home in no time. The area is easy to navigate  even though we can’t really read the Greek street signs. The Greek alphabet is exceptionally confusing though, but each day I learn new words and phrases from the locals and my professors. Wifi is shockingly slow, the shower kind of floods, and the buses were on strike all weekend but all of these things add just a bit more character to the beautiful city of Thessaloniki in my opinion.

Now that classes have begun my routine will be even easier to settle into.  My routine currently  centers around my morning run along the board walk before class and a hunt for the ice cream in the evening. And even though we already walk about 9 miles a day around the city, we always find an excuse to go for an evening walk along the stunning boardwalk. The days are long and hot, and my feet are exhausted when I fall into bed every night but I could not imagine myself anywhere else for my first semester of college. As my friends and I begin to plan trips in Greece and around Europe it is becoming very clear that our time here is limited. 12 weeks was once something that seemed like a very long time, but now that I am here I know that 12 weeks is really much too short.My eyes are truly being opened to all the world has to offer me. So heres to the coming weeks full of laughs, adventures, school, even more delicious Greek food, and the beautiful city that I am happy to call my new home.

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Views from the board walk on my daily run.