Another thing that is new to me since moving to Moscow is the amount of time off work I have. Some people may call this, vacation. 6 months ago I would have called it lucky. Now it is daunting. In Europe and with the frequency of time off, going somewhere can't always be called a vacation.
a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday: Schoolchildren are on vacation now.
a part of the year, regularly set aside, when normal activities of law courts, legislatures, etc., are suspended.
freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.
Well ok, they are vacations by this definition. But not compared to what it should be in my head. Restful, they are not. Maybe I relish routine and the day to day. I now work in communications at a school, which means, school holidays, about every 6 weeks, I have at least a week off. Nice? Sure....but also daunting. The pressure is on to do something every break. This is in total opposition to when I worked in radio advertising for the past 6 years and got 2 weeks off a year that should not be taken consecutively, and you're not thinking of turning your blackberry off are you? One week would be spent on a proper vacation, and the other I would piece meal some 3 and 4 days weekend together with, which were mostly spent sleeping to recover from my 80+ hour weeks and late nights.
We spent December in Greece. This decision was made by saying, "OK we have another 3 weeks off, I don't want to go somewhere colder than here, where is a cheap flight, and sure I've always wanted to see the Acropolis, right?"
Based on some hotel recommendations, from this guy, I booked an inexpensive hotel that was admittedly small, but clean and in the middle of everything. It was in the middle of everything, easy to get to by metro (when the workers weren't on strikes, Merry Christmas), walking distance to restaurants, and an ancient stone's throw to the Acropolis. When we first went into the room it was completely acceptable, sure it is small but I don't mind, I'm excited about the savings. Yeah, my closet in Florida was bigger than this bathroom, but at least it's clean! I am an adventurer! I am the type of girl that likes roughing! I am craving some granola and pass me my patchouli oil. Right?
By day 5 quaint, family owned, budget friendly hotel in the heart of things turned into motel bates of doom I am going to fling myself out of the window any moment. I was a stark raving lunatic. I couldn't be in the room without stepping on clothing, a suitcase, or my husband. It was impossible to shower in the bathroom because the shower curtain would attack you, requiring itself to be shut in the door with a stern warning to stay the hell away. One of my last pairs of clean socks got nudged out of room and fell off the porch/ledge. I couldn't sleep because the oldest son portion of the "family owned and operated" phrase, who ran the front desk, chain smoked all night and it wafted up into our room while I slept in my TWIN BED. I just wanted to shower.
|Yeah...that's some sort of animal part|
We packed up, checked out, rented a car, and headed north with dreams of anything-is-better-I-will-stay-anywhere-else-as-long-as-it's-not-here-ever-again dancing in my head.
We went up to Meteora (a truly beautiful town in northern Greece) where I almost agreed to stay at the very first hotel we came across. The man running the hotel (who's mom was giving me the evil eye from the couch in front of the fireplace) tried to persuade me to leave my passport to ensure we would come back after we got lunch. As we drove away he shouted "you don't need to leave for lunch. If you stay with us momma will make you Antelope for lunch!" I am not sure if this is one of those lost in translation things, or if momma was going to cook us Antelope. I had to double check Antelope was even a real animal and was not like a Jackalope. It is real. If momma was going to for real cook me antelope, it must have been imported antelope.
|This cat liked Feta. Proves that everything is betta with feta.|
We ended up at a lovely bed and breakfast in Meteora that I couldn't have loved more, and if I could remember the name I would tell you.
After our one night in Meteora, it was off to Delphi. We rolled into the sleep ski-esque town in the early evening and happened upon a really nice hotel in the middle of town who was willing to only charge us 50 Euros for the night and provide us with an actual king bed. Check IN!
After checking in, we discovered there was really nothing open in town and no WiFi in our room. So we ventured to the lobby which was laid out like a family living room, couches, big screen TV, ornery old grandpa in a recliner yelling at the TV.
Greek-pa kept his distance for a while, like a seagull at the beach trying to scope out the best way to steal your sandwich. Then he came a little closer with his perfectly clear English "where are you from?" we explain we are from the United States but now live in Moscow, Russia.
He responded agreeably enough "I don't like the Russians. Damn rude communists, they come here and they don't speak to nobody. Very dumb people, no know English. I don't even want to rent rooms to them. Bleh."
Ok, well a polite smile is my response as I continue looking for a movie to download on iTunes.
Silent minutes pass, I think he is waiting for more of a response. An agreement maybe?
He comes a little closer "So what is going on with the United States? Your dollar is SHIT"
Shit, my polite smile can't pass for a response here. "Umm, yeah the country got into some financial trouble, a little like Greece is going through now, it'll work out"
"Greece has no problems, just Gypsies. Gypsies are a problem. Your problem is Detroit, there are crazy black people there. They are very dangerous you know. They can't be trusted. Hoodlums."
Response time, should I squash his racism now and go to my room? I still have 45 minutes left on my download, "well we all have our problems".
"You also have a lot of Jews. That's a problem. Where are your parents from, you look a little Jew-y"
How did his English get so clear all of a sudden?
"Ohhh my parents are from American too-- before that my family is Italian and German"
Greekpa "Maybe. You know, I have 150 American TV Channels here. Has a black person ever robbed you?"
Hurry up download, "No. What? Why?"
GP "I see them on TV all the time. Having sex, babies, shooting people, crazy"
American TV, that is where he is getting his information. Tyler Perry, you are going to be the death of us all one day.
He went on, "I'm going to put some American TV on for you here," as he flips through the channels.
Uh-Oh, is that Boyz N Da Hood? What the hell are the chances that this 80+ Greek man in Greece just turns the TV on and finds the movie Boyz N Da Hood?
He is now very excited black people are on TV and is anticipating something good, "look watch them, look what they're going to do. I bet they're going to steal something"
The scene is 4 young black men in a record store. Surely they're not stealing anything.
Then they did.
Has he seen this before?
Next scene, a black man robbing a liquor store.
This is now his favorite movie, he is rocking back and forth from his cane to the sofa in delight and anticipation of what is next.
I bury my face into AOL Instant Messenger and my download. I do not want to engage anymore. I just want to download my movie. I don't want to be a defender of equal rights, yadda yadda.
So with as straight of a face as I can muster, I tell him that the real crazy people in the United States are all from New Jersey and that New Jersey is such a cess pool of people that we are thinking about selling it to Canada or Mexico at a loss just to be rid of those hooligans.
He ate it with a spoon like it was Greek yogurt.