I swear these are not my words if anyone saw them as offensive. Although who wouldn't want to be Greek? Remember the movie quote titles thing? My Big Fat Greek Wedding is the origin of this quote. It is, especially, relevant to this post because I visited my family in Thessaloniki, Greece this weekend. I had never met my family in Greece before so I was really nervous. To say the least, I thought I was in a movie the entire weekend. It was that Greek.
This side of the family is a bit confusing. I will try to simplify it as best as I can. My grandfather, his wife, and their two children (who are my age) on my dad's side live in Greece. Originally, my grandfather came from Greece and got his education in the United States, first at the University of Iowa and then Harvard. During this time, he married and had two children, including my dad. Later, he moved back to Greece where he married again and had two more children, who are technically, my aunt and uncle, but one is 21 and the other 23. Does that make sense? It took me until I was about twelve to understand. Anyway, my dad has been to Greece multiple times to visit the family, as well as my older sister. However, this was my first time meeting the mysterious side of the family which lives in Greece. It took all my effort not to overly squirm in my seat during the flight. What was the family going to be like? Would they be like the stereotypical Greek family portrayed in the movie? Yes. Definitely, yes. It was unbelievable.
So, my plane landed and I walked through the door into the hot air and sun. I went into the itty bitty airport of Thessaloniki where I gathered myself and started looking for the family I had never met. I was greeted by my grandfather who looks exactly like my dad. It is funny though, because I could not find him at first even though I looked him directly in the eye before I started wandering off. Traveling woes. I am always so disoriented after getting off of a plane. We drove to their house which was, literally, on the side of a cliff. You could see the entire countryside on their back porch lined with roses and scattered with cats. The grass, the ocean, and Mount Olympus peeking its way through the clouds. It was surreal.
This trip was not my typical weekend excursion. I was at the house a lot of the time, sitting and talking with family. I went out into the city one night with my aunt where I learned to drink coffee "the Greek way." The Greek way is ordering one cup of iced coffee (which I was told was invented in Greece) and making it last 3 to 6 hours. I am not joking. They can make a cup of coffee last up to six hours. One cup. It is unbelievable. We walked along the the water which was lined with small abandoned fishing boats. They next day, my grandfather took me to the Archeological and Byzantine Museums. Originally, Alexander the Great's father, Phillip, was displayed in one of the museums since his tomb was, recently, excavated. However, he has been moved to Athens. Tragic. I was told by my grandfather that they believe Alexander the Great has been discovered nearby. The people in the city are very proud of this tidbit of information.
Having conversations with my grandfather was, possibly, my favorite thing about the trip. He is, possibly, one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Apparently, his mother was from Istanbul, he helped create the University of Macedonia, had several meetings with the Prime Minister of Greece when he was younger, and also went on a boating trip with Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader. I actually thought my grandfather was senile until I asked my own father, his response being, "Yes, I remember the Gaddafi meeting." What? This was insane. My grandfather then told me about, and I quote, not my words, "While the Greeks were building the Pantheon, the Germans were in trees eating bananas." Oh god oh god oh god. The Greeks do not have the best filters. This was just one of the smaller offensive things I had heard. In the states, I feel a lot of the things they said would not be taken lightly.
The next day, we went to the beach and drank coffee. The Greeks love their iced coffee. We spoke of politics and the economy and I told them it was very confusing and made no sense. Their response? "It's Greece." The last morning, my grandfather took me to see his car he has been working on. He loves to make and collect things. He has paintings, old furniture, belt buckles from the 1700s, and an old camera from Russia. I think I know where I get my hoarding tendencies from. Anyway, it was a very unconventional trip but it was, by far, my favorite. When we said our goodbyes I was starting to tear up. Even now, when I think back to it, I get upset. It was truly a special experience for me and a once in a lifetime opportunity. I only hope I can visit again. Where else would I want to be? In Greece, supposedly, all they do is, "Go to work, drink coffee, and sleep." I could be okay with that.
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<p>Although I am a Kansas native, I can honestly say I have never witnessed a tornado, tended to the farm, or religiously watched The Wizard of Oz. I am a studious college student who enjoys going into the city and testing new ethnic restaurants or going to a symphony performance on the weekends. This explains why my phone primarily consists of photos of food porn and Kansas City architecture. I study international relations and Spanish, both of which offer me a different perspective to the world beyond the Midwest. I often find myself distracted walking to and from class because I hoard pinecones and insist on showing my friends the ones I come across. </p>