March 23, 2011

0 Greece: Larisa

We flew into Thessaloniki where a good friend of ours who's currently living in Greece met us.  We then went down to Larisa, where our friends live.  We saw "the real Greece" there, from their house to the HUGE sheepdogs that attack cars on the roads to the fascinating and mind-boggling Jumbo store (It's indescribable.  Really.  I've never wanted a camera on my ipod so badly before.) to the candles with everything from glitter sneaker keychains to actual toy tractors attached for Easter.
I learned about spanakopita and tzaztiki and how to say "thank you", "good day", "one please" and several other useful words.  We also learned about the graffiti covering Greece, the stray dog and cat problem, and a bit about the struggles of the education system.   Overall, it was a wonderful visit, not only to see friends and catch up but to learn about the country we were visiting.

A church in Larisa.  There are churches everywhere (hello, Southern USA!) but the difference from the States is that these are all beautiful- no industrial, rectangular brick sprawls, but whites, browns, reds, and oranges with huge windows, gabled roofs, and gorgeous interiors.  I could have just photographed churches the whole visit... but then Paul would have been really annoyed.

Larisa's own ruins: the ancient theatre.  We were walking to dinner and as we walk down the road, suddenly there were ruins!  This was a recurring theme in Athens, as well. The theatre was built in the 3rd century, B.C. as a typical Hellenistic theatre that could seat over 10,000 people. 

It amazes me that humans had such great technology and engineering skills to design and build these massive structures with amazing acoustics that would last thousands of years.  I wondered many times whilst there and have since- what if we hadn't lost it?  What if we'd been building up from there all these years, rather that going through the Dark Ages and Middle Ages and having to relearn all of these advancements?

There were several elaborate fountains in the squares in Larisa, and this one struck my fancy.  Notice the motorcycle parked on the square- motorcycles drove EVERYWHERE.  On roads- sometimes even in lanes, between lanes, in pedestrian areas, on sidewalks, in squares.  Traffic laws are barely suggestions, but luckily we were warned by our Greek-sperienced friends and so were not in any danger.

There is graffiti everywhere.  Everywhere.  Paul did notice that while the walls around ancient sites were graffitied the actual sites weren't, which we're hoping is a credit to the national pride for its wonders.   This building, which I believe is a government building, had these interesting cut-outs or something on it, which were then tagged over.  I couldn't get too close, there was an elementary school skateboard posse between me and the building, and they don't stop either!

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