Wednesday, 20 August 2008

National Lampoon's Greek Vacation

Are you ready to be subjected to a very long recap of my holiday in Greece? No? Well, too bad! Here it is in all its illustrated bullety goodness. Just imagine I’ve trapped you in a small dark room and am forcing you to view one boring slide after another ad nauseum. Enjoy.

Highlights and Lowlights:

  • Olympic Airways is ALWAYS late. Always.
  • Greek people applaud when the airplane has landed safely. Do other people do this too?
  • The view from our hotel room in Athens (the room was necessary because my flight got in super late that night) was a-freaking-mazing.

Fuzzy photo of the acropolis at night

Acropolis in the morning

Close-up of the Parthenon with the Erechtheion in the foreground

  • This is Leon, our rockin’ rental car.

  • I witnessed my father repeatedly stealing fruit from random people’s fields while my sister was forced to drive the getaway car. We’ve been groomed for a life of petty theft from a young age.
  • My dad and his younger brother are spitting images of each other – they even have matching pregnant stomachs too. Disturbing.
  • Speaking of pregnant stomachs, I may have to rethink ever getting knocked up. My cousins keep spitting out twins at an alarming rate and twins run in my mom's family too. Either Z or I are going to end up with a 2 for 1 deal, I just know it.
  • Donkeys still abound in Greece. Hooray!

This girl was so nice, she even turned the donkey around so I could get a better picture.

  • I found out that my uncle (dad's look-alike) still fishes without a fishing pole. Instead he brings explosives he gets from his gravel company and ‘fishes’ in the manner of Crocodile Dundee. More bang for the buck, I guess.

  • My sister dubbed my beach attire as ‘Monaco’ style. I reciprocated, referring to hers as ‘South Beach’. Both names were appropriate. No, I’m not showing a picture of us. Deal with it.
  • One of my cousins, god bless her, has managed to cultivate a personal style only drag queens would envy. Her nickname in the town is ‘the girl who wears no clothes’. Yeah.
  • I got in two runs, both along the beach on Euboea (pronounced Evia). Very picturesque, but also unbelievably hot. There were a few runners out during my morning run, so I didn’t feel like a total spectacle, though I did get a few odd looks during my afternoon run.

  • Z and I both managed to lose a toenail while in Greece. Mine was running related and a long time in coming. Hers was just a freakish accident. And no, it had nothing to do with me running over her foot with the car, I swear.
  • I kept forgetting not to flush toilet paper down the toilet. (You’re supposed to put it in the trash bin. Gross, I know).
  • We saw some sea life during the ferryboat trips.


This was my first time seeing dolphins!

  • Trying to have a conversation about people in my family is an exercise in frustration, because of the Greek naming convention. In a nutshell, the first male and female children are named after the father’s parents and the second ones after the mother’s. After that, it’s dealer’s choice. You can see how this would make it difficult to try to discuss what cousin George has been up to when there are multiple cousin Georges in the family. I often feel the urge to tear my hair out when people start talking about a relative and I have no freaking clue which one they’re referring to. [Editor’s note: Not that it matters, but my parents defied tradition with me because my dad said no one in Greece would be able to pronounce my maternal grandmother’s name. Instead I was named after his father. I thank him for that every single day.]
  • My yiayia (Greek for grandmother) is still a spitfire. She ’s recovering from gallbladder surgery, but she’s as strong as ever. She lamented the fact that Z, me and one of our female cousins are still unmarried (I get that from my American grandmother too—I can’t win) and that I am still in school, but otherwise she was just pleased as punch that we were there. She was praising us to the skies, saying we were the best and then all of a sudden she turned and spit on my three times in quick succession. It’s a Greek thing to do when you don’t want to tempt fate and bring bad luck on someone. If you’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Z and I were a bit startled because it’s the first time we’ve ever experienced it in real life. Z was jealous of me. I felt special.
  • Lots of yummy Greek food was consumed. My aunts are kick-ass cooks and even my dad and uncle showed off their culinary skills. [Editor’s note: Sexism still runs rampant in Greece. Z and I ended up washing my father’s clothes and cleaning up after all the meals when we stayed at my uncle’s place. The only reason we weren't expected to cook for them was because technically we were guests.]

Moussaka (no, not moose kaka). I love this stuff. It's like crack to me.

My dad grilled the chicken and potatoes while my uncle prepared everything else. Super good meal.

Baklava anyone? (Okay, I'm cheating. This is from a bakery, but it still tasted really good.)

  • My cousin drove us in her big-ass SUV from her dad’s house to the center of town. All four blocks of it. Then she proceeded to complain about not finding a parking space. Unbelievable, yet true.
  • My aunt’s husband is a Greek Orthodox priest. Priests are allowed to marry, it just prevents them from rising up in the church hierarchy. He wears the robe and hat like this. It’s kinda cool actually. Most people in the family call him Papa D-, but I can get away with referring to him as just theo (Greek for uncle).
  • My uncle E’s garden kicks ass. He’s one of the most productive retired people I know.


Grapes. My uncle makes his own wine with them.

  • I finally got to spend some quality time with my dad. We went for a walk early one morning, just the two of us, and chatted about things while meandering along the beach. We haven’t shared a moment like that in years, so it was pretty special to me.
  • As of last week, I had thought I was the only member of my family (either branch) to ever attend graduate school. I was actually the second to ever attend university at all, with Z being the first. On Thursday, I met two distant cousins (the children of my dad’s first cousin—what does that make our relationship?) who are doctors. The kind who help people as opposed to the kind I will be when I finish my degree. It was pretty cool.
  • Z and I drove to see the archaeological remains near the ancient site of Thermopylae (the location of the battle featured in the movie 300). We spent an hour driving up dozens of narrow roads on this mountain and found jack-all. Finally we came across a herd of goats and asked their human overseer where the site was. He helpfully said, ‘it’s down the mountain.’ Thanks. We never did end up finding the ruins.

Herd of ornery goats. To be fair, we were intruding on their territory.

View as we were coming down the mountain. Those are all olive trees.

Now I leave you with this video I took while Z and I were driving from Athens to my uncle’s house near Thermopylae. We were being goofy twits while listening to some Euro-pop radio station. Z’s driving the car and I’m the one cackling in the background. Yes, we are always that weird. [Editor's note: We weren't actually going to Lamia, but to a town about 25 miles away from it.]

One final thing before I go: 11 days till my first half marathon!!! Nerves are starting to set in, but I don’t know why since I’ve already proven to myself that I can run the distance. I’m pathetic.

Later gators.


Viper said...

Holy cow, that's a lot of vacation in one post! Looks like you had some fun. Now, it's time to get cracking on that half marathon! Nerves are normal. You may have proven you can run the distance, but you haven't proven you can RACE the distance. There's a difference.

Xenia said...

Viper--That's not making me feel better!

Viv said...

HAHAHA we are always on each others blogs at the same time.

OK those were some gorgeous pictures. It sounded like a wonderful time. I LMAO at so many it is hard to pinpoint from the spitting Greek think to avoid bad luck to your crocidle dundee uncle, to the matching stomachs...Great times, loved the recap Xenia thanks for sharing!

Yea on the final countdaown till 1/2 marathon, yea sing the song cause I am.

Marcy said...

Pppffffttt on Viper! You'll do EXCELLENT I'm sure ;D Plus nerves are good, it shows you respect the distance ;-)

Oooohhh how beautiful! So lucky you are. *sigh* And I LMAO at your vid. Just hearing you 2 laugh makes me laugh HAHAHAA

Running Knitter said...

Sounds like you had a great time. Don't worry about the half - YOU'RE GOING TO ROCK IT!

RunnerGirl said...

Sounds like one amazing trip, and everything looks so beautiful!

Roisin said...

Those are amazing pictures...I need to get me to Greece!

And I hate the toilet paper thing too. They do that in Ecuador, and we weren't informed of it until we got into the country.

Merry said...

Sounds like you're having a wonderful time!

Would this be an opportune moment to ask you what the heck "Opa!" means? And does it ever occur without an exclamation point?

MizFit said...

thanks so much for typing and uploading all this----IM STILL GREEN WITH ENVY but kinda felt as though I were there.

and 11 days (10?) EXCITING!!

BeachRunner said...

Awesome post. Your photos reminded me of many great memories from my honeymoon in Greece (Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete). I want to go back and eat some of your Uncle E's pomegranates and see more of Greece.

tfh said...

Awww, now I miss my sister!

Other emotions: incredibly jealous. And entertained.

Toilet paper related commentary: At least they use toilet paper.

Half related commentary: I am actually going to be up there visiting my parents for labor day! I wish I were ready to jump in the half-- it looks pretty fun. Be excited-- you'll PR no matter what, right?

Xenia said...

Merry--Opa is just an exclamation like 'yee haw'. It's commonly associated with breaking things (e.g. plates), so you can also say it when you drop something on accident. Hope that clarifies things.

Viper said...

... and lighting cheese on fire ... at least in my experience ...

Vanilla said...

Welcome back, I'm glad you had a great trip.

Xenia said...

Yes, Opa is also appropriate for when cheese is lit on fire. Pretty much it's good for any occasion that has a little flare to it--fire or destruction-wise.

God I miss the cheese...

Lily on the Road said...

Pffffttt on Viper about the race, LMAO Marcy!!!

You had an amazing time in Greece...sweet, remember all of that during your race and you will fly...

Now, go break some plates and get on with the Vacay...we will talk soon....glad you are on solid ground now..

Meg said...

What a cool trip! It's great to hear you got such quality time with your family and especially your sister. You're fine for the half!!

P.O.M. said...

I am insanely jealous on so many levels.

Girl - you'll be great for the race!

Nitmos said...

Damn that food looks good. Did you bring any back for us?

The donkey is a very underrated animal. Just try and ride a dolphin that way. Dolphins suck.

Enjoy that first half marathon!

Kevin said...

Sounds like a great time. I Love moussaka!!

McB said...

I think the children of your father's first cousin would be your second cousins. They would be your father's first cousins, once removed.

Loving the travel journal. Don't know if the picture of the donkey is better, but probably more attractive.

baklava *sigh* have an extra piece for me, please.

Laura said...

I loved your recap, and wasn't bored at all. Greece looks AMAZING!!!

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Oh my goodness. Thanks so much for the full recap. I loved it all. Sounds like a fantastic time.