Saturday, 30 January 2010

Troodos Mountains

As an event for the GLS program, we went to the Troodos mountains. We were warned that it may be cold but as an Alaskan, I scoff at cold weather. This may have been a mistake in this circumstance.
We went to three different towns. The first two were each pouring rain to the point to when I found out there was a third, I considered staying in the bus. Even though the weather was miserable, Troodos introduced cultural traits of Cypriots that I had not experienced yet. Each town was very small and while there were signs of civilization, the towns were far from busy.
Cyprus is famous for their wine. In the first town, we went to a wine tasting. One of their most famous wines is called Comadaria. It is a thick, syrupy wine. Rather than wine, Comadaria reminded me of a heavy liquor. While it was good, I felt like I was swallowing a balloon.
Cypriots hospitality emphasized in these small towns. Walking through the third town, we came upon a mini supermarket. Pausing outside to take a picture, we were instantly welcomed by an elderly man. My roommate and I were not planning to go inside but he dragged us in. The supermarket was in shambles. It looked like it came out of a horror film but the man could not have been prouder. After taking a lap around the store, we were met by his wife. They questioned us of what we were doing in this small mountain town and we found out that their son studied in America. When we were about to leave, the wife gave us chocolate. Cypriots appreciate giving gifts and will do it often at markets and situations such as this, if one is friendly.
We also met one large language barrier on this trip. My roommate and I were walking through an alley when we were met by a woman who did not speak English. She motioned us to follow her and brought us to a church! Our first impression was that she had noticed the melted, black halo, dripping from our heads. Grabbing Lauren's hand, she led us into the church and showed us fabric. This is when we were really confused. Was she giving us something? After much deliberation, we found out that another GLS student had left the fabric at the church. This was my first struggle with a language barrier.
Each town was beautiful, while they were hidden behind clouds. It was as green as Alaska in the summer. We saw a butcher shop with sausage hanging outside and met a dog named Taz. It was the first dog I met that I could say "okie" to and it meant no! Flowers lined the roads, along with lemon and orange trees. These secluded towns are hidden treasures.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Cypriot Cuisine

Every Greek person I have met so far has spoken English. This may sound like a good thing but their accents are so deep that sometimes I can't decipher if they are speaking Greek or English. I have never asked "what?" more in my life! When I can't figure out what they are saying, I just smile and say yes. This is dangerous at restaurants but at least I am trying new things!
A few blocks from campus there is a gyro restaurant. Continuing to just nod when I don't understand, I ended up with a gyro filled with fries. Surprisingly, I had no complaints even though the fries were radioactive yellow.
Today, our global semester group went to a cooking class. The chef made raviole, stuffed with halloumi cheese, Keftedes (fried meatballs), and bread, sandwiched with more halloumi. Being American, one of the girls on the GLS program asked how fattening halloumi is compared to other cheeses. The chef answered with a story of a girl who came to him at the end of the semester a couple years ago. She had gained 25 pounds and didn't want to go home because she was a "whale"! haha. The chef asked what she had been eating all semester and she answered halloumi cheese! haha.
The food can't be that awful though because every Cypriot looks good! Leggings are a big deal in America but they are a huge deal in Europe! Girls wear shirts, leggings, with nothing covering their butts. And than they wear boots. I would feel super awkward. And living in a flash back when I was a child and only wore leggings all the time. But I do wear tights again so who knows!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

In the beginning...

This is my third day in Cyprus and it has definitely met expectations!
Yesterday we went on a tour of Nicosia. The city is over 5,000 years old. It is split between old city and new city by a Venetian wall. Much of it has been torn down when the Brits occupied Cyprus. Their goal was to develop the town and build roads. Our tour was on the old city side (undeveloped side).
The tour led us to the oldest church in Cyprus. The walls on the inside were decorated with wood carvings plated with gold. Super beautiful and easy to appreciate.
When we were walking out, the call of Allah was on a loudspeaker over Nicosia. Kind of ironic! Nicosia is a border for the Greek and Turkish. Even though we were on the Greek side, we could see the flag of Turkey. From our apartment we have a view of the flag lit into a mountain.
Nightlife in Greece starts late! This is the custom night for young people on the weekend... 9-11 pm dinner, 11-1am bar or coffee, 1-4am club! Either these people just don't sleep or sleep in all day. Last night we went to a club. We did not see any other Americans there! We definitely stood out! We were stared at and Greeks are not subtle at all!
But did you know pepper spray is against the law in all of Europe?! They consider it a weapon. I guess a couple years ago, a girl from my study abroad program got arrested and had to spend a night in jail for it! I guess it's good I didn't bring any!
Goodbye for now! miss you all