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Day 2: School, Shopping, & Fish

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We woke up, made breakfast and took Merric to ACS for camp. The athletic director showed us around campus and we knew we’d made a great choice.

While Merric was at camp, we walked the mile or so from school to the center of town and had coffee. The shop supplied free fresh donuts which I tried to counter balance with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt drizzled with honey.

Refueled (because admittedly I was trying not to melt down about losing a contract on our house in the US) we walked another half mile to the car rental shop. Sadly, they were completely booked out of cars for the next week.

We took a cab home, (I took a nap) and Culin found a local rental company with an available car. While we were waiting for our taxi to go collect our car he wandered downstairs outside and bumped into people who both had office space and a condo in our complex. It turns out that they build ports and have a 10 year old son. We had to run out of a great connection and conversation to catch our cab.

The local car rental was perfect. Inexpensive, friendly service, and a lovely German Shepherd guard dog named Max. The owner was very kind and answered one of my burning questions since arriving, “Why are there oranges all over the streets and ground? Shouldn’t they be eaten?” It turns out that they may look like oranges, but they’re a super bitter variety that even the birds won’t eat. First Greek mystery solved!

Driving our rental car we made it to the grocery store and had a little less frantic shopping trip to pick up basics like sugar, salt, pepper, and bread. From there we headed to pick up Merric from camp. As a mom I simultaneously knew he would be fine as he’s super sporty and outgoing and was also worried that we’d left him in a foreign country after a 20 minute orientation. I shouldn’t have worried… he happily announced that it was the best day ever. He made a friend named George after saying the Greek words for bless you when he sneezed (100 mom points for teaching common courtesy in a new language before a trip.)

We made it home without dying… the cars and trucks are fine, but the scooters and motorcycles whizzing between traffic lanes while we grappled with Greek street names added an air of adventure. After decompressing and doing some work, we headed back to a string of shops we saw near Merric’s new school.

First stop with the fish shop. Gorgeous fish, squid, and octopus were displayed on ice. The proprietor helped us select a fish and then offered to cook it for us! We left our 1 kilo fish on the grill and headed to the plant nursery down the road. I bought a huge potted basil plant for 2 euro and then fell in love with a gardenia bush. Culin bought it for me as a gift (and at 16 euro it was a total steal.)

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Next up was the produce shop/stand. We looked at beautiful fruits and vegetables (including a few we had never seen.) One tomato and lemon for 80 cents later we headed to the meat shop. I realized we had a basil plant and a tomato, so all we needed was mozzarella to make caprese salad to go with our fish… and surely a meat shop would sell cheese along with cold cuts. I was right! We added .2 kilos of mozzarella to our stash (which was hilarious because I struggle to convert to metric and Merric suggested a kilometer.)

Back at the fish store we saw our fish was still on the grill (who knew it would take 30+ minutes?) but Merric took the extra cooking time to watch a man scale and prep other people’s fish for cooking. It was a very cool cultural moment. When our fish was “done” the huge cook turned around and asked if I wanted lemon on it. While I know most Greeks speak English, he surprised me, as he’d been silent the entire time. Our new fish friend added lemon and then packed our fish in an elegant foiled lined box for our trip home.

Back at home I threw together a caprese salad and we sat down with our fish. This was the big moment. Would we have the Mediterranean meal I had been envisioning for months or would it be a total bust? It was awesome. Maybe the best grilled fish I’ve ever had. We ate the entire thing doused in lemon juice (and both Merric and I are so-so on fish.) I consider it a total cultural win. We will never forget our first sit-down family meal in Greece.

After dinner I set up my desk outside. I’d purchased a custom desk sign from Etsy that read Al Fresco Desco (yes I’m that person.) After pouring a glass of champagne to celebrate this amazing/insane move I opened my laptop and looked out over the lime and olive trees swaying in the breeze. Idyllic doesn’t come close to describing it (especially since my new gardenia plant was already perfuming the patio.)

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Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I noticed birds sitting on the power line. Not normal American birds… PARROTS!!! Seriously, five green parrots with long tails were perched 15 feet away from me. I ran in to get them bread to eat (which is an obvious reaction for anyone who know me. I love animals and delight in feeding them.) Sadly they weren’t impressed and flew off. But, as I dug into internet research, I learned that they are Rose Ringed Parakeets and mainly eat nuts and fruit. Guess I know what to pick up at the store tomorrow! Operation tame the Greek parakeets has commenced.

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Best Parts:

Surprise donuts with coffee, Merric loving ACS camp/making friends, the entire fish dinner experience, and PARROTS.


Fruits and vegetables at grocery stores must be weighed and stamped before you check out… or you cause all sorts of problems with the cashier.

When your son uses too much shampoo in the shower it bubbles out of the drain on the bathroom floor (not in the shower.)

Our washing machine takes 3 and a half hours to run a load of laundry. I am unsure how this is in any way energy efficient as the machine tags claim. It also sounds like a banshee in a blender… learning moment: do not start the laundry as you put your child to bed.

What’s next:

A meeting with our immigration lawyer to better understand the residency permit process.