Saturday, June 20, 2009

Larissa, Leeds, and a little London

In the last month or so we've gotten to spend a lot of time with friends. That's really a nice privilege when living abroad. In Larissa, we stayed at Perry's house. It's a beautiful house in Greece, and his aunt lives upstairs and Perry lives downstairs.


I liked Larissa much better than Athens. I thought it was very beautiful and family friendly. We spent most of our time at Starbucks working. I'm trying to think of observations to make about this central city...

It's full of shops and it was rather amusing that at any time of day or night all the cafes would be absolutely overflowing with people. I had to agree with Mary... "Do these people have jobs?" Heck, I liked the idea though. Spending day and night with friends can't be a bad lifestyle...right?

Perry came to pick us up super late from our long train ride from Athens and we toted our suitcases through the streets, a 20 minute walk, to make it to the apartment.

We saw the Meteora, 45 minutes away by train, while we were there. It was dramatically gorgeous. I wondered, though, how the monasteries could possibly still be operating because for every monk I saw, I saw 150 tourists.

Aunt Mary made the best rice stuffed vegetables while we were there. She is a single lady who works for the government processing court cases (transcribing them). Basically she gets to spend all day listening to gossip! She had a pleasantly deprecatory way about her, and we were pleased once again to come in contact with a "real Greek." Characteristically, she was very opinionated and spoke loudly. I think Greeks are even louder than Americans. She was an excellent cook and very interesting to talk to and I hope we will see her again.Here we are on the cool bridge in Larissa which lights up as you walk along it:

Perry and Luke got some male bachelor bonding time by going out in the evenings while Jacob and I chilled back at home. I'm perusing a tax book right now because Jacob and I are planning to incorporate The Jump Manual. It's a dreaded errand, that's for sure, but the guy's book is really handy. It explains ways to cut taxes mostly for small businesses. It's here if you want to see it.

We took a train to Thessaloniki. I kinda wish we'd had more time to explore this city--it's where the letter to the Thessalonians was addressed--but we got a little flavor of the religiousity of the city by viewing the church located within the train station and witnessing several people go up and kiss Mary in her frame right on the lips.

Flying to London

And then we hopped on a plane with British Airways (yes, the company who wants their employees to work for free for one month) to London. I'll put in a plug for their food, too.

London was my first taste of Europe and it was nice to be back. It was not nice, however, to ride back and forth between terminals for two hours to find the best and cheapest way to get to Leeds :( We finally got a bus and arrived at around midnight.

The Ballas

Ben Balla was Jacob's companion on his mission for one month. They had a marvelous time together speaking French, and at least Sally didn't understand it either so we had something in common.

Ben and Sally were so hospitable as to literally give up their bed for us to stay. It was a perfect newlyweds apartment--which means it was tiny! :)

You'll probably think I'm crazy but my favorite part about all of England was spending a Saturday with Sally going shopping and eating at a cute sushi place. I made a video of its unique concept: when something comes along that you like, you just take it. The bowls are different colors according to price.

It's the simple pleasures of life I guess, but it's been so long since I've done such a girly thing :) These are the shoes I bought, from the most popular store in Leeds. They were only five pounds! (money, not weight)

I also enjoyed going to a "hen" party with Sally. It's a bachelorette party and it was much more fun than a typical bridal shower! Bridal showers focus around gifts and they're much more formal. Hen parties have no gifts, you dress in pajamas, and do absolutely ridiculous things like race the bride to the store, make up songs for the bride-to-be, put on makeup quickly in order to eat chocolate with a knife etc. British people have a pleasantly reserved yet friendly way about them, but they know how to let loose and have fun when in the right situation! :)

And I love love the British accent. We Americans have a twang that the British like to mimic like we mimic theirs. Only it's not near so pretty when they do ours. Bloody Yankees.

We went hiking in a cove (with real live cows and swarming with gnats) with them, and Jacob left his glasses at the top. Despite Jacob's protests, Ben ran all the way back up to the top to get them! Thank you!


We went to the Preston, England temple. Boy, that was a trip. The rail system in England isn't exactly user friendly. Every official we asked had a different answer for the best way to get there. So we only did a session, because the actual travel time was about 8 hours, but the grounds of the temple were, of course, absolutely gorgeous. But it was worth the sacrifice because temples are few and far between in Europe!

Most of England in general is richly green, rural, and peaceful. I couldn't believe that I still needed a winter coat in June, but I'm not surprised now that I need one in Berlin too. Note to self: do not visit in winter.

*Fish (fried and breaded) + chips (French fries) = best fast food in England.
*I had a red onion tart with cole slaw and new potatoes in an inn; that was tasty.
*Curry houses everywhere!! This addition needs to make its way to the US!
*Dinner at Sally's parents house and at Ben's parents house=too full to move. Wow. We had Yorkshire pudding and a roast and chocolate creme and we were basically spoiled, like Sally and Ben get spoiled every Sunday dinner. Ben's brother is really literal and Jacob and Ben took advantage of that by pretending there was a deep meaning behind the phrase "If you say jump, I say 'how high'" which was mentioned by Ben's grandpa. Who then fueled it by saying "If Hi Low is from China, how high is is brother?" Which really got Josh going. And Ben and Jacob laughed about that for about two hours as Josh struggled to understand what the joke was. Here's some of the clips, you can see what a great time Jacob was having, at the end of the post. You probably had to be there.

And we took a 25 hour bus ride (mistake. These buses aren't comfortable like Turkish ones!) to Berlin. Weil wir moechten unsere Deutsch verbessern. And we took the train underneath the English Channel, and we never even saw the water. How in the world did they build a train under the water, and why don't they build one from California to Japan?

PS Happy Father's Day Dad and Dude! (had to do that after saying Mom and Mum last time) :)


The Elledges said...

If only we'd known about hen parties in college. We could've thrown a few good ones!!! Now I don't have so many single friends :)

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

We just did outrageous things at other times :)

There's still baby showers...

We had yummy food at ours though which is like 50% of the battle.

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