Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Since in Thess, my husband Kolby and I have played soccer (aka football) at Aristotle Square too many times to count. It’s usually with children (between 6 and 12) who are also students in my English class, mixed occasionally with a few older friends. We yell at each other for kicking the ball too high, sing when we score a goal, break up fights when a play wasn’t called “right”, and sweat until we go buy the nearest kiosk out of bottled water.
The whole soccer experience alone has been enough to write a book about, but the atmosphere of Aristotle Square... maybe 2 books.
From the two prostitute women who watchus play football as they’re bored waiting on “business”… to the Albanian men who lay down in the grass that is most often used as a pet bathroom… to the Bird Lady who seems to always be methodically feeding her precious (disgusting) pigeons… and over to the Greek Yayas who always walk straight through our football game (even though there is puh-lenty of sidewalk around us) as if we’re in her way: Platea Aristotelous is a diverse mass of Thessaloniki culture at its finest. I wish I could more vividly describe the scene to you… thankfully I have a fewsnapshots for some support. J
While Aristotle Square really is such a strange place to hang out at, it has become one of my favorite places here in Thessaloniki. I sound crazy right?
Of course a huge part of that is because of the memories I will carry with me forever of football games with students and friends (primarily Afghanis, but also some Philistia and Roma). But I also love seeing culture in such a relaxed mode as I described earlier… something about it is so raw and real. You know, the stuff you don’t see in pictures of Greece on Google images.
And honestly, as shabby as it is on the north part of the square, it’s just the opposite on the south side. Cross the main road, Egnatia, and you will see a touristy environment. The buildings are beautiful, they have palm trees and gorgeous flowers planted straight down the middle of the square, and if it’s a clear day you can see Mt. Olympus when you look out into the Aegean Sea. The market is connected to the square, and I must say that the market is a must-see experience for any Thess visitor (a variety of fresh olives, Thessaloniki salt and pepper shakers, and olive oil soap… all kinds of cheap stuff that is great for souvenirs!). Aristotelus leads straight down to Paralea (the sea wall) and this long stretch of pavement that drops off into the water is also a must-see. It’s pretty perfect for long conversations, bike rides, or date nights.
You see, Aristotle Square - the center piece of Thessaloniki - has its ups and downs just like anywhere else you go in the world. Right now I’m struggling with going back to the States, mainly because I’m not good with change and thus I’m focusing on the negative. But when I keep away from negativity and I focus on all the good I get to go back to, something in me gets excited to go back.
I will miss you a LOT, Platea Aristotelus. Hope I made an impact on you, and I hope to see you again one day!