A day of firsts

James left for his first day on the job just as Liam left for his first day of school this morning. Both were a little nervous. I walked Liam down to the “bus stop” – across a busy street with only a faded cross walk, and we stood on a narrow corner as traffic buzzed by really fast. The streets here are very narrow and dirty…what you’d expect from an old European city. But there is A LOT of traffic, especially in the morning. I expected to see more cyclists, but it was rather cold, so maybe I’ll see more later in the spring. We waited, and waited, and waited, and just as we were about to give up on this whole school thing, the bus showed up. Yeah! I rode along with him so I could meet his teacher and get him all settled in. I think Liam was a little shell-shocked when he finally arrived, hung up his backpack and sat down in his seat. The kids all crowded around him, all wanting to talk to the new kid. The class sizes are so small, less than 20, so it wasn’t TOO overwhelming. The school psychologist who directed us to his class assured me she’d check on him throughout the day. So I gave my sweet, unusually quiet boy a hug and kiss goodbye, then Violet and I made our way to the bus stop for the return trip home.

So, this whole navigating by mass transit in a foreign country without internet or a working phone thing isn’t as difficult as I feared. It’s all a matter of paying attention to your surroundings. In this case, I have no idea how to read anything, so I’ve got to go by other types of landmarks. I found the bus stop right away, and I’d carefully studied the route online a couple of nights before, so as the bus lumbered around my neighborhood, I was able to pinpoint exactly when to get off. I looked around for a busy street, the very one Liam and I had been standing and waiting forever on. From there I found the gas station I’d seen, and the cross walk, and the little park, and then our street, which I knew started with an A, but then the rest was Greek and impossible for me to read. And then we were home, no problemo!

Next on my to-do list was a much-needed trip to the store. I again employed my illiterate navigation skills to find the grocery store that we’d walked to the day before. Up our street, past the U-pay parking lot, past the street cart bodega, heading away from the big church on the square, across the street from the kid jumpy jump place (amusingly called Balloons), and there it was! We don’t need no stinkin’ GPS.

Despite the name, there wasn’t much “super” about this supermarket. It wasn’t even big enough for proper carts, just these funny little baskets with wheels and telescoping handles. I bought as much as I thought I could carry, figuring they probably don’t deliver. (They didn’t.) Next on my to-do list: find a bigger supermarket that delivers. I’m uncannily reminded of our time in Brooklyn, only there we had our Hobo Cart to help get our groceries home. We still have that cart, but it’s somewhere on the Atlantic right now. In the meantime I managed to stuff laundry detergent and softener into my diaper bag, carry the rest on either arm, and carry a sleeping baby in the Bjorn. All that weight I gained at Christmas will be melting off soon!

Back at the house I was confronted with another foreign appliance, the dishwasher. But, really, how hard could it be to operate? I pushed what looked like the “on” switch, pushed the dial to the first setting, and then it started doing its thing. It seems to have worked – I have hot, clean dishes now. Mission accomplished!

I also got much-needed trash bags for our microscopic trashcan. I thought the embassy was trying to skimp on us, but the bags I bought fit the itty bitty can perfectly, which makes me think this is a normal size for trash cans over here. James says there’s a store here called Jumbo, “if Walmart and Kmart had a baby” is how he described it. If we can’t find a bigger trash can there, we won’t find one anywhere.

Me and my little Joey at the Metro station

Before I knew it, it was time to bundle up the baby in the Kangaroo coat and meet Liam at the bus stop. This time he could get off on the other side of the street, so we didn’t have to cross at the scary cross walk. Liam chatted all about school on the way home. I think he really liked it. Except, ever the complainer, he was upset that he didn’t have much time for a snack. But I saved the day with these kid yogurts I found at the store. He asked me what the flavor was, and I told him we’d have to just look at the picture and guess. Graham cracker? Sounds good to me! I had one, too, and it was delish.

Next up, what’s for dinner? What with all the laundry soap, dish soap, trash bags and yogurt, I didn’t have room for proper food from the store today. So I perused the various take-out menus that I found tacked to our door today:


Hmmm…one is entirely in Greek with no pictures, no idea what they’re selling. One has wonderful pictures of Greek food, but nothing in English, so that’s a maybe. The last one has all the food names in English and descriptions in Greek. And it’s a burger place. A unanimous vote for burgers! (James wasn’t home yet, and Violet was asleep.) Funny enough, this is the second burger place I’ve tried here. I feel like burgers might be the second most prevalent food in Athens after Greek food. The first place by our hotel was pretty terrible (Goody’s…a misnomer, for sure), but this place, called Home Burger, was actually pretty good. They even had Dr. Peppers! One can was almost $2, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?

2 thoughts on “A day of firsts

  1. Julie Weddle

    Good for you! You managed very well getting around and accomplishing things. Glad Liam liked school. Does he eat lunch at school? Is it a short amount of time like it was in Wichita? Boy, watch out for that scary crosswalk in the morning. I hope they can eventually find a better alternative for that! How does James get to work? Is it a city bus?


    1. mandysmusings

      Liam says lunch is just about as short as lunch in Wichita. He’s been bringing lunch every day — the food is more traditionally Greek and healthy, and a bit intimidating. But we’re going to try fish next week and see what happens.

      James takes a bus about a block from our house to the Metro, then rides that straight to the embassy. About a 30 minute commute, same as back home. Won’t be long before we start calling this place “back home!” But not forever, I promise, mom!


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