A few weeks ago my baby (dare I say, toddler?) suddenly decided that napping in her crib was for suckaz…that is why my posts have gotten so sparse. She also wakes up in the middle of the night and stands at her crib screaming until I get her. Our weekly babysitter (AKA, my savior!!!) managed to get her to nap in her crib this morning with some patient back patting and singing. It’s looking like we’re going to have re-sleep train this baby, at least until this stubborn tooth comes in, or whatever is making her so cranky and sleepless subsides.
However, despite my general lack of energy, I’ve been diligently compiling a list of observations with every intention of writing about them. A bulleted brain dump will have to do. Here goes:
- As the weather has gotten warmer, I’ve noticed my tires squeal around every corner and at pretty much every stop. No, I’m not driving like a crazy person…at least not yet. I figured the tires needed air and balancing, so I took it in to the mechanic at the embassy to get that done. And still, they squeal like I’m at the Indy 500. We thought maybe the tires were somehow damaged in transit until we learned this interesting tidbit from another family (and from google): the asphalt in Athens is made from recycled tires. It’s called rubberized asphalt, and apparently it’s like that because of the terrible pollution problem they had from burning old tires. Now they recycle them into pavement. And as a result, everyone’s tires squeal, especially when it’s warm.
- I’m still puzzling over left turns in this country. If you’re the first person in line at a left turn, you can’t pull too far forward or you won’t be able to see the stupidly positioned traffic light. But on numerous occasions, cars and motorcycles will just pull right in front of me before the light turns. They see an opening, and they’re going to TAKE it.
- Yesterday I got into a left turn lane, and as I was waiting for the light to change, I noticed, posted plain as day, a NO LEFT TURN sign posted. But there was definitely a lane dedicated to the left turn, and there was a whole line of cars behind me waiting to make that same left turn. At every intersection I’ve encountered here, left turns get an arrow — there is no “yield to oncoming traffic” sign that you see in America. There was no left turn arrow here. Then I remembered, Because…Greece. And I made the turn anyway.
- Right turns also pose a quandary. Apparently no turns, left or right, are permitted on red. With all the pedestrian traffic, I can see why. But you’ll still see people do it. But I prefer to sit back and wait.
- I drove through another laiki! But it was on a Monday, and much, much easier. No one pounded on my side panels and called me names this time!
About the kids…
- Liam has taken to answering all my questions with “neh” and “ohe” instead of “yes” and “no”. He also likes to punctuate his speech with as many Greek “pleases” and “thank you’s” as he can squeeze in.
- In Violet’s Gymboree class, the teacher sang a little song about Do, Ra, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, except it was nothing like the Julie Andrews version I know. When she sang “Mi” she gestured to her nose. I guess that makes sense that each language would have its own way of singing about it.
On grocery shopping…
- I have found the answer to all of my grocery shopping woes…it’s called Lidl, and it’s the Greek version of Aldi. Actually, it’s German. Help me out, German speakers…my limited German vocabulary leads me to believe you’d pronounce it Lee-dle. Is that right? At any rate, they had a huge selection, most everything was in English, and it was all MUCH cheaper than at the Greek stores. Meat and produce looked good, and it wasn’t hard to park there, either. Three cheers for the Germans!
- Apparently my Greek dishwasher needs salt. Some special kind of salt that cuts back on the mineral deposits. I’m still unclear where to dispense it…this is the only appliance I have without any sort of manual. Perhaps my housekeeper extraordinaire will know.
On Greek food…
- James and I have been less than thrilled about the Greek food here. The meat is fatty, and they only serve chicken and pork, no lamb. But I was informed that I was eating the wrong kind of Greek food. Restaurants that serve food from the island of Crete are supposedly by far the best. Stay tuned for my assessment.
On television overseas…
- I sort of assumed when we got here I’d have limited access to my favorite shows. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. We got a VPN, so we can watch HBO Now, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Even without the VPN, Netflix offers a decent array of shows and movies for Europe. Many networks offer their shows online, also accessed with the VPN. And in a pinch I can usually find a bootleg of the shows I just can’t miss. I do have to shift my prime time Sunday night viewing of Game of Thrones to Mondays…but that seems a small price to pay, considering I didn’t think I’d be able to watch it at all.
And, finally, more annoying size differences…
- Ok, really, Europe? You have a different size of standard printer paper? I sent James to the Kotsovolos (The Best Buy of Greece), and all he could find is this A7 size paper, which is just slightly longer and thinner than standard letter size. It still works in the printer. But it is stupid. There. I said it.
Great. For some unknown reason, there are loud fireworks going off in the main square by our house. Is it a holiday? Who knows. All I do know is I get to coax a very cranky toddler back to sleep at 11 PM. Because…Greece.