I went to Italy to participate in project. I met Panos, we became friends. Skype, Facebook, we started making deals about cooperation. I already made arrangements for project in Belgium which I had to cancel because of visiting Greece. Date, 18th of November, was the first day of project in Megara. So many positive emotions are connected to that date. Why? A year earlier, on the same date, my first project started. It was held in Turkey. That project was the reason why I participated in all the others. Life changing moment was summed up in one date which, accidentally or not, got the meaning again a year later.
I have a list of participants who I usually call to go with me on a trip. The first on the list is Alan. As a part of the Turkish story, I have him on speed dial in this kind of situations. We made a deal in Turkey about going somewhere again. How lucky we have to be to have a reunion on exactly the same date? Run by impression, I called other participants from Turkey to join us. Unfortunately, they couldn´t.
It took days to gather the rest of the team. Valentina joined us, her friend Filip and Alan`s friend Lorena.
Due to lack of free time, we chased each other around Facebook inbox, Viber, Whatsapp, calls, messages and everything else we could think of.
The most important deal was the easiest to make – we will stay two days longer and we could get rakija! We sort of needed it for intercultural night where participants of each country represent themselves.
We had to arrive to Zagreb on 15th of November because our fight was next day early in the morning. We scattered around the city and met at the airport at 09:00 am. Looking at each other, we were laughing and couldn´t believe we are going to Greece for 10 days.
This was my first trip where I didn´t have shocking beginning. We took the plane and went to Belgrade. Two hours of screaming around Nikola Tesla airport and then continued to Athens. Arriving to Athens, we had to wait for 20 minutes in an airplane because Obama was there. Visibly nervous, we couldn`t wait to start our adventure.
We decided to arrive two days before the beginning of the project and stay in Athens. Couchsurfing was used to find accommodation. Misunderstanding about finding the adress where we were supposed to stay, created tensions because we had to walk too much with all of the luggage to get to the wrong part of the city. I stoped some Greek in the street, called the guy who was giving us accommodation and let them talk. We came back to the starting point and waited for him to pick us up.
Comedy. Six of us with all the luggage in small Corsa. Really, if a man manages to laugh, forgets why he was in the bad mood. Arriving to the house, entering the room. There was bunk bed and sofa and we were just wondering how will we stuck in there. Bursting into laughter became a habit. In the moment of laughing we got impressed by elephant graffiti on the wall. I will not name those who saw siluets of a woman and child in the green stain on the wall being under influence of alcohol. But Lorena could tell you more about it.
I think that is enough to say about the first night.
We needed to get up at 08:00 am next morning. Yeah, right… After leaving the room at 11:30, we head for the centar of Athens.
Climbing to Akropolis and Parteon took a while. The trail was followed making hundreds of photos. We were surprised when we got to the entrance. The entrance fee was free for European students. Not only here but to every museum or some other ancient attraction. Tip for traveling: Always take your student ID or something that proves you are a student and always ask for discounts!
It is really amazing, the view is incredible, different from anything you have seen so far. Taking a look around, you do not get impression of standing on the ground of a few thousand years old city.
Maybe because of maintainance, because of a lot of turists, the city that surrounds it or maybe I do not know much about history… I blame the cats. They are everywhere and I really do not like them.
Getting back down to the city, we bumped into some kind of protest in the streets. Police answed questions we had. Greek policemen are young, attentive and speak English. The explanation said that young people are being rebelious about government and asking for better education conditions. It had something to do with Obama visiting Greece, but I did not try to collect information about it. Guys, that was something I have never seen before. So many youngsters standing together and tens of thousands walking the street shouting something in Greek. They were separated into groups and it seemd they are well organised. Even thought we were adviced to stay away because of the mess that can happen, we decided to stay among them and continue in their direction. Police officers with full equipment were more intimidating then protestors. Just after we left, the mess happened. When I was in Turkey, detonations happened a street away from me. People back home were panicking. Now again. I`m skillfully maneuvering. Anyway, I`m glad I got a chance to see what it all looks like.
Lorena did not go with us, because of the reasons. She made dinner while we were gone. Marry her, she can cook! We continued socializing, this time more civilized and next morning managed to get up earlier. We took a little tour around the city, I fell in love with Nike Air Max, bought a few paintings and head to Megara.
I came to hotel, entered the room, looked through the window and wished to jump over balcony. Hotel Cokkinis is settled at the beach of Aegean sea. I run to the beach and could not believe the temperature of the water. Slightly tired, I gave up socilizing the first night and went to sleep with intention of getting up at 06:30 am to see sunrise.
07:00 am, I`m running to the beach, Malon and Veysi were already there. I left Croatia in winter jacket and here I am, sitting in the sea. What a view! WHAT A VIEW! I have never seen anything like it before. I like doing things for the first time. Eyes wide open, smile goes around my head, I`m listening to the sea and thinking about what have I done to deserve all that.
After breakfast, we gathered to start the program. There was 40 of us from 8 countries: Greece, Croatia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, Italy and Turkey.
The first day we spent in hotel. We had a few fun workshops and a surprise – FLASH MOB! Dancing trainer had 3 days to teach us coreography which we had to do at Monastiraki, main square in Athens as a part of No hate movement. Some of us were not thrilled, others put above average effort.
The lunch was delicious but, the old custom which say that Croatians eat a lot, left us hungry. Nevertheless, we went swimming. It is the end of November, it is snowing back home, we are swimming in the sea and sending pictures to unlucky people who have no time to heal cold because there is to much showeling to do. Temperature of the sea was a little bit less then 20 degrees. Just right! Us, “northern” people (Cro, Pol, Ger), we were thrilled with summer in November while Turkish and Greek were not brave enough. Except Yannis, who is Grek. Insanity is contageous after all.
We started with determination that we will be late for the second part of the program. As a “responsable teamleader”, it took me 2 minutes to get out of the water, run from the beach to my room, take a shower, change the clothes, fix make up and get to lobby on time. Of course im exaggerating, but I managed to be on time!
We got a list of the games and needed to separate into groups to do the assignments. Imagine what it is like to walk around 4 star hotel with toilet paper turban on your head. Or being a guy while your selfasteem is being reflected with the dress you are wearing.
The first night was intercultural night. Our time was limited so Poland, Germany, Italy and Spain did not have so much time to represent themselves. After the official part, degustation started. There was food and alcohol from each country. We relaxed, started conversations and got to know each other better.
Next day we met the major of Megara. The most interesting question, during our conversation was about activities that places we are coming from do for younger generations. Comments were depressively negative. When will that change?
In order to get to know Megara better, games were organized which required tour around the city. The most interesting was something that made us laugh the most. Concerning the fact I`m always the smallest, they used me as a painting brush. I had a hat with brush on the top of my head. There was a paper on the wall. Three guys were holding me horizontally and move me so they could draw remainings of the historical construction we were standing next to. Chaos! Their team work was interfered by my hysterical laughter.
Psyhologist was waiting for us in hotel. We had workshop during which we all fell asleep. Boredom was not the reason in this case. That was actually the aim – to relax while listening to the instructions from the tape which lasted for 15 minutes. We forgot how to relax and how important that is. Everybody needs that kind of therapy at least once a day.
Limited by the size of the lobby, we had to separate into groups to do flash mob rehersal properly. Guys stayed in hotel, girls went to terrace. For and hour and 15 minutes we were babblying, and danced only for 15. Trying to hide my frustrations, I was thinking about what will I do with our intercultural night. I had to an hour and half long presentation reduce to 10 minutes. Quiz, which was made in Turkey, follows me to every project and every time gets extension. Alka is on the right path too.
Believe it or not, only one of these names does not exist:
Which of these names is not real?
a. Evil Midget (Zlipa Tuljak)
b. Gravedigger Shit (Grobar Ismet)
c. Tarzan Rat (Tarzan Štakor)
d. Sweet ass (Draga Guza)
e. Flying pancake
Imagine what the rest of the Europe thinks about us after these projects. Only thing that comforts me is the fact nobody takes us seriously. Even though we are.
Conversations continued until early morning, but lack of sleep did not affect us too much the next day.
Again I have tried something I have never tried before – olive harvest. We took a walk around olive plantation and saw 2500 years old olive tree. We were introduced to olive factory and olive oil production. Afterwards, we received little gifts, said thanks and got published in the local media. Croatian took nothing seriously again. This time, insanity affected German guy. Evidence:
The best lunch we had was the one that was ordered and we ate it all together sitting on the ground in front of the local theater. Hotel? Luxury? Adventure matters. Which stopped as soon as I got stuffed, took Luca`s coat, wrapped myself into it and felt asleep in theater. An hour later noise woke me up.
We had 3 hour rehearsal in order to perfect our flash mob. Progress was slow and we did not have time. Theater was big enough for us to spread around the place so we tried to put all the pieces into a coherent unit.
We got the night off because we were too tired to do any assignments. Except Alan, he continued to dance in the hotel.
Turkish team brought henna. I have always liked that but I never got a chance to play with it. While everyone was all around hotel, beach and such, Alan was dancing and I was happy as a child when it gets ice cream. Drawing with henna requires a lot of concentration, nerves and time. Especially when you do not have right tools and you have to use toothpicks. I am the only person in the world who feel relaxed while doing it. After two hours spent in my own world, I went to sleep. Just like everybody else. Alan was still dancing.
Waking up was at 06:30 because of the sunrise. Only too much is enough! Five to 10 of us jumped out of the bed every morning and wrapped in blankets, still wearing pajamas, were going to the beach. The most beautiful things do not have prize tags. I will do this during every other project in the future.
That was the day when we visited horse farm. For the first time in my life I was riding a horse. Special feeling. Adventure was brought to the whole another level just because of one dog. So, in the corner of fenced area, the dog, which Veysi called Idiotis, was chasing his tail for at least one hour. It noticed nothing except the intention to catch his own tail. We arrived, ride horses, played with pony, did archery, had a meeting about environmental protection, ate… The dog was still chasing his tail. Congratulations for persistence.
Many things I did during this project, I did for the first time in my life. Doing archery was one of it. We were standing in front of the target and had shooting competition. The one with the best score, gets a bottle of wine. I would have won if they let me aim the goat which was standing next to the target. It would have been 50 points, you know? Putting that aside, I took Alan`s bottle because, I admit it, I do not know how to loose. During award giving, Alan was not present.
Concerning the fact we are coming from the same country, I was given his bottle:
-This is for Alan.
-No, it´s not. – I answered taking the reward which I did not deserve.
With all the bad intentions, I gave it to him. After we came back home from Greece, at the bus station in Zagreb, just 10 minutes before his bus to Rijeka took off. Anyway, I ended up being a good guy in the story.
After the farm visit, we had flash mob rehearsal again. The final one! We wanted to do the best we can so we tried hard, laughed, doing the same thing all over again, tried to stick it out, forget how tired we are and focused on the achieving the best result.
Day D! We are getting up, ignoring sunrise because the flash mob is the highlight of the day. Arriving to Athens, we were all impatient, thrilled! Ok, here we go. Music started. Big speakers are spreading the sound around the square and more. We are gathering in the middle, people are walking from our path creating the circle around us. Adrenalin is increasing, we are dancing, following the choreography, making mistakes and laughing at it. We finished and applauded ourselves. Everyone was happy except Panos. I approached him and asked what is wrong. Camera man had only one job to do. He did not. His camera was off.
We were happy because we had to do everything all over again. You could see our excitement was lower, but we did it with the same effort anyway. I got all the steps right this time. However, we did something amazing and we were extremely satisfied.
Free time needed to be fulfilled. We got the whole afternoon and the night. Groups were formed and everyone went where they wanted to go. Most of people wanted to see Akropolis because it is the main attraction. Especially one member of Croatian team who poured so much rakija into herself the first night, she enjoyed her puke party the whole next day. I will not name anyone but if you really want details and more information, Lorena could tell you more about it.
Niki, Alan and I went to War Museum. Museum is amazing! It is very big, well equipped, very well settled. Equipment, clothes, knifes, daggers, guns, riffles, maps… You can see a lot of things in there. The only defect is that all the explanation is in Greek. It would be nice to have it in English next to Greek. It is all beautiful, nice, delightful. But what I like the most were paintings. As drawing lover, I was running around from painting to painting repeating that one is more beautiful then the other. Alan and Niki were slowly following me not sharing the same excitement. Motives are different: war, maritime, portraits… Perfect color combination. While everyone was buying magnets, bracelets, t-shirts, I came back home with a few paintings. Priorities.
Monastiraki was checkpoint after all the activities. About 20 of us wanted to climb Lykavitos – the hill in the middle of Athens from where you can see the whole city. We were in hurry. I do not remember was it because of the lack of time or excitement, but when we got to the top, the sight was worth it. It was already dark and we could see night edition of the city. I have to admit, it is more beautiful during the night than during the day when we saw it from Akropolis. Athens is overcrowded, white, built in rocks. During the night, we got a chance to see it under the street lights which is better in most cases.
Getting back to the center, we found everybody else and went to have a dinner in a small restaurant. Such a cute place. Live band was playing traditional Greek music, we had wonderful dinner and great time together and after that we went back to hotel.
As it always happens, the last day is the worst. When people start to get to know each other, everybody is going home. You spend the day with those you liked the most to fulfill the impression. Or you spend time with everybody else due to lack of time for getting to know everyone and because there was too many people. The last workshop was in the morning at Megara port. Separated into the groups, we had to develop an idea about Erasmus+ project. My dear journalist Gosia and I chose social media. With the rest of the team, we started to talk about my media project which was listed on waiting list. Talking about it, I got motivation to fix it and apply again. I hope you will read my travelogue about project in Croatia soon.
Just before the night, we all gathered at the beach and talked about everything that happened during our week together. Some people said nothing, some were crying, some were laughing, some talking. Everybody was going through the situation in their own way.
The last flash mob dance we did in hotel lobby where there was not enough space for everybody. We were stuck but we wanted to do it for our dancing teacher Paula. Croatians continued to dance all over all the airports on our way home. See you soon party was short, but long enough to say goodbye to each other and make deals about where and when we will see each other again. After all the projects I participated in, and there were many, the Greek farewell was better then any other in any other countries I have visited. Somebody was sleeping for a few hours, somebody not at all and it was time to go home. This time we had two cars for transportation even though jamming into one became completely acceptable and normal.
The only thing we haven´t seen in Athens was Agora. Lorena, you are going to hear this for the first time now. We insisted on you taking the pictures along the way because we realized how pissed off you get when camera on cellphone does not work. We are laughing on every photo from Agora because Lorena`s bad language addressed to the non working camera was hilarious. This is the witnessing picture. According to the gesticulation, try to assume what kind of mothers and parts of the body followed by sexual connotations were placed into the sentence she conducted. But we still like you very much, it is all part of your charm.
We went to the airport, got on the plane and went to Belgrade where we had to take another plane. Concerning the fact the first airplane was late, we run across Nikola Tesla airport to catch the other. Luckily, the other one was late as well.
Arriving to Zagreb, everybody went their direction. I was so nice to give Alan his wine back but he decided to forget to give me back my Youthpass. So I really ended up being a good guy in the whole story. We will ignore the fact I still have his memory stick and Turkish spices from a year ago.
Greece is such a beautiful country! I´m definitely going back because there is so much more to see. Panos, please organize one more project soon. There is so many things I have done for the first time and that is what I like the most. I spent time with old friends, making our friendship even better. I have met so many nice new people who I talk to every day. I have tried a lot, seen a lot, learned a lot. Country and the people mesmerized me. Greece is one of the countries you need to put on your must see list. Follow my posts on Facebook, I will need more team members who will travel with me. Use the chances to get to know something new, travel, there is so many interesting people in the world who will change your world. This is one of the rare opportunities where you can for a small amount of money travel across the whole Europe with the people who come from different backgrounds. It will make you realize there is more then one world.
Once in my life I got a chance to stay in Istanbul for days due to bad weather and canceled flight. Once in my life I got a chance to drink coffee early in the morning in South Italy on the terrace of the hotel with the most beautiful view ever. Once I got a chance to live in 300 years old castle in West Poland. Once in the life I got a chance to watch sunrise in the center of the Greece what was followed by jumping into the sea ignoring the fact it was end of November.
Using all the given opportunities made me the happiest person in the world. When will you use yours?
Photo gallery: CROATIA IN GREECE!