A Week in Greece #27: Slumber Parties, Hiking, and Escape Rooms

I have been SO social this week, y’all.  It’s fantastic to have found some friends that I can be around 24/7 and not feel socially drained.  I mean, within reason.  This is normal levels of introversion, not “I live in a new country and everything is over-stimulating” levels.


On Sunday I got to hang out with Tatiana (my new roommate for the summer) a lot.  We went to church together, and it is just SO GREAT to go to church with someone.  We got lunch and coffee afterwards, mostly to use their wifi.  I’m going on two months without wifi, and honestly it’s just because walking to Cosmote and figuring out how to buy it makes me stressed (hello, social anxiety).

On Sunday night we watched Man in the Iron Mask and realized that Hans Harrison’s full name is “His Majesty Hans Harrison the First.”  He is in no way spoiled, don’t worry.



I started counseling the HD participants on Monday!  I had to remind myself of the advice my supervisor gave me on my first day of my internship: “Just have a normal conversation.”  I felt like I’ve lost a LOT of my counseling skills, because I’ve gotten so used to teaching classes – giving advice, telling “facts,” generally being knowledgable.  It was hard to slip into the reflective stance of a therapist, and honestly it is not ideal that I have dual (triple?) relationships with them.  But this is not an ideal world, and we are a baby organization, and even if it wasn’t perfect I think it went really well!


Luciana came back from visiting her husband at camp on Monday, so our slumber party adventures continued! She is the first person I’ve found in Greece with whom I feel totally myself.  She’s a former(ish) anarchist activist, current Christian, studied anthropology, and loves video games and international movies.  She’s also Brazilian, which just solidifies my desire to find kindred spirits from all over the world.

We meant to go to Ermou and buy clothes, but we got stuck in Public for TWO HOURS sharing our favorite books, comics, and travel guides with each other.  Honestly, it’s the nerdy quality that I’ve most been missing from the friends I’ve made here.  Being a nerd is CENTRAL to my personality, and if I can’t geek out about €90 Hawkeye comics with someone, I feel like we are not totally connected.

We had to leave Public (which is the 5-story bookstore that saved my first bout of homesickness by having a massive collection of English books) because we were starving, and then we spent another two hours eating and talking about vegetarianism and sexuality.  Not…as the same topic, although INTERESTING, I would have that conversation too.


Luciana and I planned to go to the beach on Wednesday because we’re in Greece and everyone is supposed to love the beach.  But then we found out that we both prefer mountains, so I suggested we hike Mt. Hymmetus, which you can see from my house.  It was difficult to figure out how to get there without a car, so finally we decided to walk from my doorstep.  It took about an hour to get to the foot of the mountain, and I was DYING.  Let me remind you, it is July in Athens, and it is HOT.  Plus, this is the one crucial difference between Luciana and I: she is athletic and I am not.


Me:  LUCIANA.  I can’t do it.  I over-estimated myself.
Luciana:  You’re doing great!  We’ll be at the mountain in ten minutes.
Me:  You’re lying.  I know we’ve only been walking for twenty minutes.
Luciana:  It’ll get easier.
Me:  We haven’t even reached the mountain yet!!  It’s not going to get easier!
Luciana:  You can do it!
Me:  I’m so tired.  It’s so hot.  My head hurts.
Luciana:  Do you want a banana?  It will help.

She is a saint for putting up with me, and eventually we found a good rhythm of hiking for two minutes, then standing in the shade so I could catch my breath for five.  And eventually, the path evened out and got more shady, and then I could merrily tromp along behind her and have real conversations again.

We hiked for over six hours, walked all the way back to my doorstep, and then ate a massive protein-rich dinner.  It was a really great adventure, and I LOVED being surrounded by nature.


George was finally done with his camp, so Luciana went home to her husband on Thursday.  I had a lovely lazy evening talking with Tatiana about being introverts.


So back when I was taking Greek lessons downtown every day, I noticed this thing called “Athens Clue” across the street from the National Garden entrance.  It’s an escape room organization, which is apparently popular all over the world, but I hadn’t heard of it until here.  Basically, you and some friends get locked in a room and you have a time limit within which you must escape.  It is like living in a video game puzzle, and I have tried to find people interested in it for MONTHS.


On Friday, I was successful.  Tatiana, Luciana, George, Anthi, Philemonas and I decided to try the “Pandemic” room, which is set up as an underground bunker.  80% of the world’s population had been wiped out by a biological weapon, and we had gotten locked in this place by terrorists while trying to find the vaccine.  In order to win, we had to 1) send an SOS, 2) find the correct vaccine, and 3) escape the locked room.  IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.

We were divided into two rooms – the mostly-Greek speakers and the mostly-English speakers.  There were clues to be found in the rooms, like maps hidden behind metal cabinets, keys magnetized to barrels, and this awesome puzzle where you had to line up the barrel under a painted mark and figure out what time was being referenced.  Some of the clues helped us unlock boxes in our area, and some had to shouted to the other team to solve their clues.  Eventually we all got into a third room, where we had to find a severed finger in the air duct that would press the fingerprint code that would open computers so we could send an SOS.  Eventually after that we found our way into a fourth room where we had to crawl under an alarm system to get into a vaccine case.  After finding the keys to unlock it, we had to test the solutions on that…solution-testing paper that I remembered how to use from high school chemistry, even if I don’t remember the name.  We found the correct one, interpreted the code in the letter that was in three pieces from three different places, unlocked the final box to find the key to let us out…with only three minutes to spare!!


I LOVED IT I loved it I loved it.  I would do one of these every day for the rest of my life.  We had a really smart group of people, and it was so fun to be working on one code while everyone else is doing something else, and then realize you had a piece to their puzzle and vice versa.  We treated ourselves with ice cream afterwards, and it was one of the most fun nights I’ve had in Athens so far!



Clearly that was a lot of social activity for me, and although it was SO FUN and I could probably do it again today, next week will also have some big social events so I’m not risking it.  Today is all about staying home, blogging, doing some Greek homework, reading, and playing a new computer game.


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