holy hell, my first day in paros was something i’ll never forget.

after getting my room set up cameron came and met all of us to take us on a tour of the town. the main thing i remember from the tour? paros was set up to be confusing as hell. when pirates were coming to attack the town they wanted it to be like a maze in hopes that then the attackers wouldn’t be able to find their strongholds and would just leave annoyed. welp, i’m not sure how the pirates felt about the confusing layout, but i sure as hell am slightly annoyed and lost feeling as i walk through the city. in a way that’s bad, like if i need to get somewhere quickly or need to find a particular place, because that’s just not going to happen. but if i don’t have anything to do or worry about then it’s lovely because you discover all kinds of cool little alleyways and churches and shops. the town itself is absolutely spectacular; i’m in love with it already!

so after our brief and confusing tour we went to meet the professors at the school and get a small tour there. literally, it’s a one to one ratio between students and staff; i’m so pumped! the school is housed inside an old house that barry, the director, bought and has renovated for classrooms and painting space and such. all of the professors seemed wonderful and chill.

next, on to dinner. the painting teacher and her husband own and operate a fusion restaurant on the island that has the most intriguing food i’ve ever tasted: spicy salads, handmade ravioli with yogurt sauce, etc. the food was all served one course at a time and family style. there were 7 or 8 courses so it took us a few hours to eat. by the end of the meal all of the wine had been drank and refilled many times and the conversations were flowing all around. barry, the head honcho, came over and announced that we were heading off to a local bar and that the first round of drinks was on him! alright greek culture, i feel you.

so off we went, a big group of 17 or so of us, ambling slightly buzzed through small winding alleys to this bar. on the island everyone knows everyone so the bartender immediately saw us come in, recognized barry and the other teachers, and brought out 2 bottles of white wine. we ended up staying for at least two or three hours chatting, drinking wine, and dancing. as soon as a bottle would run out barry would call for more, and once he even decided to call for a round of shots for everyone. i sorta felt like it was my initiation night; like if i could just get through this then i’d be set, i would be part of the group.

it was kinda weird though because barry and his wife have a 4 or 5 year old daughter (she’s absolutely precious) and they brought her along with us. everyone was relaxing with their wine and she was wandering around dancing her heart out and hugging on everyone. thennnn the hooka came out and she wanted to play all over that. maybe it’s just my western culture coming out, or the fact that i work in a daycare over the summer, but i was shocked that they’d bring her out to a bar for hours at a time and allow her to run about as she pleased and watch and be part of it all. again, maybe that’s just how things are done here, i guess in a few more weeks i’ll know for sure!

oh, i forgot to mention kat! she’s a girl who came along with us last night to dinner and the bar who had actually done the HISA program in 2004 and now comes back every summer with her french husband to spend a few weeks catching up with everyone. she was wonderful and super nice and down to earth, too bad she’s leaving in two weeks!

but anyway, main points about last night:

  • i was shocked that barry’s child was at the bar with us
  • holy hell these greeks can drink some wine! granted, i love me some moscato, but i don’t love drinking dry white wine allllll night
  • i loved the way the meals were served and how we just ate bit by bit as the food came out. i wish we did this in america. it was really nice because the more wine we drank the more the conversations flowed and we became more comfortable with each other
  • apparently in greece parties don’t even start til midnight or later; i guess the bar we went to was a “starter bar” (according to kat) and that normally people would head off to another bar from there
  • not sure about the whole “party every single night” vibe that i’m getting so far; i’m more of a casual chill wine drinker and i don’t want to have top 40 music pumping through the place as i sip on my wine
  • the town is absolutely gorgeous, though i may never really be able to find my way around it on my own (!!)
  • basically last night wasn’t what i expected at all and i was a bit out of my comfort zone with it all, but that’s alright, that’s what i’m here for!! i’m just hoping that they don’t expect me to keep up with their wine intake, because that’s just not going to happen