Feta, Olive Oil, and Sun

I’m here a day ahead of most of my travel companions, but that hasn’t kept me from taking in City Center. The neighborhood is charming and residential, the streets lined with leafless tree stumps that I cannot for the life of me identify, cafes are sprinkled throughout, and the Hilton is among only a few towering hotels overlooking the Acropolis.

Eric Deichmann ’14 and I headed to a cozy neighborhood trattoria to sample the local flavors. Topping off my fabulously cliche Greek salad was a generous portion of feta cheese. Now, I live in Astoria and have tried dozens of feta cheeses, but none were ever as soft and creamy as this one. It quite literally melted in my mouth. As we finished off our house red, the waiter brought over a shot of mastic, a Greek liqueur native to the island of Chios, and compliments of the house. He then, observing the decadence through my expression, came over and said, “This is all we have. Feta cheese, olive oil, and sun.”

Oh if that were only true, I’d have a gluttonous nine days ahead of me. Instead, tomorrow begins the exploration of the land that is the birthplace of modern civilization, one with a history of rich prosperity but that is now rocked by fiscal calamity that threatens social stability. How have firms held up? How does the new Finance Minister, Yiannis Stournaras, plan to get the country’s debt under control with persistently high unemployment and tax evasion? And what is the sentiment among the people? These are all questions we will answer over the course of the next several days. All the while, of course, indulging in the feta cheese, olive oil, and sun.

Dyanna Salcedo, ’14
Follow my travels on Twitter! @DyannaSauce

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