At this exact moment in time I am settled in a Thessaloniki studio apartment, cup of rosé in hand, typing away with three friends while listening to soft music and the rain. It is a picture perfect ending (Paxtyn took a polaroid) to our first full day in Greece.

Sophie and I started the morning with iced coffees and Greek pastries we couldn’t pronounce the names of. It took us a minute to navigate our way to the bakery, and we ended up making a two minute walk about seven. At 8 a.m. in a completely different time zone, navigation should have been a chore, but instead it was an adventure underneath balconies filled with flowers, coffee drinkers, and people shaking out their laundry.

We took a bus into downtown Thessaloniki and walked through the streets. As we walked through the city, I heard a handful of locals audibly comment about us being tourists. Obviously the cameras strapped around our necks and our backpacks weren’t doing a good job of hiding the fact.

We toured the rotunda of Galerius, walked the boardwalk and saw the white tower, and got lunch and a second coffee in Aristotle’s square. We visited the U.S. Consulate and had a q & a with U.S. Consul General Rebecca Fong.

I have mastered “thank you” (ευχαριστώ) and “good morning” (Καλημέρα) in Greek and feel comfortable using them. I also know “my name is” (το όνομά μου είναι), but haven’t been in a situation where I’ve had to use it yet.

So far I have learned that you aren’t supposed to flush toilet paper down the toilet, the tap water takes some getting used to, WhatsApp is great for messaging but terrible for phone calls, and the ancient Greeks used sex toys.

The light outside the window has turned golden, our rosé has run out, and the rain has stopped. We will head out to dinner soon, wandering the streets until we find something that sounds good.

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