This weekend was a long one, because it technically started on Friday. On Friday morning, we went to an archeological museum in the center of Thessaloniki, which I really enjoyed. There was so much jewelry from ancient graves (like 300 B.C. ancient). It was part of an entire section about gold in the ancient world. There was also statues and pottery that related to Greek mythology and the gods, which is the kind of stuff I love.

In the afternoon, David, Bradley and I went off to the boardwalk along the water for lunch and walking around in the sun. I’m trying to try all of the places on the boardwalk before we leave, but that means I still have quite a few places to go before next week. We also went over to the very well known “Umbrella” sculpture.

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George Zongolopoulos’ “Umbrellas”

On Saturday, we went to another museum; this one was an ancient tomb that was discovered fully intact because it had never been looted. Later we went to the little town nearby called Veroia for lunch.

I did some work on my next two articles in the afternoon on Saturday and again on Sunday morning, but I took a break to go to a soccer game for the local team Aris, whose home field is only a short walk from where we’re staying. A group of us walked over on Sunday afternoon, and as we were buying tickets, a large group of uniformed police officers in full riot gear were walking in to their section.

The rivalries are so strong and the crowd is so passionate about their teams, which means the crowd can get out of hand if their team loses. For that reason, fans from opposing teams aren’t allowed into the stadiums, so it was interesting that everyone was supporting one team.

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Isabelle, Hsiang-Yu, and me at the game

Once inside, we found some seats, and as we watched the players warm up, the fans prepared themselves as well. Some climbed the fences surrounding the field to tie up signs, either political or in support of the team. Everyone was dressed in yellow or black – the team colors – or wearing jerseys and t-shirts showing their support.

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Fans climb the fences and hang signs

As the players walked on to the field, the crowd began to sing and chant, and they didn’t stop for the entire first half. It was an exciting atmosphere, to have everyone around so unified. We were sitting on one of the calmer sections of the stadium, so it wasn’t quite as full.

Across from us, the crowd was much more extreme, waving giant flags and setting off smoke bombs. That was a huge cultural difference for me – if someone brought something like that into an American sports stadium (after making it through metal detectors and bag checks) and lit it up, they would be immediately arrested, at a minimum.

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The crowd on the opposite side of the field, I’m glad we were over where we were

At halftime, it began to rain, and it was pretty cold, so Gwen, Hsiang-Yu and I began to walk home. On our way, we found a café that was playing the second half on TV, and decided to stay there and watch the rest of the game. We sat on the covered patio and watched the game until the end of overtime, but it ended in a tie, 0-0. They had great smoothies here though.

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Gwen and Hsiang-Yu & our smoothies (pear/banana, strawberry, and kiwi/pear/banana)
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