We went with our American friend Philip to see Pirates of the Caribbean 2 the other night. That was an interesting experience! At Greek movie theaters, you actually have to buy an assigned seat, like a real theater. I was really surprised at how organized the whole affair was, especially for Greece! (Oh, and yes, it's true -- you can buy beer at the movie theater.)
The movie was quite silly, but one unusual feature was that it just stopped in the middle of one scene. At first, we thought perhaps the projector had broken, but no -- this was an "intermission" so that people could go smoke. Philip just sighed and said, "Einai Ellada" (It's Greece).
This morning, our friend Dimitris took me to the Mt Athos Pilgrims' Office to (surprise, surprise) file some paperwork for my trip to the Holy Mountain on Monday. The office was tucked away in perhaps the most difficult-to-find spot in the city. I was glad Dimitris was available to take me -- I never would have found it. While in the office, I couldn't help but chuckle as I heard what I could immediately discern as an American convert (like myself) speaking on the phone from America with the official about getting permission to go to Mt. Athos. The official kept repeating himself: "It is not possible. It is impossible. Oh, in that case, yes, it's possible. But no, it's not possible. You must get the permission of the monastery and submit a document...." This conversation repeated itself at least 5 times. Ah, how I could relate. I wanted to get on the phone with him and be a cultural translator. I'm beginning to figure out that what this guy's problem was: He was trying to be too organized about the whole affair. Here I was turning in some document two days before I left (in person -- that's the key part -- and with a native Greek speaker), and he's faxing and calling from America trying to plan something months in advance. Poor guy.
Anyway, we saw that Divine Liturgy is being served tomorrow morning in the Rotunda -- Agios Georgios, the oldest church in Thessaloniki (although not originally constructed as a church -- it was built by the Emperor Galerius). We hear that the Metropolitan is usually at this kind of thing. We're thinking we'll go there tomorrow morning. I also saw that there's a nice exhibit of materials from Mt. Athos in the city, so maybe we can visit that as well after Liturgy. Hopefully, I'll have some photos and something interesting to post tomorrow evening then.
After that, I leave for Mt. Athos on Monday morning, returning (I think) Wednesday evening or Thursday.