Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 10: University in Kozani

We didn't know much about Kozani except that it was home to coal-powered electrical plants with air heavy of smoke and the clothes you hang to dry end up covered with soot, and basically, it is nothing of real interest for any foreigner or local - as told by some of the Greeks we met. Now that isn't exactly the most inviting description for any place but anyway, we looked forward to meeting Michalis, our host, a mechanical engineering student.

Through a link shared by his friend on facebook, Michalis found us, commented on the blog, and together we made arrangements for our meeting. First thing upon our arrival, Michalis hands us the keys to his apartment and advices us to "feel at home". For the first time in our lives, a stranger offers us his house and his keys and all there is to be eaten in the fridge, water to wash the shock off our faces, wifi access, and so forth. Could this be the famed Greek Hospitality they all talk about? If so, we made it to the top of the list.

The next day he takes us to a local shop to try their breakfast delicacy: Bughatsa (never know how to spell it), creme filled layers of delicate pastry topped with a dash of cinnamon, that and a glass of milk was next to perfection.

We visit his university and the first thing we see upon entrance are banners, tables with all sorts of posters that looked like club recruitment desks but no, these are political/anti-political parties - university scale. You have the socialist government party, the communist party, the anarchists, the independents, among others. We also discover the great advantage of Greek university students: free tuition, free books, free food (3 meals a day), free dorm (application basis) and with all these benefits you can even take as long as 10 years to complete a course. Thats not a characteristic of a country in crisis, is it? Michalis agrees and hopes it stays that way in the coming years.

After dinner with our host and his girlfriend Artemis, we meet his friend Sokrates, another mechanical engineering student who, with his immense curiosity and proclivity to share, made our evening tour of Kozani a most enjoyable one. and guess what, Kozani is beautiful awesome. With several parks - squeaky clean compared to Athens and with places to run with your dog, a forest to go and have a picnic, an open air wooden theater, lovely rock/brick streets that lead you all the way up for a full perspective of the city that, by the way, isn't covered with soot nor smelling of smoke. It smelled of pine trees actually.

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