Athens – Day 1

Today made our crazy day yesterday worth it! We had a great sleep last night with the help of the amazing ‘blinds’ that are pretty standard in Europe. Jeff went out for breakfast (Greek pastries) and some essentials this morning. After getting ready for the day we headed out! We walked the 7ish minutes to the Acropolis. Amazing. We explored the Filopapou Hill while geocaching!

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Can you see the cache?

We made our way to the top during our hours in the park.

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We meandered to the north side if the acropolis for lunch (gyros and beer if course). We did a little more exploring before having some gelato and heading to the New Acropolis Museum for 2.5 hours (must go there I’d in Athens!). We found a small (health food) market for 2 bottles of wine and a bar chocolate.

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Greek wine!

We headed back to Smile for more deliciously amazing food!

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Spanakopita

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Moussaka

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Pork souvlaki

We’ll have many more non-iPhone pictures when we get back to Kuwait 🙂

Καληνύχτα και όνειρα γλυκά

We made it…finally!

It has been a DAY! We were at the airport in Kuwait by 3am. Our flight left on time and we were excited to experience Qatar Airways for the first time. When we arrived in Doha, it took us awhile to get off the plane (we were near the back), get on the bus, go through security and arrive at our gate to leave for Athens. By then they had closed the gate and would not let us on (even though we didn’t have any checked luggage). No one along the way ever gave us special consideration thinking that we might miss our connection. We were not the only ones from our flight (but apparently there were a few who did make it) and we were told to go to be transfer desk. We were booked for the 1pm flight…and that’s all. We were nice and asked what they could do for us…nada. Upon further insistence we did get a voucher for (nasty) breakfast. Luckily I didn’t get the I edible eggs on toast like Jeff and Abby!

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Amongst all this…the blame was put on US for not making our connection. We were labeled as ‘gate no show.’ The most frustrating thing throughout the whole morning was that they never took responsibility for what happened. And they didn’t treat those passengers who missed the flight the same (some got into the silver lounge…others had to beg to even be put on the 1pm flight). The positive was that the airport did have free wifi! The views flying out of Doha were beautiful!! (Pictures when we get back)

In Athens, we missed he metro into the city by 10 seconds (literally) and then had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. We switched to the tram in the center of the city on our way to our AirBnB apartment. When our stop came…the door didn’t open! We had to go past our stop and walk back in the pouring rain. Jeff left to see about getting a SIM card for his phone and Abby and I waited to see if our ‘host’ showed up. She did…minutes after Jeff left but we had no way to contact him!

We finally made it to the cute apartment!

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Luckily the rain had stopped so we dropped our stuff and headed out for a bit to eat at a recommended restaurant!

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It was amazing to be able to order a beer with dinner again!

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The food was amazing…(oven baked feta)

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…but the gyros were to die for! In Abby’s words…”I’ve never eaten a gyro until this moment.”

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On top of the amazing food, the service at Smiles was fantastic! We may or may not be contemplating going back everyday 😉

Goodnight from Greece!

Authentic Kuwaiti

Last weekend we went to the AWARE Center for a traditional Kuwaiti experience. We started with dates, ate a delicious Kuwaiti meal and ended with a presentation about Kuwaiti culture. It was great to finally have the chance to eat REAL Kuwaiti food! Most of the restaurants here are from other Arab countries.

We didn’t take pictures, but click over to Crazy in Kuwait’s post to read more about it 🙂

Happy birthday!

This long weekend is in honor of prophet Mohammed’s birthday (PBUH). We’re taking full advantage of the extra time to have fun, eat good food and relax!

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Treats from the Arabic department for Prophet Mohammed’s birthday.

The excitement started on Wednesday morning when we booked tickets for Andrew to come visit during his spring break! His girlfriend, Shannon, is studying abroad in Barcelona and will be meeting Andrew in London for a layover before flying together to Kuwait for a week! We’re all pretty excited 🙂

Wednesday night we enjoyed Turkish food and shisha at Afendim with some friends that we took Arabic classes with. It was a great time had by all…even though the three of us think we have had some side effects from shisha (feel slightly sick).

Thursday morning Abby and I joined some other friends for breakfast at Cocoa Room. It was amazing as always. We shared the cinnamon roll French toast, eggs menemen and hash browns. As we were finishing up our meal, a server came over with an order of peanut butter pancakes. We told him they weren’t ours…but a few minutes later another server came over and told us they were on the house. We were all full, but could you pass these up?!

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Peanut butter pancakes!

After Abby and I recovered from our sugar coma, we decided to take advantage of the day and head outside…for some geocaching!

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Thursday’s weather

Jeff, Abby and I walked a couple miles along the Gulf in the gorgeous weather and logged a 2-part multi-cache.

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Geocaching…in Arabic!

Along the way we found a palace that we hadn’t noticed before. we thought about exploring but decided against it 😉

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No one’s going in there…

We weren’t the only ones that were out enjoying the day…there were tons of people grilling and having picnics!

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Picnicking on the Gulf.

Thursday evening we met up with our friend Dana for dinner and drinks (strawberry juice and 7up sans alcohol, obviously) at her place. We then headed to City Center for bowling! Jeff and Dana were styling 🙂

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It was the first time we’d been to this mall which is known for it’s cheap shops and shoe outlets. I found 2 pair of Nine West boots for 22kd before we headed upstairs to bowl.

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The games weren’t our best ever but I did manage to get one legit strike and one computer glitch strike!

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We’ll share our Friday soon…right now we’re heading out to the camel races!

We love sisters!

Did you know that Abby (my awesome sister) is here?! She’s living with us (we have 2 bedrooms) for the semester and substitute teaching in the elementary. Since she got here we’ve been trying to show her around Kuwait and go about our normal lives. Her first weekend here we…

turkish

…ate at a Turkish restaurant.

...drank yummy lemon mint.

…drank yummy lemon mint.

…experienced our first shisha.

…celebrated the engagement of our friends with an authentic Sri Lankan meal.

 

Having family here makes us miss home just a little less. We’re looking forward to the rest of the semester! 🙂

 

We don’t always cook

Last night Jeff and I didn’t feel like cooking. On our walk back from the grocery store we decided to call and order Indian to get delivered to our apartment. Normally we don’t like eating out because it’s expensive and we can usually cook something better at home. Luckily in Kuwait there are lots of small, cheap, quality restaurants! After we got home we waited a few minutes and the call came that our food was in the lobby. When we got the food up to our apartment we realized there was a miscommunication on the phone…we’re not really sure everything that we got but we do know it was all tasty! And it was only 4kd with tip for all of it! We had enough food for dinner for 2, lunch for 3 AND there were leftovers!

Indian dinner

2 things I’m thankful for are…

1. Learning Arabic. Tonight Jeff and I went to our a restaurant around the corner to pick up a chicken machine. We go there 2-3 times a week to pick one up and use it in a variety of recipes. We are quite familiar with the guys who work there. Tonight we were able to order in Arabic! We recently learned numbers and they taught us how to say chicken machine. So tonight we ordered one (واحد) chicken machine (شواية)! Exciting 🙂

2. Skype/FaceTime. Today we were able to FaceTime with both Jeff parents and Skype with my family at a family get together! While my family was coming and going during the hour we talked to them, I had one of those moments where I was like “Wow, technology is freakin’ awesome.” We were basically with our families today! Amazing 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

Halloween in Kuwait

Halloween celebrations started last night (started this post Thursday :)! Staff children gathered at the school to carve pumpkins. Afterwards, they made their rounds to the teacher buildings to Trick or Treat. We ended up getting 15-20 kids – they were adorable! After the kids came, our neighbor (Arabic teacher here) told us about a tradition during the middle of Ramadan. She said kids dress up in traditional, formal clothing (not costumes) and go around getting candy. They do it after sunset so they aren’t breaking their fast. We love learning new things about the culture we live in!

Thursday was dress down day at school (once a month students don’t have to wear their uniforms and teachers can wear jeans). This week teachers and students were allowed to wear costumes. There were some impressive ones! A middle school boy had a wooden miniature house made and was from the movie Up!. There was a girl with a zipper on her face…really hard to explain but part of her face was normal and part was zombie – use your imagination. One teacher-friend was Ms. Frizzle, our esteemed colleague was Batman and another friend was Robin…they got all their costumes custom made by a tailor nearby! All the KG1 teachers were crayons and the KG2 teachers were highlighters (black outfits w/ neon yellow wigs)…they looked great! Jeff and I were super creative too – we went as muggles. Yupp, it was quite the costume 😉 I was actually most impressed with this costume (you can always count on Jenna Marbles for some crazy shit).

On Thursday morning at 8:45am, the pre-k, KG1 & KG2 students (2-6 year olds) paraded through the school. All the upper elementary and middle school students lined the parade route cheering them on. Jeff and I made it a priority to attend. It was one of the cutest things we’ve ever seen! Each class formed lines by either holding on to the classmate in front of them (see below)or they all held on to a rope led by the teacher. TOO cute!

Our colleague was the Grand Marshal of the parade 🙂 Masks added to protect privacy of students.

Throughout the day we were really surprised at the number of students who went all out with their costumes. Students of all ages came in full costume. In the US we’ve seen a huge decline in the Halloween celebrations at school since we were in elementary. Here, they are all about it! At the end of the day all the classes in the elementary school had parties. We took a stroll around during last 20 minutes of the school day…we’ve never seen anything like it! Each student brings enough for the entire class – the amount of food is INSANE! I heard about a student whose driver dropped off 30KD (~$100) so she could order KFC for her entire class. One student’s dad owns the local Baskin Robbins…so he brought enough single scoops for several classes. Another student’s dad owns the Subways…her class ate a little healthier. One class we stopped by had the biggest cupcake I’ve ever seen.

Stolen photo 🙂

The sheer amount of food was sickening. I wish I would have had my camera to capture the craziness! We tried to be responsible, but I will say I ate two of the best cake balls I’ve ever had!

So tasty!

The students went home to their parents (read: nannies) on a sugar high and the school maids went home with massive amounts of food. The rest went home with the teachers and we enjoyed it at our own Halloween party last night 🙂 There were several more impressive costumes…and Jeff and I rocked our muggle disguises. Happy (belated) Halloween everyone!

Food Lately

**This post has taken me countless hours to write because of many technical difficulties (among other things). The pictures still look funny when published for some reason. Sorry..you’re going to have to deal with it! I’m going to bed 🙂 I really, truly hope you enjoy!!

For being such lovers of food, we haven’t posted a lot about what we’ve been eating…so today I’m here to make you jealous! There are lots of American restaurants in Kuwait (McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Ruby Tuesday, Chili’s, Applebee’s, P.F. Chang, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway…I could go on). We’ve only patronized two Western places so far…Starbucks and Shake Shack, both at The Avenues. Instead of eating at places we’re familiar with, we’ve been making our own food (comme toujours) and going to small, local ‘restaurants.’ Jeff has two rules for you when you come visit…one of them is that you eat whatever we tell you to eat! Enjoy!

First, some of the meals we’ve bought…

Swedish meatballs from one of our early Ikea excursions.

Once a week we pay 1.5 KD for a rotisserie chicken (chicken machine) from a Lebanese place between the school & our apt. It lasts us 2 meals and the first night is usually pulled chicken over salad. Sometimes we splurge and get a schawarma too!

A true staple in our diet. This particular bread we bought fresh out of the oven for pennies! It was so hot Jeff needed more than the newspaper to carry it home 🙂

The (literal) hole in the wall where our bread was made!

When we went to the Friday Market (on a Thursday), we ate at an Indian place there. We paid 800 Fils for all this yumminess…two chicken wraps of some sort, fried veggies, & a sambosa!

We love the two Lebanese restaurants between our apt and school! Bread & hummus from one, falafel wrap from the other…all for less than 1KD!

The Shack Shake in The Avenues is amazing…expensive, but my caramel shake was totally worth it!

Some friends introduced us to the soup place. We ask for 4 containers of green soup with onions & lemon and hand over 1.5KD. These 4 containers (with bread as spoons) will last 4 meals for both of us!

Our green soup came in the one with the towel. There’s other soup too…we were advised against trying them though 😉

And here are some of the meals we’ve made…

We found a Madras curry paste that we’ve fallen in love with! So far, we’ve had a curry stir-fry about once a week. We vary up the veggies and have added Kuwaiti shrimp a few times too!

This is one of the ways that we used pulled chicken machine…with green beans over couscous. More delicious that we thought it would be!

Yet another meal using pulled chicken machine…this time pasta! It started off as a creamy sauce and ended as a cheesy sauce. Basically spicy mac n’ cheese w/ artichokes, tomatoes & mushrooms…again better than expected!

Another weekly staple – pizza using Iranian bread (we can get 5 pieces for 100-250 Fils). We’ve been using sun-dried tomato pesto, whatever veggies we have and sliced mozzarella. We also make garlic cheese bread with the ‘fluffy garlic’ sauce that we get with our chicken machine.

We love us some Iranian bread! For wraps, Jeff roasted chickpeas in cumin and we ate them with moutabel, cucumbers & lettuce.

Another concoction with Egyptian bread 🙂 We were recently introduced to labneh – a cheesy sour cream yogurt spread. Delish!

Jeff had the amazing idea to make a Niçoise Salad. It was simple, filling and healthy…yum. We also found a new bread – Egyptian bread sold at the Sultan Center. Kind of like a thick pita and it comes in white or brown.

I found a pumpkin pancake & waffle mix at the Sultan Center! If you didn’t know, I ❤ pancakes…seriously. We’ve made these the last two Saturdays. We put out tons of toppings (butter, PB, almond butter, cocoa, honey, pecans, banana…) and eat up! This morning I added oatmeal to the batter for the last couple…tasty and SO filling!

We hope you’ve enjoyed a peak into our culinary lives! Are you ready to come visit yet?! We are loving the food here so far and have had a lot of fun being adventurous. We’ve heard that there are a lot of great restaurants so we are eager to find & try them! Enjoy the rest of your weekend 🙂

Sample weekend

Lots of people are curious about what our weekends might look like. While chasing camels and fighting our way through sandstorms may sound glamorous, we have yet to do either. Here’s what Friday looked like:

10am – woke up
11am – willingly subjected ourselves to Bodypump at our new gym. Ouch.
12pm – staggered to some couches in the lobby and surfed the net for an hour.
2pm – met up with friends to taxi to one of the malls nearby.
5pm – geocached our first international hide
6pm – grabbed a few things from the grocery store on our way home
7pm – made and subsequently ate fantastic pizza on leftover Iranian bread.


Saturday

8am – woke up
8:45am – hailed a cab and went to the Grand Mosque
9:15-11:30 – toured the Grand Mosque
12pm – cabbed back, had lunch w/ a friend (hummus w/ veggies & bread)
1pm-4:30 – spent the afternoon on the beach at the club.
5pm – grocery shopped.
6pm – made dinner.

It was an awesome weekend, one we hope to repeat many times over. I guess when you think about it, some of the things we did we couldn’t have done in the US, for better or worse. Either way, for those of you thinking we’re spending the next few years in some third-world country, rest assured we are not 🙂

Update (from Lissa): if you didn’t notice, our weekends in Kuwait are Friday & Saturday. Friday is the holy day in Muslim culture (like Sunday for Christians) so naturally they have the day off. After living in culture with Saturday/Sunday weekends for 27+ years, this change has completely screwed up my sense of time. I usually have no idea what day it is and how many more days til the weekend comes:)