Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Odyssey: A Daytrip to Greektown

As I noted in my post of October 17th, sometimes one finds oneself with an extra ticket to something or other, and sometimes one invites someone to something with that ticket.

And sometimes one is the invitee - as I was for the second time since I've moved here.  One of my friends won two tickets to a Chicago Cultural Center tour of Chicago's Greektown, and invited me to join him.  We hadn't seen each other since I last visited him in April, and I had a (homemade) scarf to give him, so I said yes.  Also, lunch was included.  Who am I to turn down authentic Greek food?

After I found my way to the cultural center - conveniently located across the street from the terminus of my Metra line - we loaded onto a bus and my friend began wondering if he could hit on the tour coordinator, a mildly good looking Greek guy (if you go for that sort of thing - I pegged him as straight from minute 1).  Pondering this question, we drove to the church above, which is actually the Greek Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral, despite the modest exterior.  (I don't have interior photos because I felt that would be disrespectful, but to give you an idea, here's a photo that the internet kindly provided upon request.)  Although not terribly large, Annunciation Cathedral is a very attractive building inside, replete with mosaics, painted walls, chandeliers, and all manner of lovely things.  It makes all but the most baroque of American Catholic churches seem dull by comparison - though it is the seat of an archbishiopric, so I suppose I should check out Chicago's Catholic cathedral before I make that kind of judgment.  Ooops, too late.

From Annunication cathedral we drove to Hull House (yes, the Hull House, the one founded by Jane Addams), which is now on the campus of UIC, but was, when it was founded, within the confines of the old Greektown.  We toured it briefly, then drove through what had been old Greektown before heading to new Greektown (farther south and east, if my memory serves me) for lunch.  And what a lunch!  Saganaki (that's the cheese they set on fire), a wonderful chicken breast marinated  in olive oil with various sides, and baklava for dessert.  Greek tour guide showed up at our table with his fiancee, much to my friend's chagrin, though it didn't surprise me in the least.  Afterward he (my friend) and I took a short walk before our last stop, and went to a Greek candle store and browsed.  I found what pictured on the right.  Another flavor you might like to consider is "Come to Me," which is supposed to draw the person you're in love with to you.  Also available as a body wash.

We returned from our rather entertaining walk and visited a museum displaying art by Greek-Americans; one of the exhibits was focused on Cyprus, a situation I know only a little about.  As I understand it, the Turks invaded Cyprus to protect the Turkish minority there from the depredations of the Greek majority, but the Turkish solution was to divide Cyprus politically, which made no one happy.  Fortunately for the future of world peace, I know a candle store in Greektown with the solution to this problem in a bottle.  Just be careful - those contents are under pressure.  Do not expose to heat or store at temperatures above 120 degrees.  Keep out of the reach of children and shake well before using.  And remember not to point it at yourself.

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