One of the great perks of being a teacher is getting summer break. I could write a book* about the misconceptions of summer break. I could also probably have a book written about how this particular summer of mine fulfills every stereotype about teachers that exists.
*Possibly an entire book series.
My postings will be sparse for a few weeks. I'll be adding pictures and I may get to write some in the mornings before everyone else wakes up. We'll have internet, but mostly I plan on visiting the ancient Acropolis, possibly visiting Kymi, the town where my grandmother is from, relaxing on the beach and enjoying good food and good people with our friends on the island of Zakynthos. A wonderful friend of ours, Vivian Bozikis, is putting us up with her family and we couldn't be more excited.
|Seriously? This exists on Earth? This is Navagio beach, where we'll be visiting soon!|
We landed yesterday in Athens a few hours before Greece was to take on Costa Rica in the round of 16 at the World Cup. For both Greece and Costa Rica, this was an historic match. For the Greeks, let me give you some perspective.
In 1994 (that historic World Cup held in the United States) the Greeks qualified for the very first time in our history. In three games* the Greeks, known for stingy defense and timely goals, gave up 10 goals and scored not a single one. Tournament over.
*Everyone gets three "group stage" games at the World Cup. Of each of the eight groups of four, two teams move on to the final 16. That's where the Greeks and US Men's National Team are now. The US play tomorrow. For a great 2-minute video explaining all this, click here.
In 2010 in South Africa, the Greeks were in a pretty weak group with Argentina, Nigeria and South Korea. If you're new to soccer, that group was always going to be won by Argentina with the other three vying for second place. The Greeks lost their opener to South Korea but defeated Nigeria - big steps from 1994. This set up the all-important third game against Argentina where a draw was needed at a minimum. The Greeks lost 2-0. Tournament over.
Now here we are in Brazil. The Greeks got off to a terrible start losing to Colombia, a strong team itself, 3-0. Next up came a tie against Japan, setting up again an all-important third match against the Ivory Coast.* Needing a win to advance, the Greeks went ahead early on a counter-attack and things looked great! Then the Ivory Coast pulled even after about 20 minutes of intense pressure. Keep in mind that the first goal the Greeks scored was their third goal in World Cup history, so a second that game seemed an improbability.
* The Ivory Coast qualified for the 2006 World Cup while in the middle of a civil war. Read this next part closely. Didier Drogba, the star striker for the Ivory Coast, asked both sides to come to peace. And they did. I'm not lying about this. I hope you enjoy reading my blog, but you should stop reading it now and read this.
Then came the 93rd minute - yes, the game only lasts 90 minutes. It's called stoppage time...whatever. Go with it. Our inexplicably slow, yet impossible-to-catch forward Georgios Samaras drew a penalty, which he put deftly into the corner of the goal, for the game-winner. Tournament NOT over.
So that's how we ended up in Athens, Greece watching the Greek national team play in the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup. Truly, this is too good to be true. The only thing better would be if Greece and the USA were to meet in the semi-finals on July 9th, our 3rd wedding anniversary.
You can get that for me, right Angela?
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