Friday, April 30, 2010

Our trip is coming to an end:(

Sorry...I don't have much time to write... We arrived back in Athens safely today. It all went surprisingly smooth for being such a tiny airport. They didn't even have electricity at the time (who knows why) but we made it safely. We then checked into our hotel and rushed downtown to the Acropolis. So...yes...we finally got to see it. It's amazing to be able to see a building that was originally built in 6800 BC. Crazy! It is also the highest point in Athens so the view is amazing. We then wandered around the streets, had some lunch, and are now back at the hotel. We can't wait to get cleaned up and have a nice dinner tonight. Last night here! I can't believe it.

Well, all say a prayer that the workers don't strike tomorrow (we were told it was only the trains and taxi drivers...but who knows)and we can get on our flight and head home. It's been a great trip...tiring:)...but great. I think we had the right mix of learning about all of the places (sightseeing, etc.), experiencing the culture, meeting people, relaxing and even going out for a night on the town. It was fabulous. I would do it all over again soon if I could:)

We are excited to head home though...we will see you all soon! Love you! Kali nikta...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A lovely stroll through Naxos...

Hi all!Today was a lovely, relaxing day. We slept in (pretty much the first day that we've done that) and then visited a few little museums close to where we are staying. We then went for a stroll along the beach. It was chilly! It's been super windy here. The locals said it's not normally like this we just caught it at a bad time. Naxos would be fabulous in the summer...cute beach area with a bunch of restaurants/bars. We then strolled through town. It was the afternoon "siesta" ( I don't know what they call it here) so there was hardly a single other person around. Most of the shops were closed too. So we went back to our hotel and took a snooze as well. We just go out for the night.

Tomorrow we are headed back to Athens. We are flying out at 1030. We are hpong to make it to the Acropolis tomorrow before we leave on Saturday. Wish us luck! I will write again soon!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wow...what a day

I don't even really know where to begin... Well, we were looking for an adventure and we found one:). Well we thouht we were heading to Mykonos today, but that is not where we are now:). No worries...we are just fine, we just had a little snafew in travel plans today. We checked out of our hotel this morning, headed to the port, and got onto the ferry. The ferry was great actually...huge and very comfortable. I actually thought to myself , "wow...this is going well! This is a piece of cake!". We had been seated for about 5 minutes when they made an announcement and everyone started packing up their stuff and leaving the boat. Brandon and I were extremely confused...and no one really told us what was going on...very typically European (Heath can vouch for that:). We stood in a line for an hour and a half to hear that the ferry was not going because the winds were too strong. We could still go to Mykonos but we would have to take 3 different boats to get there. But they were going to other islands. One of the islands that they were still sailing to ( on a bigger boat so it's safer) is called Naxos. We knew about it from one of the couples we went on the sailing tour with. They loved it. So after much consideration we decided to go there instead. Hoping that at some point we could make it back to Athens for our flight on Saturday. Honestly, we considered staying in the safety and familiarity of santorini but decided we wanted to see anoher island. So we jumped...

So at 1530 we boarded a huge ship (a big cargo/cruise ship). And headed out. It was actually very organized and very nice. In 2 hours we were in Naxos. We read our guidebook ( thank God for guidebooks) and made a tentative plan. We got there and things were a bit chaotic. There were about 12 people standing there holding signs hoping we would stay at their place. It was a bit overwhelming. We decided to find a travel agent to book tickets to Athens and ended up buying a plane ticket instead. We decided flying was maybe more reliable than taking a ferry...maybe:)... ( and much quicker). We also booked a hotel in Athens right next to the airport. We were informed by a fellow American today that all laborers In Athens might strike on Saturday ( it's their labor day). Sweet... So we wanted to be close to the airport in case of issues with our flight ( the airport is 30 miles outside of Athens). We then met a very nice lady who rented us a room at her's a little studio. She actually drove us there in her car..along with her aunt who had a bum knee:) Don't worry ma...we are fine. Naxos is very's not nearly as touristy...mostly Greeks. It is hard to trust someone when you live in a big city...I'm used to being very tentative of strangers. But everything worked out and now I'm finally relaxed. The studio is very nice...Kristina is very helpful...and it's actually super cheap. Let's just hope our luggage is there when we get back...just kidding:). Naxos is actually lovely...very charming and the locals are very nice. It is the real deal here...real Greeks living everyday life. It's great! If everything else goes well I will be very happy:).

Right now we are sitting in a lovely cafe (with free wifi:) and having a snack. The locals don't eat til 11 you know! I am excited to explore more tomorrow. Love you all!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 of the best experiences of my life

Tomorrow we are leaving and it will be very sad. Brandon and I have had such an amazing time will be hard to top it. We rented a scooter yesterday and it was great. It was such a fun way to see the island. I think I got to see alot more than Brandon did though...driving and traffic are tenuous...he really had to pay attention. So I think I got a little more out of it than he did. We then went on our sailing adventure. Much to our surprise the boat was full. There were about 10 of us plus 3 crew members. It was fun that way though...we met a great couple from San Francisco that were there on their honeymoon. The crew was fabulous! Our captain was the same one as on tv! Captain Ted...he was hilarious. Damn good cook too! They let us swim in the hot springs...yep we swam (it was freezing!) but it was an adventure. Then they parked the boat in a bay and cooked us dinner. It was quite the spread! Ted grilled fresh calamari right there on the boat! We then sailed around some more. It was really fantastic..utterly unforgetable. We then sat outside our hotel room on the veranda with a nightcap and called it an early night.

This morning we took our scooter to a wine museum. It was interesting. It is still a family owned winery so we got to do a tasting afterward. It was really good stuff..I'm actually drinking some right now:). We then walked all the way down to the ocean edge (it tool about 20 minutes on a winding pathway) and tool a cable car back up. Alot of people were riding donkeys...which looked fun and all, but I just felt so bad for them. Beasts of burden...walling up and down those damn steps all day long:(. We got pictures though:). We actually ran into captain Ted on the way back to our hotel (the own a sushi restaurant by our hotel). He caught a huge bluefin tuna that his sushi chef was cutting up, right there so we watched awhile and chatted. We are going to head there later for some fresh sushi.

We are headed to mykonos tomorrow by ferry...we think. The ferry was cancelled today because of strong winds so who knows. Nobody but us seems too worried about it...they are islanders...nothing gets them too worked up:). I will let you know what happens. Happy birthday Sis! 21! Have a great birthday! I got you some greek wine since your legal now:)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Santorini...heaven on earth

Sorry it took so long to write. It has taken awhile to figure out the Internet thing here. Plus, I'm so in awe of my surroundings that it is difficult to think of anything else really. Brandon and barely made it here yesterday. We took the metro to the airport forgetting that it was sunday and less busy...which means the subway trains are much more infrequent. We made it on the plane by the hair of our chinny chin chins:). And much to our delight, our luggage made it too! I loved Santorini from the moment I laid eyes on it (even before that I guess...from pictures and movies). It is like no place I could have ever imagined and like no place I have ever been's magic. Pictures will do it no justice...but I'm trying like hell to capture it anyway:). It is so different from Athens...polar opposite in fact. I'm glad we did the trip in this order because Athens is a city...hustle and bustle all the time. Santorini is an island. You get the impression that everyone who lives here knows eachother, which is kind of lovely, and also feels very safe. If someone were to rob you they sure as hell wouldn't get very far:). The island is only 28 square miles. It is slow-paced and incredibly relaxing.

Yesterday we got acclimated. We actually watched the sun go down over the ocean for about 3 hours while drinking some wine. Yep...3 hours. It's just so beautiful! The colors change every few's amazing. We then got cleaned up (finally) and headed to dinner. It's definitely off season...alot of the restaurants are closed for a few more weeks. But I think it's nice this way. Our hotel is full but the service is great because we may be the only people in a restaurant that night:). The Greek people are so very nice...they've been great and so helpful.

Today we are renting a scooter. So that should be interesting:). The roads twist and turn like crazy but Brandon will be driving so you dont have to worry (ma:). We also have our sailing adventure. It starts at 3 and will be about a 5 hour tour. I'm very excited for it. It's a beautiful day...sunny and warm. Chilly in the wind but lovely out of it. I think summer would be sweltering here. Everything is white and the sun reflects off of it. I would be burnt to a crisp:). Maybe I would be ok...I have that dark Dutch skin you know:).

Ok...I need to get ready for scooting:). I will try write again soon. I hope you all are well.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Athens...a phenomenal city

Sooo...where to start. Yes...we got a late start yesterday. A little jet lagged still, we slept in and then got ready for a big day of sightseeing. Well we show up at the first place, the Ancient Agora, all excited about what we are about to see. Well, Greeks apparently still consider this the winter season and all sites close down by 3 in the winter season (Rick Steve's failed to mention that in the book)! So we had about...45 minutes to sight see. We did the best we could... Brandon said, "How will they be able to kick us out? This place is huge..." Well...sure enough, 1/2 hour later there were like 20 people yelling at us from all angles that they were closed and we needed to get the hell out! (Well, they probably didn't use those EXACT words:) We were appalled! It was 3 in the afternoon! What the hell were we going to do with the rest of the afternoon? We couldn't figure out if Greeks closed up shop for an afternoon siesta and opened things again later, but everywhere we proceeded to go after that, places were shutting down! What do they do? When do they work? We went to a museum...closed. We went to the market...shutting down. So we ate some food and took a little siesta ourselves...I mean they really don't leave you much of a choice. I think we are the only people who have ever visited Athens and not been to the Acropolis! It's like sacreligious! Oh well...not much we can do about it now...we are heading to Santorini in about 1/2 and hour. Hopefully we can see it on the way back:(

Last night, however, was great! Athens by night is much different than Athens by day. Some parts of the city look very dirty, with graffiti everywhere. But by night...all the store fronts open up, there's outdoor seating everywhere and it's a whole new ballgame! It was great! We ate dinner with some friends we met at the hostel (2 guys from Australia, and a guy from California currently working and living in Romania). Dinner was good and then we headed to a few bars. We soon found out that drinks are rather expensive...$8 for a Heineken...but ouzo (Greeks love ouzo) is rather cheap...$2 a glass. Ouzo it was! It tastes like black licorice and is rather strong...but oh well...we made do. We tried a few places and finally ended up at a real Greek hang out. They were playing Greek music and dancing...well Greek I guess. It was sooo fun! They pulled us into their circle and we danced with was great! Top experience of the night. They were very nice and we had a great time. We finished the night at about 4 am. Yes! 4 am! I can't tell you the last time I was up that late. But I guess when you don't eat til 11 and the bars don't get going til 1, that's normal. We had a gyro and called it a night. It was fabulous!

A little tired today but off to Santorini! I will write asap. Love you all!

Kali mera!

This means "good morning" in Greek. See...I'm learning a few things while I'm here:) Its actually afternoon. We are moving a little slow today. We took a nap after our city walk yesterday to try get over our jet lag. We then went to the rooftop bar to catch a drink for happy hour and watch the sun set over the Acropolis. Well we ended up meeting some great people and stayed most of the night. We met some guys from Australia that just started their 3 month tour of Europe. We also met 2 girls from...Michigan and Wisconsin! Crazy huh! One was teaching in Paris for a year and the other was traveling by herself for 3 months (she is very brave!). Well, we hadn't exactly eaten yet and the beer and jet lag hit us a little harder than we would have thought, so it was a rather early night for us last night.

Right now we are trying to get the motivation for a long day of sight seeing. I think we are going to do the Acropolis and Ancient Agora tour. Some of the oldest ruins around (450 BC or so). It should be interesting! Hopefully we will actually make it out to dinner tonight as well, instead of crashing and heading to bed early. We haven't acclimated to the Greek's schedule yet. They eat lunch around 2 and dinner around 10 pm. We are trying to do that as well to get the whole experience (it not as much fun to eat alone:). I will write again soon. Take care!

Friday, April 23, 2010

We made it! Safe and sound in Athens...

So...after an extremely long flight (10 1/2 hours to be exact) we arrived in Athens. I think Brandon and I tolerated eachother quite nicely:) Everything went very smooth actually. The Athens airport is actually very nice and it was easy to navigate. And thanks to Rick Steves we found the metro easily and took that all the way into Athens (the airport is about 1/2 hour out of the city). The metro was nice because we could observe our surroundings as we were heading in to the city. The terrain looks very much like Italy actually...mountainous, green. But a little more arid here. We popped out of the metro station and the first thing we saw? The Acropolis! It's amazing...hard to miss actually. It sits on top of the highest point in Athens. It's actually nice if you get can always be used as a point of reference. We couldn't check into our hostel right away, so we did the walking tour around Athens that Rick Steves suggested in his book. It was great actually. It is definitely a European city! Tiny roads winding everywhere...monuments and streets are very hard to find. But that is also what I love about it! It's an adventure! You never know what you're going to find around the corner. Athens is very interesting actually, because the ruins are in the middle of the city. The Roman Forum, for example, is in the middle of a residential area...just gated off. It is so amazing to me that these ruins are from BC and there they are...sitting right there next to a house....weird. I admire a culture that respects it's past so much. I have a feeling that we'd just tear them down in America...sad. We also saw our first (of many) Greek Orthodox churches. It was interesting....different than in Italy. Greek Orthodox is apparently very old Christianity. They split from the Catholics sometime back because of differences in practice, not necessarily beliefs. The Greek Orthodox churches are more...I don't want to say plain, but kind of I guess. They are not nearly as ornate as the Catholic churches in Italy and they don't have any statues. Apparently they think having statues there would be like worshipping a false god.

Well, we are all checked into our hostel (it's in a very convenient location which I'm very happy about) and this is where I am writing you from. I think we are going to take a bit of a disco nap and then head out to dinner later, hopefully catch some live music somewhere. There are some great outdoor cafes/restaurants. It is beautiful weather here today...I hope it sticks around:)

I will write again soon! Love you all!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

All systems are a go!

We are on the plane and ready for take off! We will write soon after we check into the hostel to let you all know that we made it safely. Opah!

New York

So my plan was to watch out the window the whole time upon getting close because I've never been to New York and I wanted to see it. Well, that didn't go so well. It was extremely turbulent and I broke into a full body sweat. I had to close my eyes the whole time:( to prevent my stomach contents from coming up. And Brandon couldn't comfort me because he got bumped to first class...that's probably best:). We are now at our gate waiting to leave. About 11 hours from now we will be arriving in Athens (9:30 am there). Our plan is to get thoroughly intoxicated on the plane so we can sleep:) Wish us luck! Love you all! (Brandon says hi)

So far so good!

Brandon and I are at the airport having breakfast. Everything is a go so far! I will update again before we leave New York.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Greece here we come! Hopefully...

Fast forward one year and I am headed to Europe again! Yay! I am so incredibly excited! Greece is another one of those places that I have seen pictures of and have dreamt about the chance to see for myself one day. I can hardly wait to meet the people, taste the food, discover the ruins for myself, and wander around....lost in a sea of those lovely white houses with blue roofs. I have been researching this trip for months and can hardly wait to get on that plane Thursday. That is, of course, if we are allowed. The volcano in Iceland is causing chaos with international travel and I am hoping that Brandon and I will be able to steer clear of the mess. With all of the things that could go wrong before a big trip, volcanic ash was not even a teeny tiny little thought in the back of my mind....who knew? Anyway...I think we will be fine. Brandon and I will board that plane on Thursday...God-willing. We are very blessed to be able to take a trip like this. I feel very lucky.