Monday, June 21, 2010

Florence (may contain nudity)





















Florence is another Italian must-see-if for no other reason than Michelangelo's David lives here. But actually, there are many other reasons, and it was a shame to leave. Pictured are...a HUGE church (4th biggest in the world), the Duomo, which gets its striped look from green, white, and pink marble, a replica of David (where he originally stood until he was moved into the museum, where, of course, no pictures may be taken), and a couple of pictures from the oldest bridge in Europe. And, of course, more delicious Italian food!! Also pictured: some essential Italy Vacation Reading (I must be the only person on earth who hadn't already read this...but now I have!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Rome, honorable mention

Here are a few more pictures from Rome that I didn't want to leave out. We have...
a typical street
That big dome thing (I think the biggest) that I can't remember the name of. That's what I get for updating my blog 3 weeks after the fact!
The best strawberries I have EVER eaten (not to mention the cutest)

Saint Peter's Basilica

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Some Roman Sights











On our first day in Rome, we did a lot of the "Rome Stuff," including seeing the Colosseum and Roman Forum. While the Colosseum is more famous and visited, I thought the Roman Forum (top) was even more beautiful. It just looked so....Rome. It made me want to read the Da Vinci Code all over again! We went lots of other places too, but I have to find where I wrote down their names first.
A few tips on Roman/Italian Dining: You will be brought a large basket of bread-and unless you send it away, be charged for it. Many Roman restaurants also charge a "cover fee" just for parking your rump in a chair. (If you find a not-so-touristy place where these things aren't charged, go back!) Anywhere you ask for water in all of Europe, you will be given bottled water, and charged accordingly. It is often literally cheaper to order a 1/2 liter of wine or beer than a soda or water.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Travel Tip #2


When you have a 6-hour train layover, march into the nearest hostel like you own the place, and use their free wifi. :)


Hey, we supported them with our business last week! I might even buy a refreshing beverage from their cooler.

This is also a great way to get a spoon if you bought yogurt without thinking ahead about utensils.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Next stop: Italy!

We made our arrival into the Italian town of Bari. Unfortunately the ferry and train aren't timed very well so we had a few hours to kill, but soon, we were on the train! Here, Becca gets productive, and the next picture is out the train window. On the train, we met some very helpful Canadian tourists who gave us the "lowdown" of what to see and do in Rome. Soon we arrive in Rome. Happily, the train station is also the subway station (these people are geniuses!) and our next host gave very precise directions. From the train, we take a subway, then walk a few blocks to our hotel. A nice view out our window, and we have our first, wonderful Italian meal in a cute little unnamed "mom & pop" place-full of Italians (always a good sign). Risotto and wine for me, and Rebecca had a pizza (she was disappointed to find that "Napoli" means "with anchovies"!). Other than the anchovies, it was the first of many delicious Italian meals!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Ferry


















We had a 15.5 hour ferry ride from Patras, Greece to Bari, Italy. I was hoping it would be kind of like a cruise...but it really wasn't! It was kind of boring, but at least you can walk around, unlike in an airplane. Unfortunately, we are trying to save money for things more exciting than, well, sleeping....so sleep was a little hard to come by. One step up from sleeping on the deck, but below a cabin, is called "aircraft seats." You guessed it...kind of like being in an airplane-but with more leg-room. The plus was that it wasn't a full area so one could stretch out over many seats. The drawback is that is still pretty uncomfortable, plus they kept that room air-conditioned at about 55 degrees! We were at least treated to blankets and pillows by British Airways! Ah well, it got the job done!
My favorite part was sitting at the area on the left and watching the views of Greece and Greek Islands and bridges go by. Unfortunately, the sun set very shortly after we set sail, so I had to retreat inside!

It's All Greek to Me!


One big relief about being in Greece was how much English was spoken! Most signs and menus and all subway stops were also in English. I have been places where I don't speak much of the language, but not even being able to read was a whole new level of feeling lost! And while I really HATE to be "that" tourist who expects the locals to speak MY language...I was really grateful to those locals! Of course, the Acropolis being one of the Seven Wonders of the World and all that helped...we were not the only out-of-towners! And apparently Rebecca and I don't look even a little bit Greek, so there was never much confusion about what language was to be used with us (that comes a bit later).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oops, I skipped a post

Oops! Checking back for comments I realized I had left my Greek island post hanging with some suspense (at least that was my intent)...and then skipped forward. The PLAN was to leave Athens the next day to catch the ferry. We packed up (always a dreaded task) and got out early, where our friendly desk clerk asked, "Where are you going?" We happily told him, we are taking the subway to the train station to take the train to catch the ferry! He told us that the public transit, including subways and buses, was on strike for the day (apparently this is a common occurance, and a lot of people knew about it ahead of time-but not us. Not understanding Greek was probably a contributing factor). So we thought, perhaps we could take a taxi to the train station-were the trains on strike too? He did not know. So we lugged our stuff to the ferry place. They said yes, the trains are on strike too-but only for the day. So we bought our ferry tickets for the FOLLOWING day, went BACK to the hotel, checked back in for the same room, and consulted our maps for more things to do in Athens.

Travel Rule #1: Don't make too many plans. Then you won't be disappointed if it doesn't work out.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Port of Patras


When I buy my sailboat, this is where it will live.
This is where I will eat when I get sick of eating in the boat.

I have been in Greece for 5 days and have yet to eat a single meal indoors. :)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Island Livin'


One of Rebecca's coworkers insisted we needed to visit an island while in Greece, and I am glad she did! We had a great day trip, taking the ferry about an hour to the island of Aegina. Boy do I love boats of all kinds! It was sunny and beautiful. Once we got to the island, we walked around the town, bought ice cream, went to the Aegina Ruins and Museum, and best of all, hit the beach! It was 80 degrees all day long (thanks, Auntie Laurie, for the travel alarm clock/thermometer!). It was sooo nice to relax, read, sunbathe, and swim in the warm, blue-green waters of the Aegean Sea for the day!
Mid-afternoon, the wind kicked up so we headed back towards town for lunch (Greek Salad, what else?) and bought our ferry tickets back. This time we were in a smaller, enclosed boat called a Blue Dolphin. The rocking put me right to sleep, but apparently certain other passengers were not lulled by it's motion like I was. Back to town on the metro, a quick gyro (YUM!) for dinner, and Becca and I packed up. We THOUGHT we would be leaving Greece the next day for Italy. Dum dum dum....to be continued.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

ATHENS!











So, to close the geographical gap from my last post, we took a 6pm overnight flight from Boston to London Heathrow airport. We landed at 5:30 a.m. London time, which was 11:30 p.m. Boston time (9:30 Denver). So, needless to say, neither of us were able to sleep a wink on the flight-which made our 6+ hour layover rather excruciating! Anyway, another flight to Athens and we were able to really begin our trip. A subway trip into Athens brought us to a nice, walkable neighborhood where we found our hotel! We ate and went to bed.

This morning we began our self-guided walking tour of Athens! Our first stop was to Hadrian's gate and then to some ruins right behind it, the Temple of Zeus. It is right in the middle of a very urban area, which is an interesting juxtaposition. One of the neatest things is that you can see the Acropolis above, which was our next stop!





Boston

Before leaving for Europe, I visited Boston-as I had been promising Becca I'd do for the 2 1/2 years she's lived there! I visited Harvard Square, the Italian area of town, followed the red line (Freedom Trail) and went to a Red Sox game! It was a whirlwind 2 days but I really enjoyed the city-everything about it seems so distinctly....Boston-ish!