Turkey, two continents?one day; check!

July 31, 2010 

First off I have to apologize that it has taken me so long to write this entry, it’s been nearly a week since I left Istanbul but school is setting in and in the two day between Istanbul and Egypt (yes I’m in Egypt right now!) I had two big papers and an exam to work on….needless to say my Istanbul blog was put on the back burner lol.

I don’t even know where to start with Istanbul other than it was amazing! In my opinion Istanbul was the first city that I had been in on this trip that was truly a huge cultural difference than the United State or what I had ever seen before. Walking through the streets of Istanbul there was no doubt in your mind that the western culture that we are used to is not what they are accustomed to but it made for an amazing time to people watch and try to learn about another culture that is so foreign to what I am accustomed to. We docked in Istanbul on Tuesday the 20th of July and let our adventures go from there!

Let’s see, day one!

:( Sorry still no pictures....

July 27, 2010 

So for those of you who keep asking for pictures I PROMISE I had every intent in the world today to post some pictures! But......we came to the huge new library here in Alexandria (oh yes by the way I'm in Egypt now!) anyways we came to the library and after paying to get in they took all of our bags and put them in lockers because we can't have bags in here and then I realized that my jump drive with pictures is in there as well :( 

On the bright side though the creepy guys staring at me as I got on the computer have now left! But Egypt has been crazy so far for the hour or so we've been off the boat...all I can say is the traffic here is INSANE! anyways....that's about it for now and I promise to write and post all about Turkey asap! :) 

Hope everyone at home is doing great and can't wait to hear from you all!!!

Gyros continued...yummy!

July 20, 2010

So as promised! Here’s the rest of Greece now that you all have hopefully all had your drink and potty break and grabbed another bag of munchies for round two!

Day 4 brought even more travels, more sun, and more importantly more food!!! After boarding a bus at 8 in the morning with 40 other SAS students we were headed for Delphi, the home of Apollo’s Temple ,approximately a 3 hour bus ride away from Athens. After a terrific 3 hour nap on the bus next thing I knew we were in Delphi! We started out our tour by touring the sight of the temple which not only included the temple of the god Apollo, but also various other temples, the ruins of the old town, the town’s theater and their ancient track as well.  It was so interesting to walk around the old town that was built into the mountains and when turning away from the town the view of the mountains across the valley was gorgeous! After walking through the ancient city for a while and learning about all the facts and legends surrounding the town, we headed down to the Delphi museum which house many of the pieces of art that were once housed in the old town. After our tour of the museum we began our 3 hour bus ride back down the mountain and back to Athens but only after stopping to stuff as much food into us as possible. Lunch was pre-ordered for us along with our guided tour and boy were we spoiled!

I've had my first real gyro and there's no turning back!

July 19, 2010

So for my quick recap! I HAVE MY LUGGAGE! Ok I’ll stop shouting to you all now! But I have clean clothes, Greece was amazing but…their food was even better!  Also a small disclaimer: I’m going to apologize in advance if you salivate easily because I will be recapping all the delicious food we had!!!

We got into Piraeus, Greece (only about 15 minutes from Athens) early Wednesday morning (the 14th for those land people who keep track of silly things like dates!) and although we were cleared early to leave the ship my friends agreed to stay on the ship until my luggage was safe and sound with me (see post below for way more details!) Anyways, after finally getting my bag and grabbing a quick lunch on the ship, Olyvia, Kelsey, Laura and I made our way off the ship and headed for the ancient city of Athens! Once in Athens we were able to quickly locate the Acropolis which is situated high above the city and from there found the Acropolis museum which is only several years old. After walking through the museum for a couple hours on our own and going on a quick guided tour we then decided we were well enough educated for the real thing and started our climb towards the Acropolis where the Parthenon was located.  Although it was super hot on our way up (our entire time in Greece hovered between 90 and 98 degrees) we were amazed when we reached the top and marveled both at the amazing view of Greece along with the Parthenon and its surrounding buildings as well. It was amazing to stand atop the hill and look at the remains of a building that is almost 2000 years old while thinking that now days we are patting ourselves on the back when a building is still standing only slightly crooked after 30. After wandering around the site for a while and of course taking many pictures we ventured back down the hill in search for our first real Greek meal. Since we were all so hungry we quickly found a restaurant to try and although the food was good we were slightly disappointed in what we thought was Greek food…little did we know though that“if at first you don’t succeed try again and it is guaranteed that great Greek food lies ahead!” (or the quote is something close to that…right!?!?!)

Though we had enjoyed Athens during day one Athens honestly isn’t the prettiest of cities aside from the historical aspect of it so we decided to escape to a little day of paradise for Day 2. Although we didn’t get on a 6 hour ferry and blow tons of money to get to one of the huge party islands we still had a blast spending our day at the small island of Ageana! Ageana is atiny island located off the western cost of Athens and is generally the getaway island for local Athenians making it an even better getaway spot for a group of 10 SAS’ers who wanted their own experiences and to get away from all the tourists! Shortly after arriving to the island we found a small bakery so naturally we had to try something and let me tell you their pastries with spinach inside were delicious and just about melted in your mouth! After our brief encounter with the yummy pastry shop we split into smaller groups and Olyvia, Lex  and I headed inland to explore the island and what we quickly discovered to be their version of countryside; the only difference between the Ageana countryside and Ohio’s; Ageana’s countryside is covered in olive and fig trees instead of corn and beans! After walking around the countryside we headed back to the coast to go for a short swim in the ocean…ok so maybe a three hour swim but the water was fabulous epically when the temperature was hovering around 100 all day! After drying off we headed to dinner where I enjoyed my dish of eggplant with cheese, tomato sauce, and yogurt much more than the view of fresh octopus legs hanging in the window :/ . After dinner we caught the late ferry back to Athens and called it a night around 8 after a full day of sun and swimming!

Friday was a wonderful day; not only because of what we did but also because of the WONDERFUL food we found! Olyvia and I spent the morning walking through the Archeological museum in Athens and as silly as it might sound we were shocked to see how old some of the items in the museum were. When we walked in and saw that they had pots that were over 8,000 years old, made in 6000 AD, we just stood there and stared for a while. Another un suspecting item in the museum was only about 2-3000 years old but none the less I would have never guessed that safety pins were that old! There was no doubt in our minds what they were when we saw them and all we could do was laugh as we started at 3,000 year old clothes pins! After a good 3 hours of exploring the numbers exhibits of the museum we set out in search of some good Greek food and stumbled upon (well I was going to write the restaurant’s name here but my entire bill is in Greek and I’m not quite fluent yet!) but anyways we found an awesome Greek restaurant! After sitting down we realized we couldn’t read anything on the menu so after calling our waiter over and pointing at several tables near us we were finally able to order something we called heaven but was written in the menu as Doner Chicken and let me tell you it was amazing! It was pretty much like a gyro that you eat with a fork and came with pita, grilled chicken, tomato, onion, and of course tzatziki sauce! After more than stuffing ourselves to make sure we didn’t waste any of our “heaven on a plate” we all but rolled through Athens for a couple more hours before heading back to the boat for a good night’s sleep!

Ok so I just realized how long this was so I will stop here for now, allow you a quick bathroom break and time to pop another bag of popcorn and will post my last 2 days of Greece up soon!     

It's Like Magic!

July 15, 2010 

So the most amazing thing happened on Wednesday, I got a phone call that there was something for me in the gangway and when I went down there they gave me something called luggage! This luggage thing that they gave me was really cool too! It was full of lots of clean clothes and shoes that fit me and all the shampoos and lotions that I used to use at home and it even came with complementary camera chargers and clean underwear! I’m not sure who thought of such a neat invention but I have definitely put it to good use since I have gotten it and have also started to make more friends since I don’t smell quite as much anymore! :P But in case anyone from home finds it as humorous as people on the ship do here are some final numbers as far as I know concerning my poor bag!

30 days MIA -- 15ish airports -- 5 countries -- 4 airlines -- 1 severely exploded conditioner -- 1 exploded toothpaste -- and countless wrinkled clothes!

Also I found out that you can survive a month with…

2 shirts…1 pair of pants…2 pairs of shorts…1 pair of underwear…and a partridge in a pair tree (oh wait that was in my luggage)…I guess it was a pair of old navy flip flops instead!

Snorkeling, cliff diving, and stopping runaway cars…just another day in Croatia!

July 13, 2010 

For those that bore easily!  Dubrovnik along with Mostar were beautiful and the food was delicious and we’re just going to hope that all this delicious food doesn’t start to show and I still have no luggage after 29 days!

Now for the slightly longer spread out over 4 day version! We arrived to Dubrovnik, Croatia on Thursday the 8th of July and for those of you who don’t know (and I’m not saying I did before this trip!) Dubrovnik is located in the very tip of the long “tail” of Croatia that lies along the coast of the Adriatic Sea and has miles of gorgeous coastline. The county of Croatia is only roughly 15 years old but the town of Dubrovnik nonetheless is rich with history and heritage and the old town is surrounded by a massive wall that if I had paid a little more attention to in history class I might be able to tell you exactly why it was built!

Anyways enough of the history lesson! Our first day in Dubrovnik was wonderful! Our boat docked in a small town called Gruz about a 30-40 minute walk from the old city so after a quick walk to the old city and back a group of 20 of us met back at the ship for a snorkeling trip through SAS and I couldn’t have been any more excited for my first snorkeling trip (especially after I was finally able to borrow a swimsuit from a friend!) After reaching the small island where we were going to be snorkeling we received brief instruction and our snorkeling gear and were set free to go exploring! After a couple healthy gulps of lovely salt water couple with several times of burning my eyes with the same water I finally got the hang of it and was able to see little fishies swimming all around me! After about an hour ½ of us took a boat to a smaller more secluded island to do more snorkeling and look through an underwater cave. After snorkeling through the area for a bit our guide informed us that we could also go cliff diving there and I am proud to say that after tons of prodding I was able to jump off the 20 foot rock twice and loved it! The water was so clear and blue and it was amazing flying through the air! After getting back and washing up from our snorkeling trip we headed back into the old city to finish walking through the main streets of town and seeing all the various vendors selling Croatian goods.

More of Italy…I may just move here! :)

July 9, 2010

So as promised I said I would finish up my last 4 days of Italy for you after we left Rome which I can’t say compare to Rome (simply because I absolutely LOVED Rome!) but they were still amazing! After an early breakfast in our hotel in Rome Thursday morning we headed for the train station to catch the 3 hour train to Florence and after a quick 3 hour nap the next thing we knew we were in Florence! After grabbing a quick lunch and finding a hotel to stay in for the night we quickly grabbed city maps and began exploring the wonderful city located in the middle of beautiful wine county – Tuscany. Our first evening in Florence Kelsey and I were both pretty tired so we spent most of our time simply walking through the towns winding streets and enjoying the sights, sounds, and yummy Italian food smells of the city along with its beautiful sunset over the river that evening! After waking up the next morning though we began our grand adventure of Florence beginning with a visit to the Medici chapel in which the Medici family was buried. Afterwards we toured the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore as well as the bell tower and baptistery that were built alongside of the church. Our plans were then to go see the statue of David and then on to the Pitti Palace but after seeing the line to David was 2 and a half hours long in the sun we decided to forgo that experience! After the place and a quick lunch we then boarded a train headed to Pisa.

Once arriving to the town of Pisa we followed a steady stream of tourists to the back of the town to a lawn in which everyone was staring at a tall skinny building that upon further inspection was not only crooked but very evidently leaning very sharply towards the ground. Not understanding what was going on with this crooked building or “leaning tower” we decided to join in the fun and snapped a handful of pictures with this leaning tower in Pisa and then toured the cathedral nearby. After walking through the church we grabbed another delicious Italian meal of none other than PASTA and spent several hours walking around the quite little town. Although the town is only known for its tower the town itself was also quite cute and not nearly as overrun with tourists as many of the other places we had been to.

When in Rome...make sure to do it all!

July 5, 2010
Quick Italy recap for those of you who don’t like to read or who are at work and aren’t supposed to be reading this! Rome, Florence, Pisa, Capri, and Pompeii were all amazing and I still have no luggage after 21 days!

Ok now for the slightly longer version! Italy has been absolutely amazing and I have love traveling around the country for the past 8 days with my friends. We got into Civitavecchia on Tuesday and a group of 8 of us headed straight for the train station on our way to Rome and although it was super early in the morning I couldn’t have been any more excited! The train ride to Rome was just over an hour and after arriving in Rome and finding our hotel and reminding our group about 500 times that we were in Rome we set out…for Pizza! After devouring my first of many pizzas in Italy we decided on our plan of attack for seeing Rome for the day but were quickly distracted by the gelato shops on every corner…so we succumbed to our instincts and  enjoyed our first of many gelatos in Italy as well before finally heading out to see the sights.

First stop…the Roman Forum! Although it was crazy hot and we weren’t sure what many of the ruins were it was still really cool to walk among all of the ruins and try to imagine how they built these building over a thousand years ago without the machines and technology we have today.

Second stop…the Colosseum…and it was awesome!

Walking up to the Colosseum the first thing I thought of was how big it actually was but secondly was how surreal everything was. To me the Colosseum (along with many of the other things I have seen) has always been pictures in my history books that I am forced to remember; but actually seeing, walking up to, and touching the Colosseum, it was nothing I had imagined I would do! I loved walking through the different levels reading the different descriptions along the way and trying to imagine what it had looked like when they had originally built it. In all though, it was amazing to see and something that I will never forget I had the chance to experience! After walking through the ruins we had made plans to meet for dinner at the Trevi Fountain (doesn’t that sound romantic lol) so after taking pictures and throwing our coins in for good luck we went out for a dinner of delicious Italian Pasta!

Waking up early Wednesday morning we made the 5 minute walk to the Vatican from our hotel and were at the Vatican by 8:45 to get good seats for the Papal audience at 11 that day and although it was crazy hot sitting out in the sun for 2 hours waiting it was so worth it when Pope Benedict went by in his pope-mobile less than 5 yards away from where I was standing! After the Papal audience we headed to the Pantheon, followed by the Spanish Steps, the Basilica of Saint Maria Maggiore, and the church of San Giovanni in Laterano followed of course by pizza, lasagna, and gelato!

Our last day in Rome we spent wandering in awe through the Vatican. We started at Saint Peter’s Basilica, followed by the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel and afterwards we walked under the basilica where many of our past pope’s including Pope John Paul II are buried. After a day at the Vatican we weren’t sure what else to do to fill in our evening so our hotel manager suggested a walk by the river, visiting Circio Massimo (which we still aren’t sure what it used to be!) and a walk and dinner through the oldest section of Rome; Trastevere which were all absolutely wonderful! 

Well this looks about long enough to put anyone to sleep so I will write more later on Florence, Pisa, Capri, and Pompeii! Chaio for now!