Friday, August 18, 2006

Greece: Kalamata (day 1-11) Santorini (Day 1-3) Athens (Day 1)

WRITER'S EDIT: I've added pictures to this entry, sorry for the wait!

Okay, I'm bad, I havent updated in eternity, but with good reason, I've been living it up in Greece and just havent had a chance. I didnt want to update without pictures, but it looks like i have no choice yet again.

So, anyways, I took the boat from Ancona in italy and landed in Patras, and then took what was meant to be a 2.5 hour bus ride that lasted 4.5 hours in reality into athens, sat next to a crazy man who talked to himself very very loudly on a bus that was otherwise quiet. Ick.

Met up with John's friend Grigolirios, who drove us to Kalamata and put us up in a lovely bedsit. Spent the next 11 days in Kalamata on the beach and seeing the sights, including the church where the independence battle of greece kicked off..
Itchy feet sent us on a trek to Olympia, which really was just a pile of rocks, very anticlimatic.
I've eaten loads and loads of greek salad, which has more tomato than I'm used to, and no vinegar, but still so tasty. Along with the dolmades, and souvlaki, and all the other greek goodies. They're big into their iced coffees.. so i'm permanantly wired, which doesnt combine well with the 35degree heat!!!

Anyways, the greeks that John knows seem to be an anomole, they're unbelievably kind
and helpful, we couldnt get them to let us pay for even one single meal! They really wanted to show us all the wonderful things of greece, so they took good care of us. The other greeks I've met on the other hand, the strangers, seem to be incredibly unhelpful, and pretty much resentful of tourists.. most are very rude.. i wasnt particularly impressed considering that they're the first country i've come across who have been so rude! Even the french were kinder.

Here's the pics from Kalamata:

John and Me with Greg to the left

Aristea, Greg and John eating Empanada's that I made for them to say thanks for the hospitality..

squid, which i just plain would not try.. ewww.. look at it!

Olympia day trip:

Lets explore the ruins!!!

More ruins in Olympia..

there is a method to my madness, this isnt just another typical me shot being an idiot.. this is the racetrack in olympia, and i'm crossing the finishline.. of the first olympic track ever, just like all those flashy athletes, i now am also an OLYMPIAN!! MAHAHA

ok, now i have no excuses, this really is just me being an idiot... but if you had half the chance, you'd do it too.

Headed to the island of Santorini in the Cyclades which was the cliched grecian dream i was hoping for, all the buildings were white, and there was even a beach below the volcano that was made of red sand because of the volcanic rocks! Spent a few days there, riding on mopeds and escaping evil spiders in hotel rooms, and then had a bit of drama getting home. Lost the tickets somehow (still not sure how!) and the eversoniceman wouldnt issue new ones, because they have crap customer service, so I had to buy new tickets for a slower boat that took a painful 9hours to get back to the mainland. By which time it was 1am and the public transport was dead, so we had to spend MORE money on a taxi to get to the hotel, HURRAH.

this is on the way to the red beach.. gorgeous!

At the red beach, so called because its at the base of the volcano, so all the rocks are volcanic, and red. I took a few for my collection.

the beautiful white buildings of santorini's capital..

More of me being an idiot.. but haha, im there and you're not so you cant stop me.. you're more than welcome to wish you could.

Donkey's "parked" for transport.. soooo cute!

the famous santorini sunset..

No, i didnt do any editing, none of the photos on this blog are edited.. i wish my camera managed to capture more of how absolutely RED the sun was.. sooooo beautiful.

santorini's capital by night thanks to the wonders of long exposure.

Hey mom and dad, LOOK WHAT I DID TO MY BODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (kidding! its henna, and it barely lasted a week though the woman said it would last three months! hmph!, I hope you guys were at least a little nervous!)

And if the previous didnt worry you, look Mom and Dad!!! Okay, it was just a scooter, and i'm obviously in one piece so please no "organ donor" jokes..

Today I went to see the acropolis, again anti climatic- the grecians dont take good care of their ruins.. The italians have everything so nicely preserved and beautiful, I get that theirs are a lot younger than the greek civilization that came before christ, but what's the point of displaying a bunch of rocks that are just thrown together in a pile without so much as an explanation, picture or idea of what the hell they used to be?
And then they have random parts that are reconstructed from back in the 60s and stand out like a sore thumb.. I'm not impressed.

dionysus's theatre in the acropolis

The anticlimatic Parthenon..

that's me taking pictures of the ruins.. hurrah!

Anyways, That's greece in a total unbelievable nutshell, the food is good, most of the people suck, the weather is hot, and the ruins arent what I was hoping for.. letdown affect.. ugh.

After athens I'm hoping to hit meteora and delphi, then taking the boat back across to Venice because flights are costing more than 300 euro just to get over to the other side of europe!
I plan to take the train to Nice, and head down the french coast, spanish coast, and eventually morrocco.

Hope that keeps you all entertained, sorry for lack of pictures :(

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Siena (day 2), Isola de Giglio (day 1 and 2), Siena (day 3 and 4)

Okay, I was waiting to update till i could upload pics, but im back at the same computer (free internet courtesy of the university of sienna, hehe) and so no piccies just yet.. ill edit the posts and add the pics later.
After the bike ride I stayed chilling with the two guys who live in the flat we were staying at in Sienna. I looked around a bit, and made the guys empanadas because the american (Jake) wanted anything that wasnt italian, having eating nothing but pasta since hed been here. Marco (the Sicilian) even asked for the recipe.. mwahaha, spreading the argentinian cuisine! Take that!
The next day Jake and I woke up at the crack of dawn to get all the camping stuff together and head to the Isola de Giglio.. Marco was meeting us later on. After a taxi, a train, a bus, a boat, a bus and some walking, we made it to the island, which is a national park, and thus has only one permissible camp site (more on this in a sec).
Having arrived lugging a tent and other crap, we dropped everything and chilled on the beach, without so much as securing a place to sleep for the night.. we figured we'd find something later (you can so see where this is going). Jake bought a snorkle so I spent an hour looking under the water at the most amazing fish Ive ever seen. All the colours of the rainbow, massive, and all around me.. it was incredible. I havent snorkled since i was a kid, so i dont remember ever seeing anything as awesome as that. There were tons of different kinds of fish, and ameoba, and lord knows what else. The water was crystal clear and tepid, so you could see everything. Just soo incredible, I wish I could have taken pictures. That got me so excited for when I learn to scubadive (wherever that may be, mallorca, africa, thailand or australia!).
Anyways.. it was getting late so we figured we'd hunt for somewhere to sleep, but first, a shower, since the water was so salty that after drying off you could see the salt crystals on our skin. Problem: the shower on the beach was cold, cost 50 cents for 30 seconds, and you werent allowed to use soap!
So i did the rinse off and snuck into the bathroom of a restaurant to wash my hair in the sink.. but.. the blasted thing wouldnt drain, so i was getting nowhere fast, and covered in a lot of soap.

In the meantime, jake had started talking to these two couples on vacation, and asking them where we could camp that the police wouldnt find us (because its a 200 euro fine if you camp anywhere on the island that isnt the camp site, and by that time the campsite was full and had no spaces for us). These people were so amazingly nice that they let us go back to their apartment and use their shower, having seen my soapcovered mess.
So finally, a decent shower.
The sun was starting to set and we were still chatting with the two couples, so Jake and I decided to get a move on. We heard that up in the hills the police rarely look, so we went trailblazing. But there was no clear trail, and we knew we wouldnt be able to do it in the dark after sunset, and we still had to meet marco in the town center... so.. nix on that plan!

It was getting late when we met marco, so we all split up and wandered looking for somewhere to kip for the night. Marco found some flat rocks near a lighthouse, so we ended up sleeping under the stars with the sound of the waves.
Early wakeup, and by 9am we were already on the beach going for a swim. This time we called the campsite in advance and went there early, pitched the tent, and went for a swim. Met some more cool people on the tents next to us, and got bitten by lots and lots and lots of mosquitos.
We stayed on the island a total of two nights, it was beautiful, but the camping experience wasnt so fun, and the tent was like a sauna with the two boys and me in it. ick.
Back to Siena we arrived pretty late at night. The next day (yesterday) I woke up and saw the sights of siena, its a beautiful city, I can understand why Jake chose to live here out of all the italian cities.. its got a lot of charm. Laura and the three boys arrived from their trip into tuscany, so I cooked Pollo a La Hungara for all 7 of us (those of you who have tasted my cooking, thats the hungarian chicken in paprika with the little dumplings I make). ((Mom, youll love this, didnt have a spetzel maker so tried doing it with a spoon, failed miserably, then ended up just putting more milk till it was liquidy and dropping little drops in.. i dont know how you managed before the spetzel maker came into your life.))
Anyway, eventually made it to bed, and woke up today to wander the market, which is on every wednesday in the big piazza. God I hate lots of pushy italian women trying to knock me down! It was like being in a zoo.. I had to get out of there fast, even though i was searching for a white skirt to replace the one that went missing (reference the florence incident)
Tomorrow I leave pretty early, have to bus to florence, transfer to bologna and take the train to ancona from there, then catch the boat to Patras (greece), and be in Athens by around 5pm.. complicated, wish me luck!