The Past Month: Italy, Vacation, Goodbyes, and Fire & Ice


The Past Month: Italy, Vacation, Goodbyes, and Fire & Ice
It has been a while since I have been able to blog and a lot of things have happened. I could probably write a book on all the things that happened in Greece but I will keep it as a lengthy blog entry instead. I guess I will start with where I left off: around the time of the trip to Italy. Italy is another one of those places that I have always wanted to go to. It is where a lot of my family is from and it makes up half of my ethnicity. We started off in Rome and saw most of the major sites such as the Coliseum and the Vatican. The Coliseum was everything I thought it would be, huge and fascinating. The whole construction of it amazes me, from its three different types of columns to its hidden underground that the floor would cover. Even though it was raining it was still an awesome place to visit. The next day we went to the Vatican. A country of its own, this enormous palace is home to one of the most culturally significant museums in the world. Just walking through and seeing all of the art and artifacts can be overwhelming. To stop and look at each piece for a minute would take years. The best part about the Vatican was the Sistenth Chapel. Here is where Michael Angelo was forced to do a form of art work that he did not consider himself good at, fresco painting. It was beautiful and awestruck many people. Also while in Rome I visited the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps. Trevi Fountain was the most impressive fountain I have ever seen in my life. It is a must see for anyone visiting Rome. It is said that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain with your back facing the fountain then you would return to Rome one day. I threw in about eight. The Spanish steps were massive steps that tourists love to visit. We hung out there at the top for a while as some other American was playing guitar and singing at the bottom. Hopefully the eight coins that I threw into Trevi fountain will bring me back to Rome someday.

Also while in Italy we stayed in Napoli and went to Pompeii. Napoli is where the Italian side of my family is from so it was exciting to stay in that part of Italy. Pompeii was incredible. This ancient city was preserved after Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered it with lava and ash. The city is very large and I was not able to see the whole thing which is sad but I plan on returning someday to see the rest of it. Throughout the city you see preserved writing on the walls and dug down streets with big rocks every here and there that help you cross from side to side without stepping down into the ditch. One of my favorite things I saw was the casts of the bodies of people that lived in Pompeii at the time of its destruction. The casts are made from the air pockets left by the peoples’ bodies after the lava had covered them. It was a little morbid but it was interesting all the same.

For Thanksgiving we got a week off to do what ever we wanted to do. So, Ry and I set out to do our vacation together. We started off in Berlin, Germany. Overall the city is very big and we did not get to see everything but we did get to see a lot of awesome things. We to the Pergamon museum, which is now my favorite museum that I have ever been to. First of all, it only costs 4 Euros to get in and you get a free headset tour which has basically all the things you need to know in it. This museum holds actual reconstructed structures of gates and other building from around the world. They use real pieces from the original and then they remake some of the other pieces to rebuild it so you can see what it looked like. The most impressive object thy have there is the Ishtar Gate. It is huge and colorful, made from bricks, some of which stick out and make it three dimensional, and all of it is glazed. It is beautiful and I put it up there as one of those things you need to see if you are in Berlin. We also went to the Berlin wall while we were there and it was amazing just to see it and think about all of its history.

After Berlin we flew to Budapest, Hungry. This was my favorite place that I have ever been to and is a place that I would live in. It is a beautiful city and is home to the oldest subway on mainland Europe. We did not stay in this country nearly as long as we should have but we saw some great architecture, including the parliament building, mansions, and the bridges that separate Buda from Pest. The greatest experience here was the thermal baths. We went to the Szechenyi Baths during a blizzard and just sat in the hot water and looked up at all the snow coming down on us. It was gorgeous. It was the highlight of the trip.

After sadly leaving Budapest we got on a plane to Paris. Here we stayed for a while. It was expensive and offered little options for vegetarians. However, we did see a lot of the city. The Eifel Tower at night was pretty with its blue lights and white stars representing the EU. We also went to the Picasso museum which was cool and I found my favorite piece of artwork by him which is called, Spanish still life: Sun and Shadow. We went to the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Catacombs. The Catacombs were awesome but I would not recommend it to those people who do not like seeing a lot of human skulls and other miscellaneous bones. A highlight of Paris was going to the Louvre. I wish that we could have seen everything there but it was just so big that we did not have the time. We saw the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo which I have always wanted to see up close.

After Paris we went to Köln, Germany. Here we also were able to see some good architecture at a gothic cathedral. Around the gothic cathedral were little Christmas shops set up for the season. Köln makes its own beer known as Kolsch and it is delicious. We went to this bar where we did not even sit down, we just stood like everyone else and a waiter will keep bringing you over .2 liters of Kolsch until you tell him to stop. Also that night we went to see one of my favorite bands, Gogol Bordello. The show was amazing. There was so much energy and the crowd never stopped moving. It was a great time.

The next day we were on a plane to Prague for Thanksgiving. Prague was the only place that we did not have a hostel because we had a flight at 6am in the morning. So, we planned on just staying at the bars all night until we had to go to the airport. Before that we walked around the city and took in the scenery and the architecture. We saw Prague castle where it looked like someone was getting married outside of it. From the castle area we looked down at the city as the sun was setting. Then we went to a vegan restaurant and had our Thanksgiving feast. It left us full and tired, just as any Thanksgiving feast would. After that we hit the bars and tried to stay warm. The first bar we went to was filled with older people but we stayed anyway and had some good Czech beer called Primator. We had a few of those then we went to this punkish bar. Here we had a drink that lives up to its name. It was large and blue, and we still do not know why it was blue, it also had an insane amount of alcohol in it. They called it the “Adios Motherf*cker” and it was the last drink I had before jumping on a tram to the train to the airport.

The next day we were in Amsterdam. Here we rented bikes and road around the city and saw what there was to be seen. We went to the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Anne Frank Huis. The museums were really remarkable but the Anne Frank Huis was my favorite of the three. It was very moving being inside and watching all the videos of her father and the woman who watched them there. And what trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a trip to the red-light district? So, we headed that way and we saw things that you cannot see in the United States. After Amsterdam we flew back to Athens for class.

Soon after being back in Athens we went to Delphi. The whole landscape around Delphi was beautiful. Delphi itself was amazing and I ran on the ancient track which was pretty awesome. While on the way back from Delphi we got word that a 15 year old was shot by a cop in Athens and riots had broken out and that the city was on fire. We had to be brought to a metro to go back to our apartment. Things really were on fire in some areas. It got really bad the next few days and school was cancelled and our flight got cancelled. Even with all the riots and fire and tear gas, a few of us still went to our favorite taverna down the street for our last meal and to see the owner and some of the other regulars that we became friends with before we left the country (because we found out that we had a flight on Thursday). It was a very sad time filled with delicious food and lots of tears and hugging. Being back in America for less than a week, I miss it already.

On Thursday we flew back to America. I live in Holden, Massachusetts and driving home was a mess. An ice storm had hit. But not just any ice storm. This ice storm made most of the trees snap and fall into the road and take down a lot of power lines. This made an obstacle course for the ride home. When we got home the power was out and we stood outside for a little bit and every second (literally) all you could hear was the trees snapping and falling to the ground. As of right now I still do not have power and am running this computer off of a generator. I went from the fire and destruction of riots to the ice and destruction of Mother Nature.


So, an Update

We are stuck in Athens. Our flight, supposed to leave tomorrow, has been canceled, along with every other flight out of Athens December 10. There are riots, as I'm sure everyone knows by now, but everyone is safe no worries. There are lots of riots and protests around the city because a 15 year old kid was shot and killed Saturday night by police.
We are all hanging out in our Vasilios Konstantinou apartment right now. It's in the neighborhood of Pangrati, which is well south of the hot spots, and has a good police presence, and has been quite quiet this whole time.

If you want to keep up with the news, the bbc has some good coverage of what's going on, so does cnn international.

The good folks at FPU are working on getting us on a plane as soon as possible.

Oh and Ron and Jill are going to cook up some delicious eggplant parm tonight so we are making the most of what we are given here.

All is well. We are safe & witnessing history.



Amsterdam-->Best Place in the World

Friday November 28, 2008

It’s been a week since I have arrived in Amsterdam and everything that I thought this trip would be or even could be, definitely is. I have been able to sleep in until noon or even later, and take my time in getting ready for the day. (Something that hasn’t happened since we arrived in Greece in September) Jess and I had no problems finding each other in the airport, and finding our way to our 5 star hotel, the Marriott. Luckily Jess’ uncle didn’t want us to stay in a hostel so he booked us a room at the Marriott that we both got to stay at for free! I had my own queen bed in which when you laid down you literally sunk into the bed!

Jess and I went to the Rijks museum, which was incredible, and walked to all of the neighboring districts to get a feel for the area. Because we knew Dom and Leanne were coming in only four days, we decided to wait to go see the other museums together. Once they arrived they were able to stay in our room with us, which worked out nicely for everyone. We saw the Anne Frank house which was somewhat overwhelming to see knowing about the story behind this house, and being able to see it first hand was definitely something I never thought would happen. We also went to see the Van Gogh museum, which was a great experience, the only thing I was disappointed by was that I had heard that Starry Night was going to be there, and unfortunately it was not.

Thanksgiving was the most interesting Thanksgiving that I have ever had. The four of us decided to go to the Hard Rock Café since they told us they were having a Thanksgiving dinner there. Unfortunately we waited outside in the cold for over an hour waiting for seats, and finally when we got inside we realized the Thanksgiving meal was about 25 euro! I ended up getting a pulled-pork sandwich, which was not my favorite. After our dinner we walked around and ended up in the Red-Light District, which was a sight to be seen!! It was crazy just walking down the streets and looking into windows and seeing women standing there half naked.

What I wasn’t expecting was how beautiful the city actually was! The people were extremely nice, the city was absolutely breathtaking in the day and even more so at night. Just about every street had a canal going through it, and each and every single building had quaint characteristics to it. Amsterdam is a place that if the opportunity arose to go there, should definitely be taken. It was beautiful in every way possible, and there is so much to do there. It is by far the best place that I have been to, and plan to go back there if I ever get the chance to again!

Pre-Travel Excitement!

Friday November 21, 2008

Dom, Leanne, and I all are sitting around under the large tent that they made in their room awaiting for our trip to come. All the other girls in the apartment have already left, and we were the last ones to go. With my flight at 5:15am and having to be at the airport by 3:15am, we all decided to pull an all-nighter. Amsterdam was the destination, and it was the trip I had been waiting for since I knew I was coming to Greece. Sleeping was something that could not happen with the amounts of excitement that I had.

Dom and Leanne’s destination was London for four days and then meeting up with me in Amsterdam on Tuesday. My plan was to meet up with my best friend Jess from home that I had grown up with since I was in 2nd grade. My thoughts were racing with what was ahead for me. How was the trip going to pan out? Was everything going to work out okay especially since I was traveling alone? I couldn’t even think about meeting up with Jess in Amsterdam, the thought was too good to be true. What are the chances that my best friend from home was able to meet up with me in Amsterdam for 10 days for Thanksgiving break? The fact that I was able to take a break from everyone in the entire group and just chill out with my friend from home for a few days before Leanne and Dom came was a feeling of relief, especially since our group here lives together, eats together, travels together, and goes out together 24/7, a break would be nice!

All I want to get out of this trip is to be able to relax and do things on my own time and to be able to enjoy the city of Amsterdam without having to cram seeing everything in just a couple of days. 10 days to do what I want when I want, and with no one better than my best friend!


So, I had an epic Thanksgiving break.

We spent the first four days in London. I will let Leanne fill you in on our Beatles adventure, because I’m sure she will.

But, for London, I will recommend anybody traveling there, stay at the Globetrotter Hostel. Amazing. Wonderful beds, wonderful people, and cheep food.

Then, we went to Amsterdam.

I love Amsterdam.

The people are all really friendly.

Everyone jumped to help us find where we were on the maps.

That is because we got lost often on our massive hunt for as many coffee shops as possible.


Everyone bicycles there! Saving the environment!

Plus, lots of public transportation! A great break from the trillions of cars in Athens.

Also, Great MILKO. With a capital “G”.

All the cow items around, definitely takes the cake.

All of this is great, but obviously my favorite part of Amsterdam is the wonderful laws.

Coffee shops = heaven.

Great, great marijuana.

And it was legal!


The US could really learn from these concepts.

Get rid of internal possession (NH). Get a reasonable drinking age laws.

Fix our drug problems - drug addicts need doctors, not prisons.

Control the drugs, how people get it, and how old you have to be to get it.

Thanks for listening!

Everybody, visit Amsterdam!