Saturday, November 28, 2009


More details to come, but the quick update is that Eddie proposed in Paris on top of the Arch de Triumph (as my Dad said, "it really is triumphant"). November 28 is a great day!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I planned to go to Lyon today, but as I so well know flexibility is key when traveling. In France, as in some other countries, if you want to use your rail pass you have to make a seat reservation, but in France especially, it is important to make your reservation in advance as there are only a limited number of “Rail Pass” seats that can be reserved. Unfortunately when I arrived at the train station this morning all of the rail pass seats for trains to Lyon were occupied and I could not get on a train. Since Lyon wasn’t a must-go place on my list (I had just picked it randomly) I asked the attendant where else I could go.

He sent me to Marseilles, a little bit further than I had intended to go, but I’m up for an adventure right? : )

The trains in France gave me no trouble – a welcomed change from the Greek transportation system – but when I arrived in Marseilles there was not tourist information office. I asked and was told to go to the city center, “just out those doors.” That was a failure. I meandered around the train station asking individuals for help (with no success) for about 45 minutes before I found a map of the city posted in the train station. I took a picture with my camera (my latest trick to help remember things) and set off to find the little “I” in italics on the map.

I got a little lost, but eventually found my way. I was given a map and the attendant recommended a few places for me to see and I was off. As I examined my map outside of the tourist office a random guy came up to me and started speaking French. I was able to decipher if he was asking me if I was visiting Marseilles. I was so proud of myself I forgot to respond in French. Oops! Anyway, he didn’t speak much English and I don’t speak much French but he managed to point out a few areas on the map and give me my transportation options (bus, tram, car, etc.) and prices for each. I don’t know that he was really helpful but it was fun to speak French and feel like I actually learned something during those three years in high school.

The main “attraction” that I saw was the Basilique Notre Dame De La Garde. I took a bus up to the top and walked around about 20 minutes before catching the next bus back down to the center. I probably could have enjoyed wandering around at the top for a bit longer, but my bus pass expired after one hour and I had validated before I actually got on the bus (oops again!) so I had less time available to me unless I wanted to spend another 1.50 Euro – which I didn’t. I mostly just wandered around the old town and bought a few things. I visited some churches and took a number of pictures. All in all it was a good day.

I think my favorite thing was that I had several people compliment me (in a way) on my French. The man I bought a postcard from asked me where I was from and when I said America he was surprised. I was surprised he was surprised and joked about “giving myself away.” He said that my accent was good and he thought I was Scandinavian. I thanked him and continued on. The random guy who talked with me outside the tourist office also thought I was Swiss or Scandinavian as well.

Lastly, when I was at the train station I had two encounters. The first was with a woman who was handing out pamphlets for something and I said “Je suis une touriste” (I am a tourist) and she laughed and said something back which I am pretty sure meant “this doesn’t apply to you then” or something to that affect. The second encounter was shortly after that when a girl asked me for change for the train. At first I didn’t know what she was saying and said my signature phrase of the day, “Je parle une petite peu Francais.” She then explained herself in broken English. I said no and “Je regrette (I’m sorry) and walked away. As I was leaving a guy (I think from England based on the accent) called to me, “Do you really speak English or were you just saying that to get away?” I was laughed and said, “Yes, I really speak English” and he walked away.

I don’t know if people are just humoring me or if I really can pull the “accent” off a little, but either way it makes me happy to know that I can somewhat blend in – even if it’s only for a few minutes and I have to return to my native language. I am curious to see how the rest of the week here plays out. France is really the only language I have really tried to speak more than just “please” and “thank you” and so far it hasn’t been too terrible!

At the moment I’m really just excited for it to be tomorrow. My day is over and I had a great one, but I know that tomorrow Eddie finally gets here and I am beyond excited to see him.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, it's Thanksgiving morning and I'm heading out for my day trip to Lyon. Hopefully it goes smoothly and I get good use out of my rail pass. :)

Yesterday was fairly uneventful (thankfully) as I traveled from Athens to Paris. I did get a little lost trying to find the bus from the Athens center to the airport, but I gave myself extra time for such a thing. Everything went smoothly at the airport and they didn't even lose my luggage this time! It was great.

Getting to my hostel in Paris was a little stressful but only because someone told me to get on a train that I wasn't really sure was the right one, but it ended up being alright. I made it and settled in and stayed up far too late, which has left me quite tired this morning. Hopefully I'll be able to get some rest on the train!

So, that's the plan for my "turkey day." I don't think there will be much turkey consumption for me though. I'm ok with that though. Tomorrow Eddie gets into town and that is something I am more excited about!

Well, I am off - I'll try to post and update tonight!


I had originally planned to go to Cape Sounion yesterday (as I mentioned previously). Plans do change however and when I woke up yesterday morning I just did not have it in me to spend 4 hours on a bus again after I’d spent 6 on a bus the day before. I decided to take a “zero” day (as Eddie calls them) and make sure I had everything in order for my Paris departure today. Eddie convinced me to go and treat myself to lunch somewhere and so at noon I set out to find a restaurant that wasn’t too expensive.

I had looked up a few restaurants on and marked them on my map. I set out to find the closest one to my hostel only to discover that the address was an abandoned building. Hmm. I decided to walk down to the Acropolis where I knew there were a lot of restaurant options (probably not the cheapest, but easy to access none the less). I stopped to look at a menu at one restaurant and the maitre-d (or whatever you call the guy who stands by the menu and tries to bring business into the restaurant) talked me into eating there and having rooster with pasta.

I decided to have some wine with my meal since I hadn’t splurged on alcohol in several weeks and figured, why not, it’s my last meal in Greece. : -D Also, since I had nowhere to be I wanted to just sit and enjoy the scene around me. My meal was very delicious and very filling. I also ate all of the bread they gave me (because they charge you for it). The glass of wine was really more like two glasses of wine – which was fine by me, but just a surprise. All in all the meal was 13 Euro – which doesn’t seem like much until you realize that it’s about $21. I never spend that much on myself at a restaurant!

After my meal I decided to slowly walk back to my hostel and browse some of the market shops on my way. I passed a store that had items from the island of Lesvos – one of the places I had planned to go but it didn’t work out. My host in Thessaloniki had told me that they have good olive oil there so I thought I’d check it out. I was standing at the oil section comparing varieties when an older gentleman asked me a question (in Greek of course). I gave my usual blank stare and asked, “English?” He chuckled and explained that he did not have his glasses and could not read the price on the large tin of oil. I told him the various prices and then he asked where I was from.

I have learned to start with a broad answer to this question as Seattle is not as easily recognized as New York – but more often than not people have at least heard of it even if they don’t know where it is in the US. So I told this man I was from the US and he asked which state, so I told him. He asked where and I said the Seattle area. He seemed surprised by this but then said that we were neighbors. I first thought he was referring to the Olympia connection (as the jeweler from Olympia had done), but then he explained he was from Seattle and asked which neighborhood in lived in. I said Ballard and he responded “You may know my restaurant!” I asked which one and he said that his name was Costas and he owned Costas Opa in Fremont.

I wasn’t really sure what to say because Costas Opa is a restaurant that I enjoy and have been to many times. I didn’t tell him that I also enjoy Olive You in Greenwood because that just seemed mean. We started chatting about olive oil and Seattle and a few other things and he said that he would like to treat me to lunch. Unfortunately I was already stuffed from my rather large meal but told him that I’d be happy to go for a drink of some kind.

So after I bought my oil we set off and found a shabby looking little diner off of the main street. He ordered some Retsina (don’t worry Mom, it was actually quite good) and a souvlaki plate for himself. When it arrived he informed me that I was going to have to help him eat the food, which I did some, but man was I full! We sat and chatted for a little over an hour and then he said that he needed to continue his shopping and errands for the day, but that he’d like to meet up later for sweets. I gave him my hostel information and he said he’d come by after a few hours.

He made it to my hostel around 7:30 or so and we went off to Omonia square and found some dessert and chatted for a few more hours. He gave me a brief Greek history lesson as well as helped improve my Greek vocabulary by at least one more word. It was fun to talk with someone from Seattle and I can’t believe the random connection and that we even bumped into each other. I told him I’d come by the restaurant sometime and say hello. I told him I’d tell the waitress to let him know Ann from Athens was there. : )

Anyway, yesterday was a good day. I ate way too much, drank some good wine, and went into a sugar coma. Today the agenda consists of traveling to Paris. I am currently at the airport waiting for my flight to begin boarding (in about 45 minutes) and will soon be on my way to France. I look forward to coming back to Greece again. I am sure that it will happen and there are already things on my list that I want to do the next time around. I have learned a lot (especially about the bus and train system) and think that renting a car is definitely the way to go. It may be a little more expensive but it’s much less of a hassle.

So, avtío Greece and bonjour France!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Give Up

I am no longer relying on my own abilities to use the transportation systems in Greece. This is a wonderful revelation to have the day before I leave the country, but yesterday was another crazy day of transportation woes.

The plan was to take the 10:30 bus from Athens to Delphi (a three hour ride), spend the day there and come back on the 4 o'clock bus. In order to get to the bus station I needed to take the metro to catch a bus that would take me to the obscure long distance bus stop. I left my hostel before 9am because I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time.

First, I got off the metro and set out to find the city bus. It was supposed to be on a certain street in Omonia square. When I got to the street it was supposed to be on, I couldn't find a bus stop that showed #24 stopping there and the street name was different. I walked halfway around the square looking for the correct street when I found a map that showed that the street actually had two names and I had been in the right place all along. I finally found the bus stop (though it was a bit down the street from where I had thought it was) and got on. There was a sign at the stop that had all of the remaining stops listed. There were quite a few between where I was and where I was supposed to get off so I took a picture to reference (instead of having to remember).

Unfortunately the stop I thought I was supposed to got off at was not the stop I actually wanted to get off at. So When I got off and was wandering around trying to find the bus station it is no wonder that I couldn't actually find it. I did ask someone and they were kind enough to write in my notebook a message for me to show the bus driver that would ask him to take me to the bus station and tell me when to get off. It worked and I arrived at the bus station around 10:25. I ran in bought my ticket and climbed onto the bus just in the nick of time. Phew.

My time in Delpi was good. I had planned to catch the 4pm bus back to Athens, but didn't think I'd have enough time to see everything I wanted to, so I took my time and decided to catch the 6pm bus instead. As I was approaching the town of Delphi (where I would catch the bus) at 4:20 the bus drove past me. Had I been 5 minutes sooner to head back to town I would have been able to catch the bus. It ended up being fine. I wandered around town and bought a charm and a postcard and even got one last gyro. :) I befriended a girl form Washington DC on the bus ride back and we chatted it up.

I think I have learned that I need to just ask people for directions instead of relying on my own abilities to get places. I tend to stay out of trouble much more that way. :) Hehehe ...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ancient Corinth

Yesterday I spent three hours getting to Ancient Corinth and then three hours getting back to Athens - though I only spent two hours in Ancient Corinth. I didn't even have any transportation drama (other than the bus I had to connect with being late) - it just takes awhile to get there! I think it's funny that I spent more time traveling than actually visiting the site, but oh well. :)

I enjoyed my visit to the ancient site and even read some of 2 Corinthians while I was there. I thought it was only appropriate to do so. I met a girl from Japan who has been traveling for a week through Greece (she heads home this week). We rode the bus together and chatted a little, but didn't exchange too much information.

Today I officially explored Athens. I have gone out into the city a few times since I arrived in Greece but I hadn't been back to the Acropolis yet. Today I went to the National Archeology Museum, the Keramikos (museum and ruins), the Roman Agora, the Acropolis, and the Acropolis Museum. The Acropolis Museum was a bit disappointing. When I went three years ago it was much smaller and at the top of the Acropolis, now they have built a big fancy new museum at the base, which is pretty cool, but it feels way more pretentious and I think I expected more from it. I was also a little "museumed-out" by the time I got there this afternoon.

About 4 o'clock I hit a wall and decided to just head back to my hostel. I even splurged and took the metro back instead of walking and saving the money. I know I'm really tired when I'm willing to spend money on something that isn't totally necessary. :)

Tomorrow the plan is to go to Delphi. Everything I read online says that it is open - so I hope I'm not disappointed. I have decided that I for sure want to come back to Athens at some point in the future, so worse case if things don't work out this time there is always next time. I'd still really like it to work out this time around though.

I started a new photo album on facebook (number 10) and the link is posted on the blog for those of you who are not facebook members. Please enjoy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Olympia - Greece not Washington

I really liked Olympia. It's a small little town that I am pretty sure is mainly tourist focused - at least Ancient Olympia. Everyone is super friendly because of this and they want your business. I realize that sounds a bit jaded, but it's kind of true. Yes, people are nice and all that even when they don't want something from you, but I have not experienced any place like Olympia thus far on my trip. It's quaint and cute and definitely was worth the madness to get there.

I enjoyed the ancient sites of Olympia a lot as well. It is crazy to see so many ruins in one place (because of earthquakes mostly) but also know that so much history has happened there and continues to happen. They still light the Olympic torch for each of the Olympic Games at this site in Olympia and then carry the flame to whichever city around the world it is being held in. It's crazy to think about how many years this has been happening. As I walked through the different areas of the ancient site I couldn't help but think about all the Athletes that had been there before me and the training that they must have endured in the very places I was standing. It is a pretty cool place - again, not like any other site I've been to so far on my trip.

I only spent about 2 hours at the ancient site as I didn't leave my pension until about 10am and then was back in town around noon. I stopped in a store and bought a charm for my bracelet (an olive branch wreath) and some postcards to send. It was then only 12:30 and I had an hour and a half before my train arrived so I was able to relax in my room some before heading to the train station.

My Thursday trip to Athens was also quite the adventure. It seems that Greek travel just doesn't ever happen smoothly. I had to make two transfers on my trip. I would take the train from Olympia to Pyrgos, then Pyrgos to Kaito, then Kaito to Athens. Well Olympia to Pyrgos went smoothly. Then in Pyrgos I needed to get a seat assignment for the train. I waited in line (patiently) and got my ticket. Then I got stuck at the ticket booth because people were in line behind me and someone came running into the exit part of the booth and demanded a ticket for the train departing in two minutes. I was boxed in and things were a little hectic. It was weird.

I was sitting waiting for the train when I noticed my ticket only said Pyrgos to Patras, which was only about halfway to Kaito. So I had to go stand in line again (this time it was longer) to get the ticket re-issued. Apparently she didn't understand me when I said Kaito so I just said Athens and she got it.

When I got on the train, there was a girl in my seat and I had to ask them to move. It was fine, but just an awkward encounter. Then the train stopped in a town (not Kaito) and the conductor walked through saying something in Greek. Everyone got up and got off the train with their things. Everyone except me that is since I didn't know what was going on. A lady knocked on my window (outside of the train) and motioned for me to get off, so I did. The conductor was standing outside and saw my confused look and said "bus." He pointed to the front of the building where everyone was loading onto a bus. Apparently the railway in Greece is under construction, so there are parts where they have to bus the riders instead of using the train.

In Kaito I got on the train easily but it stopped one stop short of Athens and said that it was the last stop. I checked the time table and it was another hour before the next train was scheduled to arrive and it was already 8pm. So, with an hour to kill I walked to the front of the train station to see if I could find someone to verify that that was my only option (waiting). I discovered that I could take a bus into town. So I bought a ticket and got on a bus (I was told that ANY bus would get me to Athens). I neglected to clarify WHERE in Athens this "anywhere" that I would be going would be. So, after about 20 minutes on the bus I finally asked the driver if the bus stopped near a metro line. Apparently we had just passed one. So, I got off at the next stop and wandered around until I found a hotel whose receptionist guided me to the train station (only about a block away) and I was able to find the metro from there to get to my hostel.

Everything worked out, but it was definitely another Greek travel adventure.

Yesterday I came back to the hostel that I had stayed at previously in Athens (it was unavailable on Thursday night) and settled in. I chose to make yesterday a bit of a "down" day. I did my laundry and walked into town and bought some authentic Greek sandals (spending too much money probably) and bought groceries for the week. I will stay at this hostel until I leave for Paris on Wednesday.

Today I am headed to Corinth for the day. Tomorrow I will stay in Athens and visit the ancient sites (free on Sundays). Monday I need to see if any ancient sites are open. If they are I will go to Delphi for the day and if not then I will go to Delphi on Tuesday. There is another site that I want to go to as well (but I can never remember the name) but I am not sure if I will have time if things are closed on Monday. I will keep you all posted, of course!

Adventures Traveling - AKA More Waiting and A Crazy Greek Man

Not only is the title of this post long, but so is the post itself - consider yourself warned.

Wednesday morning I woke up bright and early at 7am to take a shower and be out the door by 7:45. I was successful in my endeavor and even had time to pick a few satsuma oranges from the tree outside of my domatia/pension. When I had paid for the room the night before the owner had urged me to pick a few from the tree, and by a few I mean the 5 I took were not enough and he continued to urge me to take more - hence my morning harvest.

I mailed some postcards and then set off for the bus station - which actually wasn't very far. The bus left at 8:30 and I arrived around 8:10 as I didn't want to miss it. I had been told that in order to get to Olympia I would need to go to Tripoli and change busses there to go to Olympia. Since I didn't want to have the same problem that I had had the day before and getting off at the wrong location and whatnot I asked the lady more questions than necessary but felt confident that I knew what I was doing and where I was going. She said that she didn't know what time the bus left from Tripoli but I would be able to ask when I got there and it shouldn't be a problem.

First, the bus leaving Nafplion was late by 5-10 minutes - not a HUGE crisis by any means and we ended up in Tripoli on time, so it really was ok. On the road we passed an overturned vehicle - which I still don't know how it got that way since there were no other cars around and the ledge above appeared to be intact.

At 10am I arrived in Tripoli and went to the desk to ask about a bus to Olympia. The man stared at me (again, like I was crazy) and asked one question. "Today?"




So, Wednesday was a pretty big waste of a day. I sat in the bus terminal for 8 hours waiting. There was supposed to be free wi-fi but for whatever reason my computer had a problem with it. It would connect but it had "limited or now connectivity" which is dumb because it had full bars. This is also the same thing that my computer did at my apartment in Ballard. Apparently some networks just hate it or vice versa. I did get quite a bit of reading done, some sudoku, and journaled a bit.

Finally 6:30 rolled around and I got on the bus. I know that sounds simple enough but let me paint you a picture.

Leaving the little cafeteria area at the bus station you walk out into the bus terminal where there are 3 lanes that are big enough for two buses to be parked in each lane. There are three buses there and none of them are really labeled - at least not with a location or number. On the "arrival/departure" screen there are buses listed with times. I was able to find my bus but it said it was leaving from lane 1 - but all of the buses scheduled to leave were in lane 1. Not helpful at all. So I walk around the bus trying to find some marking. Finally a guy asks to see my ticket and points at the bus I had walked around. I confirm with another man helping put luggage underneath and get on the bus. Now I just have a 3 hour bus ride in which I will arrive in a strange town with no where to stay. Should be fun.

There was a little drama with someone thinking I was in her seat, but I actually wasn't and she was wrong, and then we got on the road. My seat was in the very front of the bus so it was kind of like I was driving (but not). I decided that despite the fact that I don't know Greek and would get extremely lost, that I could never drive a bus in Greece. For one every corner we turned I thought we were going to hit something or someone, and two, the streets are crazy narrow and there is just way too much happening. I'm thankful there are only a few more Greek bus trips in my future. We were almost to Olympia when the bus driver's cell phone rang and he had to stop the bus. Apparently someone had fallen asleep and missed his stop. I'm guessing that whoever was supposed to pick him up (or something to that effect) was concerned that he hadn't arrived. Anyway, the bus driver woke him up and let him out at a gas station. This is why I set an alarm on my watch whenever I fall asleep on a bus or train. I am not about to be stranded in the middle of nowhere and have to pay a fortune for a taxi to get wherever it is that I'm going.

When we arrived in Olympia there were just three of us who were getting off the bus. It was 9:30 and dark and I only had the names and addresses of a few places that might be available to stay. I was looking for a street sign when a man approached me and asked if I needed help. I asked if he knew where the Youth Hostel was and he said it was about 300 meters down the main street on the right. Simple enough. I thanked him and headed in that direction. When I arrived at the hostel he was there waiting for me (he had driven past me at some point) and pointed to the door. The lights were out but there was a sign that said open. The doors were locked and no one answered my knocking (and there was no bell to ring).

The man, who I learned was named George, asked me where I was from. He knew Washington State and exclaimed that our capitol Olympia and our current location, Olympia, were sister cities. He then showed me a picture of him running with someone who was carrying the Olympic torch as they light it in Olympia at the beginning of each of the games. He gave me the picture (which was really a postcard advertisement for his jewelry shop down the street. I asked him if he knew where one of the other hotels I had listed was and he said it was just down the street - he looked and said it was also closed. I wasn't really sure what to do at that point because all the other options I had listed were really last resorts as they were expensive, but what else could I do? I was about to ask him for the name of another place when he says to me, "the best place to stay is at my house."

I didn't really know how to respond because there are several people who run pensions out of their homes, but I also didn't want to go home with a creeper. He then began explaining to me that he has three extra rooms and I could have my own room and bathroom and all that jazz. At that point I knew he did not own a pension. I told him that I needed to find a hotel and would not be going home with him. He said ok and said there was a pension down the road for 20 euro (within my budget). He suggested I put my bag in his car and he would drive me there. I declined his offer and said I could walk. He persisted though and said that after I was settled in he could take me for some traditional Greek food and Greek dancing. Please keep in mind that it is now 10pm and I have been up since 7, traveling (sitting) all day, and just wanted to find a place to sleep for the night. Even if I had been with my friends I don't think I would have been up for going dancing - let alone with some strange old Greek man. So I finally parted ways with him and set off.

I made it to the pension - though it was a little strange when I got there (mostly because no one spoke English really - and it was like they had been expecting me. I kind of wonder if George had set me up from the beginning, but I wasn't sure. Anyway, it all worked out. I got a room for the night, had free wi-fi, and I was even able to keep my things in the room until I left on the train the next day.

I will post more about Olympia and my "adventure" getting back to Athens later - this is probably enough for you all to digest for the moment. : ) Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Yesterday I explore the ancient city of Mycenae. Legend attributes the founding of the city to Perseus (who defeated Medusa). It is the city where Agamemnon was king, it is featured in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and Hercules performed his labors for a different Mycenaean king, later on. In history and legend Mycenae was an important place that helped to shape the Greek Classical age and it is recognized by the UNESCO for that very reason.

From Nafplion I took an hour bus that dropped us directly at the ancient site and for 4 Euros I was set free to explore an ancient site as well as see items discovered at the site preserved in the archeology museum. There were a few areas roped off that I was not able to explore, but as I was standing in a beehive burial chamber I had an overwhelming feeling that I was experiencing something that my future children probably will not ever have a chance to do. I have touched ruins with my bare hands and stood in former houses and rooms of palaces. I saw and took pictures with the Lion’s Gate at the entrance to the palace and walked partially into an ancient cistern that demonstrates the advanced technology of Mycenae.

I remember being seeing Michelangelo’s Pieta in Rome three years ago with my parents and my mom talking about how when she was there 30 years earlier that it wasn’t behind the thick bulletproof glass and commenting on how things were so different then. I wonder in 30 years what the Mycenae ruins will look like and if the same luxuries I experienced yesterday will be available to new visitors. In many ways I doubt it and consider myself very lucky.

In the museum at the site I was browsing the items for sale and was looking at refrigerator magnets. As I started at them I realized that in my travels so far (three years ago and now this trip) I had seen just about all of the artifacts pictured on that display. In the same way, at my pension last night I was walking down the hall and looking at photographs of different Greek cities and ancient sites and realized that I had been to just about all of the cities and seen all of the ancient sites pictured. How incredible is that?!?! I don’t say this to boast about what I have done and seen but rather to share my excitement. I never thought I’d be able to say something like that. How am I so fortunate to be able to say that I have seen so many wonderful things in this world?

When I returned to Nafplion in the afternoon I walked down by the waterfront to take sunset pictures and browsed a few shops. I ended up eating dinner at a restaurant in the old town. I spent a little more than I had planned, but that was only because I was invited to join a mother and daughter who were also eating in the restaurant. They had been to Mycenae at the same time I was and had ridden the same bus. We had seen each other a few times throughout the day at the site as well as back in Nafplion and it was just by chance that we ended up at the same restaurant. It was fun to have dinner with someone other than myself and we chatted for a bit and enjoyed our meal together.

All in all yesterday was a good day. I do not think that I will be eating out much more in Greece as everything I have tried so far has been a bit of a disappointment compared to the amount of money I have had to spend on it. I also think I need to be more careful at the grocery store. I have a sneaking suspicion that I ate sour cream for breakfast the last two days – but I am not quite sure. It might be that I discovered the elusive Greek yogurt that everyone keeps telling me about. It really didn’t taste like sour cream, but it wasn’t quite like yogurt either. I really have no idea but either way it hasn’t hurt me yet!

Monday, November 16, 2009


I’ve gotten pretty good at waiting for time to pass. I’ve spent countless hours on trains, ferries, and busses as well as each of their respective terminals or stations waiting. My Sudoku puzzle book has kept me company, I have read one book (well almost – I wasn’t that interested and mailed it home with two pages left to finish), written blog updates and journal entries, listened to my iPod, slept, and of course, just stared out the window. I’m used to waiting and with travel, waiting is pretty normal. It’s not my favorite thing to do of course, but I am ok with it – unless there is a way I could not be waiting.

I went to the train station yesterday to ask how to get from Athens to Nafplion today. I was told there were trains at 9am, 1pm, and 5pm and it would take me 3 hours to get there. I decided to take the 1pm train so that I could sleep in a little this morning. I arrived at the train station at 12:20 and confirmed again which train I needed to take. I was told track 2, line 2. Ok.

At 1pm a train arrives and I asked another woman boarding the train if it was correct. She wasn’t so sure that it was, but I looked at the map inside the train and it was stopping in Corinth, so I knew I’d at least get to the Peloponnese. The train ended in a town called Kaito where other people that I overheard talking seemed to suggest was where all the connections to the Peloponnese took place. So, I rode to Kaito, got off and asked the ticket agent where to go from there. I was already a little frustrated that the first woman hadn’t told me that I would have to make a connection, but such is life – it’s an adventure right?

I quickly learned that I should have gotten off the train in Corinth to make my connection. Luckily the train I had just arrived on was headed back to Athens. I caught it in the nick of time, just before the doors closed. I settled in, had my yogurt and arrived in Corinth 40 minutes after I would have if I had known I was supposed to get off there in the first place.

At the ticket counter in Corinth, the flirty old man informed me that the next train to Nafplion was at 6:23 – a 3 ½ hour wait. I had missed the last train (which left at 4:23) by about 50 minutes. Lovely. Why couldn’t the lady in Athens have told me I would need to change trains? I obviously didn’t know what I was doing and more information is always better than not enough right? Ugh. So, here I sit, frustrated and waiting for time to pass once again.

Ironically the sermon I listened to yesterday was about waiting and being inconvenienced and dealing with things beyond our control. The pastor talked about learning to be patient and understanding and accepting that God has a plan and is in control and has a purpose for these things. Sometimes things are easy and sometimes they are hard, but in all things we should not be bitter. He used extreme examples quoting Dietrich Bonheoffer when he was in prison waiting to be sentenced for his failed attempt to assassinate Hitler. The pastor also talked about Paul and his false and unjust imprisonment and eventual martyrdom. Both suffered terribly and both found a way to praise God in their circumstances.

I shouldn’t complain that I have to wait. I shouldn’t be mad at the lack of information given to me. Instead I should trust in Him and enjoy the down time. I will get to Nafplion when I get there and hopefully it won’t be too dark for me to navigate the streets and find a hotel. I have learned a valuable lesson to always ask too many questions before getting on a train or bus – but also to remember that it will all be ok. God is in control and though I may have to wait a little longer, waiting isn’t going to kill me. It’s just more time to read, journal, blog, listen to music, or even just stare out the window and reflect.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my Dad's birthday. :) If you see him you should tell him he's old for me. Hahahaha

Well, I’m at the end of my quiet time in Rhodes. Tonight I leave for Santorini but my ferry isn’t until 11:30 tonight. The wonderful lady here at the hostel has allowed me to keep my room for the day so that I am not alone on the streets this evening. I am so thankful for this woman’s kindness. She allowed me to be in the room for a low rate AND they have been wonderful. Because the ferry is so late I am going to have the desk clerk call me a cab to go to the port. I am sure I could walk it easily and be fine, but the little parental and boyfriend voices in my head keep telling me to take a taxi. : )

Lindos yesterday was alright. I think I was expecting more from the trip. I spent 9 euro to get there and back and a total of 3 hours on a bus, then 3 euro in town to climb the acropolis and only spent an hour and a half in Lindos. If I were a beach layer it would have been a bit more fun but there really isn’t much to do in town other than the acropolis and lay on the beach. There were a few shops in town but they were all closing down by 12:30.

Today I tried to buy the souvenirs and gifts that I had scoped out the other day only to discover that only a few shops open today. Apparently it’s not a port day for the cruise ships so many people don’t even bother opening. So, I guess I will just have to hope that things will be open in Santorini or that I’ll find something in the other Greek towns I visit. When the cruise ships are in town the town is so busy and alive and there are so many shops open, but the days they are absent there isn’t much happening – even many of the restaurants are closed down.

I climbed to the top of the Acropolis here in Rhodes Town today. It was a fun walk as I went through the new town and discovered ruins literally in people’s backyards and under the foundation. It’s quite interesting to say the least. The site was beautiful, though lacking the “amazing view” that had been promised. It was still good to get out and climb up there. On the way back to town it rained on me so I came back to the hotel and fell asleep watching Greek television. I had thought about going out to the beach but I was afraid of the rain, though I don’t think it ever rained again. Hmm … hopefully it doesn’t downpour on me when I go to the roof to upload pictures and this blog! It probably will though. ;)

I think that’s it for today. I am hoping my 14 hour ferry ride goes quickly and that I can get at least some rest. I look forward to updating you from Santorini!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rhodes - A Long Update

It has been a few days since I updated this huh?

I left off after my first full day in Athens where I had dinner with the girls from my room and enjoyed a quiet night in. We had planned to hit the Acropolis first thing in the morning, as it is free on Sundays, and maybe the Acropolis museum. Well, that didn’t quite happen. I got up early that morning to wish Eddie good luck on his race before he went to bed on Saturday and while I was up discovered that it was pouring rain outside. At 7, when we had planned to get up, the rain hadn’t let up so we opted to sleep in and do the Acropolis another day.

Around 11 the rain stopped and so one of the girls and I headed downtown to do some shopping. She was going back to Albania and needed to get some souvenirs. The other girl left at the same time to catch a bus to an island where she would be working on an Olive/Fig farm for two months. At 1 we were back at the hostel and my friend left for Albania and I hung out at the hostel waiting for time to pass before catching my 7pm ferry to Rhodes.

I made it to the port on time and everything went much more smoothly than it did when I ferried from Greece from Italy. I had a seat this time instead of a cabin, but it wasn’t terrible. I mean I didn’t sleep all that great and there were some interesting characters there, but it wasn’t horrible. I will only have to do it one more time and I can easily handle that. In the middle of the night I woke up and couldn’t fall back asleep and then got sucked into a cheesy made for tv movie that was playing on the ship. It was an American movie that took place in Portland (the Sunset area for you P-Towners) and was subtitled in Greek. Finally at 4am I could fall back asleep only to wake up 3 ½ hours later.

When I arrived in Rhodes at 11am I got off the ferry and was exhausted. A taxi driver said he would bring me to the center for 5 euro. I asked him how far it was, and he said 2km, so I said I could walk. Hahaha. On my way walking a man on a moped with a girl on the back asked me if I needed a room. He said it was 10 euro and there was free internet. I said ok. He sped off with the girl to bring her to the pension and then said he would return for me. I had just about found his place when he found me and guided me back to the location.

I am glad I had my wits about me and told him I only wanted to confirm for one night instead of saying all three, because wow. The place was dirty and sketch and I know that many of you (who will remain unnamed) would not have lasted 2 minutes there. I didn’t feel unsafe, but it was gross. I did take advantage of the free Wi-Fi though and got to talk to Eddie quite a bit and get the update on how his race went. (He killed it by the way! I’m so proud of him. :D)

The other girl who was staying at the pension had a worse room than I did and she ended up finding a hotel in town that offered her a better room for the same price. She told me about it and invited me to come with her. This morning she gave me directions and I said I would consider it if my other two options did not work out. The first place I went to was nice, but it was a shared room for 15 euro and no internet. I knew that the hotel option was 15 euro and a private room, so I passed on the first location. The second one was a hostel/bar. I knocked on the door (at 11:30) and it turns out that I ended up waking the owner up. He came to the door and said he would show me to the room. It was 15 euro, marked down from 20, but was a private room with a kitchen in the room.

When I asked him about dorm rooms for 10 euro and internet access he said that since I was the only person he didn’t have the dorms open and that there was no internet access but he could show me where in town to go. He said that if I wanted a kitchen I had to have the private room. There was a washing machine in the bathroom so I asked if I could use it and that’s when things turned. He got upset with me for asking and started going off about how I wanted a room for 10 euro, but saying how I wanted all these other things along with it and that he was a business man and couldn’t just give rooms away. I told him that I understood and I wasn’t trying to take advantage of him but was just asking for information. He then started throwing up his arms and asking me if I was going to stay or not.

At that moment I decided that even if he did let me have everything I wanted I didn’t want to stay there. He was making me nervous and I did not want to stay somewhere where the owner was angry with me. I told him I was going to go and thanked him for his time. As I walked down the three flights of stairs from the room he had shown me he called after me, “Do not come back and waste my time again. I hope you never wake me again in my life.” I was glad to be rid of him.

I ended up at the hotel that the other girl from the first place had told me about. The lady was SUPER kind and I now have a private room with a double bed that has clean sheets and towels. I have a window with a fun view of an old church and a TV and refrigerator in the room. The rooms normally go for over 20 euro/night but because the other girl and I had come from such deplorable conditions she felt bad for us and gave us the rooms for 15 euro. I am excited to spend the next two nights here. The only down side is that there is no internet as their computer is broken and the Wi-Fi seems to not work without it. I can't seem to find a place to "buy" internet time from, so I am currently sitting on a bench on the side of the street using an unsecured connection that only has one bar of signal. :-\

It’s not the end of the world by any means, it just means that instead of spending my after dark evening surfing the web, I will be watching some Greek TV and reading through some travel books that I found in the common room at the hotel.

Today was a good day, especially once I get to the hotel. After I was settled in I went to the Archeology Museum and then to the Palace of the Grand Master. As I was walking around town I noticed that there were a lot more tourists around today compared to yesterday, then I saw the boat in the port. A Royal Caribbean cruise ship was in town and its contents had spilled into town. While I was at the Archeology Museum I heard some people speaking English and asked them if they were on the ship and where they were from. It turns out that they are form Steilacoom and are just beginning their trip. We chatted for a good while and I told them about my trip. They were very nice people but I forgot to ask their names! Oops! They asked for my blog address, so if they are reading this – it was wonderful to meet you!

I spent most of my afternoon browsing the streets and the shops. I bought a charm for Rhodes and found a few souvenirs I want to buy, but think I will wait until Thursday to buy them.

Tomorrow I am planning to take a bus to Lindos, a town in the more southern part of Rhodes. There is an Acropolis there that is supposed to be beautiful! I am excited to go. I will come back to town and I think I will climb up to the Acropolis here in Rhodes Town in the evening to watch the sunset. Thursday my ferry doesn’t leave until 11pm. I am thinking that I will spend that day at the beach just kind of “chilling.” I figure that if my hotel will not allow me to leave my bag here after check-out I can just haul it to the beach with me and sit there with it all day.

So, that is the scoop with me. I arrive into Santorini on Friday at 1:30 and my hotel is picking me up at the port. I will stay there for two nights and I am excited about that hotel as well. They have a swimming pool and are close to the main town. I have heard that Santorini is pretty cheap because it is the low season and there aren’t many tourists around. My hotel room is once again 15 euro, but it is advertised at 15, not a special rate just for me. Hopefully it will not disappoint in the cost department. :)

I probably will not post again until I am in Santorini and may not be able to get pictures posted for awhile, so hopefully this will tide you over until Friday or Saturday when I get a chance to blog again. Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I like Athens. I know everyone says that it's dirty and not a fun place to be and basically you should see the sights and leave right away, BUT I like it. :) Today was great and started out with the girls who are staying in my room, Joy and Jessica, and I went out into the city today. We first went to the port, Piraeus, so that I could buy my ferry tickets.

My new plan is that I will go to Rhodes tomorrow night on the 7pm ferry, arriving in Rhodes the next morning around 11am. I will stay in Rhodes for three nights, then ferry to Santorini overnight on the 12th and stay in town there for two. I will take a ferry back to Athens on the 15th during the day. I like my hostel here so I will probably stay here that night and then the next day, the 16th, I will head over to the Peloponnese for a week. Then I will return to Athens and spend some time doing day trips in and around the city and fly out on the 25th to Paris!

After visiting the port the girls and I went to the new Olympic Stadium and took a few pictures. We met a guy there who was telling us that tomorrow THE marathon is happening where people will run from Marathon to Athens, which is kind of fun. I think it's a little ironic that Eddie will be doing his half Iron Man on the same day. Yea for people running races on November 8. :)

After we went to the stadium we walked over to the Temple of Zeus and took pictures and stuff. We were informed that the Acropolis and all the archeology sites are free on Sundays during the winter time, so we decided to wait and go to the Acropolis tomorrow instead of today. After visiting Zeus' Temple we walked toward the Acropolis and climbed Mars Hill or the Aeropolis. It was SO beautiful and so much fun. After that we visited the Ancient Agora which was also quite fun. I really enjoy the girls and we had fun posing as statues and I was able to get a few shots of myself with sites without holding the camera myself. :)

Once it was 5 and the basically kicked us out of all the sites we walked through the markets some and bought some little oranges, then took the metro back to our hostel. We stopped at a grocery store on our way and bought pasta, pesto, a giant tomato, and some fresh feta cheese to make dinner with. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed a nice large meal together. It was so much fun and great. I ended up with WAY too much feta, so hopefully I will be able to eat some of it tomorrow! :)

I am feeling much better about Greece - I was struggling a little last week. I think it's helped for me to be in a new city and finally be seeing some of the sites that are so big and grand that they make me stand in awe. It's amazing. I also got to see a friend from Seattle (a girl who lived in Moyer with me back at SPU) who is traveling in Europe. We have actually been in the same city a few times already, but never managed to connect. It was fun to see her in Thessaloníki. I am also glad to have my ferries figured out.

Tomorrow we are headed to the Acropolis and the Archeology Museum (I think?) to take advantage of the free Sunday admission. It should be a good day. Hopefully I'll be able to load some pictures to facebook before I get on the ferry tomorrow. I just put ones up from today - so check them out! I will be putting a video up shortly as well. :)

P.S. I don't think I've said anything about this yet but did you know that in Greece you do not flush your TP down the toilet but instead use the garbage bin in the restroom? It's true. It's also true that in a public restroom it's a good idea to bring some TP and soap of your own as it is often not provided. The upside is that you don't have to pay to use the public restrooms as you often have to do in Europe, but I don't think I'll ever get used to tossing the TP "in the bin" instead of flushing. In my opinion, the Greeks are advanced in some ways, but not so much in others. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


It is ironic that I just posted my change of plans yesterday only to discover today that the changes I made don’t work.

I set out this morning to buy my ferry ticket from Thessaloniki to Lesvos. I thought there was a boat leaving tomorrow and that it would only take a few hours to get there. No, I discovered today that when the website had said the boat was leaving at 1 it meant 1am not 1pm. The ferry was scheduled to leave tonight/tomorrow morning at 1am and arrive in Lesvos at 4pm tomorrow. I told the lady at the travel agency that I would like to buy this ticket, but she discovered that she could not make the reservation because it was too short of notice. So, I tried to find the ticket office at the port.

Unfortunately I failed at finding the ticket booth and was directed to go to another travel agency. At this office they informed me there was no ferry scheduled for tonight, but there was one on Friday night/Saturday morning. I was going to buy a ticket for that ferry when she told me that I could not receive a student discount or my Eurail discount. So I left and went back to the other ticket office.

En route I decided that it was silly for me to even go to Lesvos that late because it wasn’t high on my priority list to begin with, I was just going for the sake of going. The only problem was that the islands I wanted to go to were in the southern part of the sea. I had couch surfing arrangements set up in Samos already so I hoped I could get there. The ticket agent informed me that there were no ferries going to Samos in the next 4 days. She suggested I try to go to another town that was on my list of places, Momemvasia.

I then took a bus to the main bus station to buy a ticket to Momemvasia. The travel agent had told me it was about 3-4 hours away. When I got to the bus station they informed me that the bus was actually a 10 hour ride. So, I went back to the travel agent to ask if there was any way I could take a ferry directly to Rhodes or Santorini or even Myknos. She said that there were no ferries from Thessaloniki to those islands and I would be best to go to Athens and visit the islands from there.

So, I am giving up on going to Lesvos and Samos. They are pretty much lost causes at this point and not islands that I really cared about going to. Now I will go to Athens on Friday and catch a ferry to Rhodes on Saturday night, arriving Sunday morning. I will stay in Rhodes for two nights and then go to Santorini. Santorini is pretty cheap this time of year because the tourists are not so common, so I will stay there three nights I think. Then I will continue with my plan to visit the Peloponnese and then move into Athens for my day trips and so forth. I think that I will try to go to Momemvasia from Athens either as a day trip or for one night, because I have a few extra days to play with now that I am not going to Lesvos or Samos.

Wow, the last two days have been mentally exhausting trying to figure out all these details. The nice thing is that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel in a sense. While I am not wishing my trip to be over, it is comforting to know that in a few weeks all my future plans will be set and I wont have to continue adjusting and re-adjusting my plans. When I get home I am looking forward to not having to think or worry about where I will sleep, what I will eat, or how I will get from place to place. It will be good to just be!

My feet and legs are also quite tired. Today I spent most of the day walking in circles (or so it felt like). I got lost walking from my host’s apartment into the downtown area. I eventually found my way and then spent a few hours going back and forth from the port to the bus station and then finally at 3 set off to go visit some museums. Unfortunately I did not realize that the museums closed at 3, so I walked around until about 5 visiting the places that I will return to tomorrow and actually go inside of.

Today was quite an adventure – this is certain. I am glad to be relaxing now and enjoying a nice hot cup of tea. Which reminds me… has anyone found my tea yet? My new friend that I helped in Florence is from Australia and has offered to mail me the tea if I cannot find it at home. At least I will not be without it even if it is not sold in the US!

I will work up uploading pictures tonight and tomorrow afternoon. I think I have to start a new album. This will be album number 8. I have also been backing up my pictures and videos on SD cards and flash drives. I have backed up about 11 gigs of data and think that I am going to have to buy another 4 gig card to back up the rest of them! Man, I take a lot of pictures!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Plans, Again!

Getting to and from Istanbul is proving to be quite the headache, so I have decided to change my plans once again. I'm good with this decision as I had not planned to be in Istanbul for a significant amount of time and considering how much it was going to cost and how ambivalent I was toward having to see the sights I decided it wasn't worth the trouble. I would still love to spend some time in Turkey someday, but it's not high on my priority list.

Here is the new plan:
11/4: Thessaloniki
11/5: Ferry from Thess to Lesvos Island
11/6: Lesvos
11/7: Lesvos
11/8: Ferry from Lesvos to Karlovassi on Samos Island
11/9: Karlovassi
11/10: Ferry from Karlovassi to Rhodes
11/11: Rhodes
11/12: Ferry from Rhodes to Santorini
11/13: Santorini
11/14: Santorini to Argos
11/15: Day trip to Corinth from Argos
11/16: Day trip to Mycenae from Argos
11/17: Argos to Olympia
11/18: Olympia
11/19: Olympia to Athens
11/20-24: Athens (one of those days will be a day trip to Thebes)
11/24: Athens to Delphi
11/25: Delphi to Athens, Athens to Paris (by plane of course)
11/26: Day trip to Lyon from Paris
11/27: Meet up with Eddie in Paris!
11/28-12/1: Paris (one of those days will be a day trip to Versailles)
12/2: Paris to Mont Saint Michele
12/3: Mont Saint Michele to Rouen to Paris
12/4: Paris to London via Chunnel - Eddie back to Seattle
12/5-6: London
12/7: London to Dublin
12/8: Dublin
12/9: Dublin to Seattle!

So that is the plan. Hopefully now that it's getting closer to the end of the trip they will stay a bit more finalized, but who knows! :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Moved to Tears, Almost

I woke up this morning at 5 (not 6 like I had requested) because the hotel's wake-up call system had not adjusted for daylight savings time. I went back to bed and when my alarm went off at 6 I felt like I had just fallen back asleep. Let's just say that I didn't get out of bed until 7:15 and was considering skipping my trek up to the monasteries all together. My bed was warm and comfy and I did not want to get up.

I am glad that I did though. I got to talk to Eddie and my parents for a bit before I set off on my adventure for the day. After checking out of my hotel I found my way to a grocery store to buy some cheese for lunch as I already had bread and fruit and thought I would be out of town until this afternoon. I then went to the bus station and bought my ticket to Thessaloniki for 3:15. Lastly I found my way to the taxi stand and paid the 6 euro to have one drive me to the monastery. Looking back I definitely could have walked, but the guy at the reception desk had me thinking it would take 3-4 hours to walk there. All lies I tell you.

The taxi driver left me at the entrance to Roussanou, the monastery I planned to visit, around 9:45, and walked up the stone stairs to the entrance. I was greeted by a friendly nun who happily took my 2 euro and directed me to a basket of skirts near the entrance. I picked the black and white patterned one on top, tied it around my waist and ventured into the monastery. Obviously, the entire area is not open to visitors, but what was was so cute and tiny. The doorways were all short and everything just looked so well kept. There was a small church inside the monastery that we were allowed to visit.

The first room of the church was full of images of people being martyred. Lots of people burning and being beheaded. It was kind of creepy to see such violent actions being depicted on the walls of a a church - and they were everywhere. On the ceiling, the walls, arches. It was quite intense. It was pretty cool to see the work though. It was obviously hundreds of years old and several of the images had gold foil embedded into them. Some of the faces and pieces of the images had been rubbed away and you could see the rock wall behind the designs.

The second room was where the scriptures would be kept and read and ceremonies and services would be held. It was a small little chapel and not much room for more than 10 people in the whole space. It was very cool to see and the intricacies of the chapel were incredible! So much detail and so beautifully done.

After I left the monastery I decided to walk back to town the opposite way that the taxi driver had taken me. I ended up walking through two different paths through the woods/mountain side and on part of the main road. It was quite the adventure, but fun. I had a good walk and got to take some incredible pictures from different angles. I didn't end up visiting any more monasteries because some were closed and the one I walked past had a large number of steep stairs leading up to it that I did not feel like climbing (or paying 2 euro to see another church). So I went back to Kalampaka.

When I got back to town I came across the Byzantine church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. This church was built in the 7th century on top of a 4th/5th century temple of Apollo. I paid my 1.50 euro to go inside and was the only person there. The lady at the front had to turn the lights on just for me. The church was incredible. I can't even begin to describe how I felt. I do know that for the first time on my trip I had a very surreal moment and had to fight back tears. Just being in a place, essentially alone, looking at the frescoes and paintings and mosaics and the intricate markings in the marble moved me. In one part of the floor they had a glass pane inserted into the marble floor to showcase some of the mosaic work from the original temple.

I couldn't help but think about the number of people who had worshiped in this space and history of all that must have happened there. It was probably the most authentic feeling old church I have been in - as far as experiencing what it might have been like to be in a church hundreds of years ago. Even though there was electricity, it was very very very dim and felt like candlelight. It was well worth the 1.50 euro. I could have sat there all day, but I think the lady at the entrance thought I was a bit strange for being in the church as long as I was to begin with.

After I left the church I wandered through town some more and stopped at the bakery to buy some bread and the fruit stand to buy some oranges. I am now back at my hotel waiting for it to be 3 to catch my bus to Thessaloniki. I am supposed to text or call my couch surfing host when I arrive and we will arrange to meet up from there. Let's hope it all goes well and according to plan. I have the name of a hostel just in case, but it sounds like it is a bit sketch, so I'm really hoping the couch surfing works out! I'll keep you all posted.
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