20 August 2009

Greece Adventures Day 10

Day 10 (11 and 12) - Athens (and getting home)

Well, this day was pretty laid back. We enjoyed breakfast at our nice hotel, and this was probably the fanciest little breakfast I had seen in a while, they even had Jello in wine glasses, and it looked like real wine - very cute!

Anyway, after taking it easy, we took the bus to the beach and spent the day in the sun and crystal clear water - very enjoyable.

We had an early evening since we had a very early morning (and subsequent long days ahead).

You know the rest of the story. We woke up early and flew from Athens to Frankfurt. Tried for the afternoon flight from Frankfurt to O'hare - didn't make it. Stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, went to the airport the next day, tried for Frankfurt - DFW, didn't make it, but we did make the next Frankfurt - O'hare flight, got on business class (very fancy!) and got on the first flight from O'hare to DFW where mom, Ronnie, Jessica, and Luke were waiting for us at the airport. It was a fun surprise!

17 August 2009

Greece Adventures Day 9

Day 9 – Santorini and Athens

We did even less on this day than we did on the others, but mostly because of needing to check out of the hotel at 11, and being back at the hotel at 2:30 for our shuttle to the port. No worries though, we went back to Thira, had a late breakfast. I got a thick, homemade waffle. I hadn’t had a waffle in almost a year, and it definitely hit the pregnant-lady spot! I really enjoyed this town, for all its winding, narrow streets and shops. Even it you don’t do a lot of shopping (which we certainly didn’t) it is an enjoyable atmosphere to be around.

Went back to the hotel where the world’s friendliest hotel owner gave us a ride to the port. She was easily one of the nicest, friendliest, most helpful people we’ve met. If the hotel was just average, she made it great.

Hopped back onto the ferry. This time we were in business class because they were sold out of economy tickets when we booked. Oh my goodness – there was a world of difference between the two classes!! It had plush cushy seats, a waiter serving us food, air conditioning, and just simply comfortable all around. And the funny thing is, there was not a huge price different between the two classes and we regret not splurging for the first trip, but at least this way we can appreciate it much more.

Our ferry was about 20 minutes late arriving, which was fine except for the fact that we missed the last subway train into the city, so we had to get a taxi, but we got to our nice hotel quickly. This last hotel was incredibly nice, and we absolutely loved it!!

As it was already one in the morning, we went straight to sleep in our cozy bed.

15 August 2009

Greece Adventures Day 8

Day 8 – Santorini

We went back to Thira to see some of the views that the city promised. We had gotten there after dark the night before, so we were unable to see all the buildings on the cliffs. So we stayed there and did a little shopping and sight-seeing (and sitting when necessary).

We then walked back to our hotel and relaxed by the pool and took it easy in the afternoon heat.

All the information books about Santorini tell visitors to go to the town of Oia to watch the sunset. So we did as did everyone else. We had to do a little exploring to find a lookout where there weren’t already bunches of people stationed, and even once we found a spot it eventually filled up. No worries though, it was still nice. However, for all the talk about the “not to miss sunsets in Santorini” we weren’t that impressed. I think we saw nicer ones in Thessalonia and Athens, but it was still enjoyable. Then we wandered to a restaurant for dinner. One of the nice things about the restaurants here is that they all have open air seating, with umbrellas for when the sun is still out. Prague had it too during the nice weather, and it is certainly something we will miss once we get back home.

12 August 2009

Greece Adventures Day 7

Day 7 – Santorini

Our time in Santorini was most definitely laid back. We didn’t do a ton of stuff, but that was exactly what we wanted to do. We never set the alarm, woke up when we were ready and even then took our time. Still, I do not feel like we ever really wasted time.

After waking up the first day and eating breakfast, we took a bus to one of the many beaches in Santorini. Our hotel owner told us which bus to take and suggested the best beach considering the windy weather. We went to one called Red Beach, named because of the red volcanic rock surrounding the water. It was small, and a bit crowded, but we found some chairs and an umbrella and called it a day. The water was so clear and cool and perfect. We got some grapes as a snack and stayed at the beach until we were hungry again.

We had a late lunch at a little restaurant on the beach and took the bus back to our hotel where we had yet another nap.

Then we headed to the main town of the island called Thira, where we enjoyed dinner at a restaurant overlooking the town and then walked around the cute, winding streets filled with shops. One thing that greatly surprised me (especially after Prague) was the fact that these shops were still open at 11pm – even the little boutiques! We didn’t do much shopping, but the fact that things were still open made the streets feel alive.

11 August 2009

Greece Adventures Day 6

Settling in at home is going well, and it still feels pretty nice to be back.

Day 6 – Athens and Santorini

We woke up early and caught the ferry to Santorini. Words cannot describe the chaos that is the ferry. There were chairs, tables, people, and luggage sprawled and shoved everywhere. We sat on the top deck, which was open air, but covered and slightly shaded. The fact that we had to wake up early plus the rocking boat were not a good combination for me, but after the ferry docked at its first island, it emptied out a little, and we got a spot on the bench so I could lay down, and that helped a ton. 8 hours later, we arrive in Santorini.

If chaos is the word to describe the ferry, then complete pandemonium would be the port of Santorini There was a massive crowd of people exiting the boat, cars driving off the boat, and hoards of people trying to get you to stay at their hotel and/or take their bus to the town. We finally just got a cab to our hotel.

After checking in, we got dinner near the hotel, and then went back and relaxed. After being on the boat for so long, I still felt like I was rocking, and needed a lie-down big time. So we rented a movie off iTunes and called it a night.

07 August 2009

Greece Adventures Day 5

It feels good to be back at home. Our first full day back was quite fun and productive. We got to see Luke and Heidi and the girls, as well as my Dad, Ruth, and Grandma. We ran some necessary errands, went out to eat for some mexican food.

Jet lag is killer right now, we were awake at 5:15 yesterday, and Jace did the same today while I managed to sleep until 6:30...

Day 5 – Athens

This day goes down in the books as “bad luck day.” For one, we got a terribly slow start. Despite all our resting the day before, I still felt very worn out. Then we went to another archeological site, walked almost entirely around the perimeter of it, and could not find the entrance. Once we gave up and said it wasn’t worth it – we found it, but we kept on walking. Fail. Besides, we had seen a lot of it walking around it anyway. Then, we made our way to another hill/small mountain that boasted some of the best views of Athens. This one had a funicular railway system to take you to the top, so I would be able to manage it, but by the time we got there, we had 30 minutes before the funicular closed. Fail again.

We went back to the hostel for a nap.

Then we went to the newly opened Acropolis museum. This museum was beautiful and very well done and organized. Bonus: since it was newly opened, tickets were only 1Euro. One of the things I liked most about it was this short film it showed about the Parthenon that began to give you and idea about how it looked and some of the details about the building. When reading some information about different sculptures, we were amused at the fact that some of them had their heads in the Louvre.

We had dinner at another nice outdoor restaurant in the winding corridor of shops, then walked some more and had ice cream for dessert. We then went back to the bottom of the Acropolis where there was a rock we “climbed” and watched the sun set over Athens.

06 August 2009

Greece Adventures Day 4

Well we are home, thank the Lord. It was certainly a total blessing and dare I say even miracle that we got on the plane. Looking at it on paper, there is no way we should have gotten on the flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, but we did, and got on the first flight from Chicago to DFW. We got in at 9:15 pm, and Luke and Jessica were with mom at the airport, a very fun surprise!

Day 4 – Athens

We woke up and took a while getting ready in the morning, then made our way to see the Acropolis. This day was difficult for me. I had to stop and rest before we even got there. We got a ticket that let us into the Acropolis as well as the surrounding areas. There was a lot of resting for me, and Jace had to go and get me water at one point. But he was always sweet and patient and at times made me stop and rest even when I insisted I was fine. The acropolis and the view from it were amazing. The Parthenon was massive, and its unfortunate that it is not still intact – its so hard to imagine how it must have looked in all its glory, but even the ruins were impressive and breathtaking.

We stopped for lunch, which was perfect because there was air conditioning and cold water (with ice!) and we took our time there.

We then headed to another archeological site called the Temple of Zeus – it was part of our all-inclusive ticket. Unfortunately, so much of it was destroyed and left in ruins, so we couldn’t always tell what we were looking at, but there were some columns still standing, and one that had fallen but was left on the ground in its separated pieces.

Then we walked to the National Gardens, lay in the park for a while, and wandered around the park. Leaving the park, we came across the original Olympic Stadium where we stopped and rested again J.

After that, I needed a proper rest, so we went back to our hostel - even though we took it easy and slow paced, I still got tired easily probably due to the heat – something we never fully experienced in Prague, and for that I am grateful. Also good news – most places sold 1.5 liters of water for just 1 Euro, so staying hydrated was affordable.

After our rest we headed to the port where we would be leaving for Santorini in few days. We picked up our tickets and wanted to know where our ferry would be leaving due to the fact that I had read that the port was massive and could take you 30 minutes to find your boat. I think the ticket lady thought we were crazy for picking up our tickets 2 days early – but I felt assured knowing that we had our tickets and knew where our boat would dock, and also exactly how to get to the port and how long it would take.

Then we went to one of the restaurants we saw the previous day and had dinner looking out at the Acropolis all lit up in the dark. The food was OK, but the view made up for it.

04 August 2009

Greece Adventures Day 3

So we are still in Frankfurt, at the Holiday Inn Express waiting for our shuttle to take us to the airport for another round of trying. Still in good hopes today.

Day 3 – Thessalonia and Athens

Thessalonia used to be surrounded by a Byzantine wall, and parts of it still remain, so we wanted to see it. We took a bus “up the hill” to where the wall was. There wasn’t too much to see, but it was still nice, and we enjoyed imagining what it probably used to look like in ancient times.

From there we returned to our hotel, packed up, checked out, took a bus to the train station, and headed to Athens. We had a laugh at the train because when we first approached it, it was fully covered in graffiti, which in the Czech Republic would have meant that the inside of the train would be cruddy and uncomfortable inside; however this train inside was quite nice, clean and cozy. Not a bad ride to Athens. I was worried about motion sickness, but had no problem at all.

We take the public to our hostel and checked in. I was disappointed in the place, and needed a moment to collect myself before we headed out. It wasn’t terrible, but it was tiny, and certainly did not make a nice first impression.

We found a small gyros restaurant for dinner, and then wandered to the Acropolis. It was already closed, but we took some pictures and walked around the little streets with all their shops and restaurants. It was very cute and we decided to go there for dinner before we left Athens.

03 August 2009

Greece Adventures Day 2

So we are in the airport, enjoying some free wifi waiting for our flight to Frankfurt. All up in the air (get it, hehe) from there!

Also, as much as I will miss Prague and Europe, I feel at this point like I am ready to be home. Its time.

Day 2 – Thesselonia

We spent most of the day exploring the city on foot. It is relatively small, so we were able to do a lot by walking.

We first wanted to access the water so from the train station (where we purchased our tickets to Athens), we walked toward the coast, unfortunately for us, there were some other train tracks; therefore, we could not cross the street. We finally managed after a while, and the water was beautiful! We climbed up a tower, which had a museum inside and gave us a great view from the city.

From there we took the scenic route back to our hotel – seeing some cubist globe and an ancient arch along the way. We rested for a while at our hotel, and did some research on beaches in Thesselonia.

We took the bus to the beach, and though you couldn’t swim in it, we still enjoyed it very much. We relaxed, read, watched the sunset, had a small dinner – all wonderful.

Also, we found it very easy to get around despite my initial concerns. Fortunately, our hotel was off a main street and easy to find, but even managing the busses, we felt very comfortable getting around.

This was our bathroom in the hotel. It was tiny, and I had to quickly swallow the fact
that I hate when everything in the bathroom gets wet after a shower.

Greece Adventures Day 1

So tomorrow we embark on our attempt to go back home. We will fly to Frankfurt in the morning and then rely on standby and God's graces to get back to Texas.

I decided to do the updates one day at a time, the same way I did the Germany/Switzerland trip, to spread out the goodness.

Enjoy day 1!

Arrived in Thesselonia, warm weather greeted us off the plane, and it was wonderful.

Got a taxi to our hotel, and on the way I quickly realized that everything is (naturally) in the Greek alphabet. The map our hotel gave us is the same – getting around will be interesting, but hey, we are on vacation, so I decided to do my best to be laid back about it. Fortunately, we found out it was pretty easy and had little trouble.

After checking in, we were hungry, but faced with a potential problem – with the time change it was already 11PM and we weren’t sure if anything would be open. Well we wandered down the main road for a block, then turned off it due to construction to a small side road, and one turn later and we spot an outdoor restaurant sitting in a short, wide street connecting two bigger ones. So we sit down. The waiters were friendly and tell us the food offers in English. We order, unsure of the cost. The food arrives quickly and is delicious and when the bill comes we are surprised with the affordability of it. The atmosphere of this place was perfect, there were two men sitting at a table who were playing the mandolin and singing, but I don’t think they were hired by the restaurant, it looks like they had just finished eating and broke out the instruments. It was great!

No pictures yet, unfortunately I didn't have my camera at the super cute restaurant.