Monday, May 31, 2010

Nafplio Greece


We had a pretty 2.5 hr bus ride to nafplio which is a peninsula town on greeces mainland in the south east. The town is really small with a great harbor boulevard and a sandy/pebble beach on the the other side. There is also a fortress up on a hill overlooking the town and one in the mid of the harbor. The town boasts a Venetian feel (previously inhabited) with narrow streets and small shops and restaurants.

Our b&b was really nice with a great view of the cute streets and an airy balcony. We were on the top floor with a pointed rafter ceiling at the top of a super narrow wood staircase so it was like being on a treehouse.

Our three days there were pretty much identical.

We slept in then ate on the balcony.

We went window shopping then ate gyros.

We went to the beach for a few hours.

We napped

We strolled around the mountain on it's cute cobblestone path (only 2nd and 3rd night).

At night We took lots of pictures and strolled.

We ate. I miss Greek yogurt right this second.


Cute little kitten at the beach that was mama-less. She seemed looked after by everyone that went to the beach as we always saw food or drink around her.

Salzburg to Rome by B


We took a train from Salzburg which by the way when we left was a whopping 3 degrees celsius to Venice which was about 22 degrees Celsius, nice! This time I slept like a baby on the train it was goodness. After we got off the train we looked right out the front doors of the station and bam there is the grand canal, pretty surreal. Surreal and busy I should say there are boats running every which way people walking all over the place and they all know where there going, so although there are no cars you might still get run over! We headed off to our b&b and by headed off I mean hopped on a water bus and we went to san Marcos square area and it was bustling. Our b&b owner Lorenzo recommended some restaraunts and geleterias mmm and we were off! We went first and saw the Rialto bridge which was very nice lots of shops and restaraunts and people asking you if you would like to go on gondola rides- gondola rides look fun but not fun enough to spend 100 euros on. We instead went and got gelato and it was great! Venice or venizia as they call it is so pretty during the day, but at night it's darn near fairytailish. The lights sparkle off the water and the moon joins in on the light every once in a while it is very cool. We saw the bridge of sighs and went into st marks over to murano and burano but nothing compared to Venice at night.

We were then off to Florence but first we stopped in to bologna for delightful food and to see the market and old city it was very pretty and the church there is very large. Then off to Florence we only spent a night and morning here. We saw the duomo, which is spectacular, and we walked a long ways and climbed what seemed like a mess of steps to see the statue of David by Leo da vi. (not the real one but a perfect replica). Then we went off on a bus to greve in chianti, beautiful countryside there in Tuscany vineyards and olive groves everywhere. In chianti we got a tour of a vineyard called verzzano named for the verzzano family who owned the land since about 1000 ad crazy! Giovanni verzzano, one of the sons of this family and a mariner, was the man who actually found new York. They have a bridge in new York named after him but Hudson always gets the credit even though he didn't come till years later. We toured the vineyard and the strafe place and then got fed a light lunch and got to try some of their wines, they were great and I am usually not a fan of wine. The wine however went right through me and although I peed before leaving the vineyard the 50 min bus ride back to Florence was slightly excruciating I thought for sure my bladder was going to explode!

Next we headed up to the cinque terre, which is 5 towns on the northern Italian coast on the mediterranean side. It is gorgeous there and we stayed in levanto which is not one of cinque terre towns but beautiful all the same. We relaxed on the beach did some kayaking Jesse was "attacked" by a bee haha it was perhaps the funniest thing ever although she would tell you that me being molested by a cat later was even better- not so. It was so pretty and nice there and the beachy feel was just what we needed to relieve some stress of constantly traveling.

After being in cinque terre for 4 days we departed for Rome but first we took a train to Pisa to see the leaning tower of said city. We got to Pisa snapped a couple of classic leaning on the leaning tower pics and got some questionable hot dog and pizza and got back on a train for Rome. The train for Rome seemed to stop every 6 inches and was extremely hot and to make matters worse I am pretty sure the allergy demon himself had crawled up my nose and stuck a pitchfork in my eyes. (This was also j's b day and I felt terrible because it wasn't going very well.) It was awful my nose was like a faucet and my eyes were itching like no tomorrow! We arrived in Rome nonetheless and I was glad to be off the train my first impressions of Rome were good the city looked very beautful and very big. The first day we went early to the Vatican to go on the scavi tour of the necropolis underneath st peters basillica. First we got to go right up to the Swiss guards hand them our paper and we were escorted to the excavations office it was really amazing we felt like VIP's. We got our tickets which we had to reserve months in advance and then we went in with a small group and a very informative guide. She explained to us that the necropolis is an old roman cemetary which was built on hill call Vatican hill. In the roman times there was a circus here as well and that was right where we were outside where Peter the apostle was crucified upside down. We saw tombs that were from roman times some pagan others Christian and some pagan and Christian. Constantine built a basillica here in about 300 ad to mark the spot where Peters tomb lied. He also built a protective cube around the tomb to preserve it. No one knew if it was actually there until 1941 when they excavated and found the cube and some bones with no feet attached. An independent company outside the vatican examined the bones and said the man was about 65 or 70 at his death and of a very stout nature as was Peter. It made me a little sad though because I know Peter wouldn't have wanted his grave site so venerated or a multi billion dollar church built around his body, rather he would say why do you look at me like I have done some spectacular thing, look instead unto Jesus. Peter loved Jesus more than even life and that's why he was put to death. The rest of the graves in the necropolis were also very interesting it shows graves first that are mainly roman and pagan to a roman pagan with Christian influences and then finally mostly Christian with some things pagan. Very interesting stuff!!

The next day we went to the colosseum and the roman forum, it was amazing! First we did the forum and paletine hill the roman architecture was incredible. We got to see the place where Julius Caesar was assasinated and where his body was cremated, one of the highlights for me was seeing the titus' arch built after the sack of Jerusalem it shows the plunnder of the temple in Israel being carried away by the Romans. I studied this in school so it really came alive being right there in front of it. We also saw a pagan temple turned church with the same bronze doors since the place opened nearly 2000 years ago. Roman history is amazing there is so much to learn apparently everywhere you dig in this city you will find some type of ruins. Next we went over to the colosseum, this thing is huge. All of these ruins look great for being so incredibly old. In the colosseum we learned about how many peoples final moments were spent inside the ring, sometimes they were prisoners of war other times they were common criminals or even people who the roman govt just didn't like. Gladiators were a different breed, many of them fought for fame and fortune and some for freedom. Being in this place you have to wonder how many people lost their lives right here. Over all Rome is a great city and we still have one more trip back here to the vatican to see the cistine chapel and the Vatican musuem.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cinque Terre


We were booked to stay in CT from 5/22 on but when we changed our plans in Florence we called our soon to be b&b host, grazia, to see if we could come earlier. Sadly for us, good for her, she was full. She was so helpful though and arranged for us to stay with her neighbor, a very sweet old lady. Grazia even picked us up from the train station and took us to her neighbors who didn't speak a lick of English. Our room was more Like an addition to the house with a external bathroom and sitting area. It was clean and nice but smelled horribly of mothballs so we have nicknamed the place just that. I think a week later and our clothed still smell like mothballs.

The surrounding area.

We dropped off our stuff and went into town for dinner but decided to just get gelato. Our town, levanto, is a very cute beach town. It's not in the famed five towns of CT (monteroso, vernazza, corngelia, manarola, and riomaggiore) but the town right after. I think it's better than some of the others. It had a cute beach promenade and sandy beach. Monteroso was the only other sandy beach.
We had gelato and caught the tail end of the sunset. How nice.

Next day we went straight to monteroso. Had some lemonade and sangria at a cute promenade bar. The lemonade was fantastic - ice with straight lemonade and sugar.

Then we plunked our butts at the beach and stayed their allll afternoon doing nothing.

Back in levanto, dropped our clothes at the laundromat near the promenade and had dinner. The area is known for their pesto so I had to try some. Best pesto I've ever had.

The next day we were able to move into grazias. She had let us have breakfast at her place even though we weren't staying with her yet so we were already familiar with her place. They are a agriturismo and are growing strawberries and green beans right now. Her property is pretty large with a couple fields, two huge greenhouses, and the house which is more like a villa. She also has 20 cats, 5 dogs, a pony, lovebirds, bunnies, and a whole slew of chickens. It was too fun hanging out there.

This guy whose name I forget but she said the word in Italian for bowling ball. He was a love and always always trotted to the fence when you were coming and going.

B got a little too much affection from this cat. They have an inappropriate relationship.

We jumped on a train to vernazza and B went rock jumping and swimming.

Spot him scaling the wall?

Our last full day we went to manarola to do the del amore walk to riomaggiore. It was really beautiful and there were locks everywhere hung from couples over the years. Some looked decades old.

this was my birthday eve do we went to a beachfront restaurant we'd been eyeing inl levanto. One of their rooms was empty do we sat in there and had a nice quiet peaceful dinner watching the sun set. Also had my first chicken dish in a month. Ah it was wonderful. Then gelato. Then packing up for our early morning to Rome the next day.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Our travel day to Athens.

Our b&b host in Rome called us a shuttle and they were here bright and early for our 11am flight.
At the airport, Everything went according to schedule except as everyone was boarding they stopped boarding and sent everyone back to the gate. We were told a couple of different things about what was going on - someone mentioned tequila, I don't know. It was alright though, we'd be rushing sort of all morning and it was nice to just sit. We chatted with a family from Canada for awhile and about noon we were able to board. After clearing to board, most people were shocked to see this - a bus to whisk us to our flight. A first for us.

on board, We were told that a crew member had a family emergency and that they had to find a replacement - we assumed the pilot or co pilot. Unfortunately we weren't right off as there was a line for take offs. Ohwell, we weren't in a rush. In the end we got into Athens only an hour after we were originally supposed to because the flight was shorter than advertised.

The airport had the metro connected to it so after about an hour we were in the city center. I knew that our b&b was close to the acroplis but we were surprised at how close. It was such a good location. We were pretty much in their city center with all the restaurants and shopping - the Plaka.

The view of the acroplis from our balcony.

We walked around the plaka and window shopped. We ended up walking all the way around the acroplis. We saw a bunch of people on a hill right in front of the acroplis so we made our way over to investigate. After a couple of wrong turns and a oh so fun uphill, we climbed up and were so surprised to find this view. No wonder.

Athens looked sooooo packed. I guess a city that old would have such a population.

We had eaten a great dinner of Greek salad and gyros earlier so we grabbed some snacks and B wanted to try ouzo. Our place had an awesome rooftop that was surprisingly empty (the lobby however with wifi was packed with all of college kids staying there) and watched Athens and it's acroplis glow.

The next day we started early even though both of us were not in great shape. B was feeling horrible (shhh- too much ouzo for him) but we got it together. and headed to the National Archaeological Museum. Very cool. It was also a chance for us to see more of athens than the cute plaka area. Now I see where people get that Athens is dirty and a little sketchy. Again. Not surprisingly considering the city. We had no problems though and it was all fun.

It was supremely hot so we headed back to our b&b to finalize our transportation to nafplio the next day. Then we headed to the new Acroplis Museum. This museum holds the artifacts that were found at the acroplis and the surrounding area. 5 of the 6 Karyatids (famous lady statue columns that use to be on the temple next to the Parthenon) were on display. They really were something and it's too bad the 6th was missing (British museum has it). The really cool (but unnerving for me) thing about this museum is that it is built on ruins and there was clear flooring everywhere to show it.

We also stopped in their restaurant that had a great view if the acroplis for sandwichs and our first of many Greek yogurts. Delicious.

We hadn't cooled off that much but we had to go to the acroplis and roman agora before time ran out.


Walking around the roman agora and up the acroplis was amazing. We walked around, explored and lounged on probably the very places that some of the greatest people of ancient times walked, explored, and lounged on as well. I spent the whole day imagining how things had looked back then in all it's glory. It really is amazing how much is still left, preserved after all this time, for us to see.

We spent the rest of the night having dinner and shopping in the plaka.

We had originally planned to break up our bus to nafplio and stop in Corinth but unfortunately it was too complicated with back packs so we slept in late, walked to hadrians arch and the temple of Zeus and had some breakfast. Greek yogurt, omelet and a Greek frappé which ive had too many of already and its only been two days. I'm pretty sure they have them in the states but I'm not a coffee drinker so I don't know. I don't know why I like them so much but they are awesome.