Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I am telling myself...

it's OK that I didn't write much for this blog because it was a PHOTOGRAPHY trip. Right? Right. Well we wrapped up our time in Athens quickly. Seeing the Parthenon was surreal. It is massive. Athens was not was I expected. It was dang hot. Which was expected, but the smells on the streets consisted of fish, produce, exhaust, and B.O. Nice combo. There were tons of outdoor markets with everything from skinned rabbits (with tails still on) to dried apricots that tasted amazing. The "shops" along the street were basically like dollar store treasures set up on kiosks. We got to see the changing of the guards at the Parliament house. These guys wear some fun Greek uniforms that no American guy would be caught dead in. Holly had to leave us for a family emergency. I was sad and the trip hasn't been the same without her. I haven't had a belly laugh since she left. I am thankful for the time that we did have though. She's a great teacher and even better friend. From Athens, we drove three hours to Nafplio. It's on the coast has been a great escape from the craziness of the city. Yesterday, we took a ferry to the island of Idra. This part of the trip has been the best. Lot's of time to chill out, shop, and people watch. Good times. We have to leave at two tomorrow morning to get to Athens for our flight. That should be FUN. I'm hoping that will assure some hard sleep on the flight back home. I have loved getting to hang out and know the girls. They have done some beautiful work with their photography and I know this is an experience they will have with them forever. Our leaders are pretty amazing too. This definitely beats teaching and learning in a classroom in Houston. I feel like the girls have learned so much in so little time. Houston humidity, I am not looking forward to you. Italy and Greece you are great.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yasou Greece!

Greece is way more my vibe. Italy was a little stressful. I'm not going to lie. AMAZING, but sort of overwhelming (at least the way we did it). We left Firenze at 4:45 am and got to the Rome airport for our 11 o'clock flight to Athens. Luckily, we got there early despite the traffic that was possibly going to add some more "excitement" to our trip. Most of the girls, including myself, tried to sleep on the bus. Our bodies hate us right now. It worked, sort of. We were all jarred awake at some point or another because I'm pretty sure our driver never went to Italian drivers ed. Once on the plane though, I fell asleep Ambien style on the food tray. Nice. A private bus met us at the airport and we drove three hours to Delphi. The time passed quickly as the girls forced us to watch a Hilary Duff movie where she has some ridiculous trip to Rome. I think I am dumber for watching it. I must say they have all been super troopers though. They get gold stars for being flexible and funny, even when we all felt like curling up in a ball and passing out. We ate dinner at another great restaurant that overlooked the sea of Corinth and is tucked away on Mount Parnassus. It was a pretty early night by our standards. Lights out at midnight and breakfast at nine. LOVE. Our Nat Geo leaders have been great as well. We've shared a lot of laughs and it has made the trip even more fun than I expected. I can already tell this week we will be able to soak things in a little more instead of feeling like I NEED white Etonic shoes like I need air to breathe.  

Old people may be on to something...

If I had room in my suitcase, I would buy these right now. Roma in a day is possible. We did it. All on foot. We left Firenze at 4:45 am on a bus and proceeded to see the Colosseum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and Trevi fountain. We opted out of running back across Rome to Vatican City and shopped in a street market instead. The vendors were not necessarily interested in good customer service, as they have nine million other shoppers eagerly waiting to buy some overpriced trinkets. That made it easy NOT to spend my hard earned euros there. It was another overall crazy busy day, but worth it. In the craziness of the day, Holly managed to get left at the Pantheon trying to get "the perfect shot". Such an overachiever. Luckily, we found her (or she found us). Next time we go somewhere, I'm putting her on a child-leash. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Note to self.

Do not try to start a blog on a trip where you leave at 6 in the morning and get in bed at midnight. Every night. SO, to recap the last FOUR days (if I can remember it all)...
In Florence, we watched professionals make gelato at Grom, right around from the Duomo.  OF COURSE, we tasted it. They use only whole foods and organic ingredients. It was simply an Italian delight (none of that cheap stuff). Don't worry. We definitely worked that off after we hiked to an olive press in Tuscany. They have some serious hills here, in case you didn't know. I would say at least a 12 on the treadmill incline at 24 Hour. I am not even kidding. Looking lovely, we listened to a cute Italian couple explain their olive oil production. The guy was legit. He is on some fancy committee in Italy (tasting commission?! I think?) that regulates the quality and then select the top oils for the region. We ate pizza that night and had a waitress that was straight out of SNL. Perfect end to the day...until the prank call. Holly and I were both in stage 100 REM sleep when some Spanish students staying in our hotel decided to call random rooms. Needless to say I was uber disoriented (thank you, jet lag). Yes, I did begin speaking Spanish to them (como estas?), even though I didn't know what was going on myself. Holly became even more confused than I was as she listened. We are still cracking up about this like it just happened. We are now in Greece (Delphi) about to head to dinner. I'll be back to fill in the rest of "Rome In A Day" and the adventure in Cinque Terre. To be continued...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What day is it?

It feels like I've been in a dream for the last three days. Between the jet lag, four a day cappuccinos,  and seeing David, I'm pretty sure this is not real life. We arrived in Rome and booked it to the nearest train station for a two hour ride to Florence. The countryside was picturesque (at least the bits I remember while falling asleep face down on the trays). Our hotel (and by that I mean hostel) is, er, quaint. It's a one man show here. You check in with the same man who serves you breakfast and the beloved cappuccinos. He's adorable. We trekked ALL over Firenze yesterday. The girls went on a scavenger hunt in groups, we planned some more, saw David, gawked at crazy fashion statements, ate good food, and then COOKED amazing food. That was the highlight. We went to Giglio cooking school and made chicken catiattore, roasted veggies, homemade spinach ravioli AND tiramisu. ALL FROM SCRATCH. I would love to cook you dinner when I get back. It may or may not be the same as eating it here though. You will love it. We are heading out to an olive grove and press today and stopping along the way to see how they make gelato. It's a rough life. I think I might open an Italian cafe when I get back...Carliettis?