Sunday, August 30, 2009

Its greek to me, or in other words - Opa!!

Wow, thanks for the gelato suggestions you guys. Btw, I finally found a flavor I don't like so much - banana.

Have I confessed on here before that I often wonder what it would be like to be illiterate? Its one of those things that I try to pretend about sometimes but it is really hard to think about what it must feel like to not be able to read when you can in fact read. Until you come to Greece. And now I know what it feels like to be illiterate. Because with this crazy greek alphabet I don't know how to sound out what a triangle or an upside down horseshoe sounds like. At least in Italy or France we can sound out words and seem like we have some clue what we are talking about. Here we just have to point unless there is an english translation alongside whatever it is we want. Its pretty strange.

So last night, Paul and I spent a really glamorous night in the Athens airport sleeping on the floor. Bleh. I am super tired right now, even though I actually did manage to get about 3 1/2 hours of sleep. When we were planning this trip, I found a website called "sleeping in airports" or something that touted the idea that airports are the biggest waste of space, totally empty at night, and we should just sleep in them rather than pay for hotels. The website specifically mentioned the Athens airport as being particularly accomodating to airport sleepers. I, being the sucker I am for an adventure, thought this sounded awesome. So after some convincing, I talked Paul into trying it. Our flight from Rome left at 8:00 pm and got to Athens at about 11:30 pm Athens time and our connecting flight to Thessaloniki, in nothern Greece, left at 7:00 am. Perfect, I thought, for getting some shut eye. We got off the plane, and sure enough there were probably 50 people camped out on benches or laying on the marble floor catching some shut-eye.

But we just couldn't be satisfied sleeping in the same terminal as everybody else, so we went looking for a better spot and somehow left the main area of the airport and entered international ticketing, "leaving" the country. There was just a booth where an attendant stamped passports to go into the "A" terminal of the airport, and we could see that there were lots of open benches there, so we thought, "why not?" Only after we went through and laid our stuff out did we stop to question why we were the only ones there. When we figured out what we had done, we couldn't get back in to Greece! There was a big guard sitting on one side of a glass wall (the Greece side) who kept waving us away and wouldn't talk to us and it took some persuasion and about an hour to get past the border control and get readmitted into Greece.

Anyway, it was not as fun and fabulous as I am sure sleeping on the floor of the airport sounds for those of you who are thinking of trying it.

Now we are in Kalambaka, Greece and spent a day traveling around with a Canadian couple on their honeymoon (who coincidentally have spent two nights of their honeymoon sleeping in airports). We met up with them on the bus here and ended up staying at the same hotel and will probably be hiking trails between monasteries with them tomorrow. Its fun making travel buddies.

And can I just say that Greek food rocks my world? Because it does. Souvlaki and baklava, here I come.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This one's for you Jessica

Coconut gelato = Heaven

I have also tried two new flavors that are amazing - pistachio (great recommendation Dee) and amerena. I would name my first daughter Amerena, its that good.

Paul always gets the same two flavors - Nutella and Strachiatella (which is like chocolate chip). I keep trying to get him to branch out, but the furthest he went was Nutella and mint chip.

Any other recommendations?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Pirates of Vernazza

Yesterday Paul and I hiked the Cinque Terre trail. The whole place is a UNESCO World Heritage site (if you are ever traveling and there is a UNESCO World Heritage site nearby, GO) - of something like 8 or so miles of craggy, steep coastline with the five hamlets that make up Cinque Terre) and it was probably one of my favorite travel experiences ever. I have never seen such stunning vistas, except for maybe at Big Sur, although the two really don't compare because of the differences in how you experience them. Paul and I were literally soaked with sweat by the time we finished - it was not easy going on an August day and we drank through something like five or six liters of water in a five hour period. But we have some GREAT photos.

Last night, after swimming away the afternoon in the ocean following the hike, we cleaned up and headed out for late evening photos in Riomaggiore. On the train back to Vernazza, there were all these 20-somethings dressed up as pirates with eye-patches and fake scars and everything. Turns out there was some big pirate party going on in Vernazza that night. Paul and I opted instead to go down to the marina where a water polo match was being held between the Vernazza team and the Corniglia team (each village has its own team). The match was held in the ocean with the fans sitting on the rocks surrounding the marina. It was so cool to participate in such a local event and cheer on the Vernazza team. After the match ended, there was a belly dancer who performed four numbers, and it seemed like the whole town stayed up till almost midnight what with the pirates, the water polo, and the belly dancing. It was bliss, I tell you. Serious bliss.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Count of Monte Carlo?

On our second evening in Nice, after spending the day in Monaco visiting the Monte Carlo Casino and the palace where Grace Kelly lived after marrying Prince Ranier, we decided to hike up to the Chateau d'Nice which overlooks the city. We didn't start up until almost 8 pm and spent some time at the top watching the sun set over the French Riveria. On our way down in near darkness, we ran into three Australians who had passed us earlier. They told us that the gates at the bottom were locked and there was nobody to let us off the mountain. So all five of us headed back down to the gates and were soon joined by a french mother and son. The seven of us stood at the gates, prisoners of the Chateau d'Nice, hollering at passersby for help until about 9:30 when a couple of fellow tourists went into a nearby hotel, found out that there was a back entrance, and shouted up to us that we needed to hike back up to the top of the cliffs to the Chateau and down the opposite side, then trek around the base of the cliffs back into Nice. By the time we got back to our hotel room, we were exhausted from all the hiking up and down the cliffsides and hills, but it was quite an adventure.

Now we are in Cinque Terre, Italy. Just got here this afternoon and the cliffs are even steeper, and the temperatures are even hotter. But the water is just as blue and the gelato is supposed to be even better in Italia. Arrivaderci!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nice is nice

So somehow we got really busy over the last week and never got around to posting before we left the country. So here I am sitting in Nice, France blogging while waiting to check into our hotel room so we can change into swimsuits and go lay out on the beach. We didn't bring our computers with us, so I'm afraid the blog posts will be few and far between for the next few weeks and they won't contain photos, but once we get back we'll type everything up and blog about it with plenty of photos.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Awesome and Not Awesome

You know what is really awesome? The lazy river at the local pool. There is a waterfall to go under, little kids bump into you while swimming underwater because even though they are wearing goggles they keep their eyes closed, you can swim with the current and pretend that you are as fast as Michael Phelps, and you can swim upstream against the current when the lifeguards aren't looking and pretend like you are really working out. Speaking of lifeguards, I am a good ten years older then most of them, so why do I feel the need to be all sneaky about swimming against the current in a lazy river? I could just ignore them, but I don't. What would they do - kick me out do you think? Hmm, that reminds me of the time I almost got kicked out of Disneyland for commandeering the swinging rope bridge on Tom Sawyer Island and jumping on it like crazy so that nobody else could use it until the Disneyland "cast member" chased me off with threats that if he caught me there again I would be escorted from the park. I'm a troublemaker, I tell ya.

You know what is not awesome? The really gross places people get sweat stains at the gym. And the super tall stair-stepper machines that elevate a certain area to eye-level so that the sweat stains of an individual's posterior nether-region is on display for everyone on the treadmills behind that individual. Ewww.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Post Bar-dom Depression

Thanks everybody for your support and encouragement about the bar exam. We're awfully glad to have that behind us - at least mostly behind us. Paul updated his facebook status to say that he has post bar-dom depression, and it is really kind of true in some ways. Like as in we are both still having nightly bad dreams about the bar exam. Seriously. The. Nightmares. Must. Stop. Also, we are already combatting boredom after the intensity of always having something to do for the past few months/years. Don't feel too bad for us though. Things will pick up in about a week, and between now and then we have to pack up our apartment and move everything to storage.

And by the way, my promise to you is that eventually, sooner or later, I WILL stop blogging about the Bar.

On Friday evening, when we got home from our plane flight back from SFO, we went to get the mail we had accumluated in our mailbox for the past week and discovered this:

That's right. I have an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Hush, Hush. It isn't even available for sale until October, it is being hyped as a huge new YA fiction release, and Becca Fitzpatrick's publisher sent one to me! I know! I was SO excited. After Paul and I fought over who got to read it first (I won because Becca and I went to high school and church and ran track together), I stayed up past midnight blazing through the pages. Because it is a total page-turner. I don't want to go into detail because I am notorious for giving away too many hints about the endings so I just try not to say anything, but the general story line is about a fallen angel with a deadly plan to regain his wings. The mythology behind the story - that of fallen angels - is really well-done and Becca is an incredibly talented writer. If you want to read the first two chapters, they are available online here and you can also visit Becca's official website here. She's awesome and I'm really excited for her, if you can't tell.

Aside from catching up on my reading list, this week I plan to (1) work out every day (b/c studying all summer did a number on my fitness routine), (2) go for bike rides on my cruiser, (3) go to the temple, and (4) firm up our travel plans for the next few months.

And I never did say what we ended up deciding on for our big bar trip, did I? Well, here it is: Aug-Sep - 5 week world tour starting in Nice, France and working our way through Monaco, Italy (Cinque Terre, Lake Como, and Venice), San Marino, Greece (Meteora, Athens, Santorini, and Rhodes), Turkey (Cappadocia and Istanbul), and Egypt (Cairo and Luxor); Oct - Yosemite and Peru; Nov - Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia. We've loaded up on memory cards to take lots of photos and we're planning on living out of our backpacks the whole time. Should be awesome. Take THAT post bar-dom depression.