Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Ancient Japanese Art of Kar-ee-oh-kayy, and other tales...

Wednesday nights are perfect karaoke nights! WRONG. Not when you have to get up at 7:45 the next morning in order to get your residence permit! Let me rewind:

Wednesday night we found Mike's Irish Pub. My new favorite place. In fact, I'm considering having my birthday party there! Anyway, Mike's is the greatest! We sang about 10 songs, and were able to bond with other girls in our program, which was nice. We also made some nice Greek friends that let us dance on stage with them during Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen! Kelly and I were the jerks still singing while the bar was closing... Best part: when I twisted my ankle outside and skinned my knee. Solid, just keeping my klutz record up... I'm three falls in three weeks, perfect game. 

Next day I successfully woke up in time to meet at the center at 7:45. Luckily, about 6 other girls who had gone last night were with me, so I was not alone in wanting to die on the trolley. We successfully got our residence permits and continued with a full day of classes. 

Thursday night we kept it low key and checked out Domahar, the angry biker bar. The inside looks like a pirate ship, and they played American music, so there was no complaining on our end! 

Friday night we met up with students we had met through our school that are from Crete, but go to school in Athens. We had met them Monday night when they hosted us at their residence hall for dinner. They were taking us to a traditional Greek club, called Posidonio that had the traditional greek music and dancing called bizooki (sp?). It was INCREDIBLE! I loved it because we went with Greeks, and that just made the whole experience way more authentic! There was live music and they sang greek songs and then some Lady Gaga :) Everyone jumped on stage at one point and they did the traditional greek dancing, with one person in the middle and everyone else kneeling around. We had a blast at the bizooki, and didn't get home until 5 am! This was not the best idea, since we were going to Delphi the next day, but it was SO worth it!!!! 

Saturday, Alex showed up bright and early with breakfast so we had no choice to get up! We made it to the bus station and took the 10:30 bus to Delphi. It took about 3 hours so we had lunch when we got off, and the view was amazing. There was water, houses, pine trees, mountains and it was all green and so beautiful. We hiked up the ruins and saw where the oracle would officiate! We sat up there for a while, the weather was perfect and it was just so nice to be there. We also saw the ancient sanctuary of Athena, which is what is on most of the post cards from Delphi. I decided I am completely in love with it and would go back in a heartbeat! Pictures to come soon!!! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Santorini Shenanigans

Wednesday afternoon, my roommates and I were pretty bored, so we looked up ferry prices to Santorini. The tickets were pretty cheap, and the next thing we knew it was Friday morning at 530 am and we were on our way to Santorini!

We checked into our hostel, which is my future place of employment, and headed straight for the beach. We met a beautiful Albanian man who also lives in Athens, but works the summer months in Santorini. We all thought this was brilliant and have now signed up for jobs around Santorini in the summer. Can't wait!

Our hostel was having a barbeque that night and we met 20 more kids studying in Athens from America. Well two hours and unlimited wine later, we were best friends. We met some really cool people traveling the world by themselves, which sounded amazing!

The next day, we woke up to Mary banging on our door because it was time to sign up for the boat tour. We got to the dock and got in line for this pirate ship when a man told us it was the wrong one and we had to wait. We finally got on the boat and sailed to the volcano. We paid our 2 euros and climbed the rocky volcano in our sandals-clearly satisfied with our choice of shoes... It was really neat because we were able to see the whole island group of Santorini from the highest peak.

We got back on the boat and continued to the hot springs. The hot springs looked straight out of Shrek, complete with an outhouse. Also, there were goats staring at us. It was only awkward because they didn't speak english.

After the hot springs, we spent a couple hours at the island of Therasia. There were no roads so the people there either take donkeys or walk up the mountain. We decided to check out the donkey rides with these two spanish ladies. My donkey was the biggest donkey I've ever seen... it was actually bigger than a horse I think. I was laughing hysterically clinging onto my steroid donkey because Kelly's donkey would sprint up then slow down then sprint again. These donkeys were out of control and it was definitely an experience!! We felt like we were in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, or Pants for four!

After we left that island, we went back to the main island, but to the city of Oia. This is the city where the sunset is most magical. When we got there, we were told we would either have to walk up the mountain or ride donkeys. Since we had JUST ridden donkeys, we were not going to pay to ride another one. We struggled up the cliff, but it was so worth it. We got really lucky because we got the last table overlooking the sunset at a nice restaurant. It was unbelievable! There is no way this is real life!

The sunset ended at 7, and we had to be back at the bus to take us to the hostel at 7:30. We made it there at 7:10 and waited...and waited... Finally, at literally 7:33 we realized we were at the wrong place. We were on the upper level and the bus was on the lower level. We figured it would have waited 3 minutes since we were 5 out of 6 of the people on the bus... That was a bust. The bus had left without us. We had to wait another hour for a bus to the main city, Fira, and then from Fira get on a bus to Perissa where our hostel was. We made both buses successfully which was obviously a new thing for us, but we did miss our stop in Perissa. I wanted to cry but then the bus driver looped back around and dropped us off out front of our hostel thankfully!

The next day we woke up and went to explore Fira. It was such a cute seaside village! The shops were so cute, and the people were very friendly. We missed the bus to go back to Perissa by 10 minutes (typical...) and had to wait 50 minutes. We finally get on the bus and it drops us off way at the other side of the black beach. We walked for a half hour back to our hostel and JUST made it to the shuttle to take us to the port. We ended up catching our ferry on time (thank god!) and we were so so sad to leave Santorini. That's most definitely where I will be living when I'm a billionaire!

The mini fiascos we had made our adventure more interesting and we had so much fun in such a beautiful place. I really really hope I make it back there before I'm 85!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Golden Girls! Welcome to Miami!!

The above title was only one out of four hundred pick up lines we heard in Istanbul last week! After barely making it on time, Grace and I finally met up with Anna, Jordan, and Mary at the airport to head to Istanbul. We met up with Alex when we got there, since Alex, Grace and I were in one hostel, and the other three in another. We had heard about this thing called the fishbowl challenge from another one of our roommates who had been there last weekend, and hearing the word challenge, we headed straight over to a hookah lounge called Backpackers. The fishbowl was a bucket of deliciousness that came with sparklers! It was perfect! We met the cutest dog there, and I named him Chunk. We were having so much fun on the ground pillows and comfy couches, when we realized Alex was missing. Grace and I went to look for her and found her coming back from the hostel down the street. We decided to take a break from the fishbowl and go into a shop under a hostel where we were each given free bracelets when Grace bought a scarf. It was perfect!

The next day, we met up with a boy who had gone to Alex's high school for a year as a foreign exchange student and is from Istanbul, Caddis. He was so nice for being our tour guide! He took us to Prince's island, which straddles the Europe side and Asian side, and the best part was: there were no cars on this island! We rented bikes and biked around. It was sooo beautiful! We stopped to go up to a monastery, and ended up climbing the biggest hill I've ever seen. Turns out, Anna's bike's gears were not actually working and then her tire popped! Despite the bike difficulties, we had a lot of fun.

Being in the Grand Bazaar reminded me of Sex and the City 2. We kept singing the little theme song tune because it was so similar to when Carrie's in the Bazaar in Abu Dhabi. It was fun to bargain, and we got lots of cute pashminas and jewelry for really cheap! The spice bazaar, or the Egyptian bazaar, was also very neat. There was a sign on one of the shops saying it was endorsed by Obama! This is where we heard a majority of our pickup lines. I was called Angelina (Jolie) and Jennifer (Aniston) within an hour. I am very aware I do not look like either of them, and this man could have very easily confused Brad!

Then came the Turkish baths... This is where a bunch of ginormous women all sit topless on a marble stone together. We were not about to join, so we stayed in the jacuzzi. You could pay to have someone wash you (which we definitely did NOT), and that consisted of laying there like a baby elephant while the ladies lifted your boobs and scrubbed under. We were baffled by the concept! It was nice to shower in a real shower there though, AND use a hair dryer!

Overall, we did a ton of really neat things, including the Turkish baths, the bazaars, Prince's Island, Toxim, Fishbowl Challenge, eating fish that was fried on the boat it was caught on, playing frogger through the busy streets, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, seeing a belly dancer, and the basilica cistern. We had a great time and I would love to visit Istanbul again!