Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"if we miss the ferry can we stay here another day?" HYDRA

I am getting SO tired of having bread and jam for breakfast. (Yes mom I have been drinking coffee and no it is not stunting my growth!) Unfortunately the yogurt and honey at this hotel isn't exactly appetizing so i've been a religious carb loaded every morning. After my 2 pieces of bread-not toast, bread- we loaded a private bus for a 1.5 hour drive to board the 20 minute ferry to get to the Greek island of Hydra. We tried to sleep on the bus but the road was so windy we couldn't stay asleep, much less in our chairs. The ferry ride went by really fast and it was so exciting to pull up to Hydra because that is exactly what I expected of Greece. The beautiful clear blue water, the white houses, occasional blue shutters, and no cars just donkeys!

The excitement started right when I stepped onto Hydra. Demeris was about to take a picture of Holly, Claire and I with our cute hats on and of course the wind blew mine off straight into the water! After much contemplation we got a small boat worker to get it out with a pole and hook. Here's me and my hero!
We had a couple of hours to do our last assignment, portraits. I love portraits but I hate asking random people if I can take their picture, especially when they barely speak English! Luckily, the friendliest girl in the world CLAIRE HOGAN was in my group and asked for me every time. praise the lawd for her!
my favorite portrait of the day

We finished early and had some time sit by the water before lunch. We ate at a really nice outdoor breezy restaurant and then headed for the beach! Laying out was AMAZING. The breeze on the coast of this island rocks. No one was sweating and it was like being in heaven. We literally laid there for probably 3 hours. Some people jumped off a little platform into the water but Holly and I couldn't get up... to comfortable!
holly me rachel and erin

Our ferry came to pick us up at 6:20 and this ride was a lot rougher than the morning ride. Everyone felt sooo sea sick and the 1.5 hour windy road bus ride back to Nafplio made it so much worse. Callie held a bag to her mouth the whole time which was kind of funny- only because nothing ever came out! And a good thing too, it probably would have been the domino effect from hell since we all felt somewhat queazy and couldn't have tolerated the smell. Sorry thats a little gross and graphic?
We arrived in Nafplio and went straight to dinner. We didn't realize how hungry we were until literally everyone finished their dinners!(which is a first) David was so proud. 
We walked back to the hotel and took MUCH needed showers. Working on blogs and picture sorting was just as miserable as always because we had to do it in the no AC lobby... yum. The guests who just arrived today we're also smoking in the lobby, so that made it so much better!... not. Holly and I retired early, couldn't handle the heat and smoke combo. Tomorrows our last day :( but I think I may be ready to head home. The bright side about the last day is breakfast isn't till 9AM!!! Hallelujah for sleeping in.

Monday, June 20, 2011

are we there yet?

After having breakfast at 8, we headed towards the huge hill to start our climb. We trudged up 999 ancient stone stairs to the base of an old Greek castle. The other day when we had steps at the beginning of our hike… that was NOTHING. Holly and I made a bet on how long we thought it would take the group to reach the top. I said at least an hour and she bet it’d be more. Surprisingly we made it in about 20 minutes?? It was a bit of a struggle but definitely worth it!

It seemed to have 3 different compounds on the property. One being the main castle, another smaller building, and a jail. The jail was my favorite because Dena, Erin, Rachel and I decided we needed to go explore it. We went into one of the cells and found a smaller tunnel dug out in one of the walls. Inside this tunnel we saw a door and got very interested (maybe a little big scared)…
SOO, being the adventurous girls that we are, we attempted to raid this “tomb” ourselves. That didn’t work out too well, so naturally we called David to come and go in first! We figured out that the very back of the tunnel lead to another cell but the door led to just an empty little room. We thought that was pretty cool two cells were kind of secretly connected.

We made David go in first

Going down these 999 steps took half the time and was easier but also made our legs veery shakey. But, luckily right after this we came back to the hotel to rest and change into our swimsuits. We got to split up for a 2 hour lunch and shop if we wanted. When we met back up with everyone we finally got to go down to the beach! The water was crystal clear and perfect temperature, COLD. The only thing we didn’t like was that there was no sand, just rocks. It’s not very comfortable lying on rocks! Regardless we were all very happy to tan and swim.
me and callie 
me and erin

After about 3 hours we walked back to Hotel Nafplio and cleaned up. We worked on our final projects and blogs for a little but couldn’t for very long because there is no AC in the lobby. Not comfortable AT ALL. We all went to dinner together at a cute restaurant where we could see the water. Holly, Claire and I discovered this garlic sauce appetizer to put on bread.. YUM. That was a dangerous discovery since we’re trying to reduce that carb count! Uh oh..
David and Carolyn gave us an On Assignment having to do with bracketing and experimenting with ISO. We had to take pictures of the same subject on every different ISO that our camera has- which basically just changes the lighting on each picture.
Holly, Claire, Callie and I did some of our assignment and decided we should stop for some ice cream. After quickly indulging in that we headed back to the hotel. We’re all so tired from all the sun today- and a little bit burnt!
We’re going to the island Hydra tomorrow and we’re all so excited!! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

where's the beach?

This morning we woke up and finished up packing our suitcases. After breakfast in the hotel we loaded up the bus for a 3 hr drive to Nafplio. These morning bus rides are always so quiet- everyone falls asleep, including me! Hotel Nafplio appeared sooner than we wanted it to so we groggily unloaded our stuff and set up in our rooms.
We all met in the lobby and chose our recent top 3 pictures to be critiqued and had time to work on our blogs and projects. I like this town much more than Athens, it's much more of a relaxed vacation spot rather than a stressful business district. We walked down the pier to a restaurant for lunch and we were all anxiously scanning the horizon for the beach! Unfortunately its about a 10 minute walk so it wasn't in view but we could see the water! After lunch we had 2 hours to walk around and explore the town. We met back at Hotel Nafplio and put all of the pictures we have so far on the National Geographic hard drive. We got to split up for dinner and choose where we wanted to eat. Holly, Erin, Claire and myself went to a small alley cafĂ© right next to a church that was having a wedding. A true “big fat Greek wedding!” We watched the couple run out through rice and get in their car, so cute. The rest of our dinner money went towards ice cream-unfortunately not the same as Italian gelato but it will suffice. The group met back and took night shots of the water and lit up town.

We heard that there was going to be some sort of religious Muslim ceremony so we went to watch. It was very interesting; they spun in circles for a really long time making me dizzy just watching. Even though this was kind of weird it was a great opportunity to work on shots of movement.

The group all sat around David’s computer in the lobby when we got back and had a critique session. Then, we watched the videos the 2 groups took last night for Caroline’s birthday – hilarious.
Tomorrow we’re hiking up 999 (not kidding…) stairs to get to an old castle on a mountain next to our hotel. Need some sleep for that! 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

needin a rest

I slept SO well, this is the most comfortable bed i've had this whole trip. and we had AC!!! so exciting.
Dinner was at 8- had yogurt and honey duh. Greek yogurt is SO much better in Greece than Houston Texas... shocker.
After breakfast we had an hour to upload pictures from the previous day and get our stuff sorted out. We left the hotel around noon for our first museum-National Archeological Museum of Athens. Although the ancient statues are interesting we were so tired

Steph and Holly were so excited they fell asleep
All this... excitement... made us hungry, so we stopped at a sidewalk cafe for lunch. Another chicken gyro for me
After getting some energy we hit up yet another museum.. yyaaayyyy
I usually don't mind museums but we were all just so tired it was difficult to stay interested..
BUT, something that was interesting was the changing of the guards at Parliament. It is SO different than the US. The outfits are.. interesting and the routine is veeery interesting...

oh hey, you scare me
Thankfully, after this we went back to the hotel and had 2 hours to do whatever we wanted or needed to do. It was suggested to work for an hour and then rest for an hour but right when I laid down on my bed i passed out- such a nice nap.
6:30 we met back in the lobby and headed out on the townnnn for some shopping. We had dinner at an outdoor cafe and celebrated Caroline's birthday.
callie dena steph me holly 

steph me holly 

We decided to make a scavenger hunt/game to video people saying happy birthday Caroline in as many different languages as we could find.. so we did that after dinner for a good hour.(along with some more shopping)
Walked home and packed to leave for Nafplio tomorrow! hallelujah.

Friday, June 17, 2011

athens schmathens...

I am not impressed with the capitol of Greece.
After our 3 hour bus ride from Delphi we finally arrived in Athens. The streets seem even crazier than in Italy! Didn't think that one was possible... 
Unloading the bus right on a busy street was a very interesting experience, the police were NOT happy we were blocking traffic and getting yelled at in greek is even scarier than in English! 
The one thing I do like about Athens is our hotel. It actually seems like a real hotel! (the others were more of a bread and breakfast homey feel) 
We put our suitcases up and loaded up to go out. We weren't allowed to bring backpacks because thats too obvious... even though we all have these huge cameras hanging around our necks! 
Lunch was good- ate at a small sidewalk cafe. I had a chicken yuro (just like a chicken pita from smoothie island) 
We had some time to walk around and take pictures or shop if we wanted to. 
my UT girls! steph and claire

sidewalk cafe

The group met back up in the hotel and headed out for Acropolis. Its was an uphill hike to get there! But the view was definitely worth it. 

There was stray dogs EVERYWHERE and they were all huge. They looked like small wolves running around. 
On the way back down we had some time to shop in some of the street markets. I saw a really cute leather backpack-I might have to go back tomorrow and get.
We couldn't eat till 8 because we had reservations and it was definitely worth the wait. There was live music and Greek dancers! It was so much fun to watch this culture in action-we even got up and joined them! (struggle...) 
Walking home was cool getting to see the nightlife. So exhausted

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I absolutely love Greece. First off we got to sleep in this morning and didn’t have breakfast until 9! Our hotel had Greek yogurt with fresh honey – so delicious. I’m definitely having that again tomorrow!
me and steph at breakfast

After breakfast we got to explore the town of Delphi and take some pictures, but we ended up getting sucked into the shops for most of the time. It was interesting to hear American music in every single store.

We met back at the hotel so we could upload all of our pictures so far to the National Geographic hard drive. That took longer than expected so we were all starting to get pretty hungry. We split up for lunch and got to go in groups to wherever we wanted to eat. It’s so much faster that way and fun to be on our own. Also, since we are on the side of a mountain every restaurant has an awesome porch room with the most amazing views! I had bean soup and a Greek salad (naturally).
We met back at the hotel and headed up the road to the Archeological museum of Delphi. The inside tour was very informal and interesting- lots of statues of Greek gods and cool stories to go with them. This was fun but the part outside was my favorite.
Some of the ancient ruins are still here and we got to walk around in them! It’s pretty cool that much has survived until now- even though some of it has been rebuilt. It was mainly temples(the oracle of Delphi), stands where statues once stood, a stadium, theatre, and a track for the “games” of course.

Once again we ate dinner at a mountain side open air restaurant and had more time to walk around.
Today is Abby’s birthday! We had a toga party (with white sheet togas and all) on the roof of our hotel with a delicious chocolate cake.

 We also got to see all of the pictures and videos entered from the scavenger hunt at the beginning of the trip- so hilarious. MY TEAM WAS THE OVER-ALL WINNERS! WUSSSUP.
We were watching all of these using a projector and a pinned up white sheet. After this, watching Mamma Mia seemed like a necessity so we watched it up there on the roof! It was so fun actually being in Greece and watching this movie. It made me very excited for Naphlio which is our final destination!(a coastal town)
Athens tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ciao italia, yasoo GREECE!

2 hours of sleep is NOT enough to be functional! At 4:30 AM we boarded the bus and headed for the airport. Unfortunately Massimo stayed in Italy so we had to say our goodbyes. Another unfortunate thing would be our 2.5 hour bus ride from hell… Naturally, we were all laying down attempting to sleep but couldn’t seem to stay on the seats due to our drivers start and stopping of the vehicle. Very very interesting. Checking in was also a struggle because the airline changed weight limits of ALL bags you take on the plane including carry ons. Eventually we worked it out (using the word "national geographic" while describing our group has its perks...)
The flight was a quick 2 hours, not bad at all! We landed and boarded yet another private bus for a 3 hour ride. This bus was huge and had a DVD player in it so we watched the Lizzie McGuire movie haha elementary school flash back! Greece is much more mountainous than I thought- such a nice surprise! Arriving at our hotel was also a nice surprise, exactly what I was expecting for a greek hotel! It's actually a lot nicer than the ones in Italy. We relaxed for a bit then went out to dinner. The restaurant was right on the cliff and the walls were completely windows. the view was once again amazing. I had some delicious chicken souvlaki (i've been craving chicken) and split baklava with claire! yum. We watched the lunar eclipse from the top of our hotel and went to bed. Breakfast isn't till 9. YESSSS!!
one of our leaders David on his balcony