A Travellerspoint blog

I didn't know we were in Venezuala...?!

overcast 15 °C

Wow, neglecting the blog a little! We’ve been super busy, so I’ve got a lot to catch up on! Better grab a beer for this one, it may be a while!

After our ‘day off’ in Florence, we went out for dinner at our usual spot, and of course the boys were there again. It was a Friday night, so us girls decided we’d go out for drinks at the disco down the street, and we invited the boys along. We had such a good time watching this guy dance like my parents friend Andy it was SO funny. Andy (from Parksville) does the funniest ‘sexy dance’ and this Italian guy (Antonio) did the same one it was sooo good! From then on we called him Andy, but I don’t think he really got why lol.

The day after the disco we had booked a wine tour. Kristel was hung over, like, she got up and had a shower, and layed back down. Brushed her teeth, and layed back down. Too funny. After we got some McDonald’s in her she was ready to go, and we hit the market and hung out in Florence for a bit before our wine tour at 2. The ladies had booked it, and we got in line to get ready and they put numbered stickers on us like one of those old couple tours they’ve booked through their expensive hotels, where the tour guide talks in a microphone and everyone gets their own earpiece I’m like sweeet, but luckily we only had the stickers and not the rest of it! We get onto the coach and our lady starts a little Florence history and tells us what our tour’s going to look like. She starts out by saying, “On our field trip today…” and mom and I look at each other like, oh ya, and she keeps referring to our wine tour as a field trip it was sooo funny, but I guess you had to be there. Our tour guide lady didn’t speak English all that well, and Kristel, mom and I are trying so hard not to laugh. This woman added a’s on the end of every word she said, and added random a’s in the middle of her sentences. You don’t even know how funny it was to listen to her. Actually, the joke hasn’t even really died down; we’ve been adding a’s into our speech as well. She’d be telling us the history of the vineyard, and she’d say, “The winah is ah grownah in the fieldah where ah, the soil is ah, very ah fertile, ah.” She was too funny. Another thing she did was describe words with the same word. We felt like we were in kindergarten half the time like, “The treesah, are ah very big, ah? Becausah they are tall, ah?” SO FUNNY. Had to be there. So now all of us talk like that half the time, like, “Shouldah we go and getah the dinner now, ah?” Funny.

Anyways, we stopped at a little town on the way to the winery, to, “lookah at the beautifulah countryside of Florence, ah?” but it really just looked like home. There were tons of olive trees around, so I figured I’d try one right off the tree and see how different they are. OH MY GOD don’t ever do that! The thing exploded in my mouth with the most disgusting, poisonous liquid ever. I was gagging, and I LOVE olives. It was SICK. Not cool, had to get some crackers to calm the taste down it was so gross!
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Once we got to the winery we got a great tour a the place by one of the owners. He was really funny too, but he wore a stupid headset that wasn’t even very loud; we would have heard him way better if he just talked to us properly! After getting a tour we sat down to our first glass of wine and some breads with olive oil, grown and pressed right on site. The oil was delicious; like no other oil I’ve ever tried. The wine was amazing as well; we had one white and two Chianti reds, both awesome. This cute 82 year-old man helped pour the wine. He has been the gatekeeper at the castle since 1952, wearing the same outfit and everything! He had a really good contract so he stayed on for so long, and now he’s retired but he still comes out to pour the wine for the tourists and take pictures with them it’s so cute!
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After we left our tour bus, (“Thank you ah so muchah for ah tasting the winah with us and we wish ah you a pleasant stayah in Florence. Ah!”) we headed back to our hostel, hoping to have a siesta before meeting Al Pacino and Tony and gang for dinner. We had given our hostel lady our laundry to do for us this morning, paid her and everything, and we were hoping it would be all folded on our beds when we got home. When it was nowhere to be found, we got a little worried, and the lady led us up onto the roof where it was half dry outside, and we had to leave at 7 am in the morning. We needed to be packed before we went to bed, and there was no way it was going to be dry, especially seeing as how it started raining 10 minutes after we took it all down! We had less than an hour until we were supposed to meet for dinner, so we ran it to the laundrymat down the street and dried it. After running back through the rain, we quickly got ready for dinner. We looked good already from our wine tour, we just needed to fix our hair quickly from the running in the rain. Well, mom proceeds to have a conniption fit in the room, while Kristel and I quietly sit on our beds waiting for it to pass. We’ve since learned that the crazy mood swings are because mom’s going through the change (she’s constantly complaining about her inner heater going on, ya, there’s clue number one!) She’s pretty much yelling at us saying that she’s not hungry and that we’re dragging her to dinner and we should just leave her behind, but I’ve learned it’s not fun to leave a man (or lady) behind, so I dragged her out. As soon as we met up with the boys, Tony comes up to me, stating, “Your mother is uh, sad?” I’m like ya, grumpy as hell. I didn’t know how to simply say, “she’s going through the change,” so I left it at that! We found a place to have dinner as our regular trattoria wasn’t open, and to the utter surprise of the boys, us girls only ordered once course. It’s funny eating around people who have such different standards than us. Like, when I went to try mom’s soup, Tony and the others cringed! They thought it was so weird! Oh well, we do what we want! After dinner we got some gelato and headed out to a main square to people watch. The boys were funny. At dinner, Tony was the only one who knew English, so he barely touched his dinner as he was too busy translating for everyone at the table. Al Pacino (really Franco) kept talking to us in Italian. Like just chatting away as if we spoke the language. So all of a sudden, mom leans over says to Franco, “One upon a time, when I was a little girl, there were stars in the sky and I was outside prancing around the forest…” and I’m like, mom, what the hell are you talking about?! And she was like, “Well he says anything he wants to us and we don’t understand so I wanted to tell him a story!” Too funny. (At this point the mood swing was over lol) Too funny.

The next morning we got up bright and early to come to Venice. The train ride was good, but we all had to wear our iPod’s as we were sitting right next to the door that opened and closed itself and was really squeaky. No big deal though! Once we got to Venice we were in awe; it is perfect! It is exactly what you picture Venice to be.
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Waterways and canals everywhere, and boats for everything. Water buses, water taxis, water construction boats, water ambulances, everything! So cute. Dad would be out of a job here as there’s no cars, but I could totally see him taking tours out on the canals. Actually, he’d be in heaven here as all the have is boats!! But I’ve loved Venice. We got lots of pictures of bridges lol. We went up the tower in St. Mark’s square for 8 euro, and its just an elevator to the top. They probably make millions in the summer with all the tourists! Nice view though.
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And we did a LOT of shopping here; Murano glass comes from here so there’s jewelry everywhere. And besides going to St. Mark’s square, there’s really not much else to do in Venice but shop (which is totally fine with me!). Today we sent Kristel off on her train (with a few tears!) and mom and I napped on a statue, without even getting in trouble! But we’re probably in a bunch of pictures. I was reading my book about Europe, and it said that Vienna is that coffee capitol of the world. Mom goes, “Ya right, there’s no coffee here,” and I’m like, “Mom, Vienna’s in Austria,” and she’s like, “Oh right, we’re in Venezuala.” I’m like, uh, NO we’re not actually! So funny. She replies with, “Oh my, it’s all the V’s, they screw me up they’re so far down the alphabet!” Too funny. I love my mother.
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It’s our last day in Italy, so we figured we’d get some pasta for lunch, but we weren’t all that hungry so we were thinking we’d share a plate. After sitting down at a good looking place that other tourists had recommended, we tried to order our spaghetti pomodoro, veg soup and salad, and mom said she’d just share. Well, the guy went bizerk and said we couldn’t share a plate. So I quickly ordered two, but after the guy left mom was all mad because she didn’t want to pay for a whole meal when she just wanted a few bites. When the guy brought us an unopened bottle of water, mom said to cancel hers and that just I was hungry and only I would eat. The guy went NUTS, taking all of mom’s place settings away, saying that it is not possible to share and that if she even took one bite he would charge her a 5 euro service charge! We were like, oh ya! Why don’t you tell us how to live our lives while were at it? Like seriously, who tells you you can’t have a bite of someone’s food? We were like, one meal’s better than no meals buddy! We hadn’t opened our water so we up and left, and we were about 10 seconds away when he yells down the road at us, saying, “You, you, come back! I am giving you your meal!” And then a whole bunch more in Italian! I was freaked, and mom was like, “What an asshole!” so we just kept walking. I was walking really fast I was so scared of him! Like what a mean guy! I told mom to walk faster (what if the tourist police comes and gets us?!) and literally every person on the street stopped to stare at us. That guy looked like a fool though, and the guy walking in front of us was laughing at my tourist police comment. Hey, you never know! We still had 4 hours to kill so now we’re sitting at a bar around the corner from where we stayed, getting amazing service, and waiting to grab our packs and head on a 7 hour overnight train to Munich. We intend to drink lots here and then get a bottle of red, so we can just pass out in our seats on the train. Good times!

UPDATE: Well, our train ride was long but we’re now safely sitting in Starbucks at Munich Hauptbahnhof! We passed through SNOW in Austria (SO not in the plan!) but we’re here now. We were about the only ones who had to share a car; everyone else got their own to sprawl out on and mom and I are crunched up in the corner trying to sleep with these two Italian guys. We had a stop in Innsbruck, Austria and the guys got off the train to smoke or whatever, and the never came back to the car for like half an hour! Then the cops came around checking our passports, so now our minds are racing thinking that the packs these guys left in our car were bombs! Crazy, but they finally came back and thought it would be okay to chat for the rest of the trip! 4:30 AM to 6:30 AM, while mom and I were clearly trying to sleep. Like chatting loudly. Idiots! People are so inconsiderate. I can’t wait to be back in Canada and deal with nice people!!

Posted by kvandervegan 22:29 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

To Market To Market To... Pisa!

sunny 23 °C

Yesterday the ladies and I got up and ready and set out towards a market in Florence. The streets here are really narrow, like all one way streets, and a horse carridge had just ridden past us. I looked down the road and there was a massive pile of horse poo right in the middle of the street. As we headed towards it down the street, we watched all of the cars and motorbikes swerve to avoid it. Just as we were walking past it, a stupid truck decides to put his tires RIGHT THROUGH IT. We here's 3 screechy Canadians pressed flat to the shop walls, covering our hair with our hands and screaming, hoping we wouldn't get splattered by the horse shit. Luckily we didn't, but we sure checked ourselves out after, as it was all over the sidewalk just a few feet away from us. A british lady just kept walking and laughed at us, which wasn't very nice! Anyways, we're PRETTY sure we avoided it, but just by a hair!

Once we found the market it was massive, going down all different streets. We all oogled over glass jewelry, scarves, more jewelry, and I cringed past all the leather. One leather vender shouted out, "Ciao bella! I have a beautiful coat for you and one for your mother," and I was like, "Uh, no thanks." And he said, "What, you don't like leather? Why?" And the activist in me said back, "Because leather is dead skin!" And he was like, "Oh, are you vegetarian?" and after I said yes and as I was walking away he said, "Hey, the cows were vegetarians too!" I'm like nice move buddy. But the market was really fun, and huge. We then found an indoor food market, full of meat, cheese, oil, wine, and veggies. Mom was gagging at the meat, but we tried some really good tapenade, and bought some delicious unripe black olives. They're still green but they taste like black olives they're sooo yummy.

After all the shopping we did, we dropped our stuff off at the hostel and headed out to catch the train to Pisa to check out the leaning tower. It was a gorgeous day, so I knew the pictures would be perfect.
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We made our way across town to the big square the holds the famous tower. Mom wasn't all that impressed at first, ("Oh my god, that's IT?! It's hardly even leaning!") until I explained to her that most buildings don't really lean like that without falling over. We all got our pictures with it, and had fun doing it. Here are some of the best ones.
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After pictures we browsed the venders around the square. They sold some pretty good Pisa stuff, like leaning coffee mugs, shot glasses etc, lots of boxers with the leaning tower in, well, just the right spot, and tons of cute pins and fridge magnets. I collect pins and mom fridge magnets so we had a hard time choosing. We spents some time just wandering the square and then headed back to Florence. As we got to the train station I looked up at the 'departures' board, looked down at my watch, and yelled, "RUUN!" to the ladies. As they were trailing behind me down the stairs and through the platforms, mom yelled, "How did you even read that?! Where are we going?!" the board said 17:29 to Florence and it was 17:26. It would have only been a half hour wait till the next train, but I figured I show the ladies a little travelling stress. We made it with a few minutes to spare, as the train was a couple of minutes late, and we got seats all together and everything. Hi-fives all around on the train!

Once in Florence we were pretty hungry, and thought we'd try something different for dinner, as we've eaten at the same restaurant since we got to Florence because it's such a good deal and so good. A lady handed us a menu and talked us into eating there, and they had a lot of choice, so we sat down. There was a humungous pepper grinder at our table, but we moved it to the corner and waited to be served. It probably took 5 minutes to get a menu, as the lady who got us in was still outside convincing other people to come in too. Finally we ordered and got our wine and bread, but we didn't have plates, oil, or vinegar for the bread like everyone else did. After contemplating what to do, Kristel takes a big swig of wine, gets up, grabs us plates off the server's cart, and oil and vinegar off of an empty table, and bought them back over to us. We should have tipped her!
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The waiter forgot my food, so I shared mom's delicious pasta until my asparagus risotto came. I really wanted pepper on it, but since the service wasn't very good, I figured I'd have to do it myself. There's this huge pepper grinder still sitting on our table, so I went for it. What the hell right? Mom grabbed my camera ready, so here's the shot:
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We probably looked like crazy tourists, but whatever. Our food was good, and the wine was even better, so we sucked up the service. It made things quite comical, actually!

This morning we booked out train tickets to Venice and went out looking for more markets, when it started to rain. We headed back to the hostel to get our rain coats, then we found some pizza for lunch. After walking for at least 20 minutes to find the markets, we found them closed! Lame. So we headed back to the hostel, grabbing some gelato on the way. Pretty much a write-off day but we need it; I'm exhausted today, so a little rest will do us good I think. Hopefully it stops raining here for the rest of our trip! 3 weeks monday and I'll be back home! Already!

Posted by kvandervegan 05:49 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Mayhem and Mishaps in Florence

sunny 26 °C

Last night we went around the corner and up the street to this Trattoria that our guesthouse recommended. She said we would have first and second courses with wine for 12 euro, and we’re like sold! They even refill your bread, water and wine included in the price and that’s amazing for Italy! So we head down and the place looks packed, the menu’s all in Italian (which is a good sign) but we didn’t even think that we’d fit. As we were turning to walk away, an Italian lady said, “No, no eat there. Good and cheap.” We’re like, alright and they made room and we sat in the middle of a quaint little restaurant, full of guys. The second after we sit down we look around and there are no other girls in the place, but we’re like, whatever, right? The wine boy comes zipping around giving us bread and wine, and he spoke really good English so that was fun. Next the owner comes around and speaks the menu to us, and we chose what we wanted as he went, it was so cute and personal. Mom and I explained what we couldn’t have, and he changes everything around so that we could have the proper courses too. We ordered bean soup to start and spicy macaroni pasta with salad for secondi, and wine of course! The food was excellent; the soup was to die for and we stuffed ourselves full of pasta until we literally thought we’d burst. All the guys around us were cheersing us in the air, and we ended up talking to the table behind us after we were finished eating. The 4 guys (2 older guys, a dead-on Al Pacino look alike, and Tony) were all in the military, and only Tony spoke English. Al Pacino understood what we meant when we told him who he looked like, and he was really flattered. So we’re all chatting away when the rose seller comes around (they’re all over Europe; they come into restaurants trying to sell roses to the guys to give to the girls, it’s sooo tacky) and of course they go buy us roses. We ended up getting a picture with them, and thanked the restaurant guys a lot as the food was the BEST and the service was amazing!

Did I mention we had downed a few beers yesterday, ad well as shared a bottle of wine before dinner and then had a generous ¼ litre of wine each with dinner? Lets just say we were all feeling the wine, and were really giddy when we got back to our room last night. We were chatting in the room while mom was using the washroom, and we hear this crash! I’m in my booty shorts ready for bed, and Kristel walks into the bathroom to check on my mother and just starts pissing herself laughing. Then there’s a knock on the door, and I drunkenly answer it half naked. It’s the guesthouse lady saying, “Uh, I think you are not okay? I heard a noise?” And I’m like, “Oh, no, no we’re just fine, you know, too much wine!” as I slip my pajama pants back on and close the door. I go into the bathroom, and mom and Kristel are killing themselves laughing, and moms holding the metre long, very heavy heated towel rack that she apparently took off the wall! I’m like, “WHAT is going on!” And mom can barely get the words out that she thought it was a fold out towel rack, so she thought she’d drunkenly and conveniently fold it out for us to use in the morning! Really, it was screwed into the wall, not foldable at all. The ladies are trying to fix it, and I’m like, “Hey Einsteins, how about we fix it in the morning when we’re sober?!” So I put it down and coaxed the ladies into bed. I was watching Gerard Butler interviews (don’t ask :P ) and the ladies could not stop laughing about the rack incident. I finally take my earphones out when the ladies get up to try again to re-install the towel rack. I think I just rolled my eyes and let them attempt it. But oh man, was it a funny night.

This morning we got up to minor headaches, had cereal with warm soymilk (random) and headed out to catch the train to Siena. We quickly bought our tickets from the machine, and it let me press the discounted tickets without having to give a reason (like rail pass or train card) so I was like ok, it’s all good I guess! We grab our tickets and get on the train and wait. As the train gets going and the conductor lady comes around, mom says she’s nervous about giving her the tickets because I had pressed the discount button, and I said me too a little, but we’d soon find out if they were ok. She comes around, turns our tickets over, and says we have to pay a fine because we never validated them. Now, I’ve been riding metros and trains in 14 different countries around Europe. I have learned that you must always validate your metro tickets, but I’ve never had to validate a train ticket, as that’s what they have conductors for. They come around with stamps and stamp your ticket! So she said, “OK? 5 euro each.” And I was like, whoa lady, hold on. We we never told, nor did we see any signs saying we had to validate our tickets. It also didn’t say anywhere on the ticket, or on the ticket machine, that we had to validate. She said, “Oh no, there are yellow boxes, you must validate before getting on the train, 5 euro each makes 15.” We’re like BAH! We didn’t know! I was like, but no where did it say we had to?! And she didn’t even really explain further, as she wrote us what looked like a speeding ticket and put the money directly into her personal wallet! I was pissed, and was just glad it was only 5 euro and not 50. We watched this conductor woman go down the whole rest of the train, fining every tourist on there, including the family sitting across from us, because nobody knew to validate their ticket. We were pretty shocked, and we discussed what this lady might be buying later on with her stupid fine money! SO dumb. When we arrived in Siena we saw the validating boxes, and they are these teeny little yellow boxes set up in the corners of the station! No wording on them, not even in Italian, saying you had to validate your tickets. I think I said bullshit 100 times on that train ride! Anyways, ridiculous.

Siena was ok, but fellow travelers have definitely hyped it up for me. I did have the most amazing chocolate I’ve found in Europe there, but other than that we just walked around and saw a bunch more churches and streets and squares. The outsides of the churches are much more beautiful than the inside here, so we never pay to get into them. We ended up finding a huge clothing market that was closing down, but we browsed for a bit before catching the train back to Florence. Once back, we relaxed with a bottle of wine before heading out for dinner to the same place as last night. Our wine boy was really happy to see us, and the owner made mom and my meal a little different than last night, with roasted tomatoes and spinach as the second course, and pasta as the first. Really cute. We’re halfway through our meal when guess who walks in? Al Pacino, Tony and gang from last night! Apparently they eat there every single night! We asked them to recommend a gelateria for us, and we chatted a little bit with them before heading off, telling them that we really didn’t want to go dancing in the square later on (so cute!). We dropped mom off at the hostel as she wasn’t feeling 100% and Kristel and I headed out to get gelato. We’re just about to order, when guess who shows up? Al Pacino, Tony and gang. Too funny! The gelato guy spoke better English and volunteered to be the translator, so anything Tony couldn’t translate, he did, and we had an awesome time. They even bought our ice cream. We told them we’d get home fine by ourselves, and we exchanged face books and made a date at the gelateria for tomorrow night. It’s always nice to meet the locals. ;)

Posted by kvandervegan 22:58 Archived in Italy Tagged food Comments (1)

Firenze

sunny 20 °C

So, being the idiot that I am sometimes, I forgot my railpass yesterday to get it validated and to buy the reservation for our trip to Florence this morning, so we all had to wake up extra early this morning so that I could get all that done before our trip. The ladies were asking all kinds of questions about their first train ride; they sounded like kids on their first road trip. Anyways, we made it to Florence just fine, and found our guesthouse fairly easily, minus the ladies insisting we stop for a beer with our 40 pound packs still on. Whatever. Our hostel, or guesthouse, is super cute, so the ladies were happy. We found some pizza and wine for lunch, and then just wandered around Florence for the rest of the afternoon. We found amazing things around every corner, like the Duomo, cute piazzas, gallerias, and great shopping spots.
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Tonight we're going to find pasta and more wine (the ladies just found some great stuff at the corner store) and tomorrow we're going to people watch in Siena. Fun!

Posted by kvandervegan 10:30 Archived in Italy Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

I Heart Roma

sunny 24 °C

Yesterday was a really long day, but we covered a lot of Rome so we were happy. Got up at 6:30 am to get ready, have some breakfast, and head out to the colloseum for our walking tour. It ended up being with the same young, Irish tour guide as yesterday (Jimmy) so us ladies were happy, and he has a degree in art history so he knows his stuff. We first toured around the Roman Forum, where Julius Cesar is buried and where Rome basically began (before the common era), and with Jimmy explaining everything that used to happen there it was really cool. We walked down the most famous road of all time, the one where the senators used to walk down to get into the forum, so that was pretty cool.
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After the forum we went into the colloseum, and as Jimmy had promised, avoided the 3 hour line in! There’s a secret to skipping that line, but he doesn’t want us to tell anyone so that he can keep taking his tours through it lol. The colloseum was everything I thought it would be: so old, so huge, and so cool. I loved that part of the tour, despite the gruesome uses it used to have.
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After the tour we got some more pictures inside the colloseum, and walked up the road towards the Vittoria monument, and up Via del Corso to do some shopping. We found the yummiest pizzerria, that even had vegan paninis and tons of salad stuff, and I mistakenly ordered a beer for 6 euro. We were even standing up as you pay more to sit down, but I’m in wine country so I guess that explains the price? Felt like I was back in Dublin! Anyways after eating we kept wandering down the shopping streets, eventually veering down a market street and towards the trevi fountain. On the way we found the BEST gelato place, that had like 8 different fruit sorbet’s with no milk. Mom and I each got 2 flavours, and then after we had ordered I noticed they had soy pistachio, hazlenut, and chocolate gelato! We ended up getting some on the way back from the fountain and it was amaaaaazing.
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We also stopped at a liquer store, where Kristel was trying creamed liquers of melon, pistachio, lemon, and then white chocolate, which she ended up buying. Mom and I had bread dipped in oil and lemoncelllo, which was really really good. We all bought some glass jewelry at one of the shops too; there was soo much to choose from it was all really nice stuff. The Trevi Fountain is huge and really cool, and we sat by it and finished up our gelato. There were tons of tourists around it, and it’s October! So I couldn’t imagine the people who would be here in the summer. The weather is still really hot so we’re doing good so far! We then walked up to the Spanish Steps, got some pictures, and took the metro home.
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After relaxing for a couple of hours (with our 1 litre tetra packs of wine for 89 cents!) we headed out in Ostia (where we’re staying) to grab some dinner. It was just after 7, and we couldn’t find one restaurant open until after 8, so we ended up going back to the hostel to drink some more wine and then we went out again to have the same risotto we had the first day because it was that good.

Today we got up to a beautiful day, so we had breakfast and got a few hours in at the beach across the road from our hostel. It was such a nice day, and I think we all had naps laying in the super soft Roman sand. We got ready and headed into Rome to buy our tickets to Firenze tomorrow and wander around the parts of Rome we hadn’t seen yet. We found the Pantheon, but resisted temptation to go in until our free tour at 7. We wandered around Piazza Navona, and found an AWESOME litre of wine to drink while we waited. We still had more time to kill so we found some early (delicious) dinner at a pizzeria and then headed back to the pantheon to sit, people watch, and take drunken photos (wish I could put them up! Hopefully better connection in Florence tomorrow!). Our free tour was from a different guy, Tom, from Windsor, and he was really good. The Pantheon is amazing, and the tour was short but sweet. We then stopped by the gelato place from yesterday (I tried the soy chocolate tonight) and got the metro home. We’re exhausted, but pretty sure we covered everything we wanted to here in Rome, so we’re ready to be off tomorrow! Really missing everyone at home, 4 weeks today and we’re back!
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Tomorrow we leave for Florence for 5 days, where we’ll do day trips to Siena, Pisa, and Cinque Terre!

Posted by kvandervegan 12:55 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

Crete & Rome: The Bullet-Point Version!

sunny 24 °C

St__Peter_s_Basilica.jpgRoom_of_ma..Vatican.jpgSo, seeing as how I’m so far behind, this blog is going to be short and sweet! And no pictures, sorry, bad connection!

On our last day in Santorini (which was last Sunday, by the way!) we hit the beach and hung out poolside with our hostel guy Nicholas. It was fun and hot. We got literally sandblasted at the beach, and then went down to the supermarket and had our best Greek pita yet - full of good veggies and French’s mustard, I couldn’t be happier. We get to the port and had about an hour’s wait, so the three of us downed a warm litre of white wine, while Nicholas waited with us and sipped on a coke.

It was just about 4, and we hadn’t even seen the boat coming around the corner, so we made friends with 2 guys from Levenworth, Seattle, and waited with them. Spencer and Logan were brothers, Logan was on R & R from firefighting on a base in Iraq, and Spencer had just finished school. So we’re waiting around, sitting on our packs and chatting, when this woman comes up to us and asks if we’re waiting for the SuperJet, and informs us that it’s not coming and that we’re being put onto a new boat at 7. It’s just after 4 now, so we invited her and her husband to come sit on our packs and drink Mythos beer, as it was a super nice night out. It turned out really fun, but it was a long wait, so we all got pretty buzzed in the sun. Our boat comes just before 7, and we’re herded in first. Once on, this crazy Greek woman makes us all jam into one corner, then she tells us to move and put our luggage away, then she herds us back again! Mom I guess was standing up for too long as the woman grabbed her by the wrist and led her away to a different section. She turns to us and yells, “I love you!” as if she’s leaving forever it was so funny. She finally escaped the crazy lady and got to sit with us again for a 3 hour, extremely wavy boat ride. If you got up to walk around, it looked like you were hammered everyone was staggering all over the place it was really bad. But we made it and found our hostel on the other side just fine. Our hostel looked pretty sketchy at night, but we didn’t have to walk far up the road until we were in.

For our first day in Crete (Monday) we walked around and found some Starbucks, which was so good as the ladies hadn’t had real coffee for a week and I hadn’t had any soymilk for like half a month! We found some rally cool shopping streets and bought some souvenirs and jewelry. I bought a really cute silver ring, which has since broke! I was playing around with it and it snapped in half! So I’ll have to get it fixed at home.
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The restaurant guys here are really pushy, always trying to get you to come eat in there place, so we try and eat at the nice, quiet areas. There are also a lot of gypsies in Hyraklion, so the ladies got their first eal taste in them bugging us through our wine while dining al fresco. Kristal and I went and saw “Love Happens” in the theater because it was English! It was really cute, but mom didn’t feel like coming so she stayed home.

Day 2 in Crete we had planned to take the bus to Chania and look around, but when we got to the bus station the tickets were 19 euro a person, which is crazy for a public bus! Then we found out the trip was 3 an a half hours long, so it made more sense, and we didn’t want to go that far anyways in one day. We decided to go out to Knossos, an ancient settlement area, and look at some more rocks. It was ok, I walked into a pole and got a nice big bump on my shin, but it was mostly just more rocks laying around. After the bus ride we walked to the big complex where we saw the movie and had lunch, then found a mini beach and just hung out for a bit. That night we went out and found some good white wine and got a little buzzed, and then found some pita for dinner. Our last veggie pizza was really good, so we were sort of expecting the same. When we said no meat, they just threw one slice of tomato on and tons of fries and called it dinner. We were like, uh, thanks I guess! We were a little too buzzed to care I think!
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Wednesday in Crete we hopped on a bus in the morning heading to Rethymno. It’s a cute little seaside town, and on the way into town we passed a big market, so as soon as we got off we headed back towards it. It was really good; tons of fruit and veggie venders in the first half and lots of clothes and shoes in the second. The food vendors were really nice, all trying to get you to try their food. We bought oranges, peanuts, tomatoes (SO good) and bulk olives (even better!). We also bought bras for 2 euro, and they fit perfect! We were trying them on over our clothes as the sizes are different over here, but it worked out well. We then headed through the old town, finally finding mom some beer (if she doesn’t have a beer in her hand by 12:30 she starts getting antsy; it’s really cheap here and you can drink it everywhere you go) and doing a bit of shopping. While shopping we found another great, super cheap pita place that had falafel and zucchini, mmm so good. And cheap. We wandered down to the beach, and eventually found a really nice one that made us pay for the chairs (which is crap, but the ladies insisted) so we soaked up the sun before heading back to Hyraklion and going to bed early for our flight the next morning.
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Up and out the door by 4:30 yesterday morning, we were at the airport early for our 7am flight to Roma. We had easy flights, and mom and I even got a little vegan breakfast on the plane! Very cute. Our luggage took almost an hour, but we found our bus pretty easily. What we didn’t find was the ticket booth, so we missed the first bus and the second one didn’t come for almost an hour. It’s not after 12 and we got in at 10, but we finally got to our hostel practically starving and hot tired. We found some really good risotto and bruchetta at a place down the road, and then headed into Rome to plan our next couple of days, and just see some things before we passed out at home. We got off at the main terminal and saw a fountain and a big, beautiful church.

We were pretty tired from being up since 4, so we decided to head back to our hostel, grabbing pizza and wine in cartons on the way. We also booked a walking tour for the next day, which we went on today (finally up to date!) and had such a good time. It took us through the Vatican museums, pointing out things we never would have known about, and teaching us about the Sistine Chapel, and then led us outside St. Peter’s Basilica, where we went in ourselves. It was huge, and beautiful! We saw part of a service as well. They have tons of confession boxes, it was different; I didn’t think people actually still did that! Mom was telling us all the stuff she used to confess when she was little. We wandered away from the Vatican and found some spaghetti for dinner. The metro home was absolutely packed, so the ladies got to experience rush hour metro for the first time. We got off at the Colloseum for a quick look, and it was all lit up at night it was good. We’re going to do a walking tour of the Colloseum and the Roman Forum tomorrow. On the way home we got gelato and now we’re drinking wine at the hostel!

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Posted by kvandervegan 12:42 Archived in Italy Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Santorini, aka. Boot Camp

sunny 24 °C

So, just before the Thai food the other day, we had our first, um, issue, let’s call it. Mom goes to use the washroom in our new room (we’ve moved over from the hotel next door because our room was unexpectedly still occupied when we got here) and the toilet seat’s broken, and the shower doesn’t have a floor. You just shower onto the bathroom floor and there’s a drain. The room’s also quite a bit smaller, and not as cute. Then, after mom’s iffy shower, she can’t find a plug to use her blow dryer in. There’s actually no plugs in the room except for the one that the mini fridge was plugged into. So she has a bit of a break down and freaks out about wanting to move back. Kristel is fully on her side, but is sort of being in the middle saying that if we spoil ourselves now, we’re going to get used to it and want it for the rest of the trip. I’m like ladies, this is freaking 5 star compared to what I’m used to, usually there’s 2 plugs for 20 people! And I don’t want to move back up the road because we will offend Nicholas, and he’s been so nice to us! And my argument was that we’re not even in the room, and we’ve got beds and running water, so what more do we need? The ladies walk up the road and asked how much they charge, while I stayed back as I was not having a part of this treachery! It was actually cheaper than our place, so we decided to talk it over during dinner. It was pretty tense, but we made it through deciding that we would tough it out and stay, after the ladies complained to Nicholas about a few things. Now I think I want to shock them and put them in a 30 bed mixed dorm and see how they deal! Ha, just kidding… kind of.

Yesterday in Santorini, Kristel had found us an all day tour to a couple of different sites in and around the island, so we headed out at 9:30 am for our all day adventure. We got dropped off at the port and met our tour guide, a blonde, fit Austrian we nicknamed Ken Doll, ie. he was very cute. He helped us into a really cute traditional Grecian boat that we rode out to the new volcano.
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We wore our little sandals not thinking we’d actually be CLIMBING the bloody volcano, but we did. It wasn’t too bad, but I couldn’t imagine doing it in 42 degree weather, the norm for the summer. Once at the top we took some photos and Ken Doll gave us the info about the volcano.
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After climbing down, we rode out in the boat again to these natural hot springs. Mom was asking what we did with our stuff, and I said there’d be lockers and stuff there, just like the hot springs back home. Nope! We dove off the boat and swam towards a little cove near the volcano, and the closer to the shore you got, the hotter. It was really cool. I made a little scene as the water was extremely murky with minerals and I couldn’t see the bottom (phobia coming in!), but in the end I made it. You could float so easily because it was extremely salty water. Very cool.
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Next we got dropped off on Therissa, a little island beside Santorini, and we had lunch there with Taylor, a girl we met from Toronto. She works for Air Canada so we chatted about that over lunch, which by the way was the most expensive meal we’ve had so far. Ken Doll recommended the place, and Kristel’s beer, souvlaki, and Greek salad came to 21 euro. That’s like 34 dollars! Crazy prices! After that we hopped onto a different boat and sailed to Oia, on the northern tip of Santorini, where you can watch the best sunsets on the island. Only thing is, you have to climb 295 steps from the port to get up to the city. No big deal, right? I did that many going up the Dom in Koln, and the Willy Wallace monument in Stirling, so no big deal. Let me tell you I’ve never burned my legs so much as we did there. These steps are on a HUGE incline, and they’re about 2 metres long, so you step up a step and then keep climbing on the step, and then step up again. It was ridiculous, and we all have sore bums today! We had to take 4 or 5 pit stops, and we were sweating in places we didn’t know you could. You could hire a donkey for 5 euro, but that’s just cruel! These poor things do that their whole lives it was so sad. And the guy was whacking them with a stick on their way up. I said I’d like him to piggy back me up the fricken hill while I whacked him with a stick. Not cool. They sure left a lot of poo though, so it smelled horrible, and with all our heavy breathing it was even worse! Dodging mounds of donkey crap with jello legs is not fun. After we finally got to the top, it took us another 10 minutes to find water! The streets were filled with jewelry stores, but no water. You could sell it for 10 euro at the top and you’d be rich! But we finally found it and toured around Oia with Taylor, before finding ourselves a ledge in what was probably somebody’s cement backyard to watch the sunset. Oia is a super cute, picturesque Grecian seaside villa that you would see in the movies, it was great. The sunset wasn’t very good as it was quite cloudy, but we still got some pictures and then headed back to Perissa.
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This morning Kristel and I had booked a snorkeling adventure in the old volcano. You’re actually in the craters of the volcano, but you’d never know it as it looks just like a normal ocean. You take this little boat over to one of the old volcanic islands and jump out. The boat ride over was ridiculous; we might as well have been at six flags it was soooo rough. I actually thought I was going to hurl a few times. Kristel was just laughing away as I probably went green in the face. We were the only snorkelers out of probably 20 people; every one else was scuba diving, but we actually saw a lot more sea life than they did! Lots of schools of fish, like minnows and red fish and sort of colored fish, sea urchins, and anemones. It was cool, and you could just float as it was sooo salty, but nothing like snorkeling in Hawaii, as Kristel’s been before.
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After that we found mom horizontal on the black sand beach we have here in Perissa, and tanned with her for a few hours.
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Tonight we went out to the Thai place again for dinner, got all dressy and everything! We’re now drinking amazing wine from the guy up the street, and are off to Crete tomorrow. We’ll be in Italy in less than a week!

Posted by kvandervegan 10:34 Archived in Greece Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Wine and Detours in Santorini

sunny 22 °C

After being rudely awaken by our hostel mate in Athens (no, no it was her room too!) we couldn’t get back to sleep, so we got ready and headed out and got the metro to the port in Athens. Finding our boat was a little difficult as we pictured a cruise ship! I’ve been told by lots of other travelers that the boats in Greece are amazing, and that they have the most fun on the ferries between the islands, but no. So we get on the ferry, and are directed towards a little coffee area on the boat. He pointed the other way and said, “First class,” and we’re like, oh, right clearly we didn’t book that. Pretty sure they see our backpacks and judge us on them! The ladies get their “Greek coffee” (which is really nasty apparently, I’m sick of their whining already lol) and I go to look around. I found us some comfy seats, but we were turned away again because our tickets weren’t first class. We headed upstairs and found a seat by the railing and close to the bar. We had 8 looong hours on this ferry that we thought would be a cruise ship. The joke was we were in steerage because of our packs. Such a great time! We were def drinking beer by 10:30. It’s a good thing Kristal brought crafts with her (insider!), even though it wasn’t on the list! (Another insider, I love these ladies.) As she packed the day before, she just packed her Canadian flag patches instead of sewing them on, so we busted out our sewing kits (um, let me rephrase that. Mom and I busted out our sewing kits, as Kristal didn’t follow the list again!) and sewed on her patches. I also painted nails, did word searches, etc. Crazy long boat ride though. Got some beautiful photos of the landscape we passed though, so that was good.
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We get to the port, and Nicholas, the guy from our hostel, said he would meet us at the port, no worries. Thing is, I didn’t write down the name of the hostel, and all these guys were standing around with signs of their hostels. I knew it started with an ‘A’, and the first one we saw was called “Anna” so we went for it. The guy with the sign didn’t have our names, it was just, “Do you have reservation? Ok, you come.” We were like ok, I guess..? Mom starts freaking, and now I’m all stressed because she’s stressed and it’s a mess in paradise. Kristal’s being herded like a cow and doesn’t care what she’s doing, just going with the flow, and mom’s not happy. Finally we asked if they knew Nicholas, because he’s the one who said he would pick us up, and they didn’t even know a Nicholas, so we got out of the van and looked again. From the back, we see a piece of paper with ‘McInnes’ on it, and mom gets all happy. And Nicholas is the most charming guy ever! We got to ride in the cutest hippy van (mom’s life dream) across the island to Perissa. It was beautiful! Once we get to the hostel, Nicholas informs us that they had a mix up and that we had to stay at the hotel next door, so for the first night we stayed in a really nice place. We went out for dinner and had amazing greek appetizers, like dolmades, homous, fava beans, greek salad, pita, and more. Even Kristal had an all veggie meal with us, and we had free wine for staying at Aroma (close to Anna, right?) hostel.
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This morning we had to move over, and the ladies were not impressed with the move. It was a freaking five star hostel in my eyes, but the ladies had other opinions and wanted to move back! I was like NO way that’s so offensive to Nicholas, who’s such a nice guy! So I talked them out of it, I think. It’s $16 CAD a night, so you can NOT complain! We headed out into town to get some groceries and things, and on the way back mom saw a shortcut she thought would lead back to the hostel. Well, after grazing through the freaking desert, dodging a ton of horse poo, dead rat skeletons, and trespassing through 3 people’s yards, we made it back to the hostel. She claims we shaved off 15 minutes of walking, but it was complete crap, and Kristal and I were not impressed. She’s actually still bragging about it now! Whatever. Anyways, after that SLIGHT detour, we headed back into town and caught the bus to a winery, talking to a very cute, nice boy from Edmonton. The winery had AMAZING views, like beautiful. Mom almost cried. We bought wine samples and cheese, olive and crusty bread platters (mom and I got bread and extra olives) and drank them on the rooftop terrace. The wine was excellent, the red being the best I think, and that’s coming from a white wine girl. It tasted like cherries it was so good. Had some laughs trying to eat the bread, as crusty is quite an understatement, but it was good. Finished off with a cheers of ice wine, mmm!
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After that it started to pour, and we caught the bus into Fira, the main city. We did a little shopping in the cute little streets, and then headed back to Perissa. Tonight we’re going for thai food to try and offset all of the greek food and olives we’ve been eating. Missing everyone at home, but having an awesome time overall in Santorini!

Posted by kvandervegan 10:03 Archived in Greece Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Athens the Great

sunny 27 °C

Last night, after uniting forces at the airport (very fun! Mom learned how and why to validate her bus ticket!) we found our way to the hostel. After forcing our excited selves to sleep last night after 3 am, we all woke up at 8am this morning. We went downstairs to see if we could get on the walking tour, and had an ok breakfast at the hostel. We did a little souvenir shopping and then headed out on our would-be 5 hour walking tour of Athens. It was really, really good though, just us and an Israeli couple, and we learned tons of stuff about Athens we not only didn’t know, but never would have found. The landmarks are relatively spread out (or so they seemed on the tour) and our guide did a great job of showing us around. We had such a funny day, especially because the three of us each got in trouble once. I went wandering into a room inside one of the sort of formal buildings of Athens looking for a washroom, and got talked to by a guard. Mom posed with a statue inside the ancient Roman Agora with her hand near the woman’s breast, and got told not to do that, with a pointed finger and all. And Kristal got kicked out of a church because her skirt was too short. TOO FUNNY seeing as how she’d asked my opinion in the hostel earlier if it would be ok. I said minus the cat-calls, she’d be fine. Oops! We did actually have a few creepers today, and I’m a little more defensive toward them now that I have backup. Anyways, besides seeing all of the major attractions of Athens (all truly remarkable to think how early they were built!), we saw olive and pomegranate trees, mom saw her first gypsies, and we saw quite a few big, stray dogs.
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We had so many funny moments, and it really made me glad they were here, even though sometimes I wanted to scream either, “We’re NOT tacky American’s, despite what this looks like.” Or I simply had to explain that the ladies just got off the boat from Canada, and that the excitement would wear down eventually. Like mom taking pictures of every single old rock in Athens. By the end, even she was saying, “Oooh, what’s over there? More boulders? Okay, moving on!” FUNNIEST quote of the day though… we’re walking in our first big ruin site, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and we’re admiring the 16 still-standing giant pillars and the ornate carved details at the top of them, built around 100 CE, and mom goes (very matter-of-factly), “So, they must have used moulds for those, hey?” MOULDS. FOR THE SOLID MARBLE PILLAR TOPS MADE ALMOST 2,000 YEARS AGO. Kristal starts crying of laughter. I’m like ya, mom, and they cut the marble out of the mountains using chainsaws. No, but I’m like, “No, mom, they carved those by hand!” She’s like, “No way, why would they do that? That would take forever!” I’m like no kidding! Hence why these things took hundreds of years to make! And we’re not talking about erecting 50 foot high pillars 2,000 years ago, we’re just talking about the leaves carved into the marble. Too funny; unfortunately for mom that one’ll stick for a while.
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After the tour, we got some bad directions for the way home (“3 lefts and a right!”) and ended up doing a huge loop extra to get back to the hostel, on our already tired feet. We made it better by shopping though, picking up a few souvenirs, and some olives and wine to snack on in the hostel. Later we went to dinner at the restaurant next to the hostel, and had some traditional Greek food like Greek salad, dolmades, Kristal had souvlaki and tatziki, and we drank free wine and had fruit for desert. Our waiter put bread on the table, and I told the ladies if we were to eat that, he’d charge us for it, and that’s it’s not like home and we just get free bread. Then when we got out bill we couldn’t read any of his handwriting, and there were exta charges than we had ordered, so we asked and sure enough he’d charged us 3.60 for the bread we didn’t eat! I was like ya right, buddy! Nice try! So there was a big confusion with the bill because then they ended up still charging mom’s mastercard for the bread, and we were like thanks anyways! We had sips of cheap ouzo before bed, and headed off!

Last night at 4 am, we get this rattling on our door, and I must have been having a bad dream because I think we’re getting robbed, so I get up and hold the door closed, and was asking my mom to come help me. A Spanish woman on the other side was saying that this was her room, and we were like “No, it’s not!” because I also thought I had booked us a private room. So she goes down to the front desk again, and my heart was pounding; it really freaked me out for some reason! And she comes back up, with the late-night guy (who’s fairly grumpy anyways) and he goes, “Ladies, this is NOT just your room!! You have to share it!” And I obviously would have been fine but I seriously freaked out and thought she was maybe a housekeeper trying to get in and rob us in our sleep or something, I donno but the guy was quite rude for yelling at us, and we explained that we had just woken up startled. It’s all good, just a weird story now! And we had to get up early anyways as our boat to Santorini leaves at 7:30 J

Posted by kvandervegan 18:46 Archived in Greece Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Corfu

sunny 27 °C

So this next bit is going to be something like a blog within a blog. Since I’ll be having minimal internet time on my little holiday, I decided to blog as I go on word, and then just put it all up at the end!

P.S. pics soon, promise!

Sept. 12: Travel Day and Arrival!

My morning goes off without a hitch: got up early, had a hot shower (something that was hit-or-miss at my last hostel…) had a huge fruit breakfast, and made my way to the airport. It seemed simple enough; get the blue line till the end, then take bus 200 to the airport. Metro was simple, of course, and bus 200 was waiting for me at the other side. I get off at Terminal 1 at the Budapest airport, can’t see my carrier (Malev Hungarian Airlines) and the info guy tells me they’re at terminal 2, and to just wait for the next bus to come when I got off. So I did, and another bus 200 comes in 10 minutes. Still way ahead of schedule, so no worries there. 10 minutes into my new bus ride, things are looking awfully familiar, and when I asked the guy when the terminal 2 stop was, he says, “Terminal 2? No, this bus go back to city.” I was like, “No, no, no I need to go to terminal 2!” in only a slightly panicked voice, and he just says, “Well, get off at last stop (at the metro) and start again.” I was like yea, good plan. So I did, asking about 6 times throughout the bus ride if we were getting to terminal 2, as now there was no room for error in the timetable. I’m still confused though, as all the bus 200’s from the metro go to both terminals, and that one from terminal 1 went straight back to town. The only explanation is that maybe the bus driver for that bus went to terminal 2 first? Not sure. Anyways, made it still in plenty of time for my flight, got an amazing salad for lunch that cost a slight fortune - imagine how much my salad was if a bottle of coke was 870 HUN (3.50 euro, over 5 dollars!) Anyways, my meal code worked for the flight and my teeny two-hour flight served sandwiches! I did put in that I wanted a vegan meal when I booked, but I didn’t think it would do anything seeing as how it was such a short flight, but the flight attendant came right up to me asking if I had the vegan meal, and I was like, “Uh… ya!” And she handed me my hummus and eggplant salad and fresh apple, while everyone else had their nasty chicken and cheese sandwich. Apparently being a vegan has its advantages when it comes to plane food!

So we’re cruising along, the flight’s going well, and we’re about to start descending into Athens. I didn’t know I signed up for f*cking six-flags, but that’s fully what I got. You know the hellevator at the PNE? Picture that, but, oh, 35,000 feet in the air in a hurling piece of metal. My stomach flipped and STAYED flipped, THREE TIMES. Like it wasn’t a quick, “Whoooaa!” It was a, “Jesus Christ… Holy shit!!!” moment, directly quoted, by the way. I grabbed my stomach and the armrest, and so did everyone else on the plane. Then we dropped again, and then again, both times you could actually feel yourself lift off the seat. No kidding. Like, when this normally happens in a plane it’s pretty crazy, but to lift off your seat in a plane? IS NOT COOL. Not only that, but I was totally watching 9/11 vids last night, so those were playing in the back of my mind as we seemed to be dropping out of the sky. Top it all off with a near-crash landing (the whole plane screamed) and we were finally in Athens. I couldn’t believe it! I was like, “Is this how they fly planes in Europe?!” And then the flight attendant came on a said something in Hungarian and everyone started cheering and clapping! But they didn’t say it in English! So I have no idea what went on there. All I know is I had a good scare of the day, or year, rather, and my next flight went seamlessly. Actually, my 4 hour wait in the Athens airport was aaaawesome, as there were multiple Grecian men’s soccer teams there, and another really good salad bar, AND free wifi. Talk about making a girl happy!

Once I arrived in Corfu, I waited a few minutes outside for Angelica from Angelica’s Backpackers to pick me up. She had offered to drive me to Sidari for 30 euro, in northern Corfu where the hostel is, because the buses didn’t run that late on weekends, and the taxi would have been over 60 euro. So we chatted all the way up to Sidari, and she showed me little things along the way. My hostel is suuuuper cute. I have a HUGE room/kitchen/deck/bathroom all to myself, the beach is around the corner, and there’s a supermarket down the road. Angelica gave me a big bottle of water for the night, and told me to rest and that she’d give me the tour in the morning.

Day 2: I slept in today until about 9 on the most uncomfortable bed I‘ve had yet, then I slowly got ready (with a cold shower… interesting) and walked through the town to get some groceries and make myself acquainted. It’s a really cute little town; they call it “little Brittain” because about 99% of the tourists here are British. And it’s true! There’s me and a Spanish couple, and the rest of the people are from the UK. The hostel descriptions lied a little, as it’s about 12 minutes t the beach, but it’s all good. A little extra walking is not gonna kill me! There’s a few Greek restaurants, a couple of international restaurants, quite a few beach bars, a couple of free pools with sun chairs and such, and a big, long beach. The internet is bloody expensive, at one place it’s 1 euro for 12 minutes! At another place further down it’s an hour for 3 euros, so that’s a bit better. After getting a few things at the grocery store, I walked back to my hostel (which I’m just gonna call my room, as it’s totally not a hostel!) and got changed for the beach. As I’m walking down it starts to thunder, but it’s still sunny, then it starts to rain, but I get to the beach and everyone else is still tanning away so I did too! The thunder kept going but the rain stopped and the sun stayed out so it wasn’t all bad. I get back to my room, found some English TV channels (woop woop!) and made some dinner. Just as I’m getting into a decent English movie, the power goes out! Frick. Then like 10 minutes later, as I’m going to bed, the hostel lady (who doesn’t speak English, by the way) comes down and points at the generator lights and speaks in Greek, “yadda yadda yadda… kaputzo!” I assume that meant that the power’s out, and ya, lady, I got that 10 minutes ago when the lights went out.
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Day 3: Today I didn’t do much. I woke up and wandered around the town again, got onto the internet, then made my way back to my room. It was hoootttt, so I walked back into town to find a spot by the pool. I tanned, I swam, and I tanned some more. That’s pretty much all!

Day 4: Today I did basically the same as yesterday, except maybe read a bit more. I finished my last book, “Midnight Cage”, which was a random I picked up in Vienna at an English bookstore. It was really good though, about a muslin girl from Afganistan who makes her way to London in the 1850’s. Crazy what women had to go through, and still go through in some countries. Blows my mind how women used to be treated. Anyways, now I’m onto Ken Follett’s “Lie Down With Lions,” which is proving to be good already. I’m in love with Follett after I read “Pillars of the Earth,” and am waiting rather impatiently for my mom to come with the sequel, “World Without End,” as it’s much cheaper to buy back home than here. Everything is, actually! She’s bringing me new sandals too, as my beach/shower ones keep felling apart. Hopefully they’ll make it till she gets here!
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So Angelica, who picked me up from the airport, is one of the owner’s of the hostel, along with her non-English speaking parents. I haven’t seen Angelica since I got here, but her mom is always around saying hi and bye to me when I come and go. Tonight, as I’m in my pj’s, no makeup, burnt from sun tanning too much, she comes to my room and waves her arms in an upward motion. She’s speaking Greek, but using English words too, and I make out the words “upstairs” and “people” and “talking” and “you come.’ So I’m assuming she wants me to come upstairs and socialize, but I’m in the middle of making dinner, and clearly not dressed to leave my room. Oh, and in no mood to be around couples on their holiday! I told her thanks, but that I was fine. So 10 minutes later, she’s knocking on my door again, practically leading me out of the room, and I’m like, “No, I’m good!” Thumbs up and everything. She’s like, “Ooooh, good, okay.” So that was a bit weird, but they probably don’t get solo 20 year old girls at their hostel that often! I’m totally fine being by myself anyways, but I am getting SOO excited to have some travel partners in, like, 6 days!!
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Day 5: Last night it stormed like crazy, tons of rain, it was very loud in my room. And quite freaky actually. It’s weird sleeping by yourself after two and a half months of sleeping with other people around you. I had a hard time the first night actually. Also, it’s really dark in my room, like pitch black, whereas the hostels always had some light coming in, from the streets or whatever, so that’s took some getting used to as well. Anyways, the weather was still crap at 10 (when Oprah’s over lol) so I decided to have a shower and go into Corfu town to explore, that way I wouldn’t lose any precious tanning time. Well, I go to brush my teeth and there’s no running water. None in the shower either. I settled for putting my hair up and I got ready anyways, and went upstairs to see when the buses run. The hostel lady said to me, “No washing!” I was like, ya I noticed! And she brought me out on the porch where she showed me that her husband was trying to fix it. The bus left at 11 so I made my way down to the supermarket, where it goes from, and joined in with the crowd who was also waiting. It was 11:20 and still no bus, but everyone was still waiting so I did too. Finally it came packed full, let 2 people on, closed it’s doors, and left without even explaining! Not very cool. I walked back to my room through town, stopping by a travel shop and booking a seat to Corfu town for Saturday, and the weather was starting to clear up. By the time I made lunch and got changed it was full on sunny again. So I walked back to the pool and tanned until late. Now I’m watching House and relaxing!

Day 6: First of all, I don’t know where 6 days have gone. I think the sun’s got me in some kind of trance. I like it, anyways. Today I got up, watched Oprah (it was about Obama’s inauguration; they’re waaay behind over here!) And headed to the beach! Picked up some anti-histamines en route. Apparently my skin doesn’t like sudden climate change. My skin gets bumpy first, and then red and rashy- so not pretty. It’s not thaaat noticeable- it’s only on my arms. It happened in Mexico, and in Galway, even though there was no sun there, the pharmacist said it was just reacting to a different climate. So hopefully the skin’s better tomorrow. That didn’t effect the sun tanning though, was out in full force again (SPF on Al, no worries!) and it was a gorgeous day, despite the really, REALLY strong wind. It was nice, and I probably burnt because when the wind let up every once in a while the sun was burning hot. It’s all good, it’ll look good tomorrow! I bought another book, “Deception Point,” by Dan Brown, and it’s looking really good so far. It better be for 13 euro, the starting price for books in Corfu, apparently. And I bought some AMAZING olives from the supermarket, which I’m devouring for dinner right now!

Day 7: Today I did the same old. Walked into town, used the internet (real quick!) and laid by the pool, tanning, reading, and listening to my music. My stupid book is so addicting, I’m like 250 pages in already and it’s supposed to last me the rest of this mini-vacation! But I just can’t stop reading! Oh well. I went for dinner today at one of the little Greek restaurants, and it was decent. I ordered the hummus (pronounced HOME-ose over here), olives, and the grilled aubergines (eggplant). They don’t even call eggplants eggplants in Europe. I remember Chris (Welsh guy) mocking me because I didn’t know what an aubergine was, and I was a vegan. Anyways, the hummus was different than the stuff we have back home, or any other hummus I’ve ever tried. It was almost like they mixed normal hummus with Italian dressing…. Hmmm… but it was good anyways. And the eggplants were really yummy. And the waiter couldn’t speak English but he was really nice. And now I’m watching re-runs of AMTM and House, with Greek subtitles, of course!

Day 8: Today I went to Corfu town. I am a little bummed because it was the HOTTEST DAY YET, and I wasted it souvenir shopping and wandering around a not-that-exciting town. I don’t know if the bus just dropped us off in a lame spot or something, but all I was around was dozens of tacky souvenir or knock-off shops, and cafes that I couldn’t eat at. The most exciting thing was stumbling across a sign that said, “Come and try our traditional Greek specialties, made without milk, butter, or eggs.” I was like SOLD. I wandered over, and this voluptuous, highly over-excited woman greets me at the door explaining that the pastries are Corfu specialties, and because they don’t have milk or eggs in them, last for 15 days without a fridge. I was like ok, creepy, but I’m down. I had a vegetable pie for lunch, which was really good, and got 2 sweets to go. I tried both when I got back home. One of them was made with the 3 native Corfu fruits, the only one I remember being the kumquat, and the other one was made with cinnamon and other yummy stuff. They were both good, but I wouldn’t get them again. Anyways, I was so bored by the end of my 4 hour trip in Corfu, that I bought a people magazine to read outside the bus for the last half an hour. A 6 euro 50 people magazine! Frick… but it was interesting.
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Day 9: Today I… wait for it… tanned by the pool!! I also made friends with an older British couple, who’ve been greeting me everyday when I get to the pool. They sit in the same chairs every day, and are there before I get there in the morning, and they stay until after I leave. We’ve always said hi, but today we actually chatted about what I was doing. It felt good telling them I was backpacking and just taking a break, as opposed to them thinking I was some crazy young woman who vacations alone from the US (ya, they would think I’m from the states! Pfff!) Very nice couple though. The weather was pretty crap, but everyone else was out, so I figured it wouldn’t be weird if I layed by the pool tanning in the heavy overcast. It even started to lightly rain for 10 minutes, but everyone stayed where they were! It got pretty hot after 3, so I stayed planted and got to catch a few rays before going to dinner. I went out to the other Greek place in town, hoping for some normal hummus. I got into the restaurant and asked the server if I could sit down for dinner, and he patted to the chair next to him. I was like haha buddy, and I was like, “No, haha, that’s ok I’ll just sit over here…” I was wearing my sunglasses, and not my glasses, so I couldn’t see what he looked like from far away, and when he came over to hand me my menu I realized he was a Greek God. No kidding. I fully should have taken that seat offer!! I didn’t need to actually, because after I ordered he sat right across from me and started asking me questions about why I was alone and what I was doing later. Greek guys get right to the point. It wasn’t weird though, and I hadn’t really had a good conversation with someone in a week, so I was glad. Hand gestures with my hostel lady doesn’t really qualify as good conversation. He goes back to being a server and mentions they ran out of hummus, so I just ordered the grilled aubergines like I did at the last place. They came fast… and with parmesan cheese sprinkled all over. And the Greek God is sitting across from me watching me eat. Awesome. It was a weird parmesan because it didn’t melt, so I just brushed it all off, and ate it anyways. So he invites me out to Greek night at his restaurant, where there’s dancing and stuff, and gives me a glass of wine after dinner, and continues to chat with me. It was nice, and the wine went straight to my head, so I stayed and we talked for a bit. I told him I probably wouldn’t come because I was by myself and didn’t dance and didn’t want to walk home alone. He said I could sit at the bar, drink, watch the dancing, and that he would walk me home later. Tempted as I was, I wasn’t about to walk through town at 10 at night (when “Greek Night” starts) by myself. I told him maybe, and left. On my way home I stopped at the internet place again, and the bartender said hi. He was all alone and seemed nice, so after using the internet I said I’d have a drink and chat with him for a while seeing as how he was by himself. He’s really nice, and says hi to me every time I use the internet there, so I thought I’d keep him busy for a while. Spiros is a car mechanic, but there’s no work so he bartends instead. He’s never been outside of Greece though! So we had a good chat about traveling. Really nice guy, and in the end he refused to charge me for my Greek beer. Now I’m ready to pass out from the 2 drinks I had. (How lame!)

Day 10: Today was my last full day at the beach! I tanned by the pool, made hostel reservations, calmed my mother down via face book, and made sure my flights for tomorrow were still a go. I’m super excited to see my mom and Kristal and I can’t wait to have someone to share the rest of my trip with! OUR trip, I should say! But other than that, pretty normal day,

Day 11: EEEEK! Get to see my mom today! Definitely never been so excited to see someone in my life! I got up this morning, packed up my messy room, checked crack book one more time, and took in the last few rays by the pool. I got too anxious to tan, so I went back to my room, finished packing and painted my nails, mostly so my mother doesn’t think I’ve lost my hygiene or something! The people at the hostel drove me to the bus stop for the 16:00 bus that didn’t come until 16:24, making me quite the stress case! I’m already anxious enough, and the freaking bus has it’s own timetable. I’ve learnt that a Grecian schedule should include “+/- 30 minutes” on it! I’ve also learned that Grecians are bloody crazy drivers. While we were waiting for the bus, we saw 2 cars fishtail, a motorcycle do a wheelie, and a big market transport truck not be able to start, roll across the street while repeatedly turning the engine over, get a push start from a teeny smart car, and then it stops on the wrong side of the road, and RACES the smart car! Wtf? Craaazy. My flight from Corfu to Athens was good, and now I’m waiting to see my mother in t-minus 50 minutes!!!

Posted by kvandervegan 14:05 Archived in Greece Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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