Archive for June, 2008

Funny Story…

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I have kind of disappeared for the last week or so. Mostly that is because I caught a bit of a cold, and have been doing a whirlwind tour of Italy over that time too. Because of that I decided to finally take advantage of the travel preparations I had made before leaving. I had visited the Navy’s travel clinic before taking off to make sure I had all the required vaccinations, etc… and the Doc sat me down and gave me this big spiel on not drinking the water and such. Mostly I was a bit bored, and just wanted my travel shot card stamped saying that I was up to date on everything so no country could keep me out. As it turns out, I was being a little paranoid about the card, as no one has yet check it, however, I am glad I updated my Polio, Rabies, and Tetanus shots. The amount of people I have seen here with the severe after-effects of Polio is amazing, and there are a huge number of stray animals pretty much everywhere I have gone. One of the other benefits of this visit to the travel clinic was free meds. He gave me three doses of the Z-pack antibiotic, some Imodium (as apparently everyone gets the runs at least once while traveling – I haven’t yet… knock on wood), and malaria medication just in case I decided to go anywhere it was a problem. Well, as I was sick, and the Tylenol Flu I brought with me wasn’t doing the trick so I figured I would start one of the Z-packs. About 4 days in I was trying to figure out what day I was on and figured I would count the remaining pills and find out that way. Well, the Z-packs come in 6’s (two the first day, and 1 each of the next four days) and I got 4 sets total: 24 pills, right? Yeah, when I looked at the bottle it said 30 total, which kind of threw up a red flag for me, and I finally read the bottle and realized I had been taking prescription strength Imodium for the last couple days. Explains my lack of needing to use the facilities along the way…. I guess the moral of the story is always read the bottle. Anyway, everything is back in place, and I am trying to transfer pictures from  my flash cards to my harddrive and then hit up the Louvre. The transfer is taking FOREVER though, so I figure an quality update is in order. So here goes.

Let’s see. I left off last in Mykonos. The Greek Isles were absolutely amazing, and I spent way too much time wandering around them. I really liked renting the scooters and running off to parts of the islands were there were no tourists.. or people for that matter. There are a bunch of monasteries on all those islands, and some in pretty remote locations with awesome views. Not sure who actually visits them because pretty much every one I went to was totally deserted.  However, as Mike pointed out there are not that many people in my pictures  (which is kind of how I like it and I will wait for a while to find a break in the people to take a picture of something) so it was great for me from that standpoint. So basically I would spend my days either scootering around or laying on the beach relaxing. Normally I started the day out with a baguette (one slice of turkey, three of cheese, and a bit of lettuce… they are pretty carb heavy there), and then wandered to where ever I felt like. I am not sure the people on the Islands do any work though, because I saw the locals doing pretty much the same thing. Anyway, I figured I had spent way too much time in Greece so I only spent a 2 nights and one full day in Athens. I took the ferry from Mykonos to Athens which was about 5 hours, and got there around 6 at night. I managed to get to my hostel in time to put up my things and catch the sunset over the Acropolis from their rooftop bar. Having talked to a bunch of other backpackers along the way, everyone had advised me that you really only need a full day to see everything in Athens. That actually served me pretty well. Everything is sort of centrally located, and I managed to wander all over the old city in that full day. You can buy a ticket to all the major sites for 12 Euro so I took advantage of that and got to hiking. It was really neat seeing all the thinks that I had read so much about when I was a kid (for those that remember my fascination with Greek/Roman mythology.) Unfortunately, I think I scheduled my visit for the millennial “let’s fix things up” of Europe, as everywhere I have gone the major attractions are under renovation, and have scaffolding up. Sort of ruins the picture to have big cranes and a metal exoskeleton around everything you take pictures of. That is why I am taking a lot of niche photos. Anyway, the view from the top of the Acropolis over Athens was amazing. I couldn’t believe how big that city is. Pretty much as far as the eye can see, it spread in every direction. I have taken a bunch of piece-meal panoramic that I need to fit together when I get back. That should occupy me for the next year or so… The only bad thing is that it was hot as heck in Athens, and walking all over is not conducive to smelling good, so my backpack has taken on a distinct odor. Fun. Anyway, one day down in Athens, and I was going to try and take the train up to Budapest, but it seems that is not the best (safest) way to go, so I side-tracked straight to Italy via a bus from Athens to Ignomencia, ferry to Bari, train to Rome. Not, I feel, the best way to do it. Flying would have been better, but I hate dealing with the security and my film. Luckily, I just dropped of around 90 rolls for development, so that should not be a problem on the way back into the States. Anyway, Rome – I loved it. You walk all over that city and they have random excavations dating back 3000 years. I saw the Colosseum (actually a bit underwhelmed by that, but I think I had built it up too much), the acropolis, the Pantheon, and the fountain of Travali (I think that is the name) to name a few things. I pretty much walked from about 10 in the morning until 11 or so at night for the 3 days I was there. So much stuff to see there, but extremely spread out. I hate to catch the metro everywhere because I feel like if I do that I will miss so much other stuff. I spent an entire day in the Vatican city and go to see the Pope give his Wednesday morning ceremony (didn’t understand a word, but I saw him… from 500 feet away.) The Vatican museum was amazing in the stuff they had there. I wan’t expecting to see a bunch of ancient Egyptian art there, but they have it. The Sistine chapel was not what I was expecting. I hightailed it there hoping to beat the crowds in the morning, and then backtrack like the guidebook says to, but I don’t think it is possible to avoid the crowds. No pictures allowed either, and not one big mural, but a bunch of smaller pictures. I tried to grab a couple with my phone, but they have people wandering the crowd and I got nabbed. Oh well. I also say the “Pieta” which is not in the museum but behind a big glass enclosure in St Peter’s Basilica. Apparently some guy tried to hack it to pieces a couple years back with an axe. How the heck you get an axe into there, I have no clue.

So three days in Rome, followed by Florence which I think I short changed. I only spent 2 days and 1 night there. I was going to stay for a couple more, but I had my first bad hostel experience there, so I was fired up and took off early. The place I was staying was supposed to be 20 Euro a night, but when I got there, they started tacking on extra charges and it ended up being 35 a night. That is over $50 a night for, what turned out to be, a room with 6 cots in it stacked side by side. I couldn’t believe it, and was ready to leave right then and there, but they would have charged me for the first night anyway. So, I stayed one night, and left the next night on the last train out to Venice. I didn’t get a chance to really see that much of Florence because of that and feel like I need to head back sometime to see Michelangelo’s “David” and such. I tried to get in to see it, but apparently you need to make reservations for the museums in Florence, or wait in a line that NEVER moves. Who knew? In Venice I stayed in a campground that beat my accommodations in Florence hands down. For 13 Euro a night, I had pretty much half a doublewide to myself with AC, my own bathroom with a shower, and a double bed. If I head back to Venice, I am staying there again. It is not actually on the island, but just across the bridge. They, however, have buses that run into town every hour so it worked good for me. I think a day is really enough to see Venice if you only want to explore the main island. I pretty much strapped on my day pack and managed to get lost, get found, get lost, get found, get lost until I found all the places I wanted to see. I think that is the only way to see Venice. There are no street signs, only Parish demarcations, so not getting lost is pretty much impossible. I did see a lot of really cool areas that I don’t think I would have otherwise, though. Anyway, after that I headed up to Dusseldorf to drop off my film at a lab I have already gotten stuff developed in and liked (and because it is on the way to Paris) and then hopped on another train two hours later to gay Paris.

So now I am here in Paris, and need to get to the Louvre. I will give you all an update on Paris after I am done here.

 Here are the pictures of Athens though.
And here are the ones from the Vatican

Finally photos of the last couple weeks!

Friday, June 13th, 2008

I am taking off tomorrow evening from Corfu (an island off the eastern side of mainland Greece between there and Italy) to Rome. The ferry is actually leaving at 11:59 tomorrow night and gets in at 8:30 in the morning in Bari and then a train trip to Rome. I think my itinerary is going to be in Rome for three days and then to Venice for 2 days, Florence for 2 days, a couple days along the Côte d’Azur in the south of France and then London on the 27th for a couple days. A managed to get tickets to see Eric Clapton playing in Hyde park on the 28th for the O2 Festival. From there it is going to be Spain and Paris for a couple weeks then home. Sheesh, I can’t believe that this is so close to coming to an end. Almost a month away, and I keep thinking “Not enough time!!!” Oh, well. I guess that just means that I am going to have to do it again. I am thinking after Law School finishes in about 5 years or so. Anyway, here are the photo’s that I have been promising:
Santorini
Rhodes
Athens

I’m doing awesome, and looking forward to Italy. Greece has been relatively un-eventful in terms of things to write about. A lot of beaches and relaxing in the sun, so that is why my posts here have been a bit short. Hopefully things get a bit more exciting in Rome.

-JC

Photos of Jerusalem

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Here are the photo’s from Jerusalem, but I got kicked off for uploading photos from Greece because I was interfering with the online gaming……. yeah……

Here are the pictures

-JC

Greece is so hard to leave

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

I think this trip is really just giving me places that I want to head back to and spend more time in. Greece is definitely towards the top of that list. Egypt, and all of Africa, as well along with more of Russia, and more scuba diving in Thailand. However, I think that I could spend years traveling around Greece and not get tired of it. I feel like I need to sail over here and spend at least a summer sailing around and seeing all the islands. Well, I don’t know if you can actually see all the islands, but I would spend as much time sailing around as I could. Either way, I am pretty positive that I am going to be back here.

After the first part of Greece in Rhodes, I took off to Santorini for a couple days, again renting a scooter (again, the best way to travel around the islands), and explored pretty much the entire island. From all the pictures I have seen of Greece, and most of them concentrated from Santorini, I didn’t expect the what I saw. You arrive at a port at the base of a cliff a couple hundred feet high. I actually wasn’t expecting Greece to be as mountainous as it is. Again, I guess that is like the first time I pulled up to Hong Kong and was expecting grass huts and people painted with mud. Long time ago, but I never really considered either, and each was a bit of a surprise when I was presented with it. Anyway, I stayed in Fira which is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the island on the west coast overlooking the volcano. Apparently they are pretty proud of that volcano, but it is nothing like the one in Hawaii. No lava pools or anything. In fact you are lucky if you can find an area where it feels remotely warm. But I don’t think it is the activity of the volcano that they are proud of, but the sunsets that are seen over it. Supposedly, Santorini has the best sunsets in the world. I am not going to say that, but they were pretty nice. However, I have seen just as good in California and in the Keys. Everyone goes to Oia which is on the northern point of Santorini to watch the sunsets, and I went there at about 1:00 to explore the place and snap some shots. I spent the next four hours wandering around taking around 1000 shots. Two 4GB flash cards and around 10 rolls of film. However, at 5:00 the tourist groups starting arriving, and the sunset vantage point got crowded. That was pretty much my cue to get the heck out of dodge, and I hopped back on my scooter and headed for a less populated point on the island for a good vantage point. Luckily, Santorini is only about 8 miles long, so it didn’t take too long to travel the entire length of the island. The sun also doesn’t set until around 8:00 so I had time as well. When it finally set, I had settled down in a restaurant yet to open for the season, and watched. To be honest a little anti-climatic for all the huff and puff I had heard about it. Nice, don’t get me wrong, but not anything that I would travel halfway around the world to see. However, the time in Oia was well worth the effort.

Anyway, after a couple days in Santorini, I took off to Ios for some more relaxing environments and not as much work. For about 4 days I laid on the beach during the day, and partied the nights away. Ios is a pretty young island all around, and it stays open until the last person heads home. The Greeks , unfortunately, don’t start until midnight so that tend to be past sunrise. Really, I am way to old for much of that so I was tired, and a bit relieved when I headed off to Mykonos. Here it is a bit more of a laid back atmosphere. I have been staying on the beach here, recovering from my time on Ios, and am getting ready to head to Delos and Athens tomorrow. I am not planning on spending a lot of time in Athens, maybe a day or two, and then heading on to Italy.

 Anyway, I am getting cut off here, and they are getting ready to close the internet shop, so I have to wrap up.

Glad to see that Billary has finally faced the music, though not sure for the high taxes I am seeing down the line.

 -JC