Funny Story…

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

7 Responses to “Funny Story…”

  1. Taylor says:

    Ahhhhh Rome…looking at your pictures brings back happy memories of that city. I don’t recognize the big brass looking sphere though that you took several pictures of. what’s that all about?

    I agree with you about the Coliseum…unimpressed. That city is amazing though. I’m glad you got a chance to walk around for several days straight. The lines for the sights are a lot like the Navy…they can take the fun out of ANYTHING.

    WOW..tomorrow night Clapton! That should be a good time. Hopefully you got decent seats and will be able to actually see him play rather than paying to see him on some megatron screen.

    Sounds like you’re doing good…keep it up and we’ll see you back in the States soon! Corinna is getting bigger…I put together a crib last night…I couldn’t believe it while I was doing it…kind of an out of body experience. We had a baby shower in New Jersey last weekend…nothing like having a party and getting baby rattles and gift cards to Babies R Us and Baby Gap!

    Have fun bud…

    Taylor

  2. Taylor says:

    P.S. No more stories about your bowel movements please…stick to the sights and sounds of Europe.

  3. Katie says:

    AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE THE UPDATE!!!!! You sound like such a vagabond – I love it!

    I can’t believe you’re in Paris right now….PARIS! I’m so jealous!!!! Eat crepes and drink wine under the eiffel tower for me!!! Wear a beret in your pictures!!! I heard that the Louvre is impossible to see in one day if you really take the time to look at everything. I want LOTS AND LOTS of pictures. Despite how much I despiiiiiiiiiiiiiised french classes in high school and college, I really want to go there and speak french! Let me know if the people are friendly/speak english to you. of the french people I’ve met, it seems like the younger kids are open to talking to you, but they speak in english while you try to practice your french. and the older people only speak french and don’t really care if you understand or not and won’t repeat things.

    you HAVE TO find a french girl and kiss her under the eiffel tower! YOU HAVE TO!!!! Get a picture!!!!!!

    I love you so much – be safe! xoxoxoxox

  4. Katie says:

    p.s. you could kiss a guy under the eiffel tower too…you ARE in gay paris, and you ARE a navy boy.

    OOOOOOOOOOOH BURRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEED!!!! hahahahahahaahah!!!!

    hahah love you!

    p.p.s. you have to listen to the jimmy buffett song while your there…I forget the actual title, but it starts off like “he went to paris, looking for answers to questions that botherd him so…” TOTALLY HAVE TO! BE A CHEESY TOURIST!!!

  5. Wells says:

    Collins,

    Don’t listen to Katie. Katie what are you thinking…. Great update, my coe-workers came running into my office, cause they heard me laughing and pounding on my on my desk. Everyone still can’t believe you’re on this trip by ourself.

    Wells

  6. Mike says:

    Good post, Good pics. You are getting better now, there were some people in one or two of these pics.

    Glad you liked Rome. I spent a week there in 1969 with Greg Maxwell and a college tour group. Yes you should get back to Florence. Michelangelo’s tomb, David, Ufitzie Gallery, lots of good stuff but not as good as Rome. Are there still lots of little shops on the streets off St Marks Square in Venice? That is where the jet setters used to shop. Guess that is where you got lost. Easy to do. Did the pigeons get you?

    If you are in Paris for July 4th stop by the US Embassy. When I was there they were giving hot dogs and Hamburgers away to the American tourists. That was before BK or Micky D’s tho. You might stop by the Arch d’ Triomphe and see if any Americans are roasting marshmallows on the eternal flame.

    Take care in Paris. It is a lot like NY city.

    Uncle Mike

  7. sametpsa@aol.com says:

    Wow..just caught up on your excellent adventure..First off let me tell you I gained 15 pounds in France… the food was just soo good…worth every pound..and I do remember I got the runs the day we went to the Eiffel Tower..so I wasn’t in the mood to do any kissing there Katie…I’ll have to go back and do that…Rome was my favorite..I really loved the sculpture everywhere that detailed every muscle in the body..I saw the Pieta before that glass was around it..I heard someone tried to attack it and they had to put that case around it….and the Vatican Museum.. well just everything.. I never got to see the Pope!! So I need to go back there too.. Those pictures are incredible..I was wondering about the big sphere also..it kinda looks like the one the survived the World Trade Center 9-11 attack..and what about that mummy?? Looked like something you’d see at B & M Funeral Home….We’ll have to go over the pics when you get home..I’m wondering if Europe is as crowded in the NON summer months..You will probably have to deal with crowds for the rest of the trip… Are there a lot of American tourists over there? or others.. with the dollar so low, I thought it may affect Americans traveling over there..I was surprised hostels are now about $30…I think we paid $6 or $7 dollars..you have covered so much ground..are you homesick AT ALL???? Isn’t there a place in Paris where they dance naked?? I never made it there.. gotta go back..is it the Moulon Rouge or something..check it out..LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU..
    BA

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