Monday, August 29, 2011


Yesterday was our last full day on the ship. In the afternoon, we anchored at Santorini. Like many of the Greek islands, Santorini was formed by volcanic activity. After it's formation, it was a single populated island until the volcano at its center erupted again and pushed the center of the island under the sea. Now the main island, Thira forms a crescent around the volcano and a huge lagoon rests in the middle. Many people believe that the story of the Lost City of Atlantis is about the collapse of Santorini.

Santorini is absolutely beautiful. From the ship, we could see the iconic white and blue houses and shops atop the high cliffs. Because of the steep approach, we rode donkeys up the switchbacks into the main town of Fira. We shopped around with friends for a while and then had drinks and appetizers with an amazing view of the bay and volcano. It was a great way to end our trip.

Today we are back in Athens for our last night. We are grabbing last minute souvenirs and repacking our bags in preparation for our flight home tomorrow. It has been an amazing and absolutely unforgettable trip. We have made great friends and seen amazing places. After everything, though, we are looking forward to going home. We can't wait to sleep in our own bed, eat In N Out and most of all to see our friends, family and our puppy!

- Posted using BlogPress via my iPad from Athens

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Patmos & Friends

Just returned to the ship from the tiny island of Patmos. Patmos is quiet and lovely and we mostly just laid on the beach, had a gyro and took a slow walk around the town.

We've been traveling with a group for the past couple weeks and haven't really mentioned them on the blog so far, so we wanted to give a quick shout out to our new friends from around the world.

Laura was our tour manager and turned out to be a great friend. She is from New Zealand, but she lives and works in Italy. She is known for her adorable accent; she says "heedseet" instead of headset, "peen" instead of pen and (most hilariously) "deek" instead of deck. We think Laura is the sweetest and we were pretty sad to leave her and most of the rest of the group when we left for the cruise.

Casey, Kelly and Kate are three Australian girls that we adore. They are traveling all over Europe. These three are all very different, but they are a blast to hang out with as a pack.

Britney is a Canadian girl who is always outrageous and fun. You can probably find her with a drink in her hand and enough attitude to pass around. She is joining us on the cruise.

Talia is a sweetheart, also from Canada. She always has something nice to say.

The Turner sisters are from Washington. They are down to earth and super easy to get along with. They can often be found hanging out with Amanda from Australia who is always fun to be around and can save your life in an emergency (she's an EMT). All three of these girls are on the cruise with us.

Damien and Emma are our closest buds on the tour and the cruise. These two are from Australia and they've been traveling around Europe for months. We like being around them because when we are together, we are usually laughing until it hurts. Damien has TONS of attitude and spunk and Emma's deadpan humor keeps him from going overboard. Just today, Damien and I went for gyros and I nearly died after laughing and choking on a piece of onion. We have a blast with them and are starting to pick up an Australian accent!

- Posted using BlogPress via my iPad from the Aegean Sea


On Friday we boarded our cruise of the Greek islands at Pireaus, a port in Athens. We are sailing on the Louis Majesty for three days. This ship is 40,876 tons with 10 decks and six restaurants. Even though it can be tight quarters for 1,100 people, our room is still much bigger than some of the hotels we stayed in on land! During the cruise we will dock in Mykonos, Kusadasi (Turkey), Patmos, Crete and Santorini.

Yesterday, we arrived in Mykonos in the afternoon. Mykonos is a small town and island which you can walk all the way around in under an hour. The buildings in Mykonos are iconically Greek, with white washed walls and blue shutters. They are built closely together and in a winding labyrinth pattern as a way of protecting the little city from strong winds, so you can easily get lost in the very narrow streets, but you can always point yourself towards the sea and find your way out. It is also well known for it's six remaining windmills, which sit atop a hill near an area right on the water called Little Venice.

Mykonos is bustling and alive, especially after the sun sets and the little cocktail bars and shops begin to glow. We wandered down the coast and around the island to the windmill side and had a drink and appetizers at a restaurant in Little Venice. Our table was RIGHT on the water... we got misted by every big set of waves. We had grilled feta and calamari. It was by far the freshest and best calamari we have ever eaten.

After sunset we turned in towards city center and got a little bit lost on purpose, then wandered the shops and headed back towards the beach just to sit for a little while.

- Posted using BlogPress via my iPad from the Aegean Sea

Friday, August 26, 2011


After a couple of nights in Corfu, we had a travel day into Athens. Athens is a colorful city, full of open air markets and covered in graffiti. I'm sort of a graffiti enthusiast, and though I certainly don't condone destruction of private property, I really enjoyed all the public works of art.

On our first night, we had dinner at a lovely restaurant in the Plaka, a pedestrian market area. There was live Greek music, plenty of feta cheese and the most tender chicken we have ever eaten. After dinner we made our way up to the roof of our hotel for a panoramic view of the city and the Acropolis.

The next morning, we climbed up to the Acropolis and had a walking tour of the various monuments. The Parthanon was beautiful, but my favorite was the Temple of the Wingless Victory. It is fairly small and sits right atop the main gate. Legend has it that the temple once housed a statue of Nike, the goddess of victory, as a monument to a successful war for the Athenians. Nike was personified as a young woman with wings, so the Athenians cut the wings off her statue as a way to ensure that victory would always remain with Athens.

After the tour of the Acropolis, we took a bus tour of the city, which is surprisingly modern looking, despite its long history. Apparently, the whole of the ancient city is buried underneath the modern one so that every time excavation of any sort has to be done for a building or tunnel, thousands of artifacts are dug up.

We returned to the hotel and observed siesta, just like the Greeks do. Then we spent a couple hours shopping our way around the Plaka. We met some very vibrant characters, including a man who squeezed our faces and kissed us repeatedly, telling Jake he looked like a Greek god and repeating how much he loves America. Inside his shop he had hundreds of business cards of Greeks living in the U.S. It turned out he had lived in California himself for many years, just a few cities over from us in San Jose. He gave us lucky pennies and reminded us that it costs nothing to be nice. Another man, a jeweler, showed us pictures and post cards from his nephew who happens to work just across town from us at Steven's Creek Honda. It's such a small world and we really do love the Greek enthusiasm for life, family, friends and prosperity.

On the second evening, we had a delicious dinner followed by drinks and dancing. At the end of the night, we had to say goodbye to many of our new found friends who weren't going on to the optional cruise. It was a little sad, but lovely to know that we have friends across the world that we have an excuse to visit!

- Posted using BlogPress via my iPad from the Aegean Sea

Thursday, August 25, 2011


After our wonderful stay in Sorrento, it was time to leave Italy and head to Greece. We had a long coach ride down to the port of Brindisi and then an overnight ferry into Corfu. The overnight ferry was quite an experience. We had a (very very very modest) cabin and some people had airplane-type seats, but tons of other people didn't have seats at all. Instead, they set up camp in the halls and under the stair cases and just about wherever they could.

All of this leads me to the point that Greece is very different from the U.S. and even from Italy. It is much much much more relaxed... even to the point of disorganization. I'm not aware of any rules in Greece and it seems like everyone pretty much does what they want. For example, we had no safety briefing on our overnight ferry ride, designer knock offs are sold very openly in just about every store and Jake and I were able to go paragliding without signing any kind of waiver. Sometimes it's a little scary, but mostly its just good fun.

We arrived in Corfu around 4am, but our hotel rooms weren't available yet, so we all sat around in the hotel lobby or fell asleep on lounge couches or in corners. Around 10am, we headed down to the port for a day sailing on George's Boat. George's Boat is quite famous amongst visitors around here. George is a portly greek man in his 60s with a penchant for inappropriate jokes and the most amazing tzatziki dip ever made. He took us on a sailing cruise and then to a beautiful beach where Jake and I went paragliding for the first time. It was such an amazing experience. I thought it would be loud and cold up in the air, but it was peaceful and warm and it felt just like flying with a beautiful view. After we came down we all had lunch together and then spent hours swimming in the warm, clear water at the beach and at several other swim stops. Sailing back, it really hit me how lucky we are to be here. When we came back, we were able to check into our hotel and pretty much crashed for the night.

Greece is much more Americanized than Italy and we enjoyed having all of our favorite amenities back... a hotel pool, a blow dryer, tub WITH shower curtain, eggs, butter and toast for breakfast... it's the little things.

On the second day we wandered around the town of Corfu for some wonderful shopping in the narrow streets. In the afternoon, we had our first taste of real Greek food at a little shack-type place down the street called Captain George's... it was AMAZING. I have to say, Greek food puts Italian food to shame. I'm sure there are some wonderful restaurants in Italy that we haven't been to, but you can walk into any hole in the wall in Greece and get something delicious. So far we like mousaka, souvlaki, Greek salad, and chicken and chips and could literally eat gyros for every meal.

During our stay in Corfu, some of the Australians on our tour got curious about Greek life in American universities. Jake and I had a great time teaching them all about fraternities and sororities and answering all their questions. We even started a little society of our own. On the last night, three of the groups traveling in the area got together for one big Toga party on the island. It was a total blast and a great way to say goodbye to Corfu before we left the next morning.

- Posted using BlogPress via my iPad from Athens

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Yesterday we spent the day on the Island of Capri. It's not surprising that this is a favorite vacation spot of the rich and famous, because it's a beautiful place. From Sorrento, we took a ferry across to the island, which has two towns, Capri and Anacapri. Jake and I really needed a day to relax and enjoy the scenery after busy Rome, so being in Capri was perfect.

We spent several hours on the beach. The beaches in Capri are made of rocks, which is pretty interesting (and painful) for kids from California like us. The water is also VERY warm and clear and pleasant. We spent a good chunk of our morning just watching Italians go about their beach day. It was endlessly entertaining. We saw old men (and young men) in speedos, women with deep dark tans and our personal favorite, little Italian children having precious little Italian tantrums... intonation included. MAMA!

After the beach, we had lunch at a little cafe and then wandered the shops looking for postcards and little souvenirs. Later, we hiked up to a higher part of the island and watched swimmers and giant yachts. We ended our day in Capri with another swim and went back to our hotel in Sorrento tired and happy.

Today we will be traveling all day as we move to the Port of Brindisi and take an overnight ferry to Corfu. We are a little bit sad to be leaving Italy, but are confident we will find our way back some day.

- Posted using BlogPress via my iPad from Sorrento


We left Rome yesterday and made the drive south to Sorrento. On the way, we stopped in Pompeii. Pompeii is such an interesting place... a look into how the people here lived 2,000 years ago! We enjoyed seeing the amphitheaters, an ancient version of a fast food franchise and the remains of a brothel where the "menu" was painted on the wall.

We arrived in Sorrento in the afternoon after a scenic drive along the cliffs. This place is beautiful! I was in love right away. In contrast to Rome, Sorrento is clean, romantic and laid back. Our hotel has a wonderful, open, beachy feel. The streets are bustling at all hours, not just with young people, but with families too. People here love children and dogs... they are everywhere. They produce a liquor called Limoncello. It is made with lemon rinds, alcohol and sugar and is DELICIOUS!

Jake and I wandered through the shops in the evening and stopped for dinner at a restaurant called La Taverna. We had insalata caprese, pasta with fresh produce, roasted potatoes, chicken and a delicious wine. Afterwards, we drank Limoncello and listened to the city from our balcony. Buona Serra Sorrento.

- Posted using BlogPress via my iPad from Sorrento