Monday, June 30, 2008

Heading North;

Tonight I am taking a train trip to the Arctic circle. I am going with a good friend, who's fiancé works with Ben. We are heading to the last stop on the train, which is a little town called Bodø. The trip will take 17 hours, so we will be sleeping on the train (in seats not a sleeper car). We are looking forward to seeing the official midnight sun, and some moose.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My quick trip to Greece;

I went to Athens last week for a few days. I went by myself, and had a great time.

I stayed in a Hostel this trip, and it was a much different experience then the one I had in Amsterdam. My roommates were loud, came and went often during the night, and one guy was VERY drunk. He kept the rest of us awake until 2 am. Every night was restless, and every morning was early. It was however safe, comfortable, and the staff were very helpful.

The best thing about the Hostel was the location. It was close to most of the attractions I wanted to see, and it was located in the middle of a main shopping area. There were many restaurants, and plenty of tourist stores to keep me busy for a few hours.

I was able to spend two full days touring around the city of Athens. I woke up very early the first day and headed to the Acropolis. I spent the majority of my morning exploring the ruins and the area around the Acropolis. I worked my way to the summit of the hill and beheld the Parthenon.

The Parthenon was extremely impressive, even though it was covered with scaffolding. When Ben and I were in London, we saw all the statues that had been moved from the Parthenon, so there were only three left to gaze upon. Just a few yards away, I was able to see the Porch of the Caryatids. The Porch is famous for its lady shaped columns, although most of the columns have been replaced with casts. The originals are now in museums.

I spent my afternoon wondering around Ancient Agora, which was a market place that formed the heart of ancient Athens. The temple of Hephaisteion is closed to tourists, but it is clear from the outside, how well preserved it is. There is also a museum on the site filled with ancient coins and perfume bottles.

The following day was mostly spent at the Archeology Museum. I was thrilled to see the death mask of Agamemnon as well as the rest of the Egyptian collection. There was also a case filled with toys from ancient greece including dolls, tops and yo-yos.

I spent the rest of my last day walking around the city, visiting a few ruins, and shopping before heading back to the hostel to get ready to go home.

One of the best things I did while in Athens, was to visit "The Poet Sandal Maker". This is a great little shop that will make you "custom" made sandals. There is a "menu" of sandal styles that you can choose from. You try on the sandal in your size to make sure you like the way it looks. The sandal maker then takes the shoe apart, and remakes it to perfectly fit your foot.

Many well know people like John Lennon, Jackie Onassis, and Barbara Streisand, have purchased sandals from the "Poet" and now have sandal styles named after them. The shoe maker is also a published poet (hence the shop's name) and gives his customers his latest published works for free. I bought a pair of sandals while I was there, and the fit is amazing.

I had a great time in Athens, and really enjoyed the experience. I ended up with an extreme "farmers" tan, but as long as I wear a T-shirt it looks great. It is fun to get away and explore places on my own. It is nice be reminded what I am capable of.