Monday, November 29, 2010

the Greek life

More Rodos, Greece!

It’s funny how anytime I’ve told Greeks I’m from NYC, they are like, “Ooooh!  Sex and the City!”  It’s happened twice now...  They are big fans over here.
I am having an awesome time here in Rhodes.  After meeting Stefan at the post office, I’ve been hanging out w/him and a bunch of his friends.  It’s giving me something to do besides check out the city! 
New Greek friend, Stefan!
Saturday we all met up at a coffee shop, they all go out for coffee A LOT.  It’s just a way to hang out and chat, and I don’t feel like we do that as much in The States.  After coffee some of us went and played some basketball, pretty much the first time I’ve played since being on the team in middle school!  It was great, got pizza afterwards, at where else, but Pizza Hut, typical, I’m in some awesome foreign country and I go eat at an American chain restaurant.  We hung out at a friend of Stephan’s, Frank's place and more people came over and we all went out.  They tend to go out pretty late, kinda like nyc. So, we went to the bars around 12ish and home by 5am. 
Sunday we all got together again and went on an excursion.  I sort of didn’t know what was going on, but that’s kinda typical when you don’t speak the language.   I wish I had some sort of earpiece that translated for me!  I’m picking up little bits and pieces and I know how to say ‘I don’t speak Greek’, ‘Thank you’ ‘Hello’ ‘Come on’ …and that’s about it!  A lot of the people will speak English for my sake, which is nice. 
The loukoumades festival!

Lots of souvlaki on the grill..

So, this ‘excursion’ ended up being a local festival in one of the villages, which was awesome!  It was a celebration for a doughnut like desert with honey and sesame all over it=Loukoumades.  TASTY. There was music and dancing and a bunch of ppl.  Apparently they have these festivals all the time, different villages, different celebrations..ones for watermelon, and meat, and all kinds of stuff!  We hung out, ate free loukoumades and souvlaki and then went to a place for a late lunch/dinner.  We ate a lot that day!
Making the loukoumades
  Where we went to eat was a traditional taverna in the woods.  There was soooo much food, it was ridiculous, so many different things, to try!  We had salads to start, then fried cheese balls and fried eggplant rolls with ham and cheese in them, and fried feta w/honey and sesame drizzled over it, fries (of course), (lots of fried stuff, and it tasted so good!!-not very good for you though…) grilled mushrooms and then the MEAT.  I think it was veal, but we had two giant plates full of all kinds of pieces of meat, some of it I was a little weary about what part of the animal it came from!
excellent Greek meal

The Taverna
It was great because you order communally, just a bunch of stuff and everyone helps serve everyone else.    After that we drove back to Rhodes Town and that was the end of an awesome day.  I’m getting to see the traditional and modern parts of Greek life, the daytime activities and nightlife.  The people I’ve met have been so nice and hospitable, it’s amazing how friendly and including they are to a stranger!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Finally a sunny day!

Well, Rodos is pretty cool, I'm really glad that if I have to be stuck somewhere, it's here! 
Yesterday I explored even more, every time I go out, I don't really have a destination, just wander around and see what I can find!  I saw LOTS of ruins.  Roman, Byzantine, Turkish... the works.  And wandered into a post office to buy some p-cards. 

Ended up chatting w/the guy working there, got some suggestions on where to eat/hang out, i.e. where the young people exist on this island.  And made a new friend.  Later that night, it was one of his friend's bday, so we all went out to this cute little bar, there was a live band, all very Greek, it was fun!  We had a good time and it was super handy bc it was all very close to my hotel! 
Apparently the only things that really go on during low season are in the Old Town, very strange going to bars in a place that looks fake, like medieval Disneyland.  Yeah, and there is a castle, too.

Today I was able to sleep in, switch hotels to somewhere cheaper, and see the beautiful weather!  It was amazing out, I was totally going to go swimming, but dipped my toes in, and decided that prob was not going to be as fun as I thought.  Aimlessly wandered and found a part of the Old Town I had not seen yet, some cool fountains.


A very large road in Rodos
A path I took finding my hotel
Colossus of Rhodes
I’ve spent the last two days here in Rhodes and it looks like I might be spending the next week!  Went to a travel agency to find out when the ferries go to Crete, Turkey and back to Athens.  To Crete: only once a week, and that’s Tues. L , Turkey: same.  No good.  Athens: everyday.  Alright, I might be heading to Athens to hang out for a bit before my flight Dec. 2nd  to Brussels!

Rodos is neat, there is the Old Town which is medieval, and the New Town which is just about like any modern town in The States.  I explored the first day and saw the Colossus of Rhodes, which is really non-existent, but they have commemorative statues w/deer on them!  There is so much history here about the wars that were fought, and which countries owned Rodos at which time. 

Old Town is pretty cool, when I first got here, I wandered through the tiny pathways attempting to use a map to find my hotel, which I did relatively easily bc there are maps all over for tourists so we don’t get lost!  There is a wall surrounding the entire Old City and a place where a moat used to be, pretty neat.
A garden outside the gates of the Old Town

There are some mosques here in Rhodes from when the Turks ran the island, and I went and saw some of those, …there are also Turkish Baths, which I did not do.  And there is the Grand Palace, which I will be checking out on Sunday- bc it’s free on Sundays!   
I find myself spending lots of time in cafés, there are so many of them!  It’s great, you can sit there in a very comfortable environment and people watch.  All of these cafés are in the New Town where most of the life is, the Old Town is dead during low season=now. 

Turkish Mosque
Cute courtyard

Oh, man after I left a café this afternoon, I walked along the beach which was gorgeous (It rained earlier today, which is the first rain I’ve run into on this entire trip! And it was MAJOR rain, like rivers  running down the streets, my shoes were soaked, but they needed to be cleaned, so it was OK)  and I came across a beach where there were tons of people!  SWIMMING in the OCEAN in NOVEMBER!!! Wow, awesome!  I’m totally going swimming tomorrow!!  It was pretty warm out, but talking to people apparently the ocean is super warm!  I think I’m going to have to discover this out on my own!

The Gate D'Amboise-One of the Entrances to the Old Town

Beautiful weather!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Santorini to Rhodes

So, what I thought was going to be another lazy night in turned out to be something a bit interesting. 
I went to return my ATV last night around 7:30pm and the guy I rented it from/taught me how to drive, his 28 yr. old girlfriend and some of their friends had made dinner and were waiting for me to get back to enjoy it with them?  I thought it was a little bizarre, but the afternoon before when I had inquired about renting a four wheeler he had also asked me to join them for dinner, which I politely declined.  Well, there was pasta and a bunch of people ready to enjoy it, so, I thought I might as well.  Ended up spending the evening chatting w/these folks in their scooter garage before they gave me a lift to the port before my ferry that night around 11pm.  They were an interesting bunch, the owner of the rental shop was Greek, around 50, his girlfriend was 28, and Albanian, and they had some pleasant Greek friends who joined us.  The conversation pretty much consisted of the Albanian girl and I talking because the others' English was a bit broken. -Reason why I never really caught their names!
Caught my ferry, and began the 13 hour journey to Rhodes. 
Waiting to board I briefly met some Canadians who were making a 24 hour trip to Crete.  Yipes, only because the ferries only go there once a week.  Once boarded, I found the seemingly most comfortable spot to spend the night, and maybe get some sleep.  All was well, thanks to an eye mask which put me out entirely, only to be awoken every stop by the crew making sure it wasn’t my stop.  They are pretty good about making sure everyone gets off when they need to, which was slightly annoying! 
I  ran into the Canadians again (a father, Tom and two sons Blake, and Zack, and Zack’s girlfriend, Mary-Ann) and chatted w/them for a while and later ended up playing board games w/them to occupy the time, which came in really handy, due to delays our trip was extended another 2 hours!
They were heading to Crete to spend about a month there, and invited me to join them if I grew tired of Rhodes or anyplace else! 
Once we finally got into Rhodes, we said our goodbyes, exchanged information and I departed.  
Rhodes was eerie!  I walked to the old city from the port and immediately got an ominous feeling!  The sky was grey and cloudy, the ground looked as though it had rained hours before, and the whole of the Old Town is very medieval looking, which added to the creepiness.  As I walked through the maze of old buildings on cobble stones I found my hostel.  Went out for food and came back to pass out and get some real sleep! 
Something ancient

Wandering through creepy roads in Rhodes...

This was a town we stopped at, it looks fake!

It's almost like a miniature town!

Now off to see some history! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

My first time on an ATV

Hahaha, great, huh? Just like a pro.
Oh, today was fun!  Rented a four-wheeler for the day to explore the island.  I felt like such a fool at first!!  But once I got the hang of it, it was great!  Got the chance to see all kinds of things I wouldn't have been able to, had I not had some wheels.  First stop was a small town, Kamari, then to Perissa, which was a nice little beach.  Met some Austrailians ATVing too, and we all went to the highest point of the island which had incredible views!  To be expected.  I later checked out the Red Beach, wasn't as cool as I would have thought.. Then to the Lighthouse, the Americans I met the other day told me about.  Pretty freaking awesome, like the end of the Earth.  Huge cliffs.  Seas for forever!  Was really amazing.  The quietest I think I've ever heard, or not heard... super peaceful. Perfect place for a snack!
Perissa Beach
The view from the top
Looking out over Santorini
Some plant way up on the mountain, with snails on it!
The Lighthouse

The Edge.
Tonight I'm getting on a ferry to Rhodes.  13hr. journey, yikes.
Bringing along lots of Clementines-they are AMAZING here!- and chocolate, hopefully that will hold me over!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Today was spent in Santorini!  Yesterday I was only able to see a tiny bit of the area before it got dark, but today I spent the majority of my time exploring Thira (Fira).  Wandered into the town and began following the maze-like pathways all of these islands have and then overheard some people speaking English.  It’s funny, when you’re traveling in a foreign country, you get so used to hearing strange languages you don't understand, but when  you hear something familiar your ears perk up.  I ended up meeting two Americans, they were w/a group studying abroad in France and came to Greece for the week.  They ended up having a friend who went to Pratt, haha, the coincidences.
The ride down the path!
The semi-creepy Donkey guy

The three of us took a donkey ride down and back up, sadly didn’t go all the way down to the old port, but part way.  It was slightly awkward and terrifying riding down, hoping that the donkey wouldn’t lose it’s footing!  Although you knew you were going to make it, the way the thing jerked and sort of bounced you was a little unnerving!  Coming back up was a nice breeze in comparison!  After the ride, I met the rest of their group and hung around for a little bit, then decided to take off on my own to explore more.  Fira  was another cute little Grecian town, each one has it’s own je ne sais quoi.  Santorinis are the cliffs, and the fact that it used to be a volcano that when it erupted created the shape it is today, the caldera and the small islands nearby.  Had some lunch at some little restaurant and then wandered around, I find that is what I do a lot of the time, there is no specific goal just meandering through an unfamiliar town.  It’s kinda nice and relaxing, knowing I have no where to be, nothing in particular to do, just experience the new place I’m in.  Also, considering the fact that it is off season and there are not many people around makes it very easy to do!  I walked up as far as I could and then headed toward the ocean and came across a little path that was the highest point in Thira.  From there, I pretty much had the most amazing view of the town and the happening sunset.  It was AMAZING.  Took plenty of photos for evidence as well. 

The End.

Checked out the Ferry schedule for heading to Rhodes, I've got til Tuesday at 11:00pm to explore the rest of the island!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Island Hopping!

So, it's low season, the islands are DEAD.   Well, nearly.  There are no postcards, thats for sure, all the stores that sell them are closed!  I spent a couple days in Mykonos, way cute island, I rented a car to check out the island, it is so small, one hour to circle the entire thing!  The only tourists there were old people..Although I did meet some locals when I asked for suggestions of where to eat that was still open.  Ended up hanging out at their bar and got to try different kinds of Greek alcohol, Ouzo and Tsipouro. 
Mykonos, and the windmills on the hill

A semi-blurry pic of Mykonos Paradise beach
Later I was given a locals tour of the island on a scooter, perfect way to see the place!  Only thing was it was a bit chilly! 
Today I left Mykonos for Santorini.  But in order for me to get there during this time of year, I had to go to Siros, really cool little island, where I was able to kill 6 hours of between ferrys.
More of Siros, every street looked so cute!

I got off the boat w/ my pack and hoped some hotel or hostel would let me stash it for my time on the island.  Found a place and the people were super friendly, I was almost slightly suspicious, they were so incredibly helpful!  I left my bag, and as soon as I walked away, I thought to myself, I hope I did not just make the biggest mistake!  All these ideas kept running through my head, 'Maybe they won't be there when I come back to get my bag?!' or 'My ipod!'  Luckily, after I was able to explore the town without a twenty pound load, I returned to the hotel and they happily handed over my bag, all contents included!  Maybe I'm a bit too paranoid?  Or maybe that 's just good travel precaution...  Now I'm in Paros for the night, and then will continue this journey tomorrow and end up in Santorini by tomorrow afternoon!  Finally.   Kinda cool though, getting to see a couple more islands than I had intended. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mykonos: During Low Season

Just came in on the ferry yesterday morning, nice, long ride over from Athens.  Was pleasantly surprised to find that the place I was staying had sent someone to pick me up, no need to worry about how to get there.  Spent the afternoon wandering around the quaint little seaside village on the North side of the island.  AMAZINGLY beautiful, it's almost hard to believe this place is real, just like I walked into some cheesy landscape painting. 
Leaving Athens, the sunrise!
The most adorable little kittens at the place I'm staying. 
If you can see it, the moon is in the background!