Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Peloponnese

I have so much more Greece to tell you about! When I last left off, I was recovering from neck pain, developing a Counterpain addiction and heading to Poros on the ferry.

On the ferry

Poros was the gateway to a significant amount of our time in Greece. Poros was where we met up with our friends and the springboard to our time in the Peloponnese.

The Peloponnese is such a beautiful part of Greece with a lot of history. We spent our first full day there on a roadtrip. (Driving a stick shift down hilly, windy roads in Greece, when the closest we normally get to manual is steptronic - now that's what we call a vacation!)

We started by exploring Nafplion.

Nafplion has a very Venetian feel, minus the canals. And it should. The city was held by the Venetians before the Ottomans got their hands on it.

The city also boasts a beautiful harbor and lots of cafes from which to take in the view of the Venetian fortress (Bourtzi) that had historically defended it.

Oh, and it also had communists, which Alex totally loves.

From there, we made our way to Mycenae - an ancient hilltop palace complex discovered in 1874.

Some of the carvings and stone walls are intact (or maybe rebuilt), including the Lion Gate (below right).

Alex posing it up with the architectural elements of Mycenae

Me doing the same

And outside the main city was the Treasury of Atreus - a Mycenaean beehive tomb. I made Alex pose with the masonry.

The structure reminded me of the beehive huts in Ireland: very cool, impressive building, but fairly empty. Look around for 15 seconds and you've pretty much seen it. So I occupied myself with trying to get a picture of the inside, since it was pitch black and I didn't have my flash with me.

In Mycenae, I started on my quest to take better self-portraits of us. I never quite perfected it, but it's worth showing you my progress throughout the trip - so here we have my first attempt.

After Mycenae, we proceeded to Epidavros to see its near-perfect condition theater. Since the city is relatively remote, the masonry here was never taken and so had remained fairly intact since its original construction in the 4th century BC.

We also explored the museum, which contained a treasury of items found at the site during restoration.

And we made another attempt at a self-portrait... getting better.

And then we drove home - because driving in Greece along cliffs in a stick shift is Alex's specialty. Um, well, it's more his than mine! And he did an amazing job - he even let me stop to take a picture. :)

I still have a lot to share, but that's enough for one day. Kudos if you made it to the end! I should have a prize or something!
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Monday, July 13, 2009

This weekend

I went to a baseball game with Patrick at Wrigley.

Can you tell?

Go Cubs Go! Click here to read more!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pain in the neck. Oh, and Athens.

"Ouch. Ow. Ooh. Ouch."

"Ow. Ow. Ow."


"Kathleen, are you OK?"

"Ummmm, (whimper, sniffle, etc) no."

And so began our first full day in Athens. At 3am. I'm awesome to travel with.

We had arrived in Athens late the previous day, after making the most of a five-hour layover in Munich. So we had a pretty low key night, walking around
Plaka, eating our first bit of real Greek food, and taking in the amazing view from our hotel's rooftop bar.

And just when I thought I could claim victory over the vacation-spoiling demons, just when my upset stomach that plagued me in Munich was dissipating, yep, right about then, I woke up with some seriously intense neck pain.

I couldn't sit. I couldn't stand. I couldn't lay down. It was 3am, I was exhausted and I couldn't sleep if I tried. And I LOVE sleeping! So I whimpered. Depending on whose version of the story you believe, I either quietly winced in pain, whispering ow's and ouch's as I tried to find a comfortable position to exist in, awaking my light-sleeper of a husband OR I complained about my predicament, louder and louder, until my gem of a husband woke from his deep slumber to tend to me.

Either way, I didn't know whether to sit or stand, scream or cry, breathe deeply or hold my breath, and Alex was by my side, trying to help.

As the more lucid member of our party of two, Alex took charge, called our insurance company, fed me Advil, figured out which hospitals I could go to in Athens, put me on the phone with a nurse and hopped in a cab in the middle of the night to find Acetaminophen (Tylenol) at the nurse's suggestion. He's pretty much my knight in shining armor.

Apparently they don't have Acetaminophen in Greece, but they do have Counterpain - a BenGay-type balm that gave me the ability to sleep a few more hours.

Oh, I do love it. So when we woke up the next morning, I applied a heavy dose of Counterpain and we made our way to see the Acropolis.

After some quality sight-seeing, we needed some nourishment, so Alex and I made our way back to our lovely hotel,

and had breakfast on the rooftop

where we took in the view of the Acropolis once again.

After breakfast, it was time to check off the next item on our list - the Greek National Museum. (After applying more CounterPain, and briefly wondering - how much Counterpain is too much? Will I develop an addiction? A dependence? Will this burn my skin? And then deciding that I didn't care.)

We added a stop at the Cycladic Art Museum for good measure.

And then made our way to the ferry to Poros, where we met up with our friends Dave and Ruth, Ruth's family and other friends. Oh we had so much fun there! I nearly forgot about my neck pain! And nothing else went wrong! At least not in Poros! :)

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Willkommen in Munchen!

The vacation recount begins...

On our way to Greece, Alex and I had a long layover in Munich (5 hours). So we decided to make the most of it and head into town to pass the time. It was a quick trip but a great idea!

The S-Bahn (train) runs directly from the airport to Marienplatz: the center of town - right in front of the Rathaus (townhall), home of the Glockenspiel. The Glockenspiel is essentially a giant cuckoo clock in the center of town - a tourist trap that plays at 11am (and noon and 5pm in the summer). Without having to make a special trip, we emerged from the train stop just as the Glockenspiel began to chime and managed to watch it for a few minutes before deciding we had better things to do. :)

From the Glockenspiel, we explored Munich and saw as much as we could of its distinctly German architecture.

Then we made our way to the Frauenkirche - Munich's cathedral (visible in the first skyline picture above).

We got up close and personal with the Frauenkirche's domes by climbing to the top of one of the towers.

We took in the view from the top.

And then, because a trip to Munich without a beer is an incomplete trip to Munich, we went to the Hofbrauhaus.

Biere (Beers)

Biergarten (Beergarden - isn't this helpful?!?)

Alex and I in the Biergarten.
I may not look like it here, because my hair did a nice job of surviving the travel and I photoshopped some color into my skin, but I was deathly ill during this adventure. On the train into town, more than once, I was certain I was going to be sick and it wasn't going to be pretty. I gave serious consideration to whether ruining my sweater or my jacket was a better idea and decided on my jacket because (a) it was less expensive, (b) I have another jacket that is perfectly fine at home and (c) it would do a better job of protecting the commuters I was sharing the train with. Yeah, that bad. Fortunately, through the powers of serious concentration and deep breathing, I was able to save the commuters of Munich from a miserable morning. Is this too much information? Anyway, none of this stopped me from having a beer at the Hofbrauhaus, because (a) how can you go to Munich without having a beer in a beerhall? and (b) well, I'm an idiot.

Real Bavarians!

I survived Munich, barely, and we were back at the airport, without a hitch, in time for our flight to Athens. I'll tell you about that later.

P.S. Hope everyone had a happy 4th!
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