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Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Don’t Panic!

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2010 at 9:29 am

There will be new posts coming soon. After my week of absence in Calliifoooorrniiaaaaaa (OC theme song…)!

I have tickets for The Merchant of Venice for Ashland’s Shakespeare’s Festival (it runs 8 out of the 12 months of the year… um, possibly the longest “festival” EVER?) I’m excited – it’s been forever since I’ve seen a Bard on the Beach performance, though not so long since watching Macbeth at The Globe.

And I am excited to ride cable cars and visit Alcatraz and go tax-free shopping (I haven’t shopped AT ALL since returning from Europe in anticipation for this trip).

Also, there is an atmosphere of psyched-age, owing to the fact that Jason’s mom is going to let us drive her Lexus down because we can’t fit a mini dishwasher and 3 people with luggage in Jason’s car. It can go really fast, really quickly.

By the way, Noam Chomsky is my hero. I once wrote an essay about him for a Psych class. It was the worse grade I’d ever gotten on an essay, ever. I didn’t talk about any of the things she wanted me to talk about. But I disagree with my professor; I thought it was stellar. Just on a misaligned topic. He is a stellar man.

NOAM NOAM NOAM!

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All I want is…

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2010 at 5:29 am

✩ I am VERY excited to drive down to San Francisco next Tuesday with Jason and his successful entrepreneurial little brother, Brian. I have a special California mixtape prepared for when we are cruising down the west coast. I won’t even bother to hide my enthusiasm – it is an AWESOME playlist. I will post it once the drive is over, because I promised to keep it a surprise for the trip!

I am so psyched to start travelling again.

✩ Sometimes, I find the coolest thing on the Internet and I revisit it over and over because it makes me feel so happy and special and uplifted. But then, I show somebody else and they give me a weird look. Well, this is one of those things:

The best thing for a drab day. As far as I know, it only works on tumblr, so I am leading you to my previous blog, where you will witness something that trips me out every time. (Mouse over to play.)

✩ A few days ago, Jason mentioned an observation. Not an observation, more of a hunch. He predicts that almost all nice cars owned by women were purchased for them by men! Because women aren’t that into cars and would never buy an extravagant car when they could buy extravagant shoes instead. Fair point. It follows that, in a few years, he will be buying me a car in my favourite colour:

✩ “When grown people speak of the innocence of children, they don’t really know what they mean.” -Anon.

✩ Charles Dodgson, you probably know him as Lewis Carroll. A spectacular children’s book writer, one of my favourites! You didn’t know that he took nude photos of children, did you?

✩ Michael Cera, dweeby heartbreaker?

✩ The most hilarious line I’ve possibly ever heard in a theatre, spoken by Michael Cera, during Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: “I have to pee on her.” ROFLMFAO! Apparently the movie is not even expected to make back the production cost. (It was not that good, I’ll confess. A bit too Street Fighter geeky.)

✩ I found a sewing pattern for how to make your own knickers, and I will be making some soon! My most recent project was a pillowcase with polaroid photo frames – somewhat successful!

Oh yum! Cupcake widgets!

So bazaar

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2010 at 9:42 am

Ahhh, the Grand Bazaar. It is indeed the answer to my dreams!

I was pretty tempted to be Jasmine for Halloween around the time we passed these.

And just how distracting is one of these things, every 20 seconds?

But after you see the touristy stuff, you always have to check out the non-touristy stuff.

Outside the Grand Bazaar, this is the local market.
Pfft, optometrists are so overrated.

Cleaning before prayers.

Oh, and while we were in Istanbul, I decided it would be a good idea to watch Eclipse for 7 lira (about 5 bucks), because I really do not think it’s worth 10CAN to watch it in a theatre. So we did. It was fabulous. I broke my puzzle ring apart during intermission (yeah, they have that for movies), and spent the rest of my night trying to put it back together.

After Eclipse, we went to a whirling dervish ceremony (called a sema). It was so sweet, except I couldn’t get any good photos because the room was dim and lit with red lights.

A whirling dervish ceremony has 7 parts, and is practiced by dervishes of the Sufi order in order to reach religious ecstasy. The one we saw was performed by men from the Mevlevi monastery just outside of Istanbul. During this part of the whirling, the men have one hand up facing the heavens, and one hand down facing the earth.

We spent the next day sailing along the Bosphorus for a few hours to see the riverside views of both the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. However, we never set foot in Asia during our trip.

And right next to the river, from a decorated boat, you can buy delicious fish kebaps for 4 lira. And the deliciousness of that kebap makes me crave a Filet-o-fish, but it’s hardly the same.

And as soon as you enter one of those under-the-street street-crossing tunnels, it’s like entering another bazaar with extra foot traffic. Insane how much stuff gets sold in this city. It is a big city, over 17 million people, I believe.

One Kurdish man told us it was 20+ million. He also told us about how he was tortured by the Turkish government for years in his youth. Our hostel owner, who is also Kurdish, said that it was very normal for Kurds to be tortured by the Turks. So I did learn something of truth in Social Studies 9.

Aside from checking out more market streets and mosques and tombs of Sultans, we just wanted to relax and drink tea and enjoy the last days of our long journey abroad.

This man makes perfumes. Or something that involves colourful liquids in glass vials, I’m really not too sure.

One more afternoon spent reading in the park in front of the Blue Mosque. It looks like a heavenly palace, doesn’t it? People were super friendly. They stopped to talk to me and ask where I was from and whether I was enjoying Istanbul. I sure was enjoying Istanbul.

And our last night in Europe happened to be the night of the FIFA Final. We watched it over dinner. I didn’t take a photo, but Jason had a Dutch flag on his cheek.

And so that was it. We walked around Sultanahmet to see the Mosque and the Hagia Sophia one last time. The next morning, we woke early and headed to the airport. Lay over in Chicago. We were home the next evening. And the feeling of walking past that waterfall in YVR arrivals is the best feeling.

Our bags were accidentally left behind in O’Hare, because we sprinted through the airport (it’s a big airport) and asked the lady to let us board our flight home right as she was closing the gate (cliche, right?), but our bags didn’t make it. Even as we walked out of the airport to be greeted by our families without any of the belongings we had in the past month, it was the most surreal moment to realize that it was over.

But it’s not really over, because there were so many things we had been looking forward to doing once we got home to Vancouver, and we are still working on doing all of them.

It was weird living apart again. A whole bed to myself felt excessive (but welcomed).

And before we even left Sweden, we had already made secret plans to drive down to San Francisco before the summer was over to celebrate Jason’s 23rd birthday. We leave on Tuesday morning!

Once Constantinople…

In Uncategorized on August 18, 2010 at 10:40 pm

When I first arrived in Istanbul (from Mykonos), I felt self-conscious of the length of my shorts and the drop of my top. I couldn’t tell if people were looking at me funnily because of my shorts or my large backpack. It was probably the backpack. The longer I was there, the more I realized that the contrasts in the city were striking, and the tolerance of what women chose to wear was wide-ranging.

On the same sidewalk, you could see only the eyes of one woman while another looked dressed for the beach. And the contrasts don’t end there. This is truly the city where Europe meets Asia and geographically tries to divide the two with the Bosphorus River.

If you’re a new traveller and want to visit somewhere that hasn’t been hit hard by the tourism bug, Istanbul is the way to go. Most things are cheaper, and the people are super friendly (especially when trying to sell you things, but also when they’re not). The buildings and culture are beautiful and fun to explore. Many people speak English.

Our hostel was in Sultanahmet and was a few blocks away from the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque (met in the middle by parks and public areas with free Wifi – whoo!). On our first night, after dropping off our bags, we walked to the Hagia Sophia – Jason’s dream traveler destination. It was kind of like paradise.

Across from it is the Blue Mosque, strangely lit in orange instead of blue.

But it is blue in the day.

And the Hagia by day.

Inside the Blue Mosque. A space for prayers. 5 times each day. You can always hear the  prayers being broadcasted throughout the city from different mosques – a quintessential sound of the city.

We visited the Hagia Sophia next because it’s about 30 seconds away. Once, it was an Orthodox Patriarchal Basilica (during Constantinople’s heyday), then it was a mosque, and now it’s a museum. I thought it was really neat that you could see a mix of Christian and Muslim art and symbols in every direction.

Right above the mihrab (once an altar), there are still golden mosaics of the Virgin and Son. You can see them both in the background.

View of nave from the balcony.

Hagia Sophia is famous for its many mosaics. Here is one of the most popular ones. It depicts Mary and Jesus sitting in the middle. On their left, Constantine offers a model of his city to Mary. On their  right, Justinian offers a model of the Hagia Sophia.

We stopped by one of these local joints on the side of the street to have some Turkish cuisine. Yeah, it was cheap.

Istanbul is a foodie heaven. Freshly squeezed! (Only bad boys drink orange juice because OJ is dangerous.)

Corn stands everywhere! One guy who sold especially bad corn tried to pick me up while Jason was buying corn off him. Fail.

Then we went to check out the Spice Market!

Mmmm… spices.

Didn’t try this. But, interesting.

I miss the smells of teas and spices and Turkish delight!

Handmade pouches.

He makes sticks of colourful hard candy right before your eyes.

Contemporary art installations in the Basilica Cistern.

Chai tea in a tea house. Jason is looking through a Turkish bath pamphlet of the bath house we end up going to: Cemberlitas.

The Turkish bath experience was pretty amazing. Cemberlitas Hamami (photos) was designed by the architect Sinai, under the instruction of the wife and mother of a Sultan. There is a facility each for men and women. Here is a photo of the marble platform from their website.

Once you walk in, you get changed into a large towel/scarf thing, and are led to lie on a huge heated marble platform to sweat. After you are sufficiently relaxed and sweaty, a lady/man will come and make you get naked then give you a foam bath while you are lying on the platform.

Then, after rinsing you, they scrub you with a scrubber. And they scrub hard. You get a lot of dirty skin flakes. Then, if you’re a guy, you go shower. If you’re a girl, they wash your hair for you next to a fountain and lead you to a hot tub and jacuzzi.

When you’re done, you can go back to rinse next to the fountains or lie on the marble platform some more. It’s glorious.

We also checked out the Grand Bazaar, of course. You can find anything in the Grand Bazaar, and it would take days to check everything out.

I went on a crazy spree for rings. I got some Turkish puzzle rings, which are pretty awesome. They are 4 or more rings that are interwoven into 1 ring. If you take the rings apart it’s very difficult (VERY) to put them back together. I think they are also called “Turkish wedding rings,” apparently so that if you take your ring off to be unfaithful, you won’t be able to put the ring back together.

The ones I got look like this one:

We soon began to head north of Sultanahmet to check out some more popular local places.

Fishing on the bridge.

Dogs are to Athens like ____ are to Istanbul.

And on our way to Taksim, we found another flea market. This one with a disappearing owner. I couldn’t buy an elephant pooh paper photo album that I wanted.

INFLATABLE TANK!

When I left the room that this tank was in, some chick snapped a photo of me and then her dad asked to take a photo of us together. I think she thought I was somebody famous, poor girl, that will be a disappointment!

Taksim is a giant pedestrian shopping street, and it is DEFINITELY a foodie haven.

And Taksim is lit up by lights at night!

What’s for dinner? Bakpot? Bakpot. Mmmmm.

Jewel of the Aegean

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2010 at 9:47 am

Mykonos was the only destination in our itinerary that wasn’t accompanied by pre-booked accommodation. We were betting on our chances of landing at the dock and finding a room then and there. Worked out nicely for our cheque books. Pay attention to this simple math:

Greek economic crisis = local unsettledness + bad international press = less tourism/more hassle to travel = fewer tourists in smaller destinations = less demand for services = more supply for services = more competition = ridiculously low accommodation prices.

On our first night, we stayed in a cute little room in a villa right outside of town offered by a lady named Vasso. The next morning, she moved us to another place that was right in town of Chora, the main town, below the windmills. The room was UNBELIEVABLE! It was nestled right in with the locals, the location itself was superb, the room was great and it had a TV/kitchen/AC and everything, but the bathroom was newly renovated and it was practically underground. It was connected to the main room by stairs and you could peek out and see the city!

Down the streets, our neighbours were airing their laundry out to dry.

Home sweet home.

On our first night, we walked into town to check it out in all its glory at night.

I loved Mykonos’s white giraffe-esque painted streets. I believe the purpose is to reduce the temperature on the island by maximizing reflection of sunlight. It’s just a guess. But it makes sense, I think.

You can’t tell from these quieter photos, but the main town at night becomes a dreamland for shoppers and eaters. The wash of lights on white is surreal and magical – absolutely magical.

Grilled meats to keep his stomach happy.

The businesses here really do strive to be unique in order to attract tourists. I loved this one place we had breakfast. The lady who owned the store made her own baklava (to die for) and cakes and crepes and served them on the little benches that were attached to the side of her store. Loved that place! It was the most adorable setting; walkers-by stopped to take photos of us having breakfast here.

Mykonos has many famous beaches flanked by fancy restaurants and privatized beach huts. But the locals know better; they enjoy themselves wherever sand meets water. This was right by the port, in town.

But truly, Mykonos’s beaches are something else. We bussed out to several different beaches on different days, and we spent hours and hours there lying under beach huts and playing on the beach. We behaved like shameless little children! It’s the kind of fun you look back and smile upon.

We went to many quite excellent beaches along the southern coast of the island, and I don’t remember their names distinctively. I liked Platys Gialos a lot. But they were all very nice. Paradise beach starts pumping house music at 4pm, if you’re into that kinda thing. Which I was not. I was into the tan-swim-tan/sleep-swim cycle kinda thing.

More love for swimming out to rocks.

When you aren’t beaching or partying on Mykonos, you are probably… still wanting to beach and party. Once in a while you feel like eating or shopping or something bizarre like that. Or it’s so hot you just want to take a nap – we did that a lot.

View from our door step in the middle of the day.

View from our doorstep at night. (That chick just sits there at night, but goes away during the day.)

One thing that I was really excited to buy in Greece was organic olive oil soaps. I am a huge believer in olive oil as the cure for everything, including but not limited to lightning. You can cook with it, eat it in so many different ways, condition your hair in it, wash your face with it, moisturize and lubricate with it. It’s just liquid gold, in my opinion. And it’s not just my opinion that matters; the Mediterraneans have been eating and bathing in it for decades! It’s good stuff. I bought a few bars and moisturizers for my mom, and a bunch for myself and several as gifts.

“Let’s eat dinner at home today.” (And this is why we don’t.) (Fail.) (Well, kind of win with the watermelon and Bake Rolls… mmmm.)

I thought Venice was hard to navigate; and don’t get me wrong, it is. But once we were within a few hundred meters of home, we never had trouble finding home. Not so in Mykonos. We were lost on several occasions even when we were mere blocks from home. The streets all look the same!

During the day, the main town’s a ghost town. Everybody is either sleeping, nursing a hangover, or at the beach. Sometimes all three. At night, it’s bustling with people.

Did you know that I am a fan of famous rubble? OH NO YOU DIDN’T? Here are photos to prove it. We took a ferry to Delos. You probably haven’t heard of it. It’s tiny. But trust me, it was pretty epic in its heyday.

Somebody obviously thought these were a great idea at the time.

More street views, because I love them streets.

Jason recently wrote a piece about the Venices of the world. We are taking a photo in front of Little Venice of Mykonos here. So yeah, apparently any place with overhanging balconies over water can be considered to be a “Venice”.

Mykonos’s famous windmills.

On our last night in Greece, we decided to splurge on a great seafood dinner at a restaurant suggested by Lonely Planet. It had a balcony that sat right over the water in Little Venice and had a direct view of the windmills as well as the sunset. I tried to capture all of these aspects in one photo. (Note that you can see the sunset reflecting on the windmills!) We ordered huge seafood pasta dishes. After you ate the mussels, you still had to chow down the delicious pasta. My tummy enjoyed that meal quite a bit!

And Jason was starting to play around with his scampi because he wasn’t sure how to eat it. ATTACK OF THE KILLER SCAMPI! The waitress heckled him for playing with his food while on a date. Yeah, geez!

After dinner, we walked around the Little Venice quarter and found a little alley that led to some gorgeous rocks on the water.

Beautiful.

#1 Sunset?

In Uncategorized on August 8, 2010 at 5:27 am

The trip to Santorini was tough. The speedy catamaran was fine! But the port of Piraeus in Athens was not, for many reasons!

1) Athens’s transit workers were in the middle of a strike. Metros didn’t go all the way to Piraeus that day.
2) Everyone was frantically looking for taxis to take to Piraeus; we were nowhere near the centre of town. Taxis were in short supply.
3) Traffic was terrible, as it always is in Athens.
4) Piraeus happens to be the home of some of the most skilled and active pickpockets in the world. They are notorious.
5) We were frazzled and sweaty and really in a hurry with our heavy backpacks. Plus we didn’t know which dock we were supposed to be at. We didn’t even know where to pick up our tickets.

Thankfully, our boat’s departure was delayed (THANK GOD!) The boat ride itself was a breeze.

So, we arrived. Little did I know that this little island would quickly become my favourite place in the world.

We booked a double room for a pretty little villa in Perissa. They sent someone to pick us up from the port. The owner looked at us, asked if we were a couple, and then promptly went to push our two single beds together, haha! En suite bathroom – what a luxury! Is that a mini kitchen with a fridge? A colour TV? And, what’s this? Air conditioning? And it WORKS?! Leave me here to die, please.

First item on the agenda: get one of these bad boys.

Because I’m so down for getting around like this.

Dope.

Driving into the main town, Thira, for some sightseeing and food. Forget martinis, the only beverage I craved in the heat was Fanta Lemon on ice.

I was in a hurry to do the one thing I really wanted to do in Greece (one of the things), which happened to be riding a donkey. But we didn’t want to take the donkey down the hundreds of dirt steps to the port, because going up/down stairs on donkeys is a pain in the you-know-what. Especially for gentlemen, I should think. So we took the “scenic route” – i.e. 2x as expensive and half as long route, which involved fewer stairs and much nicer views.

I asked the donkey man to take a photo of us, but he didn’t really know how to use my camera, hence the excessive amounts of sky in this photo. But I really like it.

You may remember from my last post that Jason is mildly allergic to animals with hair. He decided he wanted to pet the donkey. The rest of his day was not so enjoyable.

Thira is a city that clings onto the side of the island. Its buildings are necessarily white to reflect the heat of the sun. From afar, the city looks like icing dust. As you can imagine, the view is absolutely gripping. When I’m baller, I will be coming back much more often.

We did some souvenir shopping in Thira before heading off to Oia in the evening on our 4-wheeler (I dubbed it Nimbus 2000). The city of Oia brags to have the most beautiful sunset in the world. I was really curious to find out if this was true, because up until that point all I thought I had to do was hike down to Wreck Beach in the summertime for the most beautiful sunset in the world.

It turns out… Oia is what you could call the city of my dreams. The white and blue have grabbed my heart and won’t let go.

This is the nice little spot we found to watch the sunset from. I love the Aegean, it is pure azure blue.

Now, there’s a sunset, and then there’s a SUNSET! This was definitely the latter. It’s phenomenal that this magical event actually happens EVERY DAY! Believe me, photos do it no justice at all. No wonder the Greeks thought the sun was a god.

Somewhere in this direction we heard applause as some guy’s girlfriend accepted his marriage proposal in front of a cheering crowd of onlookers. Classy.

After the sun had set, Jason and I made the long journey back across the entire island to go home in Perissa. It takes about an hour on our Nimbus, and it’s a pretty sexy ride. So, here I am rockin’ the Nimbus.

And this is a night time view from our villa.

The next day, we went on a day trip to visit the “volcanic wilderness of the world’s largest caldera” and a nearby natural hot spring.

To get to the volcano, we had to take the boat. To get to the boat, we had to climb down to the old port. To get down to the port, we could a) ride a donkey b) walk alongside the donkeys down the hundreds of steps in the hairpin path. Guess which idiotic and hugely regrettable decision we made? Guess who accidentally touched a donkey again?

Whoever it was that decided it was a good idea to let tourists climb an active volcano in the mid-day scorching heat of June, I owe him no thanks. Isn’t this the kind of activity that slaves and prisoners are subjected to for torture? Why are we paying to do this? Is the heat draining my sanity?

Basically, we came to see this. Cool. Back to the boat, guys.

I’ll admit, the view of the main island of Santorini was nice from there. You can see Thira in the background there. A beauty!

Now this! THIS was cool! See that bit of reddish water? That is the colour of iron oxide, resulting from something something that is a hot spring and makes the water kind of warm but dyes your bathing suit… We got to swim in it, and it was so excellent. We jumped into the water right from the boat and swam to it. Uhhh-mazing.

Funny story. I had a cut on my foot and put a bandaid on it. It’d been there for a while so I almost forgot about it. We went swimming in the hot spring. I looked down at my foot and to Jason was like, “OMG! My bandaid looks transparent!” And the look he gave me was pretty precious, as he told me that what I was referring to was not my bandaid, but my bandaid tan. Ew!

I had scrumptious moussaka in Thira for lunch and it was the most memorably delicious thing I’ve eaten in recent memory. Bravo, moussaka chef, bravo!!

Another thing I wanted to do in Santorini was visit all the beaches. And since we had our own mode of transportation, that is exactly what we did. And it was really an unforgettable experience. Every beach was stunning and loads of fun.

This is the first. It’s a tiny beach, and it’s not listed in any tourist list of beaches in Santorini, but it’s a few minutes north of Ammoudi Bay and it’s a great cozy place with excellent waves that are fun and not too overwhelming for swimmers. And it has a rock. I like rocks.

It was here that Jason taught me how to skip stones again, as I had forgotten for many years. A successful endeavor.

I’m like the Little Mermaid, like in Copenhagen! I wish I really was her!

Then, after a few hours at the beach, we decided to walk into Ammoudi Bay. By then we decided that the day was awesome enough that it should just continue being awesome by means of us splurging on a nice waters edge seafood meal here…

View was fab.

The Bay is where they catch their seafood.

Watching the sunset is romantic. But 4-wheeling along an island highway overlooking the caldera while the sun sets behind you is infinitely more romantic, I think. And that’s how we got home.

We spent the next day visiting more beaches. I ARE BEACH MONSTAR! MOAR BEACH!!

Perissa was the beach nearest to us. It is a black sand beach. It’s about a 3min walk from the villa, but we decided it would be more economical to ride the Nimbus down seeing as we had already filled it up with a tank full of gas.

Here is everything you will ever need (minus sunscreen) for a perfect day at the beach. Very sadly, this is the beach where I lost my silver toe ring that I bought from a market in Lund. Ever tried finding jewelry on the beach? It’s hard.

I think we were here for a good 4 or 5 hours. So good. So so good. Come back to me, supermarket tzaziki!

Next beach was the red sand beach. Red from some sort of volcanic activity. As you can tell I am no geologist.

We stayed until the sun began to set in the late evening and played with the camera a bit.

While the sun was going down, we rode all the way to the southern tip of the island to check out Akotiri Lighthouse, one the oldest in this part of the world. Plus the sunset was also pretty magnificent from this angle. And you can see the entire caldera from there. Did I mention that the sun sets a lot in Greece?

While we were down there we were on the lookout for a great tavern to have some local seafood in. We found a friendly looking family-owned one. During the sunset:

After the sunset (i.e. dessert):

The next day, we got some travel food, returned our Nimbus, ate some gyros, and then were on our way to magical Mykonos.

If I could, I’d go back to Santorini in a second! (But not during July and August, when the winds apparently get so fierce that you can hardly step outside.) Neil Patrick Harris was supposedly in Santorini while we were there, but we didn’t see him.

Cradle of Western Civilization

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2010 at 2:20 am

…so that is what they say about Athens. For an ancient western civilizations junkie like me, it was a treat to spend a week in Athens to rediscover the treasures that have been sitting there for centuries and centuries and then some.

BY THE WAY, I GOT TWITTER! Epicfortfancy. You should follow so that I can be a pesky birdie in your ear on your mobile phone and other sophisticated handheld devices!

First thing I did in Athens was to find that my bottle of Bath and Body Works moisturizer had exploded all inside my bag. Everything I owned (literally) smelled of grapefruit and was creamy to the touch. Jason and I decided it was a good time to make a laundry run.

While waiting for our cycle to finish, we found a book that changed the dynamic of the rest of our trip: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (you can bet your ass he’s Swedish). Since neither of us could put it down, we argued over who would get to read it during our downtimes for the next little while. While in the airport before heading to Istanbul, we bought the second book in the series. When we got home, we bought the third book (in hardcover, since Canada is so disappointingly behind – everywhere else already has the paperback version).

It’s a great series; Swedish at heart – highly recommended.

What’s there to love more than a man who does laundry for you? Look, he’s even folding my undies for me. This is the balcony of our hostel room.

View from our balcony in the other direction.

Newspaper boxes. They seem to be empty. I spy with my little eye…

Our hostel was down the hill from the Acropolis so we decided to check that out first. We got in for free seeing as we are EU students (yay Lund!).

As I have mentioned many times, I am fascinated by famous rubble. This is the Theatre of Dionysus, where I am pretending to enjoy a dramatic performance by some spectacular dramatist such as Sophocles or Aeschylus or Euripides, during a festival in honour of the god of wine (and orgies and general madness).

Actually, it’s amazing to imagine how Athenians used to sit here and watch plays like The Persians, which glorified Greeks after their unexpected triumph over Persian invaders. Or how they watched the tragedies of Oedipus and Antigone, whose stories – among others’ – are so pervasive in western thoughts and ideas that it doesn’t feel like visiting a foreign place at all, but as returning to the true epicentre of western culture and psyche.

From what I know of ancient Greek theatre architecture (from IB English class), this is probably what remains of the base of the skene (the backdrop/changing rooms) behind the orchestra (performance stage).

This is a theatre that they’ve renovated to hold modern performances.

Ah, the parthenon. Of course, none of the decorations are on it anymore. Most of them are here.

From Greek, we get the word “exodus”. Like in the Bible.

This is the Rock of Areopagus, which was classically a court of appeal for criminal cases and such. The god Ares was supposedly tried here, as well as Orestes (Homer, anyone?) for killing his mother.

What’s left of the friezes and metopes and other statues from the Acropolis are on display in the new Acropolis Museum (opened a year ago). My favourite part of the museum was the cafe, which had a nice view of the parthenon. The parthenon’s coolest pieces are actually in the British Museum.

It’s not satisfying to walk through the Acropolis Museum and read that a certain statue’s head was in Copenhagen, torso was in London, and only the arms remain in Athens for display. Of course, in my wildest dreams, they will be brought together and glued back into a comprehensible whole – but that’s highly improbable. Everyone wants a piece of the spoils.

I don’t have photos of the pieces of frieze and other stuff. It’s depressing to see how little of it is left in Athens. They did have a lot of other art and artefacts, but they were hardly the main attraction.

In the evening, we walked around some gardens in the city and enjoyed some delicious yoghurt.

You may have heard about Athens’ notorious wild dogs. Yeah, they’re everywhere. Here’s one chillin’ in front of the Parliament during the changing of the guard (every hour) in front of the unknown soldier.

It’s one of the more interesting changings I’ve seen. Check out the awesome shoes! I couldn’t pull those off, but they rocked them with knee tassels.

In Syntagma Square (syntagma meaning “constitution,” of course, those Greeks), youth were just hanging about doing what they do. Skateboarding, chatting, sitting around in a candlelight vigil for the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death.

We walked into the shopping district to find a good place to eat. This place was really cool, and was JUST out of sight of the Parthenon, which meant the a la carte prices were automatically much cheaper. Souvlaki. Aww yeah.

On our second day, we went on a day trip to Delphi. As in, the Oracle of Delphi. For the unhistorically inclined among you, that is where Leonidas went to see the oracle in the movie 300. That battle actually happened, by the way. It was the Battle of Thermopylae, Spartans against Persians, yes there was even a hunchback traitor, I believe. But I can’t really comment on the accuracy of the movie as a whole – even though Sparta was a warrior state, I doubt every soldier was that jacked. Come on. In my your dreams.

This is what’s left of the oracle. Not to be confused with the Oracle from The Matrix, though the phrase “temet nosce” was associated with both. It means “know thyself,” figure it out.

We got up here in an air-conditioned coach, but make no mistake, this is a very long and steep climb for those who had travelled here from all over Greece see the oracle in antiquity. You can’t even see the water far below in this photo. They made that climb with great bravery and faith.

In 300, Leonidas’s sceptical wife called the Oracle of Delphi a “drunken teenage girl” (or something like that, forgive me, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie). Her comment isn’t too far from truth. The priestess was always a woman (though not necessarily young) – she was called the Pythia, and was in charge of delivering the words of Apollo to the seekers while she was in a frenzied overtaken state.

Of course, most of what she said what unintelligible (she was probably high on gas from the geological chasm below the temple). A priest would then reshape what she said in a vague and enigmatic prophecy that the advice seeker would have to interpret himself. Outcomes of wars were determined in such a way. The oracle would never be wrong; only the interpretation of the prophecy could be wrong. A good way to keep your clients coming back, for sure.

We went to the Delphi museum afterwards as well, but I was distracted trying to take photos of Jason’s face while he was eating.

Oh, I saw a group of ants moving an insect carcass. Gross but awesome.

And some truly inspiring messages in graffiti.

Back at the rooftop bar at our hostel. Hey there, Parthenon, how ya doin’?

Jason also saw an apparition of me on our balcony, so he snapped a photo.

Now, Sunday morning is when they have the big weekly fancy changing of the guard, so we went to see that as well. Still fawning over those shoes.

We then visited a pop art gallery. We thought it was just an art display, but it was actually a gallery. As in they sold original prints. It was so wonderful. Who knew blown up comics could sell for so much?

Next in line for Sunday? The Sunday market. While we were walking there, we saw these guys packing up their stuff to avoid the cops. All their illegal replica stuff is laid out in a cleverly designed mat that folds right up into a bag with a snap of the wrist. Europe’s the place to be if you want plenty of options for replica designer bags. You don’t even have to look for them, they will find out. They will for sure find you.

Goody’s is the Greek version of MacDonald’s. I love their interpretation of “western” foods. Yummy.

SUNDAY MARKET! I was really excited for this, until I realized what was being sold here. It was basically a junk sale.

I bought a full and new bottle of Pantene conditioner for 2 euros. It was something my hair badly needed, and it was legit.

2 euro gyros were my heroes. That thing is like the size of my face. This is the actual Athens Flea Market. It was easier to shop here, and the food was to die for. I miss it like no other.

I also love the contrast of old and new in old cities like Athens, Rome, Beijing, you name it.

What’s just as good as meeting up with Italian friends in Italy? Meeting Greek friends in Greece =). Helloooo, Sandy!

What a darling! Travelling in Athens made me want a puppy. Too bad the boyfriend is allergic to shedding animals. Maybe I’ll get one of those cute hairless ones… do they even make dogs like that?

We are suckers for Lonely Planet recommendations, just like everybody else. We walked up all along Monastiraki (if you’ve done this, you will understand the harassment we received from restaurant owners all down the street) to find Savas, the home of the most excellent kebaps and souvlaki and stuff. Found it! Aha!

Seen ’em in Paris. We were prepared for them here. Got the hell out of the way ASAP, before rioters started setting police cars on fire and stuff. This was the transit workers strike. Oh, Greece. Oh, Greece!

We get it, there are two kinds of you. We are presently G-ingTFO.

Bagel guy: “Hey guys, want some bagels? Economy sucks for me too.”

Puppy: “Oh, what’s up?”

Sk8erbois: “My parents do this all the time.”