Hello all – long time no see!
It’s been a few days since my last post, unfortunately I haven’t had terribly reliable internet recently, plus it’s just been super busy. Oh well, back now! Let’s back track a bit…
Last we spoke we had arrived into Athens and gotten settled into the hotel I believe. All of us enjoyed our time in Athens, we ventured out quite a bit, really enjoyed some of the little restaurants in the area (oh the food… THE FOOD!!!!), Mom loved shopping – everywhere. Mom and Dad saw the Acropolis, the Parthenon and some other interesting areas of Athens, and we were around for a huge protest (well not huge, but big) of Cleaning Ladies… I think. It may have just been the Cleaning Ladies from the Finance Ministry. Not entirely sure, but they certainly made a lot of noise and made themselves known.
It was amazing to see how many police were now deployed throughout Athens! Last time I was there the police presence was minimal, not terribly noticeable, just normal. This time it was, what I would describe as New York levels! Police on every block in the downtown area, and it was crazy to see the trucks full of riot shields and equipment near the protests should those get out of hand. They were certainly prepared.
Meanwhile I made it out to see the Panathenaic Stadium this time around… last time I was there I just saw it in passing on a walking tour, this time I paid the three euro and went in. Beautiful stadium, really cool tunnel, I sat in the “throne” area reserved for the king and queen, just quite enjoyable. I did a lot of walking through Athens as well, very much enjoyed that.
We also ventured out to an Island that I hadn’t been to before, Aegina. Last time I went to Hydra…. honestly I’d say I enjoyed Hydra a little better, but we didn’t really explore too much of Aegina so it could have been interesting too. We took a Flying Dolphin boat over to the island and spent some time along the harbour front shopping, eating, etc. before heading back to Athens for our last dinner there, which we had at a great restaurant that I had been to before, and that we had visited a couple of times this trip. Lovely server there who we got to know, and they had a resident cat! So Mom and I both liked that.
And that was pretty much Greece… great to be back, great food, great people. We both had early flights in the morning on Friday (yesterday) so we took off for the airport. We were both flying Aegan, me to Zurich, them to Heathrow for a stopover, but mine was a bit early so we said goodbye in the train station and I jumped over to my gate. Nice flight, Aegan is actually really good. I like the little candies they give you :p they also served a meal and drinks – on a 2.5hr flight! Would happily fly them again.
Only a 1 hr time difference from Athens to Switzerland, I think it was around 10:30am local time when I landed. I caught the 11:13am train from Zurich to Bern, which is a little crazy expensive for a 1.5 hour train ride… almost 50 euro! Good train though, quick ride, so *shrug* whatcha gonna do.
I met Jana, who my family had hosted when she was with the Rotary Exchange Student program at our home, at a Starbucks by the train station as well as a friend of hers, Sam, who is also visiting around now. Bern is absolutely lovely – beautiful city. Small in that it’s not too far of a walk to get anywhere, but big enough that there’s a lot to see and do. She has a pretty big family, they’re all here as well, and her and her sister share an apartment, which is where both Sam and I are crashing while we’re here!
Once I got in I got settled quickly and then we went for a great walk to the Rose Garden around here, beautiful place, through the old city, also very cool. I got the super quick tour – the mascot, if you will, of Bern is bears, so they actually have live bears here as well – we got to see them poop just as we came up to the enclosure :p “hi!”. Her mother is a minister so we saw her church – beautiful old building. Everything is so well kept up here. Had lunch in the Rose Garden, took a stroll down to the river, which has a really wicked current to it – randomly ran into one of her sisters on the way (small town!) before going to see another one of her sisters down by the river to grab some sun and jump in the water.
I’m a bit of a baby and I wasn’t a huge fan of the freezing cold water, so I let them go while I dipped my feet in, though I’ve agreed to go in tomorrow regardless if we take a blowup boat up the river and ride down. It’s actually surprisingly hot here – I was thinking it would be around 18 or so, it wound up being about 28 yesterday, same temp as Greece roughly, so very nice. Today is a bit cooler, but not by too much.
After all that we returned to the apartment, I spent some time relaxing and catching up, Jana got dinner started. Her apartment is very nice – a kitchen, two bedrooms, living room and a balcony, but it’s not huge… that being said, we had her entire family including significant others and a friend or two over, about 11 people at it’s peak I think, all on the balcony eating this amazing meal they had cooked up, all of us a tightly around the table :p it was fantastic! Great to meet her family, wonderful people, super nice and quite funny – it was just a lot of fun.
FIFA was on yesterday of course with the World Cup, we could hear one of the bars down below us every time a goal was scored. I picked the Dutch for the first game (hey I like the Netherlands!) and they won, so naturally I thought if I picked Australia for the second that would happen too – sadly it did not. Sorry Aussies – I still like you though. We stayed up until I think about 1:30 or 2 to watch close to the end of the Aussie game, crashed pretty hard (up at 5:30am for the flight!) and that… was the day.
Today I got up around 8:30 or so and decided I should probably get the final flight booked – finally. I decided to leave here on Wednesday and do a one day stopover in Lisbon. It’s a lovely spot, easy flight, so why not. Tried it book it online but their payment system is not very happy, so I wound up having to call them to get it processed. Meh. But I’ve got it booked – finally. So that’s the last little bit of my trip all finalized 🙂 I do need to grab a hostel, but that won’t be a problem – tons of great spots to stay in Lisbon.
So that’s booked, we went to a cookie factory this morning – Kambly. I haven’t seen the cookies at home, but apparently they are in Canada, as well as many other places world wide. The reason we went is because Sam and I caught wind of the fact that they have an unlimited sample policy, and about 75 cookies to try. And try them we did.
I made it through about 15 (duplicates of a few), we saw a video on how they make them and all that fun stuff, and just generally enjoyed the visit! On the way back we took a detour through a bit of the town (Lucerne) and saw some of the hillside and beautiful scenery along the way. Absolutely perfect. We went up a bit and took some pictures from the peak – Switzerland is beautiful!
And that was the start of the day! We made it back to the apartment, Jana and Sam were off to a wedding, I stuck around to relax a bit, catch up online and grab myself a SIM Card (great price here – 10 CHF for 1gb), now I’m back here at the apartment again (I navigated my way into and back out of town two separate ways – go me), Sam will be back in a bit at which point we’re going for a hike up a mountain and grabbing some dinner up there!
So I bid you adieu for now, I might post again tonight through probably not, more likely tomorrow. Ciao!