25 September, 2006

I'm BAAAAAAAAACK

Well, I finally made it back to Castellon amost 3 months to the day that I left this sweet city. It feels really good to be "home". I have been living out of a suitcase more or less the whole time and to finally have a bedroom to myself and all my stuff organized in my anal way is a great feeling.

I am forever grateful for Andi and her boyfriend for letting me stay in their flat in Vienna for 2 weeks and so excited to have been able to have a vacation in Greece with Sandy and her mom. I know it seems to some of you that I am actually on a permanent vacation, but it's real life for me and the Greece trip was the first "real" vacation I have had since April. I still have 2 term papers to write (suggestions are greatly suggested!)

I had two non-paying job/volunteer offers, one in Tailand and the other in India...the problem is that I actually need to earn a little $ now, so I regretfully had to turn both offers down and I now am searching for a job here in Spain. I will probably will teach English or something, as I have a meeting on Monday with an owner of a school in Valencia (about a 45 minute train ride from Castellon). I sent her my CV and she was impressed with my vast experience with children. I also received another lead from my roommate R. For now, I am just writing, researching and relaxing...the three R's...

Lasting Impressions...



donkeys...



This view from the boat shows the town of Fira. In order to get up to the city or down to the sea, a person must make one of 3 choices 1.) walk the jagged stairway, 2.) take a donkey on said jagged stairway or 3.) take a cable car.
We opted for the stairway going down to the port where we caught a boat ride to the volcanic island. After the boat trip, I braved the stairs and took off climbing all 588 of them. Along the way I passed donkey's going down and up with passengers on their backs. Poor donkeys, forced to lead such a sucky life...maybe they buck off a passenger or two a year for revenge, I would if I was a donkey...

24 September, 2006

Volcanic Island

We took a boat ride to a small volcano off Santorini Island. There was a natural warm spring that is the darker brown water you see in the photo. Our boat docked in the water and we had to swim quite a ways to the springs, which was unfortunate, since Wanda really wanted to go to it, but she couldn't have made the swim (no life jackets). You can see the people below the white building. Before anyone went in the water, the captain gave a warning that there were jelly fish in the water and anyone allergic to them should not chance swimming to the springs....like anyone would know if they were allergic... ha ha
Sandy and I took the chance and swam to the springs. Some people got stung and I got just a tiny sting on my arm, but nothing major. Sandy and I just swam and didn't try to watch out for them while we were in the water, because the people doing that were freaking out more. The worst part was swimming back to the boat and hearing the people on the boat were say "look out there is one, Hey, to your left I see one, etc" as they pointed everywhere. I wanted to say "shut the hell up, you guys are not helping!"

room with a view


Not too shabby to walk out your front door to the pool! especially when it was only 55 euros a night

Sssssantorini.....


The island of Santorini. We took a 5 hour cruise over to this island to finish off our trip. We planned to spend the last 5 days of our trip on this island. It turned out to be the best ending to a most memorable trip.We took an hour walk along through various small towns each with it's own remarkable views. We turned a corner and saw these 4 dogs sleeping in a row in the shade.

Playing with my camera...

I found this setting on my digital camera! It allows one person to take the photo of the other and then they switch places and both can appear in the same photo... It started off, well let's just say, not so good...


Sandy did a much better job than me, although I was lacking important body parts! (maybe she figured that if she cut off my hands, I could not subject her to anymore photo sessions.)


The final result! It still cracks me up to see this photo, since by this time we had choked down a couple shots of bad Ouzo (a greek speciality), but it seemed to have improved our ability to finally figure out how to make this shot work...although my hands are still somewhat missing...hmmm....

Delphi, Greece


We rented a car and drove to the town of Delphi (about 3 hours northwestish of Athens). We spent 2 relaxing days there, well I say relaxing in the sense that it is a very small town and not much to do except hike to see ruins. We had lunch at a restaurant and the view was definitely better than the food.

Belting out a tune in the Ancient theatre...

We then hiked UP to the archological site, The Santuary of Apollo and then DOWN to more ruins (an ancient gymnasium) which you can see over my rt. shoulder in the photo and then back up and over back to the town.






Ahhh...Athens...


My friend Laurie (a.k.a. "google Laurie) advised me on my trip itinerary so we spent 2 days in Athens, one day for Sandy and Wando to rest up from their long flights and one day to tour the Acropolis. It was amazing and the views incredible. Luckily we vacationed there in Sept. because July and Aug. are horribly crowded and the weather is muggy and hot. By having our holiday at the end of summer I was able to find great deals on hotel rooms (55 Euros a night for 3 people) and being a student, I got into every museum and archeological site for FREE! Gotta love that!

By Chance...

I do not believe in “chance meetings”. I believe that things in life happen for a reason, although many times that reason is not realized until much later or perhaps, never. Sometimes there are just too many perfect circumstances involve to meet again “by chance”.

I do not know “why” the Lockwood family is back in my life, but I am truly thankful that they are. I was flying into Athens from Vienna, they from Hawaii. Sandy and Wanda’s London flight was delayed 3 hours, so I took the Underground metro to my hotel, instead of waiting for them to get in. There are probably around 15 metro cars for each train and they leave about every 30 minutes from the airport, so to have the Lockwoods end up in the same metro car as me at the same time was an amazing phenomenon. I was sitting calmly trying to not look touristy (while reading my Let’s Go guide to Greece) when I heard a vaguely familiar voice. I looked up and thought hmmmm….that woman looks just like June Lockwood. I then heard the unmistakable voice of her husband Frank. I felt a surreal calmness as I said “Frank? June?” I received a blank look from Frank but I could see the wheels churning in June’s mind. To give them credit, I was not the young blond girl they new from Hawaii. I was 11 years older, had redish hair and glasses. Once I said my name, the recognition came to their eyes, although followed with the same look of disbelief. Frank and June were accompanied by their daughter Sarah (a beautiful 15 year old…a far cry from the toddler I remember) and Frank’s uncle Steve, a full blooded Greek who’s knowledge of the language came in handy when deciphering menu’s.

I was able to spend dinner the first night in Athens with them and although there are over 200 Greek Islands, “by chance” we were going to the same one (Santorini) at the same time later in the week. We met up again for one more wonderful Greek dinner together and now with the advancement of technology (email was foreign to me in 1995) we will be able to keep in touch easily.

I am blessed…and sometimes wonder (to quote the Pet Shop Boys) “what have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this”?

at our "Peace Party"

Oh, yeah I'm so cool!
NOT!

We had a get together at Andi's flat before I left. The food and drinks were a bigger hit than the cigars! ha ha

Andi and Jorg...



Did I say "Never a dull moment with the two of them"??


They invited me to Germany with them to visit Jorg's family. Although I speak not a word of German (except for the occasional, Gezuntite) his family accepted me graciously...and when I say family, I mean his entire family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. It was a large gathering with tons of yummylicious food!

Biking in the Czech Republic


After the Austria Program, I was graciously invited to stay in Vienna with my new classmate and friend Andi and her boyfriend Jorg. I ended up staying with them for 2 weeks and loved every minute of it. Andi and I became great friends and it was never a dull moment being around the two of them.

One day we took a day trip to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, rented bikes and biked all along the Vltava River. We had packed a picnic lunch and stopped to have lunch in the vineyards along the way.

Gratz, Austria




I was able to spend a day in Gratz with Biviana and Christoph, a wonderful young couple who are full of energy and love. They have the cutest cellar apartment and they were the perfect hosts. They took me on a whirlwind day tour of Gratz, which luckily is not a very big town. We toured the Schlossberg Castle and the view was impressive but the walk up to it was challengingly steep.