Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Home safe

Well I'm finally back home. The summer went brilliantly and it's sad that I have to get back to reality. Thanks to everyone for reading this blog and keeping up with my journies. Stay tuned for more of these in the future on future travels. Bye!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Selling out before returning home

Well as you can see just above this post, there is a new lovely addition to the blog...Google ads! As I begin to order books and shell out money for the fall semester along with spending an entire summer in Europe I have realized that I'm broke. By adding just a small eyesore to my blog I can make some dough so that Google can advertise. While I'd rather not resort to that, my checking account tells me I need to. Sorry!
(Update: Feb. 20, 2007 - I disabled the Google ads due to a lack of traffic. If I travel again sometime soon I will start a new blog and possibly reactivate them, but for now with such little activity, I'd rather keep the presentation nice.)

In other news, our time in Portugal here has been very nice. On Tuesday we went up North along the coast to visit a colleague of Grandpa's, Joao. His family prepared an incredible meal at his beach house as our family joined his for the afternoon. Little Jack was happy fishing in the Lagoon, Maddy laying on the beach, the rest of the family talking with Joao's family and reading and it seemed that for once on our trip everyone was satisfied, imagine that. We told Joao that we might have to come back very soon...maybe sooner than we think...maybe before we leave Portugal.

Anyways, tomorrow is our last day in Sintra before heading into Lisbon. The Grandparents leave for England Saturday morning to visit with the Holts. Sunday morning my mom and Bob take off and I will spend the day with Dave, Clare and the kids before my flight to Milan later that night. Sunday night I will spend in Milan's Malpensa Airport, unfortunately, because this is the most convenient option for me. My flight back to the states is early Monday morning to Boston. After a 3.5 hour layover in Boston I finally will fly back to Denver (safely and with all of my luggage of course), thus ending my 2+ month excursion in Europe. Can't wait to share photos, stories and gifts with everyone! Talk to you all soon back in the States~

Monday, August 14, 2006


Bear with me as I continue to upload my thousands of photos from the summer. I will eventually organize them into albums which will appear on the right hand side of my Flickr page and should be easier to understand the photos which too will all be labeled eventually.

All in Portugal

Well after flying through the eye of the storm (AKA London Heathrow) and weathering it, I made it to Lisbon without much trouble. I had to be screened three separate times at Heathrow and all I had was a clear plastic bag with my glasses, wallet and passport in it, but I made it safely to Portugal and all 3 of my checked bags made it as well. I do admit it was pretty funny walking around Terminal 1 in Heathrow seeing people carrying only a clear plastic baggy with their essentials in it.
Once in Lisbon, Bob and I had to pickup the rent-a-car and navigate through the small windy Portugeuse roads to Sintra, a small town up in the hills. Eventually, we found our villa and the street that it occupies which none of the locals who we stopped and asked seemed to even know existed. Once we were there it was worth my long boring day of travel. Stepping into the house was like stepping into the 17th Century, with rooms hidden everywhere and pots and such hanging from the ceiling of this old residence. We woke up the Grandparents to say hi and we saw my Mom, Dave and Clare before calling it a night. I was ready for some sleep because of the sheer boredom of my trip. No books, magazines, pens or iPods can really do that to ya. But at least now I know the safety card of the Boeing 737 cover to cover by heart. Oh well, at least we are all here now and I am looking forward to a week of relaxing before I have to go back to 'reality.'

Friday, August 11, 2006

Voyage to Portugal

Well we are still in Istanbul, but tomorrow we travel to Lisbon. Yesterday as I'm sure many of you heard, a terrorist plot was thwarted in London. Of course there were stict security measures enforced to those flights that did make it out today. Of course too, I fly out of Heathrow tomorrow en route to Lisbon. İ'll let everyone know how it goes once I arrive safely in Portugal.

Besides that headache, our trip here in Turkey has been great. We have: visited the largest and most important mosques in town, taken a ferry ride up the Bosphorus to the Black Sea, walked around the Asian side, visited the Beğoylu neighborhood, seen the Aya Sofia, Whirlıng dervishes, Basilica cistern, shopped at the Spice and Grand Bazaars and more. All in all a great trip, I hope tomorrow isn't too bad, but we will see. Word has it that there are no carry-ons allowed, only glasses, medicine and travel documents in a clear plastic bag, hope they don't lose my luggage again!

Monday, August 07, 2006


Well Bob and I fınally made ıt to Turkey. Our hotel ıs sıtuated ın a perfect locatıon ın the Old Town, just a few mınutes walk to all the major sıtes. As I type thıs, I hear a very loud Muslım prayer goıng on outsıde whıch occurs several tımes a day at the Mosque next to our hotel and ıs projected through a loudspeaker ınto the streets.

Today we saw a lot. In the mornıng we walked through the famous Blue Mosque. After that, we ventured over to the Tokapı Palace and spent several hours explorıng the 'Versaılles' of the East. We then toured the Harum, or the Sultan's prıvate quarters and thıs well defınately worth seeıng. Fınally, we went underground to see the Basılıca Cısterns. These are underground cısterns supported by hundreds of columns buılt by Justınıan. The set up down there was very unıque and extraordınary. There are ghostly lookıng carp swımmıng through the waters, water drıppıng from the roof of the cısterns and lıghts ıllumınatıng the columns. Also, we saw the two mısterıous Medusa head columns before exıtıng.

Wıth 5 days left here we hope to stıll get to the Aya Sofıa, Mosaıc Museum, Grand Bızarre, ferry across the Bosphorus to the Asıan sıde of Istanbul and more.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Well it sure took long enough, but finally I'm here in Athens. After my incredible time in Dubrovnik I had almost a day and a half of traveling. At 11pm Wednesday night I caught an overnight ferry to Bari, Italy which took 8 hours. It got a little chilly out there on the Adriatic, but it wasn't bad. Once in Bari I had 12 hours to kill. I went to an Internet cafe for a few hours, got some food and then basically ate and read a lot. Bari, despite being in Italy, is not a very safe place to walk around with 3 bags. The differences between Northern and Southern Italy are astonishing. Basically, the entire South is still run by the mafia and there were a bunch of shady characters that I ran into in Bari-which is situated in Puglia-Calabria, the poorest economically of all of Italy's regions.
At 8pm, I caught a 20 hour ferry from Bari to Patras, Greece (on the Peloponnesis), the 3rd largest city in the country. Our ferry was essentially a mini cruise ship, complete with bars, pools, casinos, etc. I met some friends on the ship, which helped pass the time a little. The end of the ride was pretty as we weaved in and out of Greek islands. Finally, at 12:30pm on Friday we arrived in Patras. From Patras, we had to take a 3 hour train to Athens, but of course we had to wait 3 hours before the next train. Finally I made it to my hostel, which is pretty nice because there is a rooftop bar that has a great view of the Acropolis and is well located.
Today (Saturday), I had a great day in Athens. I woke up real early to avoid the crowds at the Acropolis and I saw the Parthenon, the ancient Greek and Roman cities, and walked around the Plaka neighborhood. I also got a good bit of shopping in which was nice because I had planned to do some here, my final stop traveling alone, so that I didn't have to carry extra things my whole way. Also, of course, I've sampled my fair share of Gyros and Baklava.
Tomorrow I will journey to the Archaelogical Museum, one of the best in the world, and then get to the airport super early to get a visa and eventually catch a 7:15pm flight to Istanbul to meet Bob thus concluding my solo journey. It's been an incredible week and I'm lucky to have had all three types of travel over here: travel with friends, living abroad and traveling alone. I do say there are benefits to all of them and I like them all.
Next up I'll report from Istanbul, hope everyone is surviving the heat, take care...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Day in Dubrovnik

Well I'm now in Bari, Italy (heel of the boot) in between ferries. I had an absolutely fantastic time in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I took this picture during my hike that I'm about to talk about. Please check out all of the pictures of this wonderful place -sorry they are a bit out of order, there might be some Vienna and Budapest first, but then you'll see Zagreb and Dubrovnik.

The town is incredible. There is literally an entire Medieval town surrounded by 50 foot walls right on the rocky cliffs of the Adriatic. I payed 50 Kuna (10 euro) to wall around the entire old city on top of the walls, very nice. Then, I hiked up to the top of this mountain overlooking the town and I could see Albania to my left and all of these little islands up the Croatian coast to my right. This wasn't even the highlight of my was actually where I stayed that made the trip. I booked one night at this place, Villa Kaic. Turns out, this guy, Milo Kaic, redid his home and rents out 11 rooms to guests from March to December. He is very nice and so is his family. His son and wife accompanied him to pick me up from the airport on Tuesday night. He actually graduated from Medical school when he was younger but because it is mandatory to do 5 years in the Yugoslav army he had to join the army straight after that. He saved 3 lives during the war and was respectfully discharged early. He told us about Albanian people too, who apparently and vehemently stick to their word for generations and generations if they make a promise to you. This is why many people travel to Albania, not so much for the countryside, but because the people will go out of their way just to help. Also, we learned that Dubrovnik has one of the lowest crime rates in the world...and I believe it. Nothing was locked or anything and the people are very nice and respectful. The room was very nice and it overlooked the pool which overlooked the town. The entire town is up on a hill so you must walk up and down stairs to get to the old city. He let me keep all my stuff there all day no problem: free internet, free laundry, free beer. For dinner, he cooked up this feast for everyone who was staying there. We had chicken skewers, steaks, sausages, Croatian salad and potatoes, it was brilliant. I met 2 Irish guys traveling on vacation and they gave me some good tips and told me more about Croatia. There were lots of Aussies, some traveling alone and one couple. I also met two special ed teachers from London and a family from Norway. It was a great night and Milo made sure I was a little boozed up for the ferry ride so that I'd fall asleep right away. He dropped me off at the port and that was that. All of this for 20 euro, absolutely amazing. I told him I will be back and I really hope I can keep that promise.

As for the ferry, it was okay. I immediately fell asleep and it got a little chilly out on the Sea late at night. I woke up with the sun and eventually we made it to Italy. Bari is completely different than any other place I've been in Italy. It's almost like a different country...much poorer and dirtier and I assume much less safe. Apparently the mafia still has a strangle hold on everything down here but it's not the Sicilian mafia like in the past, it's actually the Albanian mafia who run all of Southern Italy and Albania. This goes back to what Milo was talking about. They are very nationalistic and organization and stick to their word...perfect for the mob.

Tonight I catch a 20 hour ferry to Patras, Greece. From there I will bus to Athens and have 2.5 days there before flying to Istanbul. I'll talk to you soon!

Journey to Croatia

Well, after lots of anxiety and phone calls, my bag finally arrived at my hostel in Budapest. The staff at this hostel have been extremely helpful and I'm relieved to have my bag back. I didn't, however, let this stop me from seeing the city. I climbed up this mountain, Castle Hill, in the morning for some great views. I then walked to Parliament, St. Stephen's Basilica, and the Great Synagogue. I had dinner again on Vaci street, the Pearl St. of Budapest, and hit the sack early to catch the train to Zagreb.
The train was okay. We passed this large lake in Southwestern Hungary that many Hungarians like to flock to on the weekends. Once in Zagreb I threw my luggage in a locker and started to walk around. Again I was unlucky with the weather as it downpoured for over an hour. I still was able to see many sights in the city, which is starting to rival Prague and Budapest as the most touristed city in Eastern Europe. Then I hopped on a bus to the airport to catch my flight to Dubrovnik later that night.
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