I'm Anything But Ordinary

I'm Anything But Ordinary

24 April 2007

Good Enough

~~~~ Lethargic

Tuesday - NO HISTORIOGRAPHY! Yes, I am still in shock and it's almost been a week. Silly me though, I agreed to meet up with Brian at 11 so I only got an extra hour of sleep. Oh well. Went in and after some hassle (ATM Run, lack of everyone's ISIC cards) we got five tickets to Luxor and five tickets back from Aswan. Yes. Oh yeah, did I mention I have experienced my first official sandstorm. Even the locals said it was a bad one. The air was brown and I had to wear sunglasses walking down the street to keep sand from getting in my eyes. A man in the elevator told me to wet a towel and cover my mouth and I now understand why he suggested it. After being out in it for five minutes it literally got harder to breathe. It was intense. Went to Egyptology and took my quiz. I think I did pretty well. The geography section was super easy thanks to my other egyptology class. Went to drop off my Historiography outline (reason we didn't have class) but she wasn't there. Oh well, I just left it with her secratery. Came home, got my work done, then hung out with Cori, Sasha, and Sakina. The four of us decided to go to an even in the Zamalek dorm so we got into a cab and headed over. It was a party celebrating Egyptian culture. We ate Koshari and drank sugarcane juice. Then a traditional Egyptian dancer came out. I don't what the dance he did was called but it was really cool. He wore these long skirts and spun around in a circle to make the skirts open and balanced these circular cardboard boxes on his head and arms. It's hard to describe but it was really crazy to watch. Especially since he spun around for 20 minutes! I would be so dizzy! Then a dance party broke out and we danced for a while but then Sakina got tired so we decided to get big bottles of water from Metro then head home.

Wednesday - Social movement as usual. Afterwards I met Sakina and Sasha at Pottery Cafe for lunch. I had never eaten there and it was really good. I had a Mango Peach Smoothie and Sasha and I split a veggie pizza and blueberry cheesecake for desert. :) Yuuummy! Went home and attempted to get some laundry done. Finished my work and got a phonecall from Brian saying he had the train tickets. Then my laundry got stuck in the machine! Even the security guard couldn't get it out! By then I had to go to Geography of Ancient Egypt so Hilary agreed to get my laundry for me when the repairman got the door open. Went to class and got antsy because the Zahi Hawas lecture was at 6! I was so excited! Katie saved seats for me and Allison and we got there with plenty of time. Zahi Hawas is the president of ancient egyptian antiquities and hopefully my future boss :rolleyes: He lectured on recent discoveries and said he was recently found what he believes to be Queen Hatsepshut's mummy and a royal tomb from the Greco-Roman period in Alexandria, potentially Cleopatra, Marc Antony, or Alexander the Great. And J Swan took us there and never mentioned it! :confused: After the lecture there was a book signing but Zahi Hawass is such a celebrity he was basically mauled so I decided to just go home. Otlobed Chinese food and Allison and I watched Lost. The other girls in my flat were going out but after the laundry scandal I decided to just stay in. In all, it took 10 hours for me to do laundry... :@

Thursday - Back to Historiography as usual. Sigh. My homework was done at that point so I got myself Koshari for lunch and headed back to the apartment. Hung out with Sasha for a while then went to Egyptology. Talked about the trip this weekend (that I couldn't go on) then headed back to the apartment. Otlobed Hummus and cheese rolls from Tabuleh with Sakina and Sasha and finished my book. Overall, a fun quick read (The Devil Wears Prada). Packed, then met Allison and we walked to the metro. Met up with Dan but Brian and Duncan were running late so we agreed to meet at the train station. Got to Ramses with no trouble then waited for Brian and Duncan to show up. Finally met up with them and got on the train. First class was so nice! The seats were like oversized airplane seats with enough room to lean all the way back without your head being in the person-behind-you's lap. It was a little cold, they blasted the AC, but after I borrowed Dan's sweatshirt I went to sleep and basically slept the 10 hours it took to get to Luxor. Nice.

Friday - HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAN! Got to Luxor about an hour behind schedule. Bought our tickets for the next day then headed out. As soon as we left the train station were swarmed by touts trying to get us to stay at their hotels, take their tours, or rent out their taxis. It was very overwhelming. But we managed to find one guy who offered to lead us to our Hostel so we could drop off our bags and make a plan. I don't think he really worked for our hostel because halfway there he offered us a tour package to take us to the attractions on the west bank. For 135 pounds (that's around $26!) we got a van, a tour guide, and admition into all the sites. Since we were only doing Luxor in a day we agreed and after stopping by a random hostel to use the bathroom and freshen up we were on our way to the west bank. First we stopped at the Colossi Memnon. Very impressive, but sad because their faces were ruioned. Then we went to Queen Hatsepshut's temple. My favorite part was the walls because some of the paint was still intact and it was so colorful. Then we stopped by an Alabaster workshop to see how the ancient egyptians made alabaster statues. Hey, we got free Karkday (hibiscus tea) out of it! Next up was the Valley of the Kings. We saw the tombs of Ramessess IV, Ramessess IX, and Merenptah. We didn't go into King Tut's tomb because the line was ridiculous, it was really expensive, and, according to others, not really worth it. I got a picture of the entrance though and then we headed to a buffet place for lunch. We sat by the Nile and enjoyed the breeze and finally called a cab to take us to the Hostel. We stayed at the Happy Land Hotel (how cute) and had more Karkday with the manager before dropping our stuff off in our room and headed back out. We called a taxi and went to Karnak temple. Wow! It was so big! We wandered around and explored. I was overwhelmed with the carvings and paint that was still intact... imagine what it would have looked like 3,000 years ago! Then we called a cab to the Luxor museum because by that time we were in some serious need of AC! The Luxor museum is so nice! It was modern-looking, clean, organized, and explained everything very well. I was impressed. There were two mummies, one that is believed to be Ramses I (grandfather of Ramses the great) and the other belonging to Ahmose I. After that we realized the Luxor temple was closeby so we decided to walk there. We walked along the Corniche and watched the sunset over the Nile and then explored the Luxor temple at night when it was all lite up. Sooo pretty! The Luxor Temple is my second favortie temple ever! I can't really say why but I just really liked it. All the statues of Ramses II made me smile because there were just so many and they're all suppose to be glorifying, well, him. We stayed at the temple until we got hungry then we went to a restaurant that had a rooftop dinning room overlooking the temple. It was fun. I had falafel and tomato soup. Not terrible. Afterward we followed signs to an Irish pub to celebrate Dan's 21st birthday. They advertised it, but they didn't have Guiness :( So we toasted with Heineken to Dan's first legal drink. I also had an apple pie burrito thingy for desert. Yummmmm. Went back to the hostel afterward, showered, and went to bed because we had to get up early the next morning!

Saturday - Got up bright and early and stumbled out of bed. The hostel put together take away breakfast for us. Awww. It was pretty generic but we packed it up and headed to the train station. Waited for three hours and finally the train came two hours late. Slept most of the way to Aswan but the train took four hours instead of three and with the train showing up two hours later we were running really late. Called a cab and tried to go to the Nubian Museum but it was closed (why would you close the AIR CONDITIONED museum during the hotest time of the day?) so we asked the cab driver to take us to his favorite restaurant for lunch. It was nice. Good classic arab food and a family atmosphere, it was fun. Then we called another cab and had him take us to the port to go to Philae. We followed the instructions in the Lonely Planet book and told the driver to take us to the Shallam Ferry. Well, it turns out an entire beach is called Shallam so he took us to the beach and we couldn't figure out how to get to Philae. Finally he figured out what we wanted and we got a boat to take us over to the island. The temple on Philae is my favorite temple, no doubt. It was so big and the carvings were all beautiful. I wasn't too thrilled with the byzantine grafiti inside though. They just chiseled crosses into everything! But it was so pretty set against the Nile. And all the flowers growing on the island! It kinda reminded me of Greece and Sounio. So we wandered for a while and then went back to the mainland. Got in our cab and went to the Nubian museum. It was nice inside. Everything was really interesting, I just wished more remained from Nubia. Their culture was fascinating. A really interesting combination of Egyptian and their own culture. It was weird though because I felt like we were as much of a display as the artifacts. People kept coming up to us asking to take our pictures with them. I guess white people are exciting. Weird. Allison and I always said no but the boys agreed a few times. It's just weird to think that they're gonna be in some random photo album for no reason other then they're white. Strange. After that it was getting late so we got a cab back to the train station, wandered for a little bit around downtime Aswan, got Koshari for dinner :) and then got on the train. All the first class tickets were sold out for the return trip but second class was still nice. The seats were a little smaller but other then that the AC was blasting just as much and there was still leg room to recline my chair. It was a little noisier because there were more people and a baby would not stop crying but I managed to sleep most of the trip thanks largely in part to my iPod.

Sunday - We made it back to Cairo in one piece, grabbed the metro, and made it home. I took a shower, made some pasta, and vegged the rest of the day.

Monday - Got up and went to Social Movements. Dr. Saad told us that in the beginning of May Sinai (yes, as in the entire penninsula) would be closed because the Mubarack family was going there for Mubarack's birthday and his son's wedding. I mean, how pimp do you have to be able to close an entire penninsula for your birthday? After class I went to Main campus to check my mail (no cards :( ) and then I walked to Zamalek. Crossing the bridge I saw the Buddy Bears I had read about online. I didn't really go investigate but they looked really cool from the bridge. I should go find that garden before I leave. Went to Metro to pick up supplies for chili I was planning to make and fruit for the roomie (she had food poisoning :( ) decided it was too hot to walk back and called a cab. Got back to Garden City, fixed myself a fruit, yogurt, and honey salad for lunch (yuuuuum) and worked on some homework. Went to Geography of Ancient Egypt and learned about some great trips coming up (Red Sea Monasteries and Middle Egypt) and then headed back to Garden City. Attempted to make Chili but failed miserabley... I can't handle anything hot and spicy. Luckily Sasha liked it though so she ate it and I made an Egg Salad Sandwhich for myself. It was pretty good considering I had to chop pickles for my relish ;) Watched some LOTR, showered, and now I think I'm gonna read until I fall asleep. Goodnight!

16 April 2007

I'm Anything But Ordinary

~~~~ Amused

Wednesday - How weird to have classes start on a Tuesday! The week was over before it even began. Went to Social Movements and listened to the experiences from the kids who went to Palestine and Israel with Dr. Saad. Once more I got the distinct impression that none of these kids really have anyplace to stick their noses into other people's business when they'll be leaving this area of the world shortly. Hmmm. But anyways. Went to the library after class and did a lot of social movements readings. I was putting it off for so long that all of a sudden I had to write another paper and I still hadn't done the reading. Stayed in the library until about three then went back to the flat. Fixed myself an nutella and orange snack and watched an episdoe of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I've rediscovered the show... gave up on Smallville) before Geography of Ancient Egypt. Allison ended up skipping out on class so I went alone. That class is torturous without her! Went and got Koshari from the place a block away from Tahir. The men working there were so much fun! I told them I was from Italy because I remember a football game on one time we were in there and they got really excited and started chattering about Italian football. They knew about as much English as I knew Arabic so I just smiled at them. They liked my eyes and told me I was very beautiful... of course. It was fun but I think I'll be sure not to go in there alone anymore. And if I ever sit down to eat there again I'll be sure to have a boy with me. I just have a feeling they'd never leave me alone to eat if I was alone! Went back to the flat, ate my koshari, and vegged for the rest of the night.

Thursday - KATIE'S BIRTHDAY! Brought Katie her present before classes, a tin that says 'World's Greatest Lover' and a little stuffed dog inside... awww. Went to Historiography, yeahyeah. Went to the library afterward and made sure all my work was done so I didn't have to do anything during the weekend. Read my book (Wizard of Earthsong) and got a cheese sandwhich and a water for lunch. Went to Egyptology and talked about Art. His powerpoint wasn't working so we just talked about art. Kinda strange. After class I went back to the flat for a little. Ate a special brownie, then went over to Katie's to celebrate her birthday. We had some time before Chocofile so we watched In Persuit of Happyness. Yup, not any better the second time around. There was a sandstorm going on outside so I watched that for a while... much to the enjoyment of Katie and Allison. Got all dressed up and went to Chocofile. How cute is that place! I had an Italian chocolate shot and fruit extravaganza... fruit covered in a chocolate soup/sauce. Yuuum. After Katie's special birthday dinner she and I caught a cab back to Garden City to pick up some Drinkies supplies. Had a little crisis in the car and Katie lost her wallet but we then met Duncan, Nick, Brian, Dan, and Allison back at the boy's apartment for the rest of the celebration. Ended up staying until about 2:30 then went back home.

Friday - Woke up later and decided to meet up for the zoo at 2. Allison, Katie, and I met Dan at the metro stop and we headed down. After walking around the block to get next door we found the entrance to the zoo. How depressing!!! We met a guy who said he'd take our picture with a baby lion and we went with him. The cages the cats were in were tiny and the poor baby lion had a scar on his forehead... I don't know what from. I couldn't bring myself to get my picture taken with him after that. It just wasn't something to smile over. Wandered around the rest of the zoo and thankfully the rest wasn't as bad. There was trash everywhere and people threw things into the pens but luckily they were all decently sized and the trash didn't make it in far enough to bother the animals. Overall it was a real eye-opening experience but I was happy to leave. Took the metro back home and did some laundry. Otlobed La Pacha and McDonalds for food (the McDonalds was just ice cream sundaes) and watched the Ice Ages. Allison was enlisted as our residence tattoo artist and she drew Ed the Camel on Katie's back and a goat on her 'bicep' and a wolf on my hand and a Tucan Sam on my other hand.

Saturday - Did nothing! Lazed around all day. Walked into Tahir for some Koshari and to mail postcards but other then that I took my sweet time doing nothing. I figured I needed to appreciate that because it would be one of the last times I would be able to do that.

Sunday - Back to Historiography. Sometimes I feel like my entire life is that class. She did tell us no class Tuesday though so yay for that! Went to the library to get some work done. Churned out a 4 page paper in an hour... always a good thing! Got a fateer... no fateer-man... and went to Egyptology. Talked some more about Art but he had his powerpoint this time so yay for that! It's much better to talk about Art when you can see it. I have a quiz in his class Tuesday but I feel pretty ready for that. Came back home anticipating doing homework. Ran to the grocery store with Cori which always means will take a lot longer then I've anticipated. Oh well. Made it back and managed about two pages of my Social movements reading when Dan showed up. Planned our trip to Luxor this weekend. It'll be a lot and it might be stressful but I'm really looking forward to it. I'm just anxious other people won't have fun. I worry about this stuff. I feel like if I've planned it it's my responsibility for everyone to have a good time and if something doesn't work I freak out. I need to calm down. Made pasta for dinner. my own special combination of olive oil, onions, garlic, and lime juice. I love to cook! Dan left for a midterm and then Brian came to hang out for a little. Made plans to meet at the travel office then he left. Went back to my room, talked to my parents, and watched A Knights Tale. Took a shower, read The Devil Wears Prada then went to bed.

Monday - My alarm went off at 8 and I felt terrible. I had a sore throat yesterday but I didn't do anything about it. Big mistake! Ended up skipping Social Movements and I went back to bed until 11:30. I felt a little better then so I got up, did some work, and made myself a little brunch. At 2 I headed back to the library to punch out an outline before I met Brian at 3. It turns out the travel office closes at 2:30 so we went back to the library to do more work. 4:20 I grabbed my obligatory diet soda and headed to Geography of Ancient Egypt. Allison drew this celtic / egyptian / hieroglyphic thing on my hand (we really don't pay attention in that class sometimes I feel bad) while J Swan rambled on about basilicas and the god Set. Sigh. Cambe back to the flat and fixed myself some Ramen noodles for dinner. Cori wanted a nice place to study so I brought her to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Co. I had done all my work so here I am doing what I do best... ramble on about nothing! Our waiterish guy must have taken an interest to us because he chatted for awhile at the counter then asked for our emails. Cori didn't want to because he claims she's sick of being hit on but I didn't seem the harm in it so I gave him my email. I don't have to respond to emails afterall. Plus, I mean, he was kinda cute!

Wednesday? DR. ZAHI HAWAS SPEAKS! And flatmate's night out!


10 April 2007


~~~~ Accomplished

Thursday - I woke up in the hostel all alone :( Athens isn't as much fun without Allison there. I got up early with intentions to use the internet somewhere. The internet cafe near our hostel was closed so I got on the metro planning to try to find one that we saw on our way to the Delphi bus stop. Well, I never did find it. It was nice to just wander around the city though. It was early enought that there weren't that many people out so I just stopped by a coffee house, got a cup of coffee and enjoyed my last morning in Greece. Around 10:30 I got back on the metro and headed back to the hostel to check out. I packed my bag, made sure I didn't forget anything, and headed down to the front desk to check out. The guy working looked really confused when I told him I was checking out. Apparently, they had written down that we were staying for six nights and I had another night before I needed to check out. Well, we only paid for five nights and I had a flight to catch so I just got out my reciept, showed him we only paid for five nights, and got ready to leave. Then he asked where I was going next and I told him Italy. His entire face lite up and he went on and on about what a wonderful country it was and how much I would love it because it was so beautiful, like me. Hahaha, Mediterranean men can be so flattering! But I said goodbye to my new friend and caught the metro to the airport. I love the Greek metro. It's clean, efficient, and can get you pretty much anywhere you want to go. But the metro line to the airport is weird. Only certain trains take you all the way to the airport. So I got on the first train, rode it until it stopped, announced it was the last stop, and then all the lights went off. Confused, I got off and noticed that on the platform there were other tourists with suitcases who looked just as confused as I did. Figuring my best bet was to wait with them, I sat down, and in about five minutes another train came on the same track and we got onto that one. It took us down a few more stops before it too announced it had reached its last stop and all the lights turned off on that train too. So I got off this train, waited on the platform for another five minutes, and this time a train pulled up that actually had airport printed on it! So I got on this train and it took me all the way to the airport. Thankfully all that train swapping didn't cost me any extra money and I still say that the Athens metro is the best one I've ever been on. I got checked in at the airport with no trouble and wandered for a little while. I got a veggie burger and a strawberry milkshake for lunch and bought myself a magazine to read while I waited for my flight. I passed a sign that said the airport had wireless, so I got my laptop and checked it out. It cost a little money but it was worth it to check on my hotel reservations and make sure I had maps for Rome and Florence. Then I got on the plane and by these two Italian girls who were terrified of flying. When we took off they stuck their fingers in their ears and clamped their eyes shut and waited for us to be in the air. As soon as we were in the air though they started talking to these two Greek guys across the aisle from us and since they didn't speak greek and the girls didn't speak Italian they both used broken English which I found really funny. Luckily, this flight was only an hour though because I don't think I could have handled much more then that with them! We landed and my bag was one of the first ones off the baggage claim - always a good sign - and so I got onto the train that would take me into the city with little trouble. On the train I sat by this family of a mom, a dad, and a little girl. After asking her parents if it was okay, I started practicing my Italian with the little girl. I learned her name was Sofie, she was 6, and she had lived in Rome all her life. She was just learning her numbers so we sat and practiced our numbers together. "Uno, due, tre, quatro, cinque, sei, sette, otto, nove, dici, undici, dodici, tredici, quatordici..." she always got a little stuck after fourteen but we did manage to get up to twenty. She asked me why I had a funny accented so I explained I'm from American and didn't originally speak Italian. So then she wanted to learned numbers in English so I taught her one through five. After saying goodbye to Sofie and her parents, I got off the train and headed to my hostel. Other then originally heading to the wrong side of the station and not being able to figure out how to work the doorbell on the hotel (I had to be buzzed in before I could get inside) I got all checked in and dropped off my bags easily enough. My room was fantastic. It was bright orange with a bright blue bed. I had a comfy chair, a sink, and pictures of Tweety and the Flintstones on my wall. But I was ready to see Rome so I grabbed my map I got at check in and headed out to the Colosseum. I found it with no trouble (the map I had was awesome) and wandered around for a while. Got a few pictures then headed on to the Forum. From there I walked around the Circus Maximus and then back to the Forum to check out the Piazza Venezia. At this time it was getting kinda dark so I got Fanta and Gelato for dinner (I know, such a healthy dinner) and headed back to the hotel. My gelato was one scoop kiwi and one scoop cherry. The kiwi was sooo good! It even had fake black kiwi seeds made out of sugar in it. I tried two new kinds of fanta. Chiotto and Red Emotion. I think the chiotto was suppose to be black licorice because I really didn't like it but the red emotion was blood orange and I thought that was really good. But I was exhausted so I went to be soon after my dinner.

Friday - Woke up really excited for Firenze. I checked out and stored my luggage in the free luggage storage facility my hotel had. I also got a free breakfast at a local cafe so I got my ticket for that and headed over to the cafe for a cheese crossant and a cup of coffee... sooo good! After breakfast I went over to the train station to check up on my train info but I realized I had like half an hour to kill so I went to a local internet point to use my free 15 minutes of internet I got from my hostel. I had an eticket for my train so I just got on the train and ended up sitting by this guy who was originall from India. I started talking to him and he spoke Italian in an Indian accent. He was nice to talk to but about 10 minutes into the conversation he told me my Italian was very good but very formal. He said he felt like he was at a tea party and should be on his best behavior! Oh well, at least I can understand people and they can understand me! After the train I headed straight to il Academia to see the David. I got a little turned around and ended up at il Duomo (apparently all roads in Florence lead to il Duomo) but there was an information center nearby so I grabbed a map from there and made it to the Academia after that with no trouble (I love maps in Italy!) After a 2.5 hour wait to get inside, I found myself face-to-face with David. Words cannot describe that statue. Photos don't do it justice. It's just amazing! The long wait was totally worth it. You can just sit and stare at the statue for hours. But I had other things to see so I headed out back to il Duomo. I wandered around it for a while and got lots of pictures but most of the interior was closed because it was so close to Easter. That's okay the dome is still fantastic. My lunch consisted, once more of gelato. This time I tried Nutella gelato... yummy! Really, I don't think you can go wrong with gelato. Then I decided to head over to the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge). On my way I decided to go past the Piazza della Uffici and I'm so glad I did. First of all, I past a Disney Store and I laughed out loud to see it! Here I am, halfway across the world, in one of the most fabulous places on earth and there's a Disney Store here! I just had to go inside. They didn't really have anything unique but it was just funny to see all the toys for Cars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other Disney movies where I least expected to see them. After that pleasant suprise I made it to the Piazza and was in awe of all the Renaissance masterpieces. The piazza itself was stunning, along with the tower of the Medici and I wandered around for a while just looking. Then I found an open air museum with a replica of the David, and such masterpieces as Perseus and Medusa, and Menelaus and the body of Patroclus. But I really wanted to see the bridge so I pressed on. The bridge was actually really close by so I started crossing it. All the jewlery stores looked like little jewelery boxes and their windows were filled with all sorts of beautiful gold necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, and anything else you could imagine that was made of gold. Florence is known for its gold work so I decided I had to try to find something within my price range. I finally found these charms in a window that were made in the classic Florentine method of spiral gold work. I found a beautiful one shaped like a crescent moon so I went inside the store and asked the lady working there to look at it. We chatted for a while and she complimented me on my Italian. I finally decided to get the charm, which I considered a good deal at 40 Euro, and she took another 5 Euro off because I spoke to her in Italian! Yaaay! After my rather successful purchase I started to wander back to the heart of Florence. On my way I bought postcards, a cheap purse with Florence, Milan, Naples, Rome, and Venice written in Italian on it (that's what those extra 5 Euros went to), and my obligatory coffee mug. Then I still had about an hour to kill before my train left so I wandered into a bookstore. I found a book on dogs and read about Westies in Italian! Then I found the lonelyplanet travel guide to Egypt in Italian so I read that for a while. At that point I was feeling really confident with my Italian so I thought I might be fun to look at a novel. I found the Hobbit and Harry Potter in Italian and since the Hobbit was only 5 Euro I thought, why not? So I bought it. Now I think it might be fun to own a copy of the Hobbit in every language I learn so I might have to try to track down a copy in Arabic. After that I had to catch my train so I headed back to the station. It was delayed 10 minutes but other then that I didn't have any trouble again. Got back to Rome and picked up my luggage and asked for directions to Stephanie's hotel. Took the metro. Then I took a train. Then I took a taxi (it turns out the hotel was way out of town) and then I got to the hotel. It was really nice! I beat Stephanie so I sat down at the bar with her parents and her aunt and sweet talked Jordan to them... trying to encourage them to let Steph go. I don't know if I helped at all but I like to pretend that I did. Stephanie showed up soon after and we had a dinner of pasta with tomato and basil and then it was up to bed. Even though Stephanie's brother woke me a couple of times that night with his snoring it was still one of the most comfortable beds I've slept in!

Saturday - Had a slow start that morning but enjoyed the continental breakfast of yogurt, granola, fruit, cheese, and coffee. I love European breakfasts! Then we got onto the tram to take us to the city center. I think we stayed on it for too long because we ended up getting pretty lost. We got off the tram and asked for directions and was told to get on a bus. So we did then I went into a store to ask for directions and I met a store owner who had a nephew in Chicago (and apparently his brother is dead... not sure how that fits in) and he actually knew where Ohio was! He also gave me directions to a bus that would take us to the main train station and from there we got onto the metro. It was quite an adventure but a lot of fun and we got to see a lot of the city so I won't complain. We had lunch at a cafe overlooking the colosseum and I had real Italian gnocchis. They were even better then the ones at Coccia House! After that I split with the Harigs for a while because they wanted to see the Colosseum and I headed over to the Vatican. Waited in about a ten minute line for Saint Peter's Basilica and got in easily enough. The entire country (being like an acre in size) was decorated for Easter with hundreds of flowers. Inside the Basilica I headed straight to the Pieta. It was amazing. Not quite as impressive as il David but that's probably because it's behind bullet proof glass which made me sad. I wanted to get closer! But I wandered around the Basilica for a while. Saw confession booths where you could confess in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, or Portugeese, and then checked out the museum which didn't really have anything too interesting. Tried to get into the Vatican Museum and the Sistene Chapel but it had closed already. I was kinda sad about that because I really wanted to see the Sistene Chapel ceiling but next time I guess! Then I got melan and black cherry gelato and headed over to the Trevi Fountain. It was a really spectacular fountain but slightly overwhelming because of all the people there. But I threw my coin in and decided to find the Pantheon. That was great. I loved the big hole in the ceiling and I wandered around for a while. Then I had about two hours befor I had to meet the Harigs at the Spanish steps so I decided to put my map away and just walk for a while. I managed to stumble across some remains of a temple complex in the Piazza Argentina and the Campo di Fiori. Then I had to get to the Spanish Steps so I walked along the Tiber River and came up to the steps along one of the most exclusive shopping districts in Rome. I passed by stores for Gucci, Prada, and Louis Veton... which, ironicall enough, was shaped like a giant Louis Veton suitcase with a Cairo, Egypt travel sticker on the outside! Got a drink from the fountain that Samantha Brown did in her tv show ;) and met the Harigs near the foot of the steps. Stephanie and I climbed up to the top of the stairs and back down... there are 137 stars in all... we counted. And then headed back to her family to get some dinner. We found this great hole-in-the-wall authentic Italian restaurant called Marcos. I got penne and eggplant and ricotta cheesecake for dessert. Stephanie's aunt ordered a bottle of wine and insisted Stephanie and I share it with her... hey, we were Europe... we were allowed! It was suppose to be Toscany's best red wine. Then the adults went back to the hotel and me, Stephanie, and her brother Chris wandered back to the Campo di Fiori to watch the street performers paint, dance, sing, and play instruments. It was really fun. We also stopped by a local pub and I got my Guinness... which was a really nice change from all the light lager I've been having in Egypt. On the way back we stopped at a gelateria for my last gelato... peach and red mulberry (the peach was good I didn't like the red mulberry as much) and then got a cab back to the hotel.

Sunday - Woke up at 5:30 to catch my flight. Stephanie and Chris were still asleep but they had to get up soon becaues they were going to Easter mass with the pope! How exciting! Asked the front desk to call me cab, went to the train station, got to the airport, and checked in with no problem. At first I was really sad to be leaving Italy but as soon as I checked in and realized I was heading back to Egypt I was ready to leave! Ran into another AUC girl in the airport and we sat and talked until the plan left. For some reason I got bumped up to business class (I guess the lady who checked me in was impressed by my Italian) and I was the only one there! The plane was only half full but the flight attendent who worked business class only had me to look after and I could tell she was kinda bored! But I had a really good lunch of bread, fresh fruit, yogurt, tea, and juice, and then I napped the rest of the flight. The views outside the window were really impressive. There weren't many clouds in the sky and I could see the Island of Crete when we passed over it. It was really cool. I also saw Cairo perfectly when we flew in. Cairo Tower looked like a little toy tower and I saw my apartment building! Then we got off the plane, got our bags, called a cab, and got back to Garden City. After I got unpacked I went to visit Allison and Katie and Katie told me about her spring break in Jorda. Then Dan came over and I asked him to bring me Koshari. I MISSED KOSHARI SOOO MUCH! I really enjoyed that! But I went to bed early because I was exhausted.

Monday - Woke up at 9 and couldn't get back to sleep. Darn it. Lazed around all day watching movies and otlobed Pizza Hut. Really can't remember what I did but all the laziness and relaxation was exactly what I needed before classes started again.

Tuesday - Got to Historiography and got my midterm back. 95! Holy Cow!!! I thought I did horible on that but I guess no. I'm not complaining. Historiography was my only class for the day so after that I went and got stamps and groceries. Got Koshari for lunch... again. My fruit man wasn't there so I had to go to someone else :( Got myself some fig cookies because I missed them too. Tomorrow I think I'll feteer because I miss that. I missed Egypt! Came back and ate my Koshari. Then went down to the market for my other groceries. My cupboard looks a little stocked now. Wrote my postcards and generally have been putting off my homework. I might not do any today. This procrastination thing has been nice. I might just keep it up!

Spring break was great. I wish I could have spent more time in Italy and less in Greece but I wouldn't have exchanged my experiences for anything. It was just the break from the Middle East I needed to look forward to coming back here and finishing off my semester. I can't believe I have less then two months left!

09 April 2007

Back to the World of BP Gas Stations and Burger Kings

~~~~ Full

Saturday - The start of my spring break began early Saturday morning. I woke up and got ready, made sure the flat was clean and in order, and then headed down to call a cab to take me to the airport. Downstairs, my doorman found me struggling with my suitcase (it wasn't heavy it was just big because I had to use one of the big ones I brought from the states) so he grabbed it and walked out with me to call a cab and make sure I got in and on my way... he is such a sweet man! The ride to the airport was very quick. Normally it takes 45 minutes to an hour to get there but since it was 7 in the morning there was no one on the road so we got there in about 20 minutes. Got to the airport, checked in at the EgyptAir desk, got my tickets, and got my bag checked. After all that I still had like 2 hours to kill. So I explored the airport for a while, read my book, and checked out some of the stores. I realized I really didn't have anything for the Harigs as a thank-you for letting me stay with them so I went to the duty-free store and bought them some Karkaday tea. I knew it wasn't much but I thought it was a really good gesture and Karkaday is unique to Egypt. So then I got on my plane and had an uneventful flight and was in Athens in about 2 hours. My bag was one of the last ones to come off the belt and I had a mini panic attack because I thought it wasn't coming but it turns out they lost the green baggage belt that I use to ID my bag... oh well! Got through customs and met up with Allison and caught the bus into Athens. Found the hotel with little trouble and dropped off our stuff and headed straight to the Acropolis. Unfortunatley, it was still March and it had closed at 5. So we wandered around the site and back down to the Agora and then straight to the Museum. Fortunatley that stayed open until 7:30 so we got there and wandered around. We saw the golden mask of Agammenon, the statue of Zeus, and the ceramic vase I had to write a paper about in Greek Civ last semester. Afterward we were really tired so we headed back to the hotel, had dinner of bread and nutella I brought from Egypt to use up, watch the movie Hercules (hey! we were in Greece!) and go to bed.

Sunday - We planned to wake up really early to find the bus to take us to Epidarus but of course, that didn't happen. Our alarm went off at 5:30. We looked at one another, shook our heads, and went back to bed until 8! Take two went over much better. We got out and tried to find the bus stop for Epidarus but that didn't work. We were looking for the Kiffisus station but we ended up at Kiffisia. Not the same place! But we did find the Olympic complex for the 2004 games and that was really cool. So we headed back into town and caught the bus to Sounio. At this point I had a headache from my lack of caffiene but Allison uses No Doz which are caffiene pills so I took two of them and then we got to the Temple of Posiedon in Sounio. Me and caffiene pills don't really work very well. Because I got really hyper and really excited that we were there. But the temple was really pretty and the view was just spectacular. Oh. My. God. How amazing is that place!?! Hands down the best part of Greece. Then we went back to Athens and headed back to the Acropolis and the Agora. Both of which were open and both of which are free on Sundays! Yaaay! By that time I was really hungry so we had dinner at one of the tavernas at the base of the Acropolis. I had a four cheese rotini with pine nuts... yummy! After dinner we went back to the hotel because we had to really get up early the next day because we had boat reservations.

Monday - We woke up at 5 in the morning to be at the docks by 7:30. I got some coffee at the local coffee shop and then we caught the metro to the docks. We were there with plenty of time and we found our boat... this giant ferry and got our seats inside. It was so nice! It was a four and a half hour ferry ride but I slept most of the time. We got to Santorini and caught the bus up to Fira. Fira was so nice! There were all these awesome shops and all the buildings were white and blue (of course). There were also some great views of the Med. But we wanted to see the beach so we got the bus to Kamari. But we were there in the afternoon and everything was closed for the midday nap. So we wandered around the beach for a while and then went back to Fira just in time to catch the bus back to the dock. At the dock we sat at a cafe and I had cheese bread and iced coffee... the bread was good but the coffee I was not a fan of. We got on the boat... which was called the Flying Cat and got to Crete in a few hours. We hopped off our boat in Crete and went to find our boat that would take us back to Athens. It was amazing. It was an overnight boat with a movie theater, shopping mall, three restaurants, and a pool. Our room had its own bathroom and we shared it with a Greek mother and daughter that were so cute! For dinner we had this dessert called kok which is two grahm cracker cookies covered in chocolate with whipped ice cream in the center. It was pretty good! We had the top bunks of the room and we crawled up into them and went to bed.

Tuesday - The boat landed at 5:30 so we were woken up at 5. We made it out of bed and got off the boat. Got onto the metro and went back to Athens. On the walk back to the hotel we ran into one of the local stray dogs that walked with us for a while. At first I thought it was cute... like our own personal escort! Then some guy walked past us with a bag of food and the dog ran up to him and tore the bag! So at that point we decided to walk a little faster back to the hotel. We slept for a few hours and then headed back out. Got a cappucino at the coffee shop then went back to the metro to attempt to find a bus stop to take us Delphi. It took a while. We had to ask a few people and follow a couple buses that lead us in the right direction but we finally found it. We got to Delphi and headed to the site. We saw the temples, the stadium, and the mountains around the site. It was amazing. The mountains reminded me of Austria. We had to catch the bus back to Athens so we went back to the local village and wandered around for a while. We went into some of the shops and met some of the owners who we talked to for a while. One of them loved America more then I think Allison and I do combined and the other had been to Cairo before so we talked to her about our experiences. Then the bus came and we headed back to Athens. It was still kinda early so we went back to the mall we found Sunday and I had a veggie wrap for dinner. We wandered around and found a book store and stayed until it closed. Then we went back to the hotel and got to bed.

Wednesday - Got up, hopped onto the metro feeling like pros, and got to the train station. There was a coffee shop there and I tried a freduccino... a classic Greek iced coffee drink. Pretty good. We got to the train station but the trains to Epidarus weren't gonna work for us so we called a cab and had him take us to the bus stop where we got a bus to Epidarus with no trouble. It dropped us off in Nafplia and we loved it. It was this great European village and we wandered around and found this cafe where we stopped for lunch. I had this fruit, yogurt, and honey thing that was the best thing ever! Then we got on our bus to Epidarus. In Epidarus there was this great Amphitheater and we sat for a while and watched a French drama troop put on a couple skits in the center because the acoustics were so great you can hear a piece of paper being torn from the top of the audience. We wandered around the rest of the site and then headed back to Athens because Allison had to catch her flight! We got her all packed and then I walked her to the metro, got McDonalds for myself for dinner (a veggie burger and a chocolate sundae) and got to bed early because I was leaving in the morning.