A week back from spring break
If you are curious how I spent my two weeks gallivanting around Europe I will tell you here. I’m sorry if it’s long, but I did a lot of things. If you are not curious that’s ok - I won’t blame you for not reading the longest post ever. Unless you are my mother or forgot to wish me happy birthday on facebook.
On to the spring break updates. Chloe and I started the week off with a trip to Kiev on the way to Greece. It was really cold there, and kind of dreary, but I’m glad I went. Almost no one spoke English and tackling the underground system was a challenge and a half because it was all in Ukrainian and not well marked at all. Also we met a few natives that showed us around the city the one night we were there, and we were actually the first Americans they had ever met. This hasn’t happened anywhere else, I didn’t realize how few Americans went to the Ukraine. We had time to see the city center and visit a 1000 year old monastery before we headed to Greece.
We went first to Santorini which was amazingly beautiful and a hugely different from Ukraine. We went to both the black and red beaches, and the red beach was my favorite. It was low season so the beaches were basically empty. We had the red beach almost to ourselves and it was probably my favorite place we saw. It was on the other side of the island and hidden behind these huge red cliffs. We also went wine tasting at a beautiful local winery on the top of a cliff that we were only lucky enough to find because a nice Greek man talked to us while we were going in the wrong direction and decided to take drive us there himself. Also one day we hiked from Fira the capital to Oia which was about 5km. The hike lead us through a few traditional villages and along the cliffs. It was really warm and really beautiful. In Oia we went down to the harbor to Amundi bay which had a really nice swimming spot where only a few people passed through. Another one of the days we took a boat tour that took us out to the island that had the volcano on it. After the boat tour we rode back up to the city from the port on Donkeys. The trip up is over 600 stairs and it took us about a half hour to walk down so getting up would probably have taken at least 1 and a half. The donkeys were basically taking over the steps to get down. Dozens of them everywhere, we almost got ran over a few times just trying to walk down. The people on Santorini were so nice and seemed to genuinely like us and always were so excited and proud to show off their home.
Then we spent 2 days in Athens. My first impressions of the city are that it was huge and reminded me more of the Caribbean and Bahamas than western Europe. It was a little dirtier and rough around the edges. The people were also really really pushy when selling their stuff. As we walked through the flea market streets we had things shoved into our hands and people pulling us into their stores. We got actually seated at restaurants if we so much as made eye contact with the sales people that were all standing outside. The historic sites were really cool of course. Also we met a magical dog that lead us to the acropolis. We were wandering around looking up at it and wondering how to get there when it showed up and started walking ahead of us leading us in the right general direction. Then we took a turn and it went the other way. We were lost for probably another 20 min and then we finally found the entrance and there was the dog waiting for us next to the ticket booth. I really do think it was a magic dog, or just really smart. We saw the acropolis, the Parthenon and all the big sites. Some of the ruins are just fenced off in the middle of the city which was so cool. You just round a corner and there is this ancient building with just a little fence around it.
After Greece I met a group in Portugal and I just have to say that it was amazing. Lisbon was beautiful, the people were kind, and the atmosphere was so laid back. We spent a day in Lisbon then for the rest of the week stayed at a surf lodge. It was a group of 27 students and 2 teachers. We took a bike tour and Lisbon and had 1 full day to ourselves where we saw the castle and wandered around. It was a beautiful warm day. At the surf lodge we had 2 2 hour surf lessons a day - and I think 6 lessons total. The instructors were both hilarious and very helpful. We also spent a day in Sintra which is the place where the royal family used to live outside of Lisbon. The castle was beautiful, much more colorful and attractive than any of the other castles I visited. I’m glad they took us there because it was really confusing to find. The royals in Portugal knew that their army was not good enough to defend them, so they just built the roads around their palace to be really confusing so that no one would be able to find them.