Photos a Day

I am still taking a photo a day, however, I am not posting one a day, as I am not in reliable internet areas all the time. So, please forgive me, but if you want to see a (very) small sample, you can do so here.

My 2010 Round The World photos on flickr.

The Traveler´s Diet and The World Cup

I have probably already talked about this; I can never remember what I have already said and what I haven´t. Anyway, I am going to let you guys in on my very secret diet plan.

1. Carry a 40 pound backpack around with you everywhere.
2. Eat only 2 or 3 meals a day since you don´t really have time for snacking (not like sitting at the desk all day!)
3. Eat something shady in Egypt (no idea what). End up sick, not able to eat for a few days.
4. Walk miles a day. Miles and miles.

It feels great. Except for the little slip up in Egypt, everything has been healthy. We are eating fresh food and smaller meals and walking a ton. Big K must have lost 10 or 15 pounds and me, little K, maybe 6. But all in all, we are happy and healthy.

And then....we went to Italy.

We arrived in Italy and our first stop was Bologna. This is supposed to be the home of some of the best food in Italy (they all say that but what the heck). Since we are scientists, we decided to test out the theory and see if we could prove it wrong (by multiple testing of course). So we went to a typical Italian meal, which consists of a starter, first course and second course. Unlike us, they eat it in a strange order. Your starter may be a meat platter, your first course is pasta and your second is usually a meat dish. Then there is always coffee and desert, which are generally delicious. If you are particularly brave, there is a cheese plate and a digestive. Of course we had to try it all.

And then we went to Venice and had to try the food there, because I heard that the Venitians have the best food in Italy. And then we went to Rome, where we met up with some of Big K´s family and of course had to prove to them that the food in Italy was good, as well as to find out for ourselves WHICH region ACTUALLY has the best food. We also made sure that Florence was not left out. All in all, I think that the bottom line is: all the food in Italy is good. Period. Sorry Neopolitans. You are NOT the best. You are in a 21 way tie with all the other regions in Italy. But....I have only tried 4 of them, so I never know, I may have to go back and keep trying out the theory.

So, now we are in Portugal, which as you know is Big K´s family´s origin. So we are trying to get a feel for the city, eating and drinking and walking. And most of all, watching The World Cup....watching the USA kick butt, even though the England goal they made was a little crappy...watching Portugal tie with Brazil to make it on the next round... So its a week of eating and soccer. Carry on.

Next, we go to a few more places in Portugal before heading towards Paris for our flight out of here. I made a map but the computer I am on would not let me save it in a format I could post here. Next time, I guess. Until then, Arividerci, Adios and Ciao!


If it is Called Monte, it Must be a Mountain

Okay so the verdict is in...Montenegro is the place to be! It is beautiful. It is tiny, with only about 700,000 people. It has ocean, mountains and beautiful old cities. We had a great time in Budva, which is a beach town, although we had no map and had a heck of a time finding a place to stay. The norm in Montenegro is to stay at someone's house, in their extra room. We got lucky the first time and the guy had an entire apartment with a separate entrance, its own kitchen, bathroom and patio. It was awesome. We got some wine and cheese from the store and had a picnic on the patio. The next day we went on a tour, which is not my favorite thing, but we did get to go on a boat and to see my favorite town, the walled city of Kotor, which is very midevil and has walls going all the way up the mountains to protect the city.

Next we headed to the mountains and took an all day hike up the third tallest mountain, which was very cool, but very tiring. It was only about 7000 feet (2300 m) maybe, but man was it steep, with lots of scree and snow so sometimes you had to bushwhack (actually to scree whack is more like it ) in order to get up the mountain. But we made it and the view was amazing. You could see for miles, rolling farmland and steep mountains together with little farm houses with steep alpine roofs. The walk back was the worst; downhill always gets me. And then we had to walk along the road to get back to our house and I think that in itself was about 4 miles! Or it seemed like it. We ended up hiking for about 10 hours in total. We got back to town and ate a horse and a half and passed out. Whew, real excercise makes me tired!

So then it was off to Croatia where we are now. Croatia is just as beautiful as Montenegro, but its about 3 times the price. So, we get on an over night ferry tonight and are headed to Ancona Italy. From there we will go to Bologna (has a first name...its Oscar!) and then Venice. More on all of that later. My posts are going to be quite sporadic, as the internet here is 6 dollars an hour and the internet cafes are surprisingly SCARCE. Booo..

I hope all is well back home. Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads out there!


My Mom Asked For a Map

So here it is....

Red = Where we are
Green = Last route
Blue = Where we plan to go

What's That You Say?

I only have one thing to say about Albania so far (arrived yesterday evening). Albanians are NICE. Waaaayyy nice. So maybe you are wondering, "aren't Spanish people nice? And what about the Greeks?" Yes, they are also nice, but I decided that the reason I like the Albanians, and maybe it is ironic, is that they don't speak English. Not really.

Yesterday we took a bus from Athens to Saranda, Albania, which is a cute little town sandwiched between the mountains and the sea. It is only about an hour from the Greece border and has had much strife. As little as 13  years ago, Albania was still having strife between anarchists and the government (see history of Albania here). However, now they are peaceful and the tourist business has supposedly picked up, although we have not seen more than a handful of other tourists yet.

On the bus, there were only about 6 other people. The whole time, even though we didn't speak the same language, they made sure we made it back onto the bus, bought us oranges and even patted me on the back as I finally got off the bus. They were very helpful and super nice!

Then we were looking for our hostel and a man came up to us and said, "I think I can help you" and since usually taxi drivers and everyone under the sun says they can "help" us when really they want to rip us off, we ignored the guy. Then he said my name. Turns out he was the guy from the hostel, waiting on the street to make sure we found it okay. Then when I asked him later where we could have dinner, he said, "I will take you there. What time would you like to go?" Its like a personal shopper! Anyway, this guy, "Tom" was/is great! He took us to dinner (we invited him to stay and it was very informative), told us exactly where to catch each bus and more!

Today we went to Gjirokaster, which is an old city, all made of rocks with slate roofs, and went to look at the Castle there. It was beautiful, very Gothic with many arches and stones and cobblestoned streets. The town was cute, with tiny cobbled streets, little shops and SO MANY MERCEDES! I don't know what it is about this country, but I think it is where Mercedes go to retire. There are a lot of new ones too, but there are TONS of 1970s 1980s Mercedes. They must have got like a buy one, get 100 free deal at some point. I love it!

Tomorrow we go to to Butrint, which is a UNESCO site with ruins from the Ottoman empire. More on that later.

It's All Greek To Me

We arrived in Athens and nobody accosted us at the door to the airport. In fact, it was all very civilized. We took the metro into the city and walked to our hotel without a hitch. We had a great time exploring the Parthenon and surrounding Acropolis area, then had a nice dinner of Gyros (I finally figured it out -- it IS pronounced "Euro", which is funny as we had 2 Euro Gyros) and wandered around the Syntagma Square area, which is where they do the changing of the guards. As we were leaving the square, a bunch of cops shut down the streets and a bevy of motorcycle cops came down it. We were not sure what was happening, but in the light of recent events (strikes and violence a couple of weeks ago) we got the hell out of there, after taking a couple of pictures, of course.

The next day we went to the beach and observed the customs of the Greeks. Actually, it is mostly older ladies. Here is the drill. Get to the beach. Take off clothes, put on bathing suit. Yup, I saw plenty of old lady boobs that day. Put on colored hat (note: each lady has different colored hat). Get right into the water. Make a circle with whichever friends are already there. Chat for a while, probably talk about your horrible husband and your wonderful grand kids (I couldn't understand them, but I am sure it is the same everywhere).  One lady would leave, after changing back into her regular clothes, and others would take her place, with a different colored hat. They never get their hair wet. It was great. They must do this every day. The funniest part is, the next day we went to a totally different beach, about 2 hours from that one, and the ladies were there too!

The next day we went to see the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion where apparently Aegeus, king of Athens, jumped to his death, thereby giving the sea the name The Aegean. The temple is very neat; it is surrounded on three sides by water and sits up on a high cliff. It was surprisingly uncrowded as well, which is not what I can say for the Parthenon. It still amazes me how they built these things (this was built around 700 BC). They are beautiful, all made of marble and columns and supposedly mathematically correct -- the columns go from wide at the bottom to narrow at the top so if you are looking straight at it, they look like they are all the same width. Pretty neat.

Oh and don't forget about the food! Great olive oil and tomato salads and tzatziki and hummus and souvlaki. Yum.