Thursday, September 20, 2012

Trip Report - Venice/Athens/Mykonos/Dubrovnic

For the pic slideshow that accompanies this report, to here:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/30813780@N00/sets/72157631544863348/

Venice: Having only the opinions of friends about Venice (most of them very negative), I was a bit nervous about what the city would be able to offer me. But within minutes of actually being on the island, I was totally taken in by the romance and beauty of this place. The rich colors of the boats, shop windows and the smell of freshly baked goodies follow you around while you walk the maze of the city. Sure it is a concrete jungle but there are no office buildings, no large eye sores or the smell of gasoline to distract you. You are surrounded by cobble stones pathways, cute walking bridges and occassionally a street performer either singing italian opera or strumming the strings of her cello (stunning!). I would have loved to sit for 30 minutes and enjoy those sounds with a cappucinon but at the time, I thought I was pressed for time. Lesson learned…when in Europe…relax. I wasn't blessed in the food department. As I am not a fan of pasta or fish, I was limited in my choices. Don't order the chicken. In most instances it comes as pressed schnitzel. Gross. The pizza is hit and miss. Don't believe the pictures on the menu. Just look around and scope out the right place for you. When you find it, sit back, order a few and spend an hour or so just people watching. It seems to be a popular passtime there. Popular choices have free wifi (thank god), so include that on your list of "must haves". Venice is a 3 day stop max. There were sections I missed which sucks but you can't have it all. Make sure you get to the island of Murano. It is worth the water taxi ride and the glass shops are beautiful. I would go back for 2 days for sure.

Athens: This city took me by surprise. Never would I have thought it had so many people. The city scape is massive! In my ignorance, I was expecting an old city, not modern…much like the smaller places I had visited. But this city is anything but not modern. Imagine Toronto, with the occassional greek temple thrown in here and there. If I am to be honest, I was disappointed with Athens. The Acropolis was under major construction and was flooded with tourists. I don't know why I thought I would be alone and would have the opportunity to take the perfect picture. Even at 9am, there were thousands of people and the chance of getting a good pic without it including a massive crane, scaffolding or a bunch of green pants tourists was next to impossible. In fact, there are only a few items worth a photo up there. In retrospect, I am glad I got to experience it, but I could have done without. However, Zeus' temple, only a kilometer away was far more interesting to me. The colors, the height of the columns, the massiveness of it…impressed me far more than the acropolis. AND there were no tourists. Maybe 20 at best. I loved it there. Not much to see but just felt more personal. Before you leave, be sure you get to the shopping district. The sidewalk vendors and cafes are great and you are bound to find a deal or two. Now that I have been there, I would probably not go back. There just wasn't enough for me. If I had more time, maybe I could have visited more sites but as they are spread out around the metropolis, it just isn't worth my time.

Mykonos: This island getaway was simple, beautiful, friendly and met all my expectations. The white painted homes and storefronts, the blue waters, the food, the hotties…etc. It was all a slice of perfection. Sure you can tour the island in a day, so it isn't more than maybe a 2 day stop but if you take some tours to the nearby islands, it can be a full 2 days. My side trip to Dylos, the birthplace of twins Apollo and Artemis was interesting to say the least. The island itself was pretty cool. The ruins, the history and stories…but the ride there was a nightmare for me. The 30 minute ride to the island is paved with rough waters, deep swells which all translates into one sick puppy. I must have been green by the time I got off that ferry. It was not something I would do again regardless of what kind of beauty awaits. Be warned. Lol By the end of the day, after shopping in "little Venice", I relaxed with a liquor and an amazing plate of chicken gyros. By far the best meal of the trip so far. And free wifi of course. I could have sat there for hours. Table by the beach with the tiny houses on the hill sides all lit up around me. Gorgeous. It is what you think of when you think of Greece. I would definitely go back to Mykonos. If only for a short time.

Dubrovnik: To be honest, I didn't know a single thing about this place. I had no expectations and had no clue what I was getting into. Unfortunately, it was the only day that it rained. It was sad because it was by far, my favorite place on the trip. Ok, a close tie with Venice. This walled city had the old feel of Camelot while retaining a romantic and renaissance essence about it. The marbled streets and hidden alley way cafés and restaurants were a welcome continuation of what Venice had introduced. But by far, the tour of the wall (although terrifying to me because of my vertigo) was stunning. The ocean spray on one side balanced with the old city on the other was a view I won't soon forget. The colors of the roofs and cathedrals were stunning. If only the sun was out at the time. :( I only had a short time in this city but I would love to go back for at least another day to experience what the entire city has to offer. The shops, the food…etc. There seems to be a lot I missed. The only thing I noticed about this place is that the mood of the locals didn't seem all that positive. They were not rude but they didn't seem happy. There was an aire of sadness in the city. It was strange. Maybe it was the rain…?

So there it is. Of course there are tons of mini stories that happened in between the nooks and crannies but I will save those for another day. ;)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tease

I just arrived home from my vacay to Europe.  12 hours of travel, 8 hour flight.  Argh.

I plan to write all about it in the next few days but as a teaser, you can check out some of my fav shots.  The schedule included Venice, Bari, Mykonos, Athens and Dubrovnik.  Trip report to come....




Monday, September 3, 2012

Awesomeness

I have to say, this weekend at the 24hr race, I was inspired and awed at the amazing people I have the pleasure to know.  So many of them impressed me over the past 2 days.  Whether it was in speed, technique, positivity, drive or overall attitude, it made me miss skating so much.  It has re-ignited my desire to get back on those torture devices.  Of course, I have to get healthy again first and make sure I don't do myself any more damage.

So my hat is off and I give much respect and admiration to those of you who gave it your all this weekend.  Take comfort in knowing that regardless of your race level, you were inspiring. 

A special congrats to the winners.  It was great meeting you all and watching pros at work.