A Travellerspoint blog

I'm Off!

Hey everyone! I'm off to Europe for 2 1/2 weeks. I'll be visiting Budapest, Berlin, Dachau, Dresden, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, Luxembourg, Bratislava, Strasbourg, Versailles, etc. It's gonna be crazy but I'm sure a great time. I'll talk to all you crazy kids when I get back to good ol' Cyprus!

Posted by Stefani528 14:21 Comments (0)

Spring Break in Jordan!

Day 1

I got the usual 2 hours of sleep Thursday night before having to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to travel the next morning. Ruth, Allison, & I waited at the house for the service taxi to arrive and jumped in with the other girls.

Our flight left Larnaca at 9:30 and we arrived in Amman one hour later. I love short flights!

Once we got off, our group (me, jen, courtney, damira, eden) split from the other 5. We went through customs and got our visas before meeting with our driver for the trip, Khalil.

We rode over 2 ½ hours to get to Petra. We were stopped twice by police asking where we were from and where we were going.

Once in Petra we got into our hotel. It was beautiful! We had 2 rooms right next to each other with huge balconies overlooking the mountains. We all sat outside for a while admiring the view and just being amazed at where we were.

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Khalil took us to a nice Turkish bath. :) It was my favorite place in the whole wide world! We had herbal tea, sat in a sauna for about forever, layed on a hot bed, got scrubbed, salt scrubbed, massaged, and spent some more quality time in the sauna. It was wonderful, especially for the 3 of us who just got back from Greece & Italy & were still sore and beat from that trip. I had a cold too, and it helped with the stuffyness.

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For dinner we went to the Sandstone Restaurant. I got the most amazing fish ever! We also had really good wine and a meze of appetizers and dips. There was live music, which I really loved.

We went back to the hotel that night and watched a little tv before crashing.

Day 2

We drove to Petra at 8:30. Our tour of the ancient city lasted for 4 hours and was incredible, even though it rained off and on the whole time.

We rode horses down to the siq (imagine grand canyon gone mini-sized) and then continued on foot. My horse’s name was Russia. I have no idea what the horse boy’s name was, but he was crazy. He definitely gave me the reigns and sent me galloping off on this horse, even though he knew I didn’t know how to ride. He showed me the basics so I had it under control and it was actually a lot of fun.

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The walk was amazing! The sun was shining for this pert of the trip and the colors in the rock walls were crazy. We got down to the Treasury and the rain started. We continued on though, and got to see a lot of old homes, burial places, markets,a nd even the town’s courthouse. The amazing part was that they were all just facades carved into the mountains with nothing but a hammer and chisel.

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We had lunch at a place called The Basin. Again, it was really great. I had the best dessert ever – some coconut thingy – If only I understood Arabic I would know what it actually was.

Anyway, we walked back up to meet the horses. Mine was somewhere else (off on more important business I guess) so I had to ride another one with the first horse boy’s brother, Saddam (who laughed when he told me his name). The horses name was Christina! I thought that was pretty cool.

Once at the top, we stopped to buy a few postcards, met back up with Khalil, and went off on our way to the Dead Sea!

We drove along the King’s Highway, which supposedly cut half an hour from our driving time. All I know is it wasn’t a highway, it was a dirt path on top of a mountain with no guard rails, only one lane, and a lot of near death turns. It was definitely an experience.

Our hotel, the Dead Sea Spa, was also amazing. It was ocean front (sea front??) and absolutely beautiful. There were bright flowers everywhere, the rooms were big and nice, and there were 5 pools.

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We immediately changed and went down to the beach because we only had an hour before sunset. The water was actually quite warm. The mud, although famous and whatnot, felt gross on my feet. There was no way I was caking my body in the nonsense. We went out a little ways and then the floating began! No matter what we did, we couldn’t get ourselves under the water. It was completely weird, but completely cool.

We went up to the pool and Jen & I went down the water slide a few times before heading in. I definitely needed a hot shower to wash off all of the oily, salty mineral weirdness off my body.

We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant that night because there was basically nowhere to go out in the Dead Sea area. We just hung around the rest of the night and went to bed fairly early.

Day 3

We set our alarms for early so we would have time to spend at the beach before moving on. Jen and I went straight to the beach while Courtney and Eden got breakfast first. We swam and layed out for a while before I went up to the lap pool for a few.

Damira and I hadn’t eaten yet and we realized breakfast had ended 20 minutes ago. We went up anyway and made the guys working prepare us a meal! They gave us coffee and juice, poured our cereal and milk for us, and brought us 2 plates full of cooked food. It was hysterical and ridiculous all at the same time.

We checked out and were on the road to Mount Nebo. We spent a little time there, touring the monastery and checking out the views – you could see the entire Holy Land (Jerusalem, Jericho, etc.) It was really cool to see all of these places.

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From there we went to a school to see how the mosaics are made. We got to see the artists at work, which was neat because I love mosaics.

We stopped in the city of Madaba to see one of the mosaics – a map of the entire Holy Land on the floor of a Greek Orthodox church.

We stopped for a huge meze lunch and continued on to Amman City – which was crazy. It was huge and everything was made of sandstone so it was all white. A lot of the city was very dirty and it reminded me of Athens.

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We went up to the highest point in the city to take it all in before walking around the Old City for a while. It was getting dark so we went to our hotel and settled in for about an hour.

We went out for coffee and dessert that night instead of dinner because we were all still stuffed from lunch. There was live music (I really like Arabic music). The restaurant was an old stone horse stable with lanterns hanging from the ceiling lighting it. It was a really beautiful place.

Day 4

We woke up at 9 to make sure we would actually make it to breakfast on time. We ate and got ready for our final day in Jordan.

After heading out we had an hour drive to Jerash, an ancient Roman city. By this point I was completely sick and tired from not sleeping and wanted nothing to do with more Roman columns. It was very beautiful though, and it was nice to see an entire Roman city still standing –vs- just a few buildings or columns.

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We went to another meze restaurant for lunch…also awesome. I was very impressed with the Jordanian food on the trip, and almost didn’t want to go back to eating Cypriot food every day.

We got to the airport at 5ish, said our goodbyes to Khalil, dealt with customs and security nonsense, and boarded our plane back to Cyprus!

Posted by Stefani528 08:23 Comments (1)

Italia!

Day 4: When in Rome…

Well, I think it’s “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” I might have just made that up. Anyways, I’m not sure what the Romans do exactly, because most everyone I noticed there was American.

We arrived in Rome in time for lunch…my first Italian meal! I got a pasta dish & some tiramisu…both were excellent.

We met up with the whole group for a 3 hour walking tour of the city. On the tour we visited so many sights….the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Trajan’s Column, the Roman Forum, etc. That was the really cool thing about Rome…it didn’t matter where you were or why you were there, you were always surrounded by something interesting, something with a history.

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After the tour finished, Becky, Alex & I continued to explore for a bit before we sat down for dinner. We ate at a new restaurant, called Life, near the Spanish steps. I had pizza and some red wine. It was delicious.

We walked back to our hotel, stopping at the Trevi again to see it lit up, and passing the Royal Palaces. The plan was to go out later that night with some friends, but I definitely layed down on my bed and passed right out.

Day 5: Roma, Italia

The first thing we did on Wednesday was head to the Coliseum (which I have no idea how to spell correctly, thanks WVU for confusing me). We had a guided tour of the inside. It was actually less impressive than I had expected. It was huge alright, but hard to image in its original form because all of the seats and everything were completely gone. The floor was being rebuilt while we were there, which looked really nice.

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We then went to Vatican City where we toured the Vatican Museums, saw the Sistine Chapel ceiling and St. Peter’s Cathedral. The Museums were nice, and filled with tons of famous artworks. The ceiling was cool too, but it definitely hurt to look up at it for a long period of time. My favorite place in Vatican City was the Cathedral. It was enormous, and very beautiful.

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We left Vatican City and went in search of lunch. After eating we continued exploring and shopping for a little bit longer. We had dinner that night at a restaurant right around the corner from our hotel, because we were all extremely tired and sore from all of the walking.

Day 6: Pizza in Pisa/Welcome to Florence

We arrived in Pisa the next day in time for lunch. Marcie and I got pizza and had a picnic on the grass in front of the cathedral. We thought we were pretty cute, eating pizza in Pisa…actually, we are cute. We walked around the little outdoor marketplace and took the usual tourist pictures with the leaning tower before heading back to the bus.

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I was actually very impressed with Pisa. In all honestly, I was not interested in seeing tower that leaned, but it was absolutely beautiful. The cathedral and baptistery were very ornate and it was a really nice, peaceful setting.

We spent the next day and a half in Florence. The city was actually better than I expected as well. It was smaller than Rome or Athens, but I loved seeing all of the art and sitting by the river. It was a nice change of pace.

We arrived in the evening and settled into our hotel. Afterwards Erin, Becky, and I went out exploring the city until it got dark out. We stopped for dinner at an outdoor restaurant in a really nice piazza. I got excellent pasta – even though it took forever to get (really, all Europeans hate me). After dinner we stopped in an Irish pub called The Joshua Tree, right near our hotel. The owner was really great and even though it wasn’t Italian, it was a really cool scene.

Day 7: Florentine Loving

The next day we toured the Accademia Gallery where I snuck a pic of the David. It was very impressive, better than I had expected. The rest of the museum was sort of blah.

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We moved right along to the Uffizi Gallery. This museum was great. They had whole rooms dedicated to famous artists like Raphael and Caravaggio. It took a couple of hours to get through it and we didn’t cover even half.

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After the Uffizi a group of us went to lunch at another outdoor Italian place. We spent the rest of the day wandering around, shopping, and exploring.

We met up with our 2 program directors, Angelo & Maria for dinner. After we went back to the pub for a little to hang out before heading back to the hotel to pack and sleep.

Day 8: I Heart Venezia!

We boarded the bus for a four hour ride to Venice the next morning. After we got to the area, we had to take a shuttle boat out to the actual city. It was awesome to be on the water and the city from that view is gorgeous!

Once in Venice, we only had four free hours to explore on our own. We walked through St. Mark’s Square, shopped a lot, and ate at McDonald’s. Yes, McDonald’s – we didn’t want to waste the little time we had sitting waiting for food.

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After lunch we wandered some more, bought some more, and fed the pigeons in the square. We all met up and took the boat back to the mainland before boarding the bus yet again. We drove to nearby Vicenza, only an hour away to stay at a hotel for the night.

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Vicenza was dead. There were no people. There were no bars to go to celebrate St. Patty’s Day. There was nothing. We walked for nearly 45 minutes until we reached a restaurant for dinner. It was worth it though, definitely the best Italian meal I had on the entire trip. (I got white pizza!)

We headed home afterwards, packed our bags, and were prepped to leave Italy the next morning. :(

Day 9: So Long, Italy, I’ll Be Back

On Sunday I woke up at 6:30 bad idea. I met up with Jen and Courtney for breakfast and we just hung out until we boarded the bus to Milan.

Once in Milan we only had 2 ½ hours to explore and hang out. We visited the Duomo during mass, which was really beautiful. We wandered the streets and checked out the shops. We ate a quick lunch and continued on our way. I didn’t really like the city much: it was industrial and bland. We all congregated and sat in front of a beautiful castle until we left for the airport.

We got to the airport at 4 p.m. because our bus driver had to get back to Rome by a certain time. Our plane didn’t leave until 7:30. Ruth, Lauren, and I played rummy for those few hours.

The plane ride was cramped and I sat next to two whiny Greek men, one who flipped out for the entire 2 hour ride because some other guy spilled coffee on his suit.

We had 1 ½ hours in the Athens airport to relax and stretch out. That airport is insane. I’m pretty sure the security guards were just bored out of their minds because they not only seriously patted me down, but made me open my carry on and inspected my makeup case – I’m not sure if they thought I was going to attack someone with my mascara or what.

Well, we got on the plane and 1 ½ hours later touched down in Larnaca. We got our bags, got on yet another bus, and arrived at our house at 5 a.m. Some of us girls stayed up the extra hours to watch the sunrise…why not? So after 24 hours straight, I went to sleep.

Posted by Stefani528 04:52 Comments (0)

We're on the top of the world...

Day 1: Welcome to Greece

We left Larnaca airport early Friday morning. The flight to Athens was only 1 ½ hours so it wasn’t so bad. Once we arrived, we had to haul our luggage around a few small alleys to get to our hotel, which was really nice, very modern. The best part was the view: we could see the Acropolis from our room!!! So, I could lay in bed and just stare at the Parthenon…pretty cool.

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My first day in Athens was awesome. After checking into the hotel a group of us went exploring. We went to the main shopping district since it was only one street over. It was not only very expensive, but weird as well. There were street performers and vendors all over the place. There were some American Indians dancing and singing, which was odd, a robot dude, clowns, and the usual traveling musicians.

After that got to be too much for us to handle we went in search of lunch. We ate at a small Italian place (we were all sick of Greek food) which was really good. We got to see the changing of the guards in front of the Parliament building, which was unique.

We headed to a museum to see a Salvador Dali exhibit, but by the time we got there it was closed. No good. So we decided to walk toward (in the rain) the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch. There was a gate around the Temple and we couldn’t get in, but it was still really impressive.

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We then went wandering around the back streets and found some really cool shops. We met up with some of the others for a coffee break before heading home.

That night we went to a restaurant called JK for dinner. It was 11 p.m. until we got there, and everyone was really exhausted. I had a salad, though, and it was really excellent.

Day 2 in Athens: Amazing!

Everyone in Cyprus told me that Athens was a dirty city and they didn’t like it. Well, I loved it. (It was sort of dirty though.) It is definitely a crazy place, and I could never live anywhere like it, but still, it’s awesome to see at least once.

We woke up and went straight to the Athens Museum. The tour was kind of boring, but then again I don’t ever really like museum tours. We got to see a lot of what we learned about in art history though, which was kind of cool.

Next we went to the Acropolis. The walk up the hill wasn’t too bad, and the view from the top was amazing! You could see the whole city and all the way to the Sea, even to the first island in the distance. They were renovating the Temple of Athena Nike, and we walked through that to see the Erectheion and the Parthenon. Both were really awesome sights…very large and crumbling, but impressive. We spent a good while up there hanging out and taking pictures, basically being the tourists that we are.

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A group of us went back down the hill and looked around the marketplaces and little shops. We stopped at an outdoor café for lunch. I ordered tomato & cucumber salad because, well, I wanted salad, not more souvlaki. Well, what I got was a tomato sliced up. Hmm. Okay, so I never ordered such a salad again. BUT – we did count the number of barterers who came up to us trying to sell stuff: 25. Yeah.

We continued shopping for a good amount of time. We checked out the Athens flea market, which isn’t what I would call a flea market at all but just shops really. We (Alex, Nicole, & I were left at this point) found the famous Greek poet guy who makes sandals for celebrities now. I can’t remember his name right now, and even if I could I wouldn’t be able to read Greek. Anyways, he made sandals, and now I have some awesome handmade footwear.

That night we went to Hard Rock for dinner. I GOT NACHOS! That is all I need to say about that experience.

Day 3 in Athens: WooHoo

We had the last day in Athens free to do whatever we wanted. I woke up and got some coffee before meeting up with Alex & Nicole. We went out to see a few last sights and wander around some of the areas we hadn’t seen yet. The day wasn’t too eventful, except for just getting to know the city a little better.

Andddd….guess where I went to dinner that night? Hard Rock Café. In my defense, American food kicks the crap out of Greek food, which I had been eating for the last 2 months anyway. So, Lauren, Ashley, and Angela wanted to eat there, so I went along. It was a good time. They wouldn’t let me get nachos again though. :(

On the way home we passed by a huge student protest. It was peaceful, just a giant concert in the square where tons of people were gathered. It was interesting to see though. We were warned coming into the city because they had trashed a lot two nights before during protests. (Greeks go to college for free and they’re making them start to pay now = not very happy kids)

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So…this is all I have time to write now, but I promise I’ll write about the rest of the trip as soon as I have time!

Posted by Stefani528 11:43 Comments (0)

S'Agapo = <3

Life’s been pretty hectic lately. There’s been tons of schooly work to do before our first big trip to Greece and Italy. I’m pretty much excited to the point of jumping up and down about that!

Lately I’ve been spending my days in class (what else is new?) and the rest of my time either furiously writing papers, throwing together powerpoints, or hanging out with the coolest mix of Americans and Europeans that ever existed.

The past two weeks…well, I don’t even know where to start. Last Thursday we did our usual and went to a party at the Erasmus house…nothing too special. On Friday night four of us girls went to a place called Brown’s New and got dinner and drinks. The food was awesome and I won at poker so the other had to buy me a pina colada. Any night with free pina coladas is a good one in my book ;). On Saturday we went to the northern Turkish occupied side of Nicosia to do some shopping (things are a lot cheaper there).

On Tuesday, after a few days of crazy, hard core studying, Alex and I went downtown to a bar called Plato’s to meet up with some of the Erasmus kids. We just hung out all night, drinking fruity beers and playing their crazy head European drinking games.

Wednesday we both broke down, and Alex and I went to TGI Fridays for dinner. At midnight it was officially Erin’s 21st birthday, so we went to a local pub so she could have her first “officially legal if we were actually in the United States not Europe” beer.

Thursday the birthday madness began. We decorated the apartment before going to class. Our second class was cancelled so we came home and little miss Erin started drinking right then…2 p.m. Our friend Nemenja came over and cooked us all a feast. Yum! Some of us went to get margaritas and then we all met up for karaoke night. Our b-day girl sang the night away, before we had to carry her home…at 11. I went downtown after with some other GLS kids. It was kind of a great night in Cyprus.

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On Friday I went to a reggae night at a coffee house with some other GLS-ers before heading to the club for the rest of the night. Saturday we went to Troodos mountains - - it was cold, and wet, and there was SNOW – I didn’t like it. That night we went to a party at another Erasmus house. The lunar eclipse was that night, so it was cool to watch.

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Sunday was the greatest day ever in Cyprus! Lauren’s cousin Pantelis lives about 20 minutes away, and his family invited us over for lunch. So six of us went, and spent the day in their adorable village just hanging out and seeing how everyday Cypriots live. We walked around the village, played in the park for a bit, and ate more than I’ve eaten since I got here. It was just a really nice day…one of my favorite so far.

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So now it’s back to the hustle and bustle of everyday nonsense here in Cyprus. School is painful, but we’re leaving on Saturday! Italia…here I come!

Oh…ps- Sasha taught me how to drive his scooter Sunday night! I’m a natural!

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Posted by Stefani528 10:51 Comments (1)

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