… back to life, back to reality

Well, this week kicked off my return to the real world and it was not as bad as I thought it would be… it has been a pretty decent couple of days! Plot twist: my anxieties were irrational (duh). Also, I like lists.

Irrational anxieties (taken from my previous late-night rant) and their results:

  • All travel-related anxieties (losing luggage, airplane troubles, etc.):  Did not happen*
  • Elliott not being happy to see me: He was very excited and has been glued to me since my return. He has stayed on my heels and doesn’t leave my side. He has been very playful. Whenever he can’t see me, he constantly turns around to see where I am. He was very happy to be sleeping in my bed (Dad and Suzette didn’t let him in their bed at night) again and loved burying himself under the blankets and pillows. We have snuggled a lot.
  • Elliott being sad at my apartment: Non issue. He has run around the place 400 times and re-peed on EVERYTHING around the building/on our normal walking route. It’s hilarious. If he’s sad, it doesn’t show.
  • Work not needing me/not being able to pick up where I left off: Jokes. My first few days were busy catching up and getting organized but the people that matter were definitely happy to have me back. It took Josh about an hour of going through things with me on Monday and I felt good from there.
  • Nieces not being excited to see me: Non issue. Bailey knew I was coming so didn’t appear very surprised/excited but she talked my face off and wanted to tell me everything show me everything and do everything and I count that as being excited. She also said “I miss you for a long time” several times and that melted my heart. Olivia was hilarious. She was much more ‘surprised’ and visibly excited. She looked older too; it’s crazy what 1 month will do! We played a lot and laughed together a lot. She’s a hoot.
  • Not getting back into my gym/yoga routine: TBD. I’ve been busy and have not had an opportunity yet. I am not entirely worried about it anymore though.
  • Not getting back into healthy eating: Non issue. I stocked up on fruits and vegetables on Monday and have already gulped down more glasses of water in the last few days than I did the entire trip. It’ll be fine.
  • Having a bad number on the scale: I gained 0.0lbs while I was gone. High fives all around.
  • Friendships being different: I met some awesome people through Chris and I think those might fail (which would be unfortunate because I really do like them) but otherwise, probably good.
  • Relationship being different: He’s a coward. I actively avoided getting involved for TWO months before my trip so that exactly what happened, wouldn’t happen. To hear and understand me, convince me otherwise, and then let EXACTLY what I didn’t want to happen, happen is hurtful. I had a great trip but it definitely would’ve been improved if I wasn’t stressed out and/or in tears every night for the last week. I’m sure he’s a decent person deep down inside but… #boybye.

In addition to almost none of my anxieties coming to fruition, here are a few more positive things:

  • Snuggling with Elliott every waking second.
  • Sleeping in my own, queen size bed with actual blankets and pillows.
  • Using my own, normal sized shower with great water pressure.
  • Alleviating my neck and back pain by carrying my normal purse again instead of my crossbody one.
  • Having control over my transportation and being able to take myself places.
  • Eating non-continental breakfasts.
  • Eating fruit and vegetables and drinking FREE water.
  • Listening to music again!
  • Playing with my nieces.
  • Going to work (I know, I know… seems like a weird ‘positive’ thing but believe it or not, I like my job and the people I work with and it was weird not being in the office for so long. I worked 8.5 hours on my first day back…).
  • BBQ!!!

Noteworthy struggles:

  • Setting up radio stations. I had to Google ‘Houston radio stations’ because my car’s battery was replaced while I was away, therefor erasing my preset stations. I could only remember 92.9 and 104.1. Embarrassing.
  • Driving. How do I defog the windows? Why are my mirrors not in the right placed? What’s a speed limit? Kidding, it wasn’t that bad. It was interesting though.
  • Using a computer/keyboard/mouse. Shout out to my BIL for letting me use a very old, very small, very slow computer on my trip so I could store pictures but wow, looking at a large, non-distorted screen was an adjustment. Typing? Nightmare. A mouse? What is life? The first hour was an embarrassment.
  • Ordering lunch. Josh and I went to Chipotle and I almost ordered the wrong thing. I hate myself for not remembering my beloved Chipotle order.
  • Grocery shopping. I leave for a month and the Kroger near me gets remodeled. It should not be that difficult to find toothpaste.

Lastly, here are a few PSAs to all men:

  • The statement “I talked to [insert family member here] and realized [insert bullshit reason here]” is the most absurd reason to end something and makes you more of a coward than any thing else you could do. Why? Because instead of owning your own feelings, you’re putting the blame on someone else. And instead of formulating a real, valid reason, you give some generic “it’s not you, it’s me” line. That is not doing anyone any favors. Kevin gave me that crap last year and I am so done with it. Have an original, authentic thought of your own, people.
  • Saying “I wasn’t putting on a true face” makes you a child. Why don’t you just be who you are at all times? Saying “if you knew the real me, you’d understand” is equally as ridiculous. Why not show me the real you? Why hide that? How will you ever get to know someone if you aren’t real with them? Isn’t it exhausting faking who you are? Sounds like a nightmare. And, who is to say I wouldn’t like the ‘real you’ if you showed me?
  • The line “guys like me are not good for girls like you” is one of the most offensive things I’ve ever heard. Who the hell are you to tell me what is good and bad for me? Can I not make my own decisions? Am I not a smart, capable human being? How do you, of all people, suddenly know what is best for me? The arrogance from a line like that is disgusting.
  • You do not distance yourself/ghost a person in an effort to be polite. If you are trying to be polite, you IMMEDIATELY be upfront and have a mature discussion about whatever realization/concerns you suddenly have. Ignoring a person and making them legitimately worry about your well being for a week and a half while they are a world away is incredibly selfish and messed up. To drag something out unnecessarily for a week, in an effort to ‘be polite,’ is a joke.
  • Never offer someone the opportunity to talk in person or still be friends if you don’t mean it. It makes you more of a spineless dick.

Wow, I feel better getting that off of my chest even if it is a tad juvenile. I don’t hate you but your timing was terrible and your approach was deliberately hurtful so I do hope you work on those in your future. Enjoy the gifts from Europe I brought you, you don’t deserve them. Best of luck.

Anyway, it’s been a good week so far and I am happy to be back at it. I don’t know how often I’ll continue blog but I do enjoy it!


*Everyone else in the group who booked their travel through AESU had serious travel issues. They boarded their plane early afternoon in Athens, took off, saw smoke coming out of the wing, heard the pilot tell them the wing was broken so they were releasing fuel so they could land safely, then landed back in Athens. Their flights were cancelled and rescheduled for the next day. The next day, the SAME THING HAPPENS. Apparently, United didn’t fix the plane. Flights were cancelled and rescheduled again. I don’t know many details from there but it looked like half were able to re-book through a different airlines and go to London, stay the night, and then head home Tuesday. That’s an additional 3 travel days, mostly spent at airports. I felt so bad for them. 


We kicked off the long travel day with a 5am wake up call, leaving us enough time to get ready, finalize packing, and eat breakfast (except I didn’t eat because there were literally only mini loaves of bread) before our cab arrived. Katy and Kayla were on the same flight us so together, we all headed to the Athens airport. Everyone else in the group booked their flights through AESU so they flew out together later in the morning.

We got to the airport just before 7am and was told the baggage check didn’t open until 8am so we sat on the floor in line to wait. I had a chocolate croissant because I was hungry and there weren’t any hot options. We were first in line which was great because the queue filled up fast. They ended up opening just after 7:30am so we were able to check our bags and get through security by 8am. Boarding didn’t start until after 9am but with the crazy luck we’ve all had this trip, we all preferred to get here early and wait versus be nervous about not having enough time. We had been on so many long bus and boat rides by then that we were all pretty good at keeping ourselves occupied. I sat on the floor and napped using the chair as a pillow.

We boarded at 9:30am and the flight lasted about an hour and a half. I finished watching ‘The Intern’ (I started it on my flight to London) and it was terrible. I don’t think the writers remembered what the movie was supposed to be because by the end, the main focus had totally changed and in an odd way.

They brought us lunch which I was happy about because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to eat between flights. It was just a cheese sandwich but it got the job done. I also started the movie ‘Concussion’ with the intent to hopefully finish it on the next flight.

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Our flight landed in Istanbul at 11:10am. We exited and we had to take a bus to the terminals. The plane had 2 exits and 2 buses and somehow we lost Katy and Kayla. The flight status board didn’t have a gate for our plane to Houston yet so we sat and waited there until one was assigned; luckily we didn’t have to wait long. We had our gate assigned and headed over. It was quite a long walk over to our gate and we stopped to exchange our money to USD while we were at it. We couldn’t buy snacks or a keychain (ugh) for me because we didn’t get Turkish money and I didn’t tell my bank I’d be in Turkey… I didn’t want to get flagged if I used my card.

We had to go through passport control right in front of our gate… and then another security check. When we were in line, a couple in front of us recognized Victoria’s St. Thomas t-shirt and we got to talking which helped pass the time. As silly as it sounds, I originally thought, “oh, what are the odds they’d know Houston?” when they said something but then remembered the flight was TO Houston so the odds were pretty good. That’s what exhaustion does to you. We were both very anxious to just get on the plane and head home. We boarded the plane later than the boarding pass said but were in our seats by 1:30pm and the air by 2pm.

We rode British Airways on our way to London and it was comfortable; I had no complaints. Turkish Airlines though… they know what they’re doing. The seats, in-seat head rests, blankets, and pillows were all so much better. There were also foot rests which I love. The in-seat TV screen had similar movies but worked better and was clearly better quality. It also had more flight information so we could stay informed. The flight to Istanbul was Turkish Airlines too and it was great but this flight really spoiled us. We received Turkish Delight (a gelatin/peanut snack that was okay), drinks, and hot towels shortly after takeoff. Next came the ‘care kits’ which contained socks, slippers, ear buds, an eye mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and lip balm. The seats also had AMERICAN outlets so I was able to charge my phone! We also got 2 full meals.

I finished ‘Concussion’ early on. It was good but I did have to pause it in the middle and take a break from it. All of the brain talk was making me queazy and the last thing I wanted to do was pass out on the plane. It was scary and concerning information but it was a good movie. I’d like to think there are more protections and rules in place these days to help prevent CTE but I doubt it’ll ever be enough. I’d be fine if my future kids didn’t want to be football players, though!

I started ‘Into the Woods’ next and halfway through, dinner was served. It was a chicken and rice meal with salad, green beans, bread, and a coffee mousse and it was all pretty good. I was also starving so that could’ve influenced my opinion. I inhaled it.

I tried to stay up to finish the movie but failed and took about an hour nap. It wasn’t a good nap but it was still a nap. I used the provided sleep mask and I think it helped quite a bit. I finished the movie when I woke up and loved it. My brother’s friend was in the play version at Sam Houston and I really enjoyed it so I was confident I would like the movie. Plus, I love a good musical… and Meryl Streep.

Next up was ‘The Big Short’ which I LOVED. If you ever want to learn the details about the housing crash in 2008 and the economy problems, I really recommend it. It was so well done and showed just how flawed everything was. It’s crazy to me that people were so… careless? irresponsible? neglectful? to allow that to even happy. It’s actually kind of scary because the end of the movie definitely implied that the same practices have resumed so who knows what’ll happen in the future.

Continuing my serious/not-serious movie pattern, I chose ‘Hello, My Name is Doris’ next. It was really bizarre and not my favorite but it wasn’t bad. It had some awkward/uncomfortable moments and I think that was my biggest problem. I don’t like feeling that type of uncomfortable while watching a movie. Also, Sally Fields played an older, single, cat lady with hoarder tendencies and I have a fear that that’ll be my future and no one likes to see their future like that.

By the end of this movie, my contacts were burning, I had to pee, and I was starving. There were still 3 hours left in the flight and I was just hoping there’d be a snack soon. Ask and you shall receive because just a few minutes later, they brought us another meal: pasta, bread, hummus, and pudding. I’m not a fan of hummus but the rest of it was good. I also have this weird thing where I always want apple juice when I’m on an airplane so I finally had some. I also inhaled that meal… I’m not proud of it.

The next movie I watched was ‘Selma’ which was really good. I know our society sucks today and we’re still really flawed but I just cannot imagine being there during the Civil Rights movement with all of the ridiculous rules and regulations that existed. The scene with the marchers getting assaulted on the bridge during the first march was gut wrenching and it bothers me that people like those cops existed (and still exist) today. It was a very sad but powerful and touching movie.

All of the movies successfully helped pass the time because by the end of the last one, there were only about 40 minutes left until we landed. I watched 2 episodes of the Big Bang Theory and filled out my landing card.

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We landed safely and made it through customs and baggage claim pretty quickly. Dad and Suzette were there to pick me up but I was feeling pretty blue and kind of in a mood because of it so I was unintentionally not very polite to them. Sorry, guys. I said goodbye to Victoria and then headed back to dad’s house (sobbing in the back seat the entire time, super cool and not at all embarrassing) to see Elliott. Elliott seemed excited to see me and I was definitely excited to see him! They drove the two of us back home in my car so they could help me carry things and because I was so tired. I really appreciated it!

I got home around 8:45pm and am now doing some laundry and unpacking. I’m not good about leaving a suitcase packed for a long time, no matter how tired I am.

So… our day started at 5am (Greece time). We had a 1 hour flight from Athens to Istanbul and a 12 hour flight from Istanbul to Houston. We landed around 6:40pm Houston time which would be 2:40am in Greece. Including the extra hours involved for customs, baggage claim, and driving home, that’s over 24 hours of travel! Yikes. I’m thankful everything went smoothly and we made it back safely though.

If you read yesterday’s post then you already know I didn’t sleep well last night. I was so exhausted all day today and constantly felt like I was on the brink of tears for 100 reasons. I’m happy to be back but I’m also not coming home to what I thought I’d be coming home to so at the same time, I don’t want to be home. It makes everything (the trip, the relationship, work, responsibilities, etc.) more real. It will surely be a fun week trying to adjust again. I am excited, though, to be back with Elliott and sleeping in my own bed.

Wish me luck!


… to Greece (day 5)

We made our way to Athens today, our last city of the trip. We were up, packed, and eating breakfast by 7am to catch our taxi boat by 7:30am. I didn’t sleep well last night because I took a nap yesterday so that was unfortunate and made for a long morning.

Our taxi boat took us to the Flying Cat, the high speed ferry, and after an hour and a half we arrived in Pireas. I definitely napped on the ferry. Our bus met us in Pireas and it was so hot that even the short walk from the ferry to the bus had me dripping in sweat. I intentionally wore a maxi dress so that my legs wouldn’t sunburn but in that moment, I was regretting it.

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It was a short drive to Athens, during which I applied a ridiculous amount of sunscreen. We picked up our tour guide at 10am and headed to the Acropolis for a guided tour. Guys, it was so hot. The dry heat was intense too so I made sure to stock up on water before we walked around. I also had an umbrella to shield myself from the sun which I know makes me look like a crazy Chinese tourist but it really did help. The entire place was covered with marble and granite stones that have been polished over time so they were incredibly slick (like the ones in Hydra), making it difficult to walk on with my sandals.

We braved the crowds of people and heat and learned a lot about the site. Acropolis means the highest point in the city so as you can imagine, we had a big hill to climb to see the temples. The hill was chosen specifically because of the steep hills, making it a natural fortress. However, most of the temples were destroyed during the Persian War and the monuments we saw today were the ones the Athenians erected after the war. They were really beautiful to see and very impressive; they definitely take your breath away. The Parthenon itself was built in just 9 years! Unfortunately, the front of it was under renovation but it was still amazing. Other fun facts about the Parthenon: the whole thing is an optical illusion as it looks perfect but no lines are perfectly vertical or horizontal. You can’t tell though because the floor inside was curved, making the lines look straight. That was intentional to look more natural which was interesting.

After the tour, we had some time to take pictures on our own before getting back on the bus for the city tour. The bus took us past the Temple of Zeus, the first Olympic and only marble stadium, the National Gardens, St. Paul’s Church, Constitution Square, the Academy of Athens, the National Library, and several marble statues and Roman baths. This city has as much history as Rome so it was a lot to keep up with!

We made it to our very last hotel, Hotel Arion, by 12:45pm and went nearby for lunch. Of course I had a Greek salad and a gyro. There was a stray kitten hanging out near us and it was actually very cute. We tried to convince Marlene to adopt it but she wasn’t having it. We don’t know if it was a boy or a girl so we named it Tzatziki and fed it leftover pita and souvlaki chicken.

After lunch, Victoria, Neelam, and I went to the Monastiraki Market, a main shopping district in the center of Athens. We walked around for a bit, bought some souvenirs, and had our very last European gelato. The shopping area was cool but I get really uncomfortable when shop owners stand at the front and call at you to come into their shop! That seems to be a common thing in Europe as it’s happened in just about every city. The area is also covered in graffiti so it looked a little rough. It was not my favorite.

It was only 3pm but I was feeling extra tired from the lack of sleep last night and the heat earlier today so I wanted to go back to the hotel. Victoria and I spent the rest of the afternoon in our room just relaxing, skyping, and updating blogs. I don’t know exactly what everyone else did during the free time but I know some napped and some considered going to a museum (not sure if they actually went). I would’ve liked to go do more things and see Athens more but my body and brain were just so done. I woke up with a “I want to go home” attitude so that kind of took over. Plus it had been a fun but rough couple of days, personally.

We had our final group dinner at 7:30pm at a nice Greek restaurant nearby. We enjoyed a variety of traditional Greek foods, music, and dancing. My table was awesome at clapping on beat, too. Shout out to us. Marlene gave a final goodbye speech and we all took turns taking pictures with her.

On our way back to the hotel, Martin described the trip in the most perfect way: it’s like your favorite TV show ending after 5 seasons on a good note… you’re sad it’s over but happy about how it turned out. That’s very much how I feel. I’ve had a great time but am ready to go home. Any longer and it would’ve been too much but any less and it wouldn’t have been enough. I feel satisfied.

We all came back to the hotel and after a quick breakdown in my room for non-trip-related reasons, I joined everyone on the roof. The views of the city at night were amazing. With the sun down, the weather was really nice and you could actually feel how alive the city is. So many people were out and about; Saturday night in Athens looks like it can get pretty crazy. Marlene bought baklava for everyone but I started feeling sick earlier so I skipped it. Victoria and I have an early cab tomorrow to the airport so we said our goodbyes and headed to our room to get ready to go home.

We have a long travel day back to the states tomorrow with a late arrival in good ‘ol Houston, Texas! I am incredibly anxious about going home, despite the excitement. Before coming here, I was worried about losing my luggage, missing a flight, airplane troubles, getting lost, and all sorts of other normal travel worries. This time, I have just about all of those with the addition of a whole host of new ones… what if Elliott isn’t happy to see me? What if he is sad to go back to my little apartment and lose the backyard at Dad and Suzette’s house? What if work doesn’t need me anymore? What if I can’t pick up where I left off there? I’ve received emails saying that they’re ready for me to be back but what if I get back and just hinder their new process? What if my nieces aren’t as familiar with me anymore and forgot about me? Will they be excited to see me? What if I can’t get back into my gym and yoga routine? What if I can’t get back into healthy eating? What if the number on the scale is not what I worked so hard for anymore? What if my friendships and relationship aren’t the same anymore? I mean, Europe already ruined my relationship (which made for a fun little hiccup here at the end of the trip) but what if others are impacted? And so on and so forth. Almost everyone here is a recent college grad so they’re going back into a new world for them, ready to start their adult life. The difference for me is that I already had a life and now I have to go squeeze back into it. I’m ready but I’m worried (and I know it’s irrational). Wish me luck trying to sleep with all of that on my mind!

I’ll definitely write about our travels home and have a summary/reflection post in the near future.

Until tomorrow,


… to Greece (day 4)

Today was another amazing day in Greece! I was up and at breakfast by 8:30am and we were on our taxi boat to the other side of town shortly after. From there, we boarded the Flying Dolphin, a high speed ferry that took us to Hydra (Ydra) Island for the day; one of our optional excursions. The boat was like an airplane inside. It was pretty cool and got us to Hydra in about 30 minutes.

We were at Hydra by 9:45am and had some free time before our donkey rides later in the morning. The city has no vehicles (except for that we saw a garbage truck!) so everyone relies on donkeys to move goods and get around. During our freetime, everyone split up and did different things. Anna and I walked around into various shops; I bought my keychain (and found contact solution at the cutest pharmacy ever) and she bought a few scarves. The island was really pretty but there were SO many stray animals. I just about broke down in tears when I saw a dog digging through the trash for food only to come up empty handed. He gave me and Anna the most sad look and it broke my heart. I think of Elliott in that situation and it kills me. I had to walk away… it was rough. A lot of the cats I saw were either sleeping or had water or kibble so I felt less bad for them but it was still rough. That combined with the fact that all of the donkeys looked miserable and overworked (also, I hadn’t seen any grassy or shaded areas for them and the whole place was paved with slick rocks) just made for an emotional time. I’m weak when it comes to animals.

We re-grouped at 11:15am and headed over to our donkey ride. I really didn’t want to ride one, mostly because I felt bad for the poor animal. Avery was asking the lady running everything (I’m assuming she was Harriet as the placed was called Harriet’s Hydra Horses) about their treatment and she was saying positive things so I felt a little better but it was a little uncomfortable. The actual ride wasn’t that bad but it was weird. What’s crazy is that I eat meat so I must be subconsciously okay with the unethical treatment of animals. I’m a mess.

Our ride lasted about 30 minutes and I’m glad I stole Katy’s idea to cover my legs with my beach towel because I was feeling extra fried and sunburned. The towel definitely saved my legs. I ran out of my sunscreen yesterday so I was using other people’s and I just felt like I wasn’t covered enough. I got a little pink but somehow managed not to burn.

We had lunch nearby and like all Greek food apparently, it was delicious. We had a Greek salad, chicken, and an interesting dessert made from semolina. There were a lot of stray cats around us and I was trying not to feed them so that they wouldn’t stay but I caved… as we left I stole our leftover bread and passed it out to stray cats as we made our way to the swimming hole. Call me Robin Hood.

We went over to the swimming hole and it was incredibly hot outside so I just jumped in, forgetting how salty the water was. It’s so intense… I didn’t last long and just sunbathed on the ledge for the most part. The ledge wasn’t too high up and there were no rocks below so a few people started jumping into the water from there. I didn’t plan on doing it but eventually did because it looked fun and I didn’t want to regret not doing it!

That is when things got crazy. There was a much higher rock that Marlene said we might be able to jump off of but when we got there, she had told us not to. Well, a random guy at there decided to jump off of it and it kind of peaked some people’s interest… particularly mine, Abby’s, and Miguel’s. The 3 of us decided to go scope it out and see if the rocks below were clearable. While we were up there, another guy decided to go jump it! This really made us want to go now but every time we looked at Marlene, she was shaking her head no and telling us not to do it. The guy scaled the cliff and came back up to meet us and while we were talking about the best way to jump, Marlene pulled out her camera which I interpreted as her actually wanting us to jump. The guy’s name was Alex and he was very encouraging and I said if he jumped again and waited for me at the bottom, I’d jump. So, he did and now I had to! By this point, everyone in our group AND strangers had their cameras out waiting for me to jump. Abby was right there and patiently and quietly counted me down and then… I went for it. It was terrifying and amazing all at once! Words can’t describe the excitement. After I went, it was Abby’s turn. Alex and I waited for her and encouraged her and then… she jumped! Two down. Soon after, Trent, Neelam, and Hannah jumped too. Just before we left, Miguel made the leap. As we were leaving, others in different groups started trying it. Marlene wasn’t mad but couldn’t believe we actually did it. She said we were the first group she’s had to actually do it so, props to us. It was very, very exciting. I still can’t believe we did it!

By then it was time to catch another boat back to Poros. This one was called a Flying Cat and was twice as big as the first one! Some of us were so comfortable that we fell asleep for the short ride.

When we made it back around 3:30pm, we took our taxi boat back to the hotel. Some people sat by the water, some people napped, and some people went to the pool. I went to the pool for a little while, showered, then took a good hour and a half nap. The sun really takes it out of you!

Our dinner tonight was also a toga party so after my nap I made a toga out of a sheet for the first time ever. Thank you, Google. It turned out pretty cute! We had a decent dinner at the hotel (I’m still obsessed with the Greek salad) before taking some photos by the pier and heading to the pool for some drinks. Everyone looked so cute in their togas – we did a good job! At the pool, we had some drinks (I had a very redeeming strawberry daiquiri), played Truth or Dare, and played Catchphrase. Just before 11pm I headed back up to my room to re-pack my suitcase for tomorrow’s travels to Athens and blog.

Tomorrow, we leave Poros early in the morning to go to Athens. Athens is supposed to be REALLY hot so here’s hoping we all survive it. It’s alao our last day of the trip as we all leave the next morning to go back home. I can’t believe how fast it’s gone and how much we’ve done! I’ve loved it so much but have missed Elliott and others and will be excited to see them all again. I know I’ll be tough getting back into a routine though, especially after having the most relaxing time in Greece!

Until tomorrow,


… to Greece (day 3)

Today was easily one of the best days of this entire trip! I didn’t sleep well last night for a number of reasons so I tossed and turned until finally getting up and ready for the day at 8am. I had breakfast at the hotel but because today was mostly a free day, a lot of people took the opportunity to sleep in a little later. Breakfast was okay but there were no croissants so I count that as a win.

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We hung out outside for awhile, enjoying the waterside, before hopping on the provided bikes and biking into town about 10am. It was only a few of us and we had a good time going into different shops, enjoying the scenery, and climbing up the hill to see the clock tower. The city was so pretty and the weather was great which made for an awesome morning. The shops were all pretty similar and full of knick knacks but it was still cool to browse. I didn’t have any luck finding contact solution but I did get a cute tote bag so that was good. I already knew I loved Greece from just last night alone and exploring the island more only confirmed that. We stopped and took pictures everywhere because there were just so many picturesque places!

We made it back to the hotel at noon and tried to squeeze in lunch before heading out for our water activities the rest of the afternoon. Victoria slept in this morning so she missed biking and joined us at lunch. I had another incredibly delicious Greek salad (they are the best here, seriously) and chicken souvlaki.

The entire group boarded a little boat around 1:30pm and headed to another, more remote, part of the island. Poros doesn’t have real beaches (our hotel has a mini one) so we had a private dock for our group with loungers and beer for everyone. There were a couple of guys running different water activities for us to try like parasailing, tubing, banana boating, wake boarding, and water skiing (for a cost, of course).

I decided to do everything except water skiing and wake boarding because I was pretty positive I would not be successful with those. The others all seemed fun though so I figured I’d give them a shot. We went tubing in groups of 4: my group was with Anna, Victoria, and Katharine. Tubing was insane. I almost fell off at each bump and I was really determined to not fall, or to at least not be the first person to fall. Anna fell at one of the last turns because her tube ran into Victoria’s but then the boat driver pulled a mean trick on the rest of us to try and knock us off too. He had us put our hands in the air for a picture and then when we all weren’t holding on, he pulled the boat forward again. I totally saw it coming though and was able to grab on to the tube again and not fall off. Tubing champ, right here. Also, shout out to Trent for taking pictures of us!

Next up was banana boating. My boat had Kayla, Ellie, Cassie, Katy, Trent, and me. None of us had done this before either and it was a little bit of a let down after tubing. It was fun but definitely not as adventurous. At the end, the driver tried to knock us all off and was successful. I got a taste of how salty the water was during tubing but man, that water was intense. I’ve never experienced such salty water and my contacts were not happy… but I was. The water was great.

Last on the list was parasailing, which was what I was looking forward to the most. There were 8 people on our boat (Abby, Hannah, Katharine, Avery, April, Miguel, Martin, and me) and we went one at a time so it was a little slow but I enjoyed just riding around in the boat as well. I was pretty excited when it was my turn, especially after hearing all of the people before me talk about how much they enjoyed it. Parasailing was easily one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It was so quiet and peaceful up there and I definitely had another one of those surreal feelings. How many people go parasailing in Greece?! It was so amazing and the scenery and views will forever be engrained in my memory. I also thought it would be really fun to just cut the rope and free fall into the gorgeous water. The most depressing moment of the day was seeing Martin suit up in his life jacket because it meant my turn was almost over! I easily could’ve spent all day gliding around in the air.

After parasailing, a few of us went to a nearby cafe to get gyros. Katharine and I weren’t very hungry but still really wanted to try them so we split one and it was so good; easily the best gyro I had ever had and appropriately so given our location! I also had an overpriced, mediocre strawberry daiquiri.

We didn’t have a specific”end time” at the dock and were allowed to stay as long as we wanted but everyone had done all of the activities they wanted to do so we headed back to the hotel. It was a crazy boat ride and we all got soaked from the waves; that salt was brutal.

We were back at the hotel by 5:30pm and while most people went to the hotel pool, I decided to lay out on the beach and enjoy the peace and quiet. It was so still and so beautiful and the sun felt amazing. I was very much relaxed, which is something I struggle at doing. I sunbathed in silence for an hour before a group of middle school aged kids appeared at the hotel. They checked in and made their way to the beach which ruined the quiet. I tried to stick it out but couldn’t hang so I figured I should go get ready for dinner. As I left, a lady asked me if I was leaving because of them and I said, “it’s just a little loud” and walked away. I wasn’t mad, it’s just as much their vacation as mine, but it really was overwhelming loud. The hour I got though was pretty great.


Dinner was at 7:30pm at the hotel. We had salad, gyros, and ice cream and it was all great, of course. Greece is slowly taking the lead for best food on the trip. Who would’ve thought?!

After dinner, Avery, David, Ryan, and I took a cab into town to get gelato. It was pretty good and we enjoyed it sitting on the pier and watching the sun go down over the water. We sat and talked for a couple of hours and it was really nice getting to know them more. I’m one of the older ones on the trip so hearing them talk about their post-grad plans and concerns brought back some serious deja vu. I tried to give advice where I could but I didn’t want to be that old person who just gives out unsolicited information when people might not care! It was a nice evening though and again, with perfect weather. Greece is amazing at all times of the day!

Tomorrow we have another relaxing day. Most of us are going to Hydra island to explore. There are cars allowed on that island so we’ll be traveling donkey which will be interesting. We might even get to cliff dive which is terrifying and awesome all at the same time. In the afternoon, I’m sure we’ll just lounge around again!

I managed not to get sunburned today but my farmer’s tan isn’t any better. I think it might be way past being able to be fixed! Maybe I need to put sunscreen on the tan areas only to help balance it? That idea feels flawed though. Maybe I’ll just become a farmer and it won’t matter. Either way…

Until tomorrow,


… to Greece (day 2)

Waking up and getting ready on the boat was an interesting experience. The boat docked at 6am (which was loud and obnoxious) and after that, the boat was significantly more rocky the rest of the way. I really noticed it the most when I was taking a shower but I still managed to shave my legs; I still don’t know how. I was up at 8am and headed downstairs for our group breakfast at 9am. A lot of people didn’t make it down, including Victoria. She didn’t want to be awake at all on the boat so she decided to skip breakfast and stay asleep.

Breakfast was sad. Orange juice, cereal, croissants, and bread. They had a hot breakfast buffet but our ticket included the preset continental breakfast so I made it work. I brought a croissant back to the room for Victoria but I did steal her orange juice. She ended up not eating it and buying a donut later though.

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I hung out at breakfast for awhile but decided to go back to the room around 10am to just relax. It was nice to have some actual quiet time, just doing nothing. Of course I fell back asleep though for a quick nap. I was up and downstairs by 11:30am. Victoria was just waking up, putting her at nearly 12 hours of sleep! Everyone else either napped, read, or hung out on deck and just embraced the down time.

I bought the most ridiculously large water bottle for €1.90 and a delicious chocolate muffin before we docked in Patras, Greece at 1pm. We were on the bus by 1:30pm and headed to Poros. We had a quick bathroom break halfway and I was able to connect to Wi-Fi for a minute and pay my credit card bills on time. Hooray for being on vacation but still needing to fulfill responsibilities and be an adult! Marlene also shared some fun facts about Greece with us during the drive: the doors are blue to keep the evil out of the house, the houses are white because of the heat, and there’s a fairytale that when God created the earth he put the soil through a strainer and put the good soil in every country… all that was left were rocks so he threw them over his shoulder and that’s how Greece was formed. I found that one pretty clever and cute.

The first leg of the bus ride was torture; not because it was 2 hours long or because we were tired of buses, but because it was up the coastline and we had the beautiful water taunting us the entire time. We were all just so ready to be relaxing on the beach eating gyros!

We stopped just before 4pm for lunch. Yes, lunch.  It was at a shady spot called Canale Cafe and I ordered a club sandwich that actually turned out to be pretty good. I don’t know what was in it but it tasted like it had a Greek spin on the typical club sandwich! I really wanted cookies so I bought a box of chocolate ones with chocolate chips and shared with everyone so that I wouldn’t end up eating them all. Sharing is caring.

Next to the cafe was the Corinth Canal, a 300ft tall, 70ft wide, 4 mile long man-made canale. It was pretty impressive and there were even people bungee jumping off of it. My shirt today has the shoulders cut out and I was worried about getting an even weirder tan line because I forgot to put sunscreen on while we were on the boat but as Victoria pointed out, my shoulders are the only part that need tanning because of my farmer’s tan so… we will see how that works out for me!

We were back on the bus by 4:45pm to continue to Poros. The bus ride was about another hour and 30 minutes followed by a 10 minute boat ride to the other side of the island. The bus ride was gorgeous and finally getting to step out and really see the island was amazing. I was very excited to finally be in Greece and it was more gorgeous than I could’ve imagined. I think everyone was ready to be here!

We were at the hotel by 7pm and it was the first time we had normal Wi-Fi in days so I just lounged at the hotel and read emails (oops) until our group dinner at 8pm. Dinner was pretty good for the most part. I loved, loved the salad and whatever the entree was wasn’t bad either. It was nice to sit outside and enjoy the warm weather finally after all of the rain we’ve had!

After dinner we enjoyed some drinks by the pool before some of us took the boat back over to the other side of the island to visit downtown Poros at night. Seeing the island lit up at night was beautiful; no pictures could do it justice. It was the first time I went out to a club all trip and I’m really glad I did, the views were amazing. I hung out at the club for a bit, enjoyed my Tequila Sunrise, and watched France beat Albania in the last few minutes of their soccer game before taking a cab back with Anna and Neelum around midnight.

Tomorrow we are going to explore the island via bike in the morning then we get the opportunity to do participate in a variety of water activities like parasailing, banana boating, etc. I’m so looking forward to all of it and to getting some sun. We’ve done and seen so much this trip that it’s going to be great to relax and do things at a slower pace, too.

Until tomorrow,


PS – I ran out of contact solution tonight… I was so close to making it last the entire trip!! Argh.

… to Greece (kind of)!

Today was quite the travel day! When we went from London to Paris so many days ago, everyone said “this will be the longest travel day.” That might’ve been true for people not going to Greece but for the rest of us, today takes the cake. I didn’t sleep well (have I mentioned that I really hated the hotel in Rome?) so I was up early anyways when Justin texted me at 4:50am that Greg was drunk and acting ridiculous in their room. I won’t get into the details but it was crazy so I tried to help any way I could via text because I had to pack and get ready. We take an overnight ferry to Greece tonight so we had to pack a small bag for our room so they could store our luggage under the ship. This required a little suitcase Tetris!

I couldn’t remember if the meeting time was 6am or 6:15am so we were in the lobby by 6am just to be safe. We ended up waiting until close to 7am to leave because our bus driver overslept but it was fine because the lobby was the only place with Wi-Fi. When we finally got on the bus, we had a packed breakfast. If I ever see another croissant, it’ll be too soon.

Because we were up so early and because so many people went out last night, we were all exhausted. For the first time all trip, EVERY curtain on the bus was closed to avoid the sun. With a few empty rows now from the people who went home, we were able to stretch out a little more and actually lay flat to sleep. It was great but I would rather have them here then have their bus row!

We stopped for a short break and made it to Pompeii around 10am for a walking tour of the excavations. The place was packed and the souvenirs were perverted (I still don’t have a good reason why) but we survived. It was very hot and since I forgot to apply sunscreen, I decided to be one of those crazy people who used an umbrella to shield myself from the sun. I have managed to not get sunburned so far and I had no plans to start today. Victoria and I have joked all trip that we feel like a potato and I really didn’t want to turn into a tomato so I had no shame using the umbrella.

The tour of the excavations was pretty cool. Pompeii was a Roman town for wealthy merchants that was one of 3 towns covered in volcanic dust after mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. The volcano was 10 miles away so Pompeii got the worst of it but even with a population of 12,000 people, only 2,000 perished. We saw the perfectly in tact bodies and dog they recovered and learned about the process they used to extract them. That part was pretty intense. The town was pretty sophisticated for their time, having sloped roofs to collect water, sliding doors for shops, and even red paint for their murals (apparently red was a difficult color to make/get). They were also the first to have amphitheaters, even before the Colosseum. The town’s impressive water system was actually pretty dangerous too; they used lead pipes and ‘staples’ to piece together water fountains and deliver water through the town, therefore contaminating the water and slowly poisoning the people. The same thing happened in Rome. The entire site was very interesting and very crowded but I enjoyed walking through it. There were several statues there but they weren’t part of Pompeii, they were a part of an art exhibition. Some of the statues were promiscuous so a lot of people were taking crazy pictures.

After our tour, we had lunch at Hotel Vittoria nearby. They clearly specialize in tourist lunches because for €12 we got a choice between salad and fries, a choice between pizza and pasta, ice cream, and a drink. They were just cranking out these set menu items so it was a quick meal (compared to most European restaurants) and actually pretty good. I enjoyed it and it was nice to be inside after being in the heat.

We re-grouped at 1pm for our last major bus ride to Porto di Bari, where we board our ferry. Before really getting into the drive, we stopped at a really picturesque overlook of the coast and took some pictures. The view of the water made everyone even more excited to get to Greece!

It was about a 5 hour drive, of course with a stop halfway. I napped before our stop, like most of us, but not the second half. By this point, we all slept so much that we were all pretty awake and the bus curtains were open again and we were being social. With Victoria in the row in front of me and Abby in the row behind me (the two sickest people here… severe coughing, sneezing, etc.), I’m a little nervous I’m going to finally catch the plague that I’ve somehow avoided thus far. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen. Victoria also got a little upset with me because I wouldn’t tell her what we did 2 days ago. She was behind on journaling and she had asked me what we had done that day every night when she journaled and I was tired of answering. I wanted her to think about it and try to remember on her own and she didn’t like that.

We arrived in Bari at 5pm and after getting tickets, going through security, and loading luggage, boarded the boat just after 6pm. Of course it was freezing and raining just as we arrived so it was fun to deal with all of our stuff while having to hold umbrellas! Somehow Victoria and I managed to score a room with just the two of us which was pretty lucky because most everyone else has 3-4 to a room! Our room was small but cute; very comfortable for the circumstances. I had never been on a boat like this before or even slept on a boat overnight before so it was all very new to me!

Victoria wanted to take her sea sick medicine and go straight to sleep so I went down to the main area and had dinner with group. I ended up hanging out with Avery, Anna, Neelum, and Cassie for most of the evening and it was good getting to know them more. It turns out, most of the group thought the only reason I was on this trip was to babysit/chaperone Victoria and that her dad (also my CEO) wouldn’t let me go unless I did. A lot of people at work thought the same thing or made snarky comments to me before leaving. I’m really bothered by that so let it be known: this trip was my idea. I planned it for me and me alone. When I gave my boss the courtesy to ask for a month off (time which I have so am allowed to take), he and his wife asked if Victoria could join me as a graduation present for her. I could have said no and gone alone but I said yes and that’s how we ended up here together. I also made it clear to Victoria and her parents that I was in fact, NOT her babysitter and she could do whatever she wanted.

Now that I’ve cleared that up… the girls and I  watched the most amazing sunset from the deck and hung out with Marlene before calling it a night around 10pm. Our ship docks tomorrow around noon so we’ll have breakfast on board and have a few more hours to hang out before finally arriving in Greece!

Until tomorrow,


… to Rome (day 2)

I’m going to be honest, I woke up in a grumpy mood. I did not sleep well because the hotel is awful. The bed and pillows were the worst and I just was not comfortable. That combined with the awful shower and lack of Wi-Fi has definitely made it my least favorite hotel on the trip. The elevators were crazy and stairs didn’t go directly to every floor so getting to breakfast was a pain but we made it, only to be disappointed by the options. Luckily, there was yogurt.

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We left the hotel by 8:55am (10 minutes late) for our city tour. Marlene is cut throat and left one person behind because she wasn’t there in time. That’s the second time she had done that on this trip! She met up with us later during the tour though.

Our city tour started on our bus, driving past the Circo Massimo (where they used to have horse races) and several different ruins. It’s almost as if the city just builds around anything they find because everything is important.

We got off the bus at Capitoline Hill and walked up the famous staircase, by Michaelangelo, marking the original entrance to Rome. Apparently the term “capital” comes from this hill and is the reason we call the capital of different countries and states… the capital. Romans were also the first to have a republic/Senate/democracy so we should all thank them for having Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump as our political representatives right now.

Next was a tour of the Roman Forum ruins. Victoria forgot her Roma Pass so she had to sit this part out. The rest of us went in and saw the ‘original’ Rome, which was slowly excavated. We also got to see the history of the how they built walls and the development from stacking oddly shaped stones, to same size stones, to the addition of mortar, to the addition of ‘stapling’ marble on the outside of the building using bronze. Monuments, buildings, and statues were all given as gifts or as wartime or religious symbols so there are a lot all over the city, especially in the forum, to see and remember. Over time, they had to build a city on top of the original city (after it was destroyed) because they didn’t have the ability to move the structures. I found that odd because they built the most amazing buildings but then couldn’t move ruins? The only reason we know what the original structures looked like is because the Romans used to spread the news via coins and their buildings are depicted on all of them. I thought that was a pretty fun fact. We took a group picture on the rock where the famous “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” speech was made before heading out to our next stop.

Across the street was the Colosseum, originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre. We visited it yesterday but it was cool to hear some facts about it like that it was built in only 8 years and used to have a canvas (made from sails Roman ships) on top that could be opened and closed depending on the weather. I also didn’t know that it was abandoned until about 15 years ago and full of cats… feel free to fact check our tour guide on that one though. The place was so busy so I was really, really glad we toured the inside yesterday. I think we were the only ones of the group who had gone the day before!


We boarded the bus again around 11am to go to Vatican City. We drove past more ruins, what’s left of the Roman houses, and so many churches and political buildings. I couldn’t keep track of all the names… our guide made a comment that Rome is an “open history book” and it’s really true, everything is old and important.

We made it to Vatican City but our tour guide didn’t want to wait in line so we visited a souvenir shop instead. It was a really bizarre detour so Justin and I bailed and went to get lunch across the street at a cafe. We had pizza and it was pretty good.


After lunch we separated from the group and got in line for the Vatican Museum. It took two hours in line to get in and 400 “no, go away” to random street people trying to charge us twice as much to get in but it was worth it. We finally got in a little after 2pm and toured the entire museum, which took a little over 2 hours. It was incredible but also kind of bizarre. They kept and displayed some very random things… but it was still cool to see and walk through. I was thankful it was a nice day outside because there was no air conditioning and the breeze from the open windows was great. The museum consisted of several artifacts, paintings, and statues but everyone was really there to see the Sistine Chapel. It was very impressive artistically and I’m glad we had the opportunity to see it.

After the Vatican Museum, we went into St. Peter’s Basilica. We missed the turn inside the Sistine Chapel to go straight into St. Peter’s so we had to go back outside, which was unfortunate, but luckily we threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain and got good luck because somehow we managed to bypass the entire line into the Basilica. We were looking for the holy door because Pope Francisco declared this year a holy year (the last holy year was 2000 and the next was scheduled for 2025 but he declared it early to claim mercy for all the crazy happening in the world) but ended up in the main line anyways. It was great.

We went into St. Peter’s and it was amazing. It was hands down the best church we had been into. The architecture and artwork was unbelievable. All of the original paintings were damaged from the marble’s condensation so they were replaced with exact replica tile mosaics and it was crazy how much they still looked like paintings. I really enjoyed being there, even though I’m not Catholic!

We left the church around 5pm and hauled over to get gelato from a popular gelato place in Rome called Giolitti. It was delicious, like all gelato in Italy of course. The place also had Wi-Fi which was the first time any of us had been connected in nearly 24 hours so we sat for a bit and took advantage of it. Justin, Greg, and Heidi checked in for their flights home and I was able to post my blog from yesterday, so everybody won. On our way there, we saw the Supreme Court building and walked past the Piazza Navano to squeeze in a few extra sites.

The gelato place was really close to the Pantheon so we visited there next. We didn’t have time to go inside but as with most things, at least we can say we saw it now.

We headed back to the hotel around 6pm to get ready for our last group dinner because 6 people leave back to the States tomorrow. We had a pasta feast at Nazzareno and it was pretty delicious. We enjoyed some bruschetta, salad, fancy Mac and Cheese, Lasagna, and pasta. I’m not normally a lasagna fan but it was pretty good. I’m not usually a red wine fan but I also enjoyed one too many glasses of that too. It was a fun dinner with a crazy-haired singer singing to us and we had a great time.

After dinner, Antonio (our bus driver) drove us around the city so we could see it at night. He dropped most people off at a club and I said goodbye to those leaving for home tomorrow. The rest of us went back to the hotel. There’s no Wi-Fi in our rooms but the Wi-Fi in the lobby works so I’m sitting here writing about my day!

Tomorrow, a few go home (including some of the people I’ve gotten close to, unfortunately) and the rest of us head to Greece with a pit stop in Pompeii. I’m really looking forward to Greece and just relaxing on the beach but I have to admit, I’m looking forward to being home too!

Until tomorrow,


… to Rome!

We kicked off the day with breakfast at 8:30am at the hotel. The apples were shady but hey, it’s still fruit. After breakfast, we put our bags on the bus and then had free time until 11:30am so a few of us took off back into the city.

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Greg and I wanted to climb the bell tower and since it was included in the tickets to climb the Duomo yesterday, there was no line, and the weather was great, we decided to go for it. It was quite the hike but not near as high as some of the other things we’ve climbed up. The stairs were narrow and steep (and it was a single staircase up AND down) which made it all the more interesting. Luckily, there were different platforms/levels of the tower so we had a little rest and nice breeze every few floors. Justin, Victoria, Heidi, and Cassie were waiting at the bottom for us so we waved to them on our way up! We also had some great views of the city and even better views if the Duomo.

After the tower, we decided to get gelato from Venchi one last time. It really was THAT good.

We were going to be on the bus during lunch so we also stopped by Cafe Gilli (the oldest in Florence, if you recall) for take away sandwiches to eat later. We then met up with the rest of the group to go visit one last stop before heading to Rome. Antonio, our bus driver, drove us up to the Piazza Michaelangelo for a great view of the city. The rain was starting to come in but it was still nice while we were there and you could basically all of Florence from one spot. It was amazing!

We were back on the bus and on our way to Rome by 12:15pm. I ate my sandwich and while the rest of the bus watched Gladiator, I took a nap. We stopped halfway for snacks and a bathroom break and made it to Rome a little after 4pm.

Our hotel is in a monastery so it was definitely an… interesting hotel. Our room was pretty large but very stark which made it feel cold, and I don’t mean temperature-wise. The hotel also had no Wi-Fi in the rooms, only in the lobby or designated Wi-Fi areas but surprise, the Wi-Fi was down. This made it pretty difficult to plan our day when we couldn’t look up the hours of any museum or site, couldn’t look up directions, etc. We had a map but our hotel wasn’t even on it. It was pretty stressful to be put into a city and not be able to do anything, but we made it work.

Justin had the offline map of the city downloaded so that helped get us to the Colosseum. We didn’t think it would be open because everything indicated it closed at 3:30pm but we went anyways and to our luck, it was open. We used our Roma Pass to get in and it was amazing. The weather was perfect and because it was early evening, it wasn’t too hot. We walked around inside and I took probably a million pictures, even though they all started to look the same. It was really surreal being in there! I was in a pretty foul mood up that point because of the hotel situation and because of our walk to the Colosseum (it was pretty gross; the city was not giving me good vibes) but things definitely turned around at that point. We toured everything we could and then decided we needed to go find a place to eat!

On our way to the Colosseum we passed a street celebrating Roma Pride and there were a ton of pizza places so we started to head that way but then decided it would be crowded so we went exploring for another place. We found a pretty decent cafe nearby and finally had some good Italian pizza! We also tried the bruschetta (really delicious) and got a few desserts (the churros and chocolate were amazing).

After dinner, we started making our way to the Trevi Fountain. On our way, we passed the Roman Forums (which we’re touring tomorrow in more detail) and Altare della Patria, a very impressive building which apparently is the ‘symbol of new Italy.’

We made it to the Trevi Fountain just as the sun was going down so it was lit up and very pretty. The whole area was incredibly crowded but we pushed our way to the front, took our pictures, and tossed our coins in! Hopefully good luck (preferably with the weather) comes our way now.

There were several gelato places just outside the fountain so of course we had to get some. We each got two scoops because we’re crazy and they were the biggest scoops of all time. The gelato was also very delicious! We enjoyed our gelato in front of the fountain before trying to visit one more spot before we ended the night.

We headed to the Spanish Steps next, only to see that they were closed! It was difficult to tell if it was for construction or restoration but they had been closed since May 30 and didn’t have a sign posted when they’d be reopened. They were pretty, but it was a little bit of a bummer that they were closed. At least we can say we’ve been there now!

It was 9:30pm by this point so we braved the metro and went back to the hotel. I think we’ve used all public transportation in every city we’ve stayed in now (except Florence, which would’ve been unnecessary because the city was so small) and each have been so different. Our Roma Pass gave us free access to the metro though so we would’ve been foolish not to take advantage of it!

For whatever reason, possibly all of the gelato, we weren’t very tired so we played a game of Rummy before calling it a night.

Tomorrow, we have a city tour to learn more about the major sites but I think my group managed to see a lot of them today, so we have a nice head start. After our tour, we are going to try and see the Vatican and St. Peter’s. 6-7 people (including the people Victoria and I have spent most our time with) in our big group aren’t going to Greece so tomorrow is their last day, which is sad!

Until tomorrow,


… to Florence (day 2)

Today started off in a very bizzare way… I was up late last night because of the Tuscan Feast and after getting to sleep, was woken up by someone basically trying to break into our room at 3:30am. I reluctantly opened the door and it was a girl in our group, looking to use the bathroom. She went and then left quickly and I went back to sleep. I heard everyone was out really late after the feast, bottomless wine, and clubbing so I figured she maybe she got turned around heading to her room. Luckily it was our door she knocked on though and not someone outside of the group! It was later in the morning when I realized she had (unintentionally) swiped my hairbrush! I got it back though later in the day!

I didn’t sleep much because for some reason I was wide awake at 6am. I tried to update the first Florence blog to correct the drunk-typing but got bored of that and just rested. I was up and ready by 7:30am for breakfast and out the door by 8:15am with Justin, Greg, and Heidi to start our day. The croissants were ‘sweet croissants’ and I had two because they were delicious and I have no self control.

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Our first activity was climbing the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo. It was a GREAT day to do that because the weather was just as perfect as it was yesterday. The views from up there were amazing and because it was so clear, you could see for miles in every direction. It was awesome and Florence is a beautiful city!

Our ticket to climb the Duomo also came with passes to get into the Baptistery so we went ahead and ‘toured’ the inside of that too. There wasn’t much to see; it was a small space. It was pretty though!

I had to split up with the group to get back to the hotel by 10:30am for our Chianti Wine Tour. Marlene and a few of us went out into the Tuscan mountains and toured the Vignamaggio winery. We heard all about the wine making process, the types of grapes and wines they use/make, and toured the gardens. This particular winery was interesting because there is documented proof that at one point, the real Mona Lisa lived there. At the end of the tour, we were treated to a wine tasting with two types of reds and a meat and cheese platter. Unfortunately, several of us had drank PLENTY of wine from the night before so not only were we tired, we didn’t really want to drink! I somehow managed to avoid the hangover but even I didn’t want to drink anymore. I tried it all though and still enjoyed it. The best part of the tour was the amazing scenery up in the mountains. The weather was great and it was nice to get out of the city and up close and personal with nature. After the tour, we went to a small town nearby called Greve for some gelato. Marlene was late for the tour and she wanted to make it up to us by treating us, which we happily accepted.

The wine tour lasted until about 3:30pm and when we got back, Victoria, Cassie, and I had to rush to meet up with Justin, Greg, and Heidi because we had tickets to see the Galleria dell Academia at 3:45pm. This museum is most known for housing the original statue of David and upon our entry, we realized that the statue was about the only interesting thing the museum had. It was the smallest one we had visited in all of Europe and didn’t really have much else going for it. We didn’t spend a lot of time there.

We tried to go into a few other places after leaving the musuem but things were starting to close down so we went back to the hotel to rest. Most of us were operating on just a few hours of sleep so having some down time was great. Justin, Greg, and I played cards while Victoria Skyped until our group dinner at 7:30pm. I also quickly got to Skype with my sister, BIL, and nieces!

Dinner was a ‘Florentine’ buffet at the hotel which was great because we didn’t have to go anywhere! It was delicious, too. The chicken and pesto pasta were big standouts but it was all great. I have not been eating well on this trip (and I know, I know… when in Europe) but I honestly haven’t felt too pudgy or gross up until today. Maybe it was the wine, maybe all of the gelato is finally hitting me… who knows. Feeling pudgy makes me feel sluggish and that combined with being exhausted today just made me want to rest. Several people went out to a color music festival after dinner but I just wanted to go sit, relax, and catch up on my blogs.

I ended the day with a Facebook Messenger video call with my mom and brother. It was the first time I was able to talk to them since I left 16 days ago so it was nice to see their faces! Shout out to my brother for braving the Houston weather to get my mail and check on my apartment me for me while I have been gone!

Tomorrow we check out of our hotel at 9am and then have a little free-time before we leave for Rome around noon! It really is crazy how fast time goes on this trip!

Until tomorrow,