Friday, October 26, 2012

Chalk it up to Talent

I always wanted to have cool handwriting. My cursive always sucked, there was never any hope for it. Over the years I created this hybrid of script and print that to this day still varies depending on the type of writing utensil I'm using. No hope.

Last weekend, the Hubs and I visited Danielle and Rob in Katy. We got to see their new house, brand spankin' new kitchen, and have really good married-couple conversations. Danielle also took me to brunch at Tiny Boxwood's (thanks, friend!). Aside from the delightful, tasty food, and dangerous bottomless mimosas, the setting was also idyllic. We both admired the cute chalkboard signage, which is sooooo everywhere these days, but I still love it sooooo much. So much. And we both woe-is-me'd that neither of us has stylin' handwriting.

Then I remembered about a chalkboard artist I had read about, Dana Tanamachi, in Brooklyn, New York. Like this is her legit job -- she hand-letters chalkboard signs. Check it out. She's amazing.


There's no hope for this hopeless hand-letterer, but her's is true talent!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Greece via Instagram

It never fails to surprise me what cool photos you can take with an iPhone. We dropped almost a grand on a brand new Nikon DLSR before our recent trip to Greece, and yet some of my favorite pictures from the trip were taken on instagram.

Thanks to my stupidly choosing to do the software update Apple released without backing up my phone first, I lost a lot of those pictures when we got home. However, the ones I'd uploaded from the road to instagram were safe. Let's experience Mainland Greece via instagram!

Country side between Athens & site of Ancient Delphi.

Treasury of Athens, restored at Delphi.

Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Tholos at Delphi.

So the site of Ancient Delphi was life-changing. First of all, it's set in a majestic mountain range - such an amazing backdrop. Secondly, it's one of the better preserved ancient sites, so there is quite a lot to see and you don't have to strain as hard to imagine what it must have looked like when it was a thriving place of worship. In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, and a major sanctuary of the god Apollo. It was thought of by the Greeks as the center of the earth (the "navel"), and it was our first stop on a roadtrip of the mainland, and an incredible way to begin our tour of the ancient sites.

Just one question: why have Americans not thought to season potato chips with oregano?
We ate many bags of these along the way.

I cried at Epidaurus. Yes, I know I'm a nerd. Aside from being a celebrated healing center, the ancient city of Epidaurus is also home to the best-preserved Classical theatre.  It was amazing and so . . . ALL THERE - just like it hadn't been thousand of years since it was carved out of the mountainside. This was one ancient site that was thankfully almost empty and we just sat (like in the picture above) and took it all in. I'm sitting almost all the way at the top of the grand theatre, and I could hear the tourist you see standing "center stage" talking in a whisper. Incredible.

 A better shot of just how big Theatre at Epidaurus is really.

Along the way I became addicted to fresh Greek olives. Canned olives just can't compare. I do not recommend, however, trying a green olive off the tree - which both Tim and I did at Delphi when no one was looking. They are the most bitter little buggers you can imagine.

This is the stadium at Ancient Olympia. If you're any fan of the Olympics, you should try to go here one day to pay homage. . . it was also incredible (I'm running out of words that mean "incredible"). There was no real "seating" even in ancient times so this stadium is pretty much intact. Thousands of men just sat on the lawn to watch the foot races. You can even still step on the marble starting and finishing lines, which is what this tour group was doing when I snapped the picture. We arrived at Olympia at about 8:30 in the morning, and by some stroke of genius I suggested we hurry out to the stadium first, to see if we could catch it before hordes of people showed up. We were so thankful we did so -- we had it all to ourselves! Well, with the exception of these two precious pups who were having their own race . . .

After a few days on the road, we stopped over for two nights in the harbor town of Nafplion. It was a beautiful old town with Venetian influences, as you can see with all the old Pensions (mansions). Unfortunately, it also had a cat problem, and the whole town smelled like a cat box, if I'm to be totally honest.

Harbor in Nafplion.

Church in Nafplion.

Old pensions (mansions) in Nafplion.

Peirene's Springs at Ancient Corinth. It was said to be a favored watering-hole of Pegasus, sacred to the Muses. Poets would travel there to drink and receive inspiration. The legend goes that Peirene became a spring because of the tears she shed in lamentation for her son Cenchrias, who was unintentionally killed by Artemis. What was really amazing is there is STILL RUNNING WATER BACK IN THERE. Um, yeah.

Last stop: Athens, the dirtiest city on earth. There were dogs roaming everywhere. We couldn't tell if they were all strays or not, but they all acted as if they owned the place. There were even dogs and cats on top of the Acropolis! I liked how this dog was lying in the middle of the street like he was Boss.

World Traveler check point. Check!

One last glimpse of the Parthenon before we head home!

Thanks for taking the journey with me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Absolute Bliss

Every Friday I blog for Sunday Hatch. Here's today's post!

Since Sunday I've been suffering from PTSD: Post-Trip Sadness Disorder. 

The ferocious heartburn/ulcer I seem to have brought home from Greece as a souvenir and the relentless jet lag aren't helping, either. What's strange is I was ready to come home. We were both ready to come home. We just weren't ready to go back to life!

Greece was unlike any other place I've been. We were there for 10 days and merely scratched the surface of a country that's so old you have to use your imagination to imagine it.

We started our trip on Santorini Island for three days. It was absolute bliss. Here are some photos from our three days there. We want to go back.

Our hotel was Altana Traditional Houses & Suites.

This is the view from our hotel suite. We got a free upgrade to their private suite. 
In our opinion, it was the best room at the hotel and cost twice as much as the one we reserved!

View from the rooftop pool. Our hotel claims to have the highest pool on the Caldera. 
We had almost a 360 degree view of the island.

Sunset view from the pool.

There are so. many. steps. in Santorini. 

 There are so many steps that donkeys take people up and down steps that lead to the ports. 
We refused to ride because according to the locals they are malnourished and mistreated. 
Poor Donkeys.

Sunrise view from our hotel suite.

Breakfast every morning in Santorini out in front of our hotel reception.

Breakfast included spinach pies, nutella pastries, cheese, yogurt, fresh melon, 
and sour cherry juice.

Sunrise and Breakfast was our favorite time of day on Santorini.

Red Beach on Santorini. One of the beaches we visited for a swim. 
The water was perfect in temperature and clarity.

None of these beaches have sand! 
On Santorini - because it's a volcano - all the beaches are pumice or pebbles.

Even though Santorini was supposed to be our three days of lazy lounging, 
we hiked A LOT and it was super hot. These are our not so happy hot faces.

Because it's an active volcano, there's no fresh water on Santorini. 
The only plants that grow naturally are ones that do so without needing water.
Naturally, I was in succulent heaven.

We met this precious pup on one of our walks. He so wanted to come play! 
This was the only dog we saw penned up the whole time we were in Greece - 
there are so many strays and wandering dogs!

Another Sunrise.

Our cozy little bed nook.

We ate lobster spaghetti at this little seaside (literally) restaurant. 
They were unloading the fresh fish catches right below these tables.

Another sunset.

The rest of the trip will have to wait. I can't handle any more bliss this morning. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

At Home in Greece

Every Friday I blog for Sunday Hatch. Here's today's post!

I don't know if any of you are ridiculous like me, but sometimes I forget that other people actually do LIVE in the countries I visit, as in - they have lives. At least, it doesn't even seem to dawn on me until I get there and see it for my own eyes. Those people - foreigners - have jobs, families, and homes. To the tourist and outsider, those seem glamorous and exotic, mostly because their jobs, families, and homes are different from our jobs, families, and homes. 

My sister and her husband just moved to Scotland. They've been in Edinburgh for a week now, and it is still hard to believe that they live steps away from the Queen's palace, and massive age-old cathedrals, and will soon be opening bank accounts where the royal pound will replace our US dollar. But to the people who live there, who are from there, this is just regular old life.

How do these people FUNCTION with so much beauty and intrigue at their doorstep?

One of my favorite blogs is The Style Files. The blog features pictures of homes all over the world. Recently I've been noticing many from Greece, especially the islands. Here are a few from a home on the island of Tinos. Can you imagine if this was your life: that you actually got to live here, in this beautiful home? And this isn't even showing the view...

Many of the island homes sport this traditional cave-like dwelling. They are literally carved into the side of the mountain or cliff. Everything's built in! And whitewashed.

I love this color blue. I can't even think of what it should be called it's so pretty.

I don't think I would mind cooking, cleaning, or slaving away in this cozy little kitchen. It's so clean! You can see all the pictures, read the post, and find links to more Greek homes here.

I could definitely be at home here. Couldn't you?

p.s. Today we're in Athens. Tomorrow we're in Athens. Then we come home:) 
Trip review next week (hopefully with pictures)! Stay tuned.