Thursday, July 10, 2008

Israel Day 10

Woke up at 6:15 to finish packing and eat breakfast. At 8:30 we had a closing group activity. Everyone was an emotional wreck! It was a beautiful closing though. At 12ish we packed up our stuff on the bus and left for the airport. We said quick goodbyes and then pretty much stood in line for a few hrs. We boarded the plane at 3:30 pm and I proceeded to sleep for about 10 hrs. We landed at 8:30 pm and I went to the NY hotel room to meet my mom :)

Overall...AMAZING experience. I love Israel, I love my new friends, and I love life :)

To view my on these links!
Israel 1
Israel 2
Israel 3
Israel 4
Israel 5
Israel 6
Israel 7
Israel 8

Sorry but this was the only way I could do it! Click open in new window if you don't wanna stray from this page! ENJOY!!!

P.S. Stay posted for school happening! I start Monday July 14th :)

Israel Day 9

I woke up at 6:30 and ate breakfast in the tents. We were supposed to go on a hike after that, but because of the heat wave, plans changed. We left and went to David Ben Gurion's grave. It was a beautiful landscape. Then we drove to Jerusalem to Ben Yehuda Street to go shopping. I didn't do too much damage but enough :) I loved the stuff I bought though. Then we went to the Kotel (Western Wall) one more time before we headed home. It was one of the most special moments of my trip for many reasons. From there we went to Har Hertzel which is the cemetary for all of the soldiers and famous leadings of Israel including Golda Meir and Theodore Hertzel. I was a mess there. Just couldn't stop crying. We then went to the hotel room and I showered (best shower ever since i was SO dirty!!!) We left around 8:30 to go to one of our Israeli friend's school bar where they had a party for us. They served us food and we bought drinks. We stayed til around 12. Then we came back and I was super exhausted. But I didn't have a roommate that night so I got lucky. Went to bed around 2ish.

Israel Day 8

I woke up at 3 am for what was about to be an AMAZING day!!! We grabbed a mini breakfast and coffee and left the hotel by 4:15. At 5 am I was climbing Mount Masada! I made it to the top in 35 min and I was one of the first in my group to get to the top. It was by far the most amazing experience I have had since my Bat Mitzvah! I got to the top and called my parents just crying from what I had just accomplished! We spent from 6 am to 9:30 on the top watching the sunrise, taking pictures and learning history of Israel! Best EVER! Then we ate breakfast at the bottom of the hill which was one of the worst breakfasts I had ever had! We changed into our bathing suits at that point because we were going to the dead sea!! Another amazing (and stinging) experience! First I floated for a little while and then mudded myself up! It was SOOO hot being covered in mud! Then i cleaned off and at 12:30 we went to grab a quick lunch. After that we drove to the bedoin tents to drop off our stuff! Then we took a camel ride! This day just kept getting better!!! The camel ride hurt a bit...but was fun nonetheless! After we sat and learned about Bedoin Lifestyles. So cool! Then I fell asleep (or tried to) for an hr and 30 min before 7:30 dinner. Dinner was pretty cool. Then i took a MUCH needed shower and went to the group bonfire for a little bit. A 10 pm I was exhausted and Josh and I crashed in the tent!

Israel Day 7

Woke up at 6 am and got dressed and went outside a bit early to take pictures and the gorgeous scenery around! At 7:15 we loaded the bus, ate breakfast, and then at 8:45 we headed off to hike the cliff of Arbel. We hiked a downhill climb which was pretty steep. After we got lucky because we had free time and did a water hike! This was REALLY a water hike because the water was up to our necks! We had to wear our bathing suits! There were two water tunnels which was super cool. However the water was so dirty! It was a pretty amazing experience though! Then we went to a little town to eat lunch and once again I had schwarma. We then hopped on the bus and went to a youth hostel where we talked to young israelis. I have to was pretty lame. They didn't care that we were there. Then we drove to the hotel and got there right as they were finishing dinner service so we ate quickly. After that we had to shower quickly and pack a small back for the next few days! At 10:30 we dropped our luggage off and had a mini mtg to prepare for the big day tomorrow! At 11 pm I went to bed. My roommates were Melinda and Alison!

Israel Day 6

Late wake up day!!! It was Shabbat so they let us sleep til 10:30! We met for coffee and a mini breakfast. At 11 we talked about the Parsha and Torah portion for the week. Then at 11:30 we took a break for an hr. Then lunch was at 12:30. After lunch we had a huge break to do nothing til 3:30. I helped some people with their speeches for the B'not Mitzvah ceremony in the evening. It was nice and i loved helping them. I also wrote in my journal and took some penny time! At 3:30 we got into three groups and talked about judaism like keeping kosher and marrying jewish. We chatted til 5:30. It was a good discussion! We had a 30 min break and then at 6 we went to a really cool cemetary which according to Shahar it's a different type because Jewish cemetaries are usually not pretty but this one was. At 7:30 we had an hr to get ready for the B'not Mitzvah/Jewish naming ceremony. 4 people were B'not Mitzvah'ed and 2 got a hebrew name. It was really fun to watch my friends up there! Then we had a night out in the town of Tiberias. Josh and I had our first date :) It was so beautiful, the food was unreal, and the night couldn't have been more perfect! We got home and I went to bed around 1am.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Israel Day 5

Woke up at 6, got dressed, met by the bus at 7:15 to drop off luggage. We had breakfast and then we went on our first hike!!! We hiked the Jiboon water mountain- in the Golan Heights. It was a little less than 2 miles but to most of us it felt like forever! Right after the hike (i was the first to the top!!!) there was an ice cream truck. Brilliant man! We then got on the bus and drove to a town called Katrina. We ate lunch there. It was a small town and the only one in Golan Heights. There I had a great greek salad. From then we got back on the bus where we drove to the lookout point/bunker/border of Israel and Siberia. Being so close was a little scary but so amazing! McDonalds owns one of the fields we were looking at just to grow potatoes for the french fries!!! Then we hopped back on the bus and drove to the hotel where we were staying for 2 nights. We got to pick our roommates. There was only one double and Kate and I snagged it! We then had an hr to shower before Shabbat services. The girls split off from the guys and we went to light candles. The boys were prepping for what was next. We then met back with the boys where they were on their knees waiting for us. Each boy had to chose a girl. Josh obviously came up and grabbed me. I was so confused but they were just supposed to talk to us for 5 min. We took a great picture that night :) Then we all met at the garden to say Shabbat prayers. Then we split into three groups. 1) orthodox service 2) secular service and 3) Judaism 101. Josh and I went to the Orthodox service but it had just ended so we went to Judaism 101 where I actually learned a lot from Shosh! Then we went to Shabbat dinner where we said all of the prayers and had one of the better meals. At 10:30 we had a group activity which finished by 12. I spent some more time with Josh and then went to bed at 3:30 am!

Israel Day 4

Woke up at 7 am, got ready, and dropped off my luggage before breakfast. We departed at 9 am and drove to Independence Hall where we learned about David Ben Gurion. This was where he declared Israel a State. It was very moving. We then got the lucky fortune of going to the beach from 11:30 til 1:30. I layed out for an hr and then went to get lunch! I managed to get picked up at the beach 3 times...two of them Israelis! But nasty ones :) Then we took a 2 hr drive to Tsfat. We arrived a little late but it was ok. We heard an artist speak about the Kabballah. It was the highlight of my trip! I bought a beautiful painting and then 2 necklaces in the town after. Then we took the bus to the hotel and at dinner at 8:30. After dinner we had a little free time so I showered. At 11 pm we had another ice breaking session and my partner was Clay. I went to bed around 1 am. My roommmates were Sarah and Karen!

Israel Day 3

Woke up at 6:45 and got dressed. Went outside a bit again before breakfast. We took off at 9:30 for our first excursion. We stopped first to take a group picture and a beautiful look out point. Then to Yad Hashem which is the Holocaust Museum. It choked me up a bit and was very touching. We then listened to a Holocaust survivor. It was nice to hear but I was so hot that I was falling asleep. We then left to go to Tel Aviv! We got there around 2:30 and I met up with Dina and Dori (friends from other places who live there!!) I was treated to a wonderful lunch of more schwarma and then a freshly squeezed juice with mango, orange, passion fruit and pineapple. It was delish! And it was so good to see my friends!!! We only spent an hr there but it was a great hr. Then we went to Yitzhak Rabin square where the prime minister was murdered. From there we went to the Tel Aviv Beach and walked the water from Old Tel Aviv (Jaffa) to New Tel Aviv. Then we got back on the bus to go to our hotel in Batyam. We ate a crappy dinner at 8 pm and then got dressed for a 10 pm departure to the bar across the street on the beach. We spent 2 hrs there and came back to the hotel. I talked to Josh til about 2ish and went to bed at 2:30. My roommates were Melinda and Lindsay!

Israel Day 2

Woke up at 7 am, showered, and then wandered a bit around the hotel. It was beautiful. We all, as a group, had to wait for Kate who missed the flight completely and had to come in today. Then we met as a group and played a game about getting to know you. We had to throw a shoe in the middle and people had to grab a shoe and then question the person whose shoe it was. Then we shared. At 11 am we got on the bus to go to Jerusalem. We first went to this gorgeous look out place where we learned some history, had a sip of wine, and wrote our personal goals for the trip which were then sealed! Then we went to lunch where I ate schwarma on a plate. It was delicious. Josh and I walked over to the bakery which was one of the coolest places I'd ever seen. Then the group went to the old city/western wall. This was one of the most moving experiences I have had to date. I gave tzedaka and the woman wished me luck and said g-d was sending me a good husband! I also wrote a note and put it in the wall and prayed. Then we came back to the hotel and played more getting to know you games. Then dinner was at 7:30. At 9:30 we met and discussed the holocaust. Most people hung out after that but I was so exhausted so I went home to shower and got in bed by 11. Roommates were again Kathy and Blake!

Israel Day 1

Well...where do i start. Blogging about Israel is NOTHING compared to the time i had, the people i met, and experiences I experienced. But read on and enjoy the photos!!

My flight originally was supposed to take off at 5:30. It got delayed til 6:40 and then 7. We left the house at 5 and arrived at 5:20. My parents dropped me off and I went to check in. It wasn't until then that I learned that my flight to JFK was canceled!!!! I freaked out and called my parents. They weren't far so they came back. Luckily in line I met 5 others who were on my flight and were going to Israel with me! So...with 3 jewish moms complaining, Delta got us on flights. Some to Newark, some to Laguardia. And we all met up at JFK. and even more lucky was that our Israel flight got delayed as well! We scored ;) After almost two hrs of arguing to get on a flight, we all left for NY! Me, Lara and Brian took the flight to Laguardia and arrived at 11:30. We met up with Karen and then took a taxi to JFK. We met up with the group around 1 am. The flight to Israel was delayed from 2:20 to 5:40 and we didn't even take off til 6:30 am! It was a long night...but i got to meet a bunch of people in my group! When I got on the plane I crashed for about 7 hrs. Then I had 3 hrs left in which I read a little of my magazine, ate dinner, and proceeded to fall asleep again :) We arrived in Israel and 12 am Tues morn- so technically we missed a whole day! We got out of the airport, changed money, and got our phones. We went directly to the hotel where we had a brief orientation and then went to bed at 3 am. That began my week of no sleeping! My roommates were Kathy and Blake!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I can't say much because when I first walked in, I had to sign an agreement not to say anything...but i will tell you I had an amazing 2 days of work!

A little background. The kitchen is below the restaurant and there are these famous red stairs to get up to the restaurant. If there were 80 covers a night (80 people fri, 80 people sat) and there is a minimum of the 5 course meal, if not 10 course or 20 calculate that to figure out how many times I ran up and down those stairs to run food!!!! HOLY MOLY! I am not exaggerating when I say I was in bed ALL day sunday because I couldn't move. I was in so much pain! But it was worth it.

I learned some things and got to taste GREAT amazing food. I met some great people. But overall, i just feel like i advanced my career in a good direction. I was happy that I did these two days and proud of myself for sticking through with it. I would love to work there if the hours weren't so insane! 12 (noon) to 1 or 2 am depending on the day! A 70 hr work school would NEVER work. But they know me know and I did well according to the chef. It was a blast!

More to come on the job front!!!


I know this a long time in the making! I apologize for all the people who wanted to see these photos!

They are from hiking-by myself and with my dad (make sure you check out the pics of him...they are hilarious!)-, out the night before the wedding and then Wedding Day of Jamie and Morgan Hodges.

Enjoy! I'll post more when I get back from Israel/NY! Kisses

Saturday, May 24, 2008

my friend Jaimee

So my friend Jaimee got engaged a little bit ago and she so nicely asked me to be a i accepted! With her cute little package that asked me the question (hahaha) i got a book entitled "how to be a bridesmaid". I have been reading it religiously. I have learned a LOT of stuff. So when her and her fiancee Joe moved back to the city I offered to help them move into their new pad! I had to start my bridesmaid duties early! And included in those duties are taking pictures of the couple throughout their entire thats where the slideshow comes in! Enjoy!!! (my arms were KILLING me the day after the move! But it was fun!)

Bank Lane Bistro

So the first week I got home, my friend Bob and I went to Bank Lane Bistro in Lincolnshire. He used to work there and the chef happened to have graduated from my HS. I took pictures of the food and I wanted to post them...but i never got around to it. Now I have time. So enjoy the beauty! We did the 9 courses and it was GREAT and a lot of fun seeing Bob!


So i can finally post a blog about my thesis...IT'S DONE! Yes...i've been working on it since november of 2007 and I am finally done. It should be in France. If anyone is interested in reading it please email me and I will send it to you. Although it was about 2 pages short and not the best quality, I learned a lot about myself, the topic and it was the best experience I've had with schooling! I am proud to have finished this! I hope i get my diploma and that I get to go to Paris in October to receive it. Thanx for bearing with me through my struggles...but it's OVER now :) YIPPEE!! Off to celebrate.

Table 52

Have you heard of Art Smith? Oprah's Chef. Well, for Jen's (my favorite person in chitown!) bday I took her to Table 52, Art Smith's restaurant. It's southern home cooking! It was AMAZING! I mean you can just see in the pictures. I surprised her and she had no clue...but she had expressed the want to go there. So it killed two birds with one stone...her b-day and me getting to try this new famous restaurant!


Rising Stars!

Sorry again for the time off. I have a few posts I want to post you'll get a handful of them :) Anyway, I went to this tasting on May 19th for Rising Star Chefs. It was AMAZING! Not only did I get some interviews, possible jobs, and some Stages...but i tasted some of the best food in chicago from the best chefs!

Here is my slideshow of the evening! I wish I had taken pictures of me :) but instead you have pictures of the beautiful dishes that the chefs made!!! (i did the best i could...but i think i left some pictures out! I was way too excited to be taking pictures! hahaha)

Click here! to get the list of chefs, restaurants and dishes that they prepared along with some great recipes! I wish you all could have experienced what i did :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

LONG overdue

I am sorry I have been so slow to post. I, however, feel a little more adjusted now. I've seen most of my friends, I have a job working at Moe's Southwest Grill (on the corner of Willow and Waukegan- come visit or email me for more details)...temporary...helping out my cousin, and I have gone to see all of my Dr's. Overall things are great. I'm a happy camper. I still miss Paris, but I know being home is good for me! So far I've seen two shows and I'm going to another one Thursday i'm LOVING the fact that i get to see more theatre! School is still up in the air...but I'll keep you posted and I do have an expected start date of Aug 18th. My thesis is pretty much done. It will be signed, sealed and delivered by next week. If you want to read it, let me know! I've been cooking EVERY night (except for the nights I go out...which haven't been many) Mom and dad appreciate that....but NOT the whole food grocery bills!!! Other than that, here is a picture from mother's day with my family that I went to lunch with!

Btw- I have a new website that is my professional website (it's on my new business cards!!). it's still under construction but stay tuned and I also promise I will be blogging more often now that I have my life under control!

Shoot me an email and tell me how you are all doing and if you read this thing anymore. should i keep it up?!? i may start doing restaurant reviews...what do you think!?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Back home again in...

Illinois (not indiana...u know the song?!?!) anyway, I haven't forgotten about my blog readers....i just needed a few days to adjust! And although I am not PERFECTLY adjusted...i am better! My flight home was sad. Manuel took me to the airport and it was very sad leaving him. I got on the plane and bawled my eyes out. I was sitting next to some 21 yr old who lived in the marais and just got married to his 40 yr old boyfriend in paris. He was going to school out there. How sad. Anyway, I cried for a good part of the way home. The flight was under 9 hrs and we got home early. I stayed up the entire time! When i got to the airport I started bawling again cause I knew it was for real! I had to go through customs because I brought food home. Oh well. I saw mom and dad and it was surreal. Anyway, I knew I had to deal with what was at hand for me at that moment. That night I went to bed around 7:30...i stayed up as late as I could (woke up at 5 am paris time...7:30 pm US time was 2:30 am Paris time!).

The past few days I have been running errands and trying to take some time out for myself to get readjusted. I keep hearing things on the radio or seeing signs about Paris or Greece/Turkey (my cruise) which just makes me sad. Every once in a while I will break out in a crying spell...and then realize well, i'm kinda here for a while so suck it up! The coffee sux, I miss my roommate, my friends, and just life in Paris. I know this is a good change for me though. I am looking forward to what's next. I have been making dinner for mom and dad and I'm going to start baking next week for my friends who's shows i'm going to see.

In the meantime, stay tuned because I will be blogging...just not as often! Thanx to all who read my adventures while I was in paris! I promise i will have a life after paris ;) A bientot for now!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Au revoir Paris :(

Just a short blog. I am waiting for Manuel to pick me up before we go to the airport. Just saying one last online goodbye while i am still in Paris. I have too much reflecting to do that I can't even begin in the 10 min that I have left. Just know that I am a better person for living my life in Paris for a year and a half. I look forward to what's in store for me. I know it can only get better from here. I'm so very fortunate for these opportunities and I have to take them when they come. Stay tuned for US adventures...this is A Bientot Paris....I will be back :)

Last Day in Paris/Moulin Rouge

So it was my last day in Paris and I was a mad woman! It was great though because I saw everyone I wanted to see (except manuel but he is taking me to the airport). I saw Alex (who I haven't seen since I graduated cause he went to Australia), Kaitlin, and Fernando! It was a day filled of love. I felt very special. It was also hard because I truly don't want to leave these people. They know I care about them and will miss them a lot.

At 7 pm I went to the Moulin Rouge alone...but it was something I wanted to do in Paris and what a great way to end my travels here. I went to dinner and the show. The dinner...I could have done without! The Show...great! However...I have never seen so many perfect bodies on a stage at one time...more like perfect titties :) And the men...they weren't even good looking per se....they were all like Ken...just perfect! They show was a spectacle. The singing was dubbed...the dancing wasn't in sync, but the costumes and lights were amazing! And the little ponies they was in awe! Overall I enjoyed the show SOOOO much! I was very happy I went. I could tell you more...but I don't wanna give the show away. Honestly, if I told too much it may give the excitement away from seeing it. If anyone comes to Paris...I would say it was a must see. And for my friends that didn't want to fork out the money...I would say to fork it out :) It was worth it. Even just to see the perfect bodies! hahaha. (and make you a little jealous!) was a great last day/night!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cruise Greece/Turkey

Ok...Postings are up! The way you have to read it (if you wanna read them chronologically) are by going back a few days and starting with Begin Athens (not End Athens). And then work your way through to End Athens. There are about 8 postings. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed my trip! Thanx for reading!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

End Athens

I woke up at 6 am and finished packing and ate breakfast. I met some couple who got married at Santorini the day before. So sweet. We all got off the ship as a group at 7:30ish. We then took two separate buses, 1 for people going to the center of town and 2 for the people doing the excursion. However only 4 of us did the excursion and Ryan. The excursion took us to a bunch of places I already went to when I was in Athens but this time I got to go to the top of the Acropolis. I was actually a little disappointed. Oh well.

Afterwards we dropped our stuff off at the Hotel we had stayed at and said goodbye. From there Ryan had directed me in the way to get a Harley t-shirt for my daddy :) Then we just grabbed some lunch together and he showed me how to get to the airport from the metro around 4ish. I flew home around 6ish (plane was late as usual). I got into paris around 8ish and took a cab home because I was miserable to be finished with my cruise and depressed that I was leaving Paris soon. I came home and CRASHED. I couldn't even talk to Asima.

THANK YOU to everyone on this trip. I had an amazing experience. You all truly touched me in some way. I hope to stay in touch! It was a pleasure meeting you! What a fun trip!!!

St. Nicolas/Santorini

What a mistake to wake up this morning but I did at 8 am. I ate breakfast and went off to the ship to experience St. Nicolas. It was essentially an hr away from crete. If you didn't do the tour, you couldn't get there. The group didn't do the tour for many reasons. However I took the mini train ride through the town for 40 min. Waste of time and money. The town was pretty dingy, but the architecture was ok. I got back on the ship at 9:45 and layed out til 12.

I wasn't feeling well so I went to my room to get ready and then at 1 pm we took a group photo. Then lunch and then a group mtg at 2 pm. After that I went back to my room to read and relax til about 4 in which we started to port into Santorini. At that point I went to the top deck to take some pictures and then we all got off the ship to take the excursion to Oia and Fira. They were 2 very cute towns. We primarily just walked around and took pictures. I tried a sweet wine called vincento. Ryan got a free bottle, so he gave it to me because he knew I loved it but didn't wanna buy a bottle. So nice! At 8 pm we had to go back to the boat but we had to decide if we wanted to walk down the hill, take the cable car or a donkey ride! what do you think i did?!!?! DONKEY! it was hilarious! One of the best experiences of my trip! It was shitloads of fun! (literally) We then took the tenderboat back to the boat. I then dropped off my stuff and met my group for dinner at 9 and after dinner we caught the tail end of the last show. I was still feeling sick so I went to my room after and packed and went to bed around 1ish.


I woke up at 6:30 and went to breakfast by myself where i met some nice people from Nashville who actually used to live in Chicago. Strange! Then today's tour was only me Eric and April. We took the Rhodes/Lindos excursion. The other people could only see Rhodes (that's why i took the excursion-so I could see Lindos). We first went to Lindos. We saw the Acropolis and St. Paul's Church. It was so gorgeous. On the bus ride back (about 45 min) we stopped and went to a family run pottery shop where we watched a guy make pottery. It was fascinating! He then cut what he made in half so we could see the ridges. Really neat. Then we went to the old town of Rhodes. We walked around a bit with the tour guide. Then at 12:15 we finished and I went off on my own. Eric and April went back to the ship and I stayed in town. I had a great greek salad and then may my way to the beach from 1:30-4:30! The sea was nice, but the sand was horrible! Like big rocks! I then walked back to the boat. Once on the boat I sat with the group for a while and chatted. Eventually I went to my room to read for a while and pack (sad). The boat was super rocky today but Ryan said it was normal on the day they ride through Rhodes. Eventually I got dressed for formal night. Like i said, no one was really formal, but I did the best I could. Then Eric came over and I flat ironed his hair! He always wore a hat, so I was happy to help him out! At 8:15 we had captain's cocktail hr. free drinks again! I had bad wine :) We were introduced to the staff which was nice. Then dinner was at 9:15. At the end of tonights dinner they made baked alaska and all the servers ran around with the alaska on fire. They were dancing to Zorba. At 11 pm I quickly ran upstairs to take pictures of the HORRIBLE chocolate buffet the pastry chef made (who i was introduced to-as well as the head chef) Then i ran back downstairs to watch the horrible show which the theme was musicals. Needless to say, I had a good laugh! I think this was the worst show of all!!!! After the show I chatted with people from the group for a bit and then went to my room and read a little and went to bed around 3:45 am.


I randomly woke up at 6 am. I wasn't hungover at all. I'm lucky like that :) But I didn't know where I had to be when so luckily I woke up then. I showered, ate breakfast and met the crew at 7:30 (after reading my sheet). We then went to the island of Patmos. Ryan gave us the tour today. We went to St. John's Monastery and the Grotto. It was quite a trek but really worth it. It was so beautiful and great views!

We then got back on the boat early and I layed out from about 10-12:15. Then showered again and at lunch and re-met the group at 1:30. We then took a guided tour through the next island we landed in which was Kusadasi, Turkey. It was super cool!!! We went to the House of Virgin Mary and Ephasus. You see that type of stuff in photos but when you are actually up close and near it, it's unreal. Almost unbelievable. Then we walked the town individually and I bought a necklace and leather coat. I also got pegged for a french woman and hispanic (which i got all week actually). I also met the HOTTEST turkish guy. He gave me his email and told me to stay in touch and he would come visit. It was hard NOT to talk to him because his eyes were so gorgeous. I told him that. hahaha. He told me I was good looking too...and i was in sweats! hahahah. I got back on the boat at 7ish. I then made a toga out of sheet since it was Greek night. Yes I wore it to dinner (no pictures though! sorry). First it was Contiki Cocktail night (30 min of free booze) from 8:30-9 and then greek dinner at 9:15. Not as bad as the other dinners. Then the show tonite was a greek theme. A lot of greek dancing and singing. Pretty different. After the show I went to my room and read a little and went to bed around 2 am.


I woke up at 9ish (i think this was the latest I slept in all week!!) and layed out from 10-1 (that was the longest I had all week!) and then had lunch at 1 pm and then a mtg with contiki and then proceeded to lay in the sun again from 2-4. At 4 I finally got dressed to get off the boat. Mykonos!!!! I walked around with Eric for a while. We went to a store Ryan suggested and a guy from CHICAGO sold me a ring for my mom! It was beautiful. Then the night gets crazy! I went to dinner with Eric where we sat less than a foot from the sea! We ate lobster and it was SOOOO fresh and tasty! Along with that we had two bottles of wine and then a shot of some yumminess at the end of dinner. Then I went with Ryan and Eric to a bar and had 2 bourbon and cokes plus another shot. I was completely fine (luckily though I went to the bathroom while they had another shot!) After that we went back to the boat (i think around 11) And as we were on the elevator all went to hell. Luckily they got me overboard where I proceeded to get sick. I think it was too much sugar (since it's out of my system now!) The both of them were super sweet and took me to my room and put me in bed. I owe them everything!!!!

Istanbul, Turkey 2

Woke up by the 6:45 am wake up call set by Ryan (tour manager) and quickly threw on clothes and at breakfast to meet everyone for the 7:30 tour! First we went to the blue mosque! It was gorgeous. We had to remove our shoes because people still pray inside the mosque. It actually has a real name, but when you see the pictures of the inside, all of the tiles are blue, so to the tourists that's what it's called. Then we went to the ayasofia. It was first a church and then a mosque and now a museum. It was also rebuilt three times! Then we went to learn about turkish rugs and how they make them and the different types! It was then that i tried a turkish coffee! bad idea! The second I drank it my heart started to pound and then I bought two rugs! hahaha. We then left and a few of us went to a TURKISH BATH! It was super cool! I mean so unreal! You go in nekked (or with undies) into a steam room and lay down for about 15 min. Then a woman screams for you and you get scrubbed up and down for another 15 min. She uses a scrub brush and soap and even washes your hair. It feels like an exfoliation! After that I was super relaxed and we went back to the boat for lunch time. Then i tried to get some sun but it was too cloudy so i read for a bit and then had a cup of tea with Ryan. Eventually I got dressed for dinner (woah that was quick- but i actually had a lot of relaxing in there!) Dinner was semi formal tonite. And you know me, i love to dress up! Then we went to the once again horrible show at 11:15 which was a latin theme! HAHAH. I had a dirty martini which was almost as bad as the show. Then to the disco again...but again...shit. I went to bed around 1:30 am.

Istanbul, Turkey 1

At 6:50 am there was such a horrible turn by the captain (or so we hope) that things in the room started to fall so I started to wake up. But eventually at 7:40 I got out of bed. At 8 am I took a walking class and then a stretching class!! It was a fun way to start my cruise ship life ;) Then at 9:20 i ate breakfast with Eric. Then at 10:30 we had a contiki mtg and then it started! At 11 am I went tanning on the top deck. I was there til about 12:30. The weather was goregous! 27 degrees celcius (uh...i dont know it in F) I had to go and get ready then because we needed to be back on the top deck to take pictures of our arrival into Turkey. The island really is large. Part of it is in Asia and the other in Europe! So cool! At 2 pm we docked and took our first excursion. We first went to the Topkapi Palace. It was beautiful. Then we went to the Grand Bazaar! THAT was fun. I bargained a bunch. I bought a plate, a bowl, and a shirt. Then we went to the egyptian spice market where i bought some tea and honey. We then took the turkish metro back to the boat at 7:15 and got ready for dinner at 8 pm. After that we left to go to Bubble street which is comparable to times square in NY (however not THAT elaborate!) We went to a Hookah bar where Eric and I shared a cappucino hookah and everyone else had apple tea. It was a blast and I have to say I was pretty high for a while :) We came home around 12ish.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Athens/Cruise Boarding

I woke up at 8 am, got dressed, packed my suitcase and went to breakfast where I met up with Eric from Cali. We decided to go tour the town together. We went to the changing of the guards at the Parliament, the National Gardens, Zapion Exhibition, Congress Hall, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, Panathinaikon Stadium (where the original olympics were held), then to the Lycabeitus Theatre which is the highest point in Athens. There were so many steps just to get to the funicular (almost as many as sacre coeur) It was a beautiful view and the theatre was cool except for the fact that you couldn't go into it. When we arrived back to the hotel we had just enough time to grab our suitcases and meet the group. At 12:15 we all left to go to the bus and go to the boat- Louis Hellenic Cristal! We checked in as a group and after we boarded we went to the buffet at 2 pm. After that we had a mandatory life safety mtg (u know those annoying orange vests!). Then we had a contiki mtg where we talked about optional excursions and kinda just hung out from there. I then left and walked around the boat to get my boundaries. I activated my on boat account and drink card. I only bought the non alcoholic one because i knew I wouldn't take advantage of the alcoholic one. I didn't need to drink THAT much (although it was a good deal-all u can drink for 140 euros-mine was all u can drink non-alcoholic for 56). I then went to the piano bar to listen to name that tune! I didn't participate...but i did listen :) I then read my book for a relaxing! Off to a great start! Then went to my room to change for our 8:45 dinner time slot. We met at the Caruso dining hall (that was the name of my jr high!). We ate til around 10:30 and then went to the Metropolitan show lounge to see the show! The show was HORRIBLE! I mean, i can't believe I sat through it! It lasted 45 min, thank g-d! We then went to the disco, which was also pretty lame! I decided to go to bed at 12:15.

Begin Athens

Let me start off by saying...this was an amazing experience! One i will never forget! Thank you to everyone for my memories! For those of you reading this and looking at the pictures, I will be as precise as I can, but most of the pictures I can't remember exactly what they I'm prolly just gonna post slide shows! So enjoy it all...cause i know I did :) And P.S. A fun little fact about Greece- they don't flush toilet you had to wipe and then put it in the trash can! That took a little time to get used to! WEIRD!!!

I woke up at 3:30 am because my Paris shuttle picked me up at 4:15. SO annoying. I arrived to the airport at 5 am which was 2 hrs and 20 min before my flight. However the shuttle was so cheap I had to do it. I waited one hr before I could check in and then another til I could board the plane. What a waste of good sleeping time!!! I had a couple of coffees to perk me up and to get started on my vacation! I then boarded the plane which took off on time and got me into Athens, Greece at 11:15 (one hr later than Paris). I got my baggage and took the bus to my hotel. The bus driver had longer hair than mine and he spent about 5 min in the mirror fixing it! It took about an hr to get there. I dropped off my luggage, got settled into the hotel hermes (4 stars) and immediately left! I took my coat with me because i was a bit chilly, but as i started to walk I was boiling! It was gorgeous out! I first walked to lunch and before hand managed to pick up some dude. I tried to walk away from him, but he wouldn't shut up. Anyway, at lunch i had a greek salad! I had to start right away eating greek food, especially feta cheese! It was yummy. Then I walked the Plaka area. I didn't want to go into the Acropolis because I was going to do that the last day of my vacation. After that I went shopping and all I bought was a belt because my pants were falling off of me and it was annoying! Then I came back to the hotel and showered and relaxed a bit before my 7 pm mtg with the contiki group I was going with. So we finally had our briefing with the other tour mates! There were 14 of us (plus our tour manager). Supposedly this was a very small group. Normally they are 30-60 people. I think it was good so I could remember everyones names and we were actually very close by the end of the trip! So the people are Eric-California, Mark- New Zealand (lives in London), Louise- Australia (lives in London), April- Australia, Carrie and Bed- Australia (lives in London), George and Geri- (newlyweds)- Kentucky, Tuly, Jose, Maria and Marcela- Columbia (live in London) and then our tour manager Ryan- Australia (lives in Athens while touring) and then me!! So it was a good group. At 8:30 we went to an authentic Greek restaurant for dinner as a group. There was dancing and singing and just overall Greek Fun!!! We got home at 11 and I went to bed around 11:30!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Back home...well Paris!

I am back in Paris and my Portugal trip blog is up! Give me a few days and Greece/Turkey will be up! I had an amazing time. I make my trek back home to the US on April 24th. See you soon. Toodles

Lisbon, Portugal Day 3

Today we woke up at 9:30 and layed around for a while. We eventually left the house at 11. We drove to Cascias which was about a 45 min drive to another town just outside of Lisbon. We made a pitstop before getting there to the famous pastry shop called Pasteis de Belem. They make a bunch of pastries but the specialty are the mini custard pies. I bought one for Asima. It was a madhouse there. (when i took the bus tour-there was a line out the door) We also walked the mini market. Portugal is known for the tiles they put together on walls to make a collage. I almost bought one from a 16th century building but it was 150 i didn't :)

Then we continued on our journey to Cascias. It was a cute town for shopping, walking, touristy stuff, drinking tea and most of all beach! We did it all! I fell asleep on my back a little too long and I got a little toasty! Ooops. Eventually one of Maria's friends, Teresa met up with us for some tea. It was nice because she spoke english. Then around 6 pm we headed back to Lisbon.

We relaxed til 8 and then went to the mall to a chain restaurant called Portugalia for some traditional Portuguese food! I had a sirloin with a fried egg on top. Interesting to say the least. Lots of protein!!!! Then we came home and at 10 pm I crashed. THANK YOU MARIA! I had a blast :) You are the best!!! What a great vacation!!!!!

Lisbon, Portugal Day 2

On Saturday we woke up around 9:30 and Maria insisted she go to the of course I went with her (although not too happy of a camper about it until after i went...duh!) We got home and showered and got all pretty because today was the day she was taking me to the restaurant she worked at for almost 2 years called Eleven. It's the ONLY 1 star Michelin restaurant in Lisbon. The chef is Joachim Koerper. She is friends with everyone there! We met Maria's daughter there around 2ish for lunch. I had the menu which consisted of 3 courses, plus an amuse bouche amongst other tastings. I thought the meal was ok...but not outstanding. Maria actually agreed with me and was perplexed as to why? She said it's normally not like this. Anyway, it was a beautiful atmosphere.

After lunch, Maria and her daughter went to a fish and wine expo and i took the bus tour of Lisbon. It was an hr and 40min and it was really pretty. We then all met up at 7 pm in the main square where we started.

Then we dropped Maria (daughter) off and went to the Casino to walk around and have a cup of tea. As we were drinking our tea we decided to go home and change for the night and come right back to eat at the second best restaurant in Lisbon called Pragma. Now this meal was OUTSTANDING! Maria knows the sommelier, so that was part of the reason we went there, but the other part was because of the talk it had. And this was worth the money and the time! I, specifically, had 9 courses and Maria had 5. Everything was perfect! I wanted more ;) I took pictures of everything of course. As we left the casino Maria said to me someone called me a model (i had to throw that in my blog! hahaha). We then picked up her friend Nuno. We went to another set of "Docas" because the first place we went to said it was going to be 180 euro cover....i mean WHAT?!! So the docks had a bunch of bars. First we went to a karaoke bar. Pretty lame...but MUCH better than the second one we went to which was 70,80, 90s music. OLD people. hahaha. But it was funny to watch nuno and maria laugh! We had a good time. We were in bed by 3 am.