The thoughts that were thunk and the goings on of my life.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Lush Islands, Fantastic Views, Heart Ache, and Foot Aches

So after having a miracle hookup with tickets to THE track and field event that I wanted to see, we headed out on a ferry to the island of Santorini. It was more than I imagined it to be. Definitely coming back here with the wife one day, cause that place was MEANT for lovers. Fortunately Chris is about as far from that as I can get. In fact while we were watching the sunset from a cliffside cafe the songs "Live and Let Die" and "Love Hurts" both came on...perfect evening. So on the island I got to see my first black beach, red beach, active volcano, swim in my first salt water hot springs, and find out reef sandals are not meant for off-roading. While hiking around my sandal tripped me up, I put my foot down and sliced off the pad of my big now I'm gimping around. Funny thing is the next person I happened to meet turned out to be a doctor who just so happened to have a big thing of medical gauze on's amazing how God provides when you'd least expect it.

Back in Athens today, saw downhill mountain biking it was intense. But the best story is that we met a cross-eyed guy who seemed pretty nice, talked to us for a bit, and said, "Hey, I got a bar just down the street, why don't you come in for a drink, it's on the house!" Thinking that he was like the rest of the amazing people we met we thought it sounded great. Then he took us into a basement bar...and we realized it was a strip club. Not wanting to seem rude we took our drink, and he sicced two girls on us, had some boring conversation, they invited themselves to some drinks on us, and we wanted to get OUT of there. But when we asked for the tab it was $25 PER DRINK. Multiply that by the 4 drinks the girls just took it upon themselves to get that was $100...forget that. We told him he was full of crap, threw him a 10 and literally ran out of the place, split up so he couldn't catch us both, and then met at our designated spot. Wow, so the lesson learned...never take a free drink from a cross-eyed man.

Tomorrow's adventure...who knows? But I guarantee it won't involve any strippers.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Exotic Places, Secluded Beaches, and Ancient Wonders

Today I got to check off my first Wonder of the Ancient World. We got to see the Temple of Zeus at Olympia...Unfortunately though, the temple is long since destroyed. The good thing is that the stadium is still somewhat intact and that the surrounding area is really nice. We also got to spend a little time in the town (where I am now), and found out that the tourism industry is really down here even despite (partially because of) the Olympics. Evidently the amount of price gouging going on has driven many people away, and many of the towns are hurting badly as a result.

This morning was one that was an amazing display of providence. Last night we went to find our place to sleep (an olive garden just outside of Olympia) and then Chris made a disastrous discovery. Turns out that everything that he owned he left on the bus in his money belt. All of his cash, cards, rail passes, name it, he left it. So the plan was to ride the bus in the morning to where is stopped and see if somebody turned it in...not much chance, but it was worth a shot. Well, while we were waiting for the bus we saw another bus going in the opposite direction, but it was the SAME bus with the SAME driver that we were in last night! Chris flagged the bus down, and with some help from some English speaking Greek people he was allowed to get in. And VIOLA! He found it ALL, right there where he had left it. In fact, the bus came so early that it didn't even set us back in our plans for the day. God definitely had a play in the unfolding of this morning, cause without it, we would have been up a creek, and for a long time at that.

Other than that, today is the last day of 'vacation' from the Olympics. The first day we headed to my new favorite place in the whole world...literally. The town was called Nafplio and it was perfect. Nice town, cheap hotels, great food, within a short distance of the King Agamemnon Mycenae palace, another short drive to the best preserved classical Greek theatre in Epidavros, and we even found a virtually unknown beach (so unknown I can't remember the name of it!). It was the perfect town in the perfect spot. We got lucky too, cause the guy who kinda ran the hotel was an older Scottish guy, and we also ran into the Olympic Massage Team. We didn't get a massage, but maybe one day. Anyways, I'm running out of time. Suffice it to say it was perfect. Chris and I even made a pact that we will return to the place once we are both married, and come with just the wives. It will be great, and I can't wait for that day. We even took a picture of us in the sunset, arms open waiting for that special someone to be superimposed.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Rome, Ferries, Sleepless nights, and being a Hobo

So from Paris we went to Rome, got there, missed our train, waited around for half a day, and then headed off to a coastal town called Bari in Italy. We had this crazy taxi guy take us to the ferries and I thought we were going to die. We went thru red lights, drove on the wrong side of the road, and he even zoomed past and honked at somebody pushing a stroller! Better than six flags.

We met the ferries though, jumped aboard right as it was pulling away to go to Greece, and spent a great night on the top deck of the ship. It was cool too, cause it was a holiday and the Italians were shooting off fireworks like crazy on the coast. We ended up in a little port town called Igoumenitsa and basically just chilled on the beach all day, but caught a night bus into Athens that evening. On the bus things were crazy, with tons of loud Mexicans all hooting and hollering in the back of the bus...Man, I wish I could understand more of what they were saying. Also met some really cute girls from Greece who were nice enough to teach me a few Greek phrases and tell me more about the place.

Once we got to Athens it was like 4 in the morning, so we started walking to the center of town. We ended up seeing a sunrise from the Acropolis and it just took my breath away. The rest of the day was spent trying to find a place to stay, but there's nothing open in this town. And even the Youth Hostel is trying to charge $75 per night. So in retaliation we decided to just sleep in the park, and couldn't ask for better. It's a beautiful view of the Acropolis, the weather is like air conditioning at night, and best of all...It's FREE!

We got to see our first Olympic game last night (boxing). It was crazy we saw 14 bouts, some were Light Fly and the rest were Super Heavy. The final one was a US guy named Jason Estrada who beat the snot out of some poor guy. He even did this one punch that looked more like a girl's softball pitch.

Today we're headed off to the Polypenesian peninsula, and then we'll spend about 4 days there before coming back to Athens to enjoy more sleeping in the park and more Olympic Games!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Parisites and Jetlag

Yesterday I made it into Paris quite safely and was greeted by Chris and his French friend Greg at the airport. We came back to his house, met his parents, ate some lunch, then headed out for my very first taste of Paris. The city was absolutely beautiful and the people seemed quite nice despite the stereotypes. Today we are going to Versailles, then maybe to the Arche du Triumph and the Eifel Tower. Well typing on these French keyboards is driving me crazy and I need to get busy trying to find some connecting flights.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Bon Voyage

No real time to post anything, but in one hour I will be leaving for Paris! It's hard to believe; yet, hard to contain. I'll be back on October 7th, so you'll probably have to wait until then for more blogs...but who knows, I may surprise you.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

End of Phase Two

I can't believe that my summer is finally starting to draw to a close. It seems like yesterday that I was starting to worry about graduation stuff and what I was going to do. Then I raced thru some grad school, went thru a whirlwind of fun and emotions at camp, and now for the first time since school I have a couple of days where I can decide upon what I want to do. Ah, the relaxation...and the further turmoil, cause I'll be trying to learn as much about the places that were going to go to in Europe as I can in just a couple of days.

I guess that brings everything to what "Phase Three" will be. I was truly blessed and when I asked National Instruments if I could start later, they let me bump my start date back to October 11th! That means that I get to spend almost 2 months in Europe backpacking it around! I'm stoked, the itinerary looks something like this: On Wednesday I meet my buddy Chris in Paris, we hang out there for a few days, then go to Athens, do the Olympic thing, spend a few days between events and visit Istanbul, drop down to a city called Izmir in Turkey and go see one of the wonders of the world (The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus), then after the Olympics take a ferry to southern Italy, backpack our way around southern Italy and Sicily, work our way up the boot, slide on over to Barcelona, meet another traveling buddy, go to Switzerland, go canyoning, do the Oktoberfest thing, visit my former host families in Germany, and finally head back to Paris and fly back. Then a few days after I get back I'll be starting work at NI and begin paying off all of the credit cards that are going to fill up during this trip.

So that's the plan for now. But the plan for the moment is this. I just had a long night of some very heartfelt goodbye's to people that I loved very deeply, so I'm going to go get some sleep. I met some of the most amazing people of my life at camp, and I hope that those relationships continue on for years to come.