madre mía, what a week! be warned that this post is going to be really long bc i was gone for nine whole days and i can't seem to tell a short story to save my life.
my flight landed in athens at 2:30 in the morning, and i became an expert on the non-security zone of the athens international airport because i had to wait 10 hours for dre to arrive. at first i tried to sleep, but that was not happening, so i wondered into the bookstore and much to my surprise they had a book i had been wanting to read IN ENGLISH! so that kept me occupied for about 8 hours. once she got there, we took a train into the city and set out to find the parthenon. it was not as easy as you might thinking, it being one of the main tourist attractions of the city. in route, the metro broke down, so we had to get out and take a bus the rest of the way, and thankfully a friendly greek man took pity on us and made sure we got off at the right stop. history lesson- the acropolis is a really big hill in athens on which are a lot of ancient temples and buildings. one of these old buildings is the parthenon which was as originally a temple for Athena, but over the years it has also been an eastern orthodox church, a catholic church and a mosque. it was impressive, but it was covered by scaffolding, so it kinda took away from it. we walked around on the acropolis for a little while, and also climbed Mars Hill, which is a huge rock where Paul talked to some greek men about "the unknown God". that was pretty cool. after that we went to get a drink before we headed to the port to catch our ferry to santorini. we had another problem with the metro, and ended up having to take a bus to the port. so we find the correct bus, get on, and then decide that there's a good chance we are going in the opposite direction, so we get off. then we try and flag down a taxi, and when we finally get one to stop and dre starts to get in the car, the taxi driver starts yelling and pushes dre back out of the car. it was really strange. in the end we made it safely to the port, got our tickets and made it to the ferry with time to spare. then we settled in for a five hour ride to the island. when we got there it was raining and then that quickly turned into pouring, so that was not a great start to our time on santorini.
day 1 on the island was rainy and overcast. we got breakfast at this great bakery, where they had awesome chocolate croissants and coffee with the perfect amount of milk and sugar already added. then it started raining a lot more, so we went into this cafe to get some coffea/tea (dre gave up coffee for lent which is a BIG deal bc she's totally an addict) and we just sat in there for a really long time. then we went to get lunch at this place where the waiter was really funny and the food was amazing. that's where we got our first taste of the greek salad. it was awesome. we went back to the hotel after that and ended up taking a little nap bc it was just too gross outside to do anything. so day one was pretty uneventful.
day 2 was another cloudy/coldish day, so we nixed our plans to go to the beach and set off to find Mama Cyclade's Cafe, which was supposed to have a really great breakfast. it was just down the street from our hotel, but we never found it. we did, however, end up walking to the next village in search of another bakery and then ended up eating at a cafeteria, where i had the best omelette i've ever had in my life, and dre had a huge bowl of greek yogurt and an entire loaf of bread. then when we were coming back we walked past a car rental place and a man out in front on the street offered to rent us a car for 20 euros. we had been planning on renting atvs the next day, but since the weather was not very stable, we decided to take the car offer. we got a car for the rest of that day and the next for 35 euros! it was awesome. neither dre or i have driven since being in europe and its been 4 months now since either of us has even driven at all. so we spent the rest of the day driving around the island looking for the places we wanted to go back to the next day when the sun was out. greece apparently doesn't believe in helping people find their way around by putting up signs, so it was an interesting day. but since we didn't really have any definite plans, it was ok. we ended the day in oia, a really cute town that is supposed to have a beautiful sunset. the sunset wasn't out of this world, but it was still cool.
day 3- finally the sun decided to come out so we headed to the beach. we got there a little before 11 and then camped out on some super comfy beach chairs. the weather was perfect and every once in a while one of us would say, "i can't believe we are actually laying out right now" the weather had been so bad the previous three days and neither of really believed it would turn so nice. but it did and we loved it. we ate lunch at the restaurant whose chairs we were using and it was really good. we had another greek salad, some typical santorini dish called tomato balls and chicken risotto. we also got a complimentary desert from the owner which was super tasty. after lunch it was back to the sun, but by then it wasn't as warm so we didnt last too long. we headed up to oia to see the sunset again and to do a little shopping around the town. in one of the stores the lady told us that putting yogurt on our sunburn would take the sting and the red out. so of course, we bought some yogurt after the sunset and when we got back to the hotel we smeared it all over our faces/backs/chests and in my case the tops of my hands, which got really burned. we had to leave it on for thirty minutes and when we washed it off, i was totally expecting to see no sunburn. unfortunately that was not the case, and i'm not really sure if it did anything at all.
day 4 was our last day on the island and we went on a boat tour of the volcano that formed the island. it was this cool old timey looking boat and we met all these asian people who were doing this big greece trip in a huge group. they were pretty funny. we walked around on the volcano, which doesnt really look like the typical volcano that you think of when you think of a volcano. instead of having a cone that sticks up, its more like the cone or opening is underground and when enough pressure builds up, then it explodes. any volcano experts would probably laugh at that explanation, but thats more or less what i understood and its unlikely that a volcano expert will be reading my blog. our guide was amazing bc he gave the whole tour in english, french and spanish. then later on the boat he spoke with one of the passengers in german. i'm not sure if he was totally fluent in all of the languages, but he was answering questions so that means he hadn't just memorized the information for the tour. anyways, i was impressed. after walking all over the volcano, we took the boat around to another little tiny volcanic island that has hot springs. so we jumped off the boat into the freeeezing cold water and had to swim to the hot springs. a more appropriate name for them would be "slightly warmer than the rest of the mediterranean" springs. seriously they were just a little bit warmer. so we hung out there for a few minutes, then had to swim back to the boat. and you know how when you go from warm water to cold water, it makes the cold water seem sooo much colder? well we definitely experienced that and the swim back was way worse than the swim out. and then once we got on the boat, we just had to air dry in our swim suits bc we didnt have towels to dry off with. that was a fun ride back. we ate our last meal in santorini at our beloved bakery and then headed down to the port to catch our ferry. we got back to athens at about 10 and when we checked into our hostel, they told us we had been upgraded from a 6 person dorm to a studio apartment. we were in heaven. we kept flipping out bc the place was soo nice. it totally redeemed athens for us, and we stayed up later than we had all week watching tv in english and getting caught up on the somalian pirate ordeal.
the next morning, after receiving our breakfast in a basket outside our door, we headed to the airport and flew to london. we met up with some of dre's friends and her housemates at CHILI'S for dinner in Reading, a city about 20 minutes from Oxford. it. was. so. good. dre and i both had already planned out everything we wanted to order, but sadly they didnt serve the two main dishes we wanted, so we went for our back-ups, but we still got skillet queso, chips and salsa and a molten lava cake AND we got free refills. i really like the food in spain, and i loved the food in greece, but it was really nice to have a little taste of home. when we got to oxford that night we went over to the acu house to eat some awesome deserts that the girls had made and watch a movie. on sat we got sandwiches from my favorite oxford sandwich shop, on the hoof, at with emily and ashley(two of the girls who came to barcelona) and then hung out with ron and janine for the rest of the afternoon. that night we went to a friend of dre's house and ate homemade korean food-cauliflower with this really good sauce that was almost exactly like the sauce that comes with crab wontons at pei wei, and lettuce wraps with this super good beef. it was delicious. another highlight of the day was cycling around oxford. dre has an extra bike that i got to ride. and let me tell you, cycling in oxford is not like cycling in abilene. i always think of bike riding as fun and peaceful bc we used to go for night rides around campus or in the neighborhoods around campus. cycling in oxford is the opposite. it is a legit means of transportation and it can be a little scary. especially bc the bike was just a smidge too tall for me, even with the seat all the way lowered, and i had a hard time starting once i was stopped. but i made it through the day without any major hang-ups and i feel like it was a pretty big accomplishment.
on easter sunday, we went to st. aldate's, the church i went to when i was in oxford before. it was just as great as i remembered and it felt so good being back there, especially on easter. we ate lunch with some of the acu kids at the eagle and child, where i got the sunday roast that i used to always get. so good. we went to get starbucks afterword, bc dre could finally drink coffee, and we sat and people watched from the upstairs window. after that, we went back to her house and watched fried green tomatoes with one of her housemates and then went to church again. the night service had a choir so we wanted to go for that, and it ended up being a totally different service than the morning. after that we ate at this place called the mission, which is like chipotle and it was really good. then we went to the acu house for nine at nine, the devo they have with the whole group every sunday. i left early the next morning to catch my bus for the airport.
so that sums up my semana santa. it was so great to travel to a new place and go back to my beloved oxford, and all with a great friend.
here is the link to see all the pickeys.