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Showing posts from 2009

Santorini: Paradise

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This story starts months before I ever left for Athens. My mom and I had decided that we were going to meet up after I was done traveling with Chris, and we were sitting at home one night brainstorming places we could go when my mom had an epiphany. Her best friend from college, Christina, was Greek and had moved back to Athens after college. They hadn’t spoken in a decade. My mom had me search for her on facebook and there was one person in Athens with the same name. I sent her a very awkward message, something along the lines of.. “Hi, my mom is Wanda Day. I don’t know if you remember her or if you studied abroad in Florida and lived in Naples… but if this is you…”

It was her! She invited us to come stay in Athens with her, where she was a professor, and asked us to join her on the island of Santorini where she wanted to rent a cave villa for the three of us. I hadn’t seen her since I was about three years old. After I flew out of Sofia, I landed in the Athenian airport where my mom…

Away We Go (to the Balkans)

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Our last night in Corfu, we basically pulled an all-nighter and had a morning ferry to catch to Albania. I know when these entries are read, traveling seems like a breeze, but in reality getting to and from each city is a stressful process. Getting to Albania was one of the most tiresome, stressful days of my life. When we landed in Sarande (a lovely beach town), it took us forever to find an ATM and the bus station. I remember dripping sweat and thinking I was going to buckle under the weight of my backpack. A trip to a café and a few espressos later, we hopped a bus to Gjirokastra and at some point decided to stay the night there.

The friendliness of the Albanian people was hard to grasp at first, but eventually we got used to it and realized that the random people we kept meeting were genuinely interested in helping us, and were not scam artists. Our cab driver dropped us off at his friend’s house, who luckily had an extra room. He immediately showered us in liquor (I made Chris dr…

Greek Island-Hopping

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Summer 2009 was the summer of spontaneity and smoked meat. Remember Chris, the guy I met in Madrid two summers ago and who eventually visited me in Berlin while I was there researching the Holocaust? Well, we decided that we worked so well in travel mode that we were going to travel together for an entire month this summer. Somehow our schedules lined up for the month of July and we decided to start in Athens.

I had spent the two weeks before visiting friends in Boston and NYC, and after a delayed flight in JFK (eleven hours of epic boredom and anxiety), I was in a cab passing by the acropolis. Athens was unbelievably hot; while climbing up the side of the mountain that the acropolis sits on, I had a borderline asthma attack. Good fun. After three days in the scorching Athenian heat we were ready to move on and start island-hopping.

Ruins in the heart of Athens
Chris and I managed to visit three Greek islands: Crete, Santorini, and Corfu. Each one was amazingly beautiful and unique. We…

Peru!

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This might seem like a random entry shoved in here, but yes, immediately after traveling around Central Europe, my mom and I flew down to Peru. We started off our trip by spending a few days in Lima and eventually took a bus ride from hell to Cusco. I realized the second we landed that this trip was going to be laughably cheap (quite like Albania in the next summer). We tipped a cab driver one dollar and he asked if we wanted change back.

Public restrooms on the roof of the Blue Market in Lima
My mom’s brother is a flight attendant who goes to Lima often, so he was able to show us a very cool side to Lima that I am guessing many tourists do not see. We went to a few flea markets, explored Miraflores (of course), and drank pisco sours.

My mom, uncle and me in the Blue Market-Lima
I got the chance to go paragliding over the Pacific Ocean off a cliff at the edge of Lima. Wow. At first I was afraid because the smog was so thick and there was a 200 pound Danish man strapped to my back, but …

A Renewed Central Europe

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The last three weeks in our trip were just informative as the first three weeks. We started off in Dresden, where we viewed the remnants of destruction from the firebombing. I learned that many people left their homes when the bombing started, only to sink knee deep in boiling tar in the road. The Church of our Lady, newly renovated stands at the center of downtown, with one piece of the old wall remaining as a reminder of damages done.

After Dresden we were off to Berlin. Most of the students were at the breaking points so our professors surprised us by cancelling most of our appointments for Berlin and giving us a few days off to see the city and have fun. Perfect timing. Chris, my roommate from Madrid the previous summer, hadn’t been to Berlin for a very long time, and flew in to explore the city with me. We drank beer in the Berliner Tiergarten with Nicole and Kelly, went to a dance party at a German boy named Mio’s apartment, searched fruitlessly for the Tarantino Bar, and visite…

Oh, Holocaust Trip

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The Holocaust trip began and ended in Prague, with a one-week stop in Prague in the middle of the trip as well. It became our home base, and we frequented a university there, listening to lectures in Czech and utilizing the computer lab and other facilities. Nicole and I flew in a few days early to explore the city on our own, and met up with Greg, another student who flew in early. We went to the Praha Zoo, lounged around Stromovka Park, drank some great Czech beers, and before we knew it, classes had started.

Frolicking in Stromovka Park in Prague
This program was interdisciplinary, so we didn’t solely focus on the historical aspect of the Holocaust. We studied human rights, criminology, international affairs, psychology, etc. In Prague we toured the old Jewish quarters, which is now overflowing with kosher restaurants, temples, and museums. I could have spent all day exploring the Prague castle and surrounding neighborhood.

Beautiful Prague Castle
Our first stop after Prague was Salzb…

Summer 2008

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My first summer in Europe was over and college had begun. I immediately began thinking of ways to get back to Europe. When I applied to a study abroad program in Valencia for spring and was accepted, I thought things were too good to be true. Turns out, they were. A few weeks before I was supposed to leave, the financial aid office at my school lost some of my paperwork and all of my loans fell through. I had to stay in Tallahassee another semester. What was my first step after that? Applying to a study abroad program for summer of course! My friend Nicole and I were both accepted into a six week long Holocaust intensive.

Polka Dancing with Nicole at the Hofbrauhaus, Munich, Germany

The actual title of the research program was “The Nazi Era: Perpetrators, Bystanders, and Victims.” For six weeks we would travel around Central Europe with 20 other students and 3 professors. We would visit concentration camps, museums, memorials, interview survivors, watch documentaries, and develop jour…

The Grand Finale in Western Europe

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Salamanca was not our last stop in Spain; we still had a few days left in Madrid. What perfect timing. We were lucky enough to be there when Real Madrid won La Liga championship, and lucky enough to catch the after party. It was also lucky that all of our roommates in our hostel were amazing. There was a brother and sister from Florida who we kept in touch with when we came back to the States. The sixth roommate was Chris, someone I eventually was lucky enough to travel with on more than one occasion. I will never forget the Cabaret we found on a Sunday night; from the street it was just an inconspicuous door. When we walked through the door it was a multi-level gay bar, complete with a drag queen show.


Celebrating in the streets of Madrid
Next stop, Paris. Paris would not have been the same without Greg, one of the nicest and friendliest people I have ever met, and someone I would come to know as G-Bomb. Within a few days, the four of us visited the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Catacombs,…

Initial Impressions of Europe

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Marpessa, Chelsea and I landed in Dusseldorf but our first stop was Munich. I will never forget the nice old couple from our plane who navigated us to the train from Dusseldorf to Munich. The first time seeing street signs and billboards in another language. Even the ambulance sirens sounded different. We saw an old man rolling his own cigarettes from fresh tobacco on the train (this was a habit I would later pick up to save money).
English Gardens in Munich on a beautiful day I think Munich was love at first sight. If I didn’t believe in love at first sight, I do now. First order of business: bike tour, aka pub crawl on bikes. With some new friends on the bike tour of Munich
We spent a lovely 5 days in Munich, sprawling out in the English Gardens with fresh produce, drinking with the Germans and making friends in the Hofbrauhaus. We visited the Roman Baths and Dachau (a concentration camp that I would return to in the following summer for research). After all these summers of traveling,…

How It All Began- 2007

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It is about time. I travel quite a bit, and keep random journals and take photos but I have never kept it all in one place. Three summers and 17 countries later, I have made up my mind. My wonderful graduate advisor actually gave me this idea; she said I need to make a PowerPoint or something of the sort so that I have something to show people when they ask about my travels.

Now, I don’t claim to be a world traveler just yet. I know many people who have experienced so much more than me. Hopefully through this blog, I can keep track of my development as a global citizen and map my progress in traveling to the far corners of this planet. In sequential order, I have been to…

Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Holland, Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Peru, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Bulgaria (for an afternoon).

It all started a few years ago when I was a senior in high school. Two of my best friends, Chelsea and Marpessa (also two of the wildest…