Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rooftop Views of Athens

Obviously the key to success is to be a Greek god or goddess.  Long after the gods and goddesses of mythology stopped being worshiped, their legacy (and your struggle to remember your grade school mythology lessons) lives on.    There is something about your first stop on a vacation.   You've just arrived in a new place.   Then you see that one thing that lets you know that you're not in Kansas (or Colorado) anymore.   Even if you had to fly back home the next day, you could say "Yes, I've seen the _______." 

We didn't arrive in Athens until late on a Sunday night.   The airport is modern.   The interstate is modern.   Other than Greek on the signs, you could be anywhere.  Then you get to downtown Athens.    The temple of Zeus is lit up.    The Acropolis is lit up.   And you know you've arrived.   In history.  In the AA (authentic ancient).  

These photos were taken from the rooftop terrace at the Royal Olympic Hotel, our home away from home on two occasions during our vacation.    To be sipping coffee or a cocktail overlooking's awesome. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

You in Greece


Last June my sister and I found out that we would have the opportunity to go to Greece in April 2012.   It had been on the wish list of places to go.   But now it was reality.   One of the first things we did was look at pictures and videos online.   This video, from the Greek tourist board, took us there.   We wanted to be the "beautiful people" who go on holiday in Greece.      

In the next few weeks, I'll continue to add posts and pictures about our trip.  Part of being on vacation, for me, is taking a break from constant technology.   And now I can revisit the experience, stretching my vacation mentality on, even though I've returned to reality. 

I hope you enjoy your virtual vacation.   Along with some of our other travelers we have a plan..."Next time, in Santorini" (more to come on why).   

It's time.  Picture yourself in Greece. 
You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tourists and Ice Cream

Gelato on the island of Mykonos, Greece

I love the movie My Life in Ruins.  Even more so since I've just returned from Greece.   My sister and I had watched it before our trip and it couldn't just be coincidence that it was one of the many on-demand movies on Turkish Airlines on our flight home.

The main character, Georgia, is a tour guide in Greece.  She's taking a diverse group of strangers with strong personalities around to see the famous sites.  She hopes to share her love of history with them.   And as anyone who works in hospitality and tourism knows - it's not all that glamorous.   

Possibly my favorite line in the movie...

Georgia:  "What is it with tourists and ice cream? They had some this morning, then again after lunch. And now again with the $4 cones. I don't get it."

I do. 

I love ice cream on vacation.  Walking around with a cone or sitting in the sun with a dish of ice cream is the epitome of what vacation should be.   You have the time to relax and indulge in a special treat.   You can watch the world go by.  You can try new flavors.  You can chat with new people about the shared deliciousness. You embrace your vacation mentality that every treat is a new experience. 

Friends and family who have traveled with me know that I seek out ice cream pretty much every day.  Ice cream is accessible almost anywhere that has a snack bar or cafe - which is almost everywhere in the world.  Even in non-tourist destinations. 

In Greece I alternated between ice cream/gelato and baklava (and all its cousins).    

Some days I had both.

What's your favorite vacation treat?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Massage - No Longer My Vacation Splurge

I used to save massages for a special occasion, like vacation.  I remember getting my first massage on a cruise.   I have since changed my tune.   Massages are for the real world - not vacation.

Vacation doesn't stress me out.  Daily life does. 
Sun and a tank top doesn't tense my shoulders, a suit jacket does.

The idea of a massage on vacation is glamorous.  It also costs twice or three times as much.   For the past year and a half I've been getting a massage every month.  $55 for 55 minutes.  5 minutes from my house and a therapist who does a great job.   And if you're willing to try promotional offers at different spas and go grouponing, you could probably pay less than that.  

Caveat:  If you're in Thailand where an hour long foot massage is $5 and a Thai massage on the beach is $12 - go for it.   Every day. 

Unless your massage is on the beach with the sound of waves, you are lying on a table in a dim room with your eyes closed.   You can lie on a table in a dim room in your home town.   Why pay a premium to do it at a hotel?  Use that $50-100 difference and treat yourself to a special dinner, a zip line tour or a street market splurge.

Then schedule a massage at home the day after your vacation ends.   Keep those good vacation vibes going after you return to reality. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

You'll Never Look at the Easter Story the Same Again

Nine months ago I was in Israel with a small group from my church.   Before we even left (back when we were eating Garbanzo's in our pastor's backyard), John mentioned that after going to Israel you will never look at the Christmas and Easter stories the same.   I thought about that this morning while at church for Palm Sunday.

The Palm Sunday scripture about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey while children yelled and waved palm fronds is no longer just something in a book or a painting.   I've walked down that path.

There are many things that make your faith real.   Service.  Singing.  Reading.  Friendships.  Miracles.  Visiting Israel was one of those experiences for me.

Feel free to read through any of the following posts to see what Israel is like through the eyes of a Christian.    If you haven't made your own pilgrimage, I hope you get the opportunity.

Wellshire Pilgrimage to Israel
June 23-24: Denver to Galilee
June 25: In and Around Galilee
June 26: Cana, Nazareth, and the River Jordan
June 27: Galilee to Jericho
June 28: Jericho, Dead Sea and Bethlehem
June 29: Following the Palm Sunday Path
June 29: Ancient Stairs and the Upper Room
June 30: The Wall & The Rock
July 1: Holy Sepulchre and the Return to Palestine


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