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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Location: Athens, Santorini, Greece

WOW! how time flies!!! I realize its been awhile since I\'ve updated this so here it goes! The reason I haven\'t updated in awhile is because we had a 2 week spring break (if this semester wasn\'t already a joke to begin with) ...which meant I got to explore even more of Europe!! The first weekend of our break we went on a program cuisine trip in Parma, Italy (the home of true parmesan cheese!). It was indeed delicious. We also at the same time got to explore some smaller Italian cities (Cremona, Mantua, Piacenza, and Parma) so it was neat to see some smaller italian cities that were not as populated with tourists! It was a really fun weekend with a lot of yummy food...I did not go hungry...and for me thats saying something...

and then....MOM came!!! I got to meet Mom in Greece for a week so we met in Athens late Monday night and caught up for a bit and relaxed after traveling and woke up the next day and journeyed to the port where we were going to stay before catching a boat to Santorini...well...we struggled to get there since the hotel neglected to tell us that we needed to validate subway tickets (In Italy you only have to validate train tickets, not metro tickets but we weren\'t aware) and so the cranky guards fined us 60 euros each for not validating...waa....waaaaaaaaaaa. We didn\'t pay it...since everyone and their mother told us we shouldn\'t...if they want to pay the $700 round trip plane ticket to the U.S. to come get their 60 euros, go for it hahaha...

We finally got to the Port after taking the metro (and a bus since the metro was closed for two stops due to construction)...thank you again hotel people for informing us of this...but we finally made it and relaxed in the port city for the night. The next morning bright and early we went to catch our boat to Santorini...and 7 hours later we got to the island...it was long but it went by fast!!! The boat had wireless internet...thank goodness! On the way we also had to stop at two other greek islands, Paros, and Naxos so it was a nice preview of what was to come as we saw little churches with blue domed roofs popping up on the shorelines.

Santorini was breathtaking...after almost leaving our luggage in the excitement of being there...dont worry we realized that we had left it by the bus when Mom was taking a photo of me and realized our luggage was in the background of the photo...the Greeks thought we were idiots im sure...haha o well! We finally got to the Dana Villas, which is where we were staying...and we thought we were all set and done with all the stressing...WHEN...we realized that they had lost our reservation! ughhhh...well turns out that the reservation we received was not really a reservation even though it said it was...the way the Greeks do things is the reason why they have a terrible economy LOL but it worked out that they found openings for us for the 3 nights we were there and we got to stay at this amazing place with awesome views! PHEW...and a hottub...which they finally got the temperature right after a day and a half (first too hot, then too cold, then just right LOL) ...but we weren\'t even that upset because we were in Santorini!!!

We ate some great seafood in Greece, which I was definitely not getting in Milan...my cooking entails preheating an oven or boiling water...if something cannot be made doing one of those things...im screwed...ok i learned how to cook a chicken the other day...I\'m improving! hahaha...but it was a nice change to get some meat/seafood, which I had been craving...

We also met a nice mother/daughter duo from Seattle who were staying in the little villa next to ours...so we talked to them while drinking wine and watching the sunset...it was worth ALL the hassles that we had experienced thusfar hahaha...and we got three great sunsets!!! They got better each night too....

During the days on the island we ended up exploring in the SMART car we rented so that was very entertaining although the car was supposedly automatic but didn\'t act like one...what I mean is that it didn\'t have a clutch but when you took your foot off the break it would still roll...it was odd but we adjusted LOL...we went to the north part of the island Oia and then the south part where the lighthouse and beaches were...so we had fun! On Saturday we headed back to Athens in the afternoon and arrived around 11pm, which was perfect because it was almost Easter and this year Greek Orthadox Easter and Roman Catholic easter were the same date, which meant we were in for an awesome show because Easter is bigger than Christmas in Greece so all the Greeks had candles that were lit by the flame from Jerusalem, which was actually brought over from Jerusalem! WILD...so that was neat to experience...

We finally got to the Hilton since Mom decided to use some of her Hilton Honors points...NICEST hotel I have ever had the pleasure of staying in by the way...and we had an awesome view of the Acropolis from our balcony! The next day we went and checked out Sytagma Square, which is the center of Athens and close to all the main tourist sites...

Funny story time: So we go to eat at this little restaurant where you could sit outside because it was so nice out and this young guy probably around 25 comes over to our table and is like I SEE YOU AGAIN! (to my mom) and she just goes along with it even though we have not seen this guy in our lives...we took a photo with him hahaha...o and we racked up a bill over 100 euro...lets not talk about it... :/ oops but we all got fresh lamb because that was what was being cooked everywhere since it was Easter...it was yummy...

The next day we went to the Acropolis and managed to find my friend Courtney who was there visiting with her mom! so that was fun to hang out with her for a little bit...we also got to see them briefly in Santorini since they were on a cruise that stopped there...so I got a few chances to hang with her...even though each time it was pure chance that we found them!

To end the day we took a bus to the Greek Riviera and explored the waterfront of Greece, which was very pretty! It was a nice relaxing way to end our vacation in Greece before Mom flew back to the States...it went SO fast although I will be back in the U.S. very very soon :)

O and that was only one week of Spring Break...still one more week to go!


Monday, 15 March 2010

Location: Dublin, Galway, Cork, Ireland

Sorry for the delay in updating my blog but the past two weeks have consisted of me studying for midterms...Yes I know...although you may not believe it, I am here to take classes...haha...but now having that over with...back to fun! My last weekend adventure was a huge reunion of people from my business fraternity back at school. A bunch of us are studying abroad in Spain, the U.K, the Netherlands, Italy, etc. so it was fun to all meet up in Dublin just in time for the start of St. Patrick's day festivities!! Let me tell you...it was CRAZZZZY...lets start with the plane ride to Ireland. Sooo this was my first Ryanair experience, which is one of the popular low cost airlines in Europe and it was quite interesting. First, there were a bunch of drunk Italians on our plane with huge leprechaun (did I spell that right?) hats on and they were chanting and clapping the entire plane ride...especially after the landing...it was as if the cubs won the world series or something hahaha...but after getting settled, I got to go out with the AKPsi group and catch up. On Saturday, we went exploring around Dublin and took a free tour to all the main sights. It reminded me a lot of London, which makes sense since it controlled Ireland for so many years...geez the Irish have a real sad history...we got to hear all about it. There was also the Guiness tour, which if you like beer you would have enjoyed it immensely. At night, we decided to go to a kareoke bar, which turned out being a lot of fun! My friend Courtney decided it would be funny to secretly put my name in to sing and not tell me until I was about to go up on stage. So I start freaking out a bit, so I went and got a shot of vodka and then went up and sang My Humps by Black Eyed Peas...o and if you didn't know, I did not choose this song....thank you, I just wanted to make that clear hahaha...SO at the end of the song to help make up for my awful singing, I did a backflip on stage! Turns out it was a good thing I did do that because I won second place for the night and won myself and my friends free beer! LOL...so that made my weekend!

Back at the hostel we met some really funny guys from Wales...they were hilarious!! When we got back after kareoke, they were passed out, one was on floor underneath a blanket...I didn't even realize he was there until the blanket started moving and then Michael was falling out of his bed so I helped move him into a more comfortable position...they were all kind of hammered but they were entertaining at least LOL

On Sunday, Courtney and I decided that we wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher, which is what Ireland is known for so we rented a car...yes we can rent a car in Europe at 21! So that made my bday a little more meaningful on this continent haha. The only thing I forgot was that Ireland drives on the other side of the road like the U.K. Waaaa....waaaaaaaaaaa. So that was a bit interesting at first but we survived so thats good! The ride across Ireland only took like 3 hours and it was well worth the trip. The cliffs were beautiful and the sun was shining so it was a perfect time to see them! After walking along the coast for a few hours we drove down to Cork, Ireland, which is a very cool little town with colored buildings near the south of the country. After eating dinner there, we walked around a bit and then headed back to conclude our adventure. Overall a very entertaining trip with some very interesting acquaintances along the way hahaha...


Monday, 08 March 2010

Location: Florence, Pisa, and Milan, Italy

I'm 21!!! What a crazy weekend! I still am recovering but it was so worth it lol. Two of my good friends from school (Catie and Ashley) flew in from London to celebrate with me! Of course, we had to overcome a few obstacles like trying to find them without any cell phone communication...yea NO BIG DEAL...UGH. Haha I promise it worked out (it always does) but it was a little scary for awhile. Basically after searching for them around our meeting point for 2 hours since our stupid european cell phones would not allow us to connect (their flight ended up being late but I couldn't find that info out) so I used a friend's computer and went on skype and luckily they told one of their friends to add me so that they could communicate where they are...smart girls...so we found each other!! Phew...so relieving...

After having lunch at my favorite pizzeria, we jumped on a train to Florence (or Firenze in Italian). We got there and after settling into our hostel, went out and walked the city. It really is beautiful! We went to all the main sights and then we went to this restaurant that my friend recommended Dante's. Needless to say, it was an interesting experience! When we got seated, we noticed that we were put next to these routy italian guys (probably around 23-25 years old) who were already drunk off who knows how many bottles of wine. Well after awhile, the one guy Mauricio and his other friend saw that I was with two American girls and that was it...we instantly became best friends.
They got us some wine and then kept toasting to everything that I kept telling them (ps I got to practice my italian haha)...I told them I was from Chicago...and they would scream CHICAGO!!!! and then toast all of us! ...then I said it was my birthday...BIRTHDAY!!!! and then I told them the girls were single and that got them really happy LOL...o did I mention I got free limoncello for my bday too! :))) love that stuff! ...after we said goodbye to the italians after about 25 goodbyes...we went on to a club "twice" which ended up being a lot of fun!! Met some other funny italians who would scream Happy Birthday everytime I danced past them...so it was quite hilarious!

The next morning we got up and saw all the touristy things in the daytime like the duomo, the ponte vecchio, and David. I couldn't have asked for a nicer day to be walking around...it was like mid 50's and sunny with not a cloud in the sky...gorgeous weather...but when have I ever had bad weather on this trip? (I feel like I'm going to be cursed with bad weather soon) lol...

After seeing Florence, we took a train ride to Pisa, which was a really neat little city. We walked to the leaning tower of Pisa and took tons of touristy photos haha...so that was fun! The weather was gorgeous to just walk around, which was good because after all I consumed...I needed to walk it off!

That night we trained back to Milan and met up with my friends from my program at this restaurant Nisida, which just opened and is really yummy! We got so much free stuff...free apple vodka and licorice vodka, which was kind of gross but I had already had wine with dinner so I could have cared at this point...lol...and then they brought me this italian birthday cake, which consisted of a bunch of churro type things with nutella all over the place...it was AWESOME! (did I mention that the chef sang happy birthday to me and he actually was really talented...he even did the whole like Mariah Carey thing where she goes like through a scale of notes...everyone was impressed) O and I got a balloon flower LOL. We all went out after to a club to conclude my bday so overall it was really fun! Three cities in one day! Breakfast in Florence, lunch in Pisa, and dinner in Milan...and with some fantastic company...

Sunday and today have been recovery days...we did a lil sightseeing to show Ashley and Catie the sights and then I've been in a coma ever since...I feel good to go though now! :)))

Monday, 01 March 2010

Location: Milan/Mazzin, Italy

So this past week was Women's fashion week...one of the biggest events in Milan...and we got to go for class! The first show we got to see was Elena Miro, who had some really neat looking stuff! There was some italian celebrity who came into the show because the paparazzi were all over her...so that was cool! It was this designer's 25th anniversary collection so when the show was over...we exited and were greeted by waiters who passed out champagne and skewered shrimp! It was AWESOME...we may have gone back for multiple glasses...hey we take advantage of what is free LOL...We continued to see a few more shows and then it happened...I was discovered...ok not really but it was still flattering because I was asked to have my picture taken by a photographer! Ok...I was like the 50th random person she took a picture of but it still made my day haha! It was extremely awkward too because she just wanted to take candid shots of me sipping champagne and I think my face was making weird expressions...o well ;)

After seeing a few more shows and trying to snoop around and find celebrities...we failed :( ...supposedly Anna Wintour and Chase Crawford were there...ugh...we tried haha. Supposedly Anna Wintour created a scandal by not staying for the entire week so all the top designers were scrambling to get their shows in while she was present HA! DRAMA

After an easy week of class (many were cancelled...it was great) we got to do a weekend of skiing in the Alps! We went to Mazzin...a city in northeastern Italy (close to the Austrian border)...again the weather could not have been greater! My friend and I went exploring all over the mountains and then took a hot chocolate break at this outdoor bar and sat in deck chairs with fake fur covers and fell asleep in the sun for an hour...I came out a bit pink haha...it was nice to breathe some fresh mountain air after the somewhat polluted air of Milan...but it was nice to go back to warm weather! It's getting close to 60 degrees and its only the beginning of March...I will take it!

Overall, it is hard to believe almost 2 months have passed here! Time flies when you are having fun...people back at IU are taking midterms this week and spring break starts for some of my friends this weekend! YIKES!

Well this weekend will be fun because it is my 21st bday...AHHHH...(which means absolutely nothing here since you can drink at 18 hahaha)...but some friends are flying here to celebrate with me so that will make it fun! :))) Well back to finishing some hw...new pics have been posted!






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Recent Messages

From Dad
Just checking on you from LHS. Hope the weekend among the blonds was fun.

Mom's getting excited and very nervous for next week.
You two should have a wonderful time.

Thinking about you.

Love, Dad
Response: Haha the Swedes are quite attractive and they don't smoke hardly as much as other Europeans, which is another plus haha...I am sure she is stressing out hardcore! lol it will be better once we get there hopefully :)
From
What a b-day! Eating 3 meals in 3 different cities, you should write a travel book! Sounds like a wonderful 21st b-day!
dee
Response: After the toll this semester has taken on me financially, I may need to write a book in hopes of replenishing my account! hahaha
From Joan McLoughlin
Just realized that you have photos posted too -- you got to train us old people! We were in Venice last August -- what a beautiful city. Your pictures are wonderful.
Love Joanie
Response: Venice was a gorgeous city...I was very impressed! Sorry about the photos...should have clarified that better haha!
From Mrs. MacNair
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Keep it coming, Sean.

Response: I'm glad you thought it was as hilarous as I did...as embarassing as it was at the time...it is a great story...and my italian teacher here loved it! haha
From Aunt Terri
Hi, sounds like you're having a great time. I am so jealous. Keep in touch. I enjoy reading about the historical sights you're taking in.
Response: I'm glad you enjoy the posts! It really is interesting learning about the history...and seeing the sights...I am really enjoying it!
From
Well John, another amazing adventure! The buildings, the beach, and oh yes the pizza sound wonderful! The ice bar- not so much! Looks pretty cold, like home.
lov,dee
Response: The Ice bar was quite cold...they give you like an hour limit inside but I could see it being a great thing in the summer...but hopefully we will all get warmer weather soon! :)
From Joanie
You are having way too much fun -- what a great experience for you. I look forward to your next communication. Travel safe.
Love, Joanie and Neil
Response: It has been a lot of fun...but yes definitely a great learning experience...I will keep updating! :)
From mr and mrs macnair
hey!! love the blog. It's great to hear about the adventures. Don't worry about the great food you're eating, you're going to walk it all off daily. Just enjoy and soak up the culture. I did laugh about the pickpocket thing though.

email when you can and we'll keep checking in. Dave and Lisa MacNair
Response: It's so true!! Walking everywhere makes me feel better about the fact that I eat so many carbs lol...and the weather is getting nicer so I've been able to get out and run but yea...running is not a typical lifestyle choice here in milan haha! I will be sure to keep you updated :)
From
sean,
I so enjoy you blog! you have really been exploring, and enjoying yourself. I look forward to your next experience!
luv dee
Response: Thanks Aunt Dee! I will keep updating periodically throughout the semester...miss you all...hope all is well! :)
From don lauer
Wish i were young again as all
you write sounds so exciting.
Keep those blogs coming.
Response: Good, I´m glad you enjoy them...I will keep it up!
From Peggy Bandemer
Hi Sean!
Sounds like you are having a great time! We are enjoying your updates!

Stay Safe!

Love,

Peggy
Response: O good! I'm glad you are enjoying them! haha...I will definitely try to keep doing them periodically. :)
From Mom
That was great! We really enjoyed your blog. Keep it up. Have you told other people about it? Like the MacNairs? Ttyl. Luv ya, Mom
Response: I told Meg about it but not Mr. and Mrs. MacNair :)