Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Athens - Day 2

Although we were on vacation, since we technically only had one day to explore Athens, Token insisted on getting up early to get a jump start on exploring. We had breakfast on the roof and then hit the road.

This is a really bad picture, but shows you how close we are to our first stop.



After this, we went to see where the 1896 Olympic games were held.

This is what it looked like then...

And this is what it looks like now...

Token was lovin' it!

Since it started getting pretty hot outside, we decided to buy tickets on an open air bus tour. My kind of site-seeing!! Token, however, prefers to walk, although he now admits that we would have never seen all that we had seen if we had not jumped on the bus.

(oh, and that guy behind him was trying to get out of the picture. Didn't work too well. Haha!)

Here's some of the stuff we saw on the bus:

Changing of the guard...

The college...
... and a bunch of other stuff that we didn't take pictures of. Sorry!

We stopped and got off at the Archeological Museum and wandered around there for an hour or so. Token was happy to see this statue of a javelin thrower.


And I thought this was a pretty cool statue. They found these two pieces separately and they fit together so perfectly that they decided they must have been one piece at one time.


After the museum, we hopped back on the bus and headed up for the Acropolis, where we hopped off one final time. The hike up to the top of the Acropolis was a CRAZY one, but we took it slow and eventually got there.

This looks just like the theater in Taormina. No wonder - they are both Greek! It all makes sense now!


Doin' the bump...

Token's amazed at all things historical.

And I have to admit, it was pretty cool. It leaves a lot to your imagination. Like, how they did they build it? It's on a HUGE hill, overlooking the entire city and it just such a presence. Very cool.



After wandering around on the Acropolis for a bit, we walked down the hill and into Plaka, where we got a bite to eat.

Mmmm.... Greek salad. (minus the feta for me. Feta is non-pasteurized and therefore a no-no for pregnant women. This PSA brought to you by the Dairy Council.) The authentic Greek salad has the following ingredients: cucumber, tomato, caper, green pepper, red onion, olives, feta cheese, and olive oil. And it's delicious!!!

And you *know* Token had to get an authentic gyro.

Which he loved.


After we grabbed some gelato, we headed to this roof top outdoor movie theater and bought tickets to watch Angels and Demons. Very cool way to end the day!! To the left of the theater, the Acropolis was all lit up and it was just really fun. The movie was in English with Greek subtitles, so it worked out perfectly.


After the movie, we went back to the hotel and crashed as soon our heads hit the pillow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time out!

Time out from the Greek recap for some late-breaking Baby B news. After much poking and prodding this morning by the radiology technician, we are happy to announce that Baby B is officially a GIRL! Let the shopping commence!

Here are some pictures.

The first picture of this set is the baby practicing her yoga. That's the top of her head down by her feet. The tech said he needs to follow up with us after the baby is born to see if she likes to roll up into a ball. He said to buy lots of swaddles. The second one is her "no more pictures, please" pose.


Though the picture may look deceiving, the thing that you are thinking is a penis is actually the umbilical cord. Baby B is definitely a girl! The tech said that for a girl, you look for a 'hamburger' and for a boy, you look for a 'turtle.' It's all very technical. :p

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's all Greek to me...

I have to admit that I've totally been procrastinating posting about our Greek vacation. We took well over 250 photos and the thought of organizing them and laying them out into a post makes my head spin a little. But, I love all of you, so I'm willing to give it my best shot.

Please forgive me for not knowing all of the historical names of places in Athens. I tried to listen, I promise, but my mind would wander to other things, like, "why is that guy peeing on the sidewalk in the middle of the day on a busy street," or, "I wonder if I just briefly touch that painting in this art museum if anyone would notice,".... stuff like that.

My first impressions of Athens:
  • the people are VERY proud of hosting the 2004 Olympics here. Our taxi driver both to and from the airport made us crane our necks to see the stadium. You can tell they really enjoyed having their city on display.
  • It's dry. The dirt was already cracked as if they hadn't had rain for months.
  • It's modern. In fact, I would dare to say that it's more cosmopolitan than Rome. And (shhh....), I enjoyed it more than Rome.
  • They allow people to smoke in their airport. Upon leaving to return to Sicily, we filled out an airport comment card in which I left the following critique. To preface this statement, you have to know that the Greeks seem to be very energy conscience. The escalators don't move unless they sense motion, the lights are dimmed, etc. We basically said that we find it ironic that they work so hard on energy conservation, but don't seem to care about smoke in public places, or allowing non-smokers to breathe in second hand smoke. I think we ended with something like, "Thank you for shortening my life span." Take that! There was a blank to leave your name, but Token thought that might get us on some sort of 'do not allow to fly' list, so I left it blank. I kinda wish I hadn't, though. I want to know what they'd say in response.
  • They don't flush their toilet paper down. There's a bin for toilet paper next to the john. Um. Ew, is all I have to say about that.
  • There's a ton of traffic, but we never had any problem crossing the street at crosswalks or anything.
So, without further adieu, here's part one of Athens.

We flew out of Catania on Tuesday morning, arrived in Rome for a short layover, and were quickly on our last flight to Athens. We landed in Athens, commented on how much warmer it was there than in Sicily, and got a taxi to our hotel, the Athens Gate, which was located right in front of the Temple of Zeus and really close to the Parthenon. Take it away, Wikipedia:

"The Temple of Zeus at Olympia, built in 470-456 BC, was the ancient Greek Temple in Olympia Greece dedicated to the chief of the gods, Zeus. It was the very model of the fully-developed classical Greek temple of the Doric order. The temple stood in the most famous sanctuary of Greece, which had been dedicated to local and Pan-Hellenic deities and had probably been established towards the end of the Mycenaean period. The Altis, the enclosure with its sacred grove open-air altars and the tumulus of Pelops, was first formed during the tenth and ninth centuries BCE, when the cult of Zeus joined the established cult of Hera."

Don't ya feel smarter now?

This picture was from the balcony of our hotel's rooftop bar and restaurant.

The first day we were in Athens, we explored a little bit around the hotel, but not before stops at two of our favorite places...

Hard Rock Cafe (The Haystack Chicken Salad tastes the same no matter what country you're in. It's amazing, actually!)


And Starbucks.

Once fully stuffed and caffeinated, we headed to do a little bit of exploring. It was starting to get a little dark, so we didn't do much, but went to the cute, quaint little town of Plaka and wandered the streets. A shop owner gave me a keychain with the eye of good luck on it, to wish good luck for the baby. Yep, I'm definitely showing now. No doubt about it!

Here are some of the things we saw before we called it a day...


(I don't remember what this is called. Some kind of entrance for Zeus, maybe? Or, maybe I made that up? I don't know.)

We tried to go in to see the ancient stuff, but they were closed for the evening. Not to worry, though - we'd be back bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning! Err... make that Token would be bright-eyed, bushy tailed. :p

After we found out that this was closed, we went back to our hotel (literally across the street) and Token got a beer on top of the roof. The view of the Acropolis was really pretty cool from the roof, although you can't really tell in this picture.

Ahhhh..... vacation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We're back!!!

We had a great time in Greece! Traveling to and from absolutely SUCKED, but at least the actual in the country part was amazing. Stories and photos to come...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ultrasound

Well, today was the big day... because of a cancellation at the radiology department, my 'big' ultrasound was rescheduled for today. I was so excited to find out if Baby B was a he or a she. Come to find out, he/she is kind of shy and decided to not show his/her parts, so we have to go back on May 26 for round two. The technician did say that he's 80% sure that we're having a girl, but to not go shopping yet, so.... we'll see!!

He also said that all of the measurements look good. Baby doesn't have spina bifida, has two arms, two legs, a bladder, stomach, and all of the other stuff we all need to survive. So, yay! Here are a few pictures.


Look at those feet!! Hehehe!


And with that, we're off to Greece! Be back in a week!

Mother's Day dinner

So, with all of our onions and garlic (see proof below. We got way more than we could ever use, and some was given away to Token's co-workers today.), Token made a fabulous Mother's Day dinner. The weather was amazing yesterday, so we dined al fresco (outside). It was very nice.

He made some sort of potato, garlic, onion mash type thing with sun-dried tomatoes, a pasta dish with chicken, garlic, and squash, and some good 'ol Texas Toast. Mmm....


I couldn't even finish half of it. I was stuffed!

Nikko sat at the window the whole time meowing and begging to be let out. He's a bugger, but we love him.

Oh, and here's our hanging garlic. When we get back from Greece (we leave tomorrow!!), we'll take it down and store it inside. Pretty nifty!


One last picture. Here's a blurry picture of our garden. Token planted some more flowers and also some veggies. We now have tomato, pepper, cucumber, and onion growing. We also have sage and basil growing. I ordered some really cute garden markers from Etsy to mark what is where. Grow baby, grow!


Be back later this afternoon with the results from our "big" ultrasound. This is the only time I am ever going to encourage my child to show his/her nether regions. I hope he/she isn't shy!!!! I'm thinking it's a boy - any other guesses??

Garlic Festival

Yesterday, Token and I headed to the town of Trecastagni for the annual garlic festival. It's actually a festival to honor the three patron saints of the town, but the main draw for non-Catholics is the garlic. They have it all over the place... check it out!

Supposedly, you are supposed to hang the garlic out in the sun for 15 days and then store it in a cool place. They say it can last up until a year, but I don't know if I'm willing to test out that theory!




Here's a picture of me with all the hoards of people. It was PACKED, and Italians aren't the most patient people, so there was a lot of nudging and pushing. The old women are the most notorious for this. I might have elbowed one in the face because she wouldn't stop pushing me. (small joke... kinda...)

Anyway, here's me and my "baby belly" which is a whole lot of nothin'. It looks like it here because I was leaning back and pushing my stomach out, but believe me, if I were not to do that, you wouldn't be able to tell.

Another one of the draws to the fair, in addition to the patron saints and the garlic, are the traditional Sicilian horse carts. These things are amazing. The detail is so intricate. There were well over 24 of these horses lined up getting ready for a parade down the main street.

Men ride in the carts behind the horse and play music. Very cool stuff.


Trecastagni has a great view of Mt. Etna. The snow is pretty much all gone, and there's been a lot more steam than we've seen since we've lived here. Hmm....


Moving on to festival food... we have some sort of sausage...
with all of the fixin's....


cheese...


... and lard.... (yes, lard, as in fat, as in Crisco-like substance, as in artery-clogging, as in gross. They slice it thinly, place it on top of a piece of bread, and chow down.)


We bought some onions and garlic, and I'll show you what Token fixed up in the next post.