Monday, August 31, 2009
I'm back! Europe was awesome. In Amsterdam, we stayed with a lovely 30-something couple. The three of us ate dinner together every night with lots of conversation. I did not realize how many canals were in Amsterdam. We rented bikes one day and got very lost, but enjoyed seeing the city.
My favorite thing in the city is Our Lord of the Attic. In the 1600s, Catholic churches were banned, so a wealthy merchant built one in his attic. I was expecting a small chapel that could seat maybe ten or fifteen people. Instead, I got this: a church that could accommodate over 100 people, an organ, confessionals, etc. This was a fully functioning church for the neighborhood. Pretty cool.
From Amsterdam we flew to Athens. Athens is a lot more arid than I had imagined. And hot. So very very hot. Every day you felt you had a layer of dust coating your skin. The Acropolis was amazing. It's hard to imagine how long those buildings have been there. The New Acropolis Museum was interesting and it was cool being in a brand new facility (it opened in June) that is built on top of a current archaeological site. We stayed in Athens for a day too long due to full ferries, but caught one to Naxos, a small island in the cyclades.
Naxos was great. We rented an ATV and drove around the island one day. Lots of beaches and some historical sites - like Venetian defense towers.
Santorini is the classic Greek island. It has the classic white buildings with blue trim and is located on a cliff. Sunsets over the island are beautiful. We were there for the Volcano Eruption Celebration (the island is part of a volcano crater), which included lots of fireworks. The little lights along the middle and bottom are boats watching the show.
After Santorini, it was a quick trip to Crete. We stayed in Chania with an American linguist. He gave us a tour of the city, which has been invaded many a time. It's a lovely town, right on a harbor.
From Crete, we flew to London, one of my favorite places in the world. Jake had never been before; I enjoyed showing him around. We stayed with one of his friends from MN who is living in Windsor. We went to the National Gallery, saw Big Ben,
walked around Westminister, toured the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum (totally awesome), laughed at The 39 Steps, toured around Windsor and accidentally walked 12 miles in an afternoon, watched a polo match, took a boat to Greenwich, visited the Tate Modern, toured Shakespeare's Globe, got scared at The Woman in Black, poked around Regent's Garden and Camden Markets, and were awed at the British Museum.
I came home to news that Dad was in the hospital. He's ok and out of the hospital, but I don't trust him to take it easy without supervision, so I'm leaving for Atlanta tomorrow. August has been very busy.