Thursday, June 30, 2011

Greek yummies

I guess Sal can tell that I'm missing Greece!

He went grocery shopping yesterday and surprised me with these Greek delights... thanks sweetie!

I remember after the first time we got home from Hawaii, he had a fresh yellow plumeria lei (my favorite!) shipped home to me from the islands. Sal is always so thoughtful.....


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

back to reality....

Hi there! A quick mid-week post ... we're back home, back to campus, and back to reality after our fabulous whirlwind trip! We miss Greece, but it's great to be home too. We had a great visit with my parents when we got back to Florida, and it was so terrific to be reunited with Buddy & Aruba too, we missed our precious angels. They had such fun at "Camp Grandma & Grandpa" and didn't want to leave !!

Back home, we see the problems in Greece festering on live TV news feeds. Sal and I walked and rode in taxis along this street many times while in Athens (that's the Parliament Bldg in the upper right): The country does have economic problems, some were clearly visible... vacant storefronts and abandoned businesses everywhere, never-completed construction projects, hotels struggling to fill rooms, protests, rallies, strikes, 20% unemployment. Very sad. The country is in my thoughts as they try to cope with these difficult issues. The Greek people were so warm and welcoming to us, and we wish them a bright future. If you're considering a visit to Greece, please do not let the unrest there discourage you. Simply avoid spending a lot of time in Athens, where most of the commotion occurs. And while strikes can be disruptive and sometimes affect operations (ferries, banks, etc) country-wide, they generally last only a day or two. You can work around them (we did). Greece is too wonderful to miss! Hopefully, our euros helped stimulate their economy in some small way (I did my best by shopping, LOL)!

I'll be back soon with pics and details of our journey ... after I get caught-up at home/work, and yes, sorting thru 1,000+ photos! I'm also getting ready to attend my 25th high school reunion (where did the time go?) ... thankfully, I already found a perfect new "little black dress" to wear! Thanks Mom!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

"yassas" to Greece....

Just a quickie post from here in Athens on our final night in Greece. Heading back to Florida, saying good-bye (yassas) to Greece ... for now! Sal and I have loved it here, and we'll definitely be back!

Things are relatively calm in Athens tonight, protest-wise, so we spent our final evening enjoying a relaxing Greek dinner on a rooftop taverna looking up at the Parthenon, all while listening to live (and lively!) Greek music. Opa! Such a treat! It was the same taverna where we had our very first meal in Greece.... we came full-circle. Then we took a stroll back to our hotel through our "neighborhood", The Plaka (the most ancient part of Athens), to enjoy this night-time view of the Acropolis/Parthenon from our hotel's rooftop terrace:

Such a lovely way to wrap-up our stay in fabulous Greece! I will miss it here.....

Lots of pics and details of our journey coming always, thanks for joining me along the way!

Time to pack !!

Enjoy the weekend,

Monday, June 20, 2011

heavenly Greece

Our time in beautiful Greece is winding down ... my guidebook is tattered and worn, and my Grecian blue pedicure needs refreshing from all the walking, hiking, swimming, shopping (LOL). Signs of another exciting destination well-explored!

Next, we're heading to northern Greece for our final adventure, visiting The Meteora. Can't wait to see the up-in-the-air monasteries amidst the spectacular geology....

More soon,


Sunday, June 19, 2011

congratulations to Sal !!!

Hello (yassas!) from the island of Hydra, Greece! Our hotel room opens onto this pretty garden terrace:
We've been so on-the-go that I haven't had a chance to share some wonderful news ... effective in August, Sal has been informed by the President of FAU that he will be promoted to the highest rank of professorship! From "Associate Professor" to "Full Professor", often abbreviated as simply "Professor". CONGRATULATIONS, sweetheart !!! :-) I'm so proud of you !!!

This honor is so well-deserved ... Sal is such a dedicated, hard-working, and talented chemistry professor and researcher!

So nice to be able to celebrate this incredible achievement while here in beautiful Greece.....


Saturday, June 18, 2011

you go girls !!

So proud of their incredible COURAGE !!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grecian blue toes!

sweet !!

Enjoyed a totally yummy Greek treat last night ... loukoumades! ... piping hot, deep-fried dough pastry. The traditional Greek topping for them is honey + walnuts, or even sesame seeds (a Greek fave), but I opted for powdered sugar. I'll be getting more of these sweet orbs of delight today for sure !!!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

strike 2 !

Hello from lovely Nafplion, Greece!

As you can see from my previous post, I can blog directly from my iPhone, which is great for sharing glimpses and snippets of our journey until I have a chance to prepare full blog posts.

Today Greece is largely on strike :-(
The Parliament is passing economic austerity measures and the people are upset. While most of the commotion is in Athens, the effects are country-wide ... no ferry service, and archeological sites are closed for 24 hours. There was also supposed to be an air-traffic controller strike, but that was called-off. Good thing for everyone flying into, out of, and within Greece!

This is the 2nd strike since we arrived. We had ferry tickets booked to go to Santorini, but because of a reported dock workers strike, I bought last-minute flights to get to the island instead. Wonder if I can get my ferry $$$ back?

Strikes are all part of the Greek travel experience, I suppose....

More soon,

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, June 13, 2011

Greece is the word

Sal and I are having an amazing time in Greece, we love it here! Just trying to dodge a bit of protests and strikes tho. :-(

The Acropolis & Parthenon in Athens were amazing, so glad to finally see them in person.

Visited Santorini and savored every minute on that stunning island...the view from our hotel room's veranda left me speechless!

Now we're back on the mainland, in the charming town of Nafplion... luscious bougainvillea everywhere, providing shade to tables at quaint tavernas.

Thanks for stopping by ... more pics & details soon as we continue our journey through Greece....

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, June 6, 2011

Eat. Pray. Love to Travel.....

"You don't speak Italian with your mouth, you speak it with your hands."
---from Eat Pray Love

Well, finally.... hello! Or make that yassas! since we've now arrived in incredible Athens! Already caught our first glimpse of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis... spectacular!

But first ... we made a couple of stops on our way here, so I'll post a bit about those. I plan to blog from the road as we continue our odyssey through Greece tho. I think the frequency will depend more on my energy level than on my internet connectivity, LOL. So far, we've had great WiFi access, but as much as I enjoy sharing, most nights I'm just too wiped. And please forgive typos or any photos that aren't 100% edited....

Anyway ... our journey began with a few days in Philadelphia ... the City of Brotherly Love was just that! Sal and his brother Paul got a chance to visit and catch-up. And Paul's sweet family, his wife Ruth and daughters Gina & Dana, were such hospitable and generous hosts. Ruth even put together a "goodie bag" for me containing my favorite snacks and some travel-themed scrapbooking supplies, OMG! how thoughtful was that??? Thank you so much, Ruth, I'm enjoying some of those Skittles right now! They sure showed us a good time, including a stop at their neighborhood Philly pretzel store ... OMG, so authentic and yum yum yum!

I went with Sal, Paul, and Maria (Sal's cousin) on a day-trip to New York City, we had a blast! Maria & I bought tickets 6 months ago to see Mamma Mia! on Broadway, it was spectacular! The Winter Garden Theater was so elegant. Our seats were on the orchestra level, 2nd row, center....awesome!Maria & I both loved the movie (which we also saw together back when it was in the theater), but the live show was so full of energy, very entertaining.
And of course we had to indulge in some NYC pizza....
We purposely planned to be in Philly for the Memorial Day weekend so that we could attend the annual Lepore Family picnic/reunion. So Sal got to see lots and lots of la famiglia, all at once!Sal and his cousin, Gioelle:
Sal's Aunt Mary & Uncle Roy:
Sal's Uncle Samuele playing the accordion while his Aunts Tina, Lidia, and Michelle sang Italian songs:
Sal and his cousin Danny ... don't they look alike? they both have such strikingly beautiful eyes!
Me with Sal's cousin Claudia (she's perhaps the most faithful reader of Where In The World? !!):
Sal's cousin Susan and her husband, Wayne (she's the owner of Susan's Decorated Sweets!):
Sal and his cousins enjoyed a friendly game of horseshoes:
Our nieces Gina & Dana:
And Gina's fun patriotic feet!I'd like to send a belated Memorial Day "thank you" to our military and their families, for their sacrifices past and present. They make our freedoms possible, including my ability to travel the world, which I so appreciate!

......A Rome With a View......

Then came the tough good-byes to everyone in Philly ...and we were off to Rome, Italy. Sal gave a seminar and met with research collaborators at the University of Rome's Chemistry Department. He had such a successful and productive visit, and his host professor invited me to join them for lunch. That's so like the Italians ... even in business: include the family and take time to get to know one another over a meal.

Our hotel (actually a charming guest house) was Relais Maddalena and our big window opened onto the quaint Piazza Maddalena. Here's a quickie video tour of the piazza from our window:
And if you loved the Eat Pray Love book and/or movie, you'll be interested to know that the author's favorite gelato shop, Il Gelato di San Crispino, was right outside our window! Apparently, EPL fans show up there clutching copies of the book, wanting to check it out. And our hotel owner remembers seeing Julia Roberts and the film crew in Rome. And like Julia's character in the movie, my jeans were starting to feel a bit tight from all the Italian treats. {wink}

Some more glimpses of Italian gastronomic delights:
(that's raspberry gelato I'm eating ... OK, I also had lemon, mango, banana....who can resist?)
We had some time to stroll around the city too. This was our 3rd visit to Rome, so we've been to all the famous "biggies" already ... the Vatican, the Colosseum, Piazza Navona, etc. With work to do at the University, we didn't have much time for sightseeing, and that was OK ... we just enjoyed taking in the vibe of daily Roman life. We did, however, make a point of re-visiting one of our favorite places in Rome, the Trevi Fountain.It's a spectacular work of art; the incredibly detailed sculpture appears to be oozing from the hulking mass of marble. When you visit Rome, be sure to visit La Fontana di Trevi in both the daytime and at's lit up beautifully and is so romantic! And don't forget to toss a coin over your shoulder to assure that you'll come back to Rome...we did!
A few more glimpses of Rome:
Hangin' with Rome's finest....
Dinner with local Romans:
The Spanish Steps:
Since gas is the equivalent of $8 (U.S.) per gallon in Italy, there are scooters galore!...(that's the Pantheon in the background):
I really gave my Italian language skills (if you want to call them that?) a workout this visit! I'm getting better, I can feel myself improving since our first visit to Italy back in 2000. Sal is fluent, but I summoned the courage to order our meals, buy postage stamps, even hold short conversations. A taxi driver even complimented my Italian, I was beyond thrilled! But at times, I'd start a conversation and the Italian resident would reply SO rapidly, or with an accent that I'm not accustomed to, and I was a total deer-in-the-headlights. A blank stare ... Non capisco, mi dispiace. I've got some more learning to do! Or maybe I just need to wave my hands around more when I talk ??

Whenever I travel, I really make an effort to become a "temporary local", to open my mind to new ways of thinking and living. But I have to admit that in Italy, and elsewhere in Europe, I really miss having a COLD beverage! OMG, they never use ice! They serve soda, sparkling water, etc. ever-so-slightly chilled or even at room temperature. I just can't get used to it !!(I've heard Italians complain that when they visit the U.S., the restaurants put so much ice in drinks ... so I guess it's whatever you're used to). But after a long, often hot day here, I really crave throwing back a cold Coke. So, my polite requests for ice (vorrei un Coca-Cola con molto ghiaccio, per piacere) were often met with a waiter's curious wince (why do you want that?) say that Italians are expressive is an understatement! Then he'd go off somewhere (not sure why, but sometimes it takes a while to locate some ice --- perhaps they're chipping it out of a freezer that needs defrosting? LOL)...finally returning with my cubes of frozen delight "presented" in a pretty bowl with a spoon. As if it's a dessert! Makes me chuckle every time .......

We saw a scary incident while in began to rain, the cobblestone streets were slippery, and a woman fell off her scooter while turning a corner. We ran over and Sal lifted the scooter off of her and I moved it out of the road while he helped her get up. She seemed OK, her ankle was sore though. A waiter from a nearby restaurant came running out with an ICE pack for her ankle ... go figure! I'm still wondering where they found that ice so quickly ??? ....kinda funny!

Not sure that I've ever mentioned how I love to wear what I call my "travel jewelry" ... my dual timezone watch (that I bought in Venice 11 years ago, LOVE it!). With a quick glance, I can see what time it is wherever in the world I am, and back in Florida. And my lira coin charm bracelet (the lira is no longer the currency of Italy; instead, they're using the euro, so my bracelet is quite a conversation piece):

I'm missing Buddy & Aruba terribly ... but I know that they're having fun at "Camp Grandma & Grandpa", LOL. I hear that their fur got a nice brushing this morning. XOXO to them!

While in Athens, Sal gave another seminar and discussed his research with the chemistry professors at the University of Athens. Tonight we talked all about his wildly successful day on campus while lingering over a delicious Greek dinner. Before we arrived at the restaurant, I looked-up how to say "ice" in Greek....