Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Remember the Time I Went to Crete?

Remember the time I was going to post about my week(ish) in Crete? Well, that time has come. Only a month and a half late!

So I hopped on the one am ferry for Crete and got there around 5:15, just in time for my hangover to kick in. Ugh. I lugged my stuff to the bus station missing my first of two buses to Rethymno by literally three minutes. After purchasing the next ticket for a 6:30 bus I did what I did best in Greece and fell asleep at the bus station. I awoke around 6:15 and headed outside in case my bus was early. There were a lot of people waiting outside so I did what I did second best and struck up a conversation with strangers.

With a little bit of my usual luck the two girls I talked to happened to be heading to my small town of Plakias (we had to take a bus from Heraklion to Rethymno and then to Plakias). At first I wasn't sure if they liked me but I think the early morning bus schedules and my bright pink bag were deterrents to these world traveling Australians. By the time we got to Plakias we were great friends and by that afternoon everyone was asking how long the three of us had been traveling together.
Our youth hostel was described, in every bo
ok and on every website, as a great place to meet people (hence why I traveled there alone). The hostel was in a great location, totally beautiful just a little less "youth-y" than I had imagined. The manager gave us a little speech which was pretty entertaining, especially since he gives it to all the people staying at the hostel--word for word. A lot of people, the manager said, end up staying in Plakias for weeks, months and even years and I can see why. It is totally gorgeous. There are beaches and mountains, lazy activities and hiking trails. We took a waterfall hike (literally hiking up and through waterfalls) one morning and spent the afternoon lounging on the beach--pretty much like paradise.

Two things that I did in Crete that I had never done before:
1. Went to a nude beach. These Australian girls were from a town on the coast and they were a lot more comfortable with nudity than this American girl. But the beach, called "Pig Beach" due to the overabundance of Germans and their pink flesh-
-ick, was too beautiful to pass up. Plus, I figured, why not? None of these people know me! And, you know what? None of the people on the beach gave me a second look, they didn't care what I was wearing and that made me a whole lot more comfortable. I'm not saying I'm going to make it a habit (hello sunburn!) but it was slightly empowering. (Sorry if that is TMI dad/uncles.)

2. I hitchhiked!! I remember my dad telling me stories of hitchhiking around Europe (and I remember him hitchhiking in Providence, RI once whic
h was pretty funny) and again I thought, why not? My friend Kate and I were stuck coming back from the beach and so we decided we might as well try to hitchhike. After 15 minutes of walking with my thumb out (it was a 45 minute walk or a 6 minute car ride) a kindly Italian couple stopped and picked us up. Success!! (And we felt safe the entire time!) I'm glad I did it, at least once (with another person in broad daylight).

Childlike Travels Part 6

I will do a regular post later this evening (back to two in one day!) but for now:

Day 12
Aug 1--which is crossed out and it looks like my father's handwriting that says July 21 on top of it, I'm not surprised he corrected it!
8:13 P.M.

Today we drove to Venic, on a closed road! [True story, we were literally driving around boulders. But, on the bright side, my family knows what "street closed" in Italian is!] We finaly got there. We had to bet a water bus to our hotel. That was so cool. [Smiley face in cool. And a picture of our car approaching a boulder or maybe the water taxi?] We're here in Venice it's O.kay. [Drawing of some odd face.]

Day 13
Aug 2 [Crossed out and 1 written above]
9:48 P.M.

The reason why I'm writing so late is so that I can tell you what's hapend and not what's going to hapen. Today we went walking around today. Me and my brother "Jack" [love that I used quotes--as if that weren't his real name] feed pigins today, at St. Mark's Square. They came right on your hand! [Picture of a forearm and a pigeon.] When they came near my mom got scared and said "They are rats with wings." (She hates rats, and pigins [And still does!] After that we had a gondola ride that was nice. Then we all had dinner. [Messed up picture of a violin or dinner plate or gondola? Unsure.]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Childlike Travels Part 5

Day 10
july 29
8:29 P.M.

We saw Mozart's house, nice. [Drawing of a man at a piano, sort of.] We went into a fortric, that was so big, we had to take the funicula, like Bunicula! [Drawing of Bunicula, which was a book we had to read in grade 3.] Up to the top. When we came back to rest went to dinner, had fun head some Motzart [I think I meant heard] in the same day! Two Motzarts! [Drawing of two pianos] LA! LA! LA!!!
I'm going to get my alowince in Americane Money. So we can spend it there! [Drawing of a dollar bill.] Money

Day 11
july 30
10:56 P.M.

We where in the salt mine we had to take a cable car up. [Arrow.] We had to wear white suits for the slide they were fun I had to wear blue pants for small people [Drawing of a person with the word "small" on top and an arrow pointing down.] They need a fashion desginer for those alfit big time! [A picture of a more suitable outfit I think.]

We went swimming

YEAH [Picture of Jack & I swimming.]

(In the Alpine Lake)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Childlike Travels Part 4

Day 8
july 27
10:00 P.M. [This was incredibly late for me at that age, we used to go to dinners so late that I would fall asleep at the table!]

WE DROVE! For 5 hours!
My family went to Louidwick's Castele. Over a brige, the first steel bridge in Europe. We drove some mor had dinner next to a nice little hotel. (I think?)

Day 9
july 28
9:19 P.M.

My dad's crestar card got stuck in the atm machine, when we wanted to get money, but we couldn't read the sing that said it was broken (it was in Germane) We went to the top of the highest mountain in Germaney. THE ZUCHSMITS That was COOL My mom freaked out. Wierd. [The picture follows because I just couldn't do it justice by describing it.]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Childlike Travels Part 3

Hi all! Back from a great, albeit short, weekend in D.C. Once I load my pictures up I will do a complete D.C. post, but until then:

Day 5
july 24
8:00 P.M.

Today we saw the Mona Lesa and the Winged Victory and all the other thing, paintins, sculpturs, and all the other stuff. After that we went to an amusement park we each got to go on 3 (three) rides. I went on the fares wheel, the giant swings, fun house, and th log flume. Well realy 4(four) rides, I went on the fares wheel with my famliy. (+Jack got scarer on the log flume!)

**Two things: I really like how I write a number and then in parenthesis spell it out, like future me wouldn't know what the number 3 looked like. And I also like how I focus more on the kiddie amusement park over the Louvre.

Day 6
july 25
9:05: P.M.

I had to rent-a-car to go every where, that my family is going. I'm at a hotel watching the 1996 Olyimpix [Olympic torch depiction] games. I wish I were in Maryland. I saw [a is an eye] the PLANES! PLANES! PLANES! [Each underlined three times, I have no idea what planes I was referring to.]

I'm posting a third entry and this might be my most favorite because it highlights my family's Griswaldian-ness with such childlike nonchalance:

Day 7
july 26
9:00 P.M.

Today I smashed my finger in the car, my mom forgot How to turn the car on. We had a picnic lunch. It was not THE BEST DAY! We had our room to the hotel, that was good. [Smiley face made out of the "oo"s in good.] It was called "Stien on Rhien", because it was next to the Rhien River. Me and my brother have been collecting rocks from the Rhien River. We tooured around it was FUN!! [Smiley face with lots of hair at the top of the !!]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Childlike Travels Part 2

Day 3
july 22
6:00 P.M.

We saw alot today, like the Eiffel Tower (we went to the top) it was a great view!! [Smiley !! and a drawing of an eye to dot the "i" in view], on a boat and saw where the Mona Lessa, I don't know how it's speeld, is kept in a boat where the Queens head was chopped off!! [This is an intricate drawing of eyes for the .. in the exclamation marks attached to a chopped off head and an axe] We saw a palles, we played with boats, listend to music in the garden of the palles we rode the motorbus and walked Around PARIS [Eiffel Tower "A" again] Went to a FLE MARKET There was a shirt I wanted it was a map of PARIS [Eiffel Tower "A"] it was 49 franks I did not get it I liked it. My brother got a shirt of the Eiffle Tower in PARIS [You guessed it] It was lite UP!! [The !! were pointing up with a smiley face on the bottom]

Day 4
july 23
8:15 P.M

Tonight we are going to see Empire Records [Phil & Marti took Jack and I out so our parents could enjoy a night sans kids. And thus my first entry into the world of secondhand embarrassment. Even at the tender age of nine I remember Liv Tyler embarrassing herself.] and have dinner. Today, I had my portret drawn by a very nice lady, she did a good job drawing it. She said "You pose well."
I have 20 ("twenty") metro tickets some were my parents but they were mostly mine. I am colecting all these tickets two from the Eiffle tower and more to come!! [Smiley face !! and a drawing of a ticket]

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Sorry I've been so bad about writing since I've been home. I guess I just don't think about Semi-Swiss as much! I do love being home and seeing my family and friends. This weekend my mom and I are heading to Washington, D.C. to visit my grandma and our friends and family from when we lived there (and, of course, the Denisonians that are there too!). I'm definitely excited to be going back, it's been years since I've been there.

The first time I went to Europe I was nine years old and my family went for five weeks. That is a dream vacation for me now but five weeks [of summer vacation!] when you're that age isn't ideal. My art teacher at the time gave Jack and I bears to take with us to photograph in different locales as well as journals to write about the trip. I didn't make it through the whole trip but the stuff I have I love to read. It makes me crack up (especially the misspellings and drawings that go with the entries). I thought while I'm home I'll give excerpts from my first journey to Europe.

It starts off a little slow (with a lot of complaints--guess some things never change!) but soon I think you'll realize why we call ourselves the Griswalds. When I use the brackets its to describe a picture I have subsequently drawn.

Day 1
july 20
10:15 P.M.
Tower Air!! (with a smiley face using the .. from the exclamation points as eyes)

Horrible!! [Unhappy face on the !!] We have to fly to Boston, Mass. at night! I'm sitting next to my brother, Jack. I think he needs a psychiatrist!! BIG TIME!!!! He is giving me P.E.P. talks. Wierd. [Two of these.] Waiting is very hard, espeacily for three hours. It's not really fun waiting in an airplane it has been at least a half an hour. I'm still in Maryland, but it feels like I'm far away. Goodbye.

Day 2
july 21
12:15 A.M.
Tower Air.

Okay, okay, okay mabe it isn't really july 21 well it is, it's 12:15 A.M. I'm in Boston, Mass. To tell you the truth I miss everything. My friends, bed, and house, plus alot more.The plane is so cool!!! [Smiley face!!]

[Later that day]
I'm not DEAD YET! HORRAY!! [Smiley face!!] So to tell the truth I don't think the trip is that bad. We have a great viwe! Well at least my brother does, he gets the window on the longer trip there. I get to sit in the window sett on the way back!
The food is bad, your ears pop, it feels wierd, like a rollercoaster, but wores! (I like rollercoasters!) [My first foray into the world of parenthesis.] It also makes me feel dissy!, sick!, bad!, and alot more! I couldn't get to sleep. They were showing the movie "The Bird Cage", you had to buy (use) some headsets to hear the movei in case some people were sleeping (HARD TO BELIVE!) Now we are at Phil, and Martha's house (Spin and Marti! My parents call them that) The are nice, not to menchon we're in PARIS. [A in Paris is a drawing of the Eiffel Tower.] We walked arround alot yesterday and saw the tour of France (Bikers but the also go in Spain) We went over the oldest bridge in France, belive me there are alot of bridges in FRANCE! We have are owne Appartment.

So that's Day 1 and 2 of our five week Tour de Griswald. I swear I think my family modeled our trip as closely to theirs as possible. More soon!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wedding Crashers

First: My parents come back today!!!! So very excited.

On another familial note; I went to the wedding of a good friend's cousin on Sunday. There were a number of things that were pretty entertaining about this wedding but I'll only give the highlights.

The ceremony: It was pretty run of the mill (not that I've been to a lot of weddings) but the pastor's "message" was a little out of the ordinary. I even asked our neighbors afterwards if that was usually how these things went. In short he said, "Well if you think you're in for a life of wedded bliss... you're wrong. Might not be tomorrow, or in five years or in 20 years or maybe 50 but one day you'll wake up and realize that the wife isn't as beautiful as you remembered. Or that this isn't the man you married." And then he went on to include a list of ailments that could and are likely to befall them throughout the duration of their marriage including but not limited to: disease, broken bones, natural disasters, ailing family members, a family member with a deadly diagnosis, "or perhaps it will be one of you who you has the bad diagnosis," or "the call that a family member was in a car accident, hit, mercilessly, by a drunk driver." (I kid you not he actually brought up drunk driving in a wedding ceremony.) At this time Luke and I were doing our best not to crack up, which, as you know only leads to more laughter. It was actually ridiculous.

After the ceremony I was in the receiving line to introduce myself to the bride and groom and offer my congratulations. I started chatting with a bridesmaid behind me and we got on the subject of au pairing abroad. I told her it would be much easier to get a higher paying babysitting job if she had a European passport which she said she did. I, being very envious of such a passport, asked her which country it was from. Her: "It's from America." Me: "No, you're European passport." Her: "America." Me: "You mean you have an American passport?" Her: "Aren't they all the same?" A college graduate ladies and gentlemen!

The very same bridesmaid asked if I was going to "boogie down" at the reception and I told her I would be. Then, she excitedly told me there was going to be a "candy bar." No bar bar, but a candy bar. I told her I was excited but left out that I was more excited for the open bar that Luke had prepared in the trunk of his car. Luckily Luke's family members that we were sitting with all imbibed in the adult beverages that we created so we all had a great time.

The wedding was a blast and I'm glad Luke brought me along (thanks!). And if anything, we treated it like an anthropological study of another super-religious-conservative culture.

Oh, and as most of you know I abhor PDA (public displays of affection). I am fairly certain that I am allergic to them. There's a wedding tradition (that I didn't know of until Sunday) where when people clank on their glasses the bride and groom are supposed to stand up and kiss. If I ever do get married and someone tries to do that at my wedding they will be asked to leave. (Kristen I'm warning you now.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dog Days

It was also nice to have a dog when you accidentally dropped food on the floor to not have to worry about picking it up.

Today some pesto fell out of my wrap (I'm sorry Cubby, I know how you feel about the pesto) and I didn't think about it. I then paused and looked around as if to say, "What the heck? Where is BJ to lick the floor clean?" Sort of sad. And yes, M&D, I did clean it up.

Homeward Bound

Well, I'm home.

I actually can't quite believe it yet and I keep walking around exclaiming things (like, "Holy cow this lunch is less than five dollars!" or "I can KEEP filling up my drink? For free? With ice?" and "I love this country!"). So it pretty much all has to do with food and the price of food.

The Father dropped me at the airport with my very full suitcases. I went to a line that wasn't open to weigh my bags and figure out what I could throw away. The first was right at 50 pounds (or 23 kilos) and the second was about six pounds over. I made some moves (taking out a pair of shoes) when a cute-ish employee came over. The next move was something that has never happened and probably won't happen again. He said he would open the counter to check my luggage and then didn't care that it was a little overweight. He let me luggage slide. I guess it was Switzerland's way of ending on good terms. The flights were long (Zurich, New York, Chicago then Minneapolis/St. Paul) but nothing I (and the kindly gentlemen who had to hoist my rolling carry-on into the overhead bins) couldn't handle.

My good friend Cubby picked me up at the airport (thanks again, Cub!) and we headed back to my place with a little tour de White Bear Lake. (Why, you might wonder, did my parents not pick me up? They are on vacation! But in their defense, their trip was planned way before I booked my ticket home.) We sat out on my deck and caught up, although as he is a Semi-Swiss reader he knows most of my good stories, and talked about how it was weird to be sitting on my deck, doing the same things we did in high school but only five years later. I went to bed relatively early (so far not too jet lagged) and let me just say: My bed is awesome. I had forgotten how comfortable and fantastic that sucker really is.

After running errands and a much needed haircut I had lunch with Allison. She said, "It's weird that the last two times we've seen eachother have been in America." It's definitely true of people you meet in one medium (home, college, abroad) to see them in another context. Allison is so great though (aside from the usual things) in that we can get together and be telling approximately eight different stories at one time and still follow the other's. It's great to be back.

The only thing that is a little difficult is my house. It's not that I don't love being in my house it's just the absence of a dog that's tough. I keep waiting to hear the jingling of BJ's collar somewhere or to feel his wet nose on my leg/face/arm when it's time to be fed. It's definitely a little more lonely here but I plan on getting my fix tonight at my friend Ben's house with his dogs Tess & Tucker.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Change Will Do You Good

People say living in Europe changes you.

Aside from a few speech changes (I say "holiday" instead of "vacation" and "university" instead of "college") my changes didn't come from living abroad (except I might be a better sprinter after public transportation), they came from my friends.

The friends I have made here have been nothing short of incredible. And I feel so very fortunate to have met them.

Here's what they have taught me/how I've changed:

Allison: To be open to people of all ages (happy birthday lady!) no matter what purse they carry. I owe so much of my initial happiness here to you.
Kate: You taught me that a little dose of well directed rage and standing dates do wonders for the soul. And that it's okay to have that rage sometimes.
Kristen: I learned that it's okay to love America. And that a cocktail is good no matter the hour-hello Oktoberfest! And that my blog really isn't so bad.
Pei Wen: How to laugh at my jokes and everyone's jokes. How laughter makes everyone feel better.
Danielle: That having fun going out is all about attitude. And to rally!
Chris: Taught me to be open to all people, especially when traveling. He taught me that everyone is worth getting to know and because of that we've met some amazing people.
Allie: Life isn't just black and white, there are shades of grey in every situation. And to be tenacious/persistent, you'll eventually get where you should be (woo RN!).
Nick: I learned that thinking before doing might not be so bad (like in Pictionary). Poison Sumac!
Sarah: Taught me that loving, healthy relationships can turn to marriage, even before you're 25. And that it's okay. Thank you for showing me normalcy!
Nickie: That it's okay to be an adult.
Adam: I learned that a little research, especially in regards to bars and/or music, goes a long way and lead to great discoveries.
Phil: Taught me that I'm pretty awesome (just kidding-ish). He made me realize how much I missed having boy-friends and showed me how much fun it can be. You, my dear, are a blast. Rugrats!
My Aussie friends in Crete (I will elaborate later!): Taught me to be more comfortable in my own skin, literally.
Switter/Kristina: I learned to hate Cruz Campo with you. And how to be loving/forgiving/awesome without giving up your wit, charm or self. (You are amazing!)

So to those of you I mentioned and those that I undoubtedly forgot and will have to add later, thank you. I'm a pretty lucky duck to have met you all.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Packing Problem

Did I not mention I was moving to Istanbul? Sorry! That's where the new job is located, or where I'll be located for the bit with the new job.

On a different note I am just about finished packing for home! (Yes I do leave tomorrow morning.) I just decided to weigh my bags and my first was just around 50 pounds. The second, being the one I thought I wouldn't even fill because most of my clothes fit in the first, came out to about 60 pounds. Damn. I've started taking things out to throw away (sad)--only a few more pounds to go! Where did all this crap come from??

Remind me, in a month when I'm packing again, that less is more. And even if you remind me, I'm sure I won't listen.

Also, since today is my last day here does that mean Semi-Swiss blog is over? I'm not sure if I should just keep this one going or start a new one altogether. I was going to start "Almost Australian" (come on, it's clever!) but now that's out. I'll be moving a bunch for my job so it's not all about Istanbul/Turkey. Any suggestions?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Stranger Danger

I have always been a rather friendly person. I remember when I was first learning to read I read the Berenstain Bears books and there was one called, "Berenstein Bears Learn About Strangers." The Sister said hello to every stranger she met and then had to learn about good strangers and bad strangers. I remember feeling great anxiety that I was going to get into trouble too because I always talked to strangers. (Most likely when I sat in the shopping cart at Snyder's grocery store.)

Although I've learned to be more careful about who I talk to my friendliness has never really waned. I think it is partly due to the fact that I've lived in pretty sheltered environments my whole life. In my neighborhoods and schools in Maryland and Minnesota, at Denison and even in Vienna and Zürich people always greet one another. Even if you don't know them you'd smile and say "Hey," "Hello," "Hi," "Grüss Got" or "Grüezi." I feel very lucky to have lived in safe and friendly locations but sometimes, especially living in a country where you don't speak the language, it can be tricky.

I guess something about me says, "Hello strangers! Please talk to me!" If some wacky weather or slightly humorous situation is occurring whoever is by me on public transport will make a comment. This is usually no problem and I can smile, nod and either laugh or say "Ja, ja." Language barrier avoided and they think I laughed at their joke, everyone is happy!

Although I don't think I'll ever be un-friendly, I mean I've made some amazing friends because I've sat next to them and started talking but, I'm not exactly sure how well this will work in Istanbul, but I realize I'm going to have to be a lot more careful. Maybe I should re-read that Berenstain Bears book.