Almost Over...

... can't believe there's only three more days until the tour is over.  Kinda unbelieveable, seeing how I was dreading how long the tour would be at the very beginning in France.

I'm currently in the Rhine Valley region, which is the wine region of Germany.  While most of the ppl on the tour are experiencing a wine tasting tour, I decided to go on the internet.  For someone that's on vacation, I'm online quite a bit.

Just a brief recap:
- Switzerland: that's where we were for the past two days; spent most of yesterday in the Swiss Alps, on the Jungfrau Mountain.  It's the actual trip up and down that takes a huge chunk of time.  The snow wasn't all that pretty where we were, prob. cos so many ppl are up there!  However, it's just gorgeous.  At the time we were up there, the temperature was 2.9 degrees celcius.  :)
- I'm falling in love with Lindt Chocolate.  It's just... different in Switzerland!  I also bought one Toblerone bar, just for the sake of it.  Haha... and I did pose a pictuer on the Swiss Alps w/ Richard's Ricola, for those of you who are interested.
- Germany: that's for today... mostly spent on the bus though.  Our Germany stops are really just transit stops between the main cities that the tour goes to, such as Tirol and Amsterdam (where we're headed tomorrow).  We spent an hour in the university town of Heitleburg (sp?)... which was quaint and pretty.  However our short stays in Germany has really kept me from saying much about it...
- Running across the Swiss & German border is NOT fun... I ran across it 5 times trying to get my passport stamped.  Result?  I only got the German one cos the Swiss customs dude gave me a very hard time. :(  It's similar to the Canadian & US border when driving... like at Windsor/Detroit, or Sarnia/Flint.
- Thinking a lot lately... not that I have been hibernating lots, but somehow, I've been given more time to think rather than converse.  will share more later... cos internet time is running out!

Byeee :)


The Hills are Alive...

... not w/ the Sound of Music, but with streams running through them, and with people huffing and puffing along one of the many bike routes in the countryside.  I'm currently in the Tirol region of Austria, in a village called Hopfgarten.  It's quite a small village that is as long as the distance from Yonge St. to Avenue Rd. on Bloor.  Not much, but the countryside is just awesome.  Beautiful scenery and trout fishing nearby... I spent the day riding the rented mountain bike and when thru the trails.  My butt is really sore, but I had a good workout.  I manage to squeeze in some volleyball in between - I miss the game lots.

Some commented that I didn't really talk about my experience in Munich.  I blame it on the German keyboard once again.  Munich was a really short stop for me; I was only there for the night.  I managed to catch the glockenspiel in the town square of Munich, and it sounded very pretty.  After a few turns of the dolls in the clock, I got kinda bored.  The whole ordeal lasted for ten minutes... I suppose the rain didn't make it any better.  Unfortunately, I really can't comment too much about Munich since I really didn't explore the city.  We did go to a beer garden for dinner, and that was interesting.  We had 1 Litre beers (actually, I had this apple juice mixed w/ mineral water...), and it was quite an experience, w/ Bavarian dancing and music!

I must say that Austria is one of my favourite stops out of this trip; I really did enjoy the countryside and the city (Vienna)... I wish we would stop in Salzburg so that the hills are really alive w/ the Sound of Music ;)  We did manage to stop at a village called Mondsee en route to Munich, and a few places in that village were used in the Sound of Music, such as the road lined w/ trees, as well as the church where Maria and Captain Von Trapp got married.  Just chilling in the countryside by myself today gave me some time to reflect and sing (hehe... yes!), and while in town, I had the opportunity to sit down at a cafe/bakery and just sip one of the best coffees I've tasted in my life - a latte macchiato.  It also gave me an opportunity to chat w/ two others that I often hang around with but really never talk to. 

Tomorrow, we're headed to Lucerene and the Alps in Switzerland.  Can't wait!!! :)  I miss home terribly still, but I think I've learned to cope with living on my own w/o my parents, and learning to really depend on God and myself... and not on others.  I do miss my friends though... so once I return, we'll all hit the coffee shops in town! :)  (I'm too cheap and poor to go out for anything else, sadly)

Great to hear from some of u guys...!  Thanks for keeping me on track w/ what's going on in your lives - moving baby, crazy summer schedules, returning home to Tokyo, etc. :)  Keep it up! 

Signing off from Austria.


One Night in Munich
Yep, I'm currently in Germany, but we're only here for one night... heading to the Austrian Tyrol region tomorrow.  We visited the glockenspiel this afternoon, and it was rainy.... but I haven't really been here long enough to make a comment on Munich.
However, Vienna was beautiful... we spent a full day there, and it was just nice walking around the city... we also saw this Aerial photography exhibit which was an eye opener, as it conveyed many of the world's issues and problems, making me put things into perspective... check the dude out: www.yannarthusbertrand.org
Only a minute left on the internet... unfortunately, this German keyboard has slowed down my usual typing speed bz 50%... hopefully I'll update more soon!  Bye!


Okay, I Lied

I am updating once more before going to Vienna.  Lemme tell you that I CAN'T WAIT TO GET OUT OF HERE!  Venice was pretty, but the weather and the bugs really make it a bad vacation spot in the summer.  Our tour group decided to head back into the campsite at around 6:30pm, so now, I'm stuck in the camp site with the internet... and tons of packing to do. 

Yep, I have to pack... I actually pack almost every other night since we're constantly on the go, but this time, I have SO MUCH MORE STUFF to pack since I went a bit on a shopping spree here in Venice.  Venetian Glass is SOOOO pretty.  I ended up buying too many souvenirs for myself.  ;) 

We did go on a gondola ride today prior to returning home; Venice is such a picturesque place... so the gondola ride was very enjoyable, albeit I was a bit tired and dehydrated since it's just soooo humid here, and I'm sweating buckets here.  I never really thought gondola rides were really romantic until a couple in our tour group got engaged while riding the gondola!  Sooo romantic. :)  However, if I were to ever get proposed to, I'd prefer the cooler weather, thank you very much!

As with the bug bites... they're slowly disappearing albeit the mossies here (as the Aussies call them) are giving me new ones.  It's a never ending cycle, I tell you... UNTIL WE HIT VIENNA!!!!!!!! I can't wait.  At least I had my gelati fix today... I've been off caffeine for a while actually... and surprisingly!

Miss y'all... please write me sometime thru email! :)  Until then, ciao.


Ciao Again!
After being couped up in a ferry for the past entire day... and in a bus following that, I am finally free to do anything.  I guess internet comes right after laundry, so here I am!
It's been an interest wk... I realize I haven't really blogged for approx. a wk in detail... at least not since I left Corfu the first time.  Some things have happened... good and bad.  For one thing, I got bitten by some weird bugs in Athens, and reacted rather violently to those bites... so parts of my neck and arm are covered w/ weird bites. 
Aside from that, I had a good time exploring Athens w/ Rich, Haley, and Kevin.  We did things rather spontaneously w/o much planning... so it was really fun!  We did a fair bit of walking, hiked up a mountain to get to St. George Church (to find out that there was an elevator to get up on the other side of the mountain), ate lots of gyros, saw lots of historic sites, saw lots of Olympic sites, and simply moseyed around the markets.  I bought lots of Olympics paraphernalia... but aside from that, I haven't really shopped too much.
I realize I've been lacking personal space during this trip, so Athens was definitely a good time to break away and chill.  It's still a precious commodity... so I do enjoy the spare moments I get.  For instance, on the ferry, I was able to catch both the sunrise and sunset... unfortunate for the latter event, I didn't have a camera w/ me to record it, but I did take pics of the former.
Lessons learned so far? 
- I've never been happier to throw toilet paper in the drain... in Greece, you can't do so cos of the drainage system, so as soon as we stepped into Italian soil, I was soooo happy to just go to the washroom w/o worrying about the toilet paper issue.
- Learning to really lift things up to Him.  I've been worried a lot on this trip... if not homesick, then about my stupid bites or other health related issues, and yeah.  I had some quiet devo time yesterday prior to the sunset, and the fact that God was w/ Hannah the entire time before Samuel was born was really reassuring to me... that no matter what the circumstance is, if I simply believe, it'll all be all right.  Gradually learning though...
- Ppl do pray for me w/o me knowing it... so I do thank God for them.
- Things can be very superficial... but in midst of that, there's always someone you can lean on :)  I met this friend Rhiannon... she's been a really understanding friend!
- Money comes and goes quickly here........ I am in need of some replenishing!
- Family sticks by thru good times and bad.  My parents are pretty cool ppl... despite some crap I've gotten into here, my parents still trust and care for me very much.  Mucho gracias!
Anyway... my time is up here.  Perhaps I'll update more once I hit Vienna.... tomorrow will be a fun day in Venice just chilling in the markets and thru the canals. :)  In the meantime, take it easy!  Ciao!


Away from Greece... Soon.

Greece has been interesting. Athens is a wonderful place to visit, but I have my stories to tell. Unfortunately, I only have 5 minutes of internet left, so I must save that for another time.

We're back in Corfu now; the flight to and fro Athens was just perfect. Economy seats with LEATHER and SPACIOUS interiors. hehe :) We aren't complaining.

Tomorrow, we're heading to Venice on a ferry... will be on the entire day and night. Will update when I get to Venice. In the meantime, keep the emails rolling :) Yasou!


Gelati & Lilos

Kalemera from Greece! I'm currently in Corfu, a beautiful island in the Adriatic Sea. Planning to spend the afternoon by myself just to chill... :) Lots of funky shops and cafes here! I'm sure I won't get lost.

Gelati is in the air! While in Rome, a bunch of us went Gelati crazy, and ended up having two big gelatis in an hour... upon arriving back at our campsite (yes, we live in cabins), dinner included gelati as well! SO FULL... but still am craving for some fruity gelati. My favourite so far has to be Melon flavoured. The chocolatey and coffee ones are too creamy for my likes.

So far, I think my favourite destination is London because of the weather, the atmosphere, and the many many sights. London can be a touristy and not-so-touristy spot. I was slightly disappointed w/ Rome, as it was just dirty and generally, it isn't very welcoming. Besides Ancient Rome, the Colosseum, and St. Peter's Basilica (which is part of the Vatican), I didn't find Rome all that attractive.

As for shopping, I haven't gotten much done yet. Apparently from some emails, ppl have commented that I talk about food all the time, but not shopping. Unfortunately, things here cost an arm and a leg... and as some of you may know, I'm not much of a bargain shopper that can browse for good deals, so I end up getting ripped off (like today, when I brough an umbrella to replace the one I broke in Nice).

I miss you all, but I do enjoy the emails I've been receiving. Keep on sending them my way! I'll update shortly about my day in Corfu (Internet is affordable here! May come back to this particular pish posh cafe in the afternoon while ppl here have their siesta).


** edit

It's currently approx. 3:45pm in Corfu right now, and I decided to take a break from the heat and the sun for an hour as shops are closed so ppl can have their siestas (afternoon naps/hibernation from the blazing and scorching heat... okay I'm exaggerating a tad bit about the heat).

I'm loving Corfu right now for several reasons:
- I can finally afford to buy things again! Things are relatively cheaper here
- The view of the Island is AWESOME... esp. by the Old Fortress here in Corfu, that's influenced by the Venetians and Brits
- Many cute and interesting shops here in the Main Street of Corfu Town
- The bus only costs .85 Euros. Can't complain!

Tomorrow, I'm headed to Athens w/ the 3 other peeps I'm with. We passed by the Corfu airport on the way to town, and it's PUNY! (It's smaller than Buttonville)... so pls keep me in your prayers. Actually, I'm partially serious since Athens had this massive 24 hour+ blackout similar to the one in Toronto last year... so hopefully things won't be chaotic.

I just realized that some ppl may not realize what a smart car is... and why it's such a fun thing to spot, so here it is:

I'm getting more adjusted to the trip; learning to appreciate the ppl I meet and the cultures I learn of each place I visit. For instance, you can't throw toilet paper into the toilet in Greece. How you handle it, I'll leave it up for you to decide.

Must jet... internet time almost over. Yasuo once again!


Smart Car!

Punch Buggy! That's what we see a lot here in Rome. Today has been a tiring day, as we've been touring the Ancient part of Rome, and walking around the city soaking in the sights and sounds. Our new friends (Amber, Mandy, June, and Sung Ha) and the four of us went to a restaurant in an alley, and ate an authentic Italian meal outside... SO GOOD! It has inspired me to learn how to cook.

Tomorrow, we're heading to the Vatican City (to the Sistine Chapel) before going off on our own around Rome. We're heading to Corfu the day after, and the four of us (Rich, Haley, Kevin, and myself) will be heading to Athens on our own after... then half the trip will be over. To be honest, I'm kinda happy although I do enjoy sightseeing.

I'm having loads of fun... but I still miss the regularity of things.



Currently in Firenze (Florence), Italy. We're waiting in the campsite (yes, I have been living in cabins for the past wk) for our night out in Florence for a great authentic Tuscan dinner and a night at the nearby Space Electronic Disco. I'll let you in when I find out if the place is really as tacky as it sounds.

Florence is SO pretty... and old. I really do enjoy the city, although I think the time we spent there was far too little. We saw the statue of David today, and a bunch of us ventured in the streets of Florence by ourselves, enjoying the scenes and the gold & leather shops on the Ponte Vecchio (the oldest bridge in Florence).

Nice and Cannes was also beautiful. I really enjoyed my quiet moment when I sat under the shades on a bench that faced the Mediterranean sea in Nice. I also dipped my feet into the water!

Anyway, internet time is running out :( Please write me at my utoronto account... I'd love to hear from you esp. in times like this... where I have to kill time! Take care...


Enjoying the Sun in Cannes

That's where I'm currently at! A few things I've learned to appreciate on the trip:
- clean clothes
- parents... I miss them sooooo much, believe it or not
- water: I've never been happier to get cheap water!
- veggies & fruit

We've been touring all over France this past week; Paris was simply awesome, but we only had half a day in the city... but Rich and I managed to see most of what we wanted: the Notre Dame, the outside of the Louvre, and walking alongside the Champs De Elyese (sp?)

A bunch of us from the trip also have gotten to know each other better... approx 7-8 of us. We decided to walk to several towns and villages while resting in the wine regions of Beaujolais, and ended up hiking for more than 10 kms that day, visiting the villages of Oingt and Theize. Very quaint and old, as if I was coming out of a scene in Les Miserables.

Today, we're spending the day in the beaches of Cannes and Nice. Last night, we saw Monaco, an independent state from France... and man, that place is made with money! The Monte Carlo Casino was really pretty, even though I didn't place my bets on anything :) (no money)... however, I've been quite successful in finding stamps and post offices everywhere I go.

I'm still a bit homesick, surprisingly. I guess the hardcore party animals from Australia are a bit too much for me... they're nice ppl when sober, but I guess different value systems, I suppose.

Anyhoo... I'm soooo internet deprived! But time is precious and I must head out... we're Italy bound tomorrow, so that'll be fun :) Will hopefully keep you posted.

I miss you allllllll very much! :)


All Tired from Walking All Out

We walked everywhere today - Tate Modern, House of Parliament, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace (guard changing), Borough Street Market. EVERYWHERE.

Only 40 seconds left of internet. Byeeee!


In London

Here I am! :) Currently at an internet cafe, so blog will be short.

Did lots in two days... went to Bath & Stonehenge today, and saw Les Miserables last night w/ Richard. We also had a great experience w/ the double decker London Buses. Grrrrr. The Tube (aka Underground...) had a strike during our first day in London, so the streets were all packed w/ buses and people. Not having the tube around upon arrival also made us use the Heathrow Express, which reminded me lots of Chek Lap Kok in HK.

Anyhoo... there's apparently a Canada Day celebration here in London at Covent Garden, so we're going to check it out. In the meantime, email me (esp. if you want a postcard!!! send me your address)!