Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Prague with the Bro

Hello! Last vacay post....then I don't quite know what I will write about any more! 

My brother arrived in London while I was still in Santorini. Thankfully, Daniel was there to meet him at the train station and show him the ropes of London. I got home from Greece on a Tuesday night around midnight, and the next day at 11 am we were off to the airport for Prague! I could pretty much navigate the airport with my eyes closed at this point! 

 We got some yoga bunny detox drink (basically ginger ale...but the name had us sold) and were off without a hitch!

 Our flat in Old Town Square was odd but great! We each had our own bedroom and shared a bathroom...and only paid $40 a night! Prague was dirt cheap which made it all the better. But I say our flat was odd, because it kind of smelled like cats and we didn't have normal pillows- I had throw pillows, and Gregory had what I call bean bag pillows.
 We were a cartwheel away from the astronomical clock, so we knocked that out first thing. Every hour when it goes off, the little doors open and figures of the 12 apostles come out and circle around the clock. It was neat!

All of the churches in Prague were over the top. Most of them had nightly classical concerts and we went to one featuring a organist, violinist, and vocalist. It was an incredible experience listening to Beethoven and Mozart in a church older than the USA.

Probably our favorite thing about Prague was their Viennese coffee. It was delicious- half coffee, half whipped cream. We were only in Prague for two mornings, but you better believe that was the first thing we did once we woke up! 

 For our full day in Prague, we walked over the Charles Bridge to tour the castle. When you hear "Castle", you probably think palace. But actually, a castle includes much more than just that- we got to see the cathedral, the homes where workers used to live, old shops, and the actual palace.

 I believe the cathedral was around 1000 years old. I've seen more cathedrals than I can remember during our stint in Europe, but they are always impressive.

The castle is on a hill, so we had the best views of all of the red roofs. So pretty! I think I have to give Prague the title of being the most beautiful city I saw while in Europe. It was definitely the cleanest- not any graffiti or litter in sight! The buildings are all so colorful, too- you have a pink building next to a green next to a yellow next to a blue. It didn't even feel like a real city, it was so beautiful and clean. We kind of felt like we were walking around Disneyworld!

 For some reason, I didn't take any pics of the rest of the castle...but I do have a ton of pictures of the statue with a golden package. It was in front of the palace, and since being around your sibling makes you suddenly have the maturity of a 12 year old, we couldn't stop laughing at it!

 Gregory likes sneak attacking people with the camera when they aren't looking. I was caught being a tourist, trying to figure out where the infamous peeing fountain is located.

Found it! It is so much better in person. They are standing in a pool shaped like the Czech Republic. And their hips AND weewee moves while water comes out of it. Gosh, I feel dirty just typing that. And I have mentioned a man's nether regions way too many times in this post!
 When we weren't drinking Viennese coffee, we were drinking beer. It was cheap and good! You could get a beer for around $2 at most places.
 Marionettes are a big thing in Prague. Puppet shops are everywhere! They are all beautifully hand painted, but a bit creepy for my taste.

 We later took a river cruise. It was meh and I wouldn't recommend taking one, although it was nice sitting down for a bit.

There was also tons of music, which I can always appreciate. Not only would people play on the streets, there were also lots of jazz cafes. And if you go towards the end of the band's set, you don't have to pay a cover charge.

We absolutely loved Prague and I will  treasure the memories of my first vacation with just my brother. There wasn't tons to do there, but it was a great city to walk around in, enjoy a lazy lunch, and shop around.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Happy Friday! Here are the pics from Santorini....so pretty!

From Athens, we took a highspeed ferry to the island of Santorini. It was still a 4 hour ride, but much better than the 9 hour ferry! Daniel's travel extravaganza had to end in Athens, so he flew back to London while we floated our way to the island. 

We were really surprised with how nice the ferry was. It was very spacious and even had a little store in it. 

We were able to walk around, but unfortunately could only go outside when the boat was stopped. We had one stop before Santorini, so we went outside to take pics of the lil island. 

Once we arrived to Santorini, we had to pick up our awesome clown car. It's a good thing Daniel wasn't with us- there's no way he could have fit! And the roads were so narrow, I don't think we would have been able to drive a larger car! Our host rented our car for us, and it was only 25 euros a day! We were so happy we had a car. Santorini is a small island, but too large to walk everywhere. We literally saw the whole island with a car! 
Considering there were NO street signs, NO addresses, NO maps, we found our flat relatively quickly! We stayed in the village of Pygros, and I think we were really happy we stayed there versus the more popular Fira or Oia. There were enough restaurants and shops to keep us busy, but it had a very local feel.

Our house was crazy nice. Like, it could have been on MTV cribs. It was a newly restored house meant to look like a cave house, and it just felt so...Greek! 

This is from our rooftop terrace. We could see the WHOLE north side of the island. It was truly incredible. 

The sunsets were worthy of applause. We had a great view from our hot tub (that we could never manage to get hot!). Side note- Santorini was warm during the day, but downright chilly at night! 

Donkey tours are a thing in the main villages, but in Pygros, they were just a part of the culture. This (barefoot) man was moving rocks up and down the windy streets in Pygros. We glared at us when we took his picture. 

There were SO many beaches, and all of them beautiful. The majority of them were black sand/ stone beaches. And that sand was scorching! But the water was cool enough to keep us from getting too hot (and it was crystal clear).

There was also a red beach there. But it was a hike down, so we just took a picture then left! 

And ohhhh the wineries. They were just great. The first one we went to was family owned and over a century old. Those barrels were I believe 80 years old. And to try wine, it was only 90 cents! This one was our favorite.

You stomp on the grapes where the table is, then is flows out into the well. It gets filtered through the woven basket. And if we would have come later in the year, we could have stopped by and helped them stomp! I have a new dream: to work at a winery in Santorini. 

Grapes were all over Santorini- they grew wildly. I tried one, but it was super sour. Give it a couple of months, and I'm sure it would have been delicious! 

This picture cracks me up. Nanette is REALLY contemplating the complexities of her Visanto (a really delicious sweet wine only in Santorini) and I....I don't even know what I'm doing.  Nearly every place we went to for a drink or to wine taste would give us a snack to go with it, which is really surprising when you think about how inexpensive a drink was. I believe it was 4 euros a glass of wine at this place, and it came with greek yogurt with a fruit compote over it and bread. Yum! 

This winery was probably our second favorite. It was also family run and nearly 200 years old! The grounds were stunning as well. 

They gave us 7 full glasses of wine to all try as a group. And guess what- I'm the only one who really likes wine. So I had A LOT of wine at 11 in the morning. 
This winery also sundried their own tomatoes and then make it into tomato sauce. They let us try some, along with their home grown cucumber (sweeter than the variety we are used to- almost tasted like honey dew). All of the wineries were just so quaint and accommodating to us! 

And if you are like me and need more than just a sip of wine, you go to the grocery store and fill up a 1.5 liter plastic water bottle with your cheap wine- straight from the barrel! Every large grocery store had something like this. We REALLY need to bring this concept to Texas. 
As I said previously, the restaurants and bars really treat their patrons with utmost respect. They are all family run- the papa is at the door greeting customers, the children are your waiters, and the momma is the cook! At this restaurant, they brought us a whole bottle of some sort of liquor they made themselves to start us off, and then when we were done, brought us ANOTHER bottle of the liquor, along with brownies. That stuff was strong and pretty gross. But we didn't want to be rude! So we mixed it with diet coke that Nanette had stashed away in her purse. Towards the end of the meal, we were taking shot left and right of this liquor. I am cracking up just thinking about it!

The shopping was fantastic in Santorini- so many locally made items, and it wasn't too pricey. After a winery, we stumbled across a little leather shop. It's a man and wife business, and the husband was hand making shoes as we walked in. I think we all ended up with leather shoes, belts, or bracelets. 
I regret not buying one of those wind chimes! ARGGGG! 

There's also an archaeological site on the island. The ruins are from a village that was destroyed by a volcano in 2000 BC! The ash from the volcano preserved the ruins perfectly. Those vases are all still intact- some were found with old food in it. Because they didn't find any people, they believe that the villagers escaped...most likely to have gotten killed by a tsunami that came after the volcano.

I really, really loved Santorini. It was the perfect place to go to for relaxation. Although it seems like we did so much, there really wasn't much to do on the island other than layout, shop, and drink wine- my personal paradise!

Also, I was pleasantly surprised with how non-touristy Santorini felt. Don't get me wrong, everyone there treated us so nicely....but the island just had an authentic feel to it, and I was expecting more of a resort island.

And that concluded our Bond family travels! We had an unforgettable 2 weeks together, and I'm thankful we were all able to explore Europe together! OK, next update will be about Prague with my brother....stay tuned!


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