So, we have been back for almost 4 months and it is shocking how fast things can change and you can slump back into a routine!
Jo and I are both working full time and have an apartment with Catherine. It is the best apartment we’ve ever had, incredible space! In fact, we’ve already hosted our first couch surfers and it was a blast : )
Thinking about more travels to come it is so important to remember that you can have an adventure wherever you are, even in your own home town.
We have been all over Italy in the past 3 weeks. There is so much to talk about but once again you will have to wait to hear the best of it all from our own mouths! We won’t leave you totally hanging though…
We took a 16 hour ferry from Patras,Greece to Bari, Italy. When we boarded we were told there was a casino, restaurants, clubs and a lot to do on board. We went to our room sat down and woke up 14 hours later…just in time for the sunrise! : ) This was after a 3am flight from Tel-Aviv to Athens, a bunch of trains from Athens to Patras and a long walk to the port. It may have been the best sleep we have ever had!
From Bari we took, yet another train, to Naples.
– Claudio and Luca (couch-surfers) They are both press photographers! They are incredible! Caludio was Andrea Bocelli’s personal photographer for a day. They cooked for us everyday and made us espresso every morning!
– We ate at 2 of the 3 best pizza joints in town. Da Michele was amazing BUT Sorbillo was even better!
– The thickest hot cocoa with chocolate spoons
– Going to a birthday party with 20 friends of Claudio and Luca and laughing the night away!
– Peace march for gaza
We left Naples to meet the beautiful Beth Pallo in Rome!
We did all the major sites…the Colosseum, Circo Massimo, Trevi fountain, the Vatican City Museums, St. Peter’s square and basilica, put our hands in the Bocca della Verita, the Spanish Steps and much more.
– The Sistine Chapel was breathtaking.
We got yelled at in the Vatican museum because we were taking silly pictures with the statues. The guard starting yelling “normale! normale!” We said sorry and quickly moved into the next room. Five minutes later a guard started walking towards us and we were thought we were going to get kicked out! Hah! Instead he said, “I would like to take you all to dinner near the Pope’s summer home outside of Rome at my friends restaurant tonight, will you please come?” Haha! He was very nice but we had plans already…next time!
– The Accademia Gallery, where we saw Michelangelo’s The David.
– Ponte Vecchio (an old bridge over the Arno river)
– Bordino’s restaurant! Thank you Pym!
– Duomo (500 mini Indiana Jones steps to the top of the dome of the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore)
– Getting free champagne, vino and dessert at the Golden View restaurant!
Train from Florence back to Naples…quick lunch with Luca and friends…taxi, train and bus to Positano!!!
– Everything we imagined and more!
– We met locals (Paulo, Emilio, Cristian and Nicolas) that cooked for us every single meal besides one lunch and we only paid about 8 euro for it! Paulo’s moms cooked us octopus!
– Picking up broken mosaic pieces in the beach for hours
– Blue sea and green mountains!
– Seeing the hotel from “Only You” and “Under the Tuscan Sun” (Cristian was an extra in “Only you”)
– Running up and down stairs and being SO sore the next morning!
– Getting a private tour of the most expensive hotel in Positano by the construction workers. It was closed for the off season
– Vespa rides!!! YAY!!!
– Drinking champagne on the sea side view balcony and being the happiest girls in the world!
– Dancing in the private Villa!
– Being adored by every male in town : )
We are back in Naples with our favorite couch surfers before heading to Rome tomorrow!
We had the great blessing to find a “temporary family” for Christmas this year since we were away from home for the first time. We stayed at the Christ Church Guesthouse inside the Jaffa Gate in the old city of Jerusalem when we first arrived in Israel. Rick/dad had to leave us a few days before Christmas and we were not sure of our next move. We overheard a staff member talking about baking cookies for the Christmas eve celebration. We asked if we could help…that evening, after decoration about 500 cookies, we were taken aside by one of the owners and asked to join the Christ Church Staff and stay for the celebration as official volunteers. I think it was because we were so amazing at decoration the cookies…ask us about the Jesus cookie : )
The next morning we were thrown into a whirl-wind of events that will go down in history as one of the most unique and memorable Christmas Eves ever!
Our tasks at the Christmas Eve celebration:
– cleaning guest rooms and making beds…and laughing hysterically when we realized we were making the beds we had just slept in and paid for the night before! We felt like we were in the Little Princess!
– Scrubbing bird droppings off of outdoor tables and chairs
– Setting up and organizing the patio
– Making huge vats of mulled wine, while helping the chef cook the biggest pot of soup we have ever seen!
– Washing enormous industrial sized pots and pans
– Serving wine, soup, and cookies to hundreds of Israeli people and other guests.
– Sweeping and mopping the kitchen
– Restocking items
– Taking out the trash
– Joining a choir and singing Christmas hymns while wearing a Christmas colored plaid apron and staff shirt.
– and so much more!!!
Christmas morning we went to the church service followed by a huge feast with all of the staff and their families. We made so many friends! An older woman from Russia, Rita, said “You are blessink!!! You are amazink!!!” We said Rita, ” You are awesome!” Her response was, “Jesus is awesome, if I am like Jesus then I am awesome!”
We have so many stories from this place! We will have to tell you all in person!
Okay so because of our many stays in hostels we decided to look up a hostel at home in Syracuse and this is just one of many amazing comments we found:
– Eating the best falafel ever with Rick!
– Putting prayers into the wailing wall………. while nearby barmitzvah celebrations raged 🙂
– Getting lost on the Mount of Olives in the Arabic ghetto.
– Shopping in the markets full of spices, pashminas, rugs, hookas, sweets (halava), yamakas, and many other treasures.
– Tower of David museum.
– Dome on the rock (aka Muslim Quarter).
– Walking the Via Dolorosa, the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion.
– The Shelter, a really unique outdoor hostel.
– Snorkeling at Princess Beach on the Red Sea.
– Sunbathing with carrot oil and enjoying ice cream sundaes.
– Creating new cuisine in our hostel kitchen 🙂
– Hanging out at the Irish pub listening to some saucy blues and drinking a waileys milkshake (with baileys and whiskey). YUMMY!
-Discovering a “beach gym playground” on New Years Eve! Fantastic!
Kibbutz Lotan: Check it out! http://www.kibbutzlotan.com
– Our first shabbat dinner with traditional prayer and song .
– We both got a massage with a mix of different techniques used.
– Long walks through the desert terrrain and exploring the community.
Okay, so I know it’s been ages, it would be really nice to have a laptop but alas. To go back in time for us, I would like to brag about Spain for a bit. We took a high speed train from Barcelona to Madrid and we thought we were going to miss it but as Mister God is always looking out for us, it turned out to be delayed with more than enough time for us to get comfortably settled. That train was the most swanky one we’ve ever been on! They gave us a free Spanish book of poetry when we stepped through the gates. They even played “I am Legend” with Will Smith on board as if it were a plane.
The hostel Jo booked was so cool! They actually gave us an orientation when we checked in on where to go and what to do in the city. They also gave us the name of the most delicious vegetarian restaurant called Viva La Vida. Upon entering the door, it immediately reminded me of Ithaca (a fantastically organic, healthy, hippy city in New York State for those of you that don’t know).
We took a free walking tour of the city led by a very energetic guy from Capetown, South Africa named Bruce. He knew how to make it interesting and told us some strange tales of the city, as well as a few corny jokes of course. Just as an example, he said that under the Hapsburg rule all of the Spanish woman wanted to look like the Austrian royalty so they bleached their hair with pure ammonia and drank a concoctionof vinegar & clay to lighten thier complection. But it was literally poisoning them so by the time they were 40, their teeth and hair was falling out! The crazy lengths that females go to in the name of “beauty!”
Our tour group went for lunch to have tapas, paella, and sangria at a favorite local joint. We made friends with four girls who are studying in Paris and ended up spending the day with them after the tour was over. We went to a park which displays the statue of a fallen angel, the only public piece of art dedicated to Lucifer. We then went to the Prado Art Museum and got in for free (which only happens for a few hours one day a week.) As we were waiting in line we drank the thickest cup of hot chocolate with coconut flakes in it. We really reveled in speaking to those girls because they shared an equal love of travel 🙂
Jo and I decided we absolutely had to go salsa dancing before we left Spain so we went on a pub crawl ran by our tour guide Bruce because he told us he would take us to the best place in town! We made the right decision……….. we instantly cliched with the whole group and ended up dancing, drinking, and chatting the night away in a mix of Spanish, French and English. We even learned a little Korean, and Greek. They played the most random songs, as we are used to in European clubs but we had a good laugh and sing-a-longwhen the medley from the movie “Grease” came on! There was an abundance of kinship that night and it made me realize how enriching it is to surround yourself with other cultures.
Much to love to Madrid!
Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah! We have so many stories to tell but we haven’t been able to get online much to blog so all apologies. We are spending the holidays in Israel. It is really exciting to be in The Holy Land where the birth of Jesus took place.
We are exhausted from volunteering in a guest house all day and night so we shall write more another eve.
Love and Peace from Lucy and Johanna!
We arrived in Barcelona after an 11 hour train ride to stay with our friends Paul and Graham from Syracuse who have been teaching English here for almost 3 months. It was so refreshing to see some friendly faces! They bought sangria and cava for our arrival, it definitely helped us relax after having changed trains three times with our ridiculously heavy backpacks on. We can barely walk let alone run through the stations, haha!
They had a whole crew at their apartment to greet us and they were all a blast! We ended up walking to the beach, while along the way we rented a bike and jo rode me on her handlebars. They’re all musicians so we had a rowdy sing-a-long circle on the coast. Jo even went swimming and I got buried in the sand….. it was a fantastic welcome to Spain!
The following day we went to a town on the outskirts to a park with a half pipe so the boys could skate. We left as it was getting chilly to find a bite to eat and we stumbled upon a Christmas market. This one had the most kids I’ve seen since Jowonio, all laughing and running about 🙂 We stayed in that night and watched Wall-E, which we adored!!!!! You all need to see it, it was far more creative than we expected.
I could not wait to show Jo La Rambla, the bumping main walkway where there are crazy street performers and living statues. Also my favorite restaurant is off of it in an alleyway…… Juicy Jones, vegan food and fresh juice bar!
We went to see Gogol Bordello, a gypsy punk band formed in NYC. It was the craziest show! The opening band, Che Sudaka was so energetic. We danced salsa, jumped and moshed all at the same time! We have yet to recover from being battered and bruised but it was all part of the atmosphere.
Paul, Jo and I went to Gaudi’s Parc Guell, intended to be a garden city it was never finished but five interesting buildings and many mosaics make the park a unique experience! Gaudi really is a visionary architect with a strange organic aesthetic.
After doing many monotonuous errands we decided to go to the aquarium one evening. We saw nemo and dory and some of the most intriguing sea creatures we have ever seen. We had to take some cheesy pictures with our heads in a sharks mouth too 🙂
We had planned to go to Valencia but our friends persuaded us to stay longer so we are heading to Madrid tomorrow and then off to Greece!
We’ve had some really long train travel days so it has been necessary to stay over night en route. In Vienna, we basically had a nice sushi dinner and ferrero rocher gelato, did some much needed laundry, wrote postcards and went to bed early to catch a 5am train. Thank goodness we took such an early train because we were going to take a night train. Instead we were able to see incredible scenery including snow capped mountains, castles on the hillsides and quaint chalets.
We were only gonna stay for 1 night in Nice, on the Cote d’azur. But after an exhausting day, we decided to stay and enjoy the beach scenery. We spent hours walking around, soaking up the sun on benches, and generally enjoying the sights of Nice. We met these really cool girls in our hostel and joined them for dinner and drinks while watching a live band. We felt rejuvinated and ready to head to Espana!