Archive for the European Summer Adventure 2009 Category

What a ‘dam ending

Posted in European Summer Adventure 2009, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2010 by Yarn Over New York

It’s hard to believe but my European Summer Adventure is drawing to a close!  I traveled for 92 days all over Europe.  I saw so much and met many friends (new and old).  See a full list of all my stops here (including links to blog posts on each city.)

For my last step in the grand adventure, I decided to visit Amsterdam for the third time during my summer travels.  I have been to Amsterdam a number of times for work and pleasure, so it always feels like a home away from home.  I still manage to get lost but can always wander my way back to my destination.  It is a great place to refuel and relax.   It’s also a perfect walking city, and given that I will gladly walk any distance as long as the scenery stays interesting, it’s an ideal locale for me.  All of the City Center is accessible via foot, bike or tram and if the weather is nice, nothing beats a leisurely stroll along the canals.

Each time I stayed in the ‘dam this summer, I stayed in a different hotel/hostel.  This particular time I chose the Damhotel.  It certainly was no luxury but the location was quite convenient.  I really appreciate being close to the train station when I have to carry my luggage.

The Famous Yellow Shoe

I spent most of my one-day stay in Amsterdam relaxing and didn’t take a whole lot of photos.  You can see a few more here.

Alas, my European Summer Adventure had come to a close and I hopped on the train back to Lint, Belgium and back to my life in the “Bubble.”



Posted in European Summer Adventure 2009, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2010 by Yarn Over New York

Am I back in Belgium already?- The Colmar Mannekin Pis

Arrivederci, Italia! Bonjour France! I took a night train to Mulhouse which is in Alsace (the eastern part of France that borders Germany and Switzerland.)  I went to visit my friend Sylvie (whom I had met in Munich a couple of months earlier.)  Alsace was my second to last stop on my European Summer Adventure (2009). 

The view of the field behind Sylvie's house

I spent a few days with Sylvie and her boyfriend Laurent visiting Mulhouse and several nearby cities.  


Mulhouse itself is a cute little city with lots of interesting public art and some cute trendy restaurants. 


Temple Saint-Étienne (St. Stephen's Protestant Cathedral)


Though Mulhouse is cute and fun its doesn’t have quite the Alsatian flavor as its neighbors. 

Colmar and Kayersberg

Sylvie and Laurent took me sightseeing in the nearby cities of Colmar and Kayersberg, both of which are famous for their Alsatian architecture, recognizable by the thick wooden beams on exterior walls of the buildings. 

The market in Colmar (note the walls of the buildings)

 We visited the Recycl’art exhibit which included lots of creative works of art made from reclaimed items.  

La Baigneuse by Bernard Pras

Here is a link to his website.  (He creates really nifty scultpures using garbage that when viewed from a certain angle look like a celebrity’s face or a woman bathing or the Statue of Liberty.)  I first became familiar with his work when his sculpture of Irish playwright Tom Murphy was displayed for the Galway Arts Festival. 


 Other favorite pieces from artists at the Recycl’art 2009 include: 

Phone Sheep by Jean-Luc Cornec

Not sure what this is or who the artist was, but, for sure, that's one pink baby

A creative way to recycle your old underwear

So speaking of the Statue of Liberty, I should mention that she originally comes from Alsace!  In fact you can find her (much smaller) twin sister there.


 After Colmar, we went into Kayersberg (the home of Albert Schweitzer) for dinner. 


The next day, I bid Sylvie and Laurent adieu and boarded a train for my last stop on the European Summer Adventure, Amsterdam!

Parting words from Alsace- "If you take my space, also take my handicap"

 See more photos of Alsace here

Sud and Nord

Posted in European Summer Adventure 2009, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2010 by Yarn Over New York

Bambi I Need You!

Hard to believe there is (was) just a week left in my European Summer Adventure (2009).  (Yes, yes I am 10 months behind in blogging about my travels.)  Anyway, I passed a week on a boat in the mediterranean with my parents and then they headed back to the States and I decided to kick around Italy on my own for a few days.  I first went south to Naples (Napoli) to visit the land of my grandparents (more or less) and then endured the world’s worst night train to Milano.


Though I have traveled to many cities in Italy for work and during my semester abroad, I had yet to visit Napoli.  I arrived fairly early in the morning and had an espresso and brioche at a tiny local bar.  I am struck by two things that seem to dominate the city: insane traffic and political graffiti.  I spend the day wandering around town, looking at the architecture, public art, and of course, the myriad of street art.

One funny thing: Equal amounts of cops patrolling and anti-police graffiti

Even sports are political here in Napoli

I don’t understand the inner workings of this philosophy, but apparently soccer teams represent different political ideas, communism, fascism, classism, separation of North and South.  A google search only left me more bewildered than before.

Let's not forget religion

I found a blog post (sorry, it’s Italian) that tries to explain this particular series of graffiti in Napoli.

Here is the text translated into English (courtesy of Google Translate):

“Frankly I think all the … satanic sects, political movements, protests …

It had become almost an obsession, nobody knew what to say represent those drawings and especially to those who had work, nobody knew anything. Then thanks to facebook I arrived at the source and I contacted the authors of these “underground works”, who kindly wrote me an email which I reproduce below.

These designs represent a modern St. Sebastian. Dimentichamo not this saint, martyred under Diocletian, is depicted usually pierced by arrows.
Cmq, all this raises always very mixed reactions, it often tends to confuse this picture with a mockery of the priests, with the will (by the authors) to symbolically kill the priests. But is not the church in its millennial history, we have become accustomed to images of bloody floggings, beheadings, crucifixions?
Those arrows embedded in the body of the martyr have stuck us certainly, but this is our collective, plural, not only the material authors of the work. A little innocent denial tends to believe that there are no martyrs. From here a nuisance and therefore a forced removal. Often psychological, sometimes even many physics: we have removed more than once in 24 hours after it is made. Once I made the word “God was.” That writing has not disappeared, but destroyed, scratched with some tool so vehemently as to leave a gap of three centimeters into the wall.

Often these designs have some written down, such as “hands on piety,” which echoes the title of a famous and sadly still current films by Francesco Rosi but winks at us more contemporary themes such as the security package, for example, provides that doctors should treat non-irregular then denounced to the police.

In conclusion, given a way to work is a violence that we always try to avoid. Insinuate doubt, leave wide margins on interpretations of passers-citizen-users of our work is the basis of those of us decided to work in public space.”

Lupini at the fair

Towards the end of my day, I went to a park where there was an outdoor fair.  There was a band, lots of food and children riding miniature cars (including little mini cop cars).

See more photos of Napoli here.


After enduring the world’s hottest, stinkiest, crowdedest train ride, I arrived to a wet and rainy Milano.  It was pretty much just as I remembered it from my University days.  The same restaurants and the same stores in my old neighborhood.  The same business ladies riding scooters in fishnets.  And the same crappy weather.

Same unfortunate name for pills that helps your hair- Retard? Now that's "special!"

My friends and I used to make fun of this product all the time.  “Did you take your Retard Pill today?”  Terribly inappropriate, but terribly funny.  The pill supposedly slows down the process of growing, losing and regrowing hair.  Losing you hair? Take a Retard Pill!

The Gothic Duomo

I came to Milano to re-visit my old haunts, the sites, to do some much-needed shopping and to visit my old friends Christina and Lorenzo.  Sightseeing and shopping were wet and a little cold for September.  I bought some books and some clothes, because Milano always makes me want to buy clothes.  Somehow I managed to not buy any shoes.  Frankly, it was a miracle because Milano makes me want to buy shoes even more than clothes.

Santa Maria delle Grazie Monastery, home of "The Last Supper"

It's a tourist tradition to put your heel on the bull's balls and spin

I had a great dinner at a cute vegetarian restaurant with Christina, Lorenzo and their three daughters.  I met Chris when I was studying at IULM and the university paired locals with exchange students to practice English/Italian and socialize.  I attended their wedding and crocheted a blanket for their first baby.  We lost touch over the years, but magically reconnected through the world-shrinking wonders of the ever-expanding internet.  It was great to see them again and practice animal names with the children.

Here is a little hedgehog I spotted outside of Castello Sforzesco- the Italian word is "Riccio"

Pretty soon it was time for me to say "Ciao Italia" and head off to Alsace

See more photos of Milano here.

A Week on a Boat

Posted in European Summer Adventure 2009, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by Yarn Over New York

Our home for the week

My European Summer Adventure Takes to the Seas

For the last several years, my Mom has been trying to organize a family cruise.  Due to either my jobs or my brother’s school or jobs, we never all managed to come up with a week off in common.  Therefore, she went ahead and organized an Eastern Mediterranean cruise through Royal Caribbean for just herself, my Dad and me.   Stops included: Messina (Sicily), Athens (Greece), Ephesus (Turkey), and Crete (Greece).  We also had two days at sea to enjoy the various activities provided onboard.

We set sail from the Roman port town of Civitavecchia

Our first sunset onboard

First Stop- Messina and Mt. Etna, Sicily

We set off bright and early with a two hour bus trip from Messina to (almost) the top of Mt. Etna.  We visited several of the craters and a cafe that narrowly escaped destruction during an eruption.

The lava stopped here in 2001

Mom and Dad at the top of a crater

After our lunch at Mt. Etna, we went back down the mountain and had a little bit of extra time to explore Messina.

Mary: Who Protects the City

See more Sicily photos here.

Second Stop- Athens, Greece

We started the day by climbing the Acropolis

The still-active Theater of Dionysus

Then we walked down the other side and into town for lunch.

A church in Parko Thiseio

Dad bought a baglama

After our walk, lunch and shopping, we headed back to the ship for dinner and the evening’s entertainment.

See more Athens photos here.

Third Stop- Ephesus, Turkey

Our most intense day was our day in Turkey.  We had a long day visiting several ancient sites and ruins.  We had a great tour guide who provided lots of facts about the history of Turkey and the ancient Greek theaters and temples.

The three of us at Ephesus

A performance for the tourists

Apollo's Temple

A kitten eating a fish head a lunch

After visiting the ruins, we went back into the town of Kusadasai to see a rug-making demonstration.

Lots of Turkish Rugs for Sale

Pigeons at the Pigeon Fountain

See more Turkey photos here.

Last Stop- Crete, Greece

So the Mediterranean is famous for its sunny, hot summer days.  Rain is rare and sunblock is a necessity.  Amazingly enough, the one day of our cruise, that we had planned to relax by the sea and soak up the rays, was the one day that it rained cats and dogs.

Me and a Mosaic at the Cretian Hotel

Pool and Beach in the Rain

Our stay in Crete was short-lived.  We went back to the boat and played Scrabble instead.

Our last sunset onboard

More photos of Crete here.

The sites were amazing, the onboard shows were cheesy, the food was decadent.  Truth be told, cruises are not exactly my thing, but I was grateful to spend a week with my family.

View photos of the whole week here.

La Femme Cactus as Tour Guide

Posted in European Summer Adventure 2009, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2010 by Yarn Over New York

Mom and Me in Firenze at Ponte Vecchio

With only two weeks left in my European Summer Adventure, I headed to Italy to meet up with my parents for a Mediterranean Cruise.  We meet a couple of days before the cruise set sail to do a little sightseeing in Rome and Florence.  Neither of my parents had been to Europe before, so I ended up serving as a tour guide for them.

Mom and Dad at the Vatican

First stop, Rome

I took my folks to Vatican City to see Saint Peter’s Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel.


Way cool sculpture

On the way though the Vatican Museum

Good Luck Getting Up That Hill Little Man

After the several hour long trek through the Basilica and museum, we headed into the central Rome for a nice dinner.  My parents were in awe of the ancient ruins mixed in among more modern architecture.

Next up, Florence

No trip to Florence would be complete with a visit to David

The first thing we did was head to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David.  He is magnificent, crafted entirely from one huge block of marble. After the Accademia, we walked through town to see more great art and architecture.

L'ospedale degli Innocenti

My Dad loved the live music at the market

The Duomo

Darth was here

Big Dad, Tiny Car

Our two-day Italy excursion was a blast.  My parents got to see lots of new things and I got a chance to visit two cities I haven’t seen in a few years.  I had a wonderful time speaking Italian and showing off some great sights.

See more photos here.

Cyprus- my home away from everything

Posted in European Summer Adventure 2009, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2010 by Yarn Over New York

Way back when, I had a great roommate named Stephania.  We lived together through a couple of apartments in Pittsburgh as we each were completing our studies and starting our careers.    When she moved back to her home country of Cyprus, I vowed to visit her there as soon as possible.

The Mediterranean Sea at Protaras

I fell in love with the crystal blue seas, the relaxed environment and the great food.  I renewed my vow to visit soon and visit often.  Since then, I have been back almost every year for a grand total of 7 visits!  Many changes have happened as the UN buffer zone between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus relaxed.  The Republic of Cyprus has since joined the EU and adopted the Euro.  I have visited the North and gone all over the South chasing great sunsets and good conversation.

Christos, me, Stephania and Panikos in Protaras

When I first visited Cyprus, I knew only Stephania and another co-student Ellada, but over the years I have meet many more great people and enjoy seeing the changes in their lives over the years.

Stephania, Me, Layla and Panikos

My most recent visit, as part of my European Summer Adventure, I stayed in Larnaca with Stephania and her fiance, Panikos and their adorable dog, Layla.  We went to the beach and did some shopping in town, but for the real meat of the vacation, we spent a few days in beautiful Protaras.

Panikos and I getting ready to fly high!


A prayer tree in nearby Agia Napa

Don't worry, I didn't actually drive this bike myself, but I did enjoy the ride!

My stay in Cyprus was lovely and relaxing.  Nothing can beat the great beaches, beautiful sunshine and the friendly people.  Too bad I won’t be able to visit again soon.

More pictures here.


Posted in European Summer Adventure 2009, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2010 by Yarn Over New York

A Baltic Beach

During my whirlwind European Summer Adventure, I made a brief stop in Tallinn, Estonia.  I loved the mix of the old city and the new city.  Inside the orignal city walls, the buildings are painted bright colors and have a real old town feel.  Outside the walls, there are glass skyscrapers and all the modern clothing chains.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Yellow Wall, Blue Door

After wandering the city, I decided to take a walk along to coast to visit the beaches and parks.

I sat for a little while at this monument and no less than 4 wedding parties came to take their photos here - Popular spot, i guess

Beach birdies for Elise

Another cool monument

Yellow wall and gray stairs

I only stayed in Tallinn for one day, then I hopped on a ferry to take me back to Scandinavia.

See more photos of Tallinn here.