Friday, August 21, 2009

Island Hopping

Last weekend, Lee and I went out to Governors Island for a lesson in bike riding. The island was used as a military facility by British and American forces for over 200 years, and now it has been converted into a giant park space open to the public. The island still has all the old buildings intact, and it is really charming and peaceful -- and car-free! The free ferry was a really quick ride out to the island (literally under five minutes), and we had a lot of fun exploring. Lee's bike riding lesson was a success! No training wheels, no assistance necessary... We rented our bikes from the folks at Bike and Roll, and the island is so small that it really doesn't take much time to travel the entire perimeter. Here are some shots of
Lee on wheels:

It sort of felt like we were kids again, riding up and down suburban streets lined with cute houses like this one:

This church is now home to a light installation project -- which, really, was sort of weird and creepy when we went inside:

The open fields on the island are perfect for picnics, and Manhattan makes an amazing backdrop!

For lunch, we headed over to the Water Taxi Beach for hot dogs and fries. There was actually an old guy laying out on the sand in a Speedo as if it were a real beach, not imported sand on a corner of an island in the Hudson! (My apologies, no photo of that beautiful sight). Here's a photo of the beach -- again, Manhattan works nicely in the background.

Downtown Manhattan:

Governors Island ferry... we couldn't decide if we were goats or sheep.

Nice view of the island from the ferry:

Downtown Manhattan again:


The Dirty Jerz:

Governors Island was a very fun (and free) place to spend a beautiful day, and I definitely think we'll be going back! It would be lovely to bring a picnic and relax on the grassy fields with friends. Can't wait to go back before the summer ends!

Honeymoon in Greece

As the one-year wedding anniversary has already passed, I think it's high time that I finally post some pictures from our honeymoon in Greece last summer. It was hands-down the most relaxing vacation that I've ever been on, and I would strongly recommend the Greek Isles as a travel destination to anyone that has a few days to spare!

We spent about a week in Santorini, checking in first at the Vedema Resort. It's just off the beaten path of a small town area with some small restaurants, and our room had a nice countryside view that actually looked a lot like the Bay Area. Our room was very cute with a lot of blue and white decor touches, and the resort had a beautiful pool area where we ate breakfast al fresco every morning while we were there.

Our accommodations:

The view from our balcony:

Where we ate breakfast each morning and lounged around:

We visited one of the famous black sand beaches -- the beach itself was just okay, but I have never seen clearer ocean water in my life. We brought trashy reading and spent the afternoon going back and forth between our beach chairs and the ocean. As you can see from the photos below, Lee seems to possess an uncanny ability to float, whereas I sort of just sink... too many gyros consumed on my part, maybe?

After a couple of days, we moved toward the other side of Santorini and checked into Hotel Mystique. No offense to Vedema, which was beautiful and had superb service, but Mystique was freaking amazing. The hotel is built into the cliffside, which allows every guest to have a view of the caldera. The only downside to Mystique was that there was quite a bit of stair-climbing to get into and out of the hotel. However, it was much closer to a "town" area with various shops and restaurants, and it was within walking distance of the spot where you can see the most beautiful sunsets in the world!

Here are some pictures of the hotel -- very Flintstones-esque architecture, if you ask me...

Since we were so much closer to a bustling area of the island, our time was divided between lounging around by the pool and exploring the area around the hotel. Santorini's beauty is absolutely breathtaking -- and the sunsets are so famous for a good reason! Here are some pictures from our daily sightseeing:

Unfortunately, we did not get to ride the mules. But it was fun to see them!

One of the more memorable meals we had on our trip was at Selene, per the recommendation of one of my co-workers. It was so delicious and built into a cliff (like so much of this island), which made it incredibly scenic. My deconstructed lamb gyro entree was divine... very Richard Blais of them! Here's a shot of the restaurant:

On our second-to-last day on Santorini, we took a boat ride around the island. The group ride ended up being just us and another New York couple on their honeymoon! It was so much fun to be sailing around, and we anchored for a bit so that we could go swimming in the water. The boat crew even cooked dinner for us -- lots of barbecued meat and delicious vegetables. We had a grand old time -- until, of course, I started to feel seasick and had to lie down. Luckily, this happened as we were heading back toward land, so it wasn't too painful. And our day of sailing was definitely worth it!

"I'm on a BOAT!"

The Red Beach:

After our delightful stay in Santorini, we took an early-morning flight to Athens for a one-day blitz through the foundations of Western civilization. We joined the friendly folks of Hop On Tours for a bus tour that took us through the city and then up to the Acropolis. Most of Athens was nothing too amazing -- pretty much a typical European city. The Parthenon, though... simply amazing. It is difficult to describe how breathtaking the experience of being at the site of so much history is. It is positively enormous and it's so unbelievable to think about the amount of labor and precision that went into constructing such a monument.

Our hotel room at the Grand Bretanne:


Changing of the guard:

Temple of Zeus:

Olympic Stadium:


We finally made it up the hill!

Nice view of Athens from the Acropolis:

That night, we were prevented from visiting a museum due to a Communist protest and the hordes of police in riot gear surrounding said protest. So the next plan of action was to watch the protest from our hotel room, and then go up to the rooftop bar for drinks and pretty views of the city.

Some lazy Communists -- seriously, they were hardly trying:

Parliament by night:

Grainy picture of the Acropolis by night:

All in all, it was a wonderful trip! I'd love to go back someday and experience Crete and Mykonos!