Thursday, July 10, 2008

down home

Well blogosphere, it is time for me to end Piccadilly Cowboy and move on to bigger and different things. I've gotten a hang of this blog thing, so I've decided to start a new one for my summer escapades. Have a look at my new blog at

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

leaving paradise

I'm convinced that a seal knows how to live. Before, if I had seen one lying on a rock sunning itself beside the ocean I would have thought, "man thats one lazy animal". But after spending all day doing it, you develop a different attitude. Monterroso and the Cinque Terre area was paradise. As you can infer, myself and my parents spent all day Monday on the beach, sleeping and swimming. We had great food and great service wherever we went, which included two large bowls of steamed mussles within a 24 hr period. The water was clear, the sun strong and the waves calm. Its very easy to get used to that kind of life.
Sadly, Tuesday morning we caught the train to Milano, and from there to the city of Venice. The ride was long and hot, but once we set foot on the banks of our first canal, it was worth it. I don't know if there is a more beautiful city in the world. Most of the buildings that line the Grand Canal go right up to the water, and bridges are plentiful. It really has a sense of elegance. That being said, the service so far has been questionable. We might have been a little irritable after a long train ride, but it seems like the city is sick of the throngs of tourists that descend upon its streets every year. Noone has been very friendly. But besides the shotty service, Venice is almost out of a fairytale. I have two things on my agenda. First to contemplate the Vetruvian Man by Da'Vinci and the second is to discover the less explored areas of the city, and get lost in the labrinth of its steets. We only have full day here, and I think whatever we do it will be used well.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Monterroso and beyond

Wow, its been an eventful few days since we jumped off the boat in Bari, Italy last week. It started off with a train ride to Rome, melting for the next couple of days, a stopover in Florence for a night and now a coupe of days on the beach. Italy has been a blast. I understand the people better than I did in Greece, but so does everyone else. It is a bit of a tourist trap. The place is packed with tour groups taking pictures, and here I'm just one of them. It seemed like in Greece there were less Americans wandering the streets and more Greeks. Every other word you hear is English. I guess that means I've made it to the best places. Rome itself was an awesome place to visit for a day; to see all the sights you've heard about for so long. We spent most of the morning in Rome at the Vatican, walking through the museum and the Basilica. The next day we spent on a treck to the ancient city of Pompeii at the bottom of Mt. Vesuvius. Again, it was an unbearably hot day and walking through baking ruins didn't cool things off. Nevertheless, it was still pretty dang cool to wander the streets, and peak into the houses. The day after we left for Florence on an express train. The is jsut what you think it would be; almost untouched by time. We saw the necessary sites like the David and Il Duomo and spent the rest of the day on tour bus that took us throughout the city. This morning we attended one of the local branch meetings in Florence. I had to concentrate to understand the members, but I understood about 60% of what they said. The church really is true wherever you go, and the Spirit transcends languages. This is the first time I've attended church in a place that I didn't know the language. I guess there are firsts for everything. After church we caught another train bound for Monterosso, one of the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre region south of Genoa. These five villages are built into the cliffside and form a protected National Park. That means there is little growth and the streets remain mostly the same as they have for centuries. The water is clear and calm, and the food is fresh. What else could you ask for? We've walked through most of the village we are staying at and will spend the rest of tomorrow on the beach being lazy.

Beard Update: As soon as my program wrapped up last week, I decided I would not shave until after I arrived home. I've never gone for more than a week with a beard so its a new and inchy experience for me. I've been tempted to shave it from time to time, especially when it gets hot but my Dad of all people keeps encouraging me to keep it. I've noticed that all it does it help me fit in with some of the Italians. I'm getting a nice tan, I have a large romanesque nose, a nice beard and I like to wear Aviator sunglasses which is the norm for 75% of Italian guys. I've even been asked stuff in Italian by some people in the street. Obviousley they thought I could respond. All thats left to complete the Italian image is a speedo and a cigarette.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Greece is falling behind me faster than I ever wanted it to. My parents and myself are on a Superfast ferry taking us to the port of Bari on the Italian coast. The ship is pretty large, with a couple of restaurants and a Disco that I'm sure will be rockin. It's sad to be leaving Greece so quickly. Yesterday we took a ferry called the Flying Dolphin to the island of Hydra which is about an hour away from the port of Athens. It is unique in that they don't allow any cars or bikes on the streets, only donkey. The streets are small and narrow, the houses painted white and blue, and the ouzo is plentiful (not that I would know). Our day consisted of a Greek meal of fresh salad and fish, some swimming off the rocky coast in crystal clear water, a little shopping, and one more Greek meal before riding the flying dolphin back to Athens. It was easy to succomb to the relaxed Island lifestyle. All I needed was some good food, a quick dip in the ocean and a nice breeze and I was set. Our time in Greece was too short, but it will be nice to get to a place where I can semi understand the language. I've wanted to go to Italy and Greece since I was kid. I was fascinated by both Greek and Roman mythology. I remember one time for Christmas I asked for a book about the volcanic eruption in Pompeii in 79 a.d. and now I'll see it for myself. There is something about the Mediterranean life that just gets to you. You stop worrying about the unimportant things, like whether or not my chest hair is showing (haha). I guess pretty soon real life will slap me in the face and I'll have to button up, but until it does I'm gonna savor every moment.
(The trade off for blogging on ship in the Aegean is the internet is slow and there is no way to upload pics from the trip. Lets hope Italy is better)

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Here comes the sun

I don't know if its possible to fall in love after a few hours, but man I sure feel something for Greece. We've spent the day walking around the old part of the city and visiting its most recognizable landmark, the Acropolis. There are Olive trees everywhere. The is quiet because its Sunday, but it the stamp of place dominated by the heat and the sun. Everything is open air, and their is a breeze blowing in from the sea. The scooters are plentiful, as are bare shoulders and flip flops. So far the food has been what we could have hoped for. Lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, Feta cheese and olive oil. It has been kind of a trip trying to figure out the language (impossible so far) but most people I talk to speak English. I wish I could describe it better than I have. The Acropolis is overwhelming with humanity. So much of what we believe in as a Western Society game from this area of the World. I think I was made for a place like this. Low-key and warm, with fresh food and friendly faces. So far Athens has been a blast, and we have only seen a part of it. Tomorrow we are heading to the beach for some Mediterranean sun and from there we'll see how it goes.


Well Blogosphere, its been awhile hasn't it? How about we make up and I can leave an update? I couldn't be happier. I'm sitting in an Internet Cafe in Northeast Athens, a Diet Coke next to me, Europop music over the loud speakers, and the Mediterranean heat blowing in from the door. It has been a crazy week to get to this point. On Wednesday I waved goodbye to my stay at the London Centre at least for a little while (also to shaving). My parents flew in that afternoon and I picked them up via tube system and led them to our hotel in Camden. That first day they were quite tired, so we took it easy. My mom (should I say mum now?) stayed at the hotel while I took my Dad to visit the centre and take care of some last minute business before I officially checked out. That first day was pretty low-key. We ate at the hotel and got ready for the next couple of days.
On Thursday we woke up kind of late, and took the tube to the West end for the day. Breakfast that morning was something else. We ate near my swimming pool at a family-run Turkish restaurant. The food was cheap and filling, and only got us more excited for the Mediterranean. We spent the day on a tour bus that took you through the city and allowed you to hop-on and hop-off. One of our stops was St. Pauls Cathedral and I took my Dad part way up the Dome. For lunch we had some British food, which is not much more than meat pies and chips(french fries) with everything. My parents weren't too impressed with British cuisine, and neither am I. It is very hearty and filling, but isn't much to experience of even look at. Even you can't imagine what it is, think of baking everything in a flaky pastry and add some mushy peas on the side. The highlight of the tour was probably a boat tour that took us up the Thames from Tower Hill to Westminster Palace. Our guide on the tour was a typical Brit, with a biting sense of humour and full of witty observations. I couldn't really ask for more to end my British experience. Even the accent was spot on. That evening we saw Les Miserables in the West End. I have to say it was a pretty good show.
On Friday we were a bit tired of the city, so we headed to the countryside for a trip to Windsor Castle, the Queen's favorite residence. To get there we had to catch a train from Waterloo station. Our train shared a platform with the one heading to Ascot for the day of horse races. Royal Ascot is a chance for the London elite to show off their most outrageous hats and mingle amongst each other. It really threw myself and my parents for a loop to see all these people dressed in huge hats, and long coattails. On the way to Windsor we passed by a town called Whitton, which is pretty similar to my last name Whetten. Supposedly both last names come from the same place. I guess at least part of me is British to the core? Windsor was an awesome place. It is still a fully functional palace. Just days before it was closed for a state visit by President Bush, and Prince William was made a Knight in the Order of the Garter. While we there the Queen was too, because her flag was flying from one of the towers. That evening we didn't have too much to do, so we hit up another show. This time it was the musical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. I was skeptical when we bought the tickets because I had heard it wasn't too good. However, it closes in July so I figured I at least could be one of the people that had seen it before it disappeared into musical oblivion. I've been to a few musicals now, so I consider myself an apt critic (haha) and given some bad acting, and a poor storyline, it was pretty good. The set was incredible as were the costumes. Parts of the stage would rotate and rise up to mimic the mountains and the battle scenes. Actors were dropping from the ceiling, and in between acts they would come out and interact with the audience. The Hobbits would hop from chair to chair making jokes, and the Orcs would creep in the aisles scaring the occasional tourist. It was great fun.
Saturday was a day lost. We didn't have much planned because our flight left in the middle of the day. When we got there, Olympic Airlines told us we were delayed until 9:00 pm so we spent the afternoon touring Heathrow. There isn't much to see, haha. We made it into Athens last night (or should I say this morning). I'll save my love for Greece for the next post.