Posted in 2015 (Europe)

31/08/16: Bonjour, Paris

Day 5 was my last day in Barcelona and I slept in the airport that night, so I spent Day 6 (green) sleeping and basking in the hotel room I was staying in.

Day 7 (green-blue) started at the Eiffel Tower, since I had looked online and Sept 1-2 were the least busy days that I would be there. I also wanted to go in the morning because it would be less crowded, of course. I was amazed at the structure, it was so gorgeous and mostly because I was astounded at the engineering! I wanted to take the stairs up, but the stairs from the ground level to the next floor up were closed, so I had to get the elevator. I’m glad I did, since I got to walk from the toppest level down to the next levels, so I still got to see the views and such from the walk, but going down instead of up.

After the tower, I went on a river cruise; I really enjoyed seeing Paris from a boat on the Seine. I like boats.

After the boat trip, I walked along the Seine to the Musée d’Orsay, which was amazing. It’s housed in a former train station that was built for the World’s Fair and from the clocks in its front face, you can look out and see the Louvre. An old couple told me about the museum when I was visiting London ages ago, so it was cool to go see. That, and the Degas dancers were there. Since I did ballet for 9 years, it was amazing to see the paintings and statues there in person.

Day 8 (light blue) turned into a Museum Expedition day, since I get into the museums for free I wasn’t too worried about getting my “money’s worth” since the money was 0. I started at the Louvre and got a ticket for the audio guide, but decided to start at Musée de l’Orangerie and Musée des Arts Décoratifs before heading back to the Louvre, since they’re smaller and I wouldn’t have to wait in line for any of them with my Irish ID. I was really excited to see the Barbie exhibit at Musé des Arts Décoratifs, since my mom sent me a link to an NPR article about the exhibition.

The exhibition was, honestly, the best one I saw all day! Mostly since the other places I went were museums, not exhibitions. I was surprised and a bit disappointed that the most common complain about Barbie, that her figure is outlandish and impossible, wasn’t addressed (it’s because the clothes when she was first made would literally not stay on her body otherwise), but I loved to see the evolution of Barbie, the diagram of her family and friends, and how they make the choices for new couture Barbie styles.

The highlight of the Louvre, for me, was to see one of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s The Young Beggar. I’ve been fascinated with Murillo’s paintings of street kids since I was a kid myself, sparked by three decorative plate-versions of the paintings my grandma had hanging in her dining room. I distinctly remember examining the paintings every time my grandpa put my shoes on, singing “Put Your Shoes on Lucy” since I always, and still, preferred to be barefoot.

My final day (Day 9, dark blue) started at Montmartre, where I saw the Moulin Rouge and the café from Amélie before walking up to Sacré-Cœur. I mostly walked around the streets for the first half of the day before hopping on the subway and heading for Cimetière du Père Lachaise. Just outside the cemetery walls was a little sidewalk market, where I, naturally, bought a new-old camera.

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One of my fav photos I took of my new camera, but really I’m just trying to figure out what that little metal thing on the base is!

With my new camera in hand, I walked through the cemetery, amazed at what I call the Death Houses.

Of course, I also hunted down Oscar Wilde’s resting place, but I found the Death Houses to be cooler. From the cemetery, I went and sat at the base of the Eiffel Tower, waiting for the light show when the lights turned on. Once the Eiffel Tower lights came on, I walked back towards the Louvre to head back to the hotel and grab my suitcase before heading to the hostel I was staying in before going to the airport the next morning.

All I’m going to say about my airport experience is that Beauvais airport is the worst airport I have ever been to in my life, and I have been to a lot of airports.

And that’s the end of my trip! You can find all of my photos at my Eurotrip 2016 Flickr album and below is a map of where I went!


Posted in 2015 (Europe), Blog

30/08/16: Adíos, Barcelona

The weather has cooled and it’s raining. It’s been hot the past few days and I’ve spent most of them outside, walking the streets of Barcelona, so the light breeze that comes through the open door is nice.

When I first arrived, I didn’t have plans for much, I just knew that I wanted to go to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and that I wanted to get my feet wet. Day 1 (red) was spent getting acclimated to the heat, getting food since Alex’s fridge was almost completely empty, and figuring out what else I wanted to see and the best way to do it. I ended up going to the supermarket up the street from Alex’s apartment twice and I used my (limited) Spanish to find whole milk and sandwich bags. It was at that supermarket that I discovered I can’t read Catalan. I also needed to buy sunscreen, since I didn’t bring enough with me, and the pharmacy was right by the water, so I took a walk along the beach. While researching, I found info that some of the museums were free after three on Sundays and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya was free after three on Saturdays, which was the following day.

My days all pretty much started off the same, I would get up around 10am (I’m on holiday and Ireland is an hour behind), have a bowl of cereal and a cup of chai, get my things together and slather on a layer of sunscreen, then walk along the beach to Montgat Nord train station. Saturday (Day 2, orange), I got off at the Arc de Triomf station, which was the first Barcelona station on the R1. I walked through the nearby park before heading to La Central bookstore to pick up a Catalan edition of Harry Potter, then to Plaça de Catalunya to eat my sandwich before making my way up up up to the museum. It was a hike, but it was gorgeous and worth it when I finally made it. The art in the museum was absolutely gorgeous and apparently I was also near the olympic stadium, which I discovered later when I was looking at a map and because I found the Font Magica.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain

Sunday (Day 3, yellow-orange) a lot of the museums were free after 3pm, so I started at Plaça de Catalunya again and this time walked down La Rambla towards the water. At the end of the big walking street was a huge monument to Christopher Columbus, the Mirador de Colom, but I kept meandering past him along the water, admiring my proximity to it. I love to be near/on water but not necessarily in water. So I like to be on piers and boats and the like. Once it was close enough to 3pm, I made my way to Museu Frederic Marès, which I thought was going to be like Ed’s Museum in Wykoff, MN based on its description, but instead it was a bunch of creepy wooden religious statues. A lot of versions of the same statue of Jesus on the crucifix and Mary and Jesus. There were four floors, but I left after three…

Museu Frederic Marès, Barcelona, Spain

From there, I went the Picasso Museum because it was also free but the line was way too long and I knew I would see something of Picasso’s again. Instead, I went to the Museu d’Història de Barcelona, which had a cool underground archaeology area that was the old city that they built the new one on top of. The coolest thing, though, was part of their temporary exhibit:

Museu d'Història de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Her skull had been trepanned THREE TIMES.

At the end of the day, I had a ticket to the Palau de la Música Catalana tour and miniconcert and, honestly, you just have to look through the photos of this one. It was absolutely gorgeous. The detail work in every part of the theatre was incredible and the sun skylight/chandelier in the middle was amazing.

Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona, Spain

Monday (Day 4, yellow), I started back at Plaça de Catalunya and went down La Rambla again, this time because I was heading to the Oficina de Correos. At the Mirador de Colom, I wondered which way he pointed.

I was MONUMENTALLY disappointed that it wasn’t towards America or even India. After that disappointment, I got my stamps, went to a café called Clandestina, and finished writing/stamping my post cards.

My last day in Barcelona (Day 5, green) I spent at Platja Montgat. I had to pack and plan for Paris and finish writing my post cards before I left, plus I was spending the night in the airport…

You can find all of my photos at my Eurotrip 2016 Flickr album and below is a map of where I went!

Posted in 2015 (Europe)

23/08/14: One Day

My life is currently boiled down to two large suitcases, a small suitcase, a backpack, and a few leftovers. Right now, I want it to boil down to a nap, but that’s a personal travel no-no, since I don’t sleep the night before an over night flight. Especially since this one will land in the morning, which is always my LEAST FAVORITE. The first thing I want to do after I’ve flown for ages is go to sleep, but when I land in a new timezone in the morning (this time at 9:15am) I don’t let myself. So instead, I don’t sleep the night before so I can sleep the entire plane ride.

This is not how I pack, if you were wondering. For one thing, I’m not allowed to bring that many books. My mom says she won’t get rid of any of them, though, so that’s nice.

If only I had a magical suitcase. I don’t, though, so huge shoutout to my mom for starting by “only being here to make sure you stay on task” and then actually helping me pack because we both know I would’ve gotten it done on my own, but not nearly as efficiently or quickly….

So, yeah, today I leave and tomorrow I’ll be there. It’s crazy to think that I was going to Ireland to study abroad three years ago and now I’m going back for my Master’s degree. So much has changed in those three years, most notably me. I could go into detail, but instead I think I’ll quit procrastinating and finish packing.

I hate packing and I hate unpacking, but in the end the travel is worth it.

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

07/08/12: New Me

I’ve been back for a while now. I still haven’t typed up all my entries, but they’re written. Looking back, I feel older. Maybe I was this age before, I just didn’t notice until I let go of my past and began enjoying my present and anticipating my future. I know I’m not the most adventurous person. In fact, I’m not very adventurous at all, I’m a dreamer. This trip gave me the courage to keep dreaming, but to also live those dreams. Now, my sense of adventure involves people, so living my dreams would entail getting lost in a city, finding a local, getting unlost, and doing it all over again. I want to meet as many strangers as I can. I don’t want to climb a mountain or kayak on a river, I want to sit in a cafe someplace new and talk to someone new. I want to be in a place long enough that it’s not new any longer. And then I want to move on. I want every one and every thing to be new because I am new. I am brave, strong, and independent and I’m ready to show myself and those doubters who’s boss.

It’s me.

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

06/07/12: Venice, Italy

Sitting at breakfast, it was hard to believe our trip was coming to an end. Though we had only spent 10 days together, it felt like a lifetime. After finishing our breakfast, we said our last goodbyes and took the last of our pictures before going our separate ways to find taxis.

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Since we were in Venice, we booked water taxis to take us from the ship to our hotel and from our hotel to the airport. While we were waiting for our taxi, I thought I had left my small jewellery box on the ship. It took some distressed eyes and a bit of panic for the security men to call the guy that spoke the most English. Even then, it was tough to explain that I had a boarding pass while I was in Turkey and I just got off the ship. Maizie and the Doctor were leaving, so they helped and the man that spoke English took my passport to the ship to verify I could come back onto the ship. Luckily, they let me back on. I ran through and checked my room and, unable to find anything, I hoped my box was buried deep within my suitcase (it was). After that misadventure, we got in our water taxi and went to the hotel. We were too early to check in, so we put our stuff in the office before heading out to walk around. Right outside the hotel, my sandal broke, so I had to go change shoes (though I would’ve rather gone barefoot) before we finally set off. We started by walking over to the Grand Canal where we took a touristy gondola over to the market. We got some cherries, nectarines, and peppers before continuing our walk.

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We found a place to sit and munch while gramma and Lea decided what to do next. We decided to take the water bus to the stop near our hotel and get lunch before checking in. I had potato noodles for lunch (they were good) and declined the wine. After lunch, we check in to our hotel and had a half-hour siesta before deciding to go over to Piazza San Marco. We went up to the top of the clock tower before trying to go into St Mark’s Basilic, but that was closed.

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In place of that, we went to the Museo Correr and ended up seeing the Klimt exhibit instead of the Museo Correr. It was still neat to see the exhibit on the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt and his various artsy friends. After the museum, we stopped for milkshakes and coffee before stumbling upon an opera. We had an elaborate snack before going to the opera concert. It wasn’t a fancy opera, but it was still incredible.

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After the concert, we got real dinner by the hotel, did some last-minute shopping, had a cup of gelato, and went to bed. We had to be ready to get up at 4a the next morning.

Interested in more photos? You can see all of them from Summer 2012 and from Italy at my Flickr page!

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

06/06/12: Sibenik, Croatia

Instead of taking the excursion offered by the ship, we decided to take a taxi to the Krka National Park. The park had a river running through it and a few waterfalls to see, so we walked along the footpath. The footpath was more like a narrow (but not too narrow) wooden bridge that spread across the entire park. There were a lot of tour groups but (with the exception of our shipmates, who were returning), we were all going in the same direction. Since we were all going the same way, we managed to stay well in between the large tour groups, so we weren’t overcrowded by them. The river and the trees were beautiful, but the best part was the lack of biting bugs.

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Once we were nearly through, Gillian found a cave that she went into (I stood on solid ground and took the pictures).

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While we were standing there, we ran into the Australian family, but they went on ahead of us. We left the cave area and climbed a lot of steps to a flat look-out area. The Australian family was sitting up there, so the two girls had to show me the view. Naturally, when I started taking pictures, they wanted to, so I let them. After we finished climbing the stairs to get back to where we started, we met up with our taxi driver to go back to port. Once again, we lucked out with taxi drivers because this one took us to a lookout that looked over all of Šibenik.

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Once we were back on board, we started to get ready for the captain’s send-off cocktail and our last dinner on the ship. I went over to talk to Christiane before the presentation of the crew and, once the conversation was no longer in English, I went to sit with the Australian family. During the presentation, I ended up with two little girls in my lap, so clapping was interesting (Billie “helped” me clap). After the crew presentation, I went over to talk to Maizie. Together, we realized we were supposed to be on the deck, so we joined hands and ducked through the crew. After the captain’s speech and the compulsory champagne (which I avoided), we went down to dinner and got pictures with the staff before everyone else came down.

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At dinner, we four sat with Roger and Steven and his family. When Maizie came down, we added an extra chair to the “English-Speaking Table” for her.

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After dinner, we had some cocktails (I had grapefruit juice) and chatted before everyone (except, of course, Steven, Ben, and I) went to bed. The three of us sat up and chatted while I did some homework. After such a long day (and with the thought of our early rising in the morning), we went to bed around midnight.

Interested in more photos? You can see all of them from Summer 2012 and from Croatia at my Flickr page!

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

06/05/12: Hvar and Korcula, Croatia

We started out quite early for Hvar (the “H” sounds like “K” – Kvar), so the town was quiet when we got off the Zodiacs.

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While Lea and gramma tried to figure out where we were on the map, Gillian and I went into a cute little shop that had a lot of neat things and handmade jewelry. I wish I had gotten something from that shop before we left, it was really neat. After we left the shop, we went over to the famous church and looked at all the relics that were in it. After we left the church, we wanted to walk up to the fortress, but it was a one hour walk both ways and we only had two hours left. Instead, we walked around and stopped in as many shops as we could (not many). We then walked to a restaurant that had an aquarium in the floor; we were going to have tea there, but they weren’t open yet so we went next door. After tea, we got back on the ship and had lunch on our way to Korčula.

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Korčula wasn’t much bigger than Hvar, but there was a strip of shops. We walked around Korčula for a while before we got back on the ship. We really didn’t do much in either town because there wasn’t really much to do. It was a nice break from hurrying from place to place, though.

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The night’s entertainment consisted of the Liars Game where one person tells the truth and the other two tell a lie and the audience has to ask questions to figure out which story is true. It was tough for us English speakers to play because the other players were French, but I sat next to Christiane who would translate if Jacques forgot. Even though I didn’t know what was going on a lot of the time, it was still fun sitting next to Christiane.

Interested in more photos? You can see all of them from Summer 2012 and from Croatia at my Flickr page!

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

06/04/12: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Today we went back an hour and didn’t dock until late, so we all got to sleep in. They were intending to anchor outside Dubrovnik’s Old Town, but the weather was too bad for the Zodiacs to make it safely. I like docking a lot better than taking the Zodiacs because we can just get on and off without having to wait for the Zodiacs to come pick us up. However, we did have to wait for the bus to take us to the Old Town. When we were there, there were about 3 huge cruise ships in port, so the Old Town was crowded. We walked around and did some shopping (I found a bookstore that had the Harry Potter books in Croatian, so I got one) before we got back on the ship for lunch.

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After lunch, I checked on my class and went to talk to Simon, the shipmate that checks everyone in to the ship. After everyone woke up from their naps, we went back into Old Town with Roger. We walked over to the base of the mountain where we got into the gondola that took us up the mountain on a wire. The view from the top was incredible – we could see the sea and all of Old Town.

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After we went back down (22 or more per car), we went up and walked around the wall that surrounds the Old Town. The wall was about a mile long and had a lot of stairs, some that took us up into watch towers. After we walked around the wall, we were all ready to eat; we found a restaurant with wifi, so we checked in with our families while we ate.

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After dinner, we stopped and got crepes because we were missing them on the ship. I went off on my own to see if I could find a bracelet to add to my collection (I couldn’t) before arriving back at the table just in time to leave. We took a taxi almost back to the ship, but the taxi wouldn’t take us past the security since there were five of us in the four seats. Thankfully, it was a nice night. We got back on the ship in time for disco night. Since disco came too late for the majority of the passengers and too early for Ben, Steven, and I, not many people were dancing. When we started to disembark, Jean-Marc, a woman that spoke no English, and I watched the shipmates get ready. After we were on our way, I talked to Christiane, Jean-Marc, and an old Frenchman and his Brazilian trophy wife before going up on the pool deck where Steven, Gillian, and Ben were talking. The ship was on really rough water, so when the boys went back downstairs, Gillian and I went to bed.

Interested in more photos? You can see all of them from Summer 2012 and from Croatia at my Flickr page!

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

06/03/12: Paraga, Greece

We got up early this morning, Gillian and I. Though we didn’t get up as early as Lea and Gramma. We had breakfast before donning our swimsuits to go to the rafting on the Acheron River. We went from Zodiac to shore, shore to bus, bus to Acheron. The older of the Australian girls (Emily, 7) sat with me on the way up; we looked for our ship (but didn’t see it) and various animals (we saw cats, sheep, cows, and goats). Once off the bus, we started walking towards the river. According to the mythology, the river Acheron is where the entrance to the Underworld is, though it was further down than we were. Once we got to the river, we took off our shoes and waded in. The water was so cold it hurt my ankles and calves. I hung back from the more adventurous crowd (I stuck to the shore instead of going all the way in), but Jacques was nice enough (or obliged) to hang back a bit with me. I did manage to summon up the courage to cross the current that ran perpendicular to how I was walking, though I bet I was the slowest. We waded around and took a few pictures before heading back to where we came from so we could get on the rafts to go down the river.

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I was in the front of the raft next to the Australian grandma; Ben and Jacques were behind us with the mom and two girls in the back. Steven said their raft nearly flipped but, thankfully, because I was in a raft with the pregnant woman and the two kids, our ride was much smoother and more suited to picture-taking. The rafting was “heaps” of fun, as Emily described.

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After we made it down, we sat outside and had squares of Spanakopita (finally!). I was extremely glad I got to eat some Spanakopita before leaving Greece. After our extra half-hour of rest, we returned to the bus to return to Parga. Back in Parga, Gillian and I walked through some of the little shops before going to dip our toes in the water at the beach.

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I talked to the shipmate that was stuck on shore waiting for the Zodiac for a bit; I’m sure he gets bored just hanging around waiting for us. Once we got back to the boat, I went from place to place reading before having high tea with gramma, Lea, Gillian, and Roger. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve mentioned Roger. If I have, be patient; he’s traveling by himself as a photographer, though his wife is going to meet him in Barcelona for vacation. He’s from Seattle and he goes on cruises and takes pictures to sell to the company.

After high tea, I hung around the hip waiting for dinner. Dinner was a grand affair (of course), then we returned to the lounge for cocktails before going to bed.

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Interested in more photos? You can see all of them from Summer 2012 and from Greece at my Flickr page!

Posted in 2012 (Europe), Blog

06/02/12: Corinth Canal and Itea, Greece

Today, we opted to try to find our own way up to the ruins of Delphi. Thankfully, we didn’t depart from the ship until afternoon, so I go up early enough to see us go through the Corinth Canal and to have breakfast before I went back to sleep for a couple of hours. The Corinth Canal was cool; it was a very narrow canal with very steep rock walls on either side of it. While I was taking pictures of it, one of the wait staff (Ron) took a picture of me before he insisted I take a picture with Reynaldo who then insisted I take a picture with Ron. Just after that, Gillian came back, so Reynaldo took a picture of the two of us before taking one of just Gillian.

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After I got back out of bed, I showered and got ready for the day just in time for lunch. After lunch, I read my book while waiting to hear what we were going to do once we were off the ship; if we were going up to the ruins, I would need to change my shoes, if we weren’t, I wouldn’t. We did manage to find a taxi that would take us up to Delphi, so I went to change my shoes before we set off. Once we got to the site, we were told that the area between the theatre and the stadium would close in twenty minutes, so if we wanted to see the stadium, we would have to hurry. And hurry we did. Gillian and I booked it up the mountain so we could make it to the stadium before it closed. We blew past all the other sites (and the tour group from our ship) in an effort to make it up to the stadium. Once there, we saw that we probably could have made it by walking, but we wouldn’t have felt so accomplished. Alas, we couldn’t go down into the stadium, so we took pictures from the top and had a nice (presumably German) man take our picture.

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Once we had enjoyed the breeze, caught our breath, and marveled at the view, we started back down the mountain. This time, we stopped and admired the archeology on the way. We managed to find gramma and Lea again, so we walked down together.

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It’s amazing to think how old everything that’s left is; everything that we’ve seen on Delos and at Delphi was built before America was even discovered. Our history seems like such a long time, but it’s so short compared to everyone else’s. Once we were back at the bottom, we found our taxi driver and waited for him to wait for us. We mutually waited for about thirty minutes before we realized he was ready when we were. On our way back to the dock, he pulled into this big area that over-looked the mountains and the groves and the sea.

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He told us, in very broken English, that our shipmates wouldn’t see the same thing because they just got back on the bus and went straight back. Once back on the ship, we sat out by the pool before getting ready for dinner. After our four-course dinner (which was cut off before tea so we could see the Europa bridge), the night’s entertainment was dancing. I pretty much danced the night away. I started by teaching the two little Australian girls (Emily is 7 and Billie is 4) how to disco and do the sprinkler. Then I and a bunch of other passengers did the Twist (and then the Twist Again). I think after that, Jean-Marc danced with me and then I learned to Madison with Christiane. Once I finally got the hang of the Madison, I kept running into the piano before the song ended. Then I danced with Jean-Marc again before everyone except Steven, Jacques (the very-cute, very-French host), one French woman, and I went to bed. We kept dancing until 11:30p or so before we went to bed, too.

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Interested in more photos? You can see all of them from Summer 2012 and from Greece at my Flickr page!