My Stupid Mouth

"I just want to be liked, I just want to be funny. Looks like the joke's on me..."

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Location: Iowa, United States

Monday, January 31

Back to School (Almost)

Although I have been home for nearly a week now, I haven't posted because I wanted to wait until I got back to school, where I have the highly-coveted LAN connection instead of this incredibly lame 56k modem setup at home. Ironically though, I am posting from home. I will post the best pictures from the trip and wrap up stories at school. Hopefully, I will post all of the pictures in the photoblog (see left panel), but that could be a lengthy task.

While you're waiting, why don't you check out this Napoleon Dynamite soundboard? I was talking to someone the other day who suggested that they will "probably make a sequel" because Napoleon is so wildly popular. I keep wondering if a sequel would just ruin the whole thing or if it would actually be as good as the first. For now I am hoping they don't make one, but if they do, I'd see it.

Have you heard yet about the Cubs 'possibly' trading Sammy Sosa to the Orioles (I say 'possibly' because it just has to be approved by the baseball commissioner, Bud Selig)? I say good riddance. Sammy is a man who is out of his prime - on the slippery downhill slope that so many professional athletes refuse to get off or even acknowledge.

I need to go finish laundry/packing before I leave for school in a few hours.

Sunday, January 23

Istanbul, Turkey

Sadly, I believe this will be my last post from the trip.We are now in Istanbul, taking the last few days of the trip slowly. We visited out last sites today, and tonight and tomorrow we have to write a final paper. Mine is about the passage in Acts about Paul in Athens. We visited the Blue Mosque yesterday, and today we saw Aya Sofia, the National Archaeological Museum of Turkey and Topkapi Palace. All were incredible.

Interestingly, yesterday afternoon we saw Dave Chapelle as we were walking back to our hotel. When we noticed that it was him, he got upset and yelled something about how he came here to 'escape us people.' A couple of people in our group snuck pictures, but I did not. I thought it was a huge coincidince to see him here.

I don't have much more to say except that although it has been great studying this part of the world, it will be very good to get home.

Thursday, January 20

Selçuk, Turkey

Hello again, this time from Selçuk, Turkey. The last three days have been somewhat paradoxical in that they have been extremely interesting - some of the coolest days on the trip - yet for all three I have been ill. I am not sure if it was something that I ate or drank or what, but it has not been fun. I woke up on Tuesday feeling nauseous to the point that I had to lie down in my hotel room during our morning class and miss the first part of the site that day. I tried to sleep in the bus to no avail, and I finally threw up. I say finally because whatever I threw up is what was making me feel so bad. I was able to go swimming at Hieropolis springs in the afternoon, but felt crappy again that night. The last two days I have had diarrhea, but I am finally beginning to feel better... please knock on some wood if it is nearby.

Last night a few classmates and I, after eating dinner, met a man who was selling carpets and he told us that his wife was from California and invited us in to his shop. We ended up chatting for nearly 3 hours with him and his wife. Apparently she met him when she was traveling five years ago and the rest of the story wrote itself, so she moved here and now they live a humble life selling carpets, among other things. We had many cups of apple tea (which is huge in Turkey) which they offered to us out of hospitality. It was a really great experience.

(The guy next to me in the Internet Cafe just let out a huge fart and nobody even reacted or said anything. My initial reaction was to laugh, but I decided I didn't want to take the chance to offend anyone by doing so. Perhaps I should offer the room my own personal fart as a tribute to my comfortability with this foreign culture. Perhaps not.)

We spent today at Ephesus, which is where Paul writes the letter of Ephesians to, and is also mentioned in Acts. The theatre there is the biggest one we have seen - in its time it would have seated over 24,000 people. We sat at the very top of it while one of our classmates read Acts 19 in a normal speaking voice and we could hear it perfectly, as if it were microphoned. Unreal. It rained today, which was a bummer, but it didn't take much away from the grandeur of the city. My photos will do the talking when I get back.

Tomorrow we visit the Ephesus museum and the Church of Saint John, and then on Saturday we fly to Istanbul which is where we stay for the remainder of the trip. It will be very bittersweet to leave this part of the world.

Can you hear me now? Good.

Sunday, January 16

Bergama, Turkey

First, forgive me if this post looks strange... the keyboard here is quite weırd. Second, it may be short because İ don't have much time. I wıll probably post again ın Selçuk.

After Kalambaka and Meteora, we went to Thessaloniki (thess-uh-lo-NEE-kee) for two days and nights. It was awesome there. I wish I had more time to write about it. Two days ago we stayed in Alexandroupolis, Greece in the nicest hotel so far - and better yet, it was right on the ocean. I just wish we could have stayed there for more than one night.

After crossıng a straight which I can' remember the name of, we are now in Bergama, the ancient site of Pergamon. The weather is considerably colder here, and by consıderably colder I mean absolutely freezıng.

Tuesday, January 11

Kalambaka, Greece

I'm sitting at SurfCity Internet Café in Kalambaka, Greece, near Meteora. We just had lunch at a fast food place (I had yet another gyro, which I love) and we spent all morning at three different monasteries in Meteora. I am almost going into overload because of all of the amazing sites that we get to see day after day. The three monasteries that we visited were St. Stephens, Holy Trinity, and Varlaam. All of the monasteries were built in the twelve or thirteen hundreds, and all of them sit on top of these huge rocks - of which I don't know the technical name. We got to actually go inside them and see the monks that live and work there. The inside of the chapels were gorgeous, but they wouldn't allow any photographs. The view from the top was breathtaking. I took this one picture of me on top of a rock with the mountains in the background that is amazing! I am getting really sad that I am unable to upload pictures, but that's okay.

Let's rewind. Two days ago we visted several sites. The first was the Areopagus, a giant rock near the Acropolis where they would hold trials back in the (ancient) day. This is the rock where Paul stood and spoke the Gospel to the Athenians, which is very well documented in Acts 17:16-34. Read it if you get a chance. It was unreal to be reading it on the actual rock upon which it was spoke.

Next we visited the ancient Roman Agora. It was very interesting, and there was another cool temple, but it wasn't my favorite thing we have visited. We had lunch, and then we took an hour tram ride down to the beach. We didn't do anything the entire afternoon except sit on the beach and watch the sunset. The water felt like it was just above freezing, so all I could do was wade to my calves, but it was great nonetheless. I wanted to get the perfect picture, so while I was there I took 55 pictures, and I now have it down to like 25 or so from just the beach alone. It was so peacful, and it was the first time I have seen the actual ocean. I have been to NYC and seen the harbor, but I wouldn't count that as the ocean. This I would count. Too bad I couldn't have been spending it with people who are really close to me... I am thinking of all of you.

That night we had a Greek woman that my professor knows host us at a restaurant that she likes. She taught us traditional Greek dances which were fun to do, but they got old really fast and the woman that was teaching us was getting confused, so we were really confused too. It was fun though. The food was unbelievable. They brought us as appetizers cheese pie, tzaziki, and fried zucchini. I am glad that I have been trying alot of the food, because it is all really good. Mom, if you're reading this I hope you're proud. The main course was really good pork. I like Greek food.

We packed our bags and left Athens yesterday morning and traveled to the ancient city of Delphi. This is where the famous Oracle of the ancient world was located, and the whole city is built into the side of a mountain. I am running out of superlatives to descibe these wonderful sites. Wow. At the top of the city is a Roman stadium, where they used to hold the Pythian games every 4 years. All four guys on the trip and one of the girls raced in the stadium from one end to the other, just like the ancient athletes would have, and I won. It was great. Not so much afterwards, when I felt like I was going to throw up (it was just under 200 meters), but the feeling of victory was nice. We ate lunch in modern Delphi in a restaurant with an amazing view, and then we rode the bus all the way to Kalambaka, which is where I am now.

I hope all is well at home. I love you all.

Saturday, January 8

Athens, Greece - Day 4

The past couple of days have been really great. We are starting to get more familiar with the city and the people and some of the language, which make alot of things easier and more relaxed.

Yesterday we spent the day at ancient Corinth, where the Apostle Paul spent 18 months of his life and later wrote two letters, 1 and 2 Corinthians. The ruins in Corinth were alot more "hands-on," in that we could walk around and touch alot more stuff than we could at the Acropolis. There was a museum right by the site and it had some incredible stuff. I just got such a rush from walking down the same road that Paul did nearly 2000 years ago to bring the Good News to the Corinthians. The temple of Apollo was in ancient Corinth, one of the oldest standing forums. It was built in the 6th century BCE, and the backdrop was what is known as the Acrocorinth, a big mountain with a fortress on the top overlooking the city of Corinth and the sea. Again, I took lots of beautiful pictures that I regret I am unable to post. If you are really interested, you can Google a image search of Ancient Corinth. Here you can see the temple of Apollo with the Acrocorinth in the background. On the way back to Athens we stopped and ate at a Greek fast food restaurant called Goody's and then walked on the bridge over the Corinth canal. It was breathtaking. It took 9 seconds for my spit to hit the water.

Last night we ate at the cutest restaurant I have ever seen which was on the cutest street I have ever seen (and I have no problem saying they were cute... you would too if you had seen them). When you picture a romantic night on the town, you picture this road and this restaurant. We had a chicken meal with a name that I can't remember but it was delicious. We also all got served wine, which I tried and thought was gross, so I stuck to the water.

This morning we went to the National Archaeological Museum of Athens for the entire morning. It was almost too much for me to take in. It had a ton of really interesting jewelry, pottery, sculptures, etc. I took several pictures there of my most favorite items... I am trying to save pictures. I think the memory card holds about 300 and I have 79 right now. I have deleted several... but at this pace I will be way over the mark. Oh well. We were going to go to the ancient agora of Greece today, but we got there too late, so we just ended up having the afternoon off, which most of us spent shopping. I bought a Greece national soccer team jersey which is pretty kick-butt.

Tomorrow we visit a couple of sites in the morning and then I think in the afternoon we are going to take a tram down to the beach. I hope those of you who are freezing in a foot of snow think about me chilling on a beach on the Mediterranean sea... it really should warm your heart. After dinner tonight some of us might take a tram to the top of one of the hills and enjoy the view of Athens at night and snap a few pictures.

I am in Greece.

Thursday, January 6

Athens, Greece

Greetings from Bits and Bytes, an internet café in the heart of Athens. It has been the most unbelievable few days already.

We got off the plane in Athens and went straight to our hotel. The Hotel Parthenon. Named so because about two blocks away stands the most impressive sight in all of Greece - the Acropolis (on which the Parthenon stands). Everything here looks so cool. I have said many times already that I feel like I am in a movie, or I feel like I am in a video game that takes place in Greece or some other European country. The hotel is nice - it's not the Hilton, but its not a Motel 8 either. This morning I woke up at about 6 because I couldn't sleep and did my homework for today which was to read an article and then journal about it. I had cracked open the balcony door so that the room would cool down, and while I was journaling, I felt compelled to write down was I was experiencing. It is short, but this is what I wrote: Church bells and singing birds greet the rising of the aged Athenian sun. The morning air is crisp. Cool.

The group got together after breakfast and headed up to the Acropolis, a few minutes' walk from the hotel. I didn't need a jacket, even though the air was cool, and it turned out to be the nicest day I have ever experienced in January. We walked past the Theatre of Dionysus up to the Propylaia. As soon as we got through the Propylaia, the Parthenon came into view. It is one of the coolest, most majestic things I have ever seen. We were also on one of the tallest of the four hills of Athens, and the view of the city was breathtaking. The city of Athens sprawled out in every directions until the mountains or the sea stopped it. I have seen many pictures of the Acropolis, most recently on the televised events of the Olympic games, but pictures cannot do it justice (although I took plenty). The place is UGE. No that is not a typo, it is "huge" without an "h" for emphasis - I'll explain later for those who don't understand. I really don't know how to describe how beautiful the whole thing was. It was just so cool to see all of the history and passion and artwork and everything.

We went back down and sat in the Theatre of Dionysus and talked about the article we read, which discussed the removal of some really cool and important stuff from the Parthenon. It just so happened that a Greek man was near us and he actually talked to us about his take on the whole thing. He had a real passion in his voice and it was so cool to hear him talk about his homeland and his people with such pride. We were then given the afternoon off - to do whatever we please. That is why I am writing this right now. I have been walking around the Plaka for about an hour and had to ask a few people in order to find this place, but I got here.

I am having a blast so far, and I am excited for what is to come. It has been great to get emails from people already and to be able to keep in contact with home. Unfortunately, I am unable to upload pictures right now but I have already taken a bunch of really good ones - thanks to the Mountain Man for letting me borrow his camera.

I will probably write again two or three times from this same café before we head to Meteora. Tomorrow we take a bus and visit Corinth for the whole day.

Ah, yes. I forgot to mention that I purchased The Da Vinci Code while in the Amsterdam airport. I wanted to buy it earlier but I didn't want to have the hardback copy because of the wear and tear this trip would inevitably bring. The lady that sold me Angels & Demons told me that the Code was not available in paperback. Oh but it is... just not in the US.

I will post again soon.

Wednesday, January 5

Amsterdam Schiphol, Holland

I am sitting in the International Airport of Amsterdam Holland. We have a 4 hour layover here and then another 3 1/2 hour flight on top of the already 10 or so hours we have spent flying from Minneapolis to Chicago and then from Chicago to here.

Today's interesting fact that I can't believe I didn't know: The Netherlands and Holland are one in the same. I literally walked into this airport and said "Why does everything say Holland? I thought we were in The Netherlands." My professor, Melanie (MJD, as it were) looked at me and smiled as if I were making my usual sarcastic joke. Oh, but I was not. I figured it out a few minutes later and kept my idiocy to myself. I am in Holland. I am in the Netherlands.

I finished Angels & Demons. AMAZING. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I loved it. I couldn't put the book down. I wanted to get to the end of the book so badly but I didn't want it to end. Anyway, I only have 3 minutes of internet time left. I am exhausted already. It's 7:20am here.

Almost to Athens.