Thu, 2006-03-23 12:52

Uffizi Gallery and Naked People

Submitted by michael on Thu, 2006-03-23 12:52.

Posted in | michael's blog »

This afternoon, we all went to the Uffizi Gallery. We had reserved tickets so we got right in. There were lots and lots of paintings and I can’t talk all about them. It went on and on. The one I remember most of all were the angels on the roof. My mom challenged me to a contest where I counted naked people in the paintings. When I was done, I had counted 172 and I got 20 Euro for a prize.

After the Uffizi I had gelato with my dad and went to the train station to get our tickets for next week’s trip back to London from Florence.

Wed, 2006-03-22 12:51

Santa Croce Basilica, Leather School

Submitted by michael on Wed, 2006-03-22 12:51.

Posted in | michael's blog »

We have had another big day in Florence. We visited the Basilica of Santa Croce. Lots of famous people are buried there. Michelangelo is buried there. He painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which I saw in Rome last week. He also sculpted The Pieta which was in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome too. Galileo is also buried in Santa Croce. He is the guy sung about in Queen’s Bohemian Rapsody, seriously, he is famous for inventing the telescope and proving that the earth is not the center of the universe, contrary to the Church’s teachings a the time when he was alive.

At the back of the Santa Croce is a school where people learn how to work with leather. Florence is famous for beautiful leather. I picked out a leather box and the man put my initials “MPL” on the top with gold leaf. I watched him do it and it was really neat.

Mon, 2006-03-20 12:51

Today I learned how to make Pasta!

Submitted by michael on Mon, 2006-03-20 12:51.

Posted in | michael's blog »

Today for dinner my mom had a cooking lesson and I got to come. What I did was learn to make fresh pasta. My mom made the dough with Teresa, the owner of the villa where we are staying. Then she put it through the pasta machine to make long, flat sheets. Then she gave the sheets to me and I laid them on a table.

Next, I used a roller with a zigzag edge to cut the pasta into shapes. After that, Teresa cooked the pasta and we all had dinner. I had three servings of dessert, which was very, very good!

Sun, 2006-03-19 12:50

Wow, The David is really big!

Submitted by michael on Sun, 2006-03-19 12:50.

Posted in | michael's blog »

This morning after breakfast and playing with the dogs, we took the bus into Florence to go visit the gallery to see Michelangelo’s The David sculpture. The line was really long and slow and we waited for about 1 ½ hours to get in. While we waited, we got gelato from a little shop down the street and it was DELICIOUS!

We got into the gallery and when you come into the room, you see a big statue of The David naked. When you got closer you could see all of the details. Even his eyes. The place in his eyes where the pupil would be was carved out in the shape of a heart. I thought that was very interesting.

Sat, 2006-03-18 12:49

More Steps to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Submitted by michael on Sat, 2006-03-18 12:49.

Posted in | michael's blog »

Today, we jumped in the car and drove to Pisa, about one hour away. When we got there, we had lunch, gelato…and then headed to find the Leaning Tower. It wasn’t very hard to find though, because it sticks up over everything even though it leans very much. We looked around at the church and the baptistery and then checked our bags so we could climb the tower.

Our time to climb was 5:30. When we started, you always could feel like you were going uphill. Then you feel like you are going downhill. It was like a spinning ride at the Boardwalk! We thought we got to the top, and then there was more climbing to go. Then we got to the very top and we looked around, at the bells (which ring every morning), but we didn’t know that there was even more climbing to do. So we went to the very, very top. And that was it. The top felt especially leaning. It was good to feel straight again after we walked all the way down.

Fri, 2006-03-17 12:48

463 Steps to the Top!

Submitted by michael on Fri, 2006-03-17 12:48.

Posted in | michael's blog »

This morning we had a good breakfast, played with the dogs, and headed into Florence to explore. My mom and I went to visit the Duomo. Hannah and Dad were already at the top of the dome. My mom and I decided to do it too. Climbing it was the hardest thing ever. It’s 463 steps all the way to the top. My mom and I climbed and climbed and climbed and a little bit more, and then when you thought you were there, you weren’t. You just had to go to another kind of staircase. Finally, we reached the top and from the top of the dome, I could see all of the rooftops in Florence.

I was proud to get to the top. Then we had to walk down, down, down, all the way to the bottom. It was really fun.

Thu, 2006-03-16 11:15

Eating, More Eating and Playing with Dogs

Submitted by michael on Thu, 2006-03-16 11:15.

Posted in | michael's blog »

This morning I played a long while with the dogs while my dad went to pick up a rental car. He arrived with a brand new Ford Focus. It’s pretty big for Italian standards. We went out for lunch. I had penne pasta with yummy cheese and meat. It was delicious. The bread was good too. I like Italian food! After lunch we went to a big supermarket where they have an underground parking garage. The first thing you do is get a cart. To do that, you have to put a 2 Euro coin into a safe on the cart. Then it releases the cart and you take the cart into the store. You know how at the airport they have those people movers that are like flat escalators? Well, the ramp up to the store that you get on from the parking garage is like that. It’s slanted up and the wheels on the cart lock onto the ramp so it doesn’t roll backwards.

We did our shopping and then we went back to our apartment. Hannah and I played with the dogs for a long, long time. We all had lots of fun. After that, our bell rang in our apartment and guess what? The woman who owns the villa Teresa, made us a beautiful dessert cake that has a sweet orange glaze. It looks delicious. Now I am going to go have some and go to bed.

Wed, 2006-03-15 11:14

Fun with Newfoundland’s in Florence

Submitted by michael on Wed, 2006-03-15 11:14.

Posted in | michael's blog »

Today we went outside to find Giotto. But first, before we even saw him, we saw his real family. He is the father of Amanda and Artu and the mother is named Luna. The are all purebred Newfoundland’s and soon there will be some pictures for my friends to see. It was so fun to play with these four GIANT dogs. They mostly black. Giotto is pure black; Artu is black with a white blaze on his chest. Amanda is pure black with some reddish fur on her back. And the mother, Luna, is black and white and her fur is curlier. They are all super, super, super cute and still remember my dogs Henry and Millie at home and love them so much. These dogs slobber a lot. Slobber on my clothes, on my sister, on my mom and dad, and each other. But they are great! Artu is the funniest of them all. He usually sticks his head between the bars on the deck and can’t wait to play and be petted. He can even jump in the air for a pinecone! They like pinecones so much. To chew on, to chase, all of it.

We had pizza for dinner and went to bed. I slept on the sofa bed while my sister slept in a queen sized bed in a room by herself.

Tue, 2006-03-14 11:13

Traveling to Florence

Submitted by michael on Tue, 2006-03-14 11:13.

Posted in | michael's blog »

Today we packed up, got some breakfast and got on the train to Termini in Rome. We left our luggage and spent the day exploring. We saw The Pieta again, and visited the Grotto below the Basilica where the tombs of previous Popes are buried. Then we ran to the Vatican Museum to see the Sistine Chapel. My neck hurt from looking up at Michelangelo’s amazing paintings. My favorite painting on the ceiling was one of Jesus healing a very sick man. I remember that story from Sunday school.

After that, we went back to Termini and met my dad, got our luggage and we got on another EuroStar to take us to Florence. We arrived in the evening and our friend PierFrancesco picked us up and took us to our new place, an apartment in a part of Florence called Castello. We were tired and ready for sleep, but first the owner Francesco brought his dog in to meet us. His dog’ name is Giotto and he is a Newfoundland. He’s HUGE and slobbery and super super super CUTE! If you can call a giant dog cute! I can’t wait to play with him!

Sat, 2006-03-11 11:12

Four Great Days in Rome

Submitted by michael on Sat, 2006-03-11 11:12.

Posted in | michael's blog | read more »

We had a great four days in Rome. Lots of experiences. The first day, Saturday, my mom woke up with the flu, so after a while, my dad took Hannah and I into Rome on the train to see some sights. First we saw the Colosseum. There is so much to know about the Colusseum but the most interesting thing I learned was that it was a place where the Roman gladiators killed exotic animals to entertain the citizens of Rome. This is one story that is kind of funny. One time when they tried to kill 29 elephants they killed the first and the others were too scared so they ran the opposite direction and knocked down half of the Colusseum. So they never had elephants anymore.

After the Colusseum, we walked to the Pantheon, which is a church with the biggest concrete dome in the world. It was amazing and there is a hole in the middle of the dome where the rain comes in. We had pizza again, this time it was thicker and very tasty. We went back on the train to Frascati to take care of my mom. She was glad to see us.

Sunday morning we rested, and read books and had a nice visit with my dad’s friend Alberto and his wife Christina. Hannah and I had gelato, I had vanilla. Then later we went for pasta at dinner and went to bed. My mom was starting to feel better.

Monday my mom and I went into Rome and I showed my mom the Colusseum. Then we took a taxi to the Pantheon where we met my dad and Hannah. After the Pantheon, we walked and walked to Saint Peter’s Square and visited Saint Peter’s Basilica. Going inside the Basilica was incredible and I thought it was a lot to see all at once. My favorite thing that I saw was the statue by Michelangelo called The Pieta. It was so real looking. I want to see it again.

After that, we walked back to the metro. After riding the metro we took a taxi to Alberto and Christina’s house for a yummy Italian meal. I had fettuccine with delicious red sauce and it was delicious! Alberto was so nice and drove us back to Frascati to our hotel. We went to bed and had a good night’s sleep.

Fri, 2006-03-10 11:11

Arriving in Italy and Traveling to Rome

Submitted by michael on Fri, 2006-03-10 11:11.

Posted in | michael's blog »

This morning when I woke up, I went down to have some breakfast. I had some cereal. Then we got packed and waited for the ship to get to the dock. Before we arrived at the port in Bari, Italy, my mom gave me some change to play in the video arcade. That was fun. I played this one game where you drive a boat and you race other boats. Our ferry docked in Bari and we got off of the ship.

My dad and I got a taxi to take us to the train station where we were going to leave our luggage until our train to Rome that afternoon. The taxi driver helped us get our luggage into the back of car. Then he added one more person to the taxi so Hannah had to sit on my mom’s lap so we would all fit. We got to the train station and left our luggage. Then we went for a walk and found an Internet Café. I played on for while and then went for a walk with my dad. He bought me a case for my cell phone so that we could tell Hannah’s phone from mine more easily. Then my mom and Hannah and I went to lunch and I had my first Italian pizza. It was delicious. It was different because it had more cheese on it, and the crust was really nice. After lunch, my mom took us for our first gelato. I had a two cones since it was so good. I had vanilla. It was yummy!

After lunch we went back to the train station to catch our train called the EuroStar. It’s a very fast train and comfortable and quiet. I loved it. We arrived at the train station called Termini in Rome and got a taxi to our bed and breakfast in Frascati, just outside of Rome. Tired and ready for bed, we slept.

Thu, 2006-03-09 11:10

On the Way to Italy – SUPERFAST!

Submitted by michael on Thu, 2006-03-09 11:10.

Posted in | michael's blog | read more »

This morning, my sister got up and woke me up for the special surprise that we were going to wake Kostas with. Kostas had been waking up Hannah in all of these loud ways. Hannah is hard to wake up and he thought it was funny to see what it took to get her up and going. So, she wanted to have revenge on him before we left. She planned it carefully. So, here’s what we did. First, she got up, tiptoed over to my room, woke me up and I went to go sit on the couch. She snuck into Kostas’ room very quietly and turned on her Nintendo DS which she had prepared a sound recording that had her voice telling him to get up. In the background of her recording was the “mine, mine, mine!” of the seagulls from Finding Nemo which he had been saying to us for a couple of days. So – he woke up but he was confused. That what happens when you just wake up! It was funny and I think Hannah was happy to have her revenge. I liked helping her.

Then we got packed up and Kostas took us to say goodbye to his mom and then dropped us off at the train station. It was hard to say goodbye to him. I had so much fun.

We got on the train almost right away and had a 1 hour ride to the our next stop. Then we caught another train for 3 hours that took us to the port where we would catch the ferry. The problem with the train was that the First Class seats were in the car right after the diesel engine. It was so noisy that we couldn’t even think! It was great to get off of that train.

When we got to the port we went to the Superfast Ferry ticket office and got our tickets for a sleeping cabin. Then we walked across the street to get onto the Superfast Ferry. I had been looking forward to this ferry for 3 weeks. This boat was big. It had 10 levels, 6 for cars and trucks and the rest for people. We found our cabin and it was at the front of the ship overlooking where the captain’s quarters were. Our cabin was very nice. It had a shower and bathroom and four single beds. Two of the beds were up above just like on a train. Only they were way nicer. The shower was the nicest that we have seen in the whole of our trip so far, I know kind of weird, but it’s true, very true!

Tue, 2006-03-07 11:09

The Night Ferry from Paros & Dinner with Evi

Submitted by michael on Tue, 2006-03-07 11:09.

Posted in | michael's blog | read more »

Tuesday - Today we visited a beautiful church. I lit a candle that was even taller than me. We put 4 Euro in a box and got a very tall candle that I lit. Then I put it down into this one bar and it started to melt. Then we went back to our hotel and Anna called us to see if we would like help with our luggage and to have coffee together. We said yes, so we brought all of our luggage to their family store and my mom had Greek coffee. I had a lemony tasty, very good drink. We were hungry so we went to go have souvlaki. Souvlaki is a yummy roll with chicken and French fries and onions and tomatoes all rolled in pita bread. You eat it all together in tasty bites.

After dinner, we saw the ferry come in and got on the Blue Star Ferry. This time that we went on the Blue Star Ferry it was packed FULL of people. They were all returning to Athens after the holiday weekend. Anna our friend and her mother were also returning to Athens. My mom and Anna talked for a long time on the ferry ride back to Athens. This ferry ride was one where you get to Athens at midnight. Luckily, our friend Kostas surprised us by picking us up. That was really nice. Then we got back and had a great night’s sleep.

Wednesday – This morning we got up, had a shower, and I went with Kostas' to his dentist appointment for his root canal. Poor Kostas, it only took ten minutes though. That’s a very short time, but I bet it hurt! After that he took me to Goody’s for lunch which is not exactly a fast-food place, but way better. I had a double cheeseburger, plain with catsup only, French fries and a drink. After that we met my dad and my dad and I went down to the train station to get our tickets for the train ride to the ferry we would be taking to Italy the next day. We got the tickets after going to three offices which each said to go to the next. Then we saw someone with a Aural Pass like ours, so we asked them which line to stand in. The pointed to the one that they were in and we were successful in getting the tickets at last.

Mon, 2006-03-06 09:35

The Island of Paros

Submitted by michael on Mon, 2006-03-06 09:35.

Posted in | michael's blog | read more »

Sunday - after we got up and had breakfast, we rented a red car and explored the island of Paros. We had lunch in a little fishing village called Naoussa. We had lots of good things to eat and then had ice cream. We drove around the island to a place called Golden Beach. It was really quite windy. We saw windsurfers on the sea. We took out the kite, we flew it for a little bit, not too high, I loved flying my kite. Then we started going back. On our way back we saw a helicopter land in someone’s back yard. It was amazing! I helped to find our way on the map. Before I went to bed, I called my teacher Mrs. Dominguez in Scotts Valley and we talked all about my trip and how the class is doing. I was happy to hear that Ivan is back in the class and that there are two new boys that joined the class. She said that she would say hello to everyone and tell them that I miss them. It was a very full day.

Monday – Today after breakfast our friend Anna’s brother named Manuel picked us up to go to their parents home for a traditional Clean Monday meal. It was great to see Anna and meet her family. Her mom and dad were very nice and welcomed us into their home. Their dog recently had puppies. There were two puppies left, and Hannah and I had great fun playing with them. The puppy that I liked best I really wanted to bring home. But I still love my dogs just as much and I’ll have to leave this puppy here.

Anna just finished building a beautiful home next door to where her parents live. It was fun to explore it and see the natural stones she chose for building her house. After a while, we sat down for a delicious traditional meal for the beginning of Greek Orthodox Lent. The Greek Orthodox people celebrate Easter one week after we do. So their Lent starts a week later. We had special bread that look braided, is covered in sesame seeds and doesn’t have anything to make it puff up. It was yummy. They only eat this bread one day a year, today! The table was covered with all kinds of good foods including Greek salad with feta cheese on it, olives, shrimp, octopus, calamari, yummy big beans in red sauce and olive oil, wine, beer and coca cola. Clean Monday starts off the 40 days of not eating meat. The next time they will eat meat will be on Easter Sunday when they will have barbequed lamb.

Sat, 2006-03-04 09:34

Blue Star to Paros

Submitted by michael on Sat, 2006-03-04 09:34.

Posted in | michael's blog »

This morning we got up and packed to leave for the island of Paros. We had a good breakfast and then we went to look around in the shops. I found a place where they sold soccer jerseys. I got a jersey just like the Greek National Soccer Team. It’s blue and white, just like the Greek flag. After we left the shop, we went past a place where some men were pouring new concrete and they had just finished smoothing it perfectly. Suddenly a dog ran through the concrete, leaving his pawprints behind. You should have heard what those guys said. It was in Greek, but I think I knew what they said! It was funny to me (not to them!).

We got onto the ferry and I wanted to do my schoolwork. We were in the loud place so we moved into the quieter place where there was only one TV in it. My parents let me watch one very good half of a movie that I had already seen before but it was very funny. Then I did my schoolwork very quickly so I could explore the ship some more.

We arrived in Paros at night and walked to our hotel. Our room is not the best, but downstairs in the lobby, they have a talking bird. It knows mostly Greek but knows three English words. They are hello, goodbye and cuckoo-cuckoo (like the clock behind him).

Fri, 2006-03-03 09:34

The Island of Santorini

Submitted by michael on Fri, 2006-03-03 09:34.

Posted in | michael's blog | read more »

Today we explored the harbor area of Naxos and climbed up too many steps to the top of the hill. I couldn’t wait to get down. The ferry came and we boarded for our trip to the island of Santorini. It was a four hour trip and I went to Goody’s to get lots and lots of French fries and burgers. I did schoolwork on the ferry too.

When we came into the port of Santorini, my dad and I went out onto the deck of the ship and saw houses on cliffs. They were all white. Once we got into the port, we found a taxi that took us to the top of the hill to our hotel. Our room in the hotel was a great room. Wait, no…it was a fantastic room! The reason why is because you go in, look to your left and there’s a little stairway. You go up the stairs and there are two beds. Our own private loft. My mom and dad’s bed was downstairs and was queen sized.

We unpacked and then went to explore the town of Fira. We were hungry so we went to a place called Cafй Classico. We sat outside and looked out over the volcano’s caldera. The sea was a light blue color and different than the Pacific Ocean. It was beautiful too.

The next day we got up and went to breakfast at a restaurant over the sea again. I had a waffle with fresh strawberry ice cream, crunched up Oreos, whipped cream and to top it all off, a Greek flag! It was delicious. After breakfast we went for a long walk (uphill) and ended up at a car rental place. I wanted to rent a SmartCar, but we would have needed two since they have only two seats. Our rental car was a old blue French car. It got us to where we wanted to go and that was what really mattered. First we got petrol, then we stopped at a place where they sold kites. We bought a kite in the shape of a hexagon in the colors of the Greek flag, blue and white. This Monday is called “Clean Monday” and is the start of Lent for the Greek Orthodox Church. Greek people have picnics and fly these kites on Clean Monday. We are going to have a picnic with our friend Anna on that day.

Wed, 2006-03-01 09:33

On our way to the island of Naxos

Submitted by michael on Wed, 2006-03-01 09:33.

Posted in | michael's blog »

This morning my sister and I headed out with Kostas to his dentist appointment. We did schoolwork while we waited for him. Then we met my mom and dad and we went to the Blue Star Ferry office to buy our tickets to the islands of Naxos, Santorini, Paros and then back to Athens. We are going to the islands for six days.

After we got the tickets, we headed to the metro to take a train to the ferry. We got on a HUGE HUGE ferry boat. There were two levels for people to sit on and three and one/half levels for cars and trucks to be in. The ferry had four restaurants, including Goody’s where I had lots of French fries. My dad and I explored the ship, finding the big open deck outside and the cabins like the ones we will be in for our trip to Italy. We also found the ship’s souvenier shop and reception area.

There were TV’s every five rows, just like in an aircraft. My mom said that they were showing Greek soap operas. They were very loud and the people on the TV were always either kissing or yelling at each other. Anyway, we got to the island of Naxos at night and walked to our hotel and went to bed.

Tue, 2006-02-28 09:32

Athens and the Acropolis

Submitted by michael on Tue, 2006-02-28 09:32.

Posted in | michael's blog »

Today we went to see the Acropolis. The Acropolis is a HUGE place with a beautiful temple at the top called the Parthenon. The Parthenon is different than the temples in Egypt because it looks way more newer. It is a lot more finished looking even though it is being repaired. It was very windy there and you could hear the wind scream through the temple.

After visiting the Acropolis, we went back to the center of Athens and Kostas helped me find a pair of sunglasses. Then we went to find some lunch. On the way, Kostas surprised me by going to a barber shop. I had very, very, very, long hair since I haven’t had a haircut since we left Scotts Valley (2 months ago!). The man that cut my hair was actually a person who styles hair for models for magazines my mom said I can’t mention.

I got a great haircut and it felt very, very good. After that, we went downstairs to an underground restaurant. My dad ordered tiny fish that came whole, heads, eyes, tails, the whole fish. Kostas promised me a super scoop of ice cream if I would eat the fish whole. So I did. And I had three more because he told me I could have more ice cream if I ate them. The brain of the fish was very, very squishy and the tail was crunchy. They were very tasty and I would eat them again for more ice cream!

That night we had a really nice dinner with Kostas’ mom. I had chicken and potatoes. After dinner, I got my ice cream payoff. I only had one scoop, so Kostas still owes me more ice cream soon. It was a full day and we went to sleep.

Mon, 2006-02-27 09:31

A Visit to Hydra

Submitted by michael on Mon, 2006-02-27 09:31.

Posted in | michael's blog »

Today we went on the Hydrofoil for 30 minutes to get to the island of Hydra. Being on the Hydrofoil was not what I was expecting. I thought that you would really lift up into the air, but instead the boat seemed very tilted. Anyway, when to got to Hydra we climbed thousands and thousands of steps looking for a restaurant for lunch. We took the long way. When we got to the restaurant, we ordered our lunch and my mom and dad started talking with an artist who was painting signs for the restaurant. He was kind enough to give me an art lesson that I enjoyed. He showed me how to draw boats and buildings. As a thank you for the lesson I signed my picture and gave it to him.

We got on the Flying Catamaran which was a huge catamaran that said Vodafone on it and headed back to Athens. When we got to Athens in the harbor, we took the subway to where our friend Kostas’ business is in the center of Athens. It was fun to see him again. He took us out to a traditional Greek dinner and I had chicken souvlaki. It was yummy!

Sun, 2006-02-26 07:57

The Sea, Friends, Island Life

Submitted by michael on Sun, 2006-02-26 07:57.

Posted in | michael's blog »

This morning after taking the most unusual shower ever (really low!), we had waffles for breakfast. Kostas and Evi joined us and then we went for a long walk along the beach. We got to skip stones. I got to see a very, very cool boat called a hydrofoil. It went very, very fast, and once it goes fast enough, it lifts up onto big skis. We are going to go on one tomorrow when we go to an island called Hydra and then back to Athens.

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