Saturday, May 30, 2009


This was my last weekend in Amsterdam. I started packing and then planned to meet friends for drinks. Imagine my surprise when those canalside drinks turned into a surprise party for me. But this wasn't your typical going away drinks......

This one involved a private 3-hour boat tour of Amsterdam and dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. I knew I would miss our new friends after I left - but this just confirmed how lucky I am to have met such great people.
"Captain Seth" expertly guided us through busy canals.....

Kevin played the role of "person to be hit first" when entering the bigger canals around blind corners...

Courtenay and Brian organized the trip and packed tasty food and beverages for our "3 hour tour"

Brett made sure the chicken was lekker (it was)....

....and Amsterdam provided the sights.....

We ended the day with Ethiopian food. The portions were a bit skimpy but we made do.

This was my favorite day in Amsterdam all year. I'll miss the city - but I'll miss our new friends the most. I'm a lucky girl to have met them. The lobbying for them to visit us back in the US begins now :-)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Even Italian street vendors are on Facebook

Note the "Facebook" advertisement underneath the counter between the 4 fruit signs. I guess even Italian street vendors need a friend or two :-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A germ phobe's favorite Pepsi package

I drink my cola straight from the can, but in Rome I noticed this handy packaging: Pepsi can lids were covered with foil like you'd see on a yoghurt package. Simply peel it back and open the can like normal. Nifty!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Boating around the Island of Capri

When Brett and I were in Sorrento, we decided to take the ferry to Capri for the afternoon. The ferry ride alone is a nice way to see the Bay of Naples, but when you get to Capri, the real fun begins.

For about $80 you can rent a private boat for two hours that you can drive around the island by yourself. It holds up to 5 people, comes with an anchor, and you're given a map that shows you where you can swim and interesting sites to see along the way. The thing that made us laugh the most was the lack of liability waivers. We signed a short form saying we were responsible for damage to the boat and that we'd take responsibility for whatever happened - and were on our way.

It's a gorgeous island with jagged cliffs and beautiful blue waters. I only wish we'd spent more time there. We never made it to the top to see the town - but I'm sure the views would have been great.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cheap wine - a whole new level.

Note first, the cardboard carton of wine, packaged just like soy milk. Next note the price. Just 89 cents. Makes Franzia look classy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hand Held Cars

Need a new purse? These can be yours in Sorrento. Beep beep!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A day at Pompeii

Pompeii is one of those unique spots that you have to visit if you're in the Naples area. It's amazing to look at the well-preserved ruins, and you can't help but think about how advanced society was in 79AD.

It's even more incredible when you see the plaster casts of people as they died from the volcanic eruption. Unreal.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Freaky Fries

Not sure I want my fries to have freak. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Popcorn Gelato

While in Sorrento we stumbled upon a Gelato shop that would rival Baskin Robbins with their many flavors. One of the more unique ones was Popcorn gelato.

An interesting flavor....we didn't try it but I'm sure it was tasty...

Monday, May 18, 2009


After a too short trip to Greece, Brett and I flew to Italy to spend a few days in the Amalfi Coast area. Our hotel room had a view of the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius in the background.

The entire town is built into the cliffs. Very dramatic.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Santorini Wildlife

On Santorini there were tons of dogs laying about. They would lay in the middle of the walkway or in doors of shops. Most didn't have collars, but they appeared well fed - and I was encouraged to see that many local shops had food and water bowls outside for them.

Usually I hate seeing island dogs because they're skinny and skittish - but these dogs seemed to have it made. Every now and then one would jump up and bark and run down the path to greet another, and they'd tear through the streets barking happily away.

Cats on the other hand were also plentiful, but a bit skinny. They were excellent beggars though and really knew how to pour on the charm in an outdoor restaurant. A few pieces of my dinner always seemed to slip off my fork and fall to the floor. I just don't know how that happened, but the cats seemed appreciative. :-)

This kitty seemed content to just stare at me, knowing she was safe behind a wrought iron fence. It was the Santorini version of a Zoo :-)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A splurge

When Brett and I travel, we typically stay in hotels like a Holiday Inn Express - but every now and then we splurge for a night or 2 if the setting is truly spectacular. Santorini is one of those splurge worthy places. Our first hotel on Santorini (in Oia) had a cave pool and 2 infinity pools.

At our second hotel on Santorini (in Firostefani) we got upgraded to the honeymoon suite - which, in addition to having stellar views....
...also came with its own indoor 7 foot jacuzzi cave tub. We were SO spoiled. I didn't want to leave!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Incredible Santorini

I spent a week in Santorini in 1997, and remembered it as one of the most beautiful places I'd ever visited.

The white of the buildings and the blue of the ocean are absolutely stunning together.

We could have spent all day just staring at the water.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Delicious Greek Food

While in Greece we had some great food. There was the Chicken Gyro in Athens (with the free sausages and yogurt with honey), compliments of the owner....

...the "pineapple carpaccio with frozen coconut" at the awesome GB Roof Garden restaurant overlooking the Acropolis.....
....the shrimp saganaki in Oia...
..and breakfast on our hotel patio in Oia. Breakfast with a view always tastes delicious!

Athens - a city of interesting people watching

Last Saturday Brett and I set out for a trip to Greece and Italy. Our first stop was Athens. We were in town for just one night, but managed to see the expected sites like the Acropolis. We also saw some things we didn't expect like:

1) Having our cab driver pull over on a highway to pick up another customer who hopped in the front seat. (We later learned that shared cabs are quite normal in Greece - but surprisingly, that doesn't mean the fare gets shared too).

2) Watching a woman begging at a stop light who pulled up her shirt to flash her pregnant belly at drivers.

3) Butchers in the meat market hacking away at meat with such force that pieces of meat were flying through the air.

4) 10-15 African street vendors carrying "hobo sacks" of their wares while they were being "herded" up the street by police offers on scooters. Maybe they didn't have permits?

5) A unique way of "busing" tables at a restaurant with narrow aisles and high turnover. Simply place a plastic tablecloth on top of the cloth one. When the diners are done, scoop up the 4 corners and carry away. China plates and all.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Indonesian Rice Table

Brett and I are moving back to the Bay area in June, so before we leave, we have a lot of company visiting. One of the things that is popular here is Indonesian food, and in particular something called a "Rice Table." It's kind of like a buffet of 24 little dishes brought to your table so you can try them all. It's our 4th Rice table since coming here and whenever we take guests, it never disappoints.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Maoz Falafel

If you like falafel, I highly recommend Maoz, which is a vegetarian falafel restaurant with awesome falafel and an extensive fresh salad bar so you can customize your pita. Brett and I have eaten here many times in Amsterdam as the food is fresh, delicious, and cheap. We were excited to see that they are opening one in DC and also in Berkeley, CA - so even after moving back to the US we can get our Maoz fix. It's a good thing. See the sign below :-)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Crap: A short history

This is what we saw on our TV viewing guide the other day. We couldn't get to the actual show, but had fun joking about what what we'd see if we could :-) We originally thought it was an issue with translation - but it turns out that it's a real show about the history of poop. Who knew?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Queen's Day in Amsterdam

Queen's Day in the Netherlands is kind of like the 4th of July and Mardi Gras rolled into one. The day celebrates the birthday of Dutch royal, Queen Beatrix. It doesn't matter that her real birthday is a few months earlier. April 30th is the day.

Everyone wears orange, as that's the symbol of the Dutch royal family, and there are free concerts and fesitivies in the major squares.

The entire city turns also turns into the world's biggest flea market. It's the one day where anyone can sell things on the street without a permit, so families line the streets selling old clothes, toys, and other junk. Kids perform songs and play instruments hoping for cash, and entrepreneurs walk through the throngs selling snacks on trays. Competition for the best square of pavement is fierce. Days before the event, tape and paint with the word "bezet" (reserved) started appearing on the pavement. Location location location!

We enjoyed watching boats full of orange clad partiers glide down the canal with their booming sound systems, but left the center before it got too packed. The Dutch are great partiers and it was a fesitve atmosphere and a fun day.