Wednesday, October 31, 2007



I'm Katie. Remember me?

It is okay if you don't. To be honest, I don't remember me. This girl traipsing around the world on a cruise ship seems so far away.

Obviously I'm home now.
And I miss it.
I wanted to post this because, in my Chicago apartment with my cats and my clothes and my bed...I miss that life that you so very kindly read about.

My sister asked me if I had ended my blog yet. No. No, I haven't. I'm not ready to. I'm still processing some stuff.

So, thank you for you patience. We will all get there some day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

In My Country, Comedy Laughs at You!

Istanbul. Night. Taxim Square. Cool people everywhere. Oh, and Steve and I.

We didn't have a plan, and ambling around tends to lead to shopping with leads to overdraft notices from Chase Bank.

Steve and I are two of the most indecisive people in the world, only a scant more decisive than dead people. So, after a fun game of, "What do you Want to do? Well, Whatever you Want to do. I Don't Care, What do you Want to Do?" we ran into Cody.

Cody did not want to play "What do you Want to do? Well, Whatever you Want to do. I Don't Care, What do you Want to Do?" so we mentioned to him that we had seen a shady-looking neon sign during our ambling that said "Old City Comedy Club." Steve and I thought it would be awkward to go in there and watch a comedy show that was all in Turkish. Cody also thought it would be awkward to watch a comedy show all in Turkish, but in an awesome way.

So, we decided to go. The club itself was very ImprovOlympic-like, with cabaret-style seating and a full bar in the back of the house. ImprovOlympic (or i.O.) is the theater that both Steve and I perform at weekly in Chicago.

There was also a cat that roamed free in the theater, which is also very i.O.-like, as Charna, the owner, lets her dogs roam free during shows.

Five gentlemen performed for about 10 minutes each. I don't know what we thought was going to happen, but, surprise surprise, we didn't understand anything that was going on and tended to enjoy the folks that used a lot of gestures and moved around a lot.

The closing act was a dude who looked like a Turkish Andy Samburg and seemed to be a pretty popular guy. The crowd was very happy to welcome him to the stage.

And when I use the word, "welcome" I mean welcome. The main difference between the Old City Comedy Club and any comedy club in the States (besides the gratuitous use of the Turkish language, of course) is the fact that the audience is very attentive and warm and they...well...listen. No one heckled. In fact, the "jokes" were more like stories. The comic would take his time, often going two to three minutes before the joke even came. Either the audience was really happy with crappy comedy, or they were used to a style of comedy that was more anecdotal than bump-set-joke-repeat.

We ended up leaving during intermission as one can only take so much non-English stand-up.

But, kudos to those Turkish comics and their audiences for realizing that, as an art, comedy is often a dish best served slowly.

Oh, and for realizing that when someone else is on stage, that means shut-up.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

June 20, 2007

Charles Bach had his birthday on the ship, so he is in good company, as Matt Craig and *ahem* I also had our birthdays at sea.

For Charles, we did the traditional Big-Ass-Group-of-Peeps-at-Cagney's routine, followed by cocktails. Charles' wisdom teeth are coming in, so Edge bought him a teething ring.

"It works surprisingly well," he said. "I see why 2 year olds get into this."

As we had cocktails afterwards in the swanky and traditionally uninfested with anyone but us Star Bar, Dave and Steve began singing piano melodies. The normal piano melody couple had been kicked off earlier that week for *enjoying each other* on deck 14.

Charles is now married. He married a very successful lawyer from Poland named Magdelena on 07/07/07.

The Light Melody Couple are presumably naked somewhere in public.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


The only person who came to visit us, besides Steve's family, was a gentleman who Steve has been friends with since they were, like, three. His name is Matt Flynn.
Most people working on cruise ships get visitors when the boat is in Puerto Rico or Italy or Spain. But Matt visited us when we were in the port town of Alexandria, Egypt.

This was because he, too, was in Alexandria as he has been traveling the world for quite some time now.

By traveling the world, I don't mean going to Europe and drinking in pubs with other Americans. I mean like sleeping in mosquito-infested tents in Kenya ("I usually spend the extra two dollars for the net. Otherwise, I'm guaranteed malaria," he told us) or hitching rides with sheep farmers in the Sudan. Like, the WORLD.

It was definitely bizarre for Matt to go from seeing the parts of the world that have literally nothing to then bunking one night on one of the biggest, most lavish cruise ships out there. He wasn't judgemental about it, but Steve and I still felt the need to apologize for everything we had. Like clean sheets. Changed daily. Not by us. You get the point.

Here is a picture of Matt post-sip of a delicious glass of orange juice that was delivered, free of charge, to our room that morning, along with cereal and an assortment of toast and muffins and other sundries. The steward who delivered our room service was Kenyan.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


We made it to the Acropolis. It was about 147 degrees out, but we made it.

Just to be clear, "Acropolis" refers to any high city, or the edge of a town (from the Greek "acron," which means edge, and "polis," which means city). The Acropolis in Athens is a complex that includes, among other things, the Parthenon, which is a temple devoted to Athena Parthos, or Athena the Virgin, the Temple of Athena Nike, or Athena of Victory, The Theater of Dionysus, and a lot of sand and rubble and fat tourists.

There is a very good possibility that I am suffering from Important Stuff Immunity. We have seen so much in so little time, that I could be done with freaking out over ancient runes. Perhaps nothing short of Athena herself welcoming me into her famous monument would have satisfied me as we walked up the slippery rocks of the Acropolis.

But I don’t think that is it. I think one of the reasons the Acropolis as a whole is so disappointing is that the site itself is more picked over than T.J. Maxx on a Friday.

A dude named Lord Elgin took pretty much all the beautiful sculptures form the Parthenon back to England with him. Back in the 1800s you didn’t bring back postcards and t-shirts of ancient treasures – you brought back the treasures themselves. It seemed like everywhere we looked, there is a picture of what was there and an explanation of where it is now.
This is the East pediment of the Parthenon.

I saw more of the East Pediment when I was at the British Museum.

I think what I will remember most from the Acropolis is this girl in the green and white striped shirt.

When we were making our way up the stairs to the Parthenon, this chunker climbed over some rocks and smacked Jennine in the face with her sandal. She looked Jennine in the eye and didn't say a word of apology. She made me so. Angry. I'm angry just thinking about her, dressed like a pack of Fruit Stripe gum.
Sometimes the most innocuous thing becomes your clearest memory.

Cody agreed. He told us, “I remember going on this awesome field trip in grade school to the Mayan runes. But the only thing I still remember about the trip is that Robby Herrera got detention for throwing a juice box at a rival school’s bus.”

He paused. "Actually it might have been Incan runes. But, I know for a fact the juice box was a Capri-Sun."

Sunday, July 15, 2007


My biggest piece of luggage (a 52" long duffel bag) is still happily sitting in Heathrow airport.

It had everything in there. Even stuff they tell you to always pack in your carry-on. Like my house keys.

Worst of all, though, it had all my presents in there. I bought a lot of stuff - small stuff - for a lot of people. And I was very excited to give them a piece of my journey and to let them know I was thinking about them while far away.

Until then, here is a picture of the Blue Mosque.

And the inside of the Hagia Sophia in Turkey.

These pictures might seem random, given the subject of this entry.

But, did I mention my camera is in the bag, too?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Please...Stay With Me.

Hi Friends!

Our trip got a little out of hand busy and my blog slowly suffered because of it. Like one of those Nanopets. Remember? You had to play with it or it would die?

But, the blog isn't dead. I've got a lot more adventure to speak of. Like how we saw Woody Allen in Barcelona. Or how we went to a soccer game in Turkey.

So, now that I have some reliable internet, please stay with us. I'll be updating regularly again. Play with the blog and feed it and take it for walks. Because it doesn't really exist without you guys.

Katie (and Steve)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Turkish Nights

Sorry I haven't been here in a while. How have you been? We've been busy, with Europe and all. Also, Steve's parents were here and Saturday was, ahem, my birthday.

Anyway, we left off in Turkey.
After our dinner, it was time to dessert hunt. Here you can see Steve looking painfully at the honey-dripping baklava.

I'm not huge into dessert. Did you know Turkish Delight is just gummy candy with powdered sugar on top?
I thought it was gross. But Steve was mainlining the stuff.

In the end, we had popcorn and soda for dinner because we went to a movie!

Ah, we hadn't been in a movie theater in months! The only movie that was in English (with Turkish subtitles) was Spiderman 3, but we didn't care.

We were just so happy to be in a movie theater!

We're lucky we didn't care, because Spiderman 3 sucked. Big time.
Also, there is an intermission in Turkish movie theaters. Not at an appropriate time, just whenever. This one happened in the middle of someone's dialogue. Someone's painfully acted, poorly written dialogue.

(BLOG TRIVIA! What 1990s cartoon character hawks soda in Turkish movie theaters? Answer: Fido Dido.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

"Digging" for Work

The other day one of the photographers on the ship, whose job is to spend countless hours a day taking pictures of fat, cruising Americans, asked Steve and me a question. We had just sat down at our favorite email checking spot by the windows on Deck 7. We had our Mac Laptops in our laps and Coronas next to us, which we lazily sipped from. We assume this position about two to three times a day.

The photographer, not wanting to disturb us form our hard work, called over: "May I ask the two of you a question?"
"Sure," we replied.
"Um...what do you do here? I mean, I'm not sure what you are doing here."
We explained we are guest entertainers with the Second City and he apologized, saying that his schedule prevents him from seeing any of the mainstage shows. The evenings are prime Cruise Ship Portrait Time.

We laughed, and the conversation ended with the photographer staring at Steve for a few seconds and saying, "I thought you were the CEO's son." The photographer said this in total, absolute seriousness.

We don't do much on this ship, work-wise, and we don't have to wear our name tags in public areas like a lot of the crew does.
If we haven't yet done our show on a given itinerary, we blend in with about the same amount of free time and responsibility as the vacationers.

Our new favorite way to pass the time is to play "DIG" or "Speed Scrabble." All the Scrabble tiles are put in a pile in the center, and the object is to build your own Scrabble puzzle on word at a time.

The cast sat in the Garden Cafe for almost five hours the other day playing game after game of DIG.
This is the one I won with.

Creating this winning puzzle was some of the hardest work I had done in a while.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I've Been To Turkey. So That's Something...

You can gather a lot of insight into a country by paying attention to what its people do when they accidentally bump into you. Take America. God forbid anyone bump into me on the street. My forefathers fought and died for my right to walk down a street untouched by those around me. If you so much as touch me you better apologize for intruding on my right to personal space.

And we do. We apologize profusely for intruding on a stranger’s personal space, even though we had no intention of causing any inconvenience. We operate as little islands, ridden with latent Puritanical guilt. Americans say, “I’m sorry,” for nothing, lest people we don’t know perceive us as rude.

During our first trip to Istanbul, a very populated and bustling city, not one single person even gestured in a way that said, “I’m sorry” when they bumped into me on the street. No one did so to anyone, so it wasn’t that I was an American and they were happy to cause me minor discomfort. Moreover, there was no sense that their lack of an acknowledgement was rude. It just wasn’t important.

Bumping into one another was inevitable and necessary. Perhaps a connection needed to be made. It is nothing to be ashamed about.

If I could sum up Turkey in one word it would be, “unapologetic.” It is what it is.

It is both Asian and European, as the land itself is transcontinental, and physically lies in both Europe and Asia. It is both ancient and modern, as the city now called Istanbul was the capital of both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Mosques that are hundreds of years old stand unapologetically next to the city’s delightfully modern and efficient public train system and vast array of office buildings, often poking up into the sky right along side a mosque’s minarets.

No one seems to feel the need to make a decision as to which way the country needs to lean. The only issue the Turkish people are overwhelmingly in favor of making a clear decision on is a Secular State vs. a Religious one. In 1923, a man named Mustafa Kemal Ataturk spearheaded the effort to make Turkey the country that it is now – a secular, democratic, united republic. The Turkish constitution even says that the military can get involved should the people feel that the separation between Mosque and State was becoming threatened.

This pride in their secular democracy is unmistakable, as flags are EVRYWHERE, along with portraits of Mr. Ataturk himself.

These images aren’t unsettling, a la North Korea. The flags do not seem like forced patriotism either. The vibe is simple – this is where you are, this is who got us here, and we are really, really proud of it.

So why is Turkey scary? Why don’t Westerners want to visit? More importantly, why do they often lump Turkey in with many of the countries it is near, like Egypt and Iran and Iraq?

Because it is primarily an Islamic country. And an Islamic country means a country that is war torn and zealous, and quick to blow up anyone whose native language is English. But Turkey is a secular democracy. Religion is all well and good, but it isn’t going to dictate anything going on in the public sphere. (Sounds a lot like what is supposed to happen in America.)

The Muslims that we are trained to fear are Fundamentalists, who practice Islam in a very extreme way. I don’t use the word “extreme” to mean “strapping bombs to their chests,” although it should be noted that a very small amount of Islamic Fundamentalists are a part of such atrocities. The Fundamentalist way of practicing Islam literally means carrying the belief that the tenants of the Islamic faith should dictate all affairs, both public and private. Less than 10% of the Turkish population could be called Islamic Fundamentalists, and about 0.05% of that group would even think about expressing their beliefs through violence.

Yes, there are bombings. Bombs have gone off in marketplaces in Izmir, Ankara, and Istanbul all in the time we have been cruising. However, more people were killed in the recent shooting in tiny Delevan, Wisconsin than in all the recent bombings in Turkey combined. I’m not defending the fact that protestors chose to express their discontent by attacking populated public squares, but it is worth noting that you have more of a chance of being hit by stray gun fire in Chicago than being injured in a Turkish bombing.

American tourists (actually, tourists in general) are still a rarity in Istanbul. This is not to oversimplify things, as it would be naïve to think that we were forging new ground by visiting Turkey’s largest city, but unlike Rome or Athens, the parts of Istanbul that cater exclusively towards tourists (i.e. overpriced crap stores) are not too terribly plentiful. In fact, if any of us were to make a trek out to the remote Turkish villages, there is a good chance that we would stumble upon one whose people had never even seen an American in person. (It is also worth noting that the villages outside of Metropolitan Turkish cities do not have police forces. This is because there is simply no crime).

Istanbul is my favorite port so far.

We started out the day in a very traditional way, going to the Grand Bazaar. It is an anxiety attack waiting to happen. It is hot. It is loud. It is a confusing maze of merchandise and hawkers and shoppers and dogs and food and lights. You are expected to haggle, which is something I have not taken a liking to. I like my prices firm.

We bought some t-shirts and things. Whether or not we got a good deal, we will never know. Then, it was time for a snack. And then it was time for me to want to get out of there.

Time to explore. The passion and energy in the city is so thick it is almost chewable. At night, we went to an area called Taxsim, which could be compared to Wicker Park in Chicago or Greenwich Village in New York in the sense that it is fairly trendy and most of the young people flock there at night to enjoy the cafes, shops and bars, all of which stay open very late. Istanbul definitely rivals New York in the “City That Never Sleeps” category.

We wandered down a side street and found a restaurant with outdoor seating, cold pints of beer, and delicious chicken shish-ka-bob. Our waiter was funny and awkward and kind. There were live music clubs everywhere. We watched cafes change into concert halls, as a man would simply switch the building’s outdoor sign from “Restaurant” to “Live Music.” With full bellies, it seemed as though Taxsim was telling us that our night had only just begun.

*I would like to point out that while I authored this description of Turkey, the facts were gleaned from reading of guidebooks, a very informative article in The Economist, and listening to programs about Turkey on my iPod. I knew absolutely nothing about Turkey before going on this cruise. Please do not take any of it as gospel. Hey, go see for yourself! I have about $10 in Turkish Lira left. I’d be more than happy to donate it to your trip so you can form your own opinion.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Living Together in Ship

Steve and I technically live together on this ship. I have never lived with anyone I was dating before. I always said when I finally moved in with a Fella, we’d have to get a two bedroom apartment –one bedroom for both of us, and one bedroom for escaping to, preferably with a computer and loud stereo system.

The living arrangement Steve and I have would give Virginia Woolf a stroke. If Steve and I need to get away from each other for whatever reason, one of us has to go to a public area, like the gym or one of the dining rooms, or the library, aka the Fart and Nap Room. If we want to get away from each other in the privacy of our own home, one of us can go in the other room. The other room is the toilet.

We can get further away from each other vertically rather than horizontally. If Steve huddled in one corner of the room and I huddled in the opposite corner, we would only be about 6.5 feet from each other. But if Steve were to lie atop our fold out bed (or the “Guest Room”) without unfolding it from the wall, and I were to lie under our actual bed, we’d have approximately 8 feet of space between us.

Travel Scientists* have designed cruise ships such that the living spaces are so small you are forced to spend as much time as possible out of your room. You cannot spend copious amounts of money if you are lying in bed all day. They want you in the casino, drinking $9 cocktails and buying hideous jewelry from the gift shop that you are only buying because you are brainwashed by the fact that it is duty free.

But we live here. We don’t go home after 7 or 8 days. This is our little life.

Luckily, Steve and I haven’t really had many problems. We are very similar in our natural schedules (nap at 4 PM, dinner at 10 PM and hit the hay around 1 AM) and our daily activities (check email, read something, pretend to write, watch a television show on the computer, snack, and repeat). We’ve discovered a few general guidelines that help us deal with our tiny home:

> If something petty is annoying you (like Steve’s chomping on gummy bears or the fact that I will take a nap and set the alarm, but Steve ends up being the one to turn off the alarm) suck it up. There is no escape, and fighting it is a waste of time.

>It is perfectly acceptable for Steve to be watching something on his computer and for me to be watching a different show on my computer at the same time.

>It is not rude for one of us to put on our headphones at any given time, even if the other person is talking. Take the hint.

>We both sleep like drugged up cats. If one of us is snoozing, it will not disturb the other one if you blast the television or set something on fire.

>If you have to go, like big time go, you go to the public bathroom.

We make it work. We genuinely like each other’s company and, above all, respect each other. It’s nice.

But, it will also be nice to be home, where we are only a 4 minute cab ride away from each other.

*Not a real profession.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Here's What Happened With Mr. Matthew Fox, You Maniacs...

Steve: "Katie and I have spent a great deal of time and money on this cruise looking for decent internet connections. A lot of that energy has gone into trying to find reliable places to download the show 'Lost' from iTunes. I think we both know 'Lost' isn't the best show on television, nor is it probably objectively worth sacrificing a couple of hours in Istanbul to find the internet cafe with the best chances of giving us enough speed to grab another episode, but somehow this project has become about more than just watching TV.

I use the word project because that's what it began to feel like. 'Lost' is a cliffhanger mystery show and Katie are pretty much sold on it. The show has peaks and valleys and we don't love every episode but we are dedicated viewers. Could we wait until we get home to catch up on the current season? Of course we could, but I think there are a few factors that have made this quest for 'Lost' take on more urgency.

One is that it is something we do together. If it was a show that only one of us was interested in, I think it would be a
different story. When faced with the irrationality of spending not just the $3 iTunes charges for an episode, but sometimes up to tens of dollars more just to sit somewhere with enough bandwidth to get an episode, I say to myself "This is pretty stupid, but Katie really wants it." I'm sure she does the same.

There's also the fact that staying on top of a TV show is a surprisingly effective way of feeling connected to the world in a place where isolation can really get you down. But I think the most compelling reason to spend time of this project is that there are so few projects out here. It feels good to be working on something. I know that sounds funny because there is no
real work involved, but there have been some days when looking for the best place to download 'Lost' has given meaning and purpose to an otherwise aimless fifth visit to a less alluring port.

On Sunday night, Katie and I finally watched the season finale of 'Lost.' On Monday we were wandering around Venice and taking in the sites and we passed Matthew Fox (the actor who plays Jack- the central character on 'Lost') on a canal bridge. Katie swore it was him and I insisted that it was only a guy who looked like him and that we were sure to think we saw him, having seen the show only the night before.

To show her that it wasn't him, I yelled, "Matthew!" and was a caught off guard when he turned around and was clearly Matthew Fox, wondering what I wanted. He didn't seem thrilled to be recognized while walking with a friend through the streets of Venice (I don't blame him), but I played the "it's my girlfriend's birthday" card (only 12 days short of
true) and managed to get him to snap a picture with Katie before he walked on.

It's not lost on me that the thin believability of this cross happening and the curious narrative convenience of it is worthy of the show itself. But it also seems to me somehow very appropirate. It's like someone out there said, "with the time and effort these two people have put in on this stupid show, they deserve a personal visit."

So, that's what happened. You're welcome.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Met Someone Named Matt in Venice...

Hey. Here is a guy that we met while walking over the Rialto Bridge in Venice. Do you know who it is?

Here is a small hint: It is Matthew Fox from TV's hit show LOST! Steve and I are obsessed with LOST!! Squueeeeee!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mykonos (Part 2)

I wish I could tell you exactly what happened after we started to roll but I don’t remember. It is an evolutionary advantage that our big brains can keep memories that are a bit too traumatic for reminiscing from sticking to our neurons. What I’m told happened is that the bike began picking up speed and Steve, knowing that we were going to fly right to the bottom of the hill if he didn’t act quick, realized it would be better to turn the front wheel so that we rolled over into the grass on the side of the road and not into incoming traffic with a hill’s worth of momentum at our backs.

And that’s what he did. And the bike flipped onto its back, and we flipped onto ours, and I was out the whole time.

The first thing I remember is someone pouring water in my mouth. I remember my wrist and my ankle hurt and I couldn’t stop crying. I remember telling myself to try not to have a panic attack because it would make everything worse. I remember Cody and Steve being so soothing and sweet, asking me questions to keep me talking, rubbing my head, and generally just being about the best people to have with you if you plan on getting into a bike accident.

I don’t want to get into details about getting to the hospital or the hospital or anything like that. Let’s just know that I was and am fine. So is Steve. In fact, Steve knew I was fine when, a couple minutes after I came to, I said, “Please don’t call my parents. They’ll worry.”

At the hospital, the doctor’s first name was Theodoros. “Theodoros” is the same first name that my good friend T.J. has. T.J. is from Greece, and so I immediately started babbling on to the doctor about how he has a house somewhere in Greece but I don’t know where and his email address is the Greek Missile, and how in high school he made me eat octopus once, and so on and so forth. The doctor just smiled and tolerated it, and probably thought the knock to my noggin gave me a talking disorder, but little did he know that’s just me.

He was kind and calming and didn’t charge us a dime. It turns out I had been taken to a state hospital, where emergency room visits are free of charge. I’m glad it is that way in America, too. Oh, wait…

I’m pretty certain that in the course of over six years of treatment for Panic Disorder a doctor told me, “Flipping off a bike in the middle of a Greek Island will knock your progress back a few notches.” Or maybe I read it in a pamphlet. Either way, after doing many things that people with Panic Disorder should not do or do not do - like riding a camel, crossing the Atlantic Ocean by ship, and parasailing under the watchful eye of “Two Stoned Jamaicans, Inc.” – I finally had a reason for all that is irrational inside me to say, “Ah ha!” I finally had an excuse for Panic Disorder to say, “See? When you do things besides sit in your house, bad things happen.” I finally had a concrete experience to make me scared again.

But, here’s the thing – Cody, Steve and I had had a great day. There was nothing ominous about it, nobody had done anything stupid like gotten bombed before hopping on the ATVs, or not worn a helmet. And, in the end, nobody really got hurt. As one wise women once said, in pun form, “Ship Happens.”

And yes, I sat a few out after the accident. I didn’t get off the ship a couple days here and there and opted to lay low for a while and enjoy some room service, but I think that is pretty normal after a scrape like the one we had. People with panic disorder love nothing more than to escape a situation and be alone. But you can’t be alone because that is when you are in the most dangerous of situations, both literally and figuratively. If I had been alone that day on my ATV what would have happened? If I didn’t have my friend and my Fella there what would I have done?

I remember one day in CCD (Catholic Boot Camp you go to on weekends) our teacher asked us to think of our favorite moment, our best memory in our lives so far. We each told ours to the class and then he asked us what all of those treasured experiences had in common. He eventually had to give us the answer – they were all made precious, and in most cases made possible, due to other people. Not one memory was of a time when a person was alone.

I need people. And I bet some people need me. And we aren’t going to find each other if I just stay inside my room.

But you know what people I don’t need? The folks at Pier 1 Travel Agency and Car Rental, P.O.B. 112, Port Mykonos, Greece – T.K. 84600, email, telephone number (22890) 24004, 24111. These jerk bags charged Steve 60 Euros because their bike, which didn’t have enough brake power to survive the hill, got a bit banged up when we flipped off of it and had to go to the hospital. SIXTY EUROS. Feel free to send your regards to them.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Our Visit to Mykonos (Part 1)

Our itinerary in May and June includes stops to many of the Greek Islands. So, for a few fleeting moments, we get to feel like Young, Big Time, Island Hopping, Trust Fund Having, Money Bleeding Sophisticates. The Greek Island that attracts the majority of the aforementioned demographic is Mykonos. The tiny island has a population of only 15,000 but attracts over 800,000 visitors a year.

I’m pretty sure Mykonos is past its glory days of the 1960s, when it was a tucked away haven for the beautiful celebrities and debutantes to live it up as they please. I can’t picture Twiggy and Edie Sedgwick drinking in designer miniskirts in front of what is now “Themostopolis’ Internet Café and Gyro Shop” or Rock Hudson trying to keep his secret safe by tip-toeing into one of the many subtly-named clubs like “Ramrod” or “Every Guy in Here is A Gay.”

But, like we’ve discovered in most places where many have gone before us, if you make the effort and dig a little deeper, Mykonos is still a wondrous place. It is said that the roads of Mykonos were designed to confuse pirates, so it is no surprise that they are winding and curvy and poorly labeled.
You have to take these roads to get to the good stuff past the port, like the beaches and little resorts, but to walk it is very time-consuming and uncomfortable.

Cody, Steve and I decided to explore Mykonos on ATVs. We rented four-wheelers (Steve and I on one, Cody on another, helmets on all three of us) in the morning and began zipping around the island.

Yes, I rode a four-wheeler. I didn’t drive because I of course do not know how to drive since I am a city rat. And it was really fun. We rode through the hills and farms of Mykonos, in awe of the mountains and the white building with bright blue roofs and all the animals just hanging out in pastures along the roadside.

We didn’t have a destination in mind, so when we got a bit famished, we pulled off at a little resort - which I’m sure is packed during high season. But that day it was empty, and we ate amazing Greek food in a beautiful garden.
A family owned the place, so the young daughter was riding her bike around us, the men were playing cards, and cats sniffed about. It was right on one of the main beaches in Mykonos as well, so we were able to dip our toes in the sea while our bellies went to work on our meal.

The two main beaches on Mykonos are Paradise Beach and, wait for it, Super Paradise Beach.
Super Paradise Beach is the hipster beach and we wanted to go there just to see it, but not to drink a 16 Euro Corona which as about the cheapest thing at the bar.

It is a pretty ridiculous place, and we were there very early in the afternoon. It is a mostly Gay, nude beach, but no one was really out and about yet. There is a full on grotto by the bar, complete with a sizeable pool, marble dance floor, and an extravagant DJ booth. It is more like Super We’re All On Ecstasy Paradise Beach.

Since neither Cody nor Steve nor I felt like starting a rave at 1 in the afternoon,
we bid adieu to Super Paradise and hopped on out ATVs and began the ascent up the very steep hill that we had traveled down to get to the beach.

We were worried about Cody’s vehicle since it was having trouble making it on flat roads and went no faster than about 5 miles an hour. Hence, Steve and I drove behind him to make sure he didn’t start to slide down the hill.

And he didn’t. Cody’s little feeble bike did just fine. In fact, Cody was able to push OUR bike when it began to stall at the top of the hill. In fact, Cody was able to push two grown people with almost 12 feet of height between them for a good couple of minutes.

In fact, Cody was able to watch, powerless, as we lost control, as our bike lost all brake power, and as we began to roll rapidly down the steep hill.

Monday, June 11, 2007

If Mystery Science Theater in Arabic isn't Weird Enough...

Remember Fido Dido? He was everywhere in the 1990s. In fact, I think he was the face of Pepsi.

Well, he is still the face of soft drinks - in Turkish movie theaters.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tuesday, May 15th

Guess who is back?


And he rides a motorcycle! My platonic crush continues.

Steve: "I really don't care if he's back. I'm tired."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Monday, May 14th

These are our room stewards, Caesar and Marianito. They both hail from the Philippines. Neither pronounces my name right. They both call me, "Cat-ee."

One day, Caesar took my arm and used his keycard to enter one of the rooms on our floor that he had just cleaned. "Who is dat, on the bed?" he asked me. "Who dat?" Marianito was behind him, giggling.

Lounging on the bed was a monkey, made of towels, with bits of chocolate for eyes. His arms were behind his head and the remote was next to him.

Of course I loved it. The next night, we came home and found this in our room - a monkey hanging from our ceiling.

Marianito took a very bad fall while decorating a passenger's room for his or her birthday. So bad, he had to go home to the Philippines. He is expected to take three months to recover, followed by up to a year of physical therapy. His leg was botched by an Egyptian doctor that operated on it right after it happened.

Caesar is busy training a new room steward, who is very nice, but not Marianito. Caesar looks like his best friend got sent home from camp. I know their friendship helped the long days of cleaning rooms for passengers a lot easier.

Get well soon, Marianito. Love, Cat-ee.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Saturday, May 12th

Day two was Earrrrrrrrr-ly. We got up very early, checked out of our hotel, and bid good day to our disgusting bus bathroom before heading off to the Memphis museum.

At this museum there are huge, huge, huge statues of King Ramses II. Huge. Out of control big.

Ramses was kind of dreamy.

Then, our Great Pyramid Appetizer was a visit to Saqqara, where we actually got to go inside a pyramid! We went inside the Pyramid of Teti, and, in all the excitement, neither Steve nor I bothered to figure out who he was.

The Pyramid of Teti is the one that you can readily enter, without having to sign up. Some pyramids only allow as few as 10 people to enter each day, or some are completely closed off. The insides of most of the pyramids are off-limits due to a lack of oxygen inside. So, with that in mind, it comes as no surprise that entering the Pyramid of Teti is a terribly claustrophobic experience. You can see how tiny it is, and how I had to pretty much bend myself in half to fit.
You aren't supposed to take pictures inside the pyramid. I don't think this is out of respect, because we found out you can take pictures pretty much anywhere in Egypt if you give the guy who told you not to take a picture some money. The shot of Steve and I cost 1 Euro. Enjoy.

We also got to see the famous Step Pyramid of King Djozer. The step pyramid is the technological predecessor to the style of pyramids such as the Great Pyramid. It's kind of like how the Walkman is to the iPod. There is a hole in one of the blocks outside the Step Pyramid that we were told to peer into. Hidden inside is this statue of King Djozer himself.

It was then onto the Giza Pyramid Complex. The big time.
The three Pyramids are as follows: the Pyramid of Khufu (also known as the "Great Pyramid," the "Pyramid of Cheops," and the “Pyramid of Holy Crap. How Did They Ever Do That?”), the slightly smaller Pyramid of Khafre (his son), and the Pyramid of Menkaure (or, “Baby Pyramid”).

There are also three smaller pyramids on the outskirts, presumably the graves of the King's wives.

Here is the cast just hanging out in front of one of the Great Wonders of the Ancient World.

Oh, and then we rode a camel.

This may be one of those times where the relationship between writing and pictures gets a little rocky.
The pictures pretty much sum it all up. I guess I could try to sum it up in words, too. We spent our last day in f*@king Cairo, Egypt (Egypt. As in, Africa. As in The Great Pyramids. As in riding camels. As in The Spynx) riding a f*@king camel in front of the Great Pyramids and the f*@king Sphinx.

Let the record state that riding a camel is very soothing. It is a smoother ride than even a horse, and camels don’t get spooked like horses do. This doesn’t change the fact that I clutched my Paxil bottle as the camel initially rose up with Steve and I on it, or when the camel behind me sneezed on my leg.

But it was nowhere near as scary as being in that parasailing boat in the Bahamas. Maybe I’ve grown since then. Or gone nuts since then.

But how many crazy people can say they rode a camel in front of the Great Pryramids? Or, more accurately, how many nuts say they did it and are actually telling the truth? Probably about 73. And now I’m one of them.