Greetings from the Greek Isles!

Sunday, July 28, 2002
Greetings from Greece! Well, after much ado, we finally made it to Greece. We originally bought train tickets that took us through half of Eastern Europe in 55 hours... but we had some visa problems getting us through Yugoslavia. So, the day before we were supposed to leave Prague we refunded our tickets to Athens and bought a train ticket to Bratislava, Slovakia. That afternoon we bought one way plane tickets to Athens from Vienna. Fortunately, Bratislava is really close to Vienna. So, we called up some friends we met in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic and with 3 hours notice they met us at the bus station, rounded up some hashers and took us to their local pub. We were only in Austria for a mere 12 hours, but it was a great time! Thanks guys!

Everyone we have met who has been to Athens immediately says - spend one day at the Acropolis and get out to the Islands!! They must not be in the hash. We stayed for 5 days and has a great time! We went to 5 BBQ's, took a ferry to a nearby reclusive beach, and met up with the Athens Hash House Harriers. The great thing about Greece is all the random things you see... I'm sure you all know how I love a good story, especially if it's random and I can be involved!! Every morning when we woke up in Athens we heard this loudspeaker touting something or other. On the last day we figured out what it was... the Gypsies sell stuff from the back of pickup trucks, and this particular one was selling fruit! It sounded more like they were trying to evacuate the neighborhood. We thought ALL trucks sold fruit until we saw another Gypsy truck selling plastic chairs.

Now we are in the Greek Islands. We spent the first few days in Naxos. A really cute little island where ALL the buildings are painted white with blue trim. I'm convinced it's because those are the colors of the Greek flag, but I have no confirmation on that. In Naxos, the beaches are peaceful, the water is clear and a vibrant blue and it was so relaxing. We had a balcony overlooking the town where we ate breakfast every morning. There was also a Greek Orthodox church across the road that had Mass via loudspeaker every morning. Interesting. We have been on an island called Santorini since the day before yesterday. It's great fun here! The entire little island was covered by volcanic ash many years ago so ALL the beaches are black sand... and one is red!! Also, the entire perimeter of the island is rock and plummets to the shoreline, creating mountain side cliffs and views everywhere you look. The first night we spent in what we called the James Bond Bar. It had an incredible view of the shore, the donkey path, the old volcano, and the cave hotels, bars and pools. We went to the Red Beach yesterday and watched the sunset in Ia last night. We were supposed to go to a Beach Party that takes place in the wee hours every Friday and Saturday night.... but we um, fell asleep before we left and never made it!!

Tomorrow we are headed to the Greek Island of Rodos for a few days. Rodos is a mere one hour ferry from Turkey. We've heard about a few nice places to visit before we head up to Isanbul. I can wait to get there!! Everyone we have met on our trip who has traveled to Turkey says it is there FAVORITE place. So, my expectations are high... I'll let you know if the reality lives up to the myth!

Thanks for keeping in touch everyone and I'll be back online again soon.

Hello from Slovakia!

Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Carla and I just arrived into Bratislava, Slovakia today. We just spent a few days in Prague staying with our friend Geri. She was so hospitable and welcoming! We did some sightseeing at the castle, in the Old Town Square, crossed the Charles Bridge, and took some paddle boats around the river. We ate goulash, played volleyball in the park as well as blew a fuse in Geri's apartment when we tried to do our laundry. We spent the weekend in a place called Kutna Hora with our running club - what a fun weekend! We ran in a town one of the runners is from. We met her cousins, her Dad, and her sister, and we met tons of people from the hash who were in town from all over Europe!

There's a place in the town called the Bone Church - apparently there were so many people during midevil times who were dying of Black Death that there was nowhere to bury the bones.... so a half blind priest used them as decor around the church. It was very bizarre, photos later!

Last night we ran with the hash again... I recruited my friend Zhenya who I met in St. Petersburg a few months ago (Hi Zhenya!). It was really humid, but it was great. We also realized that a few others from the club were headed to Bratislava today for work or other commitments, so we are having a few drinks tonight with them.

We had planned to be headed to Greece today. It was a 55 hour train trip from Prague... and we booked it. But yesterday I realized that the train crossed through Yugoslavia. Americans need transit visas (which we don't have) to pass through, so we had to refund our tickets! It's probably for the best anyway. We are hoping to book a flight today to still get there by this weekend!

Alright, I have to get going so we can check out the castle looming over this internet cafe!

Love, Alison

PS. Has anyone been to Egypt? We are trying to find out about Nile cruises and possibly tours. It would be great if anyone had any info. Thanks!

Hello from Poland!

Tuesday, July 9, 2002
Hi everyone! Right now we are in Krakow, and had a nice time chatting with two kiwi girls (from New Zealand) last night who gave us heaps of good advice on Turkey and shared their wonderful tourist stories from Croacia and Bosnia. They've been some places we always thought we should avoid! Who knew? Maybe we'll expand our itinerary next time around.

We spent the day yesterday visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau which was quite intense. We couldn't believe how large the compound is, and with many of the original structures still standing.

Today we're going to check out Wawel Hill and Kazimierz. The Jews resettled here in this neighborhood after fleeing from all over Europe in the 1800's. The Jewish population in this area used to be close to 200,000 and now numbers less than two hundred. I might actually be a history buff after this trip :)

Tonight Carla and I take an overnight train to Prague where we will meet up with the running club in a few days for a weekend outside of Prague. I'll also get to buy a garnet or two... a purchase I didn't make when I was in Prague 7 years ago. I've been regretting it ever since! Also, my friend Zhenya, who I met in St. Petersburg, Russia a few months ago will be arriving on the same train as us! She is spending a month in Prague for a conference. I'll hopefully be finding her on the train tonight... what a small world.

Thanks to everyone for emailing so often. I love hearing from all of you who respond, even if it's just a line or two. They all make me smile and make me feel like I'm not so far away!

Happy trails! Love, Alison

Greetings from Latvia!

Tuesday, July 2, 2002
 Right now Carla and I are in Riga, Latvia. I'm actually checking my email from the US Deputy Ambassador to Latvia's downtown apartment in Riga. She's 37, and she's in charge of the US Embassy, next in line after the ambassador. She's a hasher (my running club is called the Hash House Harriers), and that's how we met her. All the hashers here were SO excited to see us arrive at a hash, we are the first American hash visitors since they started the hash a few years ago, so we got a huge warm welcome, and she threw an impromtutu party so we could all hang out some more. We also met the Latvian Ambassador from the EU!! What a riot! I explained how to upload photos to yahoo so his wife can see their new apartment before she moves here :)

We extended our stay in Latvia for 3 more days because it's so fun. Tonight we are going to Karoake at the main beer tent in town, and tomorrow we are taking a day trip somewhere to get out of the city and tomorrow night we are going to see this hasher (latvian but russian descent) sing in an Irish band. The other singer is English, there really is no Irish people in the band. Should be a hoot!

After we leave we are headed to Lithuania. A guy we met in Estonia is meeting us there, then we go to Poland, and then to Prague! The hash is having a huge weekend event 2 hours outside the city. We are going to that, and then a hasher invited us to stay at her apartment for a few days. Literally, our luck HAS to run out soon. We have met so many nice, nice people. At almost every hash we go to, someone knows someone from the Boston hash, or someone we have met along the way. By the time we get to India, we might already know half the people at the hash event in Goa!!! Mom, not to worry, everyone looks out for us because they think we need someone to look out for 2 women traveling alone.

One more thing, we just uploaded tons of photos to the newsletter photo section, check them out. They are funny!

Love, Alison