Monday, August 31, 2009

As Summer Ends and Autumn Begins

This has been a whirlwind summer for me. So busy I haven't had time to post! Even now that I have a few days to relax and catch up with all of the little things that need to get done before school, I made sure to get up at 7 a.m. this morning and hit the ground running. I am frantically trying to finish this blog post while watching the news (maximizing productivity by multi-tasking), even though I have nowhere to be! I guess old habits die hard.

The internship this summer was super intense, but that's the way I like it. It was my 5th internship at the firm, and definitely the most time consuming and challenging... but also the most rewarding. Looking back, I made some really great friends and learned a ton of new things. Most importantly, as I move on to internship # 6 I'm more confident in my abilities and feel more empowered to make decisions and really contribute. Ever since my experience interning in London, I feel more comfortable and knowledgeable in my role, which is great!

After being so busy at work, I definitely over-indulged. There was no time for exercise (hence stopping my 10-mile run at mile 5 yesterday). Any day that I didn't work late meant going out with work friends or school friends or friends from home in the city for the summer.... which also meant lots of food, drinks and not enough sleep. So this fall, my aim is to get back into shape and pursue overall good health. And if I can't do it, then shame on me. I was able to successfully train for a marathon last fall, so I can at least drag my ass to the gym a few times a week for the next few months and not eat gyros in the middle of the night.

Moving on to the exciting stuff... GREECE! Best trip EVER. No exaggeration. When you think of absolute paradise - beauty, beaches, amazing views, restaurants, wonderful people.. everything you can imagine, you are really thinking of Greece. Nothing at all was lacking. The one caveat I will add is that we went to very touristy islands, so I'm sure the local villages hundreds of miles outside of Athens do not resemble any of the places we went to. Let me break it down quickly...

Athens is wonderful, but you only need a few days there. We walked the whole city the afternoon we arrived (only takes about an hour), then visited the Acropolis the next morning. The Acropolis was obviously amazing. Absolutely massive and one of those very humbling and breathtaking moments. One of those times when you're thinking, "Wow, I'm at the Parthenon, that building I've seen in every history and architecture textbook since I was 7." Other than that, we spent most of our time on the "K" Street. We still can't pronounce the name, but basically this one street has all of the restaurants and bars (sort of like Hoboken!). Amazing food, beautiful cafes, and much-needed relaxation before the other islands.

Next we flew to Santorini. It definitely suits its nickname - the honeymoon island. The main town where most people stay, Fira, is aboslutely beautiful and built into the side of a massive cliff hanging over the edge of the island and looking out on a beautiful volcano. No matter where you are in Fira, you have an amazing view of the water, the volcano, and other Cycladic islands. You can walk through the whole town for hours - it's filled with shops, wine stores, restuarants, cafes, bars and clubs. We spent most of our time walking down the paths on the side of the cliffs to restaurants and cafes, drinking a glass of wine and just taking in the beautiful views. It's a great thing I was with my best friend - it was not awkward at all to sit in silence for long stretches and just look out at the water, completely lost in our own worlds.

We also hiked up the side of a mountain to see the ruins of Ancient Thira. Being the idiot that I am, I wore two right sneakers, thinking that I had forgotten the left-foot sneaker... I found it later that day in my bag. But anyway, it was great to see the ruins of a city from the 6th Century BC... and now I know why the Greek empire fell. Everyone was so tired after hiking up the mountain to their homes that they couldn't do any work.

We decided to go to the other main town on Santorini, called Oia (EE-ah), so of course we stopped at some small wineries on the way and had some amazing wine. Vinsanto is very popular in Greece - it's a dessert wine like Port. Delicious.

Though we only spent one night in Oia, it may have been my favorite night of the trip. We watched the sunset, went to a great restaurant on the opposite side of the island overlooking the water, and then went to the most quaint and fun bar of the whole trip. We stumbled upon a cute bar overflowing with people because of some fantastic live music. We decided to stop in for one drink and ended up staying the entire night. Fabulous mojitos, but an even more fabulous Venezuelan jazz band. We danced the whole night and became friends with the band members (of course). I loved the beautiful Greek saxophonist and Jess befriended the salsa-dancing Venezuelan singer. We have their e-mail addresses and will hopefully keep in touch. The funniest part of the night just epitomizes Greek culture to me... anything goes. At about midnight (the party was just getting started!) a gigantic stray dog, maybe a German shepherd, sidled his way through the crowds in the bar and lied down right in the middle of the very small dance floor. He covered pretty much the whole floor and decided to go to sleep, despite the loud music right behind his head. So everyone just shifted aside and danced in the corners of the room since the center was blocked. No one kicked the dog out or tried to get him to move. And as soon as the band finished, the dog stood up and left! Only in Greece!

I could go on for hours about Santorini, but I'll move on to Mykonos. It was beautiful as well, but there is less culture in Mykonos. It's mostly just beaches and partying. And partying at beaches. We went to one day-time beach party, but even for us, drinking hard liquor at 3 in the afternoon is a bit much. We did stay and dance for a bit. Lucky for us, we did not head to any of the trashy clubs at night. Instead, we met some really great people who showed us where the nicer places to hang out are. And one of them knows my manager - what are the odds! But once again, we had an amazing time and met amazing people...

These are the types of things that make me want to move abroad. Traveling has such an effect on me, as I'm sure it does on everyone else. I judge people less, certainly don't judge people before I get to know them, avoid protocol and standards when it comes to other people, etc. I think when you're taken out of the culture and society that you know (which I realize now is even smaller than I thought) there is no choice but to abandon all pre-determined notions and ideas of how conversations should flow and what boundaries between new acquaintances should exist. It's so tough to describe, but I think basically I've learned to only consider the substance of what someone says in forming any opinions... I might someone, speak to them, not worry if they say something that doesn't match the standards of what I have been taught can or cannot be said in an initial conversation, not worry if they are different or "weird" and just appreciate the value of what they've said and where they are coming from. The world is simultaneously much larger and smaller that way. And I love it.

So that was my trip. Wonderful, memorable and definitely something I'd like to repeat. I'd like to go to Thailand or Sydney next. Anyone available to show me around?!

Now it's back to getting ready for school / work, which both begin next week. It will be a money spending week. I need:

new ipod
new Mac
new camera
sign up for Pilates classes
new clothes (well, I guess I don't need these...)

I just got my new iphone, which I am super psyched about. My friend Ade told me an iphone is "not just a phone.. it's a way of life." Totally true! I can't wait to download the wine application so I can look up all of the wines and definitions I don't understand (oaky?) at restaurants. Mom will be proud.

I'm doing something new this semester... instead of partying in NYC every weekend, I'm traveling to other colleges in my last semester! My trips include...

visiting Kristen at Cornell (and hosting her in NYC)
visiting Jess at Binghamton (hopefully for Halloween!)
visiting Case at Umass
taking a weekend trip to D.C. with my parents and grandparents

so fun! I'll be very busy during the week with school and work, and I'm hoping to spend whatever weekends I have in NY catching up on work, running, etc., to be able to slack off when I take those weekend trips. Theme of my autumn... moderation and health. Getting myself back on track after this summer of indulgence!

Phew. Done with a long overdue post. Will post again soon (really).

1 comment:

mjr said...

Greece does sound fantastic! Given your laundry list of new purchases, are you single-handedly trying to shore up the retail spending index for September? Good reading. Keep the Faith!