And heh, wonder if this is true:
Got back last night. Didn't get to sleep 'til 5 this morning, woke up near 1 pm. Heh; having been reading Philip Pullman's "The Amber Spyglass" didn't help, either ;)
Went to Frankfurt and Munich in Germany, then Florence in Italy, and Athens and Kea in Greece. Lots of pictures. Tried to curb the shopping. But of course, bought stuff.
First destination: Frankfurt. Went to the Messe with my parents for the first time. Saw the set-up. Halle 9. Interesting. Went to stores, saw sales. Discovered Uli Knecht, and got a paisley George Gina & Lucy bag. S goes nuts over Louis Vuitton, and World of Music in Karstadt. Introduced her to Douglas Parfumerie, where she bought some Benefit stuff. Celebrated S's birthday at Rama V, an excellent Thai restaurant.
Took the ICE train to Munich, but got on the wrong wagon. Got to our seats at the last stop before Munich, to enjoy it for 30 minutes (out of 3 hours). Before that, it was one mad rush. Dad blamed me, saying I was a twit and should know better. Needless to say I was very upset, and S said later on that she did not quite know what to do with herself, aside from having motion sickness from the constant moving about.
In Munich, we met up with my German "big sis" who surprised our mutual friends at their new store location in Karlsplatz by bringing us along. Went back to the Basic bio super-store in Isartor and bought my beloved Amaranth schoko-müsli, as well as a gorgeous, multi-toned schal. At nearby Cosi Bazar, found-and bought-HUGE rings that fit my slim fingers, at reasonable prices. Tolle! Showed S Marienplatz--the Glockenspiel, the Viktualienmarkt (where I bought some Bärlauch and she some honey hand creme), St. Peter's Church, Elly Seidl (where we both bought fresh, handmade chocolates!) Dallmayr (where she bought coffee beans), Funf Höfe, and the Residenz (the latter new for me, as well); brought her to Linderhof and Oberammergau, then after a horrible tourist lunch, took the arduous climb up Neuchwanstein and Mary's Bridge, coming back to Munich exhausted. Remembered the bahn routes. Remembered my scant German.
I love Munich.
The train ride back, we were early, and got on the right wagon. Was able to read more of Philip Pullman's "The Subtle Knife" while S dozed.
In Frankfurt, rushed to the hotel then to the Messe to meet up with the parents--and see the fair on its last day. Manila FAME doesn't even come close.
Next day, left for Florence. Ate at 13 Gobbi for lunch. Yum, yum. My parents come to Florence to shop and to eat, and this time brought us along to their haunts and introduce us to their sukis: Farmacia Mustermann, the Erboristeria Spezieria Palazzo Vecchio, the enoteca they frequent, the piazza and Sta. Maria Novella--both scenes in the movie Hannibal(!), the department store La Rinascente (where we were able to get La Perla cheap!), Giotti--the original Bottega Veneta, Prada, Pucci, Armani (where S got sonnenbrille), Gucci (where Dad got shoes), Angela Caputi (where Mom and I got beautiful shawls on saldi!) and Etro, my favorite--the pattern on pattern, as Dad describes it (where I got a shawl, sonnenbrille, a shirt on saldi and a travel bag). Went to rub the pig (Il Porcellino) for good luck, as well. Consulted a map and a Louis Vuitton salesman's directions to Vivoli in a previously-unexplored part of town, but alas, the shop was closed for the summer. Ate gelato at another gelateria anyway. Molto bene.
That night found S struggling to pack everything she'd bought. Mom sends Dad to the rescue and we sleep at 3:30, only to wake up at 6:45, very late, to leave at 7 to catch the plane to Munich at 8:55 (to connect to Athens from there)! Andiamo! Nonetheless, we make it and I doze on the plane.
We meet Anthony (real name Adonis) in Athens in the afternoon. He had been waiting as per his wife Sofia's instructions since before noon. As we speed to the port in his car--our parents in a taxi as we with all our luggage simply wouldn't fit into his tiny car--he tells us about the fires that ravaged Greece, saying the damage would take 15 years or more to undo. Neither was this catastrophe of natural causes, he said. As to why, he said maybe terrorism.
We rode on a ship to Kea, car and all (what we call ro-ro in Manila). Boat rides and I never get along, so when we got off the ship, it took all I had not to throw up. The winding road to their vacation home didn't help, either. Nonetheless, I survived. Anthony said, "Don't do anything; relax!" Had to help him; he had a bad back; besides, if I didn't move the luggage, he would have a hard time backing out of the driveway. Met their Indonesian housekeeper Sofina, who cooked delectable meals throughout our stay, even cooking vegetarian for me! Every meal was a celebration, every meal a feast, every dish a delicacy. The olives, the marmalade with crunchy sugar, figs plucked fresh from the tree, cherry conserve, sheep cheese, homemade crepes, orange-bread, peppers (or as Anthony calls them, pepperoni), and yes, I ate fresh lobster to respect our hosts, but what lobster, so sweet and juicy..! Our hosts' son Kristos even taught me how to eat it ;)
And the beaches--nothing to rival Boracay, for sure, but the Aegean waters are cool, the waves none too strong...and no-one cares whether you go in with a 1-suit, a bikini, or nothing at all. Still, compared to our small-boned hosts, I was huge, or at least felt it...which needlessly bothered and frustrated me to no end.
We went back to Athens with skin tanned (not sure about S) and bellies full. And it was a different Athens from the Athens I saw 10 years ago. Athens is so much more developed and progressive now. The night we arrived, I was too tired to do anything else but sleep. The next day, however, we went to our hosts' office (Le Shop) and there Mom and Dad were shown ideas for expanding the business. Then we took the train--Anthony showed us how--to the Akropoli, for S to see. But at high noon. Good Lord. Afterwards, we went to Plaka for some shopping and some late lunch and last-gelato(!), ending our day tour with a drink at the top of the hotel overlooking the Parthenon and the entire city.
In the airport, I followed Mom to a Greek specialty shop selling mastiha. Interesting. Should tell Anthony about it. Maybe he can tell me more. Because our hosts are incredibly proud to be Greek, telling us the root meanings of words, Greek lore, and so on. Incredibly fascinating. If we had more time in Greece, I would've wanted to learn the language--how to speak, how to read the words: in fact, I was already able to decipher a little already, but only a little.
In the airport, S had problems with her tax-free forms from Germany as she lost them, and had to check her wheeled hand luggage in. Luckily she was able to salvage her precious CDs (about 120+ out of the 130) and stuff them into her other one.
And now we're back. Back to the real world. Now I have to prepare for my next trip to Texas--not a vacation, but to work, and to get real. And lose the weight gained, imaginary or no.
Mom and Dad now ask about salary and all these things, but vague me hasn't really worried about that. Now pragmatic me is nudging me to learn the ropes of our business next year, and make yoga a side-business, a hobby, maybe like what P does in Makati. I worry, however: what if I need to give that up? I want yoga to be a permanent part of my life. However, there is the reality that it is an uncertain path to monetary success. And I do like my Etros and Lululemons once in a while, and maybe yogi/eco-friendly retreats in the future, with a nifty little spa somewhere near. Plus my Dad points out that my vegan, organic lifestyle isn't that cheap, either. On the other hand, there is the business, where my mother put the responsibility ruse real thick (and being an only child, I always fall for), which she says is something on whom only I am the only person left to run, in their stead. (And what if I fail? But that is always my fear, which often sets me back: I can fail in yoga, in veganism, in going organic, in the business, but hopefully NOT.) Still, this is not an immediate need to be answered, thank goodness. I still have my apprenticeship in Houston next, and hopefully there, things will be answered, or at the very least, much clearer--the business, yoga, veganism, going organic: hopefully they will all be on the same path.