Saturday, 18 February 2012

Engagement... and Other Exciting Stuff!

Well exciting news! As of valentines Day I am officially engaged! The other half proposed whilst on holiday in Athens on V-day... how romantic! So there are lots of exciting things to look forward to in the future... like a polka-dotty wedding for starters! It will definitely be a couple of years yet, as I need to save some pennies first, but that just gives me more time to ponder and plan. My younger sister, so she tells me, has already got half the wedding planned: polka dot wedding dress, and dress code, cupcake wedding cake topped with a Lego version of me and the groom, and instead of sugared almonds in the guests' favours... Lego!

There are also some more exciting things coming up this year...

Going to Ghana!
I am officially off to visit a school in Ghana for a week with my school. As lots of you know I went on a charity trip to The Gambia last summer (read about my charity work, explorations and adventures)and I am really excited about going back to Africa and seeing another part of the continent. Especially as I will be helping out in the link school we have there.

Attending the ATL conference
In Easter I will be attending the annual ATL conference in Manchester. It'll be a fantastic experience, not to mention a lovely chance to catch up with old friends and people I met last year!

Holiday and Italian Wedding!
In the summer I will be heading off with the family back to Italy to attend a friend's wedding and to have another exploration in Rome... exciting!

What exciting things are you looking forward to?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Athens - Riots and Graffiti - The Darker Side of the City

During our stay in Athens, there were scheduled protests against the proposed cuts in Greece. We were having our traditional Greek taverna meal to the background noise of petrol bombs being thrown at riot police and had the faint haze of tear gas in the air... how romantic!

We made our way through the masses of people who took to the streets we arrived back to our hotel and was able to then watch the protests unfold from our balcony. There was an impromptu rally right beneath us as a group broke away from the main march to chant their disdain for the proposed budget cuts.

There was a heavy police presence...

A small section of the protest march as it filed past our hotel. As the people were pushed back from Syntagma Square outside the parliament building and then subsequently from Omonia square and the smell of tear gas in the air and smoke from the burning buildings became stronger as more people came past. We had to cover our mouths to stop our throat and noses burning...

Some of the aftermath the next morning... almost every bank along the protest march routes had been vandalised, smashed and/or burned...

Some shops were also targeted by more extreme protestors...

Overall the clean-up was swift though, by midday most shops were cleaned out and were having new windows installed. We visited the parliament building and Syntagma square in the afternoon and, apart from the police milling about, you would never have known that it was the scene of violence only hours before.

Something that was incredibly striking was the sheer amount of graffiti in Athens. It was rare to see a building without a piece of graffiti on it somewhere. Some of the graffiti I would class as art, including the amazing hands painted on the side of a building directly outside our hotel in the Psirri area of the city.

Some of the graffiti had a political undercurrent, and was clearly a comment on the current troubles happening in the city...

Outside the Flea Market in Monistiraki

Athens - Rain, Ruins, Romance and... A Ring!

I have just returned from a city break in Athens. It was a wonderful mini break after a long and tiring half term at school... Above is a snap of me on a rocky hill just outside of the Acropolis. The views were spectacular and you could see the whole of the city sprawled out all around you - beautiful!

Beutiful views of the snowy Alps on our flight to Athens.

Our meal in the traditional family-run Greek taverna. The meatballs, moussaka and the greek slad were delicious!

Mmmm feta and olives!

We did have a bit of bad luck with the weather and here's me doing the obligatory "singing-in-the-rain" moment.

Nutella croissant for breakfast!? Yes please!

Goats cheese and olives are among my favouite things... so I was in heaven!

One of the theatre's at the foot of the Acropolis

On our first day we visited the Acropolis, as we reached the lofty ruins a huge dark ominous cloud came across the hills and there was a thunder storm! With the Acropolis being build on solid rock we quickly felt like we were rock-pooling with all the huge puddles springing up! We got absolutely drenched, but we made a quick pit-stop to a Starbucks for tea and hot chocolate and changed into dry clothes at our hotel.

Beautiful views!

Over the break (on Valentine's Day) there was also a little addition to my ring finger...

Ta-dah! The beautiful engagement ring :D

Relaxing and enjoying the views... one guess to decide which feet belong to me!

I would totally recommend a visit to the Greek Capital. There is so much to see, culture to take in, and delicious food!