Wednesday, June 3, 2009


It's been a crazy few weeks, so I'm behind on blogs, but here's a quick 2 cents about Stockholm. A little over 2 weeks ago, after spending 3 days in Dusseldorf and Essen for an internship seminar, 5 of us took off for Stockholm for a guys weekend in the Nordic land. The crew: Jake (Flex), Kendall (Speed), Andreas (Slick), Remi (Boss), and myself (Doc). After sleeping Friday night in the airport, we caught a 6am flight and headed out to Stockholm.

Upon arriving, we walked the streets a searched for a hostel, which we finally found. First of all, Stockholm is incredibly expensive, one of the most expensive cities in the world, so we paid 16 euros a night per person for literally a 6x7 ft. room. It was incredibly claustrophobic, stuffy, and no windows, but it was way cheaper than anything else we could find. After dropping off our bags, we walked to Old Town Stockholm and wandered through the cobblestone streets, around the Royal Palace, and chased the blue suited men around for the changing of the guard. We watched the changing of the guard for about 20 minutes and ended up at the front of the Royal Palace. It was quite comical though when Remi, upon asking the guard what would happen if he jumped the gate into the Palace lawn, was told that the real guards would be called to arrest him if he did not leave after being asked politely. Apparently, security is not really an issue in Sweden and the guards "guarding" the Palace are only novices and the real guards sit around somewhere else. After following the changing of the guard, we found a great underground tavern to eat lunch and then left to explore the city more. We went through some very cool independent abstract art galleries, browsed shops, and just hung out in the city. Stockholm is nice for the fact that the entire city is comprised of small inlets of water that surround small islands. Having a city surrounded by water easily makes a city more beautiful, so we walked up and down a lot of the streets along the waterways throughout the day. Around dinner time we headed back to the hostel for a quick power nap before going out to the clubs. The great thing about Stockholm nightlife, or Stockholm girls rather, is that they dance with you. Makes it a great thing when you roll to the club with 5 guys all wanting to dance with the female species - definitely would not work out in Berlin. We ended up having a great night at the clubs that was much better than the club scene in Berlin. One last note - we left the club at 3:30 in the morning and the sky was entirely bright. Due to Stockholm being so far north, it never gets completely dark and you can always see some of the sunshine on the horizon.

Probably the best thing about Saturday night in Stockholm was that we met 2 Swedish girls that agreed to show us around the city the next day. We met up with them at a park in the city mid-day and then walked to a carnival like area where we grabbed lunch at a hamburger spot. Afterwards, we decided to rent peddle boats and go out for a couple hours on the waterways of Stockholm. It was awesome to hang out on the water for the day as the weather was nice and the city is great to see by water. Basically, that was the entire day Sunday. Met up with the girls, hung out in a couple parks, went out on the water, and then called it a day. That night, we had nothing to do so we went to a theater and saw Angels and Demons, a relatively boring but relaxing thing to do in a foreign city. The night, we went to the lounge of our hostel and played cards for hours until catching a 3:45am bus in the morning to the airport for our Monday morning flight back to Berlin. While both our outgoing and incoming flights were at ridiculous times during the day, when you get a flight for 20 euros round trip you're definitely not complaining. Overall, Stockholm was a cool city, a pretty fun weekend, and established the crew known as LXG: Slick, Speed, Boss, Flex, and Doc.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


We had a few phrases for the week.  One: "We did this trip right."  Two: "I can't believe this is my life right now."  And three, my personal favorite: "We're living in paradise right now, but we actually are in Paradise."  If you can get the double meaning of the third phrase, that one sums up the trip best.  After a week in paradise staying at Paradise Beach, I would say with almost certain confidence that the 3 days spent in Mykonos were some of the best of my life.

Nash, Kendall, Aria, Remi, and myself flew out of Berlin midday Thursday into Athens.  Immediately upon arrival, Nash and I had only a short time between landing and our ferry departure so we quickly hopped in a cab and headed to the port.  Kendall, Aria, and Remi wanted an extra day to see Athens, so they came to the island a day later on Friday night.  For Nash and I, our ferry set sail at 6:30 as we boarded for a 4 1/2 hour ride to the island of Mykonos.  We had deck seating for the ferry so we sat on the top floor of the ship and played cards, ate dinner, and laid around as we made the journey across the Aegean Sea.  The best part of the boat journey, besides the fact that it got us to the island, was that we had the most incredible sunset I have ever seen.  There were clear skies and for probably 40 minutes you could watch the sun slowly dip below the sea level and beyond the other islands as the sky lit up with all sorts of pinks, yellows, oranges, reds, and blues.  I guess I haven't really seen that many sunsets in my life, but I'll be giving a big round of applause to the sunset that one day tops this one.  After a last hour in literally total darkness surrounding the ship, we arrived at Mykonos at 11pm and caught a bus to our beach cabin in Paradise Beach.  Immediately upon arriving, we threw our things in our room, caught a quick shower, and took the 30 second walk to the beach bar.  The best thing about our beach cabin, other than the fact that it was ridiculously cheap, was that we stayed literally 50 meters from the beach.  So upon reaching the beach bar, we immediately started meeting people in what was probably my favorite aspect of the trip: everyone spoke english.  It was not that everyone spoke english when you asked them, but they were already speaking english.  Paradise Beach is a huge party spot full of Canadian, American, English, and Australian tourists, so it was awesome to be able to talk to anyone.  After meeting a few people, we headed to the club around 1 and danced the entire night.  The club had one of the coolest setups I have yet to see: a huge turquoise pool with the dance floor surrounding it, a view right out onto the beach, and some of the most fun bartenders yet.  After a long night of dancing and meeting new people, we got back to our cabin around 5 and crashed only to wake up at 9 the next morning.

While we could have slept in Friday morning, who wants to sleep in when you have a gorgeous beach a few steps away.  So we got up early, had a quick breakfast, and by 10 were laying in beach loungers looking out onto the ocean while sipping on fresh squeezed pineapple juice.  We literally laid around on the beach the entire day, arriving there at 10 in the morning and not leaving the beach once until 8pm.  The beach had tons of great aspects.  First of all, I have never seen ocean water that is actually clear.  On the entire island and at Paradise, the water was completely clear and you could swim as far out as possible and still see to the bottom.  The only negative aspect of paradise beach is that it is a small pebble beach, where as all the other beaches we saw on the island the next day were sand.  This didn't really matter though as we were either laying in chairs, swimming around in the water, or hanging out at the beach bar.  Paradise Beach, especially for college students, is the perfect location.  It's one of the top 5 party beaches in the world, has incredibly affordable housing, and more entertainment than imaginable.  However, while on the beach Friday morning, we were wondering if we just came the wrong time of year or if the beach wasn't actually as cool as we had originally thought because when we looked around at 1pm there was almost no one on the beach.  But at about 2, that completely changed.  The chilled-out beach grooves that the bars were playing turned into club beats, and within about 30 minutes every chair on the beach was taken.  We realized had we not set an alarm this would have been us too after being exhausted from the club the night before.  At 4:30 every day, the Tropicana Beach Bar throws a party which officially starts off the party day at Paradise and doesn't end until the late hours of the morning.  Spending an entire 10 hours on the beach was pretty awesome, especially when you have beautiful views of the ocean, are surrounded by thousands of people your same age, and are in Greece for the first time in your life.  When we finally left the beach at 8 that night, we were wondering if you could really top the first day we had just had.  Luckily for us, that wouldn't turn out to be a problem.  So we grabbed a quick 30 minute power nap, then met up with Aria, Remi, and Kendall as they arrived at 11:30 to the resort.  Once we had the whole crew together, we went back to the beach bar to start off the night where we met some Canadian girls who then went with us into the town of Mykonos.  We first went to small little Australian bar called Down Under which we had heard about through a bartender we met at Paradise.  Plus with the free drink coupons she gave us, there was no way we could not go.  After hanging out for a couple hours, we walked down the street to Scandinavian Bar which is recommended by literally everyone in the town.  So as a repeat of the night before, we danced all night until catching a ride back in to Paradise in the morning where we hung out on the beach for an hour or so and watched the sunrise.  Quite a nice way to end a night of partying, as the sunrise is almost as spectacular as the sunset.  The only downside - going to bed at 7 am and then waking up the next day at 9 does not do so well for your sleep.  But hey, you only live once.

Why did we again decide to get up at an absurd hour the next morning?  Actually for quite a good reason.  The one thing Nash and I decided we had to on Mykonos before we came was rent ATV's.  Paradise Beach, just like our beach cabin, had great prices for all day 4-wheeler rentals.  We strolled over to the rental spot at 9 Saturday morning and rented the ATV's for only 17 euros for a whole 24 hours!  Our plan for the day was to beach hop - just pick out a beach on the map and drive there, spend an hour or so at each, and then go to the next.  Mykonos has just under 20 beaches, and we made it to 7 different ones on Saturday.  My favorite beach of the day was Elia, located on the southeast corner of the island.  It had extremely fine white sand, beautiful water, and cliffs surrounding the small cove that it was set in.  The close runner-up for favorite beach of the day was Super Paradise, set in an extremely deep cove, so it felt very secluded and also made the water warmer than other beaches on the island.  Basically the theme of the day was to cruise the island on the 4-wheelers while enjoying spectacular views and the feeling of freedom that comes with driving ATV's, lay around on the beach while juggling the mini soccer ball that I brought, and in general just enjoying life.  We saw so many beautiful beaches on Saturday, and the experience of getting place to place on an ATV is pretty irreplaceable.  The island is relatively small, so we were able to get from one side to the other in about 25 minutes, that is if we didn't make a wrong turn somewhere due to the complete lack of road signs, road names, or a remotely decent map.  It didn't matter though as every time we got lost we ran into something else, plus it just meant more time cruising around which was great in itself.  We ended the 4-wheeler day by going into the town of Mykonos where we walked the streets, grabbed dinner, and enjoyed the natural scenery.  The town is very typical of Greek architecture: white-washed buildings, blue, green, and turquoise stair railings and window shutters, and grayish stone streets.  Mykonos also has the most beautiful pink flower trees that hang over the narrow walkways throughout the city.  The city itself is much like a maze as all the streets wind this way and that and it's incredibly easy to get lost.  Overall, the shopping in Mykonos wasn't anything special as it was all high-class stores or little all-the-same souvenir shops.  But the town itself was beautiful and completely worth seeing during the day since we had already seen it the night before.  At about 8pm, Nash and I arrived back to Paradise where we took a quick shower and went back to the beach bar to start the night.  This night we met a couple guys from New York, a few English guys, and a huge group of Australian girls.  We all decided to go back into the town and repeat the night before.  So we again started off at Down Under with free drinks thanks again to our bartender friend and then to Scandinavian Bar for more dancing.  After we all decide we were a bit tired of the club, we went back to Paradise in the middle of the night and continued with a beach party until sunrise.  It probably sounds like exactly the same night as Friday, but with meeting new people and having a different group from the night before, it was entirely different.  But another great night, another 2 hours of sleep, and another 9am wake up the next morning.

On Sunday, Nash and I had to get up at 9 in order to return the 4-wheelers by 9:30 so not to get charged for another full day if we were late returning them.  After doing so, we grabbed another quick breakfast and went to the beach (actually breakfast is at the beach so we were already there) to lay around on loungers.  I was actually shocked at how awake I felt, so we played cards for a while, listened to some beach grooves, and just hung out as the beach was again completely dead until about 2.  Aria, Kendall, and Remi met us on the beach at about 1 and we hung out for the entire day again at Paradise, this time under grass umbrella huts since most of us were slightly burnt from the previous days.  After another day of laying around and just hanging out with good company and the people we had met, we left Paradise at 6:30 to catch our 7:00 ferry back to Athens.  It was a shame to have to say goodbye to Paradise, but the memory and legend that Paradise is will live on in my memory forever.

Nash stayed behind in Mykonos for another day before he had to catch a flight back to the states on Wednesday, but Remi, Kendall, and I explored Athens in a quick half-day on Monday before our flight back to Berlin.  We walked from our hostel to the Acropolis and the Parthenon and saw those sights before browsing for a couple hours through the tourist shops and streets of Athens.  Athens as a whole is a relatively dirty city and I would highly recommend for anyone who goes to Athens to not spend more than 1 or maybe 1 1/2 days there.  The main sites to see are definitely worth seeing, but spending too much time there is definitely a mistake.  Go to an island instead and soak up the Greek beaches and beauty, which in my case was absolutely the right choice and I'm very glad I limited my time in Athens and maximized my time in Mykonos.  Overall, Mykonos was an incredible trip and there is no possible way I will ever forget it in my entire life.  I can be 85 years old one day and completely senile and delirious, but I guarantee I'll still be remembering and telling stories about Mykonos.  It was a priceless trip, and like I said before, I was living in Paradise, but I was actually in paradise.  Cheers to you Paradise Beach: Mykonos.