Shia here. I had such an amazing summer, traveling the world with my Coog buddy Thomas. Tom is a UH photographer if you recall, so check out his photoblog.

Athens, Greece

This time, we went to Athens, Greece, home the 2004 Summer Olympics and TONS of history. It was already after sunset by the time we checked in. I couldn’t believe it! The Parthenon was all lit up. It was glowing against the night sky on top of the Acropolis. The shops around the Acropolis were all open, and you could hear live music everywhere! It was way  past my bedtime, but no way was I gonna miss this. I found out later that Greeks don’t even think about dinner until 10pm at night, and then they shop. So I bought Uncle Shasta a hand-woven scarf to keep his neck warm this winter. Whenever he wears it, he’ll think of me – which is a good thing, right?

The next day we hit the Acropolis again, because once just isn’t enough. I saw a crane working at the Parthenon. Thomas says the country is slowly restoring this world treasure so it will last for future generations. Wow! One day I’ll be able to bring my kids here, and it will still be awesome. We spent the afternoon at a bunch of different patio cafes. Greeks love to eat outdoors. We had a real Greek salad at one place, fresh hummus & Feta cheese at another, and delish olives at every stop.

Patmos, with Monk

We sailed from Athens to the island of Patmos, which is a really spiritual place. There is a beautiful Greek Orthodox monastery there, and the really nice monks give tours. One even let me sit on his lap. Check out the photo, am I cute or what? And wow, look at that beard!

After a visit to the monastery, we walked around the capital city of Chora. It’s sooo serene and quiet. Old Town Chora is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, because it was built sometime around the 12th century. Patmos was the perfect place to mellow out after shopping till midnight in Athens. And seeing the Parthenon. And…

Can I get a degree in globe trotting?

Hey, everyone!  Shia here, Shasta’s little protégé :) I don’t know about you guys but after spring semester, I needed a break. I opted out of summer school this year to “broaden my horizons” – a/k/a touring the world with my buddy Thomas. I met Tom at a UH photo shoot – he’s a photographer for the university. Check out his photoblog. Anyway, we went all over the place (crazy fun!). Shasta, if you are reading this, NO, I did not cause a world of trouble.  I was very, very good . . . mostly. Okay, well at least, I was very good in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Dubrovnik is really old, like from before the Middle Ages. It’s on the Adriatic Sea and it’s a BIG tourist spot.  The people here call Dubrovnik  “Pearl of the Adriatic” because it has the hottest beaches, lots of historic buildings, and a bunch of really cool hotels.  It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which basically means everybody in the world agrees this place is really important.

One of the best sightseeing spots is Old Town, no cars or buses allowed. We walked down these narrow cobblestone streets. It was like going back in time, and I imagined what it would be like to live in one of the old stone houses around us. Except that now most of them are museums, shops and restaurants.

"Old Town" Dubrovnik, Coatia

Along the way, I bought my Aunt Sasha some hand cream made from a recipe that’s 500 years old! Wow! It’s from the Franciscan Monastery Museum, which  has artifacts from one of the world’s oldest pharmacies. Aunt Sasha is going to love this stuff.

Finally we were ready to do the thing every tourist must do: walk the wall.  It’s this wide, tall stone wall around the whole city. Thomas put me up on his shoulder and stepped out on a stone path that’s 60 to 75 feet above the ground in places. The wall was built at the end of the Middle Ages. People built towers along the wall to protect the city from enemies.  Shasta would love this wall. It’s old and tough, like he is. It was nice to give my paws a break & ride on Thomas’ shoulder while he walked the whole wall. It only took an hour and I saw the city, the beach and even an island just off the coast.

When we were done, we checked out the beautiful Sponza Palace. It’s a castle that was built during the Renaissance. Get this – it was built before concrete, but it withstood an earthquake that almost destroyed the whole city in 1667.

By this time the sun was setting and Thomas and I were starving. He treated me to a Friar’s steak. That’s a Dubrovnik version of rib eye with lots of Mediterranean herbs. Yep, it was great, but it made me miss the juicy steaks my Coogs grill back home.

We went to a ton of other exotic places too, and I’ll be sharing it all with you. I can say this about Dubrovnik: I still can’t pronounce the name, but I’ve got the T-shirt.

Hi. My name is Shia. I’m that cougar you may not know yet, but that will change soon.

Uncle Shasta

Chances are that you’ve heard of my famous uncle, Shasta.

My pops was Shasta VI, but he retired early, leaving my uncle, Shasta VII to be the mascot for the great University of Houston.

Pops (Shasta VI)

Yep, my family is in the university pride business and I’m ready to take over. But my folks won’t take me seriously. They tell me I’m too young to be at events that involve rowdy and proud college students, but I’ll show them.

After a catty debate with my parents, I managed to strike a deal with them. (I’ll teach you my ways someday.) They agreed to send me to Houston “to do some living and learning.” If I prove that I can keep focused and stay out of trouble, they will fund my

That's me, Shia!

tuition for mascot school. I know it sounds easy, but I’m a free spirit with a lot of passion. So, it’s going to be pretty hard to contain myself while watching my uncle live out my dream. I’m hoping Uncle Shasta will let me have a few gigs. In my opinion, he’s getting old and could use some nights off. I’m sure Sasha won’t mind having him to herself once in a while.

So, here I am in the fourth largest city in the U.S., hanging out with my celebrity uncle, and loving life at UH. I’m pretty excited to go to all the UH games, readings, competitions and all that. Look for me if you are on campus, or around town!

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