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Monthly Archives: May 2010

Santorini

well, really have to finish up what we did on Crete. The day before we left we rented a car (VW Polo) and decided to drive west from HERAKLION. First, we just took our time and stopped frequently to see the many different views of slopping hills, islands in the distance, terraced plantings. Then, looking at the time, stepped on the gas! Mostly just two lane roads with enough room on the side for slower cars to stay out of the way for the many speedy drivers. We read that Greece has the highest driving fatality rate of any European country!! we understand why.
Came to Rythemnon. Very old city – well sort of since the whole island and civilization was wiped out by a tsunami. When the volcano in Santorini erupted it created a 100 meter high wave that distroyed  Crete. The old town is many, many very narrow lanes with shops and restaurants side by side. It was like a labyrinth. Saw a very old gate from 2000 bc, beautiful fountain with water still running. The lanes were mostly cobblestone.
Then on to Hania (Chania), very similar with many very narrow lanes and old buildings. The port was spectacular, with an round inlet with restaurants all along the sides, very Venetian. Well, that too isn’t too much of a surprise, the Venetians conquered Greece too along with the Menoans, Ottomans. In fact, Greece was not independent until 20th century – surpised us to learn this.
 
Santorini!!
Took high speed ferry to Thira, the new port city on Saturday. Had made hotel reservation (using Lonely Planet Guidebook) in Firostefani (next to Fira, the largest city on island). They picked us up from the port!! Had to walk up another narrow lane (no car access) to get to the hotel. Very nice room (Hotel Sofia) with swimming pool, real double bed and soft pillows! And, a balcony!!
Right next door is an Italian Restaurant (ate there this evening), a Sushi restaurant last night (called Ginger, #1 rated on Island), the night before a Greek place called Mama Thera – all within 100 meters.
so the day we go here were going to walk into town, but uphill looked more interesting so headed up the hill on pedestrian route and ended up winding through residential area intermingled with hotels and restaurants and very few shops. Everywhere though we see chapels and churches, very typical with brilliant blue rounded domes. (in fact, there is one right next to our hotel and on Sunday morning the bells rang at 7:15 am waking us up and sounding like in our room). So up the hill we go and finally see a copper red outcropping of rock that we have to first climb down 10’s of steps and then back up to get close to it.
On Sunday we had signed up for a sailing trip to start at 10 am. they picked us up from our hotel and were joined by 8 other people. We sailed toward one of the uninhabited islands created by the eruption (which is still going on, with daily seismic activiy), stopping to jump in the Aegean Sea – chilly at first but then very nice, extremely salty making it easy to float. In fact, we stopped several times to swim including in some "hot" springs where the water was very rust red; actually didn’t feel too hot until we swam back to the boat and then the sea felt very cold. This was followed by an onboard barbeque of shrimp, calimari, chicken, pork, vegis – and they freely poured wine and beer. Slept on the way back.
In the late afternoon we took a local bus (they are so fancy, like regular tour buses with air conditioning, covered seats, etc) to OIA (pronounced E – AH). It’s at furthest northern part of the island and "the" place to watch the sun set. it was also the place where every tourist from every cruise ship goes, not our cup of tea. It was beautiful to see the views though.
Today we took a bus to Pyrgos to walk roundtrip 6 miles to the monastery, the highest spot on the island. we could clearly see the caldera created by the volcano.
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Posted by on May 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Crete

Staying at the Kronos Hotel in Heraklion on Crete. Using the Lonely Planet guide book for history details, hotels and restaurants, the DK guidebooks for museum details and color pictures (easier for us to decide where to go when we can see the pictures!!)
The first afternoon here, the hotel staff recommended a restaurant next door (Mapavto/Marando) so we had fantastic lunch there, in fact so good went back for dinner. Both times gave us free dessert and after dinner brought out liqueur. We were both feeling no pain, and Joe started singing 60’s and 70’s tunes, a sure sign of being over served!!
Spent time between walking around town and getting our barrings. Stumbled into the Museum of Archeology and got combo ticket for Knossos. Went to Knossos today and hired a guide for tour which was well worth the extra money to have someone explain the layout of the ruins. Knossos is the oldest known site of civilization in Europe.
All the shops are closed from noon to around 4 pm, opening at 8 am and closing at 8 pm. The island isn’t overrun with tourists – yet. We’re here during the ‘low’ season.
Heraklion is very unusual in that the downtown has huge pedestrian zone, very nice since there is a lot of traffic here.
Dinner at Ouzeri tou Terzaki, again they brought us free dessert and drinks with the bill!

Tomorrow we’re going to brave the very, very narrow roads and crazy motor bikes; renting a car to see the rest of the island (of at least some of it).

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

In Greece!

Well, going back in time— our day in London was amazing. Arrived around 4:30, took Express Train to Hilton downtown, getting there at 5:30. Checked in, purchased theatre tickets, showered, changed, caught cabby and made it to the New LondonTheatre at 7:26, with 4 minutes to spare!!
War Horse was everything we expected and much more. After 5 minutes, the life sized horse puppets and other animals became real. Very engaging story about WW I; horse is sold off to go to war, boy follows and tries to find his long lost friend. Cried at the end, but there is a happy ending. In reality, over 10 million people and multiple millions horses died during this war.
From London flight to Brussels. Visited Magritte Art Museum. You may know him from the Man with the Bowler Hat from the Thomas Crown Affair.
Also we had some exceptional food; more later. Partied with Gisela’s great neighbors and friends. Walked a lot – everyday in woods near Tervuren and also at park near Africa Museum with large elephant statues all over the place.
Now in Greece!! Staying at Hilton with view of Acropolis, heading to some island tomorrow – finalizing tonight. Ate dinner and drank Ouzo while watching the sun set by the Parthenon.
 
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Posted by on May 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

On the Road Again!

At British Airlines Lounge, pays to have points to upgrade to Club World (use that credit card, baby!!).
Left this morning, flight to LA great. Checked in to see if we could get on earlier flight to London, no luck – so what to do with 6 hours! Took taxi to Marina Del Rey and went to excellent, GREAT sushi restaurant i had looked up ahead of time SUGARfish. http://www.sugarfishsushi.com/ Totally lived up to expectations. Well worth the cabfare for the quality of food.
BTW – strike was cancelled today!! Since we already changed our connection – instead of continuing immediately to Brussels, we’re spending the night in London. Plan is to go see a play "War Horse". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-bni4QqSv4 – go to youtube and search on New London Theatre War Horse – you’ll be amazed. Cross your fingers our plans work out to see this play.
 
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Posted by on May 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Photos!

i’ve updated permissions so that you should now be able to view our photos from South Africa. As we’re traveling, we’ll add more from this trip!
 
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Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Travel Time Again!

May 18th we’re off to Belgium and then Greece. Well, we hope to make it out of town – volcanos, riots, BA strike….hum, we’re planning on being easy, relaxed travelers and just going with the flow!! Watch this site over the next 3 weeks for our travel updates. it will be hard to leave our beautiful home with the weather turning out to be so very nice. swim pool is warm and already in use. trails are dry and wildflowers are out. wine – well wineries are always here but so nice to go tasting and sit outside in leisure to really enjoy the tastes and views.
 
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Posted by on May 14, 2010 in Uncategorized