Monday, January 17, 2011

Greece - 2008

Long post ALERT!

Here is the first of several travel posts of the trips i have taken

So i went to Greece in October 2008, I had recently split with my ex and I met up with a friend from England in London and we traveled to beautiful, sunny, feta filled Greece

This was my first ever travel blog, I was traveling with a friend I hadn't spent TONS of time with before AND I was in a weird head space that came with the split, so I really found writing about my journey was helpful and it was AMAZINGLY great getting comments on facebook about how much everyone loved my storys!

So I thought I would share it with you, here is my blog and a few of my favourite Greece photos...

Greece - Part 1

Sat Sept 20th ->Got to airport on time even after stopping at ikea and missing the exit
Air Transat has a new way to distract passengers from how ridiculously long their line ups are and its by leading around what i can only assume to be a new employee dressed up in a ridiculous blue furry costume! Really amusing though and have to admit once i got a smile and a wave i completely forgot i'd been standing in line over an hour waiting to check in!
When i was told what time to be at the gate i realized that i had no watch or clock or anything that keeps time as i usually rely on my phone and had to shell out stupid $ for a lovely plastic hello kitty watch that i just know i will treasure for many years *sigh* there is ALWAYS something i forget! Feeling way too calm and relaxed something is bound to go wrong, give up my seat for an elderly lady and hope good kharma will keep everything going well and then my name is announced on the PA! That only happens in movies!!!! Get to the desk assuming A)someone is dead and this is the only way to reach me or B) they have bumped me off the flight! Turns out they wanted to upgrade me to emergency seating without the $70 charge, ummmm okay! Good kharma is back!

Sun Sept 21st-> Have arrived at Gatwick! Flight was uneventful, the gentleman next to me (who had to pay for his extra leg room, teeheee) puts on noise reducing headphones and it looks like i will have a peaceful flight until he starts to snuggle up to my shoulder as he falls asleep - very awkward! managed to sleep 2.5 hours and have not yet reached delirious tired, will save that for when andy gets here! Super proud of myself - found the showers and actually used them, not quite horrible - just like being back in college except for the foreign guy who tried to get in "by accident!" Got yummy marks and spencer sandwich for breakfast and now waiting before i can find a taxi to do an hour of shopping (i have priorities!) oh and just realized my ipod has the time on it ggrrrrrrrrrr

Day 1 (still)
- after a 9 hour layover at gatwick and realizing i was in the wrong terminal to meet andy i finally left for crete, the plane ride was as good as getting my tubes tied with screaming bratty kids everywhere and seriously thought one mum was going to let herself off the plane... midflight!
- got to the hotel with the very manly name (prince of lillies) and had a greek feast (greek pizza, greek salad) yes they call it greek salad in greece! Finally got to my own bed after 26 hours of travelling and was wide awake, arrgghhhh

Day 2
- spent the next day exploring crete beach and "admiring" the speedos on the old larger greek men! caught the bus into Herkalion that came every 15 minutes (every hour in greek time!) and walked around the town where what are gypseys in paris, france are actually dogs in Crete as they wander around wild begging to everyone - (insert missing sydney here) and make friends with a wild one that LOVES peanut butter, so my fault!
- wander around Knosses the second most visited ruins in Greece and not really sure why - all the signs around the site seem to insinuate the man who restored it (british) didn't quite know what he was doing! Had the BEST dessert ever, a chocolate fondue with about 20 things to dip in at a little cafe in the old part of town, mmmm

Day 3
- got up at 5am (thought this was a holiday) to wait for a bus to drive us 3.5 hours to the gorge of samaria. Enjoyed the long drive (honestly slept most of the way) and FINALLY got to the gorge, started out with way too much enthusiasm for a 5 hour hike and my steps definitely were not as quick! Quickly realize that EVERYONE slips at least once and we quickly start a game of who stumbles the most and think andy won (until he reads this and then mmaayyybbeee i won) Hardest hike i have ever done but the most beautiful scenery! That is until i attempt to use the public toilet along the hike, and should have realized from the stricken look on other tourists faces as they left it wouldn't be a pleasant experience, i honestly think an entire person explode over the hole in the ground and vowed to dehydrate over using another one before the end of the day! After 5 long hours and 2 short snack breaks (andy has figured out he must keep me fed if we are to remain friends on this trip :o) ) we reach agia roumeli and drink the yummiest beer and free our poor feet while watching the sea on the black beach (with the occasional beached whale - who invented speedos anyway???)
- watch the sunset on the ferry back to our bus and its 11pm before we are back at the hotel after a long 17 hour day that was well worth the blisters!

Day 4
- woke up and considered amputating my legs as it would be easier then walking on them ever again! Say goodbye to the lovely hotel owners (until they try to triple charge the credit card that is) and are off to the ferry for Santorini!
- had to hike (this is now a very bad word after yesterday) to the high speed catamaran and settle in for the 2 hour ride to Santorini

- please ignore the typing errors, the keyboard needs some WD40 or something!hope everyone is great and will be back when i can about the perils of public transport in Santorini :o)

Day 4 (still)
- got to santorini by ferry and have royally pissed off the taxidriver by being the only people going up the island (not sure he realizes i consider my bag to be a third person as it is soo large!) get to the hotel and its just lovely and the owner poppy is adorable - i like her even more when she has a maid bring up wine to welcome us (this is my kind of island!)
- decide to head to the beach and as we start to board the bus we get yelled at in greece so we hop off and the bus starts to drve away! so andrew gives him the finger (in british) and the bus pulls over, the driver gets off and informs us that giving the finger to someone in greece is as good as being smacked on the bottom (there is some hand gesturing going on here) HUH? Can only assume that greek us drivers do not like to be spanked-to each there own i guess :o) take the next bus just to avoid sore bums!
- beach in kamari was good, mostly napped an laughed at the people tryig to get in the water without falling on the rocks, i am such a horrible tourist, teheeeeheee
- took the bus into fira (what gluttons for punishment) and get to see the sunset while eating more greek food (i am starting to fantasize about swiss chalet and its only the 5th day!)
- i develop 2 new games today #1 is dodge the donkey poo (pretty self explanatory i hope!) and #2 how long wil it take to fill a wine glass with water drops falling from the celing of the obviously NOT high class restaurant we are eating dinner in!
- walk back to the hotel and get lost only once - anything is better then attempting the bus or taxi again!

Day 5
- santorini in a day (otherwise know as i officially will have calves of steel upon my return to canada)
- this is a private tour today, no public transport whahooo!! should probably be suspicious of a tour that crams 3 islands and 6 stops into 9 hours but that requires forsight i obviously do not pocess on this holiday!
- 1st stop: monestary, very pretty!
- 2nd stop: pretty overlook of santorini but getting the feeling - seen one white house seen them all!
-3rd stop: volcano where we have to h**e (told you hike was a bad word) to the top and i am already getting stroppy because i just KNOW the further up we go (and its a long way up) the further back it is to the boat but it is worth it when i put my hand in a hole that is hot from the sulpher
NOTE TO DIANE: thats the only hot thing going on on this holiday, sorry to disapoint but i have yet to meet my night in shining greek armour!
-4th stop: was to swim in the hot springs off a different island, they don't mention however how freaking far you have to swim to get there! But i reason with myself (i am talking to myself a lot on this trip!) that I am in greece and i should at least try it! so launch myself off the boat and after swimming for ages and hitting warm water, i perch on a slimy rock and decide EFF this I've done hot springs in costa rica and swam in the sea in Italy and i want out! (my mood is obviously not improving!)
-5th stop: supposed to be a pretty little town called thirisia that requres about 300 steps straight up to the top and obviously the same back down - OMFG! but the photographer in me can't resist a good photo op so up we go - i have stopped communicating verbally at this point and am just starting to use not so nice hand gestures to communicate with andrew especially when we realize there is nothing at the top!
-6th stop: OIA the prettiest and richest tour in santorini to watch the sunset but the gods do officially hate me and its another 250 steps to the top and to improve my mood half way up i come thisclose to being run over by a herd of donkeys coming back down! (why didn't i take a donkey myself you ask? well i heard 2 different women gives stories about it and the 1st had to step in giant pile of poo to get to hers and the 2nd couldn't even get up onto her donkey - no thanks!) manage to take some lovely pictures tough and it definitely redeems the day!
- so the cast of characters for the santorini in a day trip were 1. took too many drugs earlier in life scotsman, 2. man that forgot to dry his washing and now smells like mold, 3. nigel barker from ANTMs obviously cuter younger brother, 4. the tourguide who must to sidework as a sex phone operator and 5. the blonde canadian and her british friend who consistently got passed by a couple going up all the stairs who were older then our parents!

Day 6
- off to naxos today but first its a lazy morning sitting by the pool (a piece offering for my legs) and crepes for breakfast!
- fingers crossed the ferry ride goes well (as it is public transportation and you know how well that is going for me over here!)

I'm wondering if anyone is getting sick of these yet? Please ignore the typos, the keyboards here need hammers to push down each key so i rrreeaalllyyyy do know how to spell knight :o)

Day 6 cont....
- obviously from all the comments you are all enjoying the blog so i shall blog on...
- sat by the pool today and got a bit too much sun, want to be optomistic and predict i will be all lovely and brown tomorrow but will likely remain red and just be peeling as well!
- met a nice lady travelling on her own from Colorado (very brave) and a couple who had been travelling for 2 months (think he might have been growing his beard the same amount of time too cause he kinda looked like weird al yankovich!)
- its check out time from the hotel in santorini and poppy gives us more wine (apparently she is just as happy to see us leave as she was to see us arrive)!
- get to the port at 3pm as we were told and are scheduled to leave at 3:30pm (hahahahahahahaaaa public transportation), 4pm a gigantic ferry finally pulls in and 1000's of tourists pour out and then a tourbus which just seems so bizarre several other tourists comment on it as well! this is then followed by 10 small trucks and 20 or so cars, they start to load several buses onto the ferry and then all of a sudden 5 tanker trucks pull out, its like the mary poppins bag for transportation! The ferry finally pulls away at 4:30 after being herded like cattle and having my toes (ick feet) run over 3 times by pushy luggage (by luggage i mean tourists)
- spend 2 hours with my beloved ipod (i am coming up with poems for my ipod its soo soothing to listen to when i've had enough of zorba the greek!) and we have arrived in Naxos! Some of my youngest memories are of visiting here with my family 20 years ago and I am happy to be back
- have to literally bitch slap the pushy hotel guides trying to sell you rooms as we head to the town (they look quite sweet but i believe underneath they are specially trained in the arts of persuasion and if you look them directly in the eye you will by hypnotized into following them to 1 star hotels for 5 star prices waaayyyy from the centre of town)!
- get to the hotel in a dodgy part of naxos and once past the gate its beautiful and smells like heaven (or at least some sort of gorgeous flower)
- drop off the luggage and head into town for greek..... nah! couldn't take anymore, went for mexican and a strawberry daquiri ( a girl needs her sugary, fruity drink and i'm getting bored with beer)
- back to the hotel for the night

1. a double room means 2 single beds pushed together (works for my trip but i feel for the honeymooners who expect king size beds and end up with tiny flat beds that look tall enough to have been meant for someone severely "vertically challenged")
2. the bathrooms, ahh the bathrooms, my major issue whenever i travel in europe! there is nowhere to put your stuff, you are not supposed to put the toilet paper in the toilet, and the showers have a 3 inch ledge squares with curtains that stop 4 inches from the ground and that clings to you in a very naughty way! plus half the time the shower head doesn't even attach to the wall, why why why???
3. i might complain but the majority of places i've stayed because of splitting the price have only cost me $30/night which is pretty sweet!

Day 7
- have decided to spend the day exploring on my own and after being woken at 6:15, 6:30, 6:45, 7:00... (you get the point) by an evil rooster with sadistic tendencies i'm off!
- get to the town square and realize i need the toilet NOW (must have been the mexican and honestly what travel blog is complete without a colon related story!) end up paying 2 euros ($3) for a nasty tea just to use the WC (washrooms over here)
- decide to visit the place i remember the name of staying when i was younger but after a quick google search realize that was another trip to samos -oops! that would have been a long hike -> eek there is that word again!
- the beach close to the town isn't too fantastic so I walk (refuse to say hike again!) 7 km (what is wrong with me?????????????????) to agia anna and have found myself a lovely little cove to read and further my sunburn - unfortunately an army of ants has found me and its time to relocate
- stop at a tiny market on my walk back that is watched over by a small lady approximately 120 years of age who insists i buy everything i walk past with such a passion i am almost convinced to do this -> i leave with a beach mat (covered in chicken feathers - i just don't want to know), an apple and pringles for the price of my tea!
- sitting in another internet cafe right now after visiting the old town (should be named must climb vertically for 20 minutes to see some crumbled walls town but i understand it would discourage the tourists) had a gyros finally they are incredibly difficult to find and my next stop is for a waffle with honey, such a hard life!
- heading to athens tomorrow on a highspeed boat in business class, this was the only option and i'm sooooo not complaining after yesterdays kerflafelle! xxx

2nd to last travel blog everyone!!!

Day 7 cont...
- wandered around for ages on the last night in Naxos and i realize I have lost that beach mat! Have theory (and this could be due to the large amount of sun i've been getting) that a flock of chickens nicked it from my bag when I wasn't looking and returned it to the old lady from the store (this would explain the chicken feathers when i got it as i'm probably the 10th owner of that mat), if this makes no sense to you reread the last note! Yes this theory might sound far fetched but i'm going into tv withdrawl and must amuse myself in anyway possible!

Day 8
- sweet talked the hotel owners wife into lending me her hairdryer - oh the luxury my hair is free!
- breakfast was fresh squeezed oranges, yoghurt with naxos honey, tea and fresh bread with jam and butter (multrigrain cheerios just won't cut it when i get back home!)
- did something i do on every holday.... unfortunatley its nothing too exicting: i admit i am obsessed with visiting grocery stores when i'm in other countries - there is just soo much new food to love (there is so a fat girl in here dying to get out!) my favourite grocery stores were in tuscany, england and amsterdam -> yes please don't shake your heads-i actually have favourites :o)
- kinda rainy today, wandered around by myself and spent most of my time flicking my hair around like i'm starring in my own greek pantene pro-v advertisement i'm just so happy to be free of the ponytail!

GREEKS: they smoke non-stop, and cough like its an olympic sport! each conversation they have sounds like an intense argument and since i don't speak greek at all it very well could be)! they are obsessed with instant coffee (costs more then a cappuchino) but the rare times you catch them smiling it can melt your heart!

- took ferry to athens in the evening, got in argument with horrible british women who even though we had tons of space at our table insisted that she was entitled to all the space as she had long legs, total crap and i tell her so but she seems to thing my obviously midget legs should not be allowed any space, resist the urge to accidentally launch my icetea into her lap
- get into athens port and for some reason i am reminded of toronto, this makes no sense and i must be delirious from the smacking around the british lady (only in my head of course) and the vibrations of pulling my luggage on the bumpy sidewalks of scary pirreaus athens!
- after 5 hours sleep we head to the train station and get on a 5 hour train ride to Meteora to see the amazing monastarys perched on incredible mountains! the scenery on the way isn't too spectacular - its like most train rides, i think secretly i expected to see zeus up in the mountains in a toga with a spear (mostly i just wanted to see the toga!)
- decide on the way i am desperately in love with my bag and realize its seen 10 countries in the last year and has yet to fail me! i am considering naming it but fear such an attachment is not in anyway healthy!
- decide unless i can master the squat and pee i am no longer allowing myself to use the public bathrooms, they are too horrible to imagine and i am in constant fear of "missing"! its like a class at the gym "now squat and pee, squat and pee NONOnononononoooooo don't pee then squat" thats all wrong and has very dire consequences!
- the monastaries are lovely to walk around, so much history and the monks chanting on the music system adds to the mysteriousness of the whole place, i would rather see a real one but i guess they were hiding today which is good because the last recollection i have of a monk was in the "da vinci code" and that was a very scary dude!
- all women touring the monastaries and nunneries are not allowed to wear shorts or skirts or pants, you must cover up with a wrap they provide and once i have this oh so fashionable greek apparel on i have a sudden urge to sit on a chair in front of my white and blue house all day drinking coffee and shaking my head at all those damn tourists
- walk around tons to maintain the calves of steel and on the trek back up to the hotel realize that those are not extra large moths or small birds, yes yes those are bats flying around our heads and i will have none of it! resist the urge to put on my hoodie like a cape and pretend to "be one of them" and march on to the hotel, well not so much march on as march up, argh :o)
- probably will write the last bit from Gatwick, i have more meteora tomorrow then its back to athens then home via London! xxx

Greece - Part 6

Day 9
- last few hours in Meteora and just enough time to squeeze in a few more monastarys, kind of getting to the point that if you have seen one you have seen them all and after managing to drop my skirt mid tour (they give you skirts to wear over your pants because you are not allowed in without one on) I feel i have traumatized enough of gods men and skip the last 2! now whilst i didn't have to climb up the last cliff, still managed to clock in about 16 or so kilometres today by an apparent Meteora taxi shortage and 8 of those kms were straight up hill! feel a little guilty that my favourite part of the day was not the beautiful hymns of the nuns and monks but the white chocolate covered strawberry icecream i inhaled outside the last monastary!
- so very much looking forward to some Canadian food, after trying Mousakka once (and loving it) seems to be all you can find here in Meteora and after having it for a 3rd time in about 24 hours i am ready to "mousakka" it back up and try ordering a big mac to see the response i get! Every time we ask for a menu in the teeny tiny family run tavernas we are met with some very leery looks and they say no no no! (i'm curious to find out what menu actually means in greek) only to have them come back with a menu every time! should seriously learn some greek words and later consult my travelguide and the only thing related to food i can seem to memorize is - is there meat in this? not sure how far that will get me if i try to order that big mac :o)
- 5 hour train ride back to Athens goes very well and i'm a little concerned because it was transportation and public at that!
- after checking into the hotel we run into a couple from Mississauga and their niece from London who invite us for drinks, am soooo tired but know it will make a great story as they are totally looney and the niece who is completely plastered flails around so much i fear she will either flash us or clock someone with her constant high fives! after a lively conversation, the highlights being traumatized cats and sketchy mykonos cruises we finally make our escape

Day 10
- we ran into the niece at breakfast and she gave us an odd, suspicious look and asks "did i meet you last night" too funny! we run away very quickly (i mean we stroll out of the hotel) and head off to see the acropolis, not as big as i thought it would be and a little annoyed (uber pissed) that its under construction as the scaffolding is a bit of a blemish on all the lovely pictures i had planned on taking but what can you do? (other then grumble a little and silently threaten the construction workers to crop them ALL out!)
- do a bit of souvenir shopping to blow my remaining euros and waste (i mean spend) a lot on greek candies and ouzo, god knows why - i didn't even get up the nerve to drink it while i was here!
- get to the airport and load on the plane, i pull out my laptop and a GIANT bug crawls off onto my arm and with a silent shriek i fling it onto the chair in front of me only for it to scurry toward the fellow in the seat and i start to have visions of scorpion bites and anaphalactic shock - luckily the bug drops down onto the floor and i stomp on it about 12 times before sitting back in my seat with a huge sigh (medical crisis averted!) it looks more like a beetle now anyway and i'm a little unsure but i think the people sitting across the aisle are giving me some very funny looks!
- get into London Stansted and get a bus into London, am super duper excited as i get to go to Tesco and load up on british groceries!

Day 11
- take the Gatwick express out of London Victoria station, time to say goodbye to England and after a few short hours!
- discover at the Air Transat counter that the weight allowance is not per bag but for both and instead of throwing an epic fit accept the $160 charge for overweight luggage (UTTER CRAP) I decide that its public transportation and what could i expect!
- make myself feel better by buying trashy british magazines and more british candy and its time to take off!

High Lights of Greece

- the food!!! feta cheese, fresh break and tzatziki, fresh yoghurt and honey, and chocolate fondue oh the caloric indulgence
- friendly hotel owners (poppy!) who want to make your stay memorable (special shout out to the hotels that had hair dryers!)
- the laid back atmosphere and beautiful beaches
- the internet cafes that let me share my travel tales and get e-mails from loved ones

Not so High Lights of Greece (not really low lights more like medium lights)

- flooded bathrooms with shower curtains that feel you up
- public transportation that requires steel toe boots, extensive knowledge of greek language and several heartfelt prayers that i will survive to make it back to canada!
- that every island required climbing, hiking, climbing, sore muscles, hiking and did i mention all the freaking climbing and hiking?

Thats all folks!

Greece was beautiful and i will absolutely go back again, I appreciate all the comments from everyone they helped keep the homesickness away and made me smile from inside many a shady smokey internet cafe

Donna (your - multiple mousaka eating, chicken mat purchasing, hiking guru, scorpian transporting - traveler) xox

I limited myself to just 10 photos, these are my favs, hope you enjoy :o)