A Travellerspoint blog

Saturday 6th June – Singapore to Melbourne and HOME

all seasons in one day

On the home stretch – not looking forward to the air trip with Jan’s bad neck and back. Bought a head comfort/support pillow at the airport which proved a great help.

Had to spend 4 hours at Perth airport on the way – getting from the International terminal to the Domestic terminal was interesting, with not very good Qantas help or advice. Went by bus right around the boundary of the whole airport – and quite slowly. We think they need to either learn to drive like Greeks (including the Greek pilots) or from places like Los Angeles where there doesn’t seem to be much of an issue about driving across the airport and not around it, but then we guess Perth airport has to be a lot busier and more dangerous than LA airport?! But it filled in some time for us, but was a bit stressful for some of the other passengers with closer connecting flight times.
We’re not feeling too sad about the trip finishing – it’s been a fabulous, rich and long and rewarding holiday, and what more could we have wanted or expected? (And Jan says she’s not sick of living with Dave full-time and non-stop for 8 weeks!) There were a few things we may have done differently in retrospect, but nothing major. Often on shorter hols you come back feeling that you wanted and needed more, but this feels satisfying and fulfilling, and it will be great to be back home again with family and friends. And work we can cope with.

Cheers for now – til the next trip!

Jan_n_Dave

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 00:20 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Wednesday 3rd June to Saturday 6th June - Singapore

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Travelled on BA – from Athens to Heathrow and then on to Singapore, mainly because we could afford to go their equivalent of Qantas’s Premium Economy on the last long leg. After our taste of such (free) treatment on Qantas to and from the USA earlier this year, we thought this would be a more pleasant way to finish off the holiday and relieve the jet lag a bit. The less said the better – Jan is still suffering from extremely bad neck pains, and not sure we’re over the (literally) BA food yet.

Stayed in a n ice 4 star hotel in the middle of Singapore city where we seemed to have been given an extremely good deal which we had booked online from Athens (or was it Naxos?). Our sufferings from the trip made it much less enjoyable than we’d hoped – both had bad heads, neck and backs, with Jan’s being unbearable. Found a local formal and medical looking massage place where she negotiated for some treatment for her neck/back – it was pretty obvious she was in pain and she couldn’t turn her head from the straight ahead position at all. She received a range of massages and pummelings and some poultices for covering the top area of her back. She still had marks on her backs three days later from the treatment, and although she was not too good that day, the next day she seemed more flexible with less pain.

We still managed to do a lot of wandering around Singapore (in the heat and humidity of course), and went through the streets of Little India, the Arab section and Chinatown. Had some nice food, esp. the seafood (very expensive) by the river on the last two evenings. Found Singapore “pretty” but a bit bland and sanitized, esp. compared to Bangkok and even to KL where we had stayed for a similar time on one of our other return trips from Europe. Still don’t understand how these big Asian cities can sustain so many shopping malls/centres in the city centre??

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 00:19 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Saturday 30th May to Tuesday 2nd June–Athens

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Spent 3 and a bit days in Athens enjoying its amazing history and culture, its warm, balmy and hazy climate, even down to possible confrontations between the police and protestors. It is a pretty amazing city – you really do feel that people have lived in the city for the incredible number of centuries that you know they have, and that in many places you are walking where people have been waling for thousands of years. Appreciated the lovely apartment right in the centre of Athens – made it easier to get around and see what we wanted to see easily, and get a feel for the old part of the city.

It’s hard to name the highlights, so we’ll name a few and then add in some photos, esp. as we are now out of time to finish the blog.
• Sitting out in the streets in the late evenings enjoying (mainly) freshly cooked fish, and in one case sitting right next to a couple of local guys playing guitar and bouzouki (and we assume playing Greek music), and another meal overlooking the floodlit Acropolis.
• Just the feel of the city – the streets, the people, the shops, the markets, the food, the history.
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• Strolling through the various ancient sites – we probably enjoyed the Ancient Agora and the Keramikos (basically the cemetery for Athens since ancient times and part of the main street/path into the city and up to the Acropolis) the most, although the Temple of Zeus was humungous and impressive, and the Acropolis enthralling (but the effect was ruined to an extent by the renovations and related scaffolding and machinery plus the new museum was still to open - surprisingly many years late - but the old one was closed).
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• Seeing the various viewable excavations that are dotted around the city – suddenly next to a church or building or train line you will see an excavation of part of some ancient Hellenic or Roman building or a combination of both. Some of the best are part of the Metro train system which when they excavated for it uncovered all sorts of sites – amazing. Of course much of it included parts of the drainage systems, so Jan was overly excited by these sites.
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• Dave getting a complement on his Greek – “have you some Greek blood?” Last time it was the tan, big nose and beard, this time his (ten words of) Greek??!!

Left the apartment in Athens at Tuesday lunchtime after a last coffee in a square overlooking Hadrian’s library. On the owner’s advice we decided to go via the Metro and suburban rail to the airport – quicker and cheaper (in theory) than a taxi. We managed it all quite OK, except that the Metro train was very crowded when we hopped on at Monistariki station, one of the big city and touristy stations. All was good, until Dave realized at the end of the trip that his wallet had been pick-pocketed – we assume on the full train at the start. Not many Euros left, but of course all his cards have gone. Meant he had to ring Oz from the airport and cancel his bank cards – already one big transaction had gone through, but hopefully that will have been all. Such a pain, but at least it was at the end of the holiday not earlier on. Oh well, really our first ever mishap on quite a few OS trips (apart from Jan’s twisted ankles of course).

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 00:08 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Friday 29th May – Naxos to Athens

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Last day in Naxos – off by plane to Athens. Sensible flight time of 1.30 pm, so could pack up in no great hurry and wander into Naxos town to pick up Dave’s ring and have a final coffee.

Leaving Naxos by air wasn’t quite as easy or as normal as you’d expect. Only one airline flies out so a rather low key affair – and unbeknown to us it has a small runway and without strong winds the plane can have difficulty taking off – so they usually leave the baggage behind and send it later by ferry! Most passengers were a bit disturbed by this news, esp those with connecting flights straight out of Athens. At least we could survive for a day while our luggage caught up with us in Athens. Jan had to rummage through our checked in luggage after it had gone through security (in front of the assembled staff – police, security and baggage handlers) and pull out some undies for us! She thinks it was because of her heroic act that they felt sorry for us (me?) and put our luggage on the plane. But not everyone got their’s.
We took off OK and 30 minutes or so later landed in Athens – where we experienced another (surprising or not unsurprising depending on how you look at it) Greek action. We arrived ahead of time and safely in very typical Greek driving fashion! Except it was more like car driving than plane taxiing. When we landed, the plane didn’t seem to slow down much as we taxied for the couple of kms to the docking area! We half expected the pilot to pass another taxiing plane (across double lines if there were any). We couldn’t hear the wheels screaming as we turned and waved to our parking spot, but felt they had to be.

Decided in the end to take a taxi to our apartment that was slap bang in the middle of downtown/central/ancient Athens. The train/metro wasn’t running as they were doing construction work at a few stations. Bus takes 90 minutes and we would have had to walk for about 1.5 km. Asked at the Info desk who said the normal taxi fare was about 30€. We were also worried about the type of taxi driver we could get – they apparently still don’t have a great reputation. The taxi driver was very pleasant and pointed out various sites on our way – but it was Friday arvo and the traffic was worse than obviously the normal dreadful Athens traffic is. Got there for 50€ incl the tip!

The apartment was excellent – well equipped and well placed for the sites of Athens – 10 minutes walk or less to the Plaka and Monistariki and many of the famous sites (maybe 30 minutes walk up to the Acropolis). It is in a renovated office or house/units, but in a bit of a dodgy area – a real mix. There are locals like the woman who ran a garlic selling business in a small narrow building next door and who lived on the opposite corner and the woman who lived in the bottom unit who has lived in the street for all of her 80+ years. Then there were a number of Asian clothes and shoe shops; Indians and Pakistanis who seemed to run a range of business out of a wide range of buildings and vehicles, and also some Africans/North Africans. Along with that there were the drug dealers and takers. Within a few minutes walk there was a nice area of squares and pedestrian only streets full of restaurants and cafes – and not too touristy as it was a bit out of the way.

After we got in and met one of the owners, we wandered down to the Plaka via the local lanes etc – wandered around and got to know where we were etc. Had a nice meal in a local taverna.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 08:06 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Thursday 28th May – Naxos

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Filoti was another inland village we wanted to visit and do some walking from – it was one of the bigger villages in the relatively fertile centre of Naxos. Had a coffee in Filoti to start the day and then realized that our planned walk was going to be up hill and down dale, and it was pretty warm. Set off undeterred and headed uphill (almost straight up the damn hill to start with!) towards our final destination of a monastery that was in a one of them Pirgos’s - Info said the interior was also accessible (which many of the churches are not). On the walk visited and saw a number of other churches/chapels perched on the top of mountains or ridges – they do look stunning. The monastery, to our surprise, had recently been renovated and although attractive to see, was therefore pad locked and inaccessible. Finished our walk pretty tired, but it was another good walk (and no snakes).
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Another aim for the day was to visit a beach place on the East coast – Moutsouna - formerly a port for emery which was mined extensively in the nearby hills/mountains. It is now a sleepy seaside village with a few holiday type places, but supposedly a few good tavernas. We hoped one would be open. We both earned a peaceful meal given the walk and the pretty amazing (read scary) drive down the mountainside to the village. Lousy road with steep sides and crazy bends with no warning signs, and no roadside protection. Jan didn’t look at too much of the road or the scenery and was very pleased to reach the bottom (safely) – as was Dave. The most dangerous road we’d driven on – thank goodness we hadn’t met the bus that was down in the village when we arrived. Had fish at the taverna that owned the one fishing boat in the village.

Unfortunately although the temp was warm enough, the wind was horrific and we couldn’t get that third swim in that Jan was desperate for. Safely retraced our steps up the mountain road to the top and another destination for the day – Apiranthos. This was another mountainside village famous for being built with local marble. Found a stopping place (on the road that skirts the town – none through it again). Wandered up some steps into the village and turned left to see what we could see and find. Found lots of old and partly marbled houses and cobbled marble alleys, a few fascinating old men sleeping or peering down at us, a young lad trying to convince us in his very struggling English to take a photo of him on a mule, but no glamorous streets and buildings as promised or kafeneios or tavernas for a coffee or drink.
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Eventually (thought perhaps we were going to be lost wandering the streets forever) found where we had started and turned right this time, and found the more glamorous part of town – marble everywhere including completely marble paved streets. Found a very nice tavern overlooking the valley and had ouzo with four different local cheeses – fab. Drove back home with the sun low in the sky and amazingly misty over the sea and surrounding islands – vey mystical!
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Another interesting sideline about Greece is the signage - here are two examples. One is for a butcher, just so we know what meats they sell, and the other is an example of some wonderful English translations - reminds us of Footscray back home!
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Posted by Jan_n_Dave 02:17 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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