The Greek Islands and Athens

Greek Islands

PS Note i have tried some bigger photos but you might have to scroll across to see all of the picture – let me know if this is better or not than the smaller ones………..

Here we are in the Greek Islands.  And yes, it is as beautiful and romantic as you imagine! We are blown away by how large each of the islands is – they could be a country in each of their own right! Also, how amazingly different each one is to the other. We have been to three – Samos, Paros and Santorini.

Day 1: Turkey to Samos

The ferry was only a 2 hour trip.  It was so warm we could sit up on deck and enjoy the trip.  Samos is an island you need to sail past to get to the rest of the islands.  We had a lovely evening there however it is not a town we would recommend visiting or would return to. It is a town as a town is anywhere. We stayed at Hotel Samos which was literally across the road from where we got off the boat.  A basic hotel but extremely good for us as we left at 6am the next day.  Here are some photos – 1 of the hotel as we sailed in and the other as we sat in the hotel bar, off the ferry across the road.  See how close we were! The third photo is Peter in the shower – clothes on of course – showing how tiny it was.  We have decided the Greek Islands are the world of the smallest showers!

Samos Hotel - we did not have a sea viewThe ferry we came on as photo from the bar across the road - how close!Peter in Samos Hotel Shower (small!)

Ferry from teh bar at our hotel - so close!

 

Peter in small shower!

 

Day 2: Samos to Paros

About 4 hours on the ferry. Two nights here.  We loved Paros and the people.  We are so grateful we are here at this time when it is still classed at the “off season”. It is not busy at all but we are having stunning weather – not too hot to do all the walking and climbing (steps) we have been doing. About mid 20’s every day and just needing a shawl at night.  Peter looks so good in a shawl (hee hee).

The hotel at Paros was a small family run affair and we got to meet the 3 year old, the dog called “Chubby” (who was the right size to eat the three year olds food. Did the dog love that trumpet ice cream he managed to swipe of the kid!), and the parents.  The hotel was basic again but so lovely and clean and had marble floors to keep it cool.  The family was very friendly and helpful too. It was on top of a hill with the most amazing views. Our room, as all did, had a lovely deck overlooking the sea. We liked how they had a room stocked with beer, softdrinks and ice creams and you just helped yourself and put it on the tab for later. Was very helpful for the gins on the deck!

It was a 20 minute walk in to the town and Port and about 30 on the way up! Not the entire town was open yet due to it being still “off season”. But this didn’t matter as avoiding the crowds was a much better advantage!

We ate at some local restaurants and found a local nightclub one evening. We both loved the food. Peter found they serve pork chop and hot chips here and he was very happy! I fell in love with the garlic sauce – a pureed potato dip with garlic and parsley. Can be eaten cold or used as a topping on hot food.  I had a half aubergine stuffed with onion and tomato topped with the garlic sauce. Mmmmmmmmm  – heaven! It also helped get rid of the head cold I had picked up.

Jo on deck at Paros High Mill hotel - note teh view!Our hotel at Paros as taken from our room balconyOn the second day we caught a local public bus over to Naousa – a pretty little fishing town full of a maze of cobbled streets with lovely wee shops in them. I am sure it would be a nightmare in summer though as the cafes and restaurants were just setting up for the “season” and there were TONS of them! All looking very pretty in their blue and white.Sitting at a cafe - goose pases squid out drying in the sun.......

On our way back to the bus we stopped off for a drink.  The café was drying their squid outside and we laughed to see a gaggle of big fat geese walking by as they went to the sea for a swim.  See the squid under the gauze, as it dries.  

Hotel at paros from our room. Ours like this too!

 

Goose on way for a swim past the squid drying!

 

Had a swim at the hotel pool but it was too cold for me! Here is Peter enjoying the dip though.

Peter in the pool at our hotel in Paros

 

Over here and in Turkey there are cats and dogs roaming everywhere. On the streets, in the restaurants etc. At the restaurant on the last night in Paros there was a mother cat with her frisky kitten.  I couldn’t help but feed her some of my chicken with her big eyes!

One thing we have noticed here, that is a very nice touch, is when you order a drink they give you a side of food too. No payment necessary. Some of it is just a bowl of crisps but we have also had some of the freshest nuts we have ever eaten.

Visited our first Church on the trip – a most amazing church built in 1634. The gold and friezes….. amazing.

Paros to Santorini

We were feeling a bit sad to leave Paros, as our view was so amazing.  Well – what we were not to know is it only got better and better.  It took about an hour to close our mouths once we got to our room at the Hotel Loucas in Fira (the Capital) of Santorini. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And not only the view, but it was overlooking the Old Port which is where the cruise ships berth.  So we had a lot of boating action to watch as well as the ferrying of the passengers over to the port and their trip up the STEEP cliff – either on foot, by donkey or on the cable car. We had three nights here but honestly, we think a month would have been too short……. We didn’t get to even see most of the island.

Our tour guide in Santorini did not turn up at the port to meet us off the ferry. But in asking around another tour guide helped us and got us a transfer for 7 euro each (which the other tour company refunded later). We got dropped off in the middle of a road where a man from the hotel met us to carry our bags.  Steep cobbled streets up and down to get to our hotel and then climbing, climbing and climbing down deep stone steps to (a) get to the hotel reception and then (b) down, down, down to our room. We didn’t count them but we believe well over 200 steps! Thank goodness for the man carrying the heavy suitcases! J

Sunset from our balcony at Hotel Loucas in Fira, Santorini

 

One part of our view from our hotel room

 

View out our window at Santorini!

 

And then the room and the view – here are some photos of the view and the sunset seen from our deck.  We are so spoilt! And the steep, maze of streets full of beautiful shops – hundreds of gold, gem stone / crystals and jewellery shops – I had to restrain myself and turn a blind eye.

Steps to old wharf, Fira - can ride a donkey up or down, walk it ir use a gondola.

 

We wandered the steep streets and found a restaurant – where we tried local dishes.  Lamb shank for Peter and chicken kebab for me.

The next day we explored locally, walked the streets and steps (oh my, those sore calve muscles!) and took an exceedingly large number of photos. Met a couple of Australian ladies who we then caught up with a few times before we left. Had lots of laughs with them.  They were telling us the night before they had been at the nightclub and in walked the captain off the boat they had been on for the sunset cruise. After awhile and a few drinks they got to dancing with him and others and imagine their surprise when he told them his name is Stallion………….  I can tell you, we have had many a laugh and joke over that, as you can imagine!

That night Peter and I went off to a restaurant for dinner – we were the only ones there it is so quiet.  It was quite a posh place, not that we know that.  All the restaurants, cafes, bars etc are mainly all outdoor and all look quite the same.  But what a night we had! Started with cocktails made from cactus juice – they were delicious but who knows what was actually in them. Then the crockery – it was Versace which I couldn’t help but turn it over to confirm.  I even took a photo of it.  The owner came over and was very pleased I had noticed.  

The food was exceptional – the presentation the taste……. We shared a mixed grill plate. By then the cocktail must have taken effect and I forgot to take a photo!

The next morning breakfast on the hotel restaurant deck – the views! Omelet, bacon, juice, bread, jams, cheese, ham, greek yoghurt (nothing quite like it!) and fruit. Of course we couldn’t eat it all but the presentation was so lovely.

We have certainly noticed the difference between the Muslim countries of Dubai and Turkey to the liberal Greece.  Food (ie able to get pork here), attitude to women and alcohol (we were surprised to see you can buy spirits in the supermarket beside the butter and cheese). We are also surprised at the amount of rice eaten here and in Turkey.

So yesterday we caught a local public bus over to Oia (pronounced Eye-A) to see the blue and white buildings.  It was not as much blue and white as we expected but so beautiful. More cobbles, more maze streets, more steep steps…………

Church at Oia

 

Jo at bar in Oia with cruise ship passing

 

Then we met the two lovely Auzzies for a drink before dinner, saw the sun set and then they took us to a local restaurant for dinner. What fun we had! They had been there before, and the owner and waiter knew them.  We got spoiled.  Had a most amazing chick pea dip (cant explain why it is so different to ours) and pita, then long red peppers grilled before we all had our mains. Then as always, a wee surprise from the owners, and a drink arrived out of the blue.  How surprised we were to find it was lemoncello with ouzo in it! Hmmmmmm….

Maree and Sally from Australia with us at sunset

 

Then back to the hotel with the Auzzies, and to the bar where we had a lovely evening with the waiter from our hotel restaurant. We are so much enjoying the people and their generosity and friendliness. 

Today the Aussies flew to Paris and we are on a ferry to Athens. The fast ferry was cancelled due to the strikes in Athens so we are on the slow ferry – 8 hours and we get in at 11.30pm tonight! We were surprised to find we are in business class on the ferry – which is great as I have a table to put this lap top on to write this to all of you! Not to mention I can get web access and also we have our own café and toilets in here (not together of course!). And the views – we are right at the bow of the ship…………….

Athens Arrival …….. oh dear!

Arrived in Athens 11.31pm as they predicted.  Health and Safety regulations aren’t here what they are at home.  We passengers who had left luggage down on the garage deck, where there were at least 20 huge artic trucks and trailers parked ahd to file along side the trucks once the ferry was stopped, at times turning sideways to fit past them.  Outr luggage was all over on one far wall of the ferry and we couldn’t get to it until the trucks left. But no one told us this and no one mentioned that fact that all of a sudden the trucks would start pulling out and we were left moving from one place to another to avoid them.  What a sight! But heck – those drivers were so experienced and had literally no space between them and others and the walls etc. Some were backing their trucks in to hook up to a trailer or two and they just screamed in (no backing beeps) and hooked up and were off within seconds.  Phew! A bit much for those of us from NZ!

Then……….. we were met by our rep representative but we actually didn’t manage to get off the ferry till 11. 55 due to the truck issue and he was thinking of leaving! But we found him and then what a trip.  Up to 150kms per hour down the roads to our hotel.  Only to find we had been upgraded to their sister hotel…….. at least it is only a 5 min walk around the road – with bags at 12.30 in the morning. 

Today we have done a half day tour of a few of the sights the most impressive being the original Olympic stadium, the Acropolis Museum and the Acropolis itself. Wow! The sheer age of everything and how they managed to build them.

Tomorrow we catch local public transport to Patras Port to catch an overnight ferry to Bari in Italy.

So, that is Greece so far. We are very happy and having a lovely time. Thinking of you all and hope all is well with you.

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