Saturday, October 10, 2009


Thursday, November 29th, 2007 Flying Home…..

We were awake very early as we had neighbors who talked most of the night…but we were packed and ready for breakfast at 7:15 am; another nice large English style breakfast so we started the day with a full stomach. By 8:30 we were out the door and headed for the Underground Tube; so nice the weather is clear and not too cold.

By 10 am we had survived the trip to Heathrow Airport; checked in and made it through all of the security checks. Our flight left right on time just before noon and right now we are high over the Atlantic on our way home.

Do hope you’ve enjoyed our Greek Odyssey and thanks for taking the time to travel with us for the past six weeks. May you always be a “traveler” and not a “tourist”!

Friday, October 9, 2009


Wednesday, November 28th, 2007 British Museum and Princess Diana ….

Well we definitely had a wonderful first day in London. The expected rain didn’t arrive until after we’d finish our dinner; the day was damp, overcast but dry.

Slept through the night and woke about 7 am, just in time for breakfast which turned out to be a filling and very good full English breakfast complete with freshly cooked ham and scrambled eggs. A great way to start the morning and by 9 am we were each headed in different directions; Jim to the British Museum around the corner and I headed out on a Princess Diana quest. I’ve seen the memorial to her in Paris several times but never the ones here in London.

My first stop on the Underground Tube was at Notting Hill Gate Station for two reasons; it is near the Kensington Gardens and I also wanted to see the famous street called Portobello Road where they hold the Street Market every Saturday morning. It is a very colorful area with pastel painted townhouses and many “Retro” stores for clothing, jewelry, books, etc. Loved some of the signs: over garages: “please keep clear - garages in constant use”, “warm your cockles in our fully heated beer gardens” and many more.

From there I walked to Kensington Palace Garden Road looking for the Palace. I accidentally found myself on a street of very expensive private homes, mostly Embassies of various countries I finally determined. I tried snapping a photo and got yelled at by a security man and then he ended up giving me directions to the Palace after informing me that these are private homes.

As I entered the garden area I noticed some beautiful pieces of sculpture which turned out to be a very new memorial to Princess Diana that were installed this summer to mark the tenth anniversary of her death. It’s called “The Small Field of Flowers” and composed of ten large metal flower sculptures by Sofie Layton that have been placed inside the gates of Kensington Palace where the hundreds of floral bouquets were placed in the weeks after her death.

The staff told me that all of Diana’s personal effects were boxed and shipped to her family after her death. But, the charity auction of some of her gown before her death resulted in about ten dresses being donated back to her Charitable Foundation and those gowns were displayed in a special room in the palace. There were also about ten other rooms that held large photos of her and also videos on large screens of film taken during her lifetime and also interviews of people who knew her. It was all very nicely put together as a tribute to Diana by the Royal Family.

The rest of the tour took me through the rooms of the palace that were used by the royals as their home and the seat of government prior to moving into Buckingham Palace. Kensington Palace was also the home for the Duchess of Kent and her daughter Victoria until Victoria was made Queen. They have restored her bedroom here with the actual furniture that she used until she died. Spent an hour and half touring the Palace.

From there I headed out into the Kensington Gardens and then over into Hyde Park in search of the Princess Diana Water Fountain that was dedicated to her memory in 2004. Difficult to find but with some assistance I found it located just above the Lido area on The Serpentine Lake in the center of the park.

It was a very moving experience to view this memorial; people walking the area were very quiet and emotional. It is located on a grassy knoll and is a nearly round stone water stream. The features are varied to symbolize the different facets of Diana’s life; some are broad and others narrow, some are rough and rocky and others are smooth. People would stoop down to touch the water as they quietly walked the circle.

Back out into Hyde Park I walked southeast towards the exit of the park and then down several streets to locate the Harrods Department Store for the last of my Diana quest. There I saw a marvelous store complete with doormen and also the Shrine dedicated to Diana and Dodi and the statute of the two of them in a different area of the store. My quest complete I headed out to find the Underground Tube that would take me back to the hotel. We’d agreed to meet back at the hotel at 2 pm and I arrived just minutes before Jim returned after five hours at the British Museum.

Changed our socks and headed back out to the Underground for a trip to see the Victoria and Albert Museum and also Victoria’s Memorial to Albert in Hyde Park. A surprise in the museum was a fabulous chandelier in the entry by the artist Dale Chihuly, his designs are so distinctive that one knows them immediately. He did a ceiling in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and also a chandelier that hangs in the Museum in Columbus Indiana for my Hoosiers friends.

Outside the Museum we found an ice skating rink with people skating. Many Christmas decorations everywhere celebrating the Christmas Season added a cheery note to an otherwise gray day. We’ve had fun and enjoyed the unusual words and phrases. We hear over and over on the Tube to “Mind the gap between the train and platform”…our train from the airport was headed towards “Cockfosters”.

We decided to take the Tube back to Westminster Abbey as we knew that it was open for tours until 6 pm this evening. We both enjoyed walking the Abbey; it was like a large cemetery full of very important people; Jim especially enjoyed the Poet’s Corner with the famous literary people including Lord Byron who died in Greece. We spent a good hour slowly making our way around the building that is divided into three areas. Many Kodak moments but only in your memory like a true Traveler. They don’t allow any photos or videos inside the Westminster Abbey. Outside we took our last photos of Big Ben before descending underground into the Tube for the trip back to the hotel area.

Our dinner this evening was an Italian one at the Pizza Express just across the street from the British Museum; very tasty and very different from Greek pizza; much thinner crust. Tomorrow we head for the airport and our final flight home. But we did stop at a Starbucks to inquire about wireless. Its five pounds a day through the T-Mobile service so decided to go to an Internet Café and get one hour on their computer for one pound to check in with the family and any important news from home. About the time we finished there the rain started so once again we got out the umbrellas for the two blocks to the hotel.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 On our way home...using the London Underground….

I spent some time last night after dinner at the Starbucks using up the last of my Internet time; hooked up my Skype and was able to talk with daughter Jennifer for a while before calling it a day. The kids are busy finishing putting up our Christmas lights she said and also told me they had a great time in Big Bear over Thanksgiving and that it’s cold enough that they are making snow and have a few runs open. It was good to talk with her and for free since we were both on our computers over the Internet using Skype.

Restless night, Jim had a relapse with his cold. Got up about 4:30 am, finished packing and headed out to the street for our walk to the bus stop for the express bus to the airport in Athens.

We were the first ones on the bus and took four seats with our luggage. We continued to stop all along the way and soon it was standing room only. We cleared one seat but kept the extra one for all the backpacks. By the time we arrived at the airport there were at least twenty people standing; we felt like very guilty “tourists” but there was no way we could move the luggage to clear the seat. Arrived at the airport and checked in before 6:30 am. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:55. Since we were on British Air and flying into Heathrow our requirements were one carryon per person; no exceptions and size doesn’t really matter if it will fit in the overhead bin. I cheated a bit and hid my very small knapsack under my coat; that way I was able to keep the things we needed on the flight under my seat. We lost two hours between Athens and London; so it was really 6:55 am when we left and we arrived in London at 11:15 am.

Everyone was very helpful in giving us directions to the Tube/Metro System; but it still took a few wrong turns before we found the right tracks. At one point we had people arguing about who knew the directions best and the one that won was wrong! It was a long slow ride from Heathrow into town, but the price was right! About an hour after leaving we arrived at the Tottenham Station and then the fun of finding our hotel after we emerged from the Underground. We had some basic Internet Maps but had to stop several times for help before we located our home for two nights that is practically across the street from the British Museum. So glad we arrived in daylight!

It’s going to be an interesting two night; we got a great rate and perfect location. It’s on the fourth floor with no lift/elevator. The room is about seven feet wide (the width of a single bed and a door) and the length is about sixteen feet…just long enough to put two twin beds end to end along the wall. We do have a TV, our own sink and the toilet and shower are down the hall. Most importantly we have heat (it’s just on…no way to adjust it) and a window over the back of the building instead of over the noisy street. Jim is calling my bluff about all the inexpensive rooms that Jenny and I did last year in Italy!

After getting settled in we went back to the Tube and headed towards Westminster Abbey. Arrived at 3:30 and it was already dusk. Got some great Kodak moments as we walked around of Big Ben, Parliament buildings, the 2000 Farris Wheel and of course Westminster Abbey from the outside only as it had just closed as we arrived. If Jim feels better tomorrow and it’s not raining maybe we’ll head back to see the inside as it is open until 6 pm on Wednesday.

Thought about going to see something else but it started to rain so we headed for the Tube and home. Had a nice early dinner at a Fish n Chips place just around the corner before calling it a night. A funny thing happened at the restaurant; we were told that the medium size order was “cold”. I was somewhat surprised and said “cold”, she replied “yes, mum, cold”. So even though it was more than we wanted we ordered the large size portions so that it would be hot. We started talking to the two English ladies next to us and after we’d all received our food. Jim asked them what size they had, and they replied that they’d ordered the median portion. Jim asked if it was cold. They said “no”. When we talked a bit longer they said “oh it’s the pronunciation problem….she was saying “cod” not “cold”. We all laughed and finished our larger than usual meal. But, I did manage to eat every bit of the fish but not all of the chips. It’s been a very long day. We did get Jim some more medication at the Airport Pharmacy this morning so the additional antibiotics should help him feel better tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Monday, November 26th, 2007 Final day in Athens……….

Woke up early and Jim feels much better so we’re off to enjoy our last day in Greece; after breakfast we started walking east towards the Olympic Stadium that was rebuilt and used for the first modern Olympic in 1896. On the way we passed by the site of the 1896 and 1906 Olympic Lawn Tennis games; it is now a private tennis club. The stadium is truly magnificent as the white marble glistens in the sunlight even on an overcast day like today. In the traditional design from ancient times the end of the stadium is totally open and was easy to view without having to enter inside. We’ve driven past it many times but I’m glad that we took the time to walk over and see it up close.

From the Stadium we had a great view of the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Walking back we entered the National Gardens and stopped first at a large exhibit hall and then continued through the park by various paths that we randomly selected. We walked over to the zoo, a small one for children, and then stopped to watch the turtles in the pond. We were walking in the general direction of the Benaki Museum. When we exited into the street, Jim said he’s sure that he specifically chose that gate to exit; we found ourselves on an empty street with lots of guards holding Uzis machine guns. Opps…what had we stumbled into? Then up the street I spotted one of the guards in his fancy uniform at a guard box. Realized that we were near the Palace; suddenly we heard the band playing and low and behold the band came marching out of the gate where the guard was standing. Another serendipity experience; the band, playing their marching song, was followed by the whole company of guards. There must have been nearly two hundred of them by the time they had all filled out past us and down the street. Both cars and pedestrians had been stopped at both ends of the street for this event!

After patting ourselves on the back we continued up the street to our Benaki Museum that was originally a private home and now a lovely building with a stunning collection. We were not allowed to have our cameras with us in the building so just enjoyed the experience for nearly two hours. It was so good that Jim asked for the name of the director for future reference.

Back on the street we strolled by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for one last time and noticed that they have on their black coat today; a sure sign that cooler weather is expected today.

Arrived at our hotel and will send this journal at the Starbucks before we head out for one last Greek dinner at a local restaurant. We leave for the airport at 5 am tomorrow morning for a 9 am flight to London.

As I bid Greece goodbye, I would like to share some of an article that we found in an old issue of “Paros Life” at the house we stayed in last week:

“What is it that makes travel so appealing? What is it that makes the image of the traveler so romantic? Whether it is a carefree windsurfer on the beach, or an older couple holding hands while they walk across the Charles Bridge in Prague, there is an aura of wondrous satisfaction about them. The traveler flows naturally with the rhythm of a place and blends in cohesively with the locals. To the traveler it is the discovery of the journey that matters; it is the adventure of the senses that fuels his motives…. Tourists, on the other hand, do not seem to offer the same appeal to most of us. The sight of a sun-burned tourist with a fixed smile on his face and a digital camera surgically connected to his hand usually provokes a slight aversion to the local population …....Travelers immerse themselves into places and cultures. They give reason and purpose to their journey. They interact in a creative and genuine manner with the local population. They want to learn about a different way of life, they endeavor to stir their existing beliefs and shake their preconceptions. The traveler returns home with a new perspective of his or her world and with a broader horizon…..Being a traveler is not only a physical exercise; it is a philosophy, a state of mind and a distinct code of ethics. A traveler fully experiences and accepts a place without judging and without wanting to change things…. “

And so the article went…we hope that we have been travelers on this trip more than tourists. But, my camera is surgically connected to me and try as I might I can’t imagine going on a trip without my laptop.

We will only be in London for a two nights; Jim wants to visit the British Museum and also we plan to go to Westminster Cathedral while we are there. Weather reports tell us that our full day in London will have rain and we know it’s going to be cold. See you tomorrow in London………..

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Sunday, November 25th, 2007 Museums in Athens

Woke about 7:30 am to the sound of bells pealing nearby; we have a small and very old Greek Orthodox Church within a block of our hotel. The patron saint is Saint Catherine and this weekend they are celebrating her feast day. We have watched people dressed in their Sunday Best going in and out of the church all weekend. The bells ring and ring and ring to announce each service. We can sit in our room and hear the priest chanting their prayers we’re so close to the church. They have flags flying, flowers all over, large lights in the courtyard and many old women and beggars selling candles. The whole area of the Plaka has an air of festivity about it this weekend.

Jim is not doing well; we’ve decided that he should stay in bed this morning. I went over to check emails at Starbucks and found out about the new fire in Malibu. Then about 10 am I headed out for a twenty minute walk to St. Denis, the Roman Catholic Cathedral for Athens. There is a Latin Mass scheduled for 11 am that I’ve decided to attend. It was beautiful, reminded me of my childhood in Indiana, a High Mass and all in Latin. I told Jim I felt like I was at an opera at times because the music was so spectacular. The Soprano was of “Maria Callas” quality. I even turned on my video of my camera to tape some of the music so I could play it for Jim. The church was packed, there is a large Filipino population here in Greece and I would say fifty percent or more of the attendees this morning were Filipino. Charlie asked me about the ratio of Roman Catholics to Greek Orthodox and only five percent of the population or about 50,000 are Roman Catholic. Consequently, it’s been difficult to find a Mass to attend on our trip here in Greece. Also the reason that most of the Catholics are found on the coast and in the Islands is because that was where the Venetians and the French had an opportunity to shape the mores of the Greek people during the fifteenth century AD.

After Mass I walked back to the hotel; it’s another beautiful day with the sun shining and the sky very blue. I’ve walked by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier each way and noted that the guards are in their white uniforms again. That black outfit must have been their coat as the day I saw them in that outfit was bitter cold; that was the day we couldn’t sail to Paros because of the storms. Each and every day is a learning experience.

Jim was not as perky as I’d hoped but said he wanted to go to two museums today as tomorrow they are closed. By 1 pm we headed out the door and back to the area of the Cathedral; yes, I think I easily put in my five miles today. Our first museum was the City of Athens Museum that is housed in the former residence of Greece’s first King and Queen, King Otto and Queen Amelia. The second floor is dedicated to them and has some of the royal families’ personal furnishings and personal mementoes.

We then walked a couple of blocks over to the Numismatic Museum. We weren’t really that interested in old coins but the building that houses the Museum; the building was built by and as the personal residence of the celebrated archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. Some of you may be saying, “Heinrich who?” Jim has filled in my spaces with the story about this man who was a wealthy German industrialist of the Nineteenth Century who came to Greece and Turkey to substantiate the writings of Homer in archeological digs. He discovered ancient Troy, the treasures of Mycenae and the “Golden Mask of Agamemnon”. The building was a showcase for his archeological finds and was more of a museum than a home.

We then walked back to the Plaka and had an early light dinner, followed by a short walk through the Monastiraki shopping streets before calling it a day. Jim is still reading the English newspaper that he picked up last night and I’ve been busy on the computer sorting photos and updating my journal. By the way; a fashion note: seeing lots of young woman and girls with the skin tight tights and short tunic tops…they like to wear boots with this outfit. Is this fashion coming back to haunt us? Many times the tops do not cover the hips, leaving little to the imagination.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Saturday, November 24th, 2007 Athens….Exploring the Plaka

Last night’s journey to the hotel was very successful; Jim was a trooper and since it was his plan he didn’t complain. First of all as the ship was docking we went down into the hold where the luggage was stored during our journey. We have a small cable lock with us that we used to attached the two cases together; I had trouble remembering the combination and it looked like Jim was going to have to pull both of them together while I managed all four of the backpacks! I was trying combination after combination as we waited for the ship to dock and suddenly Jim said that he would have a standard one that he used for everything….I tried one that I use for everything and it snapped apart! Thank goodness as the gang plank was going down. I looked up and our French people who had been on the last three ships with us were standing there behind us smiling. Good thing that we have tags with our photos on them plastered on each piece of our luggage; at least we could have proved that they belonged to us if someone stopped us.

Across the street we found the Metro Station; glad for our coats as it was very cold when we arrived. We already had our Metro tickets from before that we hadn’t used the night we went to Julie’s house for dinner; so we were ahead of the rest of the pack who still had to purchase their tickets; because of this the train we took wasn’t crowded at all. It’s so nice here in the Athens Metro stations, there are no turnstiles to move through, only pillars that hold the machines to validate your ticket. The fines are pretty stiff if you’re caught without a valid ticket; fifty times the value of a ticket.

Went to the Onomia Station and transferred to the Red Line that took us to the Acropolis Station. From there we walked about six blocks to the hotel. We were checked in by 9:30 pm. We’d told them by email that we were coming in late from the islands so they were waiting for us.

This morning the hotel changed us to a different room because of some problems. This room has a view of the eastern end of the Acropolis. We’re very pleased with our Adams Hotel for only fifty euros a night including a light breakfast. This morning I went walking and right around the corner is a Starbucks; walked in and purchased an Internet Card for only 6 euros for two hours. It’s good for a month; never thought of going into a Starbucks for service…they said the card would be good all over Greece. Good to know for future trips. On the way back to the hotel I stopped and looked at leather sandals; picked up my computer and went back for emails at the Starbucks. On my way back to the hotel the sandal man came out to talk to me; he said he’d seen me looking before. He was good; got me into the shop and trying on leather sandals. Said they were worth 20 euros but he’d let me have them for only 12. I said my husband would want me to negotiate so I said, “how about 10 euros”…so now I have a pair of sandals to take home. He told me that during the Olympics the parents of some of the Australian Hockey team stayed in the Adams and all purchased sandals from him and one brought their son in with his gold medal after they won. To his constant regret he didn’t think to ask to take a photo with the gold medal winner.

This afternoon we walked the Plaka several ways looking for a small gift to take to Miss Julie this afternoon to thank her for all of her help during our trip. We walked past our favorite restaurant Vitro’s and it is closed for the season along with several others. All of the pharmacies are closed for Saturday and Sunday. Jim is in need of drugs for his cold.

Took the Metro out to Glifada and then a taxi to Julie’s house; the taxi waited while we visited for a few minutes; dropped off our gifts and her books and things that she’d loaned us during the trip. We also picked up a small bag of gifts to transport back to the states for her family. Julie gave Jim what Claritin D and a few other things that she had in her medicine kit.

Back in the Plaka we decided to walk to find a restaurant that Julie had recommended called the Plaka Taverna on Kidathineon Street. Found it and started talking to the manager, Maxamus(?), who was putting up umbrellas and things for the evening. When we mentioned Julie’s name his face lit up and he insisted we return for dinner this evening and he would give us something special in addition to the ouzo drink that he’d already promised us.

We decided to walk to the Catholic Cathedral to find out about Mass for tomorrow, it’s at 6 pm and in English. On the way we found a Pharmacy that was open as they were doing some repairs. Jim purchased a box of Claritin D and then on our return after we’d talked by telephone with Julie we asked about Zithromax that Julie had recommended for Jim to take if the Pharmacy was still open when we returned to the Plaka. They don’t sell Sud-a-fed here anymore because of the kids and the crack problem; but we were able to purchase the antibiotic over the counter without a prescription. It was 18 euros for three pills but worth the cost if he is better by Tuesday when we fly to London. Thanks Julie!

This is our first Saturday night in Athens without rain; can’t imagine what the streets would be in the summer months, it is very crowded and almost everything is open here in the city. We’ve seen many Americans here in the Plaka today that are in port for the day from the cruise ships. They’re easy to spot as they stand with maps trying to figure out their directions. We actually stopped and helped a few as we remember the frustration when we first arrived with streets that twist every which way and change their name every few blocks.

Enjoyed our dinner at the Plaka Taverna; sat outside under the awnings with heaters. Jim had Moussaka and I had roasted lamb that Jim finished for me; we also shared grilled cheeses. Everything was absolutely delicious and I can see why Julie recommends this particular restaurant. The music started to play as its Saturday night so we ordered Nescafe and shared a large pie shaped piece of Balaklava for dessert before moving inside to listen to the music for another fifteen minutes. Only two instruments but very authentic Greek music, a nice way to end our first day back in Athens. During the day the sun was out, warm enough to shed the jackets; but at sundown it was definitely jacket time again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Woke about 8:30 am and Bobby, the owner, knocked on the door about 9 am to inquire what time we wanted him to drive us to the port? Check out is noon so we said we’d be ready about 11 am. It was hard to climb out of my warm bed so I snuggled down and enjoyed it for as long as I could. By 11 we were at the car and ready to go. He dropped us off at the port; outside the Blue Star Ferry office where he said we’d be able to leave our luggage for a few hours without any charge.

Dropped the big cases and large backpacks there and then headed towards town; we’d only gone a very short distance when we discovered an OPEN INTERNET CAFÉ. Yes, we went in, ordered an hour of time, wireless that we could use in the smoke free patio area; coffee and tea. We were set for the next couple of hours. We actually ended up purchasing another hour of time and one more cup of coffee before leaving. So nice and much cheaper to use this Internet than on board the ship; I was definitely a happy camper.

About 2 pm the ferry arrived and we boarded for our trip back to Piraeus, the port of Athens; we should arrive just after 8 pm this evening. It’s a long afternoon but the cheapest way to travel between ports. Just after boarding a man came by selling some food; the Greek girl next to us negotiated and it was seven of the circular things for five euro. I asked what it was and she very generously offered me a taste. It’s like two large pieces of unleavened bread, if you’re Catholic…they’re like very large hosts. We were told that they only make them on Syros. The ingredients: honey, sugar, glucose, egg whites, almonds/peanuts, vanilla and mastic. In between is a white, soft taffy substance with nuts. They call them Nougats; very sweet and good. I talked Jim into purchasing a packet of seven of them for us…it will be dessert over the next several days.

I asked the Greek girl, who spoke English very well probably because she works in hotels; about the “breaking of plates” shown in movies about Greece. She laughed and said that doesn’t happen anymore except for the tourist shows. She did say that she has one friend who owns a restaurant and when he has his friends in and they are having a really good time he may break a few plates. But it is highly unlikely to ever see that happening today in any Greek Restaurants.

After stopping in Syros we had many new people board the ferry. A husband and wife sat down in our row of seats with their grandson and his friend who are traveling with them. Very nice but don’t speak any English. We’ve used lots of sign language to communicate. The children purchased a soft ball and they’ve been playing toss with it; occasionally giving us the opportunity to catch and return it to them.

We got out our leftovers from the market trip on Wednesday and had an early supper: lukewarm Mythos beer, dried bread, bananas, nuts and now our Nougats. Plenty of food for now as neither of us is very hungry. It’s going to be a long afternoon and evening before we reach the Hotel Adams in the Plaka area near the Acropolis. We have reservations there for the next four nights. Tomorrow we will go by Metro to say hi to Julie and return her books and maps that she has loaned us. Had planned to take them to dinner but timing was wrong as she is getting ready for a trip and leaves on Sunday.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Thursday, November 22nd, 2007 Thanksgiving Day!

After a restless night we woke about 8:30 am and hurriedly put ourselves together; added our breakfast items in our backpacks and headed down the hill. We didn’t want to be late for the boat to Delos. This time of year there is only one boat that leaves at 10 am and returns at 1 pm. During the summer months the boats leave every half hour all day. We soon learned that they also will not go unless there are enough people wanting to go! Monday the site is closed and both Tuesday and Wednesday there was not enough people. Fortunately we had ten people this morning and they agreed to take us today. We met a very nice young couple on holiday from Australia and also Marilyn, a woman from Denver Colorado. They had all been waiting to go to Delos for two days.

Marilyn is traveling solo and will be returning to Istanbul where she has a job teaching English as a second language for the next six months. She is very into archeological things, her previous job was as an engineer, and Jim was delighted to have her to tour this site with as opposed to me who is not very interested in old things. They were the last two to return to the boat when we were ready to return at 1 pm.

For those like me who are not enlightened on the history of the Island of Delos; let me fill in a few of the blanks. First of all, only a few caretakers are allowed to remain overnight on this island. It is small, only 5 km long and 1,300 m wide; devoid of vegetation but resplendent in the sunlight as the sun reflects off its rock formations. The highest elevation is Mt Kynthos, beneath which spreads the sanctuary dedicated to Apollo and his sister Artemis surrounded by the Hellenistic city. Something has been going on here since about 1400 BC but the real history begins during the 7th Century. At one time there were about 30,000 inhabitants who lived on this island. It was a haven for wealthy merchants who built homes here. This is an extremely large archeological site and is one of the important sanctuaries in ancient Greece, and because it was abandoned during the Roman era the site remains have not been spoiled by the gradual accretion of later buildings as in the rest of Europe.

It was an enjoyable few hours spent wandering around the rocks of the past. There is also a very well laid out museum on the island where they are preserving many of the more important artifacts. The weather is still cold but the winds that have been blowing so hard have finally slowed down. The sun is shining today and the skies are blue without the heavy black rain clouds that we’ve had for the past week.

Returned from Delos and walked up to the Windmill Museum; closed for the season and so we continued further up until we were back at our Pension Bobby’s. This morning we timed our walk to the port and it took twenty minutes; all down hill. But we took our time walking home and it wasn’t bad at all. Rested, read a bit and then about 4:30 pm we donned our layers of clothes and headed back down the hill into town again.

Our quest was to find an open gift shop with a miniature windmill as a souvenir of Mykonos before having dinner. We walked in and out and around and through the warren of narrow alleyways that wriggle between the white-walled buildings. There are still some colorful bougainvillea plants hanging from balconies to add color to the scene. We’d just about given up when I walked into a small market and there, high on a shelf, I spotted exactly what I’ve been looking for; and only 5.5 euros. Jim proceeded to negotiate and purchased it for Five Euros. Some things never change!

We meandered back to our favorite restaurant for another round of vegetarian pizza and added spicy fried feta cheese to share. Thought about trying a different restaurant but since we knew this was so good, decided to return again.

It was dark by the time we finished so we headed for the taxi stand again and rode up the hill to our pension for only 3 euros tonight. We’d left the heater on low when we left so found a toasty warm room awaiting our return.

Tomorrow we catch the ferry at 2:15 in the afternoon and head back into Athens for the final few days of our trip. I will sign on to the Internet on the ship and send all my emails, journal and photos. It’s hard to believe that we’re nearing the end of our trip.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Finally turned on the electric heater last night and then slept pretty much through the night. We got up before 8 am and headed out to explore Syros and find some coffee. We headed up to the left towards the large Catholic Church called Ano Syros but only walked part way. Best to take a bus up and walk down we learned later. Good to read those guidebooks before adventuring out. Thought we had but guess we didn’t; we did find two Greek Orthodox Churches with Masses in progress as we wander around the mostly wide and sometimes narrow marble streets; it was either up or down as nothing is level in this town. Syros is basically three sections: the port, the hill to the left with the Roman Catholic Cathedral at the top and to the right the area known as Vrodado with the Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Entering from the port you view all three of these sections at one time.

Syros is the capital of the Cyclades and its largest town.

The weather is dry, cold and windy this morning. We’ve quadrupled our layers of clothing this morning to keep warm as we walk about the city. We soon found ourselves back into the port where we found a market street; each shop handles a different item. One shop had fresh fruit, another bread, the butcher, the jam, and on and on. We purchased some bananas and then went into a small coffee shop to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy Nescafe (their answer for American coffee), tea for Jim and we shared a wonderful slice of warm apple pie covered with powdered sugar. Didn’t hear any English the whole time we sat in the shop enjoying our breakfast.

After breakfast we continued to walk the port to both ends and then found an open bookstore; we asked about “English language” books and she pointed us to the small selection she carried, much to Jim’s surprise. The cost of foreign language books in Europe is always high…they were paperbacks and ranged from 25 to 35 euros each. She asked if we’d like to see her second hand books and with a very positive response we found a novel for each of us at only 2 euros each. The shop keeper also agreed to allow us to bring our luggage back and sit in her shop out of the wind while we waited for the 12:15 ferry to arrive.

Back to the hotel for checkout; our “rooms for rent” had no front desk and we were wondering who and how we would pay our 25 euros. Sure enough at 11 am the girl appeared as we’d told her we were catching the 12:15 ferry to Mykonos. Packed our bags and headed back out into the wind for the two block walk to the port entry. People were already queuing up so we sat in the windy waiting area instead of returning to the bookstore where Jim had arranged for us to stay. Saw a French couple who’d arrived with us last night and they are also headed to Mykonos today. At 12:15 on the dot the smaller ferry arrived, we boarded and headed back out to the Aegean Sea within minutes. This is a ship that only does inter-island as opposed to the larger one that goes to Athens. The Blue Star people told Jim that it should take about an hour and a half. It’s going to be another bouncy ride as the sea is covered with whitecaps.

Then we’re off to find lodgings for the next two nights. Mykonos is known to be more expensive because of the tourists; it will be interesting to see what Jim negotiates for the rent.

Stopped at Tinos for a few minutes to let passengers off and then on to Mykonos. Many people were at the port offering rooms. Jim negotiated with a man called Bobby for a room, located in the center of town, with a television and bathroom for 50 euros for two nights. One night would have been 30 euros. He put us into his car along with his wife and another single young man that she’d recruited for a room. All the way up he kept talking about rental of scooters and/or cars; where to go and what to watch out for. He said absolutely not to rent from Muchens as they will come at night and steal parts off the vehicle and then charge you to replace them! The young man, on his third trip here, laughed and said he’d heard the story before. Bobby said he always warned his clients about Muchens. By the time we arrived at the Pension we understood why he was talking about renting a car or scooter. “In the center of town” meant in the center of the whole town…we are at least three quarters of a mile from the port; only 600 meters he said? But it’s all downhill.

When I asked about the heater he said the price did not include the central air/heating unit. I insisted and Jim paid the extra 5 euros a day so that I can have heat. It’s way too cold here not to have heat in the room. Oh well, lesson learned; get exact distance before agreeing to rent. But, it is clean and we have a refrigerator that we stocked for breakfast from the store a bit further up the hill. After the trip to the store for supplies we bundled up again and headed down the hill towards the windmills. They were absolutely magnificent and worth every penny to get back here to see them in the daylight. Remember that this was our first stop on the four day cruise and we’d arrived at night.

The town is basically deserted; very few shops and/or restaurants are open. But, the boat leaves for Delos tomorrow at 10 am and we’ll have about four hours to view the archaeological gems before having to return to Mykonos. No one is allowed to stay overnight on that island. There are many Internet Café shops on Mykonos but I have yet to find one open. So, all of this will have to be sent when we’re on the big ferry to Athens on Friday. Can’t wait to show you the photos we took this afternoon of the windmills.

Walked along the area known as “little Venice” and took more photos of the windmills from there as the sun was setting. It’s called “little Venice” because the walls of the houses rise out of the water and the waves crash against them twenty four hours a day. Then we found a restaurant on the waterfront that was open and we had a delicious dinner of vegetarian pizza for me and hamburgers covered with blue cheese sauce for Jim. We probably should have walked home to exercise some of that excess off but elected to hire a taxi for 3.50 euros for the short drive up the hills to our Pension. Yes, we got a price before we got into the taxi!

Jim is watching the soccer game between Greece and Albania as the heater struggles to heat up this room that was designed to stay cool in the hot summers. I have found some extra blankets in the closet for my bed. Jim has a built in heater and would have been fine without the heater, he said. Tomorrow’s another day and Thanksgiving at home.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Tuesday, November 20th, 2007 Heading towards Mykonos…..

This morning we actually slept in until 8 am. This is our day to leave so we ate the last of the breakfast things and then prepared the house for leaving. We stripped the beds and emptied the trash (to take with us to the main road). We were actually ready to leave before noon but since the ferry boat doesn’t leave until 7:30 pm; we finished our books, washed our hair, watched lots of television: CNN over and over and over. They have an interesting segment here on Euro News; it’s called “No Comment” and it is raw footage on extremely current events without any commentary. We really like the concept.

We were a bit worried about whether or not the boat would sail tonight as the weather stormed off and on all day and we could see whitecaps on the Aegean all day from the windows of the house. At one point we had a beautiful rainbow appear in the sky. About 2:00 in the afternoon I spotted a Blue Star Ferry sailing past our island: a very good sign that the wind was not stopping them from sailing today.

Just after 3 pm we locked the doors and headed out toward Naousa and our Internet Café for one last stop. Just before Maripass we saw all kinds of cars along the highway, lots of people standing around and a huge crane. We suddenly realized that one of the city buses had gone off the road on a hill and was lying on its side in the ditch. Do hope that no one was injured as the school kids use these buses also.

Naousa is about fifteen kilometers from the house so we were soon in our smoky little cafe with the school kids playing their online games, and music blaring so loud you could hardly talk to one another. I updated some programs that were “screaming” to be downloaded every time we were online, picked up new emails; and checked the bank account, the stock market and most importantly the weather for the next ten days in Athens. Looks like we’re in for a week of sunshine starting tomorrow!

Heading into Parikia we started getting rain and heavier wind. The skies were black with clouds; would we sail tonight or have to get a hotel room in Parikia for the night and wait until Wednesday night? We checked with the travel agent as soon as we arrived and she said a definite “yes, we will sail” to our question. We then went to find the car rental agent and pay for our rental. At that time we asked if we could keep the car until time for the ferry because of the bad weather and he said “yes”.

We left the luggage in the car and found a grill nearby where Jim had roasted chicken and fries while I had a lamb Gyro or Hero…you know…they slice the meat off the rack and wrap it in pita bread…VERY GOOD!

By 7 pm the dock area came to life with lights and people started arriving with luggage. The large trucks started lining up on the dock and we were sure we were leaving. When the whistle blew we turned in the car keys and pulled our luggage over to the dock. The rain was very light but the wind was something else. They had a very difficult time docking the ferry boat and had to realign several times before they were finally able to put the ramp down and we boarded. It was a rockin’ and rollin’ trip that lasted a little bit more than an hour. We were happy to land safely on the Island of Syros.

Jim had worked very hard this afternoon researching the guide book for possible hotels near the port that he thought he might be able to rent for 50 euros. The one he wanted was several blocks up the hill; the plan was for me to stay with the luggage while he found the hotel and negotiated the price. As we got off the ship several different people approached us about rooms. We were about a block from the ship when a very nice gentleman with brochures in hand stopped and asked if we would consider his Hotel Greco, very nice and only another block? Jim said he’d picked one out already and could he help us with directions? The man was very gracious and gave Jim directions and then I asked him: “how much is your hotel?” Only 25 euros with a bathroom he said. WOW, how could we turn that down; so we quickly followed the man and are now in a plain, but clean hotel room for the night with a bathroom and a television.

Tomorrow we’ll have a few hours to explore Syros before we leave at 12:15 for Mykonos. Such adventures we’re having on this trip! So glad I’m finally over my cold but poor Jim is just beginning to feel the full effects of his.