Category Archives: Greek Islands

IF GREECE IS THE WORD…..

If Greece is the word, then Athens is the capital letter.

Greece conjures up images of white washed cube-shaped buildings, blue domed topped churches, clear azure waters, sunny days and stunning sunsets. Most people are in a hurry to get to the islands.

But stop for a minute, no wait, stop for a few days.

Athens is often overlooked in the rush to get to the islands. Behind the often first impression of dirt and grime, the uninspiring architecture of the six storey blocks of apartments is an exciting city with an intoxicated blend of the ancient and the new.

My tips on why you should spend time in Athens.

  • GET EXPLORING

The capital is full of ruins. Some are ancient and some even date back to the 60’s when the building codes weren’t so stringent! The Parthenon is the crown that sits proudly atop the Acropolis, and well worth a few hours wandering around this monument and surrounds. The city feels like an open air museum as there are ancient temples, sporting arenas, archaeological digs everywhere. Many of the Metro stations are also museums housing artefacts uncovered while digging the underground train system. The new Acropolis Museum now floats above a working archaeological site because they kept finding new things as building progressed. In fact whenever they turn earth to build something, it feels that they uncover a new ancient site.

  • GET EATING

Greek’s relationship with food is a bit like the friendship between Kiwi’s and their sheep, its love at first sight. It would be hard to starve in Athens as the opportunity to eat is ever-present…except for breakfast which seems to consist of a thick, strong coffee and an even stronger cigarette. While the Plaka offers many tavernas with great views of the Acropolis, my advice is to head into the back streets to discover better, more authentic tavernas. A rule of thumb is –  if it is small with plenty of locals then it is going to be worth trying. Of course, being empty isn’t a true indication that it should be avoided as you just might be too early. Greeks love to eat late and generally lunch can start anywhere between 2-4pm and dinner rarely begin before 8-9pm.

  • GET PARTYING

I’m not sure if the Greeks invented socialising, but they certainly have perfected it. If a Greek asks to meet for a coffee what they are really saying is “let’s sit for a couple of hours slowly sipping a frappe and talk about the issue of the government, the football, or the good old days”. Athens is full of many great café/bars (a hybrid venue depending on the time of day). If you are feeling adventurous, seek out a Bouzoukia and have a night out watching the locals enjoying an entertainment that is part traditional and part Vegas. It is a night full of sequins, strobe lights, cheesy choreography, and smoke machines and due to OH&S restrictions, plate smashing has been replaced with flower throwing.  You may not understand the words, you may not even like the music, but there is no mistaking the emotional singing and the renditions of melancholic longing for a time long gone – and that’s just the audience.

  • GET SHOPPING

As summer heats up, like the streets, the shops begin to empty as everyone, tourists and locals alike, begin

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Ermou Street

the exodus to the islands. This means that most retailers drastically discount their merchandise to entice the Euros out of the few wallets left in Athens. A great opportunity to bag a bargain. Two main shopping regions in the city centre are Ermou Street which is a pedestrian only street full of international and local brands, and if you prefer more boutique style shopping then head to the nearby suburb of Kolonaki.

 

 

 

  • GET LOST

For a big city, Athens is a relative safe city to walk around and get lost in. My advice is to walk the back street of the city centre and you will discover a little taverna or a laiki (a local street market), or a zacharoplasteion (sweets shop), or a little bar. You might discover neo-classical buildings dating back centuries or maybe some modern street art. You will definitely see Greeks going about their daily lives. The Acropolis may be the heart of Athens, but the streets are the veins teeming with real life.

  • GET OUT

Before you get out of Athens, I recommend that you get right out of Athens because there is so much to see. Catch the tram down the coast to one of the beach clubs for a day of relaxation, or travel a bit further to the upmarket suburb of Glyfada. Highly recommend getting out of Athens and visiting the Peloponnese region, or heading up to Delphi. If you really want a “wow” moment, then I cannot recommend enough, a trip north to see the monasteries of Meteora, impossibly built on top of these sandstone pillars. Just amazing.

To head straight into the islands is like going directly to dessert before having main course. Yes you will be instantly satiated but once the sugar rush has subsided you feel quite empty.

You can’t really understand Greece until you have spent some time in Athens. Give it a chance, you won’t be disappointed.

Of course if you can’t extend your time in Athens, then this video will help you to get the most out of your short time in an amazing city.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

“From the four walls that currently surround you to the infinite potential of space, this week we’d like you to show us your take on room, rooms, or a room.”

Not one for being obvious, I didn’t want to fill this challenge with lots of photos of great hotel rooms. Instead I chose a few of my favourite “rooms”.

Athens

Athens

Ok I just said I wasn’t going to fill up on hotel rooms, but this is the view from my favourite hotel room overlooking my favourite city in my favourite overseas country. Whenever I can see the Parthenon sitting proudly atop the Acropolis, I feel happy….and very much at home. I’m sure I must have been Greek in a former life!

 

 

 

 

Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

One of the biggest gripes that travellers have is the lack of room offered by airlines. Maybe one of reason why this is so is because Singapore Airline’s stole everyone’s extra space and added it to Business Class on their A380. There is so much room it can fit 2 champagne drinking passengers.

Moet et Chandon Cellars

Moet et Chandon Cellars

Speaking of champagne…..(nice segue) this stairway leads into the room that I discovered that I actually do like champagne, when you drink it at the source. This stairway leads to the Moet et Chandon tasting room which is at the end of a labyrinthine network of underground tunnels and cellars. After a tour of the cellars the corks were popped, the bubbles fizzed and my tastebuds did a hallelujah dance. The French sure know how to make champagne. Up to this moment I had only given a polite smile through gritted teeth whenever I had to have a glass.

Belvedere Ice Room Whistler

Belvedere Ice Room Whistler

Speaking of drinking… (another nice segue) one of the strangest rooms I have ever been in is one made completely of ice. The walls, the bar, the shelves, the seats were made of ice. It was called the Belvedere Ice Room and served ice-cold vodka.  On a trip to Whistler I found myself in this room tasting vodka after being kitted out in a heavy fur-lined jacket. It was great fun. The downside was that due to the freezing temperature, you can’t stay all night in the room, even though the cold spirit is warming you on the inside.

Bayon Temple Campodia

Bayon Temple Campodia

There are many different type of spirits (yep, another segue), some alcoholic and some spiritual. On a recent trip to Cambodia, while exploring Bayon Temple’s many rooms I was surprised to come across this buddha . Despite believing that the temples of Siem Reap were abandoned, it was obvious that I was wrong. The Buddha had been cloaked in a bright saffron-coloured sash and surrounding the seated figure were many offering. Some of them were recent offerings proving that this was still an active place of worship.

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In their day, the temples of Siem Reap would have been considered opulent, (here comes another segue) but nothing like the opulence experienced at an exclusive dinner in the Hall of Battles, one of the majestic rooms in the Palace of Versailles.  Believed to be the first dinner staged at the Palace since Napoleonic times, it was a privilege to feel like a privilege member of French Royalty.

Speaking of privilege (ok enough with the gratuitous segues), I have had the privilege and pleasure to have this as my view from my Santorini room.  Really don’t think there is anything more to say…just open a bottle of ouzo, nibble on some grilled octopus and just enjoy.

Santorini Greece

Santorini Greece

The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the weekly photo challenge, but with the added twist that every photo has to have a travel element to it. Enjoy! #postaday

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Put letters together to make words. Put words together to form sentences. Put sentences together to produce chapters. Put chapters together to tell stories.

There is an order to letters and to keep the letters in order there is the alphabet. To bring each letter to life is a picture that represents that letter, either physically, metaphorically or graphically.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words here is my 26,000 word essay!

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the weekly photo challenge, but with the added twist that every photo has to have a travel element to it. Enjoy! #postaday

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

I love getting high!

Never one to suffer from vertigo, I love being high….whether it be on top of a mountain after trekking for a few days, or from the Observation Deck of a skyscraper where the effort was no more strenuous than pushing the elevator button. I have always enjoyed sweeping views, particularly vistas from being “On Top” of things.

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the Weekly Photo Challenge with the added edge of each challenge is to have a “travel twist”.

#Postaday

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

Many societies live their life on the streets, they eat on the streets, they conduct business on the streets, they socialise on the streets, they educate and raise their children on the streets. They embrace street life.

If you click on the photos you will see a short explanation of each photo, if you are interested.

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the Weekly Photo Challenge with the added challenge of trying to make all photos travel related. #postaday

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

Running a bit late for this week’s photo challenge that I nearly abandoned it!

I have seen a few abandoned things and places in my travels.

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Angkor Wat is probably the most famous of all the abandoned temples in Cambodia.

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Machu Picchu was abandoned by the Incas until it was “rediscovered” again in 1911

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Jiaohe – one of the once great cities on the Silk Road in China.

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Delphi was once the home of the Oracle dished out advice to the ancient Greeks

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Situated on a high dune overlooking the Nile is the Temple of Kom Ombo

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The Treasury Building at Petra in Jordan was famous even before Indiana Jones

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The abandoned buildings at the former convict settlement at Port Arthur is a moving experience.

Pt Arthur Tasmania

The Venetian fortress of Bourtzi, is just one of the abandoned fortress in Nafplio, Greece

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An abandoned church near the Temple of Poseidon at Sunio south of Athens

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Cool graffiti on an abandoned warehouse

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Some abandoned mannequin legs found discarded on a street in the Chinese city of Guangzhou

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the Weekly Photo Challenge, but we’re adding an extra twist as we’re going to try and adapt the weekly theme into being “travel related” somehow! This week’s theme is: ABANDOMED.

#postaday

 

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: SELFIE

The word Selfie finally makes into the Oxford Dictionary in 2013 – 21 years after I invented it!

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In 1992 I embarked on my first ever solo travel adventure. While friends were starting to settle down, I was shaking it up. While friends were buying bricks and mortar, I was buying trips and memories. While friends were building their bank balances, I was building life experiences.

Being a solo traveller I quickly learnt that there wasn’t always someone to take a photo of you in front of whatever monument you had travelled half the world to see.

Although I had dubbed it the “self-portrait”, many a times the offer from a stranger to take my photo had been politely waved away as I explained that I am happy to take a Selfie, because I had, by this stage, perfected it.

The invention of the digital camera only encouraged more Selfies as the number of self-portraits increased dramatically.

Tip: Forget the duck face, jutting the chin out makes for a better self-photo!

Here are some Selfies from the digital era.

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