Archive for November, 2009

Santorini Sunsets

Sunset

We recently spent four nights in Santorini, a beautiful volcanic island with white washed houses and dramatic rocky scenery. Many travelers (including Mark’s sister) have talked up this little island, so expectations were high. We had a bit of a fiasco getting there after waking up at the crack of dawn (actually I think it was earlier than dawn because it was still pitch black out) to make our way from Athens to the port of Piraeus only to miss our 7:20 ferry. It was a bummer. We had 10 hours to kill until the next ferry left, which wasn’t all that bad since we met some new friends to keep us company. We met them at our hostel in Athens and ended hanging out with them quite a bit in Santorini as well. Especially nice meeting you Patrick from Tasmania and Mark the salmon fisherman from Alaska.

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Crossing the Mediterranean

We woke up this morning to a completely different scene than the one we woke up to yesterday. What a treat!

Yesterday: bunkbeds, hard mattresses, smelly blankets, room without heat, car horns honking, cold cereal for breakfast, instant coffee, 7 minute shower costs 50 cents.

Today: comfortable queen-size bed, clean sheets, waves outside our window, coffee delivered to our room, cozy bathrobes and slippers, hot and free shower, Crete on the horizon.

Goodbye Europe

This afternoon we board our cruise ship, final destination: Singapore. We’ll be in Egypt in two days! Hard to believe. We’re really excited about having a room to settle into for the next 24 days, even though many other aspects of the cruise are making us feel a little unsettled at times. More to come on that soon; for now, we just can’t wait to board and set sail!

This brings an end to our European leg of the journey — at least for now. We’re looking forward to all of the new and exotic experiences that await us elsewhere.

We just uploaded a bunch of new albums to the photos page, from our recent destinations. Be sure to check out the photos from Meteora — that place is unbelievable.

Monasteries in the Air

Meteora

Meteora is a 5 hour train ride from Athens, each way. We heard about it from a friend we met at Giovanni’s house in Naples (thanks Chris) and had been told in no uncertain terms not to miss it. With one travel day left on our Eurail passes, we got up at the crack of dawn and caught the earliest train we could. And we are soooo happy that we did.

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Vesuvius & Pompeii

Ancient Pompeii

I first learned of Pompeii in a Natural Disasters class back in high school. It was morbidly fascinating and has always been a place of interest in my mind. So actually going there was one of those ‘woah, I can’t believe that we’re actually here’ experiences.

For those in need of a refresher, here’s a very quick one (please do not rely on this for accuracy as it comes from my totally unreliable memory). Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Two neighbouring cities were affected: Herculaneum and Pompeii. The people of Herculaneum felt precursors and were able to escape to the sea. When the volcano erupted, Herculaneum was suffocated by the smoke of the volcano, instantly petrifying and preserving the city. The people of Pompeii had no escape and they were taken by surprise by a massive, fast-moving ash flow which completely covered the city, and the people. Both cities have been frozen in time and both deserve visiting. However, for the sake of our budget and for our long-term travel plans we made the tough decision to visit just one. And so we chose to see Pompeii.

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Giovanni’s Home, Naples

Giovanni

We spent four nights in Naples, and I need to write about the place we stayed. The hostel was called Giovanni’s Home, quite literally because that’s what it was. It’s a dorm-style hostel with bunkbeds. It has a well equipped kitchen, although it’s really small. None of the toilets have toilet seats. The showers have hardly any water pressure and very little hot water. It’s on the third floor in a building on a small street, with a staircase that’s steep and tiring no matter how many times you go up it. And it was the most enjoyble, most fun hostel that we’ve stayed in yet.

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Quotes

As read on a message board at our hostel in Athens:

“There are two kinds of English spoken by English-speaking people. First, there is the English they speak everyday to each other. Second, there is the English that they speak to everyone else SO THAT THEY WILL UN-DER-TAND.”

Gyros vs. Pizza

I can’t decide which I’m enjoying more. Now that we’re in Athens, I can’t get enough of the snacks. Pitas with meat and tzatziki and veggies – yum! But a part of me already misses the pizza in Naples…

Roaming Rome

Roman Forum

We arrived in Rome in the rain and in the dark, but managed to find our way to the Gladios B&B, where we’d gotten a deal and were spending four nights for the price of three. The B&B had a pretty useless little kitchen, and breakfast consisted primarily of cookies and jam. However, we did have a quite large private room with a double bed and our own ensuite washroom, so we were happy. We settled into our room and dried off before heading out for a pizza and a glass of wine. It started to sink in slowly — we were in Rome, the city to which all roads lead, the empire that wasn’t built in a day, the place where one should do as the Romans do.

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