Greece – Day 10, Tuesday

Today we woke up and got our bags all packed up, making sure all our ‘liquids’ were packed in our checked bags.  I think we had olive oil, some desert wine, some sun-dried tomatoes, olive spread, and some Ouzo.  Joey ran down on the street and got us some coffee and some cheese pastries.  We left our luggage down in the reception area in their luggage storage and went into town to buy some souvenirs.  We first headed off to the farmers market to get some Greek olives and some more nuts.  Their nuts are really good.  I saw some Greek dog food and really wanted to get Jazzie Rae Beara Giacalone, Sugar and Isabella a souvenir from Greece but Joey was being a mean Uncle Joey and Daddy.  Then we went on a hunt for something for our curio cabinet.  We really wanted a statue of the Acropolis but most of them were replicas of a ‘restored’ Acropolis and Joey really wanted one that showed it as a ruin…as it is now.  We finally settled on something, we got two things actually, and got a magnet for my magnet collection as well.  Joey bought himself a t-shirt and I got some earrings with the Greek key design.  Then we went back to our hotel, picked up our luggage, stuffing olives, nuts, and goodies anywhere we could and left for the Metro to the airport.  It takes about 45 minutes to get to the airport.  Once we arrived at the airport we easily got our boarding passes and found a spot to sit since we were two hours early.  We ordered some drinks at a café, had some gelato and some potato chips that were seasoned with lemon, oregano and pepper.  They were really good actually.  We also broke into the olives that we bought, and some sunflower seeds.  There are lots of smokers in Greece so we had to find a non-smoking area and it was right under the screen that showed the status of the flights.  Perfect.  Before long we saw that our flight was boarding even though it was an hour before it was scheduled to leave.  We figured we’d just sit a while longer anyway and the next thing we knew they posted a ‘final call’.  Sheesh!  We got going even though we still had 40 minutes before our flight would leave and the airport isn’t very big.  In fact our café was just outside our gate and took all of five minutes to get through security.  These clazy Gleeks! (said with my best Greek accent)  So here I sit blogging my trip report on the airplane waiting for all the people to finish boarding.  But oh well, soon we’ll have a night out on the town in London and tomorrow I will see my sweet Isabella and Sugar Bear…..and my kids.



Greece – Day 9, Monday

We still seemed to be on island time and had trouble getting an early start.  We finally headed out around10:30.  We walked through streets of shops and vendors selling all sorts of things on our way up to see the Acropolis.  We stopped along the way to share a crepe filled with cheese, tomatoes and sausage for breakfast.  I soon found that it was going to be quite a hike up to the top of the Acropolis….no funicular or tram to get us up there!  Hmmm, should have brought some water with us, it was already getting hot.  We got lucky because today it is free, saving us $18 each!  We trudged our way up lots of marble steps, stopping to view ruins along the way.  Before long we found ourselves at the top taking pictures of all the sights along with hundreds of other tourists.  It was pretty amazing to see, and the view was incredible.  You could see all the way to the ocean.  After awhile we headed back down the hill and had lunch in town.  We found a nice little restaurant that had some Greek musicians playing guitars and singing.  It made for a nice atmosphere.  I ordered the stuffed tomatoes and Joey had another Gyro.  My dish was awesome, two big tomatoes stuffed with rice, as well as some seasoned potatoes.  The cucumber dip was terrific as well.  I was stuffed….I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!

We came back to the room for about an hour to let our tummy’s settle and I eventually convinced Joey to head out again.  This time we took the Metro (which is their subway), and we went to see the guards in front of Parliament.  It was kind of odd to take a picture with a guy who didn’t even take his eyes off of whatever it was he was staring at.  You couldn’t help but giggle, but everyone was doing it.  They also had tons of birds in the square, kind of like in St. Mark’s Square in Venice.  The guards were dressed in the silliest outfits, they looked like toy soldiers.  Besides the short white frilly dresses and silly hats they wore, they had on thick beige tights and their big boots had huge pom-pom balls on the toes of them!  Next we walked through the National Gardens towards the Olympic Stadium.  It had tons and tons of marble seats rising way up high with just a simple running track in the middle….very interesting.  Then we walked some more to go see the Temple of Zeus.  It was interesting to note that his temple was pretty destroyed….so obviously he wasn’t god, lol.  After that we finally headed back to a nearby Metro station and caught a ride home.  Well… I went straight home; Joey went off to a market to get some more Greek beer.  When he got back, we took a quick shower and then went up to the rooftop bar here at our hotel and had drinks while viewing the Acropolis all light up at night.  It was really quite beautiful but I doubt the pictures will do it justice.

Greece – Day 8, Sunday

Today we leave this littleislandofNaxosand fly back toAthensto spend a couple of days seeing the historical sights.  Luckily Joey is feeling fine this morning.  We did a last little bit of souvenir shopping before we called a taxi to take us to the airport.  The airport was about the size of my house and the plane had propellers…kinda scary :\   The flight to Athens lasted only about 35 minutes so it wasn’t too bad though.  From the airport we took the metro line into the Plaka area, which took about 45 minutes, but unfortunately we got off one stop too soon for our hotel.  Everything was in Greek so it was tough to find our way!  I can’t tell you how many times one of us said, “I don’t know, it’s all Greek to me!”  We stopped and got a street map and tried feeling our way to our hotel, with luggage in tow.  We saw and heard many more Americans here than we did on the islands.  One nice local man stopped and asked us where we were heading and he pointed us in the right direction telling us exactly what to look for and where our hotel was.  He was very nice,  he had said he’d help us if we would talk to him a bit.  Seems he liked the opportunity to practice his English.  He asked about the presidential election and if we thought Obama would win.  It seems everyone over here wants Obama to win.  He commented on the value of the dollar compared to the Euro, saying how they have noticed the drop in American tourism here because is so much more expensive for Americans now so they never give the cost of things in both currency, only one or the other.  The comparison is too hard to hear.  Anyway, we all had a good laugh and he was on his way and we were very grateful for his help.  We got to our hotel, (which was only a block from the next metro stop!) unloaded our stuff and went upstairs to the rooftop bar and had a drink while viewing the Acropolis off in the distance.  After cleaning up we went out for a walk.  It’s very ‘urban’ here, kind of a mix between New York City and Paris maybe, and lots and lots of colorful graffiti.  We walked past a Turkish fruit, candy, and nut stand, bought some goodies and eventually wandered into an area with some street side dinner cafes.  We stopped for dinner and called it an early night because we knew our next day was planned with lots of sightseeing.

Greece – Day 7, Saturday

This morning we called the kids at home.  It’s Friday evening at home and Justin and Michelle were out getting some “Chocolate Lava Cake”.  Michelle always has very specific wants, lol.  Johnny was home with Grandma taking care of the house, the plants, the dogs, and the pool.  It sounds like he’s been quite the little man of the house.  We tried calling Lacy but could only hear the loud radio of whatever car she was in.  I guess she’s off somewhere with her sweetie Gilbert.

Joey took a walk to get our coffee today while I cleaned up and got ready for another day out on the beach.  I will have to put on plenty of sunscreen because I’m a little pink from yesterday.  It’s so nice and breezy out at the beach you don’t even realize how hot the sun really is!  After we had our first cup of coffee we walked a block up to a little café and had breakfast with more coffee.  We got internet access there, yeaaah!  We ordered the yogurt topped with fresh strawberries, honeydew melon, bananas and peaches.  We also got a grilled cheese sandwich with ham on it…what they call toasts with cheese on the menu.  We then came back to our room, got ready to go to the beach and spent most of the day out in the sun.  Well, I tried to stay under the umbrella in the shade as much as possible today.  I finished reading my book though!  We later went to our room and got showered before going to dinner.  We had an Italian dinner, served by a French woman, in Greece…kind funny.  We ordered the fresh steamed mussels and I think they were the best I ever had…so garlicky and full of fresh herbs with bread to soak up all the juice!  Unfortunately Joey must have eaten a bad one though because later that night Joey’s whole dinner came up L.  We also had a pizza with sausage, mozzarella, eggplant, and ricotta cheese.  It was very good, very fresh, and so was the Sangria.  We stopped at a bakery on our way back to our room and bought a piece of chocolate cake to share.  I had only one bite and Joey managed to eat the rest. We had planned to go to the beachside café to watch the soccer game between Greece and Russiabut after Joey’s ‘upheaval’ he didn’t want to go too far from the room. Russia won.

Greece – Day 6, Friday

We got up and went walking for some morning coffee.  Our room didn’t have a coffee maker.  But on our way we found some great bakery and pastry shops so we bought our coffee to go, along with some feta cheese pie, which was more like a croissant filled with feta cheese.  It was yummy!  We also came upon a small farmers market where some old guys were selling fruits and veggies.  We bought some fresh green beans for our dinner later and also got some really good apricots and plums.  We sat out on our patio and had our breakfast.  We then went out to the beach to stake our claim on some shore front chairs.  I read my book while Joey read his boring technology magazines.  It was still cool and breezy and it felt so good.  Eventually the sun was high in the sky and we spent most of the day out on the beach ordering drinks and people watching.  The water was nice and clear and was shallow for quite a ways out.  We could walk and walk and it never got past our thighs.  After a while Joey walked up to a stand in town and got us some gelato. Mine was triple chocolate…..chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!  A wind started to pick up and it even sprinkled for about 3 minutes so we decided this was a good time to run to the market to get our food for dinner.  We walked around town for about an hour before coming back to our room.  We went back out to our beach chairs for a while before finally coming in to make dinner.  After a day in the sun we were pretty tuckered out so at some point I fell asleep reading.

Greece – Day 5, Thursday

Today we got up and packed our things and said goodbye to Santorini after making a mental note of the beautiful view from our veranda so it would be implanted in our minds forever.  After checking out, we got a taxi to the port and took a ferry to the island of Naxos.  It was about a 2 hour ferry ride to Naxos.  We passed many other islands on our way, the ferry even made a quick stop at Ios.  Our apartment hotel in Naxos is right on the beach, just a 5 minute walk from town, maybe a 10-15 minute walk from the port where we arrived but we took a taxi because of our luggage.  I definitely packed way too much and I only brought one suitcase!  I have to remember when going on a beachy vacation that you spend most of the day in your swimsuits!  Just outside our door to the right is a row of beachside cafes and bars serving all kinds of snacks, drinks and smoothies.  Joey is especially pleased that they all have big screen TV’s to watch the soccer Euro Cup…..or rather football.  We basically spent our first day here just strolling around taking some pictures, spotting out the markets and restaurants before eventually sitting ourselves down at one of the beachside bars for the night watching Croatia playing Germany while sipping on fresh fruit drinks and digging our feet into the sand. Croatiawon.

Greece – Day 4, Wednesday

Today we woke up at a nice normal hour!  I can’t believe I was able to get back to sleep after going to sleep yesterday afternoon, and then being up for 2 hours in the middle of the night.  I still slept like a baby!

After breakfast Joey went up and booked our boat outing for the day while I took a nice long hot shower.  We’re sailing on a “Catamaran sailing yacht with her own captain and crew.”  It’s a semi-private afternoon and sunset dinner cruise that explores “the striking landscape of Santorini and other islands, you can also enjoy sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling in private bays, which includes the famous volcanic hot springs.” (I got that from the brochure…)  We don’t know who will be with us yet but it only has room for a few couples.  Who knows, maybe since the season isn’t too busy yet, we might have the whole yacht to ourselves! You can check out some pics here:  Either way, I am totally looking forward to this!  Our other options were a pirate ship or what I call “cattle” type ships where there are tons of people on them and you have pre-determined stops for pre-determined times.  This one was much more expensive, probably 6 times as much!, but I really didn’t want to be on a boat with a ton of other people and when are we ever going to have a chance to sail the Greek islands in this manner again?  I will have to tell you all about it when we get back….

Anyway, we came here to relax rather than to tour a whole county like we have in the past but I knew it would be hard for us to sit and do nothing.  But I am trying very hard and have to keep reminding myself that it is okay to do nothing!  I spent most of the morning reading Joel Rosenberg’s new book, Dead Heat.  The whole series is very good so check it out.  Joey was getting a bit antsy (of course…) so he took a walk by himself to the end of the village before coming back and making us a Greek salad for lunch.  Even now, he is walking around the cave tidying up.  I don’t think he ever stops moving, lol.

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So we are back from our catamaran yacht trip.  It was amazing and we did have the boat ‘almost’ to ourselves.  There was only one other very friendly lady about my age named Honey from Jersey in the Channel Islands just off ofFrance.  She was a real sweetheart and very interesting to talk to.  As soon as we boarded the captain and his very cute deckhand named Mikos were tending to our every need, bringing us drinks and snacks as we sat out in the front viewing the coastline cliffs of Santorini while he sailed around. Now and then the water would splash up through the mesh net and it was startling to say the least! The captain took us to thehot springson the other side of the volcano and Joey and I jumped in and swam over to them.  At first it was cold, and quite a long swim, but eventually we could feel the water warming up.  It also turned an orangey color where it got warm.  The rock cliffs high above us had chickens and roosters on them, crowing loudly.  We stayed for a while before we swam back to the yacht.  Next we went around the island to another private cove.  The captain, along with Joey and Honey, took another swim.  I stayed on board with Mikos.  BTW, Lacy would have loved this guy!  Mikos had dark curly hair with the prettiest green eyes.  He even had the scruffy face that she likes, lol.  Mikos started preparing our dinner as I watched, wanting to get my hands in to help.  It’s hard for me to be in a kitchen and not want to help cook.  Eventually the captain climbed back onto the yacht and finished making dinner.  Our dinner spread consisted of fresh prawns, mustard chicken, mussels, lamb meatballs of some sort, some sausage, a Greek salad with bread, along with some yogurt and eggplant spreads…and of course, a constant pouring of wine.  He used Ouzo (the local liquor) in something he made but I’m not sure what.  The three of us sat out on the table at the back of the boat and were served our dinner while we watched the beautiful sunset.  The sails were up, flapping in the wind, and we were moving at a nice peaceful pace all the way back to the port as the sun dropped slowly behind the waters edge.  It was a wonderful day and certainly worth every penny….or I should say euro.

Greece – Day 3, Tuesday

Again we woke up pretty early and sat out on our veranda having coffee until our breakfast was served.  We planned for this day to be a pretty slow day, with nothing too much pre-planned.  Joey walked up to the bakery and bought some more bread, as well as a variety of flavored breadsticks and cookies.  He also had to get me some more cream for my coffee since they serve milk for our coffee with breakfast.  I don’t like milk in my coffee :/  After a while we took a walk along the main promenade of the village and shopped for some souvenirs and gifts for friends and family, as well as some more fresh fruit.  I got the biggest figs this time, about the size of a tennis ball.

The walk started out pretty cool but the sun was heating things up pretty quickly.  We saw a few tour buses driving in and we noticed the streets got a little more crowded but not too bad. This really is the perfect time to visit the Greek Islands! We took a different route walking back, winding through some back alleys that reminded me of Venice and Joey finally spotted a Gyro stand where they cook the pork like they do for Pastor tacos in Mexico, his favorite.  He has been waiting to find a good Gyro stand so he got one for $3, pretty cheap considering it was filled with lots of meat….and of course another Mythos beer. That was his lunch.  I had some fruit, breadsticks, and veggies back in our cave.

We came back and put on our swimsuits and sat out on our veranda for quite some time today.  I actually had to put sunscreen on because I was starting to get burned and we still have a few more days to go in the sun!  We didn’t head off to the pool this time, instead we kept throwing water from a cup on each other 🙂   I have yet to really crack into my new book I brought, the amazing view is so distracting!  It was pretty hot so we would take short breaks relaxing in our cave.  The cave stays pretty cool actually, even with the doors and windows left open.  We’ve yet to even turn on the A/C.  We also finally went online on our laptop and we were able to get some boating information, ferry schedules, as well as email everyone at home.  It was a pretty slow day and we eventually felt the need for another nap in the late afternoon.  We had plans to go have a fish dinner down at the bottom of the long steps along the shore but we woke up at9pm!  I decided there was no point in eating and I continued to sleep.  Joey said he tried to wake me up but I don’t recall much effort on his part.  He mentioned something about watching a soccer game and just a little bit ago he told me he went into town to watch it on a big screen somewhere.  I’m not so sure he’s telling me the truth but here it is 2am and I am sitting here typing this and he is sound asleep so who knows, lol.  It was a restful day.

Greece – Day 2, Monday

We had a really good nights sleep and we woke up pretty early,6:30amI think it was.  Joey ran up to the market at the top of our steps and bought some coffee so we could make it in our room each morning.  Shortly after, the hotel served us breakfast out on our veranda.  The yogurt is so good, very thick and creamy.  It’s nothing like the runny stuff at home.  We also had orange juice, soft boiled eggs, some sweet bread, and the most delicious sesame toped bread with some really creamy butter.  After getting cleaned up we walked up to town to rent a car.  We rented a cute little convertible Smart car….very fun to drive around on the island in.  We drove to the very end of the island where the light house is.  Along the way we found a winery that we decided we would have to come back to later in the day.  We also stopped at a couple of road side stands where the locals were selling sun dried tomatoes, caper leaves, olive oils, homemade wines, and a number of other items as well.  We even stopped at the one that HGTV’s Giada deLaurentes did a segment at.  The woman running the stand noticed that we were Americans so she pulled out her little scrap of paper that Giada had written her name on to see if we knew who she was.  Little did she know Giada is one of my favorite chefs and that we had see the show where she visited Greece!  She then took us around back to show us where she dries the tomatoes out on mesh racks in the sun just like she showed Giada for the TV show.  You could tell she was very proud that Giada picked her to be on TV.  Then we headed off to Red Rock beach for a while.  It was quite a hike down to the water so we just stayed at the top and took some nice pictures of it.  After that we found our way to one of the beaches on the eastern side of the island.  The sand was black and very hot, but there were lots and lots of restaurants and bars all along the beach.  We stopped and had lunch, tried the local “tomato balls”, and then went out to the beach and took another nap in the sun. We had very comfortable cushioned lounge chairs under an umbrella so sleeping came pretty easy, especially for Joey.  We eventually left and drove back up to the winery to watch the sunset.  We ordered a tasting tray that included some bread and cheese and it came with 16 different tasters!  Not surprisingly, my favorite was the very last one.  It was a very sweet wine where the grapes are aged out in the sun, very much like a sherry.  The sun finally went down and it was getting a little chilly, especially since I was by then sunburned, so we headed home, got our blankets and sat out on our veranda again before finally heading off to bed.  It was a good day.

Greece – Day 1, Sunday

Day 1 – Sunday

Hey, everyone, we finally made it to Santorini, our first island stop.  We arrived early in the morning and I couldn’t get acclimated to the time because we saw the sun rise up over the ocean.  Normally I only see the sun set over the ocean in the evening since we live on the west so I couldn’t get a feel of the time.  Joey seemed to have no trouble.  It could be that he got some sleep on the plane and I was just a walking zombie!  But it wasn’t long before the sun was high in the sky and eventually setting before us from our veranda at the end of the day.  We decided to skip the taxi and hop on one of the local buses from the airport to Fira, a more bustling and touristy village; although at8amon a Sunday morning it was still pretty sleepy.  It was fun to see the locals get on and off as they were heading off to church.  It was Pentecost on the day we arrived.  One of the lady’s paid for the bus ride with a bag of figs….that was pretty cool.  I made a note to myself then to get myself some figs, which I eventually did.  Once we arrived in Fira we had a 30 minute wait for the bus to Oia so we rolled our luggage up a hill and stopped to have a quick bite to eat.  It was a savory crepe with feta cheese, olives, and sun dried tomatoes in it.  It was yummy and I plan to make some when I get home!  We then got on our bus to Oia and we were so glad we chose this area for our stay.  It is absolutely beautiful!  Lots and lots of cave houses and hotels all built into the side of the cliffs.  We arrived a little early for our check in to our cave house so we dropped off our bags at our hotel and we took a walk along the main promenade of the village.  Everywhere you looked you could see sweeping views of the Aegean Sea with the top of the volcano out in the middle of it all.  There were lots of little markets with fresh produce, restaurants, bars, and pastry shops.  After we checked in our room we headed straight for the pool to ummm…..sleep!  I had basically been up for 24 hours and all I wanted to do was crash.  However, once we were in the cool water sitting there with the amazing view, it was still hard to sleep!  About 3 in the afternoon we finally headed to our room for a 3 hour nap.  After that we walked to the end of the village to see the windmills and watch the sunset behind them.  It was crowded but not overly so really as there were lots of photographers out to catch the beautiful site.  On our way back we stopped in a market and picked up some fruits and veggies, some pasta, and a bottle of wine to make a simple buy yummy dinner in the kitchen of our room.   We ate our dinner by candle light out on our veranda and watched the stars and all the lights of the houses on the cliffs.  It was a perfect ending for a long awaited arrival in Greece.