Holiday Tales Post 8 The Last Day

It’s been more than a month since we got back from Greece, and high time that I put an end to these holiday tales, don’t you think?

The last day was a lazy, lazy day. We had nothing on the agenda, apart from soaking in the atmosphere, eating good food, and lazing around. Starting with a delicious breakfast(it was a relief to not have to hunt for breakfast places), at a table with a view.

We had a great time at the windmill, but to be honest, I had a million mini heart attacks every time daughter moved around. I was constantly worried that she would fall down those stairs. So we had decided to ask our hotel manager if he could transfer us into one of the cave houses. After breakfast, the first thing we did was this, and he was so understanding, and showed us to our new accommodation, a traditional cave house. It might have helped that the windmill cost more than the cave house, but anyway!

The view from the cave house.. We planned to spend the evening watching the sunset from here..

The insides.. See the roof?

By the way, the place we stayed at also claims this – check out the little board. Too bad we came here 11 years too late ๐Ÿ™‚

After settling in, we set off once again to walk the streets of Oia. One of the things I loved were the flowers everywhere.. Doesn’t this hibiscus transport you to India? And I love the colour!

And the Bougainvillea, it was everywhere, and it looked so gorgeous!

See those caves towards the right of the picture? I was told that all the caves looked like that before there were converted into houses.. I wonder if the people who first settled here, ever imagined that their adaptation to the environment, would result in a beautiful tourist destination in the years to come…

Some of the traditional blue domed churches that this place is famous for..

The little port, that we did not go down to. I told you, we were after a relaxing day. Going down might have been easy, but coming back up might have been a different story ๐Ÿ™‚

The majestic cliffs that plunge down into the sea…

They do take good care of their buildings…

Aren’t these trees cute?

After all the walking around, our tummies called for lunch. After a huge lunch, at a restaurant with a view(it is impossible to find one, without :)), we headed back to our cave house. The rest of the afternoon, we planned to sit around, and wait for the sunset..

Of course, nothing goes as per plan. The sky that had been clear all morning suddenly had all the clouds in the world, crowding our view!

So what if there were clouds, we were determined to capture what we could.. and torture you guys by putting it up here ๐Ÿ™‚

We could actually see the clouds moving. One minute our hopes would rise, that maybe the clouds would move away, in time for a perfect sunset, the next minute they would be dashed by the sun getting covered completely..

I love the way, we can see the rays of the sun filtering through the clouds…

One of the rising hopes moments…

If it looked like this with the clouds, I wonder how beautiful it would have been when the sky was clear?

With the sun gone, it’s time for some night time splendor.. Did I mention that our cave house was just below the windmill?

We ended the holiday with another delicious dinner.. Fitting end, don’t you think?

Holiday Tales Part 7 First Day in Oia

As I browsed through pictures, I realized that I had forgotten all about posting the last leg of our holiday.

After the our experience in the Ghost Town, we were braced for all eventualities. We had met an Indian family in Fira, who mentioned that Oia(where we were headed to), was very quiet in comparison to Fira. That was enough to get us worried. Then again, we decided that we are sure to find something to do there. We also decided to return our rental car before heading for Oia. We had to return the car in Fira, and we did not want to come back  to Fira, just for that. Our plan was to walk around Oia village and just relax, enjoy the sunset.. basically, do nothing.

After a heavy breakfast at a beach hotel, we got ready and checked out of our ghost hotel. This was one time when there was staff at the reception when we needed them. Guess they did not want us taking off with the keys!

We wanted to go to a beach, drop off the car, and then set off for Oia. We had slight change of schedule based on what our tour guide on the volcano trip told us. He recommended going to the other tip of Santorini, which had the light house. Given that we were close by, we decided to drive there first, and then head off to the beach.

The view on our way to the lighthouse. The islands in the middle are the volcanic islands, and the white bit on the other side is Oia – our final destination for the rest of the holiday. Santorini is crescent shaped.

Some ruins enroute..

And finally the lighthouse. There were other tourists like us, snapping away ๐Ÿ™‚

Next stop, Monolithos beach. It was recommended to be a shallow beach, suitable for children. Most of the beaches in Santorini are quite deep, so quite scary for young children.  It was a nice beach, almost empty, as the season was almost over. No pictures, because we were too busy having fun ๐Ÿ™‚ Just one picture that shows us where we were – on the other side of the mountain that was visible from our hotel.

Beach sorted, lunch sorted, we set off to Oia. Full of trepidation and worry. What if it were just like Perivolos? What if we landed up in another ghost town?

The drive to Oia was gorgeous, but we decided to just let our eyes and our minds capture the pictures, for a change. We had planned to call the hotel in advance, but we managed to forget in the middle of everything else.

Finally we reached Oia village. It was just like the pictures – gorgeous, cute and so very different. We had heard about some hotels being difficult to reach, with little steps and everything – but we were lucky, our hotel was easy to spot, and easy to reach from where the taxi left us.

The reception was locked, once again! But this time, there was a bell to be rung. Up bounded a warm, cheerful man, who was the manager, and he took us to our accommodation. Unlike our previous hotel manager/caretaker(or whatever he might have been), he was wonderful, and made us feel welcome.

That’s where we stayed – the windmill that is in the distance. I ought to mention here, that husband was super excited about living in the Windmill. He was the one who booked it. Normally, I do booking and stuff, but while we were doing the research, husband got fascinated by the idea of living in a windmill, and decided to book it. He couldn’t wait to get there.

It used to be a working windmill(used for grinding flour) some years ago. The wind speed near the windmill validates that. We could hear the roaring wind the whole time.It was a totally different experience. One that we wouldn’t forget in a hurry.

It is converted into a 2 bedroom apartment. The Kitchenette. My heart sank when I saw those steps. Look at the size of them! And no railings! Husband loved the character features of the windmill – I did too, to be honest, it was just that I was a little worried about Daughter taking a tumble from those steps.

Look at the bedrooms!

And those tiny windows!

The view from our window..

And the view from our bed..

After settling in, we went off to explore the streets of Oia. Oia is famous for it’s gorgeous sunsets, and loads of tourists from the rest of the island come over, just to see the sunset. See the crowd of people at Oia Castle, waiting for the sunset? Unfortunately, we did not get to see a proper sunset that day – it was too cloudy.

The streets of Oia had a charm of their own..

Quaint shops selling all sorts of stuff.. From souvenirs to paintings to beads to pumice stones.

Oia at night time…

There was something about the place, that was magical. We walked around aimlessly, and yet did not get bored. After a delicious dinner, and finally exhausted, we retraced our steps back to our windmill house..

I had planned to complete the travelogue with this post, but that would make it unbearably long.. So the rest in the next ๐Ÿ™‚

Holiday Tales Part 6 – Volcanic Islands

I love it when the Thursday Challenge is about something I wanted to write about. Two birds, one stone thingy, you know. Today’s challenge is (“HARD” (Rock, Ice, Brick, Steel, Cement,…).

Volcanic Rocks..boulders of lava…

Santorini, is what remains after a violent volcanic explosion, a long time ago.The island is the remnant of an volcanic cone, which had been blown off during one of the explosions in history. Apparently the island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. One of the popular theories claim that one of the eruptions here is the source of the legend of Atlantis.

The beaches of Santorini are all black in colour because of the volanic eruptions in the past.

The islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni are the remnants of the most recent explosions in this area. See the islands in the pic below. The two islands in the middle are the two kamenis. Apparently this is one of the most recent landmass formation in the Aegean Sea.

The day we got hold of our rental car( Do check out Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in case you missed them), we also figured out that there was a cruise to The volcano and the Hot springs.

The next day, we set off, to get on the cruise to the volcanic crater in Nea Kameni. Look how gorgeous the Caldera looks in the morning. This is the view from Fira.

Our cruise was from the Port of Fira. The cruise would take us to the volcanic crater, and then to the Hot Springs and return. We would be able to climb all the way to the top of the crater and have a swim in the Hot Springs. Husband was most delighted by the thought of the swim.

The port of Fira was a long trek down. There were donkeys taking tourists up and down.

We used these cable cars to go down(and up) to the port.

See the volcanic rock in the main Island of Santorini.

And look at the way they have built on top of it..

Finally the port..

The boat that we set sail in.

As we sailed away, we got to see wonderful views of the island. Look at these caves, and the cave houses, etched into the landscape…

And finally at the volcanic islands.

On our way up the crater.

As I upload pictures here, I realize that most of the best pictures have us in the frane! The view of Santorini from the island. I think this was Oia in the picture.

It is uninhabited island. The only people there are the tourists. Daughter refused to walk beyond a point. It was hot, sweltering hot, and walking up did seem difficult. So Husband went ahead.

Look at these rocks! Something majestic about them. Beats man made things, doesn’t it?

The view again..

Husband went ahead and this is what he saw. Look how the terrain changes…

Sulphur patches with a strong smell of sulphur- according to Husband. Later we got to know that Santorini does have a lot of sulphur in it’s environment due to volcano. These are actually called Sulphur vents.

Some of the equipment that is constantly measuring the volcanic activity here. The last time the volcano erupted was in 1950.

Husband said that the top of the crater was full of rocks stacked one upon the other.. Something may be the tourists did?

The crater..

While husband was away capturing pictures of sulphur vents, craters and rocks, daughter and I relaxed under an umbrella, and watched other tourists who had aborted their journey and stayed back.. I wish I could say I over heard their conversation, but their conversation was all in Chinese ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Once husband got back, we got back into the boat and set off for the Hot Springs. That was a bit of a disappointment, because, apparently it was not all that hot ๐Ÿ™‚ Some people on our boat did jump in, and swam about, but most of us stayed put.

I am sure whoever reached this far, must be fed up of seeing only rocks, let me leave you with this…

and this.. Our last glimpse of the volcanic islands.. At least from this angle. We shifted to Oia, the next day, from where we got to see a whole different view..

Holiday Tales Part 5 Living in a ghost town

*Long post alert*

Some time back, during our trip to America, we had been to a ghost town. Well, we needn’t have bothered. We were to have an opportunity to live in one, not just visit one.

As I mentioned here, we decided on Greece based on a friend’s holiday pictures until then we had been debating between Turkey and Greece. So while planning it out, I spoke to my friend, and he advised us on the best places to stay. A beach and a sunset point. Two nights at each, we decided. Our first place of stay was near a beach. Our friend had said that we would not need to rent a car, there is enough to do in one place. So at the airport, we took a taxi to our hotel. Please note, we did not even bother asking the locals this time ๐Ÿ™‚ We could not possibly handle lugging suitcases once more.

It was a scenic drive. Cliffs on one side, the sea on the other. Gorgeous! We could see those cute blue domed churches around us. Some of them had miniature replicas of themselves built near the road. I never managed to take a picture of them, though.

We reached the hotel within 20 minutes. Our taxi dropped us off, and drove off. It was only when we walked towards the entrance of the hotel that we realized that it was shut. We got a little confused. Were we at the wrong hotel? ย Rechecked our booking, and it looked and sounded like the place we booked. I asked husband and daughter to wait while I walked around the building to figure out if I could find the staff. As I walked around, it just grew more eerie. Not a single soul around. All doors locked. It looked empty. Then I thought, may be everybody must be sunning themselves at the beach – it was a glorious, sunny day, when I reached the pool, which was drained! Oh my god! Did our booking get cancelled? Did we miss an email from them? Has the hotel shut shop? What were we going to do now?

I got back to where husband and daughter were waiting, worried, and tensed. I would have preferred lugging suitcases to being shut out of our hotel room anytime! Finally, we happened ย to notice a paper with emergency contacts jotted down, stuck to the reception door. So we decided to call the mobile number that was mentioned there.

Thankfully someone picked up. He said he would be there when I mentioned that we had a booking at their hotel. He sounded as if it were a totally normal situation of hotel guests landing up at a shut down hotel, with not a soul in sight. And just to clarify, this was not a tiny B&B or a low-priced hotel. This was supposed to be a ‘Boutique and Spa’! And it looked grand too – only with no staff or guests.

As I said, 5 minutes meant more than 15 minutes here. Our guy here was no different. Finally he arrived with a lady. Turned out he did not know much English, nor was he very friendly. It almost felt as if he were resentful that we landed up here and spoiled his vacation. It was a change after all those wonderfully friendly Greeks we came across in Athens.

While we were waiting husband had made plans to spend the afternoon at the beach. It was a gorgeous day, just perfect to be at the beach. So as soon as our hotel manager(I assume, I still don’t know), turned up, husband was eager to know about the beach. The hotel had advertised a private beach, and we just wanted to get there.

As soon as we mentioned beach, he said, ‘Beach closed, No beach’.

‘Beach closed?’, we asked, ‘ You mean, the beach is closed? Why’?

‘Season finished’, came the answer!

‘If the season is ‘finished’, why on earth did you take our bookings??’, is what I wanted to ask, but was so flustered by this, that neither of us knew what to think or say.

‘You want car?’, he asked. We said no, because our friend had said that it wouldn’t be required.

‘Breakfast, yes or no’, he asked. I said no, because it was not included in the room tariff, and after what we had seen, I wasn’t too sure of what they would provide. He and his colleague spent about 15 minutes locating the room key. Finally he took us to our room, which was not too bad. It was quite good, to be honest. Although I could not locate a kettle, and by the time we tried to ask them, they had left the hotel – again. And we were the only guests in the hotel. Spooky, is what it felt. All alone in a big hotel with nobody else on the premises.

The view from our room.

As soon as we freshened up, we decided to step out for lunch. By then doubts and worry had started to set in. If the beach was ‘closed’, then what would we do here? And how on earth can a beach be ‘closed’? That too, when the weather was so gorgeous! We would be lucky to have such lovely weather in summer, in the UK!

We set off on the road, hoping to find a decent place to eat. We crossed a bakery, and a super market, and our hopes rose. I went into the super market and asked a lady where we could find a restaurant. She indicated the direction in which we should go. So we walked on. We found a few restaurants which had menus hung outside, but were closed. It looked weird to say the least. It was as if people had abandoned them abruptly. Some even had ‘Today’s Menu’ written in chalk, and closed. I wish I had taken pictures, but at that point in time, we just wanted to find a place to eat. It was hot, and tiring to walk down an empty road, in a place where beaches were closed. We kept going, and kept finding these abandoned restaurants. Finally, we decided to turn back and go to that bakery we saw. Hopefully we would get something in the form of lunch.

The bakery had some food. Some pies, and being extra hungry, we even bought some baklava, which were delicious, but a tad too sweet for me. The biggest bonus was the owner of the bakery who was such a wonderful person! He told us that the season was drawing to a close and most of the restaurants and hotels shut shop during this time. Apparently in November, all the hotels and restaurants in this area would shut shop. He told us to rent a car, as that would be the easiest mode of transportation. The local buses were hourly and would go only to the capital, Fira. The best thing he told us was that the beaches were most certainly not ‘closed’. In fact according to him, this is the best time to come to the beach, as it would not be jostling with tourists. Nice and peaceful – his words. Needless to say, we felt less disheartened now. All we needed was a car, and lunch, of course.

So we went back to the hotel, to relax and have our lunch. Daughter did not like the pie too much, but husband and I ate what we could. After lunch we decided to go and rent a car.

We had been told that rental cars are available, the agency was about 1km away.

So off we went, the three of us. The only people on the road was us! We craved to see one tourist. One little proof that we were not the only crazy ones ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Whoever said that it is nice to be away from touristy places, was certainly not us. I have never wanted to see people so much before this. People and open, functioning restaurants.

Every second shop on that road was a restaurant(closed, albeit with their menus out there, for us to see, and maybe come back to, in summer?) or a car rental place(again, closed). Oh, I forgot to mention that the hotel manager had given us pamphlets of car rentals, with their numbers on them, but none of them picked up the calls. All in hibernation, I guess.

Finally we walked, and walked until we reached the one shop that was open, and busy – the Tattoo shop! The lady in the tattoo shop had no idea if theย car rentals next to her place would open or not. Nor did she have their numbers to try to call them. By then we had reached the beginning of the beach.

See that mountain? We were right there. The road ended at the mountain, and a little road led us to this beach. One thing that was in plenty were directions to the beach. All roads to the right( from the main road), apparently led to the beach.

Given that we were so close to the beach, we decided to make the most of it, and forget about cars and rentals, and just enjoy the beach. As you can see, finally, we managed to see some tourists ๐Ÿ™‚ Most of the beach was empty, for us to relax and enjoy.

See the boarded up shops/restaurants..

Finally, we managed to find a few open restaurants, buzzing with activity, music and tourists further on the beach. We also managed to get the numbers of one car rental, that everybody said is open. It was such a relief to find people! I think it gave us a perspective of how it would be to be far away from civilization.

Getting a rental car, still took some time. The owner of the car rental told us he would be there in 10 mins, but as expected, it took him over half an hour – but we were just delighted to get our freedom ๐Ÿ™‚ Now we could go somewhere, drive around, find a place to eat! Yay! Armed with the car, and a map, we set off! After ages, it was different driving around in an unknown place, without a GPS, but as our friend, the baker said, it was impossible to get lost there.

We stayed in our ghost hotel for another day, but it was much better because we managed to get away and explore the rest of the island. It was a little spooky coming back to an huge, empty hotel. I just hoped that no cats or bats would jump out to scare the wits out of us ๐Ÿ™‚

We did have a tough time finding a place that was open for breakfast, but our trusty little bakery saved the day.

Thankfully, we had a fun time, despite the initial hiccups. It will be something that we will always remember.ย In a way, because it was so empty, we ended up driving around and seeing the rest of the island. I am quite sure that we would not have bothered had the place been buzzing with activity. Silver lining, and all that.. Certainly made sense to us that day!

Edited to add: Husband read this and reminded me of how he tried to spook me out. He wanted to tell me the story of the movie ‘The Shining’. I did not let him tell me though ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

Holiday Tales – Part 4 The Streets of Athens

Our trips always used to be meticulously planned – by me. Husband couldn’t care less. We visited cities like Paris and Rome before Poohi was born, and it was a different type of schedule.

Armed with a map, and guide books, we would get on the local transportation, walk through little alleys, following our instincts, and sometimes other tourists, or sometimes just the road. We would reach cute localities, or little alley ways where we would actually get lost. But it used to be so much fun! Both of us were in agreement that we could not go with guided tours, because we love doing our own thing.

It had been a while since we last did a European city. The last was Switzerland, when daughter had just turned two, and it was not exactly city sightseeing, and she was happy to be in her buggy, so we were free to go wherever we wanted to, to some extent, at least.

I was in two minds if Athens was a good idea or not. I did not want her getting bored with all the archeological stuff, but as I mentioned here, she loved it! The other part that I was worried about how much she would enjoy the aimless walking through the city, that both of us loved so much.

Well, all I can say is, she sure is a daughter of ours ๐Ÿ™‚ She had just as much fun as we had on the streets of Athens. Even on the first day, on that torturous trek to the hotel, she was in her element. She was cheerful, delighted by all the cats and kittens that she saw on the road, pointing out whatever caught her eye. That just meant that we had the kind of holiday that we all love!

We ended up in a place called Plaka, where the souvenir shops enthralled me. I love these shops, there is something about souvenir shops that I love ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s me making a beeline to those gorgeous pots!

Look how pretty they are? They have events from Greek mythology painted on them. I could not afford to buy them, so brought back pictures instead ๐Ÿ™‚

Daughter, proving that she has indeed, inherited my genes ๐Ÿ™‚

Daughter did get a little tired. So we got on one of these.

Tourist transportation of a different kind..

One of the domed churches of Athens

All roads lead to the Acropolis. See the Acropolis shining up on the hill ahead?

More ruins, much to daughter’s delight ๐Ÿ™‚ We came back here in the daylight to see it properly.

Isn’t this cute?

The streets of Athens is full of cats..

of all kinds ๐Ÿ™‚

Trees flanking roads, full of oranges!

Aren’t these the cutest? We stumbled across a market place, which had the cutest of things! Most were handmade and so very creative.

Remember those balconies full of greenery that I was so enthused about?

And as I said earlier, all roads lead to the Acropolis.. There it is , all lit up at night..

Two days of Athens, and we were looking forward to Santorini. We were all excited, and waiting to get to the island. Little did we know that a ghost town awaited us…..
to be continued…

Holiday Tales – Acropolis Part 3

Thought I would let the pictures do the talking..

Our first view of Athens from our hotel balcony. Tell me, couldn’t this be just about anywhere in India? I loved some of the balconies I saw there – full of greenery. Full of pots overflowing with plants! How I love those!

Then we set off to see the sights. First stop – Acropolis.ย Do refer to the link for more information. I love the history behind the ruins, but do no want to bore all of you by going into it ๐Ÿ™‚

Our first view of the Acropolis

The first monument we saw was the Theatre of Herodes Atticus. It used to be an amphitheatre, with a roof.ย 

The view from the top. Doesn’t it look majestic? It has been renovated, is even used as an auditorium now. I think the only historical monument that is in use in Greece.

This is the Propylea. The link shows what it might have looked when intact. We had a guide who explained all this to us. It would have been ‘Greek and Latin’ to us otherwise ๐Ÿ˜‰

The temple of Athena Nike – it has been reconstructed to give a fair idea of what it looked like.

The Erechtheum. This was a temple dedicated to the Greek hero Ericthonius. Check out the Porch of the Caryatids. The supports in the form of women. We got to see the originals at the New Acropolis Museum, and they were exquisite. The figures here are apparently replicas. We could not take the pics of the originals, because cameras are not allowed inside the museum. If you happen to go there, do not miss the museum – it is totally, totally worth it!

And Finally, the Parthenon. The Parthenon was a Temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena, who was the patron goddess of Athens. The Parthenon has a amazing history. Originally, a temple, it was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and then was mosque during the Ottoman period.

The Theatre of Dionysus.

And among things so old, we found something so incredibly young ๐Ÿ™‚

And another young one tryng to catch the view of Athens from the Acropolis..

I am exhausted with all the uploading, so I guess you must be bored with the pics, but I wanted to make a quick mention of the New Acropolis Museum. It is built on top of the ruins of an old Christian settlement. The ground floor of the museum has glass floors which allows us to see the ruins. It was fascinating, to say the last. A few pictures that we managed to click from outside.

The view of the Acropolis from the top of the New Acropolis Museum..

And that covers the main part of Ancient Athens. I was surprised to see how much Daughter enjoyed the whole day. She loved hearing about the legends, tried her best to understand what these ruins stood for. At the end of the day, she told me that she wanted to show her friends what she saw. She put away her map in her backpack, and yesterday, she took it to school and told her class all about the story of the Athena and how Athens came to be named after her ๐Ÿ™‚ To think that I was worried if she would get bored during this part of the trip.

Holiday Tales – Part 2

The start of our trip was memorable to say the least.

We had an early start at 5 in the morning. Our flight was at 8.40 am and we were driving to the airport instead of taking a taxi as we usually do. We reached the airport parking with just about enough time but to our surprise, had a tough time locating a free parking spot. Even the airport parking in the country is almost full!

Just as we managed to get our luggage out of the car, we spotted the airport shuttle.
Missing it would mean having to wait for another 10 mins in the cold. Not a very attractive option. So we raced towards it, managed to get on it, just in time. Just as we reached the terminal, husband asks, ‘Do you remember me locking the car?’. We had left the car unlocked! I was sure that it would be safe – who in their right mind would go around that huge parking lot for an unlocked car? If thieves were so hard-working, they would not be thieving! Husband thought that he could run back after we check in, just before security check.

Check in went off smoothly, and we rushed to Security check to figure out it were crowded. Well, lets just say that ‘crowded’ would be an understatement. We could not see the end of the line. It extended right out of a hall, into the exit. It was the longest queue I had ever seen in an airport. And this is not even one of the huge airports. Guess lots of people had the same plans as us. The last term break before proper winter set in ย was to be made the most of.

Then on, the flights were uneventful. We even managed to banish worries of the unlocked car.

Finally we reached Athens after a five and a half hour in flights and airports. Athens looked bright and sunny. The mere feeling of warm sunlight is so refreshing and comforting.

Now, normally, on all our trips, I would have planned what to do next. I would have done the research on the best mode of transportation to the hotel. This time, I was busy with other stuff, and somehow managed to forget to check out all these essential details. So I asked a lady at a shop at the airport, the best way to reach the city. ‘The Bus’, she said, ‘No Taxi, taxi big money, take bus’. She even told me which number to take.She seemed horrified at the idea of taking a taxi. Husband was a bit cynical, he wasn’t sure if we should do something like this, on our first day, with all luggage.. But finally, we decided to give it a try.

So off I went, trying to figure out where to board the bus, and get the tickets and stuff like that. In any foreign territory, I am the automatic info-gatherer. I talk with my hands and eyes, and get info. Husband gives up immediately if people don’t understand him ๐Ÿ™‚

So I locate the ticket counter, who tells me, ‘Not here, there’. We searched for the counter, but every other counter was closed. Finally, we managed to get the tickets, and boarded the bus, when it dawned on me, that we had no idea how we would know where to get off. So I went around asking. There was no driver in the bus, at that point in time, so I asked others travelling with us. All of them had no clue. Most were tourists themselves. It made me worry if I had taken the wrong decision in taking a bus. Finally the driver came on, and told me, ‘Don’t worry, next metro, sit down’. That made me feel slightly better.

Of course, it was not to last too long. The bus started stopping, and we were still clueless about where we were. We were worried that the driver might forget about us. What if we landed up somewhere else? Finally we saw some people board the bus who looked like locals. So I mustered up courage and asked them. One man, turned and asked, ‘You Indian?’, I replied in the affirmative, and that had him smiling broadly,’ Don’t worry, sit down’!

Finally with no other advice coming our way, we decided to just enjoy the ride.

Now at this point, I have to tell you, that Athens felt a lot like Bangalore with a lot less traffic. The weather was gorgeous, and we were having fun soaking in the atmosphere.

Finally, we managed to reach the city centre. We wanted to take a taxi from here, but our new Greek friend refused to let us. Too expensive, he said, and insisted that that we take the bus. He was going the same way, and said would guide us. Have to say something about this man. He was so very friendly, went all out to help us. Would not take no for an answer, and was so very expressive. He managed to communicate beautifully with hand gestures, facial expressions, and even his tongue ๐Ÿ™‚ to show displeasure when he was talking about the Greek economy.

While we were waiting for the next bus, our eyes and nose started itching. Apparently that was due to the left over tear gas, that was used a few days ago during the protests. There were several signs that this beautiful city had been through some turbulent times recently. Despite all that the people, seemed so cheerful and friendly.

To cut a long story short, we took another bus, and got off where he asked us to. The hotel was on the other side of the road. Untl this point, our bus ride had been comfortable and fun. Now started a real ordeal. Crossing over the street with our luggage was no mean feat. There were steps and lugging the suitcase up and down was a pure torture for poor husband. I could not help much, my hands being full with our hand luggage, and daughter to keep track of.

This was also the point that we realized that when a Greek says ‘Five minutes’, he means it just like we Indians do. It is more than likely to be 15 mins. The driving was quite similar to India as well, the pedestrians had to move out of way of the cars.

It was a huge relief to reach the hotel, after escaping speeding cars, huge, dangerous looking stray dogs, and endless asking of directions.

That trek to our hotel was probably the most scary bit of walking I have done. All we had energy for to hit the pillows and sleep…

to be continued…

Holiday Tales 1

This trip of ours was a complete mixed bag, so to speak. Not every thing went as per plan,ย  but that did not stop us from having a whale of a time!

– First the weather, yes, it got cold. How could it not? And this time, I was over optimistic. I carried a couple of shawls for myself, no coats. I just about survived. The weather was extremely erratic, to say the least. The first day in Athens, I felt that we would get roasted alive. It was scorching! The next day cold and windy. Santorini was gorgeous and warm, most of the time. The rest of the time it was cold and windy. That just meant that we had to be prepared – All THE TIME.

-Greek People. They must be one of the most friendly and helpful people in the world. I could write a full post on how lovely they were.

– The experience. We did everything we wanted to. Did all the touristy things. Saw the Acropolis in Athens, went on the Red Bus Tour( we had never done the city sightseeing tours, we normally explore places in our own way). This time daughter wanted to get the bus with no roof. So we indulged her. It is another story that we always got on the bus when she was tired after hours of walking and they ended up being a sleeping tour for her ๐Ÿ™‚

– Ended up living in a ghost town. More on this coming up in a separate post.

– Stayed at an old windmill and a traditional cave house.

– Food. Ate, ate, and ate like there is no tomorrow. Especially a tomorrow when clothes refuse to fit. The Greeks serve cakes at breakfast, and I made the most of it. And their bread – delicious! Stuffed vine leaves – I drool at the thought of them. I should stop talking about food now.

Those of you who wanted Greek gods, let me tell you, there are museums full of them ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Daughter on the other hand is obsessed with Athena. Not a bad thing, I guess, if she is fascinated by strong women, as a lady observing her said. Also, she shows great potential as a future tour guide ๐Ÿ™‚

Belated Diwali wishes to you and your families. I can see that most if you have been super-active while we were away. So many new posts !

Off on a short break..

We have real bad luck when it comes to weather on holidays. Not that it really makes a huge difference – we still have a lot of fun, but always end up wondering what is that link between us and the holidays?

For the last couple of years, we ended up going to the US for holdiays. People started asking us if we have relatives there. Each year, by the time, autumn starts, we get antsy. We feel the need to flee from the cold cold weather here. Both times, bad weather dogged us. Once there was a hurricane that almost derailed our trip. And the weather was cold cold cold! Last time as well, the weather was colder than normal. It almost feels as if we take bad weather with us. This time, we decided to stay here during December(why take bad weather to other parts of the world, see, how kind we are ;)) , and travel in autumn instead. We wanted to go to someplace in Europe and that would be difficult in December, given the weather.

I was torn between Turkey and Greece, when a friend of ours uploaded pictures of his holiday here.ย That settled it. We decided to finalize Greece.

So off we go tomorrow to Athens, and after a couple of days there to Santorini! We are all super excited, packing is yet to be completed, school work still needs doing, haven’t managed to get all the things I had planned, sorted. But nothing matters because our holiday is about to start! All we need is good weather now ๐Ÿ™‚ See you all at the other end of the break!