Category Archives: Athens, Greece

March 25, 2017 – Final Thoughts on our Trip

 

 

 

It was a fabulous trip and have been thinking of the highs and the lows.  So let’s see what comes out as I write my final memories.

Favorite city was Gent/Ghent. It was full of life, interesting things to see, good, delicious food and chocolates, and it was old with great opportunities to imagine what it must have been like hundreds of years ago.

Favorite people – well that has to be a split decision – the people we met in Athens were so full of life and humor and were helpful every step of the way.  I know the guys in front of the restaurants were working but they were also fun and interesting.  Aside from them trying to get us to eat our meal with them we also talked travel, politics, family and other topics.  It was a great way to start our holiday.

Second favorite people would have to be the Laughland cousins in England = all of them.  They are a lively bunch, with great humor and lots of spirit.  The little kids were all warm and friendly which says a lot about their lives. The folks I met for the first time I really enjoyed getting to know and hope I get to see them again.  All in all it was fun times.

And third but not last = Pat and Una Weir.  We have stayed in their apartment three times before I believe making this our fourth visit to them.  They are a lovely family and made us, as always, feel at home and totally welcome there.  They go out of their way for their guests and the feeling is always one of friendship and family.  So I could not talk about favorite people with out including them.

Favorite new food – I think it must be Tzatziki that we ate in Greece.  Not being a brave taster of new foods, in fact totally resistant most of the time to eating anything new, I was proud of myself for trying several Greek items.  The Tzatziki was delicious and I can see myself trying to make it and eating it again.  Oh and I have to add the alcoholic drink Advocaat, it is a creamy yellow, egg nog favoured drink that we had with whipped creme. It is Belgian and if you are there in Gent by the train station there is a little bar restaurant that serves it with a cup of coffee. It was delicious. Those two items were worth the trip.

Favorite archaeological site – Would have to be all the things we saw in Athens. The old Olympic Stadium, the ancient ruins, the Acropolis and all were spectacular.  Yes, we also saw lots of old cathedrals and buildings but I think what we saw in Athens was awesome.

Favorite historical item – In thinking back I believe the Bayeau Tapestry was extraordinary.  It was done at the time of the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  It is 70 meters long and is displayed in all its glory in its own museum.  It tells the story of the rise of William the Conqueror and the battle to maintain his kingdom.  They give you a hand held speaker to take around with you which tells you what is happening and who is shown in each part of the tapestry.  I learned a lot from the experience.  If you are near there don’t miss it.

Favorite Museum – In Dublin we went to the Viking Museum at Christ Church across from our hotel.  I had been there before and it was good and wanted to see it again.  It was equally as interesting the second time around.  Learned that those Norwegians came over looking to be farmers and needing more land to farm. I can see that with all the mountains in Norway.  At the end of the Museum you can go into the Cathedral and tour it which is also very interesting.

Another interesting museum if you can call it that was the Bell Tower in Gent.  I learned how they make those bells so that they ring in a certain tone  and believe me it is not easy or a quick job.  That was fascinating to me so I included it this list.

I don’t know if I should call this the funniest or saddest thing from the trip.  It was an observed event.  One night we were out having a drink and were going to listen to some music.  We had been in this bar before so recognized some of the regulars we had chatted with.  Everyone likes to ask about Trump and our opinions as well as give their own. Did not matter the country or the language.

One fellow there appeared to be on his way to one whale of a hangover and this woman drinking next to him was chatting him up and it was obvious she and her friend knew him.  Her friend just kept rolling her eyes.  But the one chatting with him seemed to be moving in for the kill.  He had his hand on her shoulders and then her back and eventually on her butt.  She seemed to move away a bit but then came back to him again.  I was just sitting back in my spot watching all of this dance of the frustrated lonely old people.  All of a sudden I saw this fellow move his hand the way he had before except this time he went for the Trump move.  She moved pretty quickly back away from him but my mouth was almost on the floor.  I turned to hubby who had also been watching and said something about they have Trumps over here as well who feel free to grab what they want.

Well I figured that her moving down the bar to chat with others meant this whole show was over.. ah the fools we can make of ourselves.   Nope it was not over.  After a bit she returned and was rubbing up against him and whispering things to him.  I was just starring at this point in disbelief.  Then her friend told her to put her coat on and after some more intimate moves she put it on and left.  I think if they had been in between 20 and 40 I might have just thought not a great deal of it but she was heading in my direction age wise and he was maybe my age or older. Hard to tell since the love of the drink can make you look older than you are.  Anyway not an episode I will forget any time soon.

Disappointment – We went to see the play “The Weir” in Dublin and I could not hear or understand the actors very well.  I missed so many of the humorous lines that it was kind of a waste on me. I was disappointed in that since I had been the one who suggested we go see it.

Regrets = My biggest regret is that the trip was not longer.  Several of the places we visited  had so much more to see and a couple more days would have been better.  I am sorry that it had been rainy so I did not get to climb up to Queen Maeve’s Tomb.  Meeting of the Waters had also been on my list of places I wanted to see again and we did not get there.   But I know we could not do everything with the time we had.

Hopes = to win the lottery and just go and spend a whole year or so traveling around to all the places I would like to see before I croak.  And that I don’t lose my mind and forget all of this. Too many fun memories to go and not remember them.

Gratitude for Denis for being the person he is so that the trip was our trip and we both enjoyed our time together with no work, no pressures other than getting a train or plane but the rest of the time we just took our time which made it joyful.

Cutest thing that happened – this goes along with the last paragraph – in Dublin we were walking up O’Connell Street holding hands and this woman walked towards us and we did that little dance you do when one person starts to go right and the other does the same, then you go the other way etc.  We all kind of laughed and stopped and she came up and said how pleased she was to see two people who obviously still love each other and are just enjoying being together.  So glad it showed…

 

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March 16, 2017 – thoughts on our trip-1- The Unknown

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As we traveled we made many observations about the various places we visited. I am sure everyone does this.  In thinking about that I decided to start with Athens.  Before arriving there I was apprehensive.  A language totally unknown to me, food that as a fussy eater was pretty darn threatening, and stories from the news about strikes and refugee issues raised my anxiety level.  As it turned out none of that caution was necessary.

Athens was delightful.  Of course, we were in a tourist area so that might explain the total sense of safely I felt.  People were so friendly and helpful, the hotel was wonderful and the sights just beyond belief.  Climbing the Acropolis was a wonderful success for me with my crappy lungs which don’t always help me out.  The fact that I could walk the miles I did every day was an other surprise.  Up and down and I still made it.

The food was good and I tried a few new things.  The restaurant experience was just a laugh. The fellows and sometimes owners out in the street telling us why they were the best place to eat and who to avoid and who they did not like. It was like getting dragged into the neighborhood gossip circle that we really had no interest in but it was such a hoot that we enjoyed those chats.  And once in what ever restaurant it was the men coming and sitting with us talking about NY City, politics, and bringing us extra dishes we did not order but they wanted it to try.  Totally enjoyable.

So my first lesson of this trip was to not put expectations on the places we were going to visit and to just enjoy the ambiance and soak in the culture if allowed to.  I think I would like to return to Greece and to visit the coast and some of the other places people told us about.  And to continue to be amazed at the ability of the people hundreds and thousands of years ago to build the buildings they did and be thankful for archeologists who put those hundreds of pieces together again into wonderful sculptures and buildings.  And to maybe find a way to spend more time with locals to learn about the life there of the regular people who live in the city or in a rural area.

 

February 19,2017 – Best Laid Plans

Yes, sure had great plans for this morning but this was not to be.  We had scheduled a taxi for 10 am to drive us to the Ibis Hotel in Ouistraham across the street from where we get the ferry boat tomorrow morning.  I had not been able to eat my dinner last night as the old stomach was just not happy. I had gotten an antacid but seems I should have gotten something else.  I woke up early and the old tummy was feeling rummy.  A bit nauseous but that never happened. Nope, it was all the trots.  Sent Denis down to breakfast and I was not doing any better.  We ended up delaying the taxi until noon and Denis went to a drug store and got those heavy duty meds to stop it.  Worked thank goodness.

So at noon instead of an hours drive along the sea and the D Day beaches we took the 35 minute drive to the hotel.  Arrived and seemed okay but felt totally washed out. Since I had really not eaten since yesterday afternoon I opened my box of gluten free cookies and ate a few just to take the hunger away.

After that seemed to sit okay we took a walk a long the English Channel. They have a lovely beach there and you can see that this is very much a summer resort town.  Some wonderful old French homes but also like in any beach community little summer cottages.  Lots of ice cream stores.

When we got back I asked for some cheese and bread and got something into my stomach.  Then I went to the room to sleep and Denis went to see one of the museums. He toured a German bunker and came back with a lot of information.

Not many restaurants are open at this time of year.  Here they had food that could be warmed up or whatever. I had a Dannon yogurt and a bunch of tiny crepes. And a glass of red wine.

In between times we got our wake up call set up for 5:45 am. Have to have breakfast and check in with with ship by 7:30 or something like that.  And hopefully my stomach will be in great shape.  Figure I will eat a bunch of yogurts for breakfast and fruit.  Figure they will have some food on the ship.

Thoughts on the countries we have visited so far.  First the friendliness of the people of Athens was number 1.  We loved talking with the people and they made the effort to make us comfortable knowing there is no way we would know Greek.  All the Belgians seemed to try very hard to see that we could understand menus and directions….  Not all the time but certainly they made an effort.  France, well we have stayed at hotels where no one would speak a word of English.  When we asked where a good restuarant could be found they said sorry no English. I tried speaking to them in my fractured French and they did not care.  Not impressed especially with chain hotels.  The poor woman tonight had to bring out bottles of food so we could try and figure out what the menu items were.

So, tomorrow we move onto family and am so excited.  Have not seen the folks in a few years and we missed seeing them in 2014.  Old friends are always good to see.

Here is a web site about the museum.

 

http://battlefieldsww2.50megs.com/museum_of_the_atlantic_wall,_ouistreham.htm

Feb 8,2017 -“Life is too short not to be Greek”

 

I told the fellows from Gods Restaurant that I would post their pictures on my blog tonight so here you go.  From our arrival here on Sunday until this afternoon we had daily chats with them.  All in hoping we would have an additional meal but also lots of fun talking with them.  We did have a good meal there and enjoyed Athens hugely… the shorter fellow told me the quote above so I decided to use it for the title tonight.

Today I was sore and tired but we kept going anyway.  Our last day in Greece.  So much more to see so we will have to return.  I highly recommend this for a vacation.

Started with breakfast here at the Hera Hotel which we have had every day.  Relaxing time to plan our day.  Then headed out to find the Ancient Agora.   We took some wrong turns in our interesting walk and ended up at one of the entrances to the Acropolis.  So carried on and finally arrived. First we went to the Roman Agora which to me was, like everything else here, an archeologists dreamland.  How they keep finding all these antiquities and are able to idenitify then and figure out how to restore them amazes me.   We walked through the Roman Agora and then headed off to find the Ancient Agora.  There was also Hedrian’s Library which was huge.  The work it just have taken to build all this and the number of lives lost.  No matter, totally impressed.

 

dsc00188We walked down through some shops and were drawn in by two Kenya con guys.  No other way to say it.  They started with loving Denis’ hair. Then where were we from, then how wonderful we were and put bracelets on our wrists, on and on and then wanted two euro for each bracelet.   We gave them what change we had but not 4 euro’s worth.

This picture is of us during our detour going too far up the Acropolis to get to the Ancient Agora.  Nice Italian girl took it for us.  It was not a smooth path and I was worried about slipping.  Never been very sure footed.

Down the street across from the entrance to the Ancient Agora we stopped and had coffee and French fries. Yes, I know, REALLY, coffee and French fries?  I asked for some cream for my coffee and got a dish of whipped cream which I felt obliged to eat all of.  Put some into the coffee with the milk and ate the rest.   Waste not want not!

After that lovely treat we bought tickets and headed into the Ancient Agora.  The building was fabulous and the art work lovely.  We went through the museum and then walked around the area looking at the various digs and restoration work.  Just lovely.

 

Then it was time to figure out how to return to the hotel.  We figured out on the map our path and walked through the flea market area,  some high end shops, went into the Greek Orthodox Cathedral.  It was filled with beauty.  Very peaceful, dark and people were very playful.    Then we wandered some side streets until we were back by the Acropolis Museum.  It was time for more food so we stopped.  Denis had Black Forrest Gelato and I had Greek Yogurt with honey and walnuts.. Soooooo good.

At the Hotel we rested up and about 6:30 went up to the Peacock Restaurant to have dinner looking up at the Acropolis.  The dinner was very good and the view lovely and a great way to end our visit to Athens.   In the very early morning we will be off to Brussels and on to Ghent.  A new adventure awaits us.

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February 7, 2017 -Greek Food 1 – Stomach 0

Last night was a very long night.  I had such a good dinner, totally off my regular diet and as I wrote yesterday I so enjoyed it but a price was paid for it.  Terrible nights sleep and upset stomach.  Also, in the middle of the night there was a huge thunder and lightning storm.  Had to close the window over which was tough since the room was too warm.

After a slow start to the day we headed out to the Acropolis Museum.  Wow, what a place!  My favorite part was where they have replicated the frieze from the Parthenon all the way around.  I look a few pictures of it.

 

We spent about three hours at the museum and then went and had a bite to eat and went over to the Parliment building to watch the changing of the guard.  It was different and interesting.  I am posting that video on facebook as I believe it will upload easier.   But here are a couple of other still pictures.  Found the costumes and the way they were able to stand so still and straight difficult to imagine doing.

 

Did you know there is  an office of the Empire State College of the state of New York here in Athens?  Yup and some extensions of a few other Colleges and Universities as well.  All in one  building. Was tempted to go in and see how many students they have.     Must be enough to justify an office.

Walking back towards the hotel the Botanical Gardens are next to the Parliment Building so we strolled through there down to a big old mansion built in the 1800’s which is now used as a conference center kind of place.  As we walked there were all kinds of interesting trees and scrubs with labels but as they say “it was all Greek to me” Try as I may just cannot read it.  Need my arborist with me to tell me what I was looking at..  The Zappio when we went into the building has a lovely ceiling all painted but then the surprise was that the center is a beautiful open air court yard with a covered walkway all around.  It was awesome!

By then I needed to rest so we went back for a while and rested and then out to dinner.  Tonight was the Arcadia’s turn.  We are on a first name basis with almost all the guys who stand out front recruiting patrons.  Nick guilted me into this one.  Denis had a spaghetti dish with a Greek sauce and cheeses.  He liked it a lot. Because of my unhappy stomach I had a very good meal of Greek yogurt, fruit and honey.  Denis got the free dessert and because I would not eat it I got a rose liquor. It smelled like roses and tasted like roses.  Not sure if I would want it again but it was “interesting”.  This eating as been quite the adventure for us.  Denis has been quite good trying new things.  I am trying to but then they give you these really great tasting extras that are killing my stomach so today I tried to be better.

Today we met some interesting people.  First on the elevator going down we met Scott and Ting. They both teach English as a second language at a University in Korea.  We chatted away with them. Both so nice.   He worked in advertising and midlife or before quit and went to Korea to teach.  She grew up in China, the daughter of two professors – one of English – and has advanced degrees but loves teaching English at the University.  We parted but then turns out we were all going to the Museum. After lunch we chatted again and found them to be really very interesting folks.

Then this evening a couple we had seen in the museum sat next to us and again we all got talking. They were from Michigan but living in Germany for two years.  It was an interesting conversation.  They come from a city where the economy is very good, lots of jobs etc.  It appeared they did not like the last president or the current one but are hoping the current one can make some positive changes.  I wish them luck.  We kept it light I hope although I find it hard not to get hard edged over this political mess we are in.  But then again I am very tired tonight so not a good time for discussions with positions to be taken.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Athens so have it all planned out.  Lots to see and do yet on our list.  So time for sleep.

Feb 6, 2017 – Birthdays, Awesomness, and Socialiability

Yes, today was full of all three.   Denis started the day with a run which he really enjoyed because of the views from where he went, up , up and up.  Great views of the Acropolis.

Then we decided to have breakfast here at the Hotel.  I tried to stick to gluten free with little success.  But the cute thing that happened was at the table next to us was a mom, dad and a four year old.  As we were sitting down I noticed there was a birthday cake and assumed it was for the little guy.  Nope it was momma’s birthday.  After we had all finished eating we were invited to have a piece of birthday cake.  The couple was from Berlin. He is German and she, Russian.  Lovely couple.  Just a get away weekend for her birthday.  Made for a very nice meal.

After freshening up we headed out to take the Hop on Hop off bus tour.  It was very good as well.  Saw how near we were to some things that were on our to do list and got a good feel for the places we want to return to tomorrow.   Got off and walked up and got our tickets for the Acropolis and started the climb.  We took our time but my lungs were great and not a wheeze to be heard.  Thank you Dr Rios-Rivera at CCP for the meds so I could successfully do that this week.

The archeological work being done is like one huge gigsaw puzzle.  Some of the decorated stone is hard to imagine it being carved and hauled up those cliffs, or anywhere for that matter.  We thought the same at Newgrange in Ireland but this was so massive in comparison. Wonder how many slaves died building those temples?

The view from the top was spectacular.  Why have we never traveled here before?  The people are so friendly and nice and food is good so why not?.  Better late than never

Had a coffee before we climbed and one after…  Then back to the hotel for a hour to rest up a little bit.  Denis wanted to go over to the 1896 Olympic Stadium and we got there just before it closed and were the second to last to leave.  Again, who figured out how to build that?.  And the royal box for the kings to watch from etc. I got some guys to let me take their picture standing on the winners stand.  The track is very modern and people were filming themselves running there.  Great with the Acropolis up on the hill above off in the distance.

Dining out is interesting.  Granted we are on a tourist street so they all want our business.  If you take their card and present it later you might get a glass of wine or a dessert.   We had spoke to Georgios several times yesterday and today and to the owner of the restaurant we were going to eat at this evening.   The fellow next to them was not happy with us. Don’t want to tell him we heard not nice things about the other owner… tons of gossip on the street.

So there we were where we had decided to eat.  The owner sat with us and talked about the various dishes.   But first he wanted us to have some Tasziki and pita bread.  It was to die for.  Guess I have to learn some new cooking treats.   I had the souvelaki – chicken with Greek salad and lemon potatoes and more pita.  Fabulous! My tummy was happy.  Denis had the mousaka and enjoyed it as well and shared my salad and the     Pita.   After coffee and tea we were stuffed and a complimentary dessert showed up. Lemony tasting cake with honey?  Then were were double stuffed.  They allowed me to take pictures of them under the sign for the restaurant then some hugs and off we were.

Have caught up with facebook. This morning was all super bowl and tonight it is back to politics.  What happened to flowers, recipes, cats and dogs?.  actually I know but it is just strange that such a crisis would make one see the total benefits of social media. Am quite excited about the Day Without Women which is being planned.  If successful it could make quite a statement worldwide.  CEO’s, baristas, teachers, students, on and on…

Tomorrow is another big day. Suppose to be stormy so will walk across to the museum and spend a lot of the day there.   If it turns out to be nice then we might see if we can catch the changing of the guards at the Parliment.

Will add a couple of today’s pictures.. too many really but it was fabulous.