A Travellerspoint blog

Malta and Dubai

This is it

sunny 28 °C

Malta is a little archipelago of islands 230km north of Africa and less than 100km from Sicily. Only three of the islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino, are inhabited and cover an area of no more than 246 square kilometres. Basically you can drive from one end of the country to the other, including the ferry, in about an hour and a half. With a population of about 410 000 and the towns so close together it can be difficult to remember you are in a country and not visiting ‘just an island’.

Flying over Malta, it looked like a thousand lego pieces snugly fit together, all the same colour. It wasn’t long before we had arrived at one of the smallest airports I have ever been in. We had decidedto keep the traveller’s spirit alive by catching the bus and trying to just find our hotel rather than pay 10-15 euro for a cab. We were staying in the coastal township of Sliema and soon discovered that our bus driver had not taken any lessons in friendly so we had to lucky guess which stop could be ours. Not surprisingly we guessed wrong and ended up walking back and forth along the esplanade slowly getting directions off the locals. Finally success, at the top of a hill, we were settled in country number twenty-three.

The weather outlook was not good so we had to plan our days wisely. There were lots of cruises available, to Gozo and Comino or just around the island. The coastline is quite rugged with sheer cliffs, rock shelves and a handful of sandy beaches. We decided to spend our first full day, Monday, in Valletta, the capital (population 6300). After the five minute ferry ride we walked up then down the grid system of streets. The original buildings are almost like terrace houses with wrought iron Juliet balconies. They look like chunks of honeycomb in colour and texture. Often we would have to ask each other if we had already walked this street because so many of them looked almost identical. Malta has a strong Roman Catholic following, so much so that on Sundays, the day we arrived, everything was closed. Divorce and abortion are illegal and nearly all houses have a religious icon outside their front door. It is not too bad, teenage girls still dress so that we can see what they had for breakfast. Apart from one main pedestrian street that was quite busy the rest of Valletta was quiet and we often had whole streets to ourselves. We wandered up to the tip to look out over one of the many harbours in Malta and the fortress that was built.
Malta has an interesting history, starting with some megalithic temples that date back to 3600 and 2500BC. Pay attention now…..this makes them the OLDEST surviving freestanding structures in the world. They are older than the Pyramids of Giza. There are a couple all over the islands but the best one (apparently) is on Gozo so we made sure to visit. We can respect the age of things and it is good to be able to say “I’ve seen that” but honestly, it looked like a big pile of rocks which I guess it was. Anyway back to the history. Malta has been ruled by just about everybody starting with the Roman Empire then the Arabs, French, Spanish because of its ideal location in trade routes. In 1530 The Knights of the Order of St John established themselves on the island and set about building fortifications against the Ottomans. Then in 1565, 30 000 Ottoman soldiers attacked the small island country. Malta had a force of 8000 Maltese and 700 Knights. Clearly they were outnumbered. This battle, which is famously known as The Great Siege, lasted for three months before the Maltese managed to defeat those nasty Ottomans after Sicily sent a little bit of help. It was ferocious and bloody but good triumphed over evil. Who would have thought? The Knights of the Order became heroes and were declared ‘leaders’ of the small country. However greed got the better of them and Napoleon managed to buy them out around 1798. Finally, in 1814, Malta became part of the British Empire and subsequently became a target during WW2. In 1942, Malta was subjected to five months of day and night bombing which destroyed 40 000 homes and left food scarce. Independence finally came in 1974. For a little country to have such a colourful and turbulent history is amazing. Now I know why there are so many Maltese people in Mackay (where I grew up), they were all running from the war.
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Tuesday we hired a car to get us around. We decided against a scooter due to the weather and it was lucky we did. Wind and dark clouds were looming for two days. Catching the ferry over to Gozo was cheap and easy and our first stop was Victoria, the capital city. It was quiet and we had a quick lunch and that was about it. There are however a few stops on Gozo that are recommended. One is the temples that I mentioned already. The others are Fungus Rock and the Azure Window. Fungus Rock is a big rock, surprise surprise, that many, many, many years ago had a fungus uncovered on top of it that was thought to have medicinal properties for everything from scabs to infertility. Every doctor in town prescribed it and anyone who was anyone applied it. Then finally the gullible souls of Malta discovered it wasn’t medicinal at all, it wasn’t even fungus, it was just some type of weed or something. The name stuck though. It looks like one of the twelve apostles shorter, fatter brothers. The other attraction is the Azure Window. This is a huge arch formed by the years of erosion and weathering. The water around the bottom of it is azure, hence the name. These rock formations are next to each other and set against the sheer drops and raggedness of the western coastline look quite magnificent. It is also a popular scuba diving site. It is quite amazing how different the coastlines are in Malta, east and west, sheer cliffs on one side and smooth rock shelves on the other.
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The next day we explored Malta, what the locals call the mainland. It was grey, overcast and very very windy. We headed up to Golden Bay and found two other lovely beaches that we earmarked for the next day, weather permitting. Adam had an ocean swim before we headed back to Sliema for lunch and then off to the fortified city of Mdina. It is the original capital of Malta before that honour was handed to Valletta. Mdina is in the centre of Malta and is similar to Dubrovnik with its walls but much much smaller. It was reasonably quiet while we were there and we spent an hour or so wandering around the streets before heading into the Mdina Museum. The lady caught us reading the information out the front and gave us an enthusiastic spiel so we felt obliged. Anyway we were glad we did, it was an interactive museum with wax figures and OMG they were so real it was creepy. As you walked from section to section the area lit up and the one behind you darkened. With all those wax figures standing around, the darkness behind you was a little freaky but we braved it out. However we don’t remember anything we learnt because we were so creeped out by the wax figures we weren’t listening properly.

Final day the weather gods smiled and the sun came out so we went back to some unpronounceable beach so we could catch the last rays of the Mediterranean before heading home. Malta was very pretty and was a great stopover before Dubai. We enjoyed the friendliness of the people, the prettiness of our surroundings and of course the food. Our flight to Dubai was an afternoon one so we were able to take our time packing and getting ready to leave which was a bit of a treat for us. Usually we are rushing. The flight to Dubai was five hours with a quick stop in Larnaca. We didn’t know where Larnaca was and FYI it is in Cyprus.
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We arrived in Dubai at 1am and it took us two hours before we were at our hotel. Our final gift to ourselves was a stay in the Sheraton, five star luxury. We have found it interesting though that when you stay somewhere cheap, say $70 a night, you get free wi-fi, free parking, sometimes even free laundry. The expensive places however charge you considerably to sleep in their beds and then don’t hold back on charging you for anything and everything extra they can. No free wi-fi and $7 for a small bottle of mineral water …..hmmm. Anyway we only had three full days in Dubai and so wanted to get a quick start so after only five hours sleep we were up and at ‘em. Over the creek in the water bus to check out the Old Souk, we were expecting something similar to Turkey’s Grand Bazaar but found a much smaller scale. Knowing that we were going to have a little money to spend we had planned out some potential purchases so we were in and out of shops asking for ‘best price’, ‘morning price’ or ‘your price’. The haggling is good fun and even better if you can get a bit of banter going with the salesman. Some of them have a great sense of humour and always always use their manners. That was definitely one thing we found the whole time we were in Dubai was how beautifully well-mannered they all are. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a souk, taxi or department store. It is always sir, ma’m, thank you, you’re welcome. After the textile souk it was over to the Gold Souk for a bit of a look and some compulsory purchasing of arab gold. It was hot, stinking, sweaty humid hot! The kind of heat where you feel that layer of grime developing on your skin and the air is so thick with moisture it is almost difficult to breathe. On our arrival at 2am it was thirty-three degrees so that tells you something.

We had a Desert Dunes Dinner Safari thingey booked for the evening. Neither of us were really feeling up for it considering our lack of sleep but it also wasn’t something we wanted to back out of. After being picked up, we were driven out to the desert. It was quite spectacular with the rolling dunes as far as the eye could see. The black flecks through the red tinted sand made it look like there were ridges in the sand. The convoy of cars met up so we could take some photos before they drove us over the dunes. Next came the fun bit. Front seat in the 4WD with a maniac driving like the devil was after us, with the car leaning into the sand so much sometimes it felt like we were going to tip. Feeling like a bit of a bogan because we were getting excited about driving in a car we thought we would complete the picture with a bit of ‘woohooing’ and ‘yeehaaing’. After about twenty minutes we arrived at the dinner destination, which literally was like a mirage. A belly dancer and an awesome male dancer that had three skirts on that lit up when he twirled like a ballerina made up the show followed by a delicious Arabian barbecue. Being driven home by 9.30 suited us and a good night sleep awaited.

Day two dawned and so did more shopping. Dubai Mall is the biggest mall in the world with 1200 shops, an ice-rink, aquarium, underground zoo and an enormous indoor waterfall. We had spent the morning in a smaller more user friendly shopping centre but were fascinated by the extravagance and fat burning power of walking Dubai Mall. We made sure to visit the Atlantis Hotel out on the man-made Palm Island. Basically our time in Dubai was short and sweet filled with shopping, creek rides and friendly Dubai-ans.

So now we sit here at the airport ready to head home. There is a sense of sadness and excitement. Sadness that it is all over and we have to go back to the ‘real world’ and excitement at seeing friends, family and two young men. Over the last 174 days we have seen some truly amazing things and we are both grateful for the experience. This is the last blog entry. Thank you to those who have been reading it and telling us your thoughts. It has been great to hear what you think, it encourages us. See you when we get home.

Posted by Ange and Adam 03.10.2011 22:15 Archived in Malta Comments (0)

Rome

sunny 28 °C

There are about a million airlines that fly around Europe so it is not too difficult to get where you want to go, however what you may be saving in convenience you might be losing in quality. We had booked EasyJet for our flight to Rome and they are strict with their baggage allowances. Booking online you are allowed to pre-pay for overweight luggage so we pre-empted three kilos at a cost of $27. Wearing our heaviest clothes we had to once again rise with the sparrows to make it to the airport for our flight. Doing a sneak test on the scales before the counter opened we realised we were actually underweight (the bags not us) and so in the middle of the airport, suitcases were opened, shoes came off and thongs were put back on aaaaaahhhhh that’s better. EasyJet has a policy of free seating so you can imagine when they finally let you board the pushing and shoving that has come to be expected of our fellow European travellers. We are wise to them now and have a system of ‘phasing out’ any wannabe pusher innerers.

Arriving in Rome was so exciting, especially for me, for as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with Italy. Maybe it’s because of primary school when we had our weekly Italian lesson with Signora Porter and she would teach us the numbers, colours, days of the week and sometimes even tell us to ‘Shut your Bocas!”. Good times, good times. Just being in the airport terminal made me all giggly and silly and we had both been here before. Adam was last in Rome in 1993 and me in 2008. The shuttle bus was our gig and we were dropped off at Piazza Cavour on the Vatican side of the river and began the long, unknown walk to Campo De Fiori to meet Amadeo (Armadillo as Adam liked to call him) at our apartment. I say unknown because apart from a dodgy Lonely Planet map we only knew the general direction, so began a zig zag, long way around path to Il Campo stopping regularly to ask for directions. Thank God we were staying in a well-known area.
Accommodation in Rome is expensive, no ifs buts or maybes however if you’re resourceful (like us) there are bargains to be found. We knew where we wanted to stay, knowledge is the key, and so had found a studio flat in the centro storico (historical centre) for 500 euro (about $675 Australian) for five nights. We were going to be living like real Romans, how exciting. Campo De Fiori is marketplace by day and pub by night and right smack bang in a great part of Rome. Our apartment was one of the ‘streets’ running off Il Campo. Rome is littered with Piazzas, around each corner, behind every building. They are open areas where the streets and lanes meet, lined with cobblestones they range from enormous and grand to small and simple. The Romans zip around in scooters, smart cars and baby buses and beep you to please move as they race past you down the lanes. It seems so natural to have a car so close you can reach in and steer or scooters breathing down your neck. No one gets aggressive and the only time you really have to watch yourself is crossing major roads even at pedestrian crossings. Taking your life in your hands is what I like to call it.

Piazza Navona was one of our first stops and there is good reason for that. Navona is one of the bigger piazzas in Rome. It is a long oval shape and has a magnificent fountain in the centre. The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, created by Bernini in 1651, takes centre stage and depicts the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Plate rivers through grand marble figures in each of the four corners. Its size is only surpassed by the detail in the statues, each toenail and muscle tendon is clearly seen and you can only marvel at the work involved. At either end of the Piazza, there are two other smaller but just as ornate fountains. Around the edge of the Piazza, along the cobblestones, are restaurants and almost a market set up with everything from paintings to umbrellas to buskers to kid’s toys being spruiked. It is a vibrant and exciting part of Rome and was part of our daily routine. In the streets just behind the piazza are more restaurants and this is the area we ate every night. Unlike all the other countries we have visited Italian is the ONLY food you can eat, they don’t cross breed here, and so it was a choice of pasta, pizza, risotto and of course gelato which was fine by us. The back lanes were noisy and busy and a hive of activity, the perfect place to spend a few hours every night people watching.
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We had decided we wanted to do all the ‘touristy stuff’ early on and just get it done so that we then had whole days to just ‘be’, which meant our first full day we were off to the Vatican. September is a super busy time in Rome and no matter where you are you are never, ever, ever alone and so we wanted to get an early start and avoid long queues. The Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and covers a mere 0.44 sq km. St Peter’s Basilica takes pride of place as you approach and when viewed from above, along with St Peter’s Square, takes the shape of a keyhole. It is the largest church in the world and requires you to dress appropriately, no singlets even for men, pass through a metal detector and have your bags checked. Once inside though you are free to roam, in most areas, and take your time to inhale it all. Looking up you see the massive central dome (120m) standing over St Peters Tomb, which is underground. The decoration is ornate and sumptuous but yet the colours also seem to make it subtle. Last time I was here you could walk under the church and view the tombs of all the past popes however this time, not sure why, we were unable to go down under the church. Michelangelo’s masterpiece ‘Pieta’ lies to the right of the main entrance and is lit so beautifully it almost looks human instead of stone. People are generally respectful and wander around quietly snapping pictures and bumping into others because they are too busy looking up instead of where they are going, we are all guilty of it. Religious or not, Catholic or not, St Peter’s is a masterpiece of architecture and reverence and one cannot help but feel blessed while visiting. It truly has a special aura to it.
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The square outside is enormous and has an obelisk in the centre which was used by Emperor Nero as a turning post for the chariot races in his circus. It is lined with Doric columns and during July and August and special events you can see Benny (Pope Benedict) give mass at the top of the square, tickets are free, bargain! After strolling through St Peter’s we hustled around to the Vatican Museum and queued for forty minutes before finally getting through the door. We have both been through the museum before and were only interested, this time, in going straight through to the Sistine Chapel. The Chapel is the last stop before exiting and you are able to take shortcuts to it if you wish. The Museum is enormous and is brimming with amazing pieces of art, both paintings and sculptures; even the ceiling and walls are works of art. The barrel vaulted ceilings are almost mosaics with some having a three dimensional effect. It was literally packed wall to wall with people and so even though we only had one stop it took us a while to get there, waiting for tour groups to move or reaching bottle necked doorways. We were both grateful we had visited the museum before because to try to see it for the first time with all those people was enough to bust my fufu valve. I was ‘getting irritable’ as it was just trying to reach the Sistine Chapel.

Aahh The Sistine Chapel, the pride of the Vatican, was originally built in 1484 for Pope Sixtus IV; hence the name Sistine. However Michelangelo was commissioned by Julius II to decorate it in 1508. It took him four years to paint ‘Genesis’, you know the finger of God painting, and then twenty-two years later he returned and painted ‘The Last Judgement’ on the end wall. The rest of the chapel is full of Botticelli and other Italian painters. You are not allowed to take photos and it feels that the chapel is buried deep within the walls of the museum. It is not very big, probably only about twelve metres across and thirty metres long (guesstimate). The only seating is along the side walls and you have to be lucky to grab that, we were lucky. Time passes while you just sit and stare. Stare at the wall and attempt to interpret all Michelangelo was trying to say in his Final Judgement. Stare at the ceiling in awe of the masterpiece that lay above you. Stare at the beauty in all of the paintings that look like they were only painted yesterday and are looking straight at you. Stare at the sneaky people trying to take photos while the guards aren’t looking.

As beautiful as it all was it felt pretty good to hit sunlight again and have our own space. The rest of the day was spent just cruising. Rome is the kind of place where you can happily wander aimlessly, looking up and around, for hours. The architecture and the ambience just take hold and keep a sense of wonder around every corner. We would stand at intersections and decide which direction looked more interesting and that was all that would dictate our way. Italians have coffee standing up, meaning that they don’t sit at cafes the way we do; it’s like a quick hit drug for them. Entering a café you simply order your poison at the little register and they yell your order to the barista who does his magic and then you stand at the bench and quickly but appreciatively absorb the magic that is Italian coffee. It’s these little things about Italy that I just love. Coffee is water and rightly so with the sensational way it’s brewed.

Our second full day was Colosseum Day or Colosseo as it is named on the maps. The Colosseum was a decent but easy twenty minute walk for us and once again something we had both done before. In saying that though, NOTHING takes away from the pure grandeur (I swear I am running out of adjectives) that is the Colosseum. This magnificent structure was built in 72AD and is officially named the Flavian Ampitheatre. It took ten years to build and those industrious Romans even had canvas awnings to cover the roof with in bad or extremely hot weather; just like closing the roof at the Australian Open. It definitely shows its signs of aging but if I looked that good after 1900 years then I would consider myself one very very lucky chick. Walking towards the Colosseum it almost seems a mirage shimmering against the horizon and then the closer you get the lower your jaw drops. As you stroll past the Romans dressed as dodgy looking centurions fossicking for you to pay them for a photo, you are also approached by tour guides, ‘you speak the English, I have tour for you’. We vetoed all tours and decided it was DIY time and joined the queue. However for first timers to the Colosseum we would both highly recommend the tours as they definitely give a more intimate perspective and history. The queue moved fairly quickly and we were inside and stopped off for an audio guide and then just………….took it in. That’s all you can really do, is just walk and stop and look, then repeat. There is a partial wooden platform covering what were the underground caverns where the animals were held. You can’t walk down there but are able to see how it all worked. Being such a large place, the crowds don’t really bother you once you are inside and it is easy to take your time. The Colosseum looks out over the rest of the Forum and almost overwhelms you to know that this structure is so old, which seems like such an inadequate word. Imagining the lions, gladiators, cheering crowd and ominous emperors is not so hard once you are standing where they once stood. Out of all the ‘old places’ we have seen the Colosseum is easily one of the most impressive, even for the second time. I can’t wait to see how I feel after the third and fourth (hint, hint).
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The Trevi Fountain is another Italian or Roman tourist destination. The Trevi Fountain is an enormous fountain set up against a building in what is comparatively a small piazza. The word trevi means ‘three roads’, ‘tre’ meaning three and ‘vie’ meaning roads. The ironic thing though is that there are actually five roads leading into the piazza. Anyway you know when you have arrived because you meet a wall of people. The Trevi Fountain depicts Neptune (Roman mythology) being led by the Triton horses. It is a marvel to observe, so clean and white and spectacular. The theory is that you throw a coin over your shoulder and it ensures your return to Rome. Entering the piazza, on any day at any time, you realise you will have to complete this ritual with about 500 other people. The tiered area around the fountain allows for a lot of people however you still have to squeeze your way down to the edge. We threw our coins hoping that a two euro will give a better chance than a two center, fingers crossed.
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The rest of our days were filled with wandering, prosciutto and mozzarella sandwiches, pastas and wine for dinner, gelato and being woken up in our Roman flat by the impatient mother across the lane, preparing the children for school perhaps. We had decided though we really wanted some significant monument time to ourselves and so rose early our last two mornings to get to Fontana Quattro dei Fiumi before anyone else did and to be in Piazza Navona without the crowds. Our other early morning was spent hiking over to the Trevi Fountain to have it to ourselves. Arriving at the Trevi around 7.15am meant we only had to share it with five other people. We threw another coin, just a two center and then sat down to just enjoy the moment before crowds started building. The next minute, the cleaning crew arrived and we were ushered up to the top tier where we could sit and watch. The slow methodical way with which they vacuumed up people’s wishes and dreams was relaxing and solemn. We were thankful we had arrived so early because by the time the cleaning was complete more and more people had arrived taking away the quiet of the fountain. On average three thousand euro per day is collected, which is just over $4000 Australian dollars.

Rome is expensive, noisy and busy but there is nowhere else like it. Referred to as Caput Mundi, ‘centre of the world’, it is the epicentre of history and has a plethora of moments to just absorb. Hours can be spent in a café, or sitting on the edge of a fountain watching the crowds. We spent our lunchtimes in Campo de Fiori, watching the fruit sellers spruiking their wares and the Africans attempting to sell their counterfeit designer handbags (weird I know) to female passerbys.

Our last early morning was our trip to the airport to catch our flight. We had organised a shuttle and were not feeling very confident on it arriving and were making contingency plans. Luckily he showed, better late than never, and we were now seeing crazy driving from a different perspective. The other girl in the shuttle actually asked us to put our seat belts on as she was getting frightened. We checked into our flight, hitting our baggage allowance dead on, yeehaa, and were ready to go to Malta.

Rome is one of the greatest cities in the world, at least the ones I have been to. Bidding Buon Giurno and Ciao to others makes you feel like one of them and that gave a great feeling. I absolutely will be going back for a third, fourth and fifth time.

Posted by Ange and Adam 27.09.2011 12:09 Archived in Italy Tagged rome colosseum piazza_navona trevi_fountain campo_de__fiori Comments (1)

Santorini, Paros and Mykonos

Fun in the Sun

sunny 30 °C

Santorini is built on the rim of a volcano overlooking a caldera. Even though we sort of, kind of knew what a caldera was it never hurts to double check. For the rest of you who are also not sure, a caldera is a “large, basinlike depression resulting from the explosion or collapse of a volcano”. Just what we thought but it never hurts to clarify. Lonely Planet advises, on arrival into Santorini, to catch a big open air ferry to receive the most spectacular view of the caldera. However the ferry we caught depended more on budget so we were on the speedy one that was all enclosed. This did not lessen our amazement at the sight of the caldera as we coasted into the port. The sheer cliffs that drop straight into the ocean with their tinges of red and pinks strewn through the rock, give way to the crystal clear waters of the Aegean. You can still tell the outline of the still active (no its not extinct) volcano with the rim almost apparent the whole way around. Along with the truckloads of other eager tourists we nudged (okay pushed) our way onto the shuttle bus and gripped the seats tightly as the bus wove its way up the windiest, narrowest, most gut-wrenching road I have ever been on to drop us off at the bus stop where we then proceeded to board another bus.

We had emailed our hotel previously to ask for directions (remember the 5 P’s) and knew exactly what we were doing. After disembarking off our second bus we then had to walk downhill, lugging 25kg of luggage, praying to God it wouldn’t roll away, dodging traffic to reach our hotel. Angeliki greeted us and showed us to our awesomely located room. We were staying in Firostefani which is the next ‘village’ from Fira (Thira). Fira is the main hub and has the hustle and bustle of all those monster cruise shippers every day. Our hotel was a 400m walk from the hub and even better, we had a room with an ocean view. Before you ask, we didn’t have a view of the caldera because you would have to sacrifice an organ for that but a view of the other side of the island. The first thing to do was to view the caldera from the top so into Fira we went. For those of you who have been to Santorini you understand what I am about to say, for those of you who haven’t….pay attention.
Viewing the caldera from the white and blue of the village is enough to bring a tear to your eye. The absolute and utter beauty and natural wonder lets you know that you must be standing in one of, if not the most beautiful place on earth. Look to your left and you see the escalator of white cubist residences scattered down the hillside with bumpy, lumpy winding paths leading you in, out and around. Beyond them is the endless blue of the ocean until it meets the light haze on the distant horizon. An endless blue sky as far as the eye can see with not a cloud in sight. Look to your right and you see more of the same but with a whole different score of shadows lighting them. The buses and boats down at the old port look like nothing more than toys as they scurry around at the water’s edge. Donkeys ramble up the path of 570 steps, ferrying tourists up and down all day with their donkey bells jangling with every step.
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Then comes sunset……this is when you look straight ahead. Santorini is famous for its sunsets and now I know why. Bars, restaurants, cafes and even the village edge become crammed with people happy to stand for an hour or so to watch the day end. If you can grab a seat then you’re one of the lucky ones. The sun taunts you with its slow descent into the haze. Every few minutes the sky changes colour and the shades of blue begin to change to pinks, reds and oranges. The days we were there, there were no clouds and the colours would radiate straight out along the horizon like spilt paint following a crack in the concrete. All of a sudden it begins to disappear behind the island in the middle of the caldera and then within moments it is gone. It has become sick of teasing us and just wants to go to bed. What amazes me is that something that happens every single day in our life as we are rushing around to do all our ‘important stuff’ becomes like a freeze frame of life when you are on Santorini. Basically nothing I say can really describe the beauty of this moment and the sunset alone is worth the trip. If you haven’t been to Santorini then put it on your list immediately.
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Quad bikes are the main form of tourist transport on Santorini because they won’t let you hire a scooter unless you have ‘motorbike’ stamped on your driver’s license. It was a nice change but we ended up having to swap it because it kept conking out on us and struggled badly to get up any form of hill. We had decided we were going to do a different beach every day and then on our last day pick a favourite. Day two was Akrotiri, the red sand beach. Following a winding track around the headland you stop at a peak and look down to see the steep embankment of red dirt. The sand is reddy brown colour and from a height is quite a vision. Navigating your way down the crumbling hillside is a touch tricky for some, not for us though. As we walked along the beach to find our possy, looking up you were able to see where the natural vertical seams in the 70-80m cliff had given way and slid down towards the water. There were sections of beach roped off as dangerous because of the chance of more landslides; some dedicated sunbakers were lying right in the ‘danger zone’. We parked further up the end where we had a sweeping view of the whole beach area.
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Day Three was Paradissos Beach, black sand, a quiet little stretch that seemed like a secret only special people knew about. We were special. The sea was a bit choppier but Adam still persevered with his ocean swim, such dedication. That night we also headed to Oia (eee-ah) to watch the sunset. Oia is reputed to have the ‘best sunset view’ on the island because it is uninterrupted. We cruised up there about five and were strolling through the village when all of a sudden we heard gunshots, loud ones. We couldn’t see anything but then they went again. It stopped us and others in our tracks. Being a bit hesitant to walk any further in case anything undesirable was happening we waited. Bang again and then again, three in a row this time. We were looking at each other, then at others, then each other again. Just as we were about to run away waving our arms frantically in the air we discovered what was happening……a wedding. Nothing like a shotgun to announce the groom and the guests walking through the village to get to the chapel, maybe their bonbonniere is earplugs. Back to our sunset mission, we scouted for the best spot, rounded up some beverages from the corner store and sat on a concrete wall waiting for ‘the moment’. As the time got closer and closer more and more people began arriving, all there to watch the sunset. When it was finally over we decided to do our ‘dinner dance’. Making our way back up the hill we were met with a traffic jam of people. What we hadn’t realised while we were perched on our concrete seat was that hundreds, maybe thousands, of people had congregated in every available, nook, cranny and perch to watch the sunset. This meant that everyone also decided to move at the same time. Queues and queues of people slowly walking up the hill, through the narrow lanes, deciding what to have for dinner by stopping at nearly every restaurant to view the menu. Heaven? I think not. Due to a mixture of hunger and frustration we chose the first empty restaurant to eat, at this point in time chair comfort and ambience was not a priority.
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The sunset at Oia is supposed to be the best sunset view on the island, we disagree. When the sun sets from Fira, the island in the centre of the caldera splits the light like a rainbow of warm colours making it more magnificent, we think, than Oia.
Day four and five were spent at Kamari beach, which reminded us of Bali only cleaner. Waterfront chairs, waiter service and the shade of an umbrella……perfection. Nights in Santorini were spent walking the lanes, finding good food and wine while days were spent in the sun. It was sad to leave but only because we did not know what awaited us.

Paros was a two hour slow trip on the big ferry and we arrived at 8pm. Naoussa is the village on the north side of the island and where we had booked our accommodation so we had to catch a bus there. I know I rave about the 5 P’s but they don’t always work when other things, namely useless hotel staff, work against you. Hence we arrived off the bus, in the dark with absolutely no idea which way to go next. “Over behind the big church” was as specific as it got from one waiter so into the night we headed. Up stairs, through lanes, past the big church…. and then what? Finally in the darkness of a back street we found it, thank you motorbike man. Reception empty, wide open but empty so we walked around doing the ‘heelllooo’ with no results until fed up we used their phone to ring the mobile number on the door. “I’ll be two minutes” was the response.

In the light of day we were off exploring the village of Naoussa and feeling very pleased with ourselves for where we had chosen to stay. It was the prettiest village we had stayed in so far and we spent the morning wandering its lanes and then catching the fishing boat over to Kolymbythres beach to spend a couple of late afternoon hours. The next day was my birthday, yay me, so it was my choice……..um I choose the beach, duh . That night we splurged on cocktails by the water and found ourselves not really hungry with all the free nibblies they provide with each order. By ten we thought perhaps we had better eat something so shared a pizza. All in all a good birthday was had by everyone, especially me. While sitting at one of the cocktail bars a movie crew started unloading equipment from the tiny three wheel utes they use to navigate the skinny lanes. Apparently an Italian movie company is making a movie in Paros and no matter how much we fluttered our eyelashes (me) and flexed our biceps (Adam) we were not asked to be extras. Hmmmm?
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More beach days and village nights with a quick day trip over to Antiparos, a five minute ferry ride over the channel. Seafood lunch by the water with the octopus hanging up to dry, could this be heaven? I think so. Antiparos is a smaller version of Paros but has the prettier beaches by far. The one we found was a small spit jutting out from the island. The yellow of the sand alongside the blue of the water made it an ideal resting place for the day.

Interesting fact……there are no sheep on any of the islands we have seen, only goats and a smattering of cows but these Greeks can cook lamb like you wouldn’t believe. Lamb in lemon sauce (my personal favourite), lamb in tomato sauce, lamb with potato, I could go on and on. We were eating so much lamb that Adam commented we might turn into one ha ha.

Four days on beautiful Paros was not enough and we both wanted to stay longer, much much longer. However schedules prevail and ours said Mykonos. Forty-five minutes was all it took to dock at Mykonos although we were lucky we made it with the sea angry that day my friends. Swaying and gripping seats while waiting to get off is not my idea of a good time and seasickness was not far off. I have my mother’s stomach.

Mykonos has a reputation of being gregarious and busy and if it was a person it would be that friend that always has to be the centre of attention. We spent our first few hours doing same ol’, same ol’ (exploring). Another island, another scooter, they truly are great fun. We only had two nights and so had to squeeze in as much beach time as possible so it was off to the beach. Mykonos is easily the most expensive and overpriced island we have stayed on, with coffees being up to seven Australian dollars. Ouch! Beach time was great and we were happy lolling on the sand in between dips in the water. After spending way too much money on dinner the first night we decided on pita gyros for lunch and dinner the second night. Considering this is the national food, it wasn’t too hard to find a yummy one.
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Mykonos is like one big catwalk and its reputation for being ‘gay friendly’ and overt is well deserved. It’s a fantastic place to people watch and a cheap way to pass the time. Our second day we parked ourselves on Paradise Beach, one of their party beaches and found ourselves mere metres from some nude middle-aged male sunbathers. It’s hard not to look but if you sneak a peek while one of them is bending over, trust me when I say you won’t look again. The beaches are beautiful and we snuck in a quick visit on our last morning so keen were we to soak it up. We finally threw away the towels we 'borrowed' from the hotel in Turkey. These towels could almost stand up by themselves they were so crusty because they hadn't been washed properly in ummmmm two months. It was a bittersweet moment tossing them in the industrial bin.
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Now as I sit here writing this we are on the ferry back to Athens. It is full of people and filling up even more. Two hours down, three to go. Keeping our heads down and making no eye contact is helping to preserve some personal space with a culture of people who truly don’t understand the concept. Tomorrow we head to Rome….yeah baby.

Posted by Ange and Adam 19.09.2011 13:44 Archived in Greece Tagged sunset mykonos beach santorini ferry oia caldera paros perissa red_beach kamaria akrotiri Comments (0)

Athens and Milos

sunny 30 °C

When I was a kid I had a book about Greek Mythology. I can still vividly remember the cover with its picture of Poseidon and his trident and the yellowing of the pages. It wasn’t very thick and was one of those books that just appear, no one really knew where it came from. This book transported me to the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece and I read and reread this book what must have been a million times. I don’t know what happened to that book, it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Then last year I read “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” with my class at school (great book too by the way). This book was all about retrieving Zeus’ thunderbolt and included all the residents of Mt Olympus and Hades, including my personal favourite Dionysus (the God of Wine). Seeing how passionate and enthusiastic the kids became reignited my interest also.

Arriving in the place that spawned these incredible stories felt surreal. Numerous times wandering around Athens I felt the need to remind myself just where I was. This, one of the most famous and historical cities in the world, was now graced with our presence. I don’t know who was luckier.

After our flight landed and we went through the rigmarole of baggage it was time to make our way to our hotel. Being conscientious and organised we had already researched public transport and found ourselves on the bus into Syntagma Square. Rolling our luggage over the uneven pavers through the dark unfamiliar streets made us feel like ‘real’ travellers. We found our hotel easily enough and were welcomed by the night receptionist Fiona. She was from the UK and went out of her way to be friendly and helpful, even squeezing our luggage into the lift while we had to take the stairs. There was something not quite right about Fiona though, we couldn’t put our finger on it; was it the rotting teeth or the sallow face or the frame so slight and thin she would be hidden behind a playing card, on its side. Anyway it didn’t really matter just one of those things that filters into your mind in quiet moments.

We decided reconnaissance was necessary the first day so that we could make sure we didn’t miss anything. The Plaka is the central part of Athens and we were staying right in the thick of it. It is a jumble of cobbled lanes and it wasn’t long until we were stopping to pull the map out to work out where the heck we were. Getting lost was the easy part, determining which way to go next caused a small spike in blood pressure. Being the seasoned travellers we now are, we realised the best solution is coffee. Cruising around the streets of Athens, the heart of the Ancient World, felt amazing. You even ignore the filthy pavers that haven’t been cleaned in centuries (?) and the endless graffiti to appreciate the true significance of such a city. We explored the New Museum of the Acropolis and decided to see who could find the oldest artefact. The winner was 700BC which we thought was fairly impressive.

Our first night we ended up drinking far too much homemade wine and consequently were still sleeping the next morning when we should have been at the Parthenon, you know to beat the crowds. However we made it anyway, in thirty-five degree heat, with a pounding in the temples, trying to find the back path up to the Acropolis.

For twelve euro you can buy a ticket to six historical sights around Athens, which is a bargain. The Greeks are pretty organised with their tourism shindigs and so you just follow the arrows up to the top. There are ‘archaeologists’, or so they say, all along the way making sure no grubby fingers touch any of the marble. Anytime you heard a whistle blow you knew someone was in trouble. Walking through the arch into the open area of the Parthenon is truly a spectacle. There is significant damage to the Parthenon and permanent scaffolding hinders some of the view however it doesn’t take away from the grandeur and presence this monumental structure has. The size of the columns and the true feat of engineering to position them ‘just so’ is enough to have people standing in awe looking up. The sculptures or carvings along the gable parts of the Parthenon are all but gone after centuries of war and unrest during Ottoman Empire times. At one stage they even placed a minaret in the Parthenon in an attempt to turn Greece muslim.
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The area that is the Acropolis is lit up so beautifully at night it is like the candelabra in the centre of a grand dining table. All eyes are ultimately drawn to it. Athens is a sprawling city and this is evident from the Acropolis with buildings as far as the eye can see in all directions. Even though we were slow starters that morning, by the time we left the crowds were really starting to pour in so we congratulated each other on another tourist must-do well done.

With two nights down and three to go we visited Parliament where the Changing of the Guard occurs every hour. The traditional Greek Guard uniform is of interesting design and it begs the question – what was being consumed when this outfit was decided upon? The men wear white opaque tights underneath a white pleated almost tutu like skirt. The shoes are the best part though reminding me of elves. They are hard with a sharp point at the toe. This point is covered with a black fluffy pompom. The purpose of the pompom is to hide the sharp point which is there for kicking people if they get in the way (that is true). It’s also for cleaning their shoes but that’s boring. After they do their little shuffle routine you are allowed to have photos taken with them but no touching and as Adam found out no silly thumbs up gestures either. He got in trouble from the big bad army man.

On Sundays they have a parade of guards to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and it is popular. We headed down with only about ten minutes to spare and were lucky to squeeze into a spot on the traffic island in the middle of the road. Tourists are everywhere and all desperate to have a front row seat. As the guards come around the corner, that part of the road is closed off and traffic is halted. After the parade was off the road the funniest thing happened. Tourists bolted across the road to then stand in front of the tomb area of the parade. Police were blowing whistles, powerless to stop the tidal wave of people rushing forward to watch the next stage of the parade. The desperation demonstrated by one particular Japanese lady was inspiring. With her little legs pumping and her camera at the ready it was embarrassing to be a tourist. Refusing to be a moron we didn’t run across the road but walked and obviously were at the back unable to see anything. Luckily we had watched the changing the day before and so weren’t really missing out.
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On this particular day, and maybe every Sunday, a dog trotted alongside the front row of guards. He looked like he thought he was part of the whole thing and stayed exactly in line looking around as he ‘marched’ by. The dog stayed with the guards the whole time and even when they marched away he marched off along with them. It really was a funny thing to watch.

Once again dogs roam freely around the streets. There was also some evidence of the recent riots with a newspaper kiosk being a charred burnt out shell and a large presence of police, some with their riot gear at the ready. Fortunately, or unfortunately we never witnessed anything.

Athens really is a tourist mecca and the prices reflect this. Food was quite expensive in the restaurants compared to other places we had been and so we found a souvlaki stall with cheap gyros and ate there three days in a row. We would do our ‘dinner dance’ during the day sussing out menus for the best places to eat. Ambience and surroundings, as well as chair comfort, count for a lot.

Leaving Athens required an early rise to catch the 5.30am metro to the ferry port. After wandering around in the dark for a while we finally found our ticket booth and hopped aboard the Super Jet to Milos (Mee-los). A stunning island with a permanent population of 5000 was our first of four. Our villa was right in the heart of Adamas, the port town, and it wasn’t long before we had a set of wheels and were on the road again. A lovely little scooter we named ‘hunk of junk’.
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An interesting thing about Milos that I’m sure will surprise you is that the famous sculpture ‘Venus de Milo’, created in the fourth century ,was found tucked away in a Milos olive grove in 1820. It now lives in the Louvre. We spent our days cruising beaches. Being the result of volcanic activity, most of the islands are quite rocky and barren. However goats roam freely and there are hundreds. Not surprisingly there are also fields and fields of grapes for their delicious homemade wine. The grapes are not on vines and supports like we are used to seeing but small messy looking shrubbery close to the ground.

Driving ‘hunk of junk’ up steep inclines was somewhat embarrassing when looking behind to see a line of cars eagerly waiting for an opportunity to pass. The beaches in Greece have great names that require a local to assist with your pronunciation as nine times out of ten we were saying it incorrectly. Our favourite beach was Paleohori on the southern coast of the island. From the road it appeared to be nothing more than a deserted dirt car park but like a watermelon the best bit is under the surface. Walking down a pathway through an arch we found ourselves on a big wooden deck housing tables and chairs with some seventies disco tunes (we’re talking Barry White) cranking out of large speakers. Intrigued we moved toward the edge to look down upon a majestic strip of sand and the cool crystal waters of the Aegean. Jackpot! We claimed our beach chair and umbrella for the bargain price of five euro and laid back to enjoy the rest of the day. This was about 11am. There are no waves here and the water laps gently at the shore, just enough to lull you into a relaxed state, so relaxed that an afternoon nanna nap is essential. Adam is ensuring though that he is doing his ocean swims any chance he gets now as we are in fear of becoming Chunky and Chunkier. Although there is some argument over which name belongs to whom.
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Although we found paradise on day one we believed it necessary to give the other beaches a fighting chance and so the next day cruised on ‘hunk of junk’ to the beaches around the island. The northern coastline is home to the small township of Pollonia. This is the second largest village on the island and possesses a small port and a picturesque line of waterfront cafes and restaurants. Wandering along the café strip there were fresh octopus tentacles hanging outside most of the restaurants, like clothes on a washing line, fresh from the morning catch. Drying out for dinner perhaps? Plaka is the capital of the island and where we whiled away a couple of hours strolling the lanes and enjoying some Greek morning tea of coffee and an almond biscuit that was like an explosion of heaven in your mouth. Greek food is fast climbing the ladder of favourites, will it reach number one? Only time will tell.
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After deciding on Paradise aka Paleohori we spent our last day listening to a mix of Greek pop and The Bee Gees back at our favourite beach. Three nights was all we had on Milos and it could have easily been three weeks, it was a great island to start our odyssey on and has us relaxed for destination number two…..Santorini. Can’t wait!

Posted by Ange and Adam 13.09.2011 22:04 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Frankfurt Farewell

semi-overcast 22 °C

After leaving the Hill of Crosses it was a trek across the top of Poland over to Germany to deliver the car on August 31st. Elk, or Eewk as it is pronounced, was a one nighter and once again we had carefully selected a top floor apartment with no elevator. Our bags are weighing in around 25kg each so ‘top floor’ and ‘no elevator’ are not our favourite phrases. A brief but torrential downpour had us taking refuge in the downstairs restaurant before exploring the big, wide world that was Elk after the sky cleared. Being that the main street took all of five minutes we found ourselves lured into another waterfront bar/café. Elk is located on a lake and that appears to be its main drawcard although the weather didn’t allow us to see it in all its glory, it did look pretty though. There are pedal boats there you can hire but these ones look like Rolls Royce cars. That is about as exciting or risqué as Elk is. After a quick dinner, it was upstairs to our single beds where everyone could have a restful night’s sleep before the next leg of our journey.

Gdansk is on the north coast of Poland and we had booked accommodation for two nights as ‘the bible’ had inferred it was a happening kind of place. Our accommodation was a little bit out of town and upon arrival Adam had a date to keep…….with his poker buddies. Over Skype a round of poker was played. I use the word ‘played’ loosely because there was a lot of shouting, laughing and Adam having no idea what cards had been dealt to him. An entertaining half hour was had by all even though I doubt there will be a repeat, logistically didn’t really work. Our trek into town involved public transport and the beauty of Gdansk was that there was never anyone checking tickets so being budget conscious we felt we were entitled to a few free trips, since we were contributing to the economy in other ways. Following the tourist map we walked through some old stone gates, over a bridge, past and even in some churches and then were on our way to find the ‘gothic crane’. It sounded exciting, built in the 15th Century, being labelled ‘gothic’ though was the real drawcard. Having been surrounded by old ‘stuff’ for a while now we keep reminding ourselves to truly appreciate the history and not become too blasé; the crane was not what we had pictured in our mind at all. It was attached to a building as part of the riverfront but the most interesting aspect of it was the fact that inside the crane were two massive wheels. They looked similar to the wheels on paddleboats. Men were used to lift and manoeuvre the crane by walking inside the wheels, just like hamsters. How cute!

We really liked Gdansk, it had a laid back ambience. We had a great meal of baked potato which apparently is a must do according to the tourist guide. Sloppy sauces over a crispy potato nourished us immensely and it was lucky it did. Later that night we had to walk out of a restaurant after waiting twenty minutes and four requests to order. The interesting thing was the surprised expression on the waitress’ face when we told her we no longer wished to dine at her premises. Heading home was a daunting experience because of the fifty stairs we had to ascend each time, it actually made us dizzy; this was also not fun when you are carrying 25kg of luggage.

Poznan was our last destination in Poland and was a quick one night stopover until we crossed into Germany. It is actually the town where the first uprising against communism in the East occurred. Events in Poznan eventually led to the Berlin Wall being demolished. We didn’t know this until we arrived and then gave ourselves pats on the backs for staying in such a historically important place.

Meandering our way into town, amid the sprinkles of rain, we criss-crossed our way through the streets and around the square. The cool, crisp weather called for a cool, crisp drink and out of all the restaurants in the town we sat down at the only one who had run out of white wine. Five o’clock on a Saturday and they had NO WHITE WINE, what were they thinking? After finding somewhere that DID serve white wine we relaxed and hid from the rain until the worst was over. Upon arrival back at our hotel, having a few under our belt, Adam attempted to flatter the red-headed night receptionist after mistaking her for the red-headed day receptionist. What are the odds? Telling her that they were both pretty seemed like a plausible way to dig himself out of a slightly embarrassing hole. It was an appropriate way to end our time in Poland. Polish people are not overly friendly but are polite and courteous which the lovely red-headed night receptionist continued to be.
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Crossing the border back into Germany was a landmark point for us as it meant the end of the ‘Eastern European’ leg of our trip. We came across a little bit of trouble checking into our apartment in Berlin. This time we weren’t staying in a hotel but a privately owned apartment in the ‘happy’ suburb as we later discovered. After finally discovering that to check in we had to talk to the man who ran the Scottish pub next door, we were left flailing a bit when he was slurring his speech and talking gibberish. He obviously practises what he preaches. Anyway a beautiful self-contained apartment awaited us with only a short stroll to the U-Bahn (underground). Adam was subjected to a bit of scrutiny as we made our way through the local streets near our apartment as there were lots of ‘happy chaps’ around, he loved every minute of it. After much discussion we had also decided to send some of our travel ‘stuff’ home as losing the car meant losing extra storage space. We packed up two boxes and trudged around to find a post office. Following vague directions and using a bit of common sense we came across our local; well probably not the closest one but we think we did pretty well. After smiles, filling out forms and the parting of $200 we were now ten kilos lighter. Money well spent.

Berlin is bursting at the seams with history and believe it or not, Germans don’t appear to be as annoying when they are in their own country. We only had two nights which is nowhere near enough to really immerse yourself in Berlin so we had a mighty job in front of us. It meant we had to go hard at sightseeing. First stop was the Berlin War Memorial. At the point where East meets West is a blue brick line, flush with the ground, that runs through the whole city to show where the Wall existed. I always naively assumed the Wall would have gone in a straight line but it actually zig zags through the city like a goat track. At the memorial however, is a more obvious structure of iron rods and information plaques. The plaques are in the border area and near where the East German citizens were smuggled through underground passages by West Germans, some successfully, some not.
The history of the Wall is so harsh, with a matter of days or even hours being all there was between barbed wire barriers to solid concrete walls and the threat of being shot. The more time I spend in this area of the world the more enraptured I am with its history. Being a cold and semi-miserable day even suited the mood of such a place. This trip has really shown me how cruel some humans can be when the temptation of ‘absolute’ power is looming.

Next was the Brandenburg Gate. We both divulged our ignorance, having no idea of its historical value. Sure we’d heard of it but it was always so far away. However in our quest to become even smarter, we now know that it was built in the 18th century and was a symbol of entry to the city in the days of the Prussian rulers. During Berlin Wall times it was actually secured in the patrolled area, or middle ground. Fortunately no attempts were ever made to destroy or deface it. The sculptural feats in it, along with its size and pure presence, are quite remarkable. Checkpoint Charlie was the last historical visitation on our schedule. It was a slight anti-climax with a couple of faux US soldiers standing guard by what is the original (?) Checkpoint Charlie border crossing.
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Berlin exceeded expectations hugely, at least for me. It was edgy, like that cool older kid at school you always wanted to be, a true modern city. They haven’t forgotten the past but are embracing the furture. I would have loved to stay another week. However the sound of the Greek Islands calling was echoing in our ears and it was time to move on to the car drop-off point….Frankfurt. We were only staying one night as Frankfurt only had one purpose and that was the car. As we arrived we only had enough time to jump on the trolley bus, one ticket lasted us the whole time of course, to have a quick scour around the central part of the city. Eisener Steg Bridge is a bit of a drawcard. Spanning the river, it is a large steel bridge with thousands upon thousands of padlocks all over it. The theory is, you engrave you and your loved ones name on the padlock, lock it onto the bridge and then throw the key into the river to symbolise unbreakable/endless love blah blah blah. No we didn’t do it in case you were wondering.

Frankfurt had a great shopping mall and let us tell you, these Germans are very bike friendly. Everywhere people are riding bikes and there are bike lanes and all through the centre of the mall are bike lock-up points. It’s fantastic and it all seems to be very harmonious as well. Delivery for the car was the next day but not until one o’clock so we zipped into town, for free of course, for a mid-morning coffee. We wanted to see the city in the light of day and it was just as lovely. Germany is very pretty and they obviously cross their t’s and dot their i‘s so to speak. Everything is clean and organised, a place for everything and everything in its place. Considering Germans have not been our number one favourite fellow tourist, Germany itself is quite impressive.

Driving out to drop the car off was a time for reminiscing and we found ourselves sharing anecdotes of “Remember this…” and “Remember that”, our own little trip down memory lane. We indulged in one last photo with our little friend before a hug and kiss goodbye. Handing over the car was a fuss-free affair with a nonchalant employee and no inspection. Sweet! Not that we had anything to hide but I was a bit concerned about what he would say about the empty fuel tank. The shuttle dropped us off and now it was time to wait…and wait…….and wait. Our flight was not until six o’clock and we couldn’t check in until three-thirty so we were in limbo, physically and emotionally. We couldn’t pass through customs and security until we had checked our bags so we had a coffee at Starbucks and then loitered at the check-in counter so we would be first. We know these Europeans well enough by now to beat them at their own game. Forty-five minutes of standing up at the counter sure showed them.
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So now that was it, Eastern Europe was over and only four weeks to go before that final flight home. Athens and the islands were waiting. Sun, sand and cheap wine are all on the agenda.

Posted by Ange and Adam 06.09.2011 00:09 Archived in Germany Tagged germany berlin frankfurt gdansk crane berlin_wall poznan brandenburg_gate Comments (0)

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