Veni Vini Amori We came. We saw. We loved!
  • Day68

    Home Sweet Home, Brisbane, Australia

    November 5, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Wow, our amazing Italian Odyssey is over and after a very long couple of travel days we have finally arrived home. Words can't truely convey how fabulous our travels through Italy were and how much the experience has changed us. We have fallen in love with the country and even though we managed to see so much of it, there is so much more we would love it see.

    Our flight home was long, very long, with a ten hour stopover in Dubia spent trying to get some sleep on the few loungers we could find. The bonus though was the half empty section of the plane, allowing most of us to have two to three seats to ourselves. It made for such a comfortable and easy last leg of our trip.

    And the welcome home by our new grand-puppy, Zim, and welcome home sign hung by the kids made us feel happy to be home again.

    But watch out Italy, you have stolen our hearts and we will be back again.
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  • Day66

    Athens - Last night

    November 3, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We made the most of our last night in Athens with dinner at Heliaia, with the amazing view of the Acropolis and the Parthenon lit up against the inky black sky. It was an amazing setting and the food was delicious. Except for a couple of odd meals, we have been very lucky to enjoy so many amazing dishes on our trip. It is great to experience other cultures and to try their food, something I am getting better at doing.

    We even got to experience a Greek Halloween parade which was very much in the Day of the Dead fashion. It wound its way throughout the Plaka district and was pretty cool to see.

    We ended the night with a gelato from Davinici Gelato. We have walked past this shop every day we have been here and had yet to try one. The shop is such a delight to the senses, with so much to look at, such delicious smells, and so many choices to make... the gelato was worth the wait and the indecision!! It was so creamy and flavoursome. A very enjoyable treat to end our last night in Athens.
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  • Day66

    Tower of Winds, Athens

    November 3, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Opposite the Gate of Medrese is the site of an ancient octagonal weather station named for the eight Greek gods of wind. Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes or the Tower of Winds, is an octagonal Pentelic marble clock tower in the Roman Agora and is considered the world's first meteorological station.

    The structure features a combination of sundials, a water clock, and a wind vane. It was supposedly built by Andronicus of Cyrrhus around 50 BC, but according to other sources, might have been constructed in the 2nd century BC before the rest of the forum. In summer of 2014, the Athens Ephorate of Antiquities began cleaning and conserving the structure; restoration work was completed in 2016.

    The octagonal structure was made almost entirely out of Pentelic marble, the same kind used for the Parthenon, which is rare to find in any structures other than temples. Built to measure time, it is also known as a horologion, meaning timepiece.

    Each of its eight sides faces a point on the compass, and features a frieze depicting each of the eight ancient Greek wind gods, giving the tower its name. Beneath the friezes are eight vertical sundials where the shadow was cast on hour lines that, while faint, are still visible today.

    The interior of the structure contained a complicated internal water clock, which was driven by water flowing down from a large well under the Acropolis. This was essential for use on cloudy days or at night when the sundials were ineffective.

    Once again it is amazing to see a structure built so long ago and even better to see that the people of Athens take the restoration of these sites very seriously.
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  • Day66

    Little Kook, Athens

    November 3, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Our last full day in Athens before we head home and a visit to Athens must include a visit to Little Kook, a mixture of a café and dessert place. This place is located in what was once a forgotten alley, but now thanks to the opening of the themed café and the ingenuity of the residents it is now a magical street leading to the entrance of Little Kook. And you cannot miss this place. Since its opening in 2015 it has been the talk of the town thanks to its spectacular seasonal displays, amazing interior and very delicious food. This time it was decorated for Halloween and there is nothing subtle about the decorations. It does make you question where they store all their props between changes.

    The decorations are so over the top, from the cobwebs and ghosts filling the interior to the spiders that drop from the ceiling and make you jump, to the exterior with the dragon on the rooftop, the carriage, the pumpkins, witches and ghouls, it is definitely somewhere to visit.

    And the food is amazing with a menu to suit the season. While it wasn’t as cheap as some of the sidewalk cafes we have visited, it was worth the few extra Euros to enjoy the atmosphere and the food and we had a lovely morning there.
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  • Day65

    The Acropolis - Athens (take two)

    November 2, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    We had a very cruisy day today, just exploring the streets surrounding where we are staying. We probably should branch out and explore more of Athens, but we are just happy winding down from our amazing trip. We also made the most of the sunny weather and revisited the Acropolis to photograph it against the brilliant blue sky. I didn’t want to pay another €20 entrance fee so I relaxed outside and people watched while Brad went back in with the camera. He did take some great photos of the Parthenon and surrounding structures.Read more

  • Day64

    Around Athens - part 2

    November 1, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    We had to change some of our plans due to Brad’s vertigo and ended up staying in Athens for six nights instead of the planned four. Because we were unable to extend our original booking we had to stay elsewhere for our first two nights and today we were moving to our original booking. With check out times and check in times to consider we spent the morning exploring the area behind our accommodation. It is very interesting to see the different sides of Athens and we enjoyed our morning stroll.

    While waiting to check into our apartment we decided to try the local waffles with banana and Nutella and we have to say it was very sweet and really not as enjoyable as we thought it would be. It looked good though. We were joined for brunch by a family of cats and they did enjoy some of the ice-cream from our plates.

    We finally got to check into our apartment for the last four nights of our trip and we were very impressed. Considering the entrance was a battered door covered in graffiti in the middle of the markets we were a bit unsure as to what to expect. I think the thing that surprised me the most, besides the weird mannequin at the top of the steps, was the shower situation. Basically, the toilet was in the shower area and I wasn’t impressed, until I had my first shower that is. Best shower of the whole trip, great pressure and warm water – perfect. Our apartment is wonderful and one of the best we have stayed in when it comes to amenities and location. It is a great place to enjoy our last four days before we make the trip home.
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  • Day63

    Around Athens

    October 31, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We spent the rest of the day exploring some of the other areas of Athens, admiring some of the colourful stalls, the graffiti art, the vibrant streets and patting many of the cats of the town. There are cats everywhere and while some looked a bit manky, some looked very well looked after. We even saw one the locals feeding a bunch of strays on a construction site and it was good to see the people cared about the cats.

    It was an easy town to walk around and spend the afternoon. We enjoyed relaxing with some drinks and snacks, (we are loving the snacks we get with our drinks), sat in a tree covered café chatting with the waiters and waitresses. Our waitress’s boyfriend actually lives in Australia and she ended up calling him and putting him on the phone to Brad while she went off and served some other tables. Very odd but also very funny. We had another great day in Athens.
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  • Day63

    Arch of Hadrian, Athens

    October 31, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Next stop for the day was the Arch of Hadrian and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The Arch of Hadrian is most commonly known in Greek as Hadrian’s Gate and is a monumental gateway resembling a Roman triumphal arch. It spanned an ancient road from the centre of Athens to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It is believed that the arch was built to celebrate the arrival of the roman Emperor Hadrian on the occasion of the dedication of the nearby temple, completed in 131 or 132 AD.

    Not far from the Arch is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, a colossal ruined temple that was dedicated to Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC but it was not completed until the 2nd century AD, 650 years after the project had begun. During the Roman periods it was renowned as the largest temple in Greece and housed one of the largest cult statues in the ancient world. The temple’s glory was short lived, as it fell into disuse after being pillaged in the 3rd century AD. It was never repaired and was reduced to ruins thereafter.

    Because we had already visited the Acropolis and seen the amazing structures there, we decided we didn’t need to go into the site and instead checked it out through the fence. Even from a distance the size of the temple pillars, upright and scattered on the ground was very impressive. Once again we were left questioning how on earth these mammoth structures were constructed.
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  • Day63

    Little Metropolis, Athens

    October 31, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Next to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens is the Church of Theotokos Gorgoepikoos and Ayios Eleytherios, also known as the Little Metropolis, which is so much easier to say. Built on top of the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Eileithyia, the date of construction has been debated over the years with it being anywhere from the 9th century to the 13th century. Either way it is a very old building.

    And a very small one, especially compared to other historic structures. At just 7.6 metres long and 12.2 metres wide, it was built exclusively of reused marble spolia, with undecorated pieces up to the height of the windows, and a total of ninety sculptures above that. Its interior was originally decorated entirely with frescoes, but only one of these survives today, an image of the Panagia over the entrance apse. I loved the simplicity of this building as there is a real sense of its history seeping from the stonework.
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  • Day63

    Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens

    October 31, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We had a very easy day today and we are enjoying this time to relax after our very vigorous holiday. First up today was a visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. Construction began in 1842 using marble from 72 demolished churches and it was finally completed twenty years later, measuring 40m long, 20m wide and 24m high. Inside are the tombs of two saints killed by the Ottoman Turks during the Ottoman period.

    We were in fact quite lucky to be able to see the inside and outside of this church as it had been covered in scaffolding for almost 20 years for renovations. Badly damaged from two earthquakes and the passage of time, scaffolding was erected in 1999 so as to hold up some of the sections of the building. It was eventually closed in 2009 with the intent of it being closed for one year only while restoration took place. That one year stretched to many and it wasn’t until 2016 it was finally revealed, scaffold free and fully restored.

    Its very elaborate interior, with every surface opulently decorated, is at odds to the stark and simplistic lines of the exterior. There is just so much to look at and admire.
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