Joined September 2017 Message
  • Day17

    Lasting Impressions

    November 5, 2018 in France ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    We are on our way home...first leg to Paris is completed and tomorrow we fly back to Canada. I have been thinking about what the lasting impressions will be from this trip. What sights, sounds, tastes will be reminders of France and Greece?
    The Dordogne area of France will always be about Medieval castles on rock outcroppings, surrounded by the houses and shops of a Medieval village. Secondary roads so narrow that sometimes the buildings almost touched the road. Prehistoric drawings in caves. The Malbec wine of the Cahors region. Duck confit and Foie gras and the wonderful pork terrine on a baguette. Kind people who struggled with English because our French was so bad.
    Paros will remain in our memories for its sparkling white buildings and narrow alleys covered in paving stones, with bright pink bougainvillea bushes. The barren landscape seems less so when you remember the olive groves and fruit trees. Ancient history is everywhere in the castle ruins, the ports, and the archeological digs. Moussaka, Greek salad with a slab of feta on top, black olives, cheap wine, baclava, are the tastes and smells that will stay. The gorgeous turquoise blue of the water against the volcanic rock or the golden beach is a picture in our minds.
    Athens, a city of rich history, from the time of the Greek gods, provides photo opportunities at every turn. The city is dominated by the Acropolis, viewed as you come around corners, all over the old city. The immense size of the buildings built so long ago, has to be seen to realize what an achievement each one was for that ancient civilization. The graffiti of today also leaves a lasting impression.
    These are some of the snapshots preserved by our brains as well as our cameras as we head home.
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    Pat Burnside

    Your trip sounded wonderful. Welcome home.

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  • Day16

    The Acropolis

    November 4, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    What a day! We walked to the Acropolis and climbed up to the top with thousands of others. During the off season the first Sunday in each month is free to go into the Acropolis. We had bought a pass for several sites anyway, but the masses turned out for the first free Sunday today. There is so much more to the site than the Parthenon...much more than I ever realized. We visited the ruins of the ancient temple of Dionysis and the Theatre of Dionysis, which is quite well in tact. As we gradually climbed the hill, we came to the Odeum of Herodea Atticus, another theatre, larger and very impressive. Continuing up we went by the Temple of Athena Nike near the magnificent entrance to the top level. There, of course, is the Parthenon, an absolutely huge structure and one of the most recognized in the world. Near it is the Temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon.
    The walk down from the Acropolis was most interesting because of the crowd. A waiting line 15 people wide had to merge onto a stairway, 3 people wide, so it took quite a long time, but everyone was patient as we inched our way along and then down the stairs and the slope.
    We headed for the Ancient and Roman Agoras, located end to end. You need to use some imagination to picture the marketplaces that once were situated there. We had lunch right next to the Roman Agora, in an outside cafe and tried to absorb the ancient vibes. We then walked through the Agora. One building still standing there is the Tower of Winds. A church on the grounds has been turned into a museum for recognizing the international archeological groups who have contributed to the work done in Greece.
    Through the day we had gotten farther and farther from home, so the walk back took quite a while. We went along one of the main shopping streets, closed to traffic, and full of people, which surprised us on a Sunday. This one street had to be at least a kilometre long, and there were lots of others crossing it as well.
    On our return, we took a glass of wine up to the rooftop patio and enjoyed the view of the Acropolis as the sun was setting. An appropriate way to end our day in Athens.
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    Judy Charette

    Your pictures really compliment your writings...thank you!


    Looks like a fabulous trip, love seeing the pictures

  • Day15

    On to Athens

    November 3, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We flew to Athens today from Paros. I had to take a picture of the departure area at the Paros airport. The grey door on the left leads to the one scanning machine and another lounge on the other side about the same size...smallest airport ever, I think, but chatting with a couple there who have gone there a long time, it is bigger than it used to be.
    We navigated the Athens Metro system and a short uphill walk to get to our Airbnb, within the area of the Acropolis. We are quite disappointed in the city itself. The part we are in is run down, graffiti everywhere, sidewalks broken up. Not very appealing. Of course, you can see the Acropolis and the temple of Zeus from the rooftop patio of our building, so there are some redeeming qualities.
    We walked to Hadrian's Arch which sits right near the Temple of Zeus. The Temple was begun in 515 BC but was not finished until Hadrian did so in 131 BC. Some columns are still standing and they are huge!! The whole structure was as long as a football field, but not quite as wide.
    We also visited the Panathenaic Stadium, home to the modern era Olympic Games. It is a magnificent stadium, built totally of stone, seats and all, reconstructed on the site of an ancient stadium for the 1896 games, the first of the modern era. It could hold 68,000 people. I won my event, as you can see from the picture. Dave won his as well, but was too tired to climb the podium.
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    Judy Charette

    So wonderful to follow your adventures! Absolutely loved the stadium! Great pictures! Will you be home for your birthday?

  • Day14

    Winery and marble

    November 2, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    On our last day on Paros, there were a few things we wanted to see. One was a winery at Naoussa. Some of the others from here had gone the other day and said it was worthwhile. It was!! The winery has been owned by the same family since the early 1900's and they have on display many presses, and equipment used over the years, as well as pictures taken over some time. You can stroll down the room used for barrel storage and look into the bottle storage areas. We were the only people there, so took our time looking around and then tasted six wines. The fellow working was very well versed on the wines and gave us a rundown on each one answering questions as we went. Their grapes are grown in their own vineyards and across the island. One type of grape is grown only up in the mountainous areas and is still brought down by donkeys as there are no roads to use. It was a very interesting visit.
    We went to the waterfront in Naoussa for lunch at an outdoor cafe and took a stroll down the dock area after, spotting an octopus on a rail, drying in the sun. Calamari for supper?
    Another place we had heard about, in the centre of the island, was the ancient marble quarry. The marble from here was highly prized for its colour and purity. The big claim to fame for it was the marble for the Venus de Milo came from here. It was used, of course, for many temples and important buildings over 3000 years ago. There is not much left to identify the old quarries, except pieces of rough marble lying about. It has all grown up with bushes. There did seem to be active quarry a small distance away, but we were not allowed in there.
    One thing I had been trying to get a picture of, was the terracing up in the mountains. Rock walls were built on the side hills to make small patches of farmland. Stamos told us that some of these walls are 1000 years old. These terraces go up from steep, twisting roads where it is difficult to stop and take a picture. This was the best I could do, but doesn't do it justice. I have picked a few stones in my day, and would not want to be building these walls!
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    Judy Charette

    Did the wine from the mountains taste different? Those look like very small farming patches of land!

  • Day13


    November 1, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Antipiros is an island very close to Piros. We had signed up for a tour from the resort and left this morning with two American ladies and our guide, Stamos. He owns the resort with his wife, Maria, who was the chef at the cooking night. We got considerably better at understanding his English as the day went on. He referred to our group as 'homogeneous' which apparently meant that we got along well together. Another interesting phrase was that he didn't want to get 'corroded', or in our terms, rusty, so he did the tour every week.
    It was a short ferry ride to get to Antipiros and we did some sightseeing and then got on another small boat to go to the island of Despotico. There are no people living on this island, but 1000 goats roam it. There is a big archeological dig there, where they have uncovered a temple dedicated to Apollo dating to about 1500 BC. Stamos was extremely knowledgable about this site as he has made quite a study of local archeology. The temple was destroyed after Christianity came. The Venetians in the 1300's took away a lot of marble to be used in their own Castle and surrounds in the town on Antipiros. They continue to excavate and depend on donations for much of the cost. Tom Hanks and his wife have made huge donations to this and Stamos showed us their house later, on Antipiros. After leaving Despotico our boat captain took us to see the cliffs and the sea caves on the coast of Antipiros.
    We had lunch at a taverna and let Stamos do the ordering so we could try many local dishes... calamari, small fish, soft cheese, deep fried zucchini, mashed fava beans and a warm green salad.
    We did a short walking tour in the town by the ferry to see the Venetian castle and all of the marble pieces scattered around that had come from Despotico. Stamos thinks many of these should be returned for the restoration there.
    Our day ended with a visit to a ceramic shop back on Paros. Beautiful pieces, all hand done by the owner.
    It was a great day!!
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    Judy Charette

    Stamos sounds looks like your amazing weather continues. Loved these pics...thank you!

  • Day13


    November 1, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    We went to the capital and largest city in Paros, Parikia. City may be a bit of a stretch, though, more like a large town. We walked around the water front, admiring some large sailboats and catamarans and then went up the street to the Church With a Hundred Doors. It is a complex of chapels and a large church. The most impressive part was a chapel built in the 4th century with a Baptistery, a stone immersion tub in the shape of a cross. There was a Byzantine museum as well, with works of art from the 15th century onward. The large church had a women's gallery where you could look down into the main worshipping area. Like other Greek Orthodox churches we have peeked into ( they are usually locked), it had a huge brass chandelier, about 10 feet across, with candles on several levels.
    Just down the street was the Archeological Museum, with statues and artifacts found all over the island.
    We also visited the remains of a Venetian Fort. The Venetians ruled here from the 1300's to the 1500's. All the towns here have narrow alleys to walk through the old town, and Parikia was no different. Some shops were open, but because by this time it was after lunch, most were closed for siesta which generally goes from 1:00 til 5:30. It is also the end of the season, so some are closed until next spring. Parikia is on the opposite side of the island from Drios where we are, so we went there in one direction and returned in the other, completing a circumnavigation of the island.
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    Judy Charette

    Amazing time travel: how did these people centuries ago know how to design & build these complex structures? They probably were years in the making?

  • Day11

    Greek night and Lefkes

    October 30, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    Greek night featured many dishes to sample in a buffet dinner. We sat with a couple from Boston, David and Sarah, who we had met the night before, and a couple from NY City living in Barcelona. Some expats were there too who we had met at the cooking class. The music was interesting, guitar and violin, that sometimes sounded like Nova Scotian Celtic music. Dave did not get into breaking plates, thankfully. However, my dance partner and I seem to have broken a glass at one point. Fergus, from northern Scotland, got me up dancing, but unfortunately we didn't learn any Greek dances. It was fun and the locals were very welcoming.
    Today we toured round, to a town on the coast, called Piso Livadi. Then I had the bright idea that we should go up to a monastery high in the rugged interior. The road was steep and primitive and a very large and vocal dog up there kept us from roaming around too much. Coming back down tired out my right leg, as I felt the need to break constantly, even though I wasn't driving. Next time I'll keep my suggestions to myself.
    We went back to Lefkes to take some pictures. It is steep in the village with narrow alleys that are covered in paving stones. So pretty!
    I would love to have a fruit orchard here, not just olives, but oranges, apples, pomegranates, lemons, even prickly pear cactus sometimes. The climate can handle anything as long as you have water to irrigate.
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  • Day10

    Cooking class and Naoussa

    October 29, 2018 in Greece ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Cooking class last night was a blast. The group helped with some of it and watched Maria do the rest. We had Scampi with tomatoes and feta, Pumpkin soup, Vegetable towers with tzatziki sauce, Moussaka, and Baclava. Everyone did some of the Baclava, and some other things. It was a fun group of Americans, Germans and us. The food was wonderful and the wine flowed freely. Maria has the perfect personality for being a teaching chef.
    Today we went to the town of Naoussa which has a port with lots of fishing boats, an old town and a ramshackle Venetian fortress. The island was under Venetian rule from 1204-1537. We had lunch down by the harbour, but noticed that many restaurants and businesses were closed for the season. With this wonderful weather, they may be wishing they had stayed open a little longer.
    We ran into two other couples from cooking night during the day. I guess it is a small island! Tonight we are going to a Greek dinner at the resort with music and dance. I hope Dave doesn't get into plate smashing. Our damage deposit could be eaten up quickly.
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  • Day9

    Ah, Greece!

    October 28, 2018 in Greece ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    We had along day of travel on Friday. First the 2 1/2 hour drive to Bordeaux, then a train to Paris, but there weren't any in our time frame going to the airport, so we took the Metro to another station, then a train to the airport. Then we flew to Athens, getting into our hotel at about 1 am.
    The next day was relaxing, with just a flight over to Paros to the smallest airport ever, where we had a car rented to drive to our timeshare at the village of Drios. It will be very comfortable for the next week. Breakfast out on the patio of our unit this morning was great, Bougainvillea blooming over our heads. We went to the town of Lefkes, looking for a larger grocery store, and came upon a small parade celebrating the liberation of the island in WWII. It is a gorgeous old town, but we did not have cameras with us, so will have to go back. Nice Greek lunch there and back for a walk around our own village and down to the beach. Tonight... A Greek cooking lesson!!
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  • Day6

    Chateaux Bonaguil and Gavaudun

    October 25, 2018 in France ⋅ 🌙 10 °C

    Our last full day in France and we had some sights that we hadn't yet fit in. This morning we headed off to Chateau de Bonaguil, not too far away. It was built as a small fort in the 1200's on top of a chunk of rock. It was added to extensively in the 1400'S and became a real fortress. In the 1700's it was modified again to be a home for Marguerite de Fumel. The French Revolution occurred and a law required that the towers of castles must be levelled to the height of the main buildings. The place was sacked and that is what the condition is today. Even with all that it is very impressive, perched high on a cliff overlooking the valley. We spent some time there and then had lunch below in the village. Their speciality was a meat and potato dish flamed at your table. Another night to have a chacouterie tray for dinner after a heavy lunch.
    Our second stop was in the village of Gavaudun, just down the road. We visited a church there built in the 1100's and in good repair. People were working in the graveyard on upkeep. The tombs had a family name but no dates or individual names. We visited an old fort at the village, again on top of a huge chunk of rock. No attacker was getting up those walls. Very little is still there except the keep, but you can see where the different parts were. I was dizzy just looking down from the first level, even before going up in the keep.
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    Judy Charette

    So much history & so long ago!

    Lin Brooke

    What great pictures! The ones of Athens are beautiful (and familiar!) and took me back there. Loved the pics of France! Looks like you have had a marvellous trip! Glad you are safely home!


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