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  • Day8

    The Island of Lesbos

    June 11 in Greece

    Where to stay on the island of Lesbos? Why, the Lesbian Hotel of course. Coming off the ferry at I walked round the bay of the capital Mitilini and found my charming small hotel bang in the centre at the waterfront. I asked if I could leave my bags until check-in time, but was told by the cheery manager that my room was ready. Indeed by 8.45 I was enjoying a delicious breakfast (for 7 Euros today, included tomorrow) on the balcony facing the sea. For a 3 star budget hotel this was a great deal. A little old fashioned, perhaps, but spotlessly clean and comfortable with free WiFi. The lift was a bit antiquated, and involved closing various doors and jumping up and down a bit to get it going. However I resisted the temptation to do a tap dance à la Mary Tyler Moore in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

    The owner’s equally friendly wife had arranged a splendid breakfast repast including locally produced feta cheese and olives and her own home-made apple pie, as well as the usual hot and cold favourites.

    After a surfeit of travelling round large cities, it was nice to be in a lovely quieter island, so I decided to head for one of the many beaches. ‘The closest is the city beach’ suggested the hotel owner, ‘but they charge to get in’. The city beach was only a short walk away, and with facilities including changing rooms, showers, toilets, sunbed and lounger included, I did not feel it was a rip-off at 2 Euros entry fee. There was a warning sign that naturist bathing was allowed, however I don’t think I offended anyone.

    How lovely to cool off in the sea. A Greek God, masquerading as a Life Guard, appeared to spend most his time snorkelling, eating or preening himself. ‘I think I’ll feign a drowning’ said a middle aged lady nearby to her friend. They both then giggled, blushed and returned to their sun worship. The Greek God carried on preening, oblivious to any catastrophes that might be happening to his charges out in the Aegean.

    Well everything seemed to be going to plan. My phone then rings and a caller from a ferry company tells me that my booked ferry the next day to Turkey has been cancelled. When I asked for more information all I could get from him was ‘your ferry is having a breakdown’. ‘I know how it feels’ I replied, but got the impression that it was lost in translation.

    I’ll think about it tomorrow, I thought. Let’s enjoy the sunshine.
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  • Day7

    Italy to Greece

    June 10 in Greece

    The first glimpse of Superfast 1 at Bari Harbour did not fill me with excitement. A long orange container ship that had seen better days. I remember travelling on the brand new Superfast lX and Superfast X when Scotland had its own international ferry sailings from Rosyth and thought they were better than a lot of cruise ships I had been on. Not so this earlier model. However, in fairness the passenger accommodation was pretty good and promised a comfortable crossing. Three young women from Uraguay were excited about their ‘cruise’ to Greece and immediately started on the ouzo. The Superfast brochure encouraged passengers to to take advantage of the facilities on board, including discos, restaurants, cocktail bars and swimming pools. The girls had clearly omitted to note the small asterisk which indicated that these facilities were not available on all vessels - and certainly not at all on Superfast 1. Undeterred, they proceeded to flirt with the friendly waiter, Alex, posturing and posing for selfies.

    Again our 4 berth cabin only had 2 occupants, and this time a tall, grey-haired, slim Greek man joined me. He resembled a latter day Captain Von Trapp or perhaps Captain Corelli himself. Well mannered and considerate, he scarcely made a noise as he disembarked at Igoumenista, Greece at the ungodly hour of 5am.

    We passed Corfu and then Kefalonnia, the setting for probably my all-time favourite novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, if you can get through the first 100 pages that is. As I sat on deck in the already hot morning sunshine, my mind drifted and, wait a minute, could that be Pelagia laughing and running along the shore, and surely that was Mandras swimming with dolphins. Or was it just a cruel trick of the light and the sea?

    The three Uraguyans looked a bit worse for wear in the morning. Perhaps they had discovered hidden night spots on Superfast 1, and I noticed that their Alpha-Female was sporting a sizeable hickey on the left side of her neck. Perhaps Alex was even more friendly than we thought.

    Sadly the train no longer runs all the way from the Port of Patras to Athens. However, I managed to catch an express coach on the 2.5 hour journey, which surprisingly was a brand new toll motorway all the way. Greece seems to have benefitted from being in the EU. And what magnificent views of the Gulf of Corinth, including the new Rio-Antirrio bridge connecting the Peloponnese to mainland Greece, and passing close to the wonder that is the Corinth Canal.

    A hair-raising sprint across Athens by local bus and Metro brought me to the Port of Piraeus. I didn’t feel too bad about not lingering in Athens as I had been there a few times with Campbell and had enjoyed the some of the many treasures it had to offer. On arrival at the Blue Star Ferry terminal I was told that my overnight ferry to the island of Lesbos had been cancelled - no explanation offered - but that I had been re-booked on the same route with Swan Hellenic Ferries. As I boarded the Nissos Rodos I thought I had gotten the better deal. The ferry was well equipped with comfortable lounges and cafe/bars and a good self-service restaurant. After a tasty dinner of roast beef and potatoes (how do they get potatoes to taste that good?), I retired to my 4 berth cabin to meet my travelling companions. After a while the steward showed in a disheveled elderly man who resembled Zorba the Greek. I don’t know if it was the sight of me sprawled out on the lower bunk, but he began shouting about having booked a more luxurious cabin with Blue Star Ferries and stormed off, never to be seen again. A 4 berth en suite cabin to myself, I thought.

    However, just after midnight as I was dropping off, the cabin door was opened and closed suddenly. Was I being burgled on the high seas? I opened the door but there was no sign of anyone. Determined to get to the bottom of it, I marched up to Reception where I was told someone wanted to check in. ‘Three hours after the ship has sailed’, I queried. ‘Well he’s a soldier, and he’s been drinking with his mates in the bar up until now’ I was told. The thought of sharing my accommodation with a drunk, Greek soldier did not appeal, and after a fruitless search for him, the steward advised that he was probably staying the bar. I was told this was a far from unusual occurrence, and as the Army paid for his bunk anyway I could have it all to myself. Result.
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  • Day458

    Astakos, mainland Greece

    July 17 in Greece

    Hello again, we did manage to meet up with Alistair, Melissa and the girls on cup final day, (well done France) we had a great evening chatting and eating ashore in Palacios near where they are staying, they have another week of holiday to get over seeing us so should be fine by the time they get back to Guernsey. It was great to have people to chat to who knew the same people and places we did so we caught up on the local news or lack thereof.
    We are now in Astakos which is a very Greek town, there are some foreign yachts on the quay and cafes and tavernas, but none of the signs are in English, the majority of the tourists appear to be Greeks which makes it feel much more authentic and sat here having coffee after a lovely meal of Greek salad, kalamari and lamb chops I can not hear English being spoken, but there are lots of conversations.
    We spent last night at anchor in Port Leone on Kalamos, it may be called a port but is in reality only a large bay with a church and a few deserted buildings. It took me 45 mins to swim around the bay looking at the fish and avoiding all the lines that other yachts had taken ashore to stop them swinging. We had lunched on Meganissi’s east coast but as wind picked up we headed south east to Kalamas, it is a bit odd to, as we cruise along to look around and see land in all directions, there are so many islands. We think we will spend another night on the mainland in what on the charts looks like a very sheltered but secluded inlet before going across towards Ithaca
    I need to check spellings on this one so place names may be amended
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  • Day14

    Santorini dag 2

    July 15 in Greece

    Voor onze voorlaatste dag besloten we om nog eens een wandeling te maken. Het plan was om eerst overheen de berg richting het stadje Perissa te wandelen, om dan terug te keren met de water taxi. De beklimming was een gewone verharde weg, waar ook auto’s konden rijden (maar er was amper verkeer). De afdaling was echter een echt bergpad waar muilezels werden ingezet om toeristen te begeleiden.
    De wandeling opzich was niet echt zwaar, maar door de hitte waren we beiden uitgeput. We wilden snel de watertaxi terugnemen om te kunnen relaxen op ons hotel. Er was slechts één probleem... Er was teveel wind waardoor de watertaxi niet vaarde. Terug wandelen zagen we niet als een oplossing, dus namen we de bus.
    Ondanks dat Kamari en Perissa dicht bij elkaar liggen, bestaat er geen rechtstreekse bus verbinding. De enige oplossing was dus om eerst de bus te nemen naar Thira, om daar over te stappen naar Kamari.
    Dit was een grote omweg, maar uiteindelijk zijn we er geraakt.
    Na een verfrissende plons en een relaxuurtje, gingen we een ijsje halen. Gilles ging voor de frozen yoghurt en ik voor een dark chocolat gewoon ijsje. De ijsschepper schepte gigantische bollen, zo groot dat zelfs de Maria van Moemoe er niets tegen is!
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  • Day15

    Santorini dag 3

    July 16 in Greece

    De laatste dag van onze reis namen we nog eens een rustdag. Overdag zijn we niet veel verder geraakt dan ons zwembad en een restaurantje enkele meters verder voor middageten. Zelfs ons goede voornemen voor op het strand te beachballen schoot er aan over.
    Aangezien we van plan waren om ‘s avonds naar de openluchtcinema te gaan, gingen we op tijd en snel iets eten. Een uitgebreid laatste avondmaal kwam er dus niet van.
    Na snel een vegetarische moussaka binnen te steken, vertrokken we richting de cinema.
    We kwamen ruim op tijd aan en stonden nog een kwartier in een stilstaande rij. Na dat kwartier kwamen ze ons vertellen dat het volzet was. Ze raadden ons aan om morgen terug te komen, maar ja dat was geen optie.
    Een beetje jammer dat we heel onze avond hadden versneld voor de film, maar we lieten het niet aan ons hart komen. We keerden terug naar het strand voor een avondstrandwandeling richting de luchthaven. Ons hotel is namelijk dichtbij de luchthaven en we kunnen de vliegtuigen goed zien landen. Tijdens onze wandeling hielden we halt voor een vliegtuig over ons hoofd te zien vliegen. Dit vloog recht op ons af, zo’n 25 meter boven ons. Indrukwekkend!
    Onze avond sloten we af met een drankje, een portie watermeloen en onze voetjes in de zee.
    Nu sluit ik mijn laatste blogpost af, morgenvroeg vliegen we al weer terug. Het was een zeer geslaagde en deugddoende vakantie.
    Kusjes, Gilles en Katrien
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  • Day396


    May 2 in Greece

    Wie facettenreich und wunderschön die griechischen Inseln sind.

    Eine malerische Stadt, mit bunten Gassen, alten Gemäuern und eine Burg auf dem höchsten Berg. Die wollte erklommen werden, trotz der 1000 Stufen - puhhh😳 es hat sich allemal gewohnt, ein herrlicher Ausblick bei traumhaftem Wetter ☀️

  • Day397


    May 3 in Greece

    Die kleine Stadt mit ihren urgriechischen Häusern am Hang. Es ähnelte mit den grünen Zypressen Frankreich.

    Mein erster Gang war zu der Landzunge mit dem schönem Leuchtturm der mir schon vom Schiff aufviel. Ich hatte auf ein Stück Strand gehofft, leider gab es nur Gestrüpp und eine felsige Küste. Doch nach dem ich einigen Trampelpfaden zum Wasser folgte, fand ich einen Arielle Felsen😉 der direkt am seichten Ufer stand, auf dem ich die Sonne genießen konnte und die Füße im Wasser abkühlen konnte.

    Es war ein Stück Urlaub nach fast 3 Monaten und davon jeden Tag arbeiten. ☀️
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  • Day398

    Wer hätte gedacht das es solch große Schildkröten in Griechenland gibt. Unfassbar hätte sie noch stundenlang weiter beobachten können. 😍 Übrigens gibts hier keine Quallen, da sie von den Schildkröte gefressen werden😎

    Die Stadt war wirklich toll, viele kleine Läden und Cafes. Nach einem längeren Auswahlverfahren sind wir im besten Eiskaffee der Stadt gelandet - was ein Leckeres Crepe 😊

    Ein schöner Landgang bei milden Temperaturen.
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  • Day84

    Land of Surprises

    November 18, 2016 in Greece

    German Version on

    The rainy weather in Albania and Macedonia had been bad on my mood. It was time to enjoy a few sunrays. Greece is known as an autumn domicile and so I went on with my trip to the Greek border with full euphoria. In Macedonia, I had thought about my further route through Greece. My dad suggested that we meet in Antalya, enjoy the sun and spend some relaxing days together. This sounded great and so the approximate direction was fixed, south to Athens.

    On the way to the border to Greece I met Keith from Canada on the roadside. He has been riding a singlespeed bike (only one gear) for several years. He was just assembling a smaller chainring to the crank because several climbs followed. The effort would be too way too much for me, but he probably belongs to a handful of people who are cycletouring like this. After it was raining again, we decided to look for a suitable place to stay. We found an abandoned house on a resting place, exchanged our travel experiences and let the evening end with good food. The next day, our paths separated. I cycled further south to Greece, Keith to the north.

    The following days in Greece were very rainy. At first I was still on gravel roads, but I remained stuck in the mud, so I switched to paved roads. In the evening, I fortunately found in a canopy, under which I could sleep. I just arrived at the new sleeping place, two small dog-puppies ran out of the abandoned side building. There was no trace of the mom.
    Both dogs, who I dubbed Blacky and Whitey, spent the whole night with me. I would have loved to take both with me.

    In the morning the sun finally came out and the landscape became greener and more mountainous. In the late evening I arrived in the small village of Meteora. The name sounds very special and so is the landscape surrounding the small village. Huge ridge towers rising in the air as if they had fallen from the sky. I stayed couple days to go hiking and enjoying the views.

    After three days I set off again. I stopped at the supermarket and to my surprise I met two other cyclists. Ruggero from Italy and Brian from the USA. Both of them met in South America and went cycling together for a month. Meanwhile, Ruggero has been on the bike for two years and is about to end his trip. Both had arranged for a trip to Greece and were also on the road to Athens. We decided to go to Athens together, which was a great pleasure to me. We three were immediately on a wavelength.
    We cycled through lonely mountain roads, fought rain, found shelters in churches, were invited by local people to have breakfast and a Ouzo (which usually amounted to three / four). The people were incredibly friendly and helpful.
    Arriving at the sea, we took a bus to Athens, where we spent two days together and walked through the city. Then our paths separated. Meanwhile, Ruggero has returned to Italy. Brian is now biking in Central Asia.

    My path now led to Turkey. There was the possibility to take either a fly or a ferry. I chose the ferry, which is much more relaxed with the bike. The ferry drove over night to the Greek island of Rhodes. I arrived at noon, but on the same day no ferry left for Turkey. I checked on the mobile phone the size of the island, which is with a length of about 100 km is not too big and decided to circumnavigate the island in two days. The sun burned down and the 32 degrees caused my first defect on the trip. My tires had too much pressure, whereupon the front tube burst. In the parking lot, where I just changed the tube, a couple tried to get their scooter to run. A tube on the engine was torn and my broken tube was quickly misused. A few minutes later the scooter ran again. Apparently, it was no coincidence that this should happen at this parking lot.
    After 220 km in the legs I arrived the next day on time at the port and took the ferry to Turkey.

    Greece was full of surprises and everything came out quite differently than I had planned and expected. These are the moments that make such a trip so special.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Hellenic Republic, Griechenland, Greece, Griekeland, Greekman, ግሪክ, Grezia, يونان, ܝܘܢܢ, Grecia, Yunanıstan, Грэцыя, Гърция, Gɛrɛsi, গ্রীস্, གྷི་རཱི་སི།, Gres, Grčka, Grècia, Řecko, Gwlad Groeg, Grækenland, གིརིསི, Grisi nutome, Ελλάδα, Grekujo, Kreeka, یونان, Gerees, Kreikka, Grikkaland, Grèce, Grikelân, An Ghréig, A Ghrèig, ગ્રીસ, Girka, Helene, יוון, ग्रीस, Grjekska, Görögország, Հունաստան, Yunani, Gresia, Grekia, Grikkland, ギリシャ共和国, საბერძნეთი, Ugiriki, Грекия, Grækenlandi, ក្រិច, ಗ್ರೀಸ್, 그리스, یۆنان, Pow Grek, Graecia, Griicheland, Bugereeki/Buyonaani, Geleki, ກິຼກ, Graikija, Ngeleka, Grieķija, Gresy, Грција, ഗ്രീസ്, Greċja, ဂရိ, Grit, Hellas, Grekenland, ग्रिश, Griekenland, Griekanmua, ଗ୍ରୀସ୍, Грекъ, Gresya, Grecja, Grécia, Grisya, Ubugereki, Греция, Greika, Gerêsi, ග්‍රීසිය, Grécko, Grčija, Giriig, Greqi, Грчка, Grekland, கிரீஸ், గ్రీస్, Grésia, Юнон, ประเทศกรีซ, Kalisi, Gris, Yunanistan, گرېتسىيە, Греція, Hy Lạp, Grikän, Orílẹ́ède Geriisi, 希腊, i-Greece

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