Monday, July 13, 2009

Oh, and it seems something's wrong with my banner, I will fix it, um, whenever I find the time!

(Apparemment t'avais raison, Peanut!)
And we're back!!!

Greece was amazing, I absolutely loved it! It was the first trip I went on that involved beaches... nice change! Everything went smoothly, as opposed to UK-Ireland, last year, which made Tweety and I crazy with stress. No stress this time!

Short summary -

The first island we saw was Rhodes, which is among the largest Greek islands. We spent a day in Rhodes Town and a day in Lindos. We quickly found out that Greek island towns are usually pretty small, which means you don't need a lot of time to see what there is to see in them. This is why in Lindos, we ended up spending 3 hours at the beach and not an hour, as we had planned. This is also why we had left sunscreen at the hotel and why we turned in human sunburns that afternoon. Lindos was incredible though. It's a small town with an Acropolis in ruins overlooking the small whites houses and the beach. Very happy we went.

Crete is the largest island in Greece. We could've spent a month there and not seen everything. We spent a day in Heraklion, the capital and, if I'm not mistaken, the biggest city in Crete. We spent another day in the Samaria Gorges, a 14-kilometer hike that took us 5 hours. We thought we were gonna die!!! However, when you finish the hike, you arrive at Agia Roumeli and there is A BEACH!!! We had never been that happy to see water. We spent our last day in Rethymnon, a smaller city which I really liked. It's cute, and not over-crowded. However, it took two buses passing us by and three hours to figure out how the hell to get back to our hotel, located in Ammoudara, right on the beach.

Santorini is awesome! We only had two full days there, and I wish we'd had more. Santorini is everything you see of Greece: the white church with its blue dome, the towns located right on the cliff, above the sea. So beautiful! We spent the first day on a boat to get to the volcanic islands. Climbing to the top of the first one was more of a hike than expected, but after the Samaria Gorges, nothing compared! On our second day, we walked 12 km to get from Fira to Oia. The walk was recommended to us by our Transat representative, because the path follows the cliff all along and the view is amazing. It took us 3 hours this time. Oia has a good reputation for its sunsets, so we stayed until night came to see it.

Mykonos is probably the most touristic and therefore expensive island in Greece. It's worth a stop, but if you're not into nightlife, two days are enough. We met Raiontzukai and his best friend there. We tried a few beaches, went to Delos, an abandoned island nearby on which are, again, ruins.

The Continent
After Mykonos, we took a catamaran to the Continent, where we took a four-day tour which took us to the Meteora (monasteries built into rock, waaaaaay up high, extremely impressive), to Delfi, to Olympia, to Mycenae, to Nafplion, to Corinth and to Epidaurus. Epidaurus has an antique theater in which you can hear people breathing from the center even if you're sitting in the last row. To demonstrate, as it was Canada Day, as a result of twisting of my original intentions, I ended up singing O Canada solo for the whole group. Add to that that Mel had made me dress all in red and white that morning. I soooooo got screwed that day.
Anyway, the Continent has interesting sights and attractions to offer, but it's not as nice as the islands, that's for sure. I would suggest, if you're going to Greece, to start with the Continent and then go on to the islands.

Mel and I worked with L until this spring, when she retired. However, it just so happens L married a Greek citizen and therefore has a home on Hydra island, Greece. She also happend to be there during our trip, so we spent four nights over. We had such a good time! First, Hydra is even more beautiful that Santorini. There isn't a lot to do, but there are so many beaches you can try one every day - that's what we did! The catch is there are no motor vehicles on the island and no matter where you're going, you're gonna have to go up stairs. By the time we got to L's house, we were covered in sweat, each time! It was also quite a challenge to get our luggage up there and back down to the port the day we left.

We were warned numerous times about the pickpockets in Athens, but we never felt really unsafe. Athens is huge. However, if you're into museums, it's the place for you. The Acropolis is also a must-see, although the Parthenon has been undergoing restoration work for over 10 years now. There are many archeologic sites in Athens - there are ruins everywhere: in the metro, on the streets, in the parks... everywhere! We also climbed up Lycavittos hill (another one!) and saw the National Garden.

Whew, so this is about it, guys. As a result of this month in Greece, I now keep trying to double-lock my doors and throwing toilet paper into the garbage can. And I have many Greek recipes to try out!