Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Going Greek

Gail and I considered many different destinations to celebrate our 30th anniversary and Gail's 50th birthday, and in the end, decided on Athens and a Greek Island cruise!

We arrived in Athens and found our way to the train with no issues, and even found 10 Euro on the floor of the train station. Forty minutes later we jumped off at Monistiraki square. I had done a lot of research on directions to the hotel, so it actually felt like I had been there before.  Thanks Google Earth!
Monistiraki Sqaure

We got to the hotel in Plaka after dragging suitcases down a crowded street, dropped them in the room and bolted to the roof to see the view of the Acropolis.  It was amazing!
Acropolis view from our hotel roof

After admiring the view for awhile, we set out to explore the neighborhood.  There were so many cool alleys and streets, all bustling with shops and restaurants. We turned up one road and noticed some cafes along some steps heading up the hill. All the lower cafes were packed, as it was Friday evening, so we kept climbing. As the crowd thinned out we came across a gentleman offering us a rooftop table. The weather was perfect, so it didn't take much convincing.

We had an amazing view from the roof and shared our first saganaki cheese with glasses of Greek wine. yum!
Dinner with a view!

The nice man that invited us to eat at his restaurant

We explored some more, but wanted to get back to our hotel roof for sunset. We met a nice Australian couple there, and watched as the sun set and the lights of the Acropolis turned on. Quite a site!
Sunset from our hotel roof

Acropolis at dusk
The next day we were up early for a walking tour. It took a bit to find our way, but eventually ended up at the Acropolis Museum 40 minutes early. We decided to tour the museum quickly before the tour started.  Our walking guide was very informative, and we got to learn a lot about the history of Athens in the short three hour window.

Next, we bolted from the tour and climbed up to the Acropolis. There were a lot of people, but it wasn't too bad. The structures are unbelievable! It's mind blowing how they were able to build these without all the modern tools of today.

We left the Acropolis and trekked down the hill to check out some of the other sites.

EASTER SUNDAY!!!! And Gail's 50th!

We decided that since most everything was closed we would invest in the hop-on, hop-off bus. We've used these in many cities over the last three years with varied success. We did the full loop of Athens, then jumped on a bus that did the route around the port area of Piraeus. We hopped off when the bus had us down near the marina district and found a little Italian place on the sidewalk to have a birthday lunch for Gail. They had the best bruchetta and the first decent pizza we're had in a long time!

Happy Birthday Gail!!!

Cruise day! We grabbed a taxi to the port and went through all of the onboarding crap. After an hour or so we were checked in, and ready to sail.

Our first surprise came when we entered our room and realized that the beds, yes beds, were of the single type and were separated and at 90 degree angle to each other.

We barely had time to explore the ship when we arrived in our first port, Mykonos.
Hanging out in Mykonos

Mykonos Windmill

Me and my buddy Peter the Pelican

After a short night of sleep we were in Turkey! After a bus ride we were exploring the ancient city of Ephesus. What an amazing journey through the city. They estimate that they have only excavated 20% of the city so far.
Terrace houses of Ephesus

Ephesus Library

Ephesus theater

We stopped on the way back at a Turkish carpet business and got to see how the carpets are hand made. Pretty amazing amount of work goes into each one.  Then we enjoyed an amazing afternoon on deck before arriving at Patmos.

Number one thing on my mind was getting in the water! It is so beautiful I just couldn't wait to go for a swim.

After splashing around and looking for shells we plopped down at a plastic table right on the beach. The restaurant didn't look like much, but the staff (owners) were extremely friendly and the food was top notch. The ambiance, well you couldn't beat it.

Dinner on Patmos

We walked across the island and had the entire coast to ourselves as the sun went down. We love getting off the beaten path, away from the shops and tourists looking for their next t-shirt. It was so peaceful and relaxing!

Pondering life on Patmos

The next day was a full day in Rhodes. We were really looking forward to not having to run off and run back on the ship.  We started with a walk around what used to be the mote around the old city. The old city of Rhodes is remarkably intact. Gail and I did our best to get lost, but eventually emerged in the active part of town. I notice a sign pointing to the clock tower, and for a mere 5 Euro each we got to climb the tower (highest point in old town), got a complimentary drink in the quaint little cafe, and use the WC!

Rhodes clock tower

Rhodes castle

Beer in a boot!

We left old town and headed to the beach for a little while. We scored some fresh strawberries and a couple beers out of the back of a truck, and we were all set!

After kicking around the beach we hopped a bus and did a loop of the island, then headed back to the tourist area for an expensive snack and a couple beers in a boot.

Later that night I sat down to blackjack with 50 euro, and walked away with 280!

Well, our final day had come, and we were both extremely tired (hungover) and were some of the last off the ship in Crete. We didn't give it much of a chance, but really wasn't impressed with what we got to see. Back to the boat, and on to Santorini!



My buddies

Amazing Santorini Sunset

We rode donkeys up a very steep, very windy path to the town. We didn't have much time, so chose to find a quite restaurant and have some snacks and a bottle of wine.  We wondered through the shops for a bit then grabbed a couple beers and walked down the very steep, very windy path back down to the tender boats.

The next morning we arrived back in Athens and disembarked our Love Boat. After kicking around Piraeus for a couple hours, we grabbed a taxi back to the airport and winged our way home.

We had an amazing Greek adventure and can't wait to go back and visit again!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Recapping the Adventure

As our time in the UAE winds down, I thought I should take some time to create a photo recap of our adventure on this side of the world. Below, in chronological order is the history of our excursions around the globe since arriving. What a ride it's been!

June 2011 - Holiday, and first trip to Dubai. Met our new friend Samson Javed.

XXXXX - Gail's Ladies trip to Bahrain

September 2011 -  Sydney and Hunter Valley Australia for Adam and Juliette's wedding
September 2011 - Our first visitors...Rob and Kayleigh

November 2011 - Gail's Ladies trip to Oman

November 2011 - Istanbul, Turkey

November 2011 - Cody's visit

New Years 2012 - Camping in Fujairah, UAE

January 2012 - Curtis's visit and Kayleigh too.

February 2012 - Tour of Oman

March 2012 - Gail's Ladies trip to Goa, India

March 2012 - Tate's visit

April 2012 - Rome, Palermo, Tunisia, Barcelona, Monaco, La Spezia

June 2012 - Danat Jebel Resort, UAE

July 2012 - Gail's Baltic Cruise

October 2012 - Prague, Czech Republic

November 2012 - Patricia and Jamie visit

November 2012 - Home and Las Vegas

December 2012 - Ops Smile China

January 2013 - Cairo, Egypt
April 2012- Op Smile China

April 2013 - Bangkok, Thailand

May 2013 - Philadelphia and New York

May 2013 - Gail's Alaska Cruise

July 2013 - Gail's Amsterdam - Samoen, France Ladies trip

August 2013 - Gail's Mission to Lilongwe, Melowie

August 2013 - Mark's trip to Larnaca, Cyprus

September 2013 - England - France

September 2013 - Rob and Kayleigh visit

October 2013 - Jeff's visit

October 2013 - Mom and Dad King visit

November 2013 - Home and Las Vegas

January 2014 - Oman to visit Kayleigh and Rob

March 2014 - Ops Smile Kolkata, India

March 2014 - Simon's visit

April 2014 - Louann visit

April 2014 - Greek Island cruise

May 2014 - Ops Smile Mekele, Ethiopia
June 2014 - ........HOME!