Greetings From a Grecian Isle

Hello Everybody.

While its been a while since I’ve blogged about anything, I want to assure you that our blogging absence is not because Hilary or I have been in some tragic accident but rather because we have been having too much fun!

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For the past five nights Hilary and I have been staying on Santorini, the most picturesque island you could imagine. If you haven’t heard of Sanotrini you have probably seen it in some movie. It’s famous for its white-washed houses and bright blue roofs. I have to say that Santorini has lived up to its reputation as being the prettiest of the Greek Isles.

Our five days have gone way to fast and we will be sad to see the island go tomorrow morning as we move on to Athens.

Our time here as been spent catching-up with one another bragging about all our travel adventures, beaching and exploring this surprisingly large island.

I first arrived on the island days ago, one day ahead of schedule due to my own incompetence at reading ferry timetables. One perk of arriving a day a head of schedule was being able to surprise Hilary at our hotel. Boy was she surprised! We spent the rest of the day catching up, exploring Perissa (the beach-side town we are staying in) and having what is sure to be the first of MANY delicious meals to come.

The next day, we woke up early and joined a full day excursion tour of the entire island. Our first stop was off to visit the monastery which sits perched atop the tallest mountain on the Island. From the stop you have a great view of the rest of the island and it was a good way to get ourselves oriented to our home for the next five days.

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From the monastery we head to Pyrgos a cute traditional-styled greek village in the middle of the island. We got the chance to explore the town for a bit and check out some other awesome vistas.

Our next destination was to the port of Santorini where we boarded a ship which would be our transport for the rest of the day. We sailed out from the harbour and straight for the active volcano which the island surrounds! Our ship docked at the volcano and we got the chance to climb up to the top. Both Hilary and I got a bit excited because our guide explained as we climbed we would get the chance to see different colours of lava. We both imagined that we would get to see great torrents of magma oozing down the side of the mountain, but in reality we got to see different coloured rocks, which apparent pass for “lava” here on Santorini. Perhaps our guide forgot to mentioned it was cooled lava…

From the volcano we headed for some hot springs which are directly beside the volcano. These naturally occurring hot springs, are a product of the still active geothermal processes that are shaping the island. While nice and warm, the springs STUNK of rotting eggs because of the sulpher that is being released. The sulpher also has the nasty side effect of dying all of the white bathing suits a rust colour. Apparently it comes out in the wash, but since I wash most of my clothes in the shower, it might be a while before my bathing suit is looking its best again.

From the hots springs we sailed for Thirissia, another island right beside Santorini. This tiny island has a small village that is perched 300m up a giant cliff. There are two options for climbing the cliff. Option 1: walk the series of switch backs that connect the harbour with the village. Option 2: ride a donkey/mule up the same switchbacks. Being a proud Albertan that’s spent most of his childhood in the Rockies, I bullied Hilary telling her that the climb wouldn’t be that bad. Twenty minutes later and a LOT sweatier, we made it to the top of the cliff and looked down on our ship we left behind. At the top, we enjoyed a severely overpriced Fanta and then marched our way down the hill we had just climbed.

Our final stop of the day was Oia, probably the most picturesque of the towns on Santorini. Our mission for our stop in Oia was to watch the famous sunset. After eating a delicious dinner which included baked feta that will forever be remembered by both Hilary and I, we found our way to a tremendously romantic parking lot, where we watched the sun slowly make its way in to the Aegean. All in all, we had a great day with our excursion.

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The next day to compensate for all our activity from the day before, we decided to slum it on the near by beach. What was crazy about the beach we chose was the colour of the sand! Perissa is located on the black beach of Santorini. The dark coloured sand means that the sand can get painfully hot throughout the day but it also means that the water is a bit warmer for swimming.

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After our day at the beach, Hilary and I decided to rent ATV’s so we could explore the island at our own leisure. ATVing was a lot of fun and it gave us the freedom to explore parts of the island we hadn’t seen yet. Our first stop was to check out the red beach, which I’m sure you guessed it had red sand! The beach was lots of fun and both Hilary and I snorkeled around and checked out the cool fish that live in the waters around the beach. After the beach, we headed out to the southern tip of the island to investigate the lighthouse that sits there. While the lighthouse itself wasn’t all that interesting, the views along the way were amazing and we were able to take some really nice pictures.

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After the lighthouse, we stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant which had some amazing views of the cliffs below. After our delicious meal, we decided to head to Fira the capital of Santorini. Unfortunately just as we were pulling into Fira our ATV began to die. Every few metres the engine would cut out and we needed to restart the engine. Finally we pulled off to the side of the road, and started looking for a WiFi connection so Hilary could call the rental place. After a fruitless search for Internet, we ended up going to the nearest ATV rental place to see if they could either help us, or call the place we had rented our ATV from.

Thankfully the man from the ATV rental place was extremely helpful. After disappearing for a few minutes, which we learned later was to buy credit for his phone, the man called our rental place and explained what happened. For the next 45 minutes Hilary and I sat in silence as he blared Greek house music while we waited for someone to help us with our ATV’s. Once someone from our rental place showed up, we thought we were out of the woods, but apparently the problem was more severe than originally thought and the guy told us he would have to drive back to Perissa to get us a new ATV. Hilary and I decided to take the time we had to explore Fira, which turned out to be a fairly cute town. An hour later, we had our new ATV and we roared home to make ourselves dinner. Upon returning the ATV to the rental agency, I learned that apparently it was a grain of sand in the carburetor that had done our vehicle in. All terrain my ass!

Last night we had the pleasure of spending a fun evening with some of the other guests here at the hotel. We met two Swedes, two Norwegians, two Americans and 5 Aussies, and spent the evening, swapping travel tales and drinking.

Today was a bit of a quite day for both Hilary and I. We went to the beach in the morning, but because it was so windy it made it hard to spend too much time on the beach. I spent some time relaxing and reading my book and Hilary head back to Oia to do some shopping.

Well, that its for our time in Santorini! Tomorrow we head for Athens and the day after that we are off to Rome! We will be sure to update the blog as we move from city to city, but both Hilary and I are excited to hit the road again!

Later Days

G

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Greetings from Turkey!!

Hello World,

I realize the Hilary JUST posted something, but I’ve been neglecting my duties as co-blogger, but as you will hopefully see, I have some pretty good excuses for not blogging.

Now, where did I leave you guys last?  Oh right! Asia!

After my quick sojourn over to Asia, I returned back to the hostel and decided to take a quick trip over to the Grand Bazaar and Spice Markets.  I have to say after the Souqs of Marrakesh, I was a little disappointed with the markets in Istanbul. Because I wasn’t in the mood for leather, knock-off handbags or jewellery, I was  a little out of my market (if you pardon the pun), but none the less it was pretty exciting to explore this marketplace that’s been there for hundreds of years.

The following day was filled with visiting most of the touristic sites in Sultanamet, the old city district of the city with my new Ozzy friend Chris. First stop was visiting the Ayasofia, probably the most famous of the sites in the city. Dating back from the 500’s AD this cathedral turned mosque turned museum, was one impressive site!! With six minarets, this building stands out from the rest of Istanbul despite being surrounded by mosques on all sides.

Ayasofia

After the Ayasofia was the Cisterns of Istanbul.  I have to say this was hands down my favourite place in Istanbul. This underground facility was used to collect water for the different cities that have stood where Istanbul is today. Before going to the cistern, I had no idea what it looked like nor what I was getting myself into, and to be honest that made it 10 times better. Therefore, I’ve made the executive decision, not to post my pictures from the cistern to maintain the element of surprise for you budding travellers.

Once we were back above ground again, Chris and I headed to the archaeology museum which was pretty cool! The museum is filled with TONS of crazy artifacts from the Babylonia, Egypt, Roman and Greek empires.  All and all a pretty cool experience.

Now after all our touring, both Chris and I were pretty tired. We split up and found ways to beat the heat. Chris decided to watch the finale of the Tour de France and watch his fellow countryman win the race, while I decided to nap.  That evening we met up with two German girls, Evi and Michaela and we became fast friends. The girls told us that they were heading to the Black Sea to check out a small fishing village that was supposed to have an amazing beach, something which Istanbul sadly lacks. After they extended the invitation to join, both Chris and I happily accepted.

The next morning, the four of us made our way (slowly) to Kilyos, about 2 hours north of Istanbul.  WHAT a day. That’s all I really have to say. It was so nice to get out of the city and avoid the hussle and bussle.  It was a great day, and so far is one of my favourite memories of the place.

Chris and Michaela

After my day on the beach, I sadly had to say goodbye to Istanbul, and head towards Echeabat, southwest of Istanbul.  The city is famous for being close Gallipoli a fairly, major battlefield during WWI. My time in Echaebat was split between snorkling over a sunken WWI transport ship and touring the battlefields. Snorkelling was an awesome experience!  After touring the sunken ship, we could explore the reefs for relics from WWI. After about 10 minutes of hunting, I was able to find a British bullet from one of the initial sieges. After showing it off to my fellow snorkelers, I tossed it back into the ocean for other treasure hunters to find. Overall my time in Echaebat was very informative. While Canadians played a very very limited (aka almost none besides Newfoundlanders) it was still an eyeopening experience.

Snorkelling!

My time in Gallipoli was fairly short, but I’ve made my way to Selcuk further south in Turkey and tomorrow I will tour the ancient ruins of Ephesus (google for some cool photos)

Well, I realize this post is a fairly monsterous one so I will leave it hear.  I meet up with Hilary next Wednesday and I CANNOT wait to see her! As much fun as it is to always be making friends, I’m excited for beaching and lounging with my bud.

Later days

G.