Embarkation day Celestyal Crystal Idyllic Aegean 7 Day Cruise

Mykonos weather was incredibly windy making it difficult to spend any time on the beach or dining around Little Italy waterfront area. No surprise then that, after 3 days of constant strong winds, we were looking forward to boarding the cruise ship. I had originally thought the ship docked at 6.30am….perhaps wishful thinking on my part as there isn’t really a lot to do on Mykonos in wild weather…only so much restaurant sitting a person can do before boredom sets in. Don’t get me wrong, Mykonos is a beautiful island and I do like it but, for me, 2 days is plenty to wander around as I’m not a person that can lie on a beach for too longs and this was my 3rd or 4th visit.

 Wearing baseball cap (not my preferred type of hat) and scarf for protection against the wind...

Wearing baseball cap (not my preferred type of hat) and scarf for protection against the wind…

Ty used Google to find a Marine website which would giive the approximate coordinates of all ships at sea, the Crystal hadn’t left Athens yet!  Damn, it wasn’t due in till 6.00pm this evening, another day of battling the wild winds. “Hmm, what shall we do today?” I asked at breakfast, “We could take a local bus around to one of the beaches on the other side is of the island”. Silence. “Ok, perhaps we won’t”. Troy didn’t seem keen on taking local transport whereas I quite like it….you get to see areas away from the main tourist sections. We finished breakfast, packed up our bags and took them to reception where they would be held until we were ready to go to the cruise terminal. Helena would drive us back to the terminal. I just felt like a boiled egg for breakfast this morning…very tempted, then again I remember Gordon Ramsay’s programme on Hotel disasters. Oh well, guess I’ll wait till I go home.

We spent the last few hours drinking, eating and drinking and eating…..in that order!! Coffee at a café called Caesars, lunch at Boulangerie Atika. A ham and salad roll, salmon wrap and 2 soft drinks cost €10.90. Good value and very tasty. Of course, as in all places in Europe, we had an ashtray on our table, we moved it to the table next to us, the cleaning lady put another ashtray on our table, I moved it again. We had a little chuckle about that and continued eating our lunch when, not 5 minutes later, the cleaning lady returned with yet another ashtray. Wasn’t she wondering where the ashtrays were going? I now had 3 on the floor beside me and still they kept coming. If we stay for another hour I’d have all of the café ashtrays on the floor beside me. Lunch completed it was time to let others sit down. A unanimous decision was made to go back to the hotel where we would try and find a position on the balcony out of this annoying wind for a while. Arriving back at the hotel we had only been seated on the balcony, in the wind, for less than 10 minutes when the receptionist came to tell us Helena would be going out soon and she could drop us at the Port now rather than later if we preferred. We thought that was a good idea as surely there would be a bar we could park ourselves in for a couple if hours. The short drive to port was all downhill this time so uneventful.

The car pulled up at the port, Ty unloaded the bags from the little green car, we said our thanks and goodbyes to Helena, by the time we lifted our bags she was gone. We walked across to a concrete building with a number of entrances, there was also a small kiosk to one side. We stepped inside the entrance and found a large, dark room with a few concrete seats and nothing else. Not the type of room we were hoping for so this was going to be a long 2 hours waiting for our ship to come in. There was nothing in the vicinity remotely like a café, restaurant or bar. Not even a lot of people watching around here either!!

Ty, Frank and Troy took turns in wandering over to the edge of the dock to look towards the horizon for our ship…..at one stage we got a little excited as, in the distance, we could see a ship heading this way. It wasn’t ours! After an hour had passed more people were arriving at the port however they were embarking on the ship we could see on the horizon. We had placed the bags in the dingy waiting area and, just for something to do, to alleviate some of the boredom, we moved the bags out under the awning of the dingy waiting area. Yes, that used up not even 5 minutes of the waiting time….now what? Ah, yes, back to walking to the edge of the dock and looking to the horizon.

We had placed our bags at the end of the awning, up close to the fenced area,beside a small seat under the awning and I had just stood up to talk to Troy when several Italian girls wandered into the area with their luggage, pushed past us and squeezed into the small area beside me between the fence and the edge of the seat….mind you there was no need to do that as we were at the very end of a large area. Anyway, once they muscled in, we could no longer sit with our luggage and we couldn’t get them to move out of the way so we could all retrieve our bags. It’s instances like these when we remember how considerate and conscious of personal space most of us Aussies are.

Finally, I hear excitement in the voices of Ty and Frank…our ship, they believe, is on the horizon and heading straight for us! Finally, it had been a long day of waiting and sitting around – our ship had come in!!!

Celestyal Crystal

Celestyal Crystal

Yes, they were correct, our ship had come in and had berthed about half a kilometre from where we had been waiting. Collecting our luggage we all headed for the ship. We reached the ship and were stopped by security….tickets and passports were required and ‘now please sit over there’ we were instructed. The security person pointed to a couple of seats along the wall. We needed to wait till all the passengers had disembarked for their excursions before we could embark the ship. More waiting!!

We sat patiently, then impatiently, we fidgeted and took turns to stand, as we watched all the passengers file past us in a slow procession defying the instructions of the crew and excursion organisers for 2 lines only. As the procession dwindled we became annoyed by the one or two stragglers that ambled past, then another three or four would wander past as if they had all the time in the world. Well they did of course but we just wanted to get on the ship and have a drink….we all joked about how inconsiderate these stragglers were!! Didn’t they know we’d been waiting since 6am this morning to board? Finally, after almost another hour had passed, everyone was off the ship and we could board.

The embarkation process was fairly easy, although they didn’t have the camera at the entry door so we received our shipboard card without a photo. Given this simple security procedure wasn’t carried out proper that probably should have been a warning to us that this cruise may not be as slick and organised as we had come to expect of cruising. We had pre booked our drinks package and 5 excursions so, with no further rituals to go through, we were taken to our respective cabins.

Our cabin was a suite on Deck 6. It was our anniversary so we had decided to go the ‘whole hog’ (Aussie slang for the most expensive or top of the range). We had a separate living area, a bedroom with a mini walk in wardrobe, a bath and shower in the bathroom and a very large balcony containing a whirlpool, a table and four chairs plus four sun lounges. Our suite was at the front of the ship and named the Presidential Suite due to the younger of the George Bush’s staying in this particular cabin. There were two suites of this size on the ship.

Our balcony

Our balcony

The ship was not a new modern ship full of bling, such as the Splendida we cruised on last year, but it had undergone a refit around 2011 (I think) and it held a maximum of 1200 people. It was a smaller ship which enables it to manoeuvre into some of the smaller Greek Islands and that’s the reason I chose this cruise; it visited 5 different islands to the usual Greek cruises.We had previously cruised with Louis Cruise lines and found them to be quite satisfactory and Louis has since undergone a name change to Celestyal Cruises. In the European summer they cruise the Greek Islands and in the winter the ship moves to cruise Cuba.

We unpacked then waited for our companions to join us in our cabin before taking a walk around the communal areas of the ship. Of course, all my clothing, shoes plus bits and pieces was neatly placed in the little walk in robe but Ty spread his clothing and other items over 2 wardrobes, several side benches, a couple of drawers and the lounge room table!! Hmm, perhaps these suites need another revamp to include a second walk in robe!!!

Companions all present and accounted for it’s now time to start our tour of the ship. The ship had two a la carte restaurants, a buffet eatery and a bbq area near the pool. As well as several bars and a gelato wagon. We peeked into the hairdressing salon, wellness spa and gym. I wouldn’t be using the gym this cruise because my right foot and ankle was still extremely tender and, although the swelling went down a little at night, very swollen during the day. I definitely looked like I had cankles, well, one cankle anyway so that probably looked even stranger. For those of you not sure a cankle is an ankle that has no tapered shape….essentially this part of the leg is the same size/shape from top of calf to ankle bone. There was also a large showroom, a karaoke bar and a very nice lounge/bar at the rear of the ship.

“Ok, we’ve surveyed our surroundings what’s next?” I questioned. I was met with a chorus of “Food and drinks”. We didn’t think we were dressed appropriately for the dining room so we opted for the buffet. Not my choice as I’m not a fan of buffets….food left sitting uncovered or not properly refrigerated and people picking at it, very often with their fingers, makes me very wary of buffets in general. In my opinion the food didn’t look particularly appealing…the salad veggies looked a little tired (perhaps they’d been waiting around all day as we had). The cold meat had been cut into smaller pieces as had the cheese which brought to mind the saying ‘like a boarding house scrap of butter’ meaning the portions on offer were cut very small to make it go as far as possible or feed as many as possible. My opinion didn’t change as I wandered along the food line nor did I find much to eat….some say I’m way too fussy………Gorging Gonz managed to fill his plate in the shape of a mountain and Lord Lunchalot had quite a full plate as well. Must just be me or it’s a man thing!! I felt sure the a la carte would be a different story and in future we would do our best to eat our meals in either the Olympus Restaurant or the Amalthia Restaurant.

We ended our first evening of seven with a few drinks at the Thalasso Bar on deck 5. We chose a lounge area at the back of the bar trying to sit somewhere out of range of the cigarette smoke…..we learned fairly quickly this would be impossible. We just sat back, enjoyed our drinks along with the calm seas, and talked about our thoughts of the ship so far. Lord Lunchalot was not happy with the size of his cabin, it was very small for a deluxe cabin with barely any room between the twin beds. If this was a deluxe cabin what did a standard look like? Gorging Gonz booked the cheapest inside cabin available on deck 3…..we had visited both of their cabins and GG had more floor space in his. Can you imagine how dark GG’s cabin must be when the light is turned off? I couldn’t stay in a room without a window to the outside world and letting in the light. Ty and I were happy with our suite and also more than happy to share our large balcony and our outdoor amenities and furniture with the others although the whirlpool would fit 2 of us in it at a time but 4 was definitely out of the question.

Tomorrow was Lord Lunchalots’ birthday and the first port of call was Khusadasi in Turkey. We would eat in the Amalthia Restaurant as, unbeknown to him, I had requested a cake for him.

Mykonos Without Petros the Pelican

Mykonos Street Cat

Mykonos Street Cat

The prearranged taxi arrived at the Santorini villas at 10.45am for the short drive to the new port and our ferry trip to Mykonos. We were travelling on the Highspeed 4  a larger capacity ferry and less likely to have too much movement if the sea is rough. The road to the new port is not for the feint-hearted as the road is narrow and winding with buses, trucks, motorbikes and cars all vying for space. Our trip was interesting and at one stage the driver decided to pull out to overtake a bus but quickly changed his mind when confronted with an oncoming bus. GG (Frank) pulled a funny face….it was very contorted not sure whether with surprise or with the thought his life was flashing before his eyes….he was in the front seat so probably more worrying for him. This much excitement cost the small sum of 20€.

The ‘new port’ is big and berths are not well sign posted so it was decided I would step into the Hellenic Seaways office and asked the desk person where we need to be. He pointed and said “turn left”. ‘Thanks’ I replied. We walked left, a building had a sign ‘Departures’, we entered a hot, stuffy room..supposedly a departure lounge but more like a large garage with a few bench seats along the wall. I walked to the back of the room where there was more space to breathe. We stood around for a few minutes but the stuffy atmosphere was very unpleasant so Ty thought we should step back outside and sit in the shade. Ty deduced the ferry would dock a little further down the dock….hmm, ok, I thought ‘ but that is the departures lounge and assume it’s that for a reason as we need to show passports and tickets’. About 20 minutes later the ferry came in and docked up on the other side of the departures lounge!! My thinking was right and we would have been at the head of line and out of the sun now we had to join the back of the line in the sun….I had a chuckle to myself because husband was sure he was right!! He’d checked all the berths and where the buses had lined up and decided the big ferry needed the bigger berth.

Boarding and disembarking the ferry was a little like a cattle stampede. The bags were left on the car deck level under the sign for your destination, which wasn’t too difficult, but retrieving the bags before disembarking was very messy with people going every which way. We had pre booked our tickets and the cost per person for business class seating with a table was 68€.  The ferry stopped at Naxos, Ios and Paros before our stop. The three and a half hour trip was relatively smooth.

When we reached the port of Mykonos the owner of our hotel met us. Helena was her name and there she stood among other collection agents holding up signs with guests names on them. We saw the sign  ‘Starr’ and made a bee line for Helena who was in discussion with another couple but turned to us, we introduced ourselves, and she  motioned for us to follow her.  As we turned to follow she said to the young couple ‘I will come back for you, wait here I will not be long’. Weaving through cars and buses we eventually came to her little car….wedged between cars on all sides….’this will be interesting’ I whispered to Ty ‘if we manage to get into the car how she’s going to get this out’. All of us squeezed in the car and now what? Well, Helena grated the gears and moved the car a little forward, no, that wouldn’t work, a quick turn of the steering wheel, a small reverse, stop, move forwards a little more, stop, say something in Greek, turn steering wheel again, move a little to the side…no, not going anywhere here, the little dusty green car was certainly parked  in on all sides. I whispered to Ty,” perhaps you guys need to get out and lift the car over the other car beside us”. Eventually the drivers of the other cars came back and moved off allowing us to drive off as well, not before abusive words were uttered between Helena and a couple of the drivers.

Helena’s little car was ok on the flat but when it turned a corner onto a steep gradient it had problems, partly due, I’m sure, to the load in the car; Helena herself wasn’t a little lady; 3 men and myself with about 70kgs of luggage in the very back made the little car really struggle. Suddenly a car came round a blind corner in front of us, Helena stepped on the brake, a car was close behind us as well, the oncoming car wasn’t stopping and passed us.  Helena grated the clutch, changed gears and hit the accelerator……dust and rocks flew up around us as we rolled – backwards. Brakes slammed on again, very quickly, as Helena crunched the gears and tried again to force the little car up the hill. No, the little green car was having none of that as we started to roll back down the hill again. The car behind us hastily went round us as we rolled further back down the hill. I was thinking to myself ‘As long as we stop before the car rolls back to  the main road I’m not too worried’. After a few more tries Helena finally revved the poor little things motor as much as possible and it made its  way to the top of the hill. I looked at Ty and we laughed (silently of course) welcome to Mykonos and hotel Spanelis our home for the next 3 days. Helena dropped us at the hotel, hurriedly gave us our room numbers and rushed back to the port to the other couple she had left on the dock. Luckily it was quite windy so they wouldn’t be wilting in the hot sun.

We were each registered and given our room keys by an assistant. Our rooms were a disappointment to all of us, extremely small even by European standards, very old, shower base was tiny with a curtain, we did have a large balcony but it was so windy you couldn’t enjoy it. There was only one useable powerpoint as the other was behind the bed head. The view from the balcony was not as it was on the web page. The web marketing of the hotel was very slick but incorrect in many details. The website also mentioned access to the pool complex at the hotel next door was available when you buy a drink at their bar. However, when we enquired with Helena she said ‘you can ask but they may not let you’. So more false advertising. The hotel advertised it was 500 metres from centre….it’s about 800 so not too much difference and the walk isn’t too bad.

The weather in Greece had been unusually windy and we’d hoped it wouldn’t follow us to Mykonos but it did. As with Santorini the locals on Mykonos were very happy to have the wind as they’d previously had extreme heat with no breeze at all. Heading down the hill to town was easy…we had a tail wind, dodging the passing traffic was a different matter. At one point, on the little road, there was a stand-off  between a van and a couple of cars. It was hard to get past them so we stood in a small lay by and watched as they gesticulated back and forth….eventually the larger van won out and the cars reversed back until the van could pass them. The show was over so all those walking could continue on their way.

Lonely Windmill

Lonely Windmill

We arrived at the edge of town and decided it was time for afternoon tea at the waterfront….Little Italy and the windmills weren’t going anywhere so there was no rush. We sat at one of the many cafes, we chose Kouros Cafe, with a view straight out to the breakwall and sea. Of course the first question Troy asked was “Do you have wi fi”. We’d come to realise that it wasn’t whether the food was good or he liked a dish on their menu or even that the view was quite spectacular….no, the main ingredient for Troy (Lord Lunchalot) was wi fi. As in many holidays there is often one overriding factor for making choices when choosing places for refreshments….ours would be wi fi.

This also meant that on occasion meal times would stretch out longer than Ty and I would usually spend sitting and eating when we were on holidays. Lunch and morning tea especially.

Time to move on to take in the other sights of Mykonos…..we headed around to Little Italy via the sea wall but, because of the wind, the waves were crashing over the sea wall making the walkway very slippery. I was still carrying my injury from Santorini so I wasn’t going to risk slipping over as a trip to another Greek hospital is not on my agenda…(previous visit to Greek hospital was in 2007 when I broke my 5th metatarsal bone and left the hospital plastered from toes to knee). If I’ve broken anything this time it will have to wait till I return home. Anyway, we had to turn back and take the long way round through the little narrow streets, passing many shops along the way, stopping at some, eventually coming out to the right of ‘Little Italy’.

It wasn’t as picture perfect as the last visit in 2010 mainly due to the restaurants at the edge of Little Italy being closed, their chairs and tables stacked up untidily away from the crashing waves. The owners would not be happy losing business at this time of the season, or anytime for that matter. They have only a short time to make their money before winter sees the tourism on the Greek Islands come to a close.

We wandered up to and around the windmills, took the usual photos. Although I’m not sure why I was taking photos I have so many from every angle from previous visits I hardly need any more and then there’s what to do with them? Oh well, just can’t help myself.  Always trying for that postcard picture.

We decided to amble back to the hotel for a relaxation break before walking to town for dinner later in the evening. One thing the hotel had in it’s favour was wi fi…so that kept both Lord L and GG happy.

It was good to sit and relax for a couple of hours as our holidays are usually quite hectic. No matter how much I say I’m going to take time out to relax and write it doesn’t happen. Hmm, perhaps I need to take a holiday on my own to a  villa in a cute little village somewhere in France or Italy…… although I have the feeling my husband would want to come along as well…to relax!! We wouldn’t relax ‘cos within an hour of settling in to write he would say ‘So, are you ready yet’? or ‘How long do you think you’ll be doing your writing for?’ He’s over the relaxation or the ‘I’m catching up on some writing today’ bit within the first hour. He doesn’t realise that once you get into a rhythm with writing you can’t place a time limit on it?  Why am I telling you this? To explain why, very often, my blog is a few days or even weeks behind.

Back to Mykonos…..showered, changed and time to meet up with fellow traveling companions. Well one at least, as GG is generally 5 to 10 minutes late turning up to our meeting points and Troy is 10 minutes early.  All present and correct we start the trek back down the hill to dinner. Tonight I have a scarf to pull up onto my head if my hair starts to blow around.  I know, not really a good look but so tired of looking like a windswept wreck every time we venture out. We only made it to the edge of town this evening as we liked the look of the menu at Kavlos Restaurant earlier today. The restaurant faced the waterfront and we could look across to the other restaurants and stores that arced the seafront. Very pretty scene as the sun was setting. Food and the service was very good but it was interesting watching the waiters as they flirted incessantly with every female customer…one waiter in particular named Petros was over the top in the attention he gave to the women he came in contact with. Around 10.15 we decided it was time to drag our tired frames back up the hill and home by 11pm. The room was hot and stuffy but at least the air conditioning worked very well. This room was also a non smoking room and, amazingly, no previous guests appeared to have smoked in the room ‘cos the air quality coming out of the air con didn’t smell like stale cigarettes….2 pluses for the hotel so far – wi fi and good air con!

No sign of Petros around town today – maybe we’ll see him tomorrow.
*******************************************************
Up reasonably early this morning, not because we have somewhere to be but because breakfast was only on till 9 am. Showering was a challenge so that would take a little more time…..it was hard enough standing in the small shower base but the shower curtain kept sticking to me…not just one part of my body but to all of me. How many of you have ever tried to shower wrapped in a nylon shower curtain? Let alone tried to wash your hair? Ty had to intervene and hold the curtain back so I could wash my hair. The floor was a swimming pool after each shower…we used most of the towels as bath mats.

Breakfast wasn’t too bad and consisted of cereals, toast, boiled eggs, although after watching Hotel Rescue I’m very wary of boiled eggs, cheese and hams which are the usual staple of European breakfasts and slices of cake. Coffee was not the best but that’s only hearsay ‘cos I don’t drink thick black coffee..

Day 2 in Mykonos and it’s still disappointingly windy…thinking of shaving my head because this wind is playing havoc with my hair and I’ve lost the battle to keep my hair in place….Ty said I shouldn’t worry about trying to keep a style in place – everyone has the same problem with this wind. So I wear the baseball cap we bought in Santorini – flat hair is the alternative to windblown hair I suppose.

So far this trip there have been a few wild and silly statements being made from my companions but I don’t have a head for remembering all those spur of the moment comments….although I do recall Lord Lunchalot’s first statement of the day about the street the hotel is on was ‘ At least it’s a nice, quiet two way street’!  Quiet?! We’re dodging small cars, little trucks, motor bikes and larger cars on our daily walks back and forth to town. A quiet street is not one where I have to back myself up as close as possible to a rock wall to ensue the oncoming car misses me!

A little shopping was in order today.  had bought 2 swimming costumes with me but I hadn’t realised that one of them was a little stretched in the top from our Aqua Zumba classes so didn’t hold certain ‘assets’ as it should…..it needed replacing.  Luckily Mykonos had a Hondos Centre so in I went to find myself a new costume followed by my travelling companions. I found the swimwear section and eventually chose a couple of items to try on. I tried on one and popped out of the change cubicle to see what Ty thought…he thought it was ok but from the other side of the store I heard Troy’s voice ‘your bum looks big in that’. Other customers turned to look in my direction as Frank also made a comment….ok back into the change cubicle and  on with the other costume. This one was a black one piece with a panel down the front with red roses on the black background….quite pretty. I stepped into it and peeked out to show Ty when the other 2 said ‘Come on out so we can see it as well and give our opinion’. Not sure I really wanted their opinion again. Anyway I stepped out of the cubicle and they all agreed this one looked much better, so did some of the other customers, so I had no choice but to make the purchase! I changed clothes and as I came out of the change cubicle Ty took the costume and bought it for me…that was very good and it was also discounted by 30% so that was even better. We both got a bargain.

That was my shopping expedition over. Three men is two too many to shop with when they all have an opinion on what clothing I might want to purchase or even take off the rack to look at.  One nods yes and the other two shake their head in a no motion….best to find somewhere for lunch that way they’ll be focused on food, oh and wi fi. Restaurant of choice for lunch was Rouvera Restaurant. Gorging Gonzo chose the ‘NY Sunset Berger’, yes spelt exactly as I have it, and he says it was the best burger ever!!! Only thing we forgot, from previous travel around Europe, was that, in a number of countries, an eatery will place a basket of bread on the table without you asking and the diner is charged for it. So if you don’t want bread with your meal or you don’t want to pay for it ask them to take it away before they place it on the table. They won’t be happy chappies because it’s a bit of cream on top of the meal price for them. When you receive the bill you’ll notice you’ve been charged anywhere between €1.30 to €1.70 per person for a small basket of bread slices….mostly containing 1 small slice per person and 1 extra. Occasionally you might receive a few little bread rolls.

We decided the Mykonos pigeons were very well behaved as they didn’t bother diners at all. The Aussie pigeon would terrorise you for a crumb, be around your feet and, if you accidentally dropped a morsel, another 20 would turn up. Pigeons and sea gulls can be the bane of outdoor dining in Australia. The Mykonos pigeons didn’t seem interested in the eateries or the diners.

Lunch over GG had some shopping to do plus we’d over eaten again so needed a walk. Gorging Gonz had purchased a certain brand of olive oil moisturiser last time he was in Mykonos so the challenge would be finding it 5 years on. I was also pleased the focus of attention had moved to someone else for a change! After wandering around the pretty alleyways and stopping at each herbal shop we finally found the brand of product. GG went in to the store to ask if it was still available. We waited outside, I like olive oil in cooking but the smell of olive oil soap is quite strong and particularly unpleasant to me. About ten minutes later out he strode swinging a small plastic bag….shopping successfully completed.

It must be afternoon drinks time and by the sea was a good place to have them. We chose Kavlos again. The order was 2 gin and tonics and 2 vodka lime and soda or in the case if Mykonos, vodka, soda, a slice if lemon and sugar in the bottom of the glass! Drinks duly arrived, 2 with pink straws, 2 with yellow straws. The waiter seemed confused on what coloured straw went with which drink so it was left to us to try and sort it out. Well, that didn’t work because we couldn’t agree and just when we thought we had it right someone would say ‘no, this isn’t gin’ and we would start the process over again. I chose what I thought was vodka only to be told ‘no it isn’t that’s gin’ so my glass was swapped again…turns out I had been right. Only discovered after Ty and Troy ordered another G&T each and the coloured straws in their drinks were the ones they thought were the vodkas! Vindicated….I knew I’d drank a G&T instead of the vodka I’d ordered!!!

Whilst we were enjoying our drinks a couple at the next table asked Lord Lunchalot to take their photo, Troy agreed and then they got chatting. This couple came from a town not far from Troy’s home in Queensland. What are the chances of going half way around the world and meeting people from your local area?? The world is definitely shrinking. Although I never meet anyone from my town…but then that may have something to do with me keeping a low profile when I’m overseas and there are other Aussies around. I don’t feel the need to ‘hook up’ with fellow countrymen.

This evening we dined at Salparo Restaurant, on the waterfront, of course. My choice was the Salparo Salad which contained caramelised pear, feta cheese and rocket…..very tasty and healthy as well. Our waiter was a rather large, thickset, unhappy man. He glared and scowled at everyone as if we were an imposition on his time. I’m not sure that the career path he has chosen is the right one for him…

Dinner over we decided to move on to a little Boulangerie for cake and coffee…it’s like an eatfest isn’t it??? Before I do that though I should go to the ladies room. This was an experience ‘cos many loos in restaurants in Europe are, for want of another word, interesting and this one was no exception. Through a section of the kitchen, nothing strange about that, turn left and go up the stairs, turn right at the top and you’ll see the toilet, were the instructions. The stairs were actually a blue metal spiral staircase, very slim in design and a little greasy so care was needed going up, at the top was a storage area and beside it the loo…one for ladies and one for men. Ok, negotiated going up the stairs without too many problems but coming down was another matter. Very greasy, not keen on holding the hand rail either, God knows what bacteria would be living on that, but no choice because there was no room for error getting back to ground. My concern was someone might try to pass me on the stairs…..no chance!! Thank goodness for the antibacterial hand wipes that go everywhere with us.

We leave Salparo and cross the road to the boulangerie, I purchase a Christmas bauble to replace the one I dropped last year along the way. We had almost finished our cake and coffee whilst GG was still ordering his. Eventually he placed his tray on the table, on it sat a very large slice of cake, a custard filo, a muffin and a drink. My goodness he can eat….makes he full just looking at the amount of food he tucks into.

GG and his cakes

GG and his cakes

Whilst we were eating Lord Lunchalot expressed a concern that he hadn’t heard from his mother since 10.30am our time yesterday. He said ‘I keep sending her pictures but she isn’t responding’. I couldn’t resist so I replied ‘your mum is probably staying quiet do you’ll stop bombarding her with photos’. He didn’t think my reply was amusing….the rest of us did. Well, generally people will place one or two pictures of places visited on Fb or MMS a picture but not LL he puts as many as he can in whatever timeframe he has available!!

Still no sign of Petros the pelican today and this is our last evening on Mykonos – tomorrow we embark on our Greek Island cruise. We were looking forward to seeing the crazy bird and its antics especially given we’d told Troy all about him.  Perhaps Petros had been replaced by the busker with the cool Labrador wearing a  baseball cap and sunglasses.

Cool puppy

Cool puppy

Santorini Quad Bikes and Three Sunsets

After arriving in Santorini we decided to hire a car, however, there were only large expensive cars available. We discussed it and decided a big car was not a good idea to manoeuvre around the streets or for parking…we walked away.

There were plenty of taxis at the rank so with bags placed in the racks on top of the taxi we headed for Villa Irini. At least is was a Mercedes so there was plenty of room for the 3 back seat passengers. The weather was hot and windy…very windy, unusually windy for this time of year. The locals told us it very unusual but it had been extremely hot so they’re happy…..I wasn’t – I don’t like dirt and dust flying into my eyes and mouth, my hair blowing all over the place. I end up looking and feeling like a wind blown wreck. Fingers crossed it would subside sooner rather than later.

The taxi fare from Santorini airport to the Villas in Messaria was 20 €.

We were checking in when Ty asked about hiring bikes and quad bikes (ATV). Receptionist said she could organise it for us and have them delivered…..everyone agreed that would be a good idea. LL and GG chose motor bikes at a cost of 110€ and 97€ respectively for 3 days rental. Cost to fill the bike was 7.50€. The Quad bike was 135€ for 3 days and cost 17€ to fill.

The bikes were delivered within 30 minutes and the ‘boys’ (using that term lightly) were eager to get out on the road. Our Quad had a box at the back to hold the helmets and handbags etc, the other motor bikes also had boxes at the back. Surprisingly the Quad was comfortable as there was a padded backrest. Wasn’t so keen on the vibration through my feet when I put them on the footrest…spent most of my time trying to keep them off the footrest as much as possible. This was also my first time wearing a helmet – not the best experience in the world….tight, hot, hard to get on and off AND it flattens your hair badly against your head….did not like helmet hair…needless to say I would spend the next 3 days with the worst hair ever!!! The wind didn’t help when I took the helmet off either…it blew the flat helmet hair in positions a comb couldn’t fix. Doubt I’d ever be a biker unless they bring out a helmet with a layer that protects the hair from being flattened, keeps the style in place and has vents for cool air to circulate. Thinking about that sentence, it wouldn’t matter biking is not my style. Sitting up behind the rider with a skirt or dress hitched up as far as you can to enable you to straddle the seat whilst trying to hold onto your scarf so a) you don’t choke or b) it doesn’t attach itself to a passing cars’ wing mirror and take you with it

We headed into Fira, parked in a dusty car park and wandered up to the main square to have a cold drink at George’s creperie. We arrived in the main square. Looked up and down, spied the chairs and tables where we thought George’s should be…..sat down …. No George. George’s cafe had closed. Oh well, they come they go….we found another cafe, perhaps not a friendly as George but still serving good food. Akinos (perhaps not the correct spelling) ran this cafe.
We didn’t go to Oia for the sunset this evening, there was no need, sunset on our balcony is just as good and less crowded. We didn’t need to jockey for position or worry about having hundreds of people in our photos. Sunset photos taken we’d decided to walk up to Señor Zorbas for dinner…..we’d eaten here previously with other friends and the food wasn’t too bad. Sort of Greek Mexican!!!!

Of course Lord Lunchalot (Troy) found that Sangria was on the drinks menu so when in Mexican Greece etc etc…..we ordered a jug. Four jugs later I’d tipped my glass over and cracked it….. I didn’t spill all the sangria but my companions wouldn’t let me finish my drink in case the glass cracked. Which meant I was marginally more sober than they were! Now remember I said this was a Mexican Greek restaurant so imagine the waiters face when a large group of people wandered in and requested pizza. It wasn’t even on the menu….the group wasn’t happy. The ladies were dressed in their best dresses, all blinged up, high heeled shoes, hair perfectly styled and throughly disappointed there wasn’t any pizza. The whole group was terribly overdressed for a very casual open air restaurant, hanging over a cliff edge, on an extremely windy night. Perhaps they’d come from a wedding. It was a funny night…lots of silly laughter. We recognised the older American waitress from our last trip…she was still very friendly, working very hard and being treated badly by the young Greek (assume) waiter. He could do with a bit of her lively personality…no need to take the world so seriously. We certainly couldn’t be accused of that tonight.

There were special celebrations for the volcano this evening…9pm fireworks which we watched from our table during dinner. Ty took photos, I abstained, as there only so many photos of fireworks you can take …they don’t tend to have anything different from other firework shows.

Dinner over, Sangria drunk, everyone a little tipsy it was time to head back to the villas and bed. We had quite a few laughs over dinner ….mostly at my expense I think!!! Dinner this evening cost 30€ each. We started the walk down the slight incline to the villas, we’re chatting and laughing when suddenly, and not unusually, I missed a little step in the footpath and stumbled, Gorging Gonz grabbed me just as my right foot twisted under me. Was it too many glasses of the lethal Sangria or not looking where I was going? Not sure about the answer to that although my companions will tell you it was the Sangria!! Whatever the cause my foot was extremely sore and blew up like a balloon in no time.

We sat on our balcony for a short time, coffees all round with GG and Ty settling in with cigars, although Ty only had a few puffs in his when he decided he didn’t really like it. Eventually we turned in for the night….us upstairs and the others to their respective studios on the side of the Caldera. It had been a long day…
*****************************************

Monday morning and the windy weather is still with us! It doesn’t make it any more bearable because the locals are happy to have a respite from the hot dry weather they’ve been experiencing. Nor do the words ‘It’s unusual for windy weather at this time of year”…..sure, I know that, I’ve visited this beautiful island in August and September and the weather has always been fabulous.

Leisurely breakfast this morning on our balcony before we packed towels, sunscreen, cosies and placed them in our storage boxes at the back of our bikes. All packed, it’s time to head off for more food at our new friend Akinos who we christened George the 2nd. We ordered crepes and coffee then headed off to Kamari for a swim, sun bake and lunch at Zorbas Taverna. After a very pleasant lunch the guys ordered a double shot espresso, I didn’t want a coffee so the waiter suggested I try a frozen yoghurt.
Told me it was the best desert ever so I said ‘ok’… He was partially right, it was very nice and the small amount of chocolate drizzled over the top gave it a rich taste. He said if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t pay….I finished it then told him I didn’t like it…..needless to say he didn’t believe me.

Frozen Yoghurt

Frozen Yoghurt

After lunch we changed clothes again and headed to Oia via the mountain road….lots of curves and the quad steering has trouble turning corners easily, so did Troy’s bike so that was a challenge to ensure we took the corner, not the oncoming traffic or not over the barrier on the edge of the mountain. We found a parking space on the side of the road and wandered up into Oia. Aim was to photograph the three blue domed churches together. After much ducking and weaving between other keen photographers the aim was accomplished…time to head back to the pool at the villa…a few drinks, a swim and a short sun bake.

Oia and blue domes

Oia and blue domes

Leaving Oia the quad stalled a couple of times as we tried to turn in front of traffic……..in this instance it was a large bus with a patient driver. Not a good look as the other 2 watched and chuckled in amusement. How embarrassing holding up all the traffic and with pedestrians watching. Eventually the cars behind the bus started to toot horns which, had I been driving, would have made me so nervous I’d never have started the bike.

We didn’t feel like getting dressed up and heading backing into Fira and we had noticed a little eatery across the road with sign saying ‘authentic Greek food’ and the previous evening it was packed. ‘Shall we give that place a go?’ I asked everyone….’why not’ came the reply. Around 7pm we crossed the road and walked into the eatery. Only one other customer this evening, sitting on the back verandah, we were early for Greek dining time but we were a little tired and Gorging Gonz was a lot hungry. We were all a little hungry……

The place was very plain inside, nothing special but given the number of people in last night we assumed the food made up for the nondescript interior. The waitress handed us menus, somewhat limited but we all found something we liked….I’m the fussy one so I had a little more trouble than the males deciding. I chose the lamb chops….no price though…no matter they sounded very good. Waitress asked what I’d like…’Lamb chops please’ ‘We don’t have lamb chops…there is no price beside it and this means we don’t have’ replied our waitress. ‘Oh, ok’ I said with disappointment. I chose a salad instead. After the meal we thought we might look at the dessert menu ‘No, we have no dessert’. We all looked at each other, shrugged and said ‘we’ll have coffee then, what variety do you have’ ‘No, we don’t have coffee’. She started to walk away. ‘Could we have the bill please’ ahh no trouble with that request. Wouldn’t recommend this place at all.

Back to our balcony for instant coffee….not me though, I don’t do instant coffee!!!
***********************************************
Our last full day in Santorini started with breakfast at George 2s establishment…..it was quite busy this morning so we were contemplating going somewhere else but he made room for us. We’d become popular customers however, clearly not as popular as we were with original George who supplied us with homemade liquor each morning after breakfast!!

Nothing much planned for today….just a wander through the laneways checking out the shops, clothing, jewellery and souvenir places available.eventually it was time for lunch so we found a little eatery just at the edge of Fira town which gave a good view of this little section of walkway between the shops. Food was very tasty, meal cost us around 20 euros each including coffee and dessert…..fabulous homemade ice cream who could resist…..not me.
We didn’t rush our meal, it was very relaxing sitting there in the shade watching the people passing by. Eventually it was time to leave, get back on our bikes and head off into the sunset…..not really but I like the sound of it….

After a little more window shopping we decided it was time for a siesta (don’t know Greek word for it) for a few hours and then a refreshing swim and drinks by the pool. Today was our anniversary and we had dinner booked at The Sphinx Restaurant this evening….same place we held our wedding dinner. Unfortunately the windy weather was still with us so it was going to be a bit blowy up there on the caldera edge.

On the way back to the villa Ty was pushing the quad bike to it’s limit I’m sure. When I thought we were going too fast I would dig him in the ribs….that was the only way to communicate whilst we were on the bike,which I’m sure he was happy about, and would probably prefer to communicate this way most of the time!!

We reconvened at the pool around 4.30pm for wine and nibblies.

All dressed up for dinner this evening, did my hair as best I could given it was still excruciatingly windy and I had to put a helmet on. Almost time to go for dinner Ty said ‘I’m going out to start the bike, don’t be too long’. A few minutes late I was ready and had decided to go without the helmet. A scarf would suffice to keep my hair in place tonight. I also had a dress on which I had to hitch up to my thighs…so here’s the picture…..I’m on the bike high heel shoes, dress hitched up to my thighs, a scarf around my head, wound around my neck and tied. Now there were still the edges of the scarf to deal with….they would just be flying in the wind which I’m sure looks very chic however the prospect of being attached to a passing bus mirror made me hold on very tightly to those ends!!

Managed to make it to the bottom of the hill below the restaurant without any wardrobe dramas and with hair relatively in tact…..although with Ty trying to break the land speed record on the little quad bike I was wearing the helmet home after dinner. Overtaking slow bike riders is fine until a bus decides to overtake a biker on the opposite side of the road! As well he and Gorging Gonz would enjoy overtaking each other.

Taken out for dinner on the Quad bike. Where's my Merc when I need it?

Taken out for dinner on the Quad bike. Where’s my Merc when I need it?

We arrived at the restaurant a little early in spite of the traffic jam getting into Fira. It only has small streets and a one way system to get into and around the main part of town.. There is no driving through the centre so everyone has to drive the same way route to get to where the action is.

We had a table right on caldera edge….lovely views over to the volcano and the cruise ships in port but oh so windy. The sunset, once again, was very good from this vantage point.

Luckily we all bought jackets with us to protect against the wind and we used them. We had a bottle of wine (shared – not all for me), cocktails spirits and 3 courses plus coffee throughout the evening. The food was good, the service was a little on the slow side. There was a family sitting near us from Canada and the woman had spent some time on Santorini, 27 years ago, as a backpacker. Now returning for a holiday with her teenage children and husband. Their son was thinking of travelling to Australia so he asked a number of questions about Australia which we duly answered but with a little Aussie humour thrown in!!

We were the last ones to leave the restaurant apart from the wind it was a relaxing evening. We thought the staff may have been wanting to go home as there was no one left to serve and they’d cleared and cleaned all other tables. Time to ask for the bill and I’m sure they breathed a collective sigh of relief when we did. The total wasn’t too bad, they also gave us a €35 discount…obviously an anniversary discount so the discounted bill was €270. We paid the bill and suggested the other two companions cover the tip. I had bought a pair of flats with us for coming home because I didn’t think I could get back on the quad in high heels plus my foot was still swollen and tender from the trip a couple of nights ago.

We wandered back down the hill to the bikes, jumped on and, in Ty’s words, Hells Ankles rides again!! Of course there was a race between GG and Ty to get home first….sensible idea to wear helmet home!!
Once again we finished the day sitting on our balcony chatting until, one by one, we toddled off to bed. Tomorrow was a busy day as we’re moving on to Mykonos.

**********************************************

Our last morning in Santorini, last breakfast at George 2nds and our bikes are being collected at 9.00am….which means it’s an early breakfast at George’s. This morning 2 stray dogs, a male and a female, sauntered over and sat themselves down in the shade behind us. I had a cheese, ham, capsicum and tomato crepe even though I’d ordered a vegetarian crepe – I’m not vegetarian but I don’t really eat ham either. Rather than waste the ham I thought the dogs might appreciate a bite to eat. When George was otherwise engaged I threw each dog some ham which they wolfed down. I continued to do this until it was time for us to leave Fira and head back to the villa in Messaria. As we left I took my camera out to take a photo of the dogs but as I took the photo the female took exception to the camera and moved toward me with a low growl and then a warning bark. Needless to say I moved out of their way as quickly as possible. I’ve had typhoid shots, tetanus and diptheria but nor Rabies so best to err on the side of avoidance. The Greek cats are much more photogenic, they just look at you lazily or totally ignore you.

I can’t finish this post off without telling you that everywhere we went, whether it be a shop,or an eatery Ty told everyone we had been married on Santorini 5 years ago and we’re here to celebrate our anniversary. I’m sure he even told people in Athens why we were here. I threatened to get him a T-shirt with ‘ I was married on Santorini’ emblazoned across the front…..well, it would save him having to mention it to everyone he meets. Although he’d need 2 t shirts as we also had a ceremony in Vegas 2 weeks later!!! I probably shouldn’t be too harsh…..I’m lucky to have someone who loves and cares for me so much and is proud to have me as his wife.

Oh dear a soppy end to my post, apologies, I’ll be more careful not to fall into Mills & Boon ending in future……………