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…… 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… 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……………

Athens and Her Ancient Highlights in a Day.

After several connecting flights we finally arrived in Athens 35 minutes earlier than scheduled to land. Now that’s a very rare but welcome outcome to a long flight!! Our friends had already arrived ahead of us and had been at the Hotel Melia for a couple of hours.

For this trip I’ve named our friends Lord Lunchalot ( every fb entry seems to have Troy lunching some where) and Gorging Gonzo (has ability to eat his way through the days). Throughout this and other blogs on this trip either name or initial (LL or GG) may be used for them, depending on how I feel. For those familiar with my blogs LL is our friend who temporarily resides in Toronto and has accompanied us on our NY trip several years ago. At that time I described him as our Ninja. GG travelled with us 5 years ago to Greece for our wedding. So there you have the 2 extra characters who may feature in these next few travel tales.

Now that’s sorted let’s get back to Athens……that grand old lady of civilisation.

For this trip we chose to stay at the Melia Hotel, there had been good and bad reviews not for the hotel but the area it was situated in. However this was my 5th visit so I know Athens is old, a little on the decrepit side, dusty and dirty in some places….but it goes along with the character of the place. Athens IS OLD……the Parthenon was built in 447BC to replace an existing temple….the city was inhabited long before that so don’t come to Athens expecting an amazing new city. On the fringes you’ll find the newer sections with many resorts but for character and the real Athens come to the centre, to the Plaka and the streets around the Plaka. Wonder at the expertise of the early builders, plumbers and, of course, the law makers, doctors and mathematicians. Civilisation began in this area. The grand old lady says “take me as I am, no airs and graces, no massive skyscrapers big and better than anyone else, I don’t need that”. “I am central to the start of civilisation and the Olympics”.

I made a last minute decision to book a taxi to pick us up from the airport, the Company was Welcome PickUps and was a normal taxi but prearranged so we didn’t have to wait in line. Stepping into a cab at Athens airport to City was 35€ and the prearranged taxi was 38€ so not too much different but worth it not to have to stand in a taxi line. Our driver discussed the issues of the Greek economy the world has been hearing about…..putting some things into presepective for us. Mainly the facts around only being able to withdraw 60€ a day from the banks and ATMs. This is cash however they’re still able to pay all their bills and rent/mortgage via the Internet banking. The driver said unless you have to visit the doctor a couple of times a week 60€ a day is plenty.

The 40 minute drive to the hotel passed quickly and we were soon standing at the check in desk. The desk clerk gave us our room keys and a number of vouchers as well as our 2 companions room numbers. We dropped our bags in our room, had a quick shower, changed into our cosies and headed to the rooftop pool and bar area where we found Lord L reclining on a day bed with his book. GG was in his room resting! He met us at the pool area a short time later. We had a swim and sat by the pool till closing time – the pool closed at 6pm to allow time for it to be changed into a dining area from 8pm. We showered, changed and met back at the rooftop restaurant at 8pm for dinner. I had prebooked a couple of weeks before the trip thinking we may be jet lagged and not wanting to head out into the streets trying to decide on a restaurant for dinner. The food was good and the waiters were very pleasant. A very relaxing evening. Met a young English fellow from Essex who was with his partner, after a chat with us he decided he and his partner should join us so off he went to bring him over…..they never came back…we assume his partner didn’t fancy a chat with 4 Aussies and we were fine with that as we were contemplating heading to our rooms.

In bed before 10pm.

Up early the next morning, Saturday, for the whirlwind tour of Athens and it’s highlights primarily for Lord  Lunchalot as he is the only member of the party who hasn’t been to Athens before. We left the hotel at 8.15am heading through the outskirts of the Plaka for the Acropolis. A good walk and best done early. We spent about 90 minutes at the Acropolis before deciding it was time for morning tea and finding a spot in the Plaka for fresh fruit salad and ice cream. The fruit here is so tasty ….. all fresh not refrigerated. The frappe wasn’t too bad…..Greek coffee is way too strong for me so I added some ice cream…a little better and drinkable.

Ok, time to move on to the next highlight….Lycabettus Hill and St Georges Chapel. At night this landmark is lit up as much as the Acropolis. We would not be walking this one….this landmark is much higher than the Acropolis. Taxi was the only way up!! Unfortunately 3 men and a lady in a small taxi make for a squishy ride. I, of course, was seated in between 2 men in a Skoda sedan. Thank goodness the distance wasn’t too great nor did the driver speed. Seat belts are not mandatory which was just as well because there was no way I could’ve put a seatbelt on.

View of Lycabettus Hill from hotel roof top

View of Lycabettus Hill from hotel roof top

The taxis can only go so far up the hill then the is no choice but to walk the rest. The face was $6 euros – quite reasonable. We had asked at the hotel how far it was and the best way to go….he said “you could take the train to Omonia Square station then walk for 25 minutes but in this heat taxi is best”. We weren’t going to argue with that!! After the drive we all agreed 25 minutes was a gross exaggeration – more likely to be 1 hour and 25 minutes if I managed the first steep incline. As it was it took 15 minutes, from where the taxi dropped us, of climbing stairs and winding corners on this goat trail to the chapel so another 10 minutes back to Omonia Station would have had to be by helicopter. Oh, there was a sign that said cable car available from Kolonaki to the chapel return….we thought we might take the cable car down.

The chapel is perched on the very top of the mountain and leads to thoughts of how the materials were transported here for the build and why someone would even build a chapel up here. The scene below is well worth the visit and a leisurely lunch extends the time a visitor has to take in all the views.

We had lunch at the K Grill a few steps below the chapel, not sure it was a healthy lunch but the souvlaki was good, LL’s Greek Salad looked appetising too and I can’t list the items GG ate – as his name suggests every meal is a feast for him.  Whilst having lunch we noticed a man leaning over the small wall that surrounds the church and helps protect people from falling.  As I looked closer I realised he was having a partial body wash using a hose. One way to cool down I suppose….although the way he was leaning over he would  definitely had a blood rush to the head. That would have made me dizzy and over I’d go….all the way to the bottom!!

Church of St George. Look closely for man using hose to wash.

Church of St George. Look closely for man using hose to wash.

Lycabettus Hill is the highest point in Athens at 277 metres above Athens city centre. The Church of St George, built in 19th Century, stands at the very top. I mentioned the cable car earlier ……well, we couldn’t find it ….a few signs but no actual cable car. I assume everyone preferred to walk it so the cable car became obsolete lol….or it never existed.

After lunch we made the journey back to where the taxi had dropped us….we passed a number of people heading up the stairs that were a little heat distressed, we gave them words of encouragement to help then reach the top…words such as ‘not far now’ or ‘ just a few more sets of stairs’ and ‘ you’ll love the views once you recover from the climb’…..not sure our words were always welcome but we tried!!!

Hmm, no taxis at the bottom so we walked a little further along hoping one would be parked under a tree just waiting for us. No such luck… We sat for awhile then LL said ‘Oh, wonder if they have Uber here’. ..he uses Uber in Canada so he checks and, yes, they do. Lord L sent a text and our Uber taxi was on it’s way. I was hoping for something a little larger than a Skoda but, no, here I was squished in the middle again!!!

Next stop was the Panathenaic Stadium, the hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896. The cost of the taxi ride was €4.20….. but the savings in time and to our legs was enormous. It was time for taking photos of us on the dais…deciding who should be at 1st wasn’t too difficult …I stood there and refused to be moved whilst the others jostled for position on 2nd or 3rd. At one stage there was one with a foot on first and one on second. We asked other tourists to take our photos whilst we performed different actions for the photos. One young couple who we had already photographed on the dais a couple of times saw our antics and came back to do the same thing, then others also copied us. Next it was time for the 3 men to compete in track and field….well no point in a pic of someone standing stock still looking like a statue – may as well make the pic interesting! We wandered around the Stadium for an hour until the sun beating down on our heads forced us to consider heading to the nearest cafe for a cold drink. We were the only customers and the language barrier took a little time to sort out each coffee choice. Cold coffees, unless espresso or Greek, seem to be the easiest to get. Fortunately 3 of us chose cold and GG decided on a cappuccino which took almost 10 minutes longer than ours.

Panathenaic Stadium

Panathenaic Stadium

It was now after 4.30pm so time to head back to the Hotel for a swim, shower and get ready to head back to the Plaka for a wander round the markets and shops before dinner. The Plaka was a leisurely 15 minute walk from our hotel.

We decided to dine at Kapyatie Restaurant beside Ydria Cafe where we dined on our last visit. The food was good and the service wasn’t too bad either although the wine I thought I was choosing was positively awful. It was called a Moscato and those of you who know me well know any Moscato on the menu is for me. So we asked if it was a wine with a bit of spritz, ‘yes’ came the reply from the waiter. When the wine was poured and tasted it was a ‘sticky’ not a moscato as I knew it and was not to my liking at all. Needless to say I wouldn’t be falling over after one glass of wine this evening.

I must also say, dear readers, I did not succumb to temptation in the shopping district. I thought about it but I wasn’t interested in souvenirs ……had purchased enough during previous visits. Clothing and shoes are always of interest but thought I’d have a better look tomorrow.

Wandered back to the hotel around 10.3opm….again a leisurely stroll back window shopping as we went. Not a lot of people around once you move out of the Plaka district but felt quite safe.

We have a couple of hours tomorrow before we need to be at the airport for our flight to Santorini.


Up a little later this morning, breakfast at 8am , had plans for going shopping, but forgot it’s Sunday and shops do not open in Europe on Sunday’s. Plaka stores are open but it was the ‘normal’ clothing stores I wanted. Missed my chance……so completed my packing, Lord Lunchalot came to our room for coffee. He didn’t have a coffee maker in his room which caused him some distress. Packing process done we moved to the pool bar for a decent coffee combined with some sunshine and Internet time. When ordering the coffee we were told the machine needed 10 minutes to heat up, ‘Ok, we have time’ said LL to the waitress. Twenty minutes later we cancelled the coffee – I had arranged a van to pick us up rather than a squishy taxi. Cost for a new, clean Mercedes van was 80€ …..well worth it between 4 of us.

Our flight to Santorini was leaving Athens at 1.20pm.

China Southern Flight Experience

This year is our fifth anniversary and so we’re heading back to Santorini… time flies and how life can change in a few short years…

So, as I do when we’re on a budget and I don’t want to scare Ty with holiday expenditure too early in the planning phase, I managed to find a relatively cheap business class flight from Sydney to Paris via Guangzhou with China Southern then onto Athens with Aegean. A long trip to Athens but for comfort and cost this was the best option at the time. So it’s a case of “suck it up princess” if we want to travel business class. The flights were booked in October the previous year and once flights are booked we worked on where we wanted to be and what we wanted to do. One of my friends, Lesley, had travelled with CS last year when we met for a few days in Paris and she was happy with the planes and the service, a few others had also flown with this airline.

We arrived at the airport with 15 minutes to wait till check in opened. We had tried to check in the night before, for no less than 45 minutes,and it just wouldn’t let us. We gave up and left it for the check in staff. The check in member had the same difficulty as we did which was good in one way …we knew the problem wasn’t with us! It took him around 25 minutes to get the system to accept us. We’ll accept Ty, it accepted me immediately of course!! We think it has something to do with his first name being consonants and appearing to be two initials T Y. We found this out on MSC Splendida last year when the Indonesian and Pilipino crew read his onboard card and name on the computer as T Y so they would call him T Y…. ‘Hello T Y ‘ ‘Have a good day T Y’. It was amusing.

Our seats this flight are 3 H&K and the second leg we are in 2A&C The flight left 55 minutes later than scheduled departure time. Many other reviews I had read mention the same thing. We received the usual toiletry bag containing toothpaste, toothbrush, comb and moisturisers but also a pair of scuffs for pottering around the plane a drawstring bag to put bits and pieces needed during the flight such as iPods, iPads, glasses etc. beats losing them under the seat when the seat is extended!!! Which is what happened to my book. and glasses😔 There is a little shelf beside the seat that holds the remote control plus has room for other items , thankfully the cabin crew managed to retrieve them for me…..left me a bit embarrassed. It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have some little mishap….now would it my readers?

Lunch was several courses: chicken soup, salmon and prawn entree and I chose lamb cutlets for main. Ty chose a rump steak for his main. Not sure what happened to my main but it ended up with pieces of pasta that looked like rice, Cabin person was apologetic but I couldn’t remember what was supposed to come with it. A little later she bought me a mini lemon meringue pie as a peace offering. A short time later a fruit platter arrived for each of us and Ty also opted for a cheese platter. I abstained.

Wine was offered with the meal – 2 whites and 2 reds although only one white was available. This one was a little dry for my taste but I still managed to have a glass! All drinks that should be icy cold were warm so a bit to learn there.

After lunch the attendants came around offering water, cup cakes and fruit.

Could hear a slapping sound behind me and thought it odd but maybe someone had dropped something and perhaps it had broken…..eventually, when the noise hadn’t stopped, I took a peak and the young woman behind me was reading a book and the passenger beside her was watching a movie but looking unimpressed. I could still hear the noise and as I went to turn back I saw what it was. The young woman reading the book and what looked like a spatula and she was reading whilst slapping herself with this object.

Not long into the flight an announcement broke the sound of the planes engines and buzz of conversation. ‘Is there a doctor on the flight?’ ‘ If so could you make yourself known to the crew please’. I thought to myself, there always seems to be a doctor on board which to my mind says either we have a large number of doctors per head of world population or all doctors travel more than the average individual.

Very soon a man was brought through into business class and seated in one of the spare seats in row 1. The female doctor was with him as were several crew members. I was very pleased there was a doctor on board because China Southern tend to run late regularly and I wasn’t keen on the plane making an emergency landing in some other country. Trip is long enough already and another delay would not be welcome.Fortunately for all of us the young man was given a little whiff of oxygen and only required one further check.

Second meal of the day, a light meal prior to landing in Guangzhou, was getting underway. We had preordered drinks earlier…no alcohol was offered on the second meal. Just water, juice or soft drink. Ty chose coke light and I an orange juice. His coke was flatter than flat…if that’s possible and the glass my juice was served in was not a clean crisp glass but rather murky and crusty on the outside. I abstained from drinking the juice and as the cabin crew didn’t understand a lot of English left it at that. Tea or coffee was not offered again, as wi the meals we were required to choose all meals and drinks in the first hour of the flight. I don’t mind ordering the meal but would prefer to have the option to choose my drink at the mealtime. I thought this a little strange.

The cabin crew are friendly and efficient and service good and polite but don’t expect exceptional service as they’re not there. CS is only a relatively new player in the market and there’s still some room for improvement if they want to attract a larger share of travellers outside Asian markets.

As our arrival into Guangzhou approached the crew gave us thank you cards. A very nice gesture.

The Sky-team Lounge was very hot, air conditioning only worked in one small section so at 30 Celsius with humidity at 90% it was very uncomfortable in the upstairs lounge area. Thank goodness for the ability to have a shower before boarding the next leg.

It was a long wait for the Paris leg but we chatted to a woman on her way back to Sydney after a 7 week holiday in Europe and, later, to a man from Birmingham who had been working in China.

We knew access to Facebook is banned in China but didn’t realise Google is also banned. We needed to print boarding passes sitting in our gmail account for the Paris to Athens leg but that was not possible. Very odd to think in this technological age that countries would stop their people and visitors from accessing websites!!

We wandered to our gate with plenty of time to find the gate had actually been changed. We turned and headed back in the direction from which we came….a little bit of extra exercise would do us good. The new gate number was downstairs…’I think this means we’re being bused to the plane’ I said to Ty. We stepped onto the escalator that took us to a smaller departure hall crowded with people. There were 6 gates down here and hardly any seats and definitely no air conditioning. It was stifling. We couldn’t find empty seats so we stood for about 10 minutes Ty decided to ask the young airline worker manning the our gate number for the boarding time but he spoke no English. No help there and it was so stuffy we decided to go back upstairs and find a seat.

About 15 minutes later Ty went to check the indicator board to see if the flight was boarding yet…it was so off we trundled back down to the hot dungeon below. The crowds were even worse as we made our way to the far end of the room and our check in counter. There was a small area for business class passengers to stand. After a few minutes we were checked through the gate to waiting buses. Economy class in one and us on another. We were then driven away from the main arrivals and departures area across the tarmac and down a couple of roads to another area where planes sat. We drove by a large number of planes and eventually pulled up at our plane….A330-200. One high set of steps at the back and all the economy passengers lined up at the stairs came into view We were told to wait on the bus for a minute. The airline staff member came back and ushered for us to leave the bus. The economy passengers were stood aside to allow us to head up the stairs onto the plane.

A family with a baby just under 12 months joined our bus and the child was already crying. At that point I wondered whether my ear plugs were up to the challenge of drowning out any screams throughout the 11 hour flight. I really needed to sleep on this leg! The business class cabin on this flight was in 2 sections, thankfully we were in the first section and the baby in second section…the galley and loo separated us. Unfortunately the man of Asian nationality opposite us made disgusting sniffling noises instead of blowing his nose….just disgusting. We did have a small reprieve when he slept for a few hours. There’s something to be said for the first class fully enclosed pods that some airlines have on the A380……unfortunately the cost is prohibitive for the budget conscious traveller and majority of travellers😕

This second left was also late by about 45 minutes.

Breakfast was not too bad this morning…orange juice, cereal (careful not to take in too much milk), French toast, brioche and toast more like a cruskit with strawberry jam and a cup of tea. Only strange thing is they serve the juice and cup of tea at same time. I like my cup of tea (when I drink tea) towards end of meal. As well as the Chinese cabin crew we had a French girl, who had excellent English…made the flight a little easier language wise. When they were clearing our breakfast plates away I hadn’t finished and the Chinese girl went to remove the food I was still eating, French crew member said you must leave it till passenger has finished!!! I know they gave a timeframe for completing all tasks but Even though Ai was enjoying a leisurely breakfast without the water views I wasn’t going to rush it!!

It was very foggy and 16 degrees as we descended into Paris Charles but I’m certain it won’t be at all foggy when we land in Athens later today, Our landing at CDG was very fast so braking was quite sudden – had to push back in our seats…amusing.

Would we travel with this airline again? Most certainly but would only fly with them if stopover was shorter, 6 hours is too long for me, if travelling on to Europe.

Breakfast french toast

Breakfast french toast



The Quest for a White Christmas

I write this as our plane flies over the Australian desert winging its way to Vienna via London with a short break in Singapore. It’s December 23rd and this trip has been in the planning for almost 12 months. Originally it was to be a simple trip to Las Vegas to celebrate Ty’s milestone birthday on January 7th. However, planning a trip and the word “simple” don’t really work for me. Once I start to plan all manner of ideas go through my head hence we are travelling to Vienna, Austria to spend Christmas.

How did we get from Las Vegas to Vienna you’re asking, and rightly so, Austria is across the other side of the world and bears absolutely no relation to Las Vegas. Well, let me tell you…you will be aware that prices go through the roof at holiday times and to fly to the US was quite expensive so after some research I found that purchasing a multitrip was not that much more expensive. So here we are, winging our way to Vienna, Why did I choose Vienna? Christmas markets are held at Schonbrunn Palace on Christmas Day, love those pictures of Christmas markets, and I’m hoping for the magical, old world, white Christmas scene.

We’re travelling in business class this leg of the trip, the longest leg,. I requested an upgrade at the time of the original flight booking and was informed last night that we had been upgraded. Now all I had to do was let our friend know that we wouldn’t be sitting in economy with her. Maryanne was very understanding as she had booked this trip after us.

The temperature was 37 degrees Celsius, when we left for the airport, making it very difficult to even think about the sub zero temperatures in Austria. We’re dressed for summer in short sleeves and sandals but carrying a large woollen overcoat!! A shock to the system is in store methinks!!!!

As usual, we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Can’t say we enjoyed a late lunch, food is so expensive and not really that appetising, so best to say, we had a light lunch. Yes, I know, we could have utilised the Qantas lounge but Maryanne couldn’t so we chose not to spend all our time in the lounge.. We did wander through the retail stores and Ty purchased what has become the obligatory Pandora charm for my bracelet. This tradition started several years ago on our first overseas trip together and I have 3 Pandora bracelets now.

As we settled into our pods we were offered orange juice or champagne…..we chose champagne and why wouldn’t we it’s Christmas time!!! I had a window seat so there was lots of space with little cubby holes along the wall to hold all our bits and pieces. This is the way to travel on a long haul flight, I think, will let you know after we’ve arrived in Vienna… perhaps I’d better reserve my judgement till then. Looks like dinner is being served so I’ll have to interrupt this paragraph for the entrée….oh and the main , hmm, chicken is delicious, served on crockery and presented as if from a restaurant with at least 1 hat. “Would you like another drink, perhaps a wine?’ “Oh, no, thank you, I still have my gin ‘n’ tonic”. Didn’t tell you about that one did I? About 30 minutes after take-off the drinks trolley came by and a refreshing G’n’T was ordered. Of course by now I really needed food or I’d be a little on the tipsy side in no time, Dessert was very tasty, a sorbet with mango sauce and peaches. Are you hungry yet??? Now I’ve overeaten with no chance to exercise for another 4 hours.

There are several toddlers in the cabin and one has been very unhappy since the family boarded, selfishly I’m hoping they’ll be disembarking in Singapore!!!

I managed to get about 6 hours sleep, which was very good. Breakfast was served in the dark.

Arrived in London around 30 minutes late, it’s raining and dark, by the time we disembarked there was only a two and a half hour wait for our connecting flight. Shopping was not on my agenda whilst in transit, absolutely no room for any goodies at this point in time. Freshening up and changing from summer clothes to winter clothing was high on the “to do list”, after that came coffee. These things out of the way it was time to have a wander through the stores with wallet firmly out of reach. Right, that took up 45 minutes, now what? Ty says ‘I’m hungry let’s get something to eat”. Eating and drinking our way across the other side of the world isn’t particularly appealing but I did manage to squeeze in a little bowl of oatmeal with fruit and honey…..

Finally it’s time to head for the gate to await the bus taking us to our plane. The 2 BA staff checking our boarding passes were in a very happy mood this Christmas Eve and as one of them checked our pass he said ‘do you mind if I ask you a question?” I noticed the other staff member covered her face and shook her head as he said” what’s happening on Neighbours at the moment” Maryanne and I both said “ Wouldn’t know, never watched the show” to which he laughed and replied “I’ve never met an Australian yet that will admit to watching Neighbours”. Obviously he hasn’t met too many Australians – I know lots of people who watch that show…..

The aircraft was at capacity with people heading home for Christmas or holidaying in Vienna. So much so that the luggage compartments were full before half the passengers had walked up the rollaway steps to the aircraft. No one seems to want to check in their suitcases anymore. Are travellers so time poor that they have no time to wait around a carousel for their baggage? What better way to people watch than standing around a carousel cursing because your luggage hasn’t popped out of the hole in the wall yet. “What are they doing behind there?” “How long does it take for the bags to be loaded onto the conveyor belt?” Should we, as the traveller, be allowed to take away the power of baggage handlers? No more open suitcases or items of clothing making their way around the carousel with the owner too embarrassed to retrieve them.

We were the second wave of bus people to enter the plane to find there was no room in the overhead lockers for our carryon. After a bit of shuffling and a fellow traveller across the aisle moving some of his good 2 bags were placed in the locker. The rest are under our feet…coats on our laps – uncomfortable and cramped – thank goodness the flight is only 1 hour 40 minutes!!

As the plane taxied it was all over the place, across one side of the runway then the other, as we lifted off the wind pushed us off to the side again. People were holding hands across the aisle – not sure what that was going to do but if it makes them feel secure then go for it. Once up in the air it was extremely bumpy, the plane was being buffeted sideways, then it would drop, this went on for at least 10 minutes and is probably one of the roughest take offs I’ve encountered and I’ve flown many times.

Food (frozen roll) and soft drinks, water, juice were offered – all three of us declined the food but accepted a drink…were given 2 because, in the words of the steward “I’m feeling quite generous today” well lucky us, we only want 1 drink each – tried to hand one back but he said “no”, and refused to accept it. He was very forceful and had already spoken harshly to others in the cabin. We daren’t refuse but accepted his generosity!!!! Now let’s hope we don’t need to go to the loo because we have Buckley’s chance of getting out of our seats to go anywhere.

Just looked around me and I’m sitting between two Zorro’s!!! Both Ty and Maryanne have their eye masks on. I know, you’re thinking what is she on….but it amused me. Looks like we’re starting our descent let’s hope it’s a little smoother than the take off!!!

Next stop Vienna……

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money. ~Susan Heller


I read many travel quotes looking for a suitable opening to my blog. A line or two that would aptly describe my penchant for (mostly European) travel.  There were some extremely interesting and thought-provoking quotes although none really described my thoughts or feelings. That was until I came across the above quotation  by Susan Heller.  I follow the words of the quote to the letter, I lay out clothing, toiletries, shoes, pack and unpack several times yet still manage to have my luggage right on the baggage limit at the airport weigh in counter.  As my favourite pastimes are travel and shopping weighing in at the limit before I leave home is a very frustrating indeed.

This blog is about my travels, it may touch on shopping, on the odd occasion, but will mainly document my travel as I work my way through my bucket list (more like a my barrel list), I have kept family and friends entertained and informed through email on my various trips over the past 12 years and felt that a blog was the next level.  Time to step up my technical ability, it’s also easier to keep everyone informed with a blog, no more long email lists, less chance of forgetting to add my sister or a  friend to an email list.  Although given it’s up to me to grant access there’s still potential for upsetting someone!!!!

Enough prattle it’s time to let the journey begin……….