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London and Greece - Taggie's epic trip report

London and Greece - Taggie's epic trip report

Sep 17th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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Join Date: May 2004
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London and Greece - Taggie's epic trip report

Got back on Tuesday but have been sick and very, very tired in the interim. I started the trip with the intention of writing in my travel diary each night. That didn't last long - the diary has a grand total of one entry! So rather than a detailed day-by-day recounting of my expedition, I'll attempt a general account.
Overall it was a wonderful trip. It almost seems like 2 separate trips because of the difference in locations, and also I had different companions for the 2 sections. On the down side, I had to pack quite a lot of stuff. But I did pack amazingly well, and had nothing suplus other than a pair of sandals that I only wore once (I had 5 other pairs of shoes/sandals along which I wore plenty of times and can justify taking!).

I left Vancouver Friday Aug 20 on an evening flight. Was using points and thus had a business-class seat on Air Canada. yippee! Had to wrestle a German family for my assigned window seat - they'd got all their stuff tucked in by the time I arrived and the steward tried to get me to take a centre seat, but I wanted the window. The Germans were kinda ticked off at me at first; they ended up being very nice and I had a good chat with the man as we approached London.
Air Canada is really quite a bit better than we Canadians like to give it credit for. The service was good and the seat comfortable. To make up for the lack of individual entertainment units in the seat backs, they came around with little DVD players and a good selection of movies.
Food was just brutal, due to a labour dispute with the catering company. We each had 2 styrofoam containers waiting on our seats - dinner was a bun with turkey and lettuce. Breakfast was a muffin in plastic wrap. Yuck.
For the first time I'd got prescription sleeping pills for the trip and I took half of one after dinner, and slept blissfully for 5 hours. The flight arrived at 13:30 local time. I really think these later-evening flights are the way to go to help beat the jet lag. Easier to fall asleep 'cause you're flying later in the evening, and you only have to stay up for a few hours upon arrival.
My sister was flying in from a different city and her flight arrived at roughly the same time - all went well and we met up very easily at the baggage carousels in Heathrow.
Took the tube to S. Kensington - v. smooth. And since I'd stayed in the area many times I knew just which direction to go once we exited the station. Haha - my sis's never-fail sense of direction was not needed for once!
We were at Jury's Kensington. The first room was tiny, tiny, tiny. I went back and the clerk was v. nice about it - the hotel was full and there wasn't much option for twin rooms. We HAD to have twins so we wouldn't kick each other all night in a double bed. We got a different room - a bit bigger - with the promise that they'd move us the next day.
The hotel was OK, not great. I'd stayed at the Regency, across the street, on a previous occasion and felt the same way about it. Also have stayed at the Rembrandt, which IMO would be a slightly superior choice, but the price at Jury's was better and all the rooms have AC, unlike the Rembrandt. London was really chilly, but I still need AC for sleeping.
Once we got settled, we went for a walk along Old Brompton Rd., up to Harrod's (and in). We mused as to whether we'd see Mohammed al Fayed; sure enough, not 5 minutes later in the linen department, there he was, surrounded by minders as he walked through not 4 feet from us, and gave me a nod.
We walked back west along Fulham Rd, window shopping, and winding through the residential parts of the neighbourhood a bit. Ended up having dinner at Bella Italia (didn't it used to be Bella Pizza?), which was fine, then back to the hotel for an early night.

I promise it's gonna get a bit less detailed now...

FYI this was my sis's second visit to London; her first was for just 3 days 16 years ago. I've been several times since then - I love the city. And also note that I am the "Big Sister" here. That'll likely become evident.

Sunday Aug 22 - up early (for us) and off to Columbia Rd. Flower Market and area shops, briefly through Brick and Petticoat Lane markets (yuck), then to Spitalfields, which we really liked. Lots of views of the "Gherkin" (Swiss Re building). I had never been in this part of London before and was quite proud that we found our way around without any trouble.
Sunday afternoon we grabbed a Big Bus and stayed on until the Tower of London. we took the Yeoman Warder's tour which I'd never done before, and found it so entertaining. That's the way to do it!
We caught the last boat back to Westminster Pier, then once again had an early-ish night. Pub dinner at Anglesea Arms.
So far, so good. No major fights or arguments, and we were seeing most of what we'd planned. I'd have like to do more in the evenings but when you're with someone else you have to compromise.

Monday Aug 23 - more Big Bus. Then off to shop. Did Liberty and Fortnum and Mason. Also some Carnaby Street, S. Molton Street, and Oxford Street. Top Shop just about did us in. I knew what to expect, but sis was quite distressed. She is a very detailed, patient shopper and had been hoping, I think, to get quite a few things, different than what we have at home. No way. Top Shop was horribly busy (on a Monday!) and it defeated even her. And the exchange rate on our poor Canadian dollars also held us back.
We did stroll Thayer St., although for less time than I'd hoped, and I really liked the Marleybone area. I'll have to go back next time and spend more time there.
Lunch was just sandwiches from Pret, and dinner at a pub off Oxford St., which I can't recall the name of, but was comfy enough. Another early evening!! I'd been hoping for some shows, or concerts, but wasn't getting a very enthusiastic response. Also missed out on a couple of London Walks I wanted to do but will have to save 'em for next time.

Tuesday Aug 24 - a great day! We travelled to Sissinghurst, and it went very smoothly. Hurray!
Caught train to Staplehurst from Charing Cross. Nat'l Trust had a shuttle to the garden on Tuesdays and Sundays for the summer - this was the last Tuesday one. Arrived in perfect time on train, caught the shuttle, got to gardens before the tour buses. We just loved it. I'd been worried that late August wouldn't be the best time to see the gardens but they are planted to cleverly that I don't think there's a bad time of year to go. There was a really interesting exhibit about the property's history, and how Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson ended up there and transformed it. A really magical place and I can't recommend it highly enough, even if you aren't a big garden fan (if not then just don't spend several hours there as we did). Nice also to see some of the countryside and all the Oast Houses dotting the Kent landscape.
And yet another early night.

Wednesday Aug 25
Shopping day. To Harvey Nichols briefly, then down Sloane Steet to Sloane Square and VV Rouleaux. Along the King's Rd. to Designer's Guild (where I had a nosebleed but luckily didn't bleed on any linens!). Rain on and off this day, like most days so far, but this day it was also quite blustery and nasty. We started getting cranky and weren't finding anything to buy! It was also taking much longer than we'd thought so we had to skip the Tate's for today. Instead we regrouped at the hotel for 15 minutes, then went to the Orangery for a tea. It was nice to just sit and watch the downpours which were happening on and off. We then walked through Kensington Gd., through Hyde Park (that Di memorial is a real eyesore IMO, and it requires so many attendants to control those wanting to go in). We were determined to do the Bloomsbury London Walk this evening. It was just great, and a nice follow-up to our Sissinghurst visit, as Vita and Harold were part of the Bloomsbury Group.
Still getting no response to my suggestion that we should get tickets to a show for Friday night. I decided not to bring it up again and see what happened; if need be I'd go alone.

Thursday Aug 26
Westminster Abbey in the am. This was when sis told me she doesn't really like history as much as I do. hmmmm. Maybe London was not the best place to have her travel with me? I'd done all the planning too, although she was most agreeable to what I proposed. I tried to pick things I thought she'd like, while also including a few 'must-see' things.
We were short on time so had to pick one Tate or the other. I'd previously been to the Tate Britain; sis opted for the Tate Modern this time - more to her taste.
Honestly, I did enjoy it. I just found 4.5 hours there a tad long. She would've preferred longer still, and felt I cut her visit short. So things were a bit touchy during the Olde City pub walk that evening. Also, the regular guide was ill so we had a sub, and while it was still enjoyable it probably wasn't as good as it could've been.

Friday Aug 27
Went to Westbourne Grove area, to Clarendon Cross for a few shops (Cath Kidston, The Cross, Cross the Road) and Portobello Rd. Friday is a pretty good day to go. There was enough market stuff on but it was not very crowded.
Then we went to Little Venice where we had lunch at the canal boat cafe there.
Later we had tea at the Lanesborough, which was pretty nice. The room was lovely, the tea goodies fine, service not as good as I'd expect. In fact, in my experience this has often been the case, that service in London is quite spotty.
And finally, it was suggested that afternoon we go to the theatre to see about getting in to Jerry Springer the Opera that evening. Yippee. We went to Seven Dials, found out that the theatre would sell us £25 cheap tickets, then went back to a ticket broker office by the leicester Sq station where we'd seen tickets for £18.50. These turned out to be regularly £35 so it was a good deal. And we are so glad we went! We loved Jerry Springer!! Highly recommend, but only if you can take some pretty graphic language and topics. I wouldn't feel comfy going with my Mum!

Saturday Aug 28
Spent most of the day at Kew Gardens, which was great as usual. Then late afternoon we went to Richmond via bus. Strolled along the river, shopped a bit, watched some cricket then had dinner in a pub.

Sunday Aug 29
London Walks excursion day to the Cotswolds.
It was fantastic. If you cannot rent a car for a side trip to this area, then the London Walks option is pretty darn good. We trained to Banbury, where a coach picked us up. We saw a lot. Went through Stowe-on-the-Wold. Stopped in Chipping Campden, where we walked down a hill to the village, past fields and cottages. Toured the High Street, then had lunch, then visited the church. Went on through Broadway, past Snowshill and on to Upper and Lower Slaughter, where we walked the river path and through fields between the two villages, learning interesting things all the while. Richard the guide was wonderful. A great day out; we left London at about 9:15 and got back at 19:00.

Monday Aug 30
Bit more shopping in S. Ken in the am for sis while I went to a launderette to get clean clothes for the next leg of my trip. Then we went to Camden Lock to see what the market was up to. It was pretty busy. Spent a few hours there, had samosas for lunch, then went back via Canal Boat to Little Venice, then home via tube. We'd cancelled our Ritz tea for this evening. (Tea'd out). We had dinner at an Indian Restaurant just around the corner from our hotel, which was really good. And that was it. Back to the hotel for packing and an early bedtime. I was being picked up by justairports at 4:30 the next morning for the Greece portion of my trip.

So all in all, the London part was good. As I said, you have to compromise with another person. I've been pretty spoiled because my husband and I travel very, very well together, and don't have too many arguments at all - less than we do at home, really. Sis and I did have some differences, as I suspected we would. But we packed a lot into the time we had and I hope she enjoyed herself too, and got a good enough taste of London.

The Greece part of the tip is next.....

taggie is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 01:56 PM
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Aug 31 -
On to Athens...
My Just Airports driver was waiting in the Jury's lobby on time and the drive to Heathrow took only about 25 minutes. I could've done without the pronoucements on how Robert Mugabe is doing the right thing with the farms in Zimbabwe, but oh well. The car was comfy, clean, and it got me there for a good price - £19 cash.

This time I was on Austrian Airlines, to Vienna, then a plane switch, then on to Athens. Business class on these smaller commuter-type planes was nothing special at all. There was a bit more leg room, the food was very good, but we didn't get any preferential boarding or deplaning treatment. I did enjoy looking out the window as we flew over Germany, Austria, Croatia, Albania, etc., trying to see if I could tell any differences, and wondering if I'd visit them some day.

The new airport in Athens was very nice; I was to get a cab to our hotel in the Plaka and hopefully meet up with my husband that evening. But I had a happy surprise. The baggage had not yet arrived and I was headed to the WC. The baggage area exit door opened and I saw my husband in the waiting area!! he'd finished his work early and had a driver take him to pick me up. It was so great to see him after 7 weeks apart. The driver was someone he'd got to know during the Olympics; he was an Athenian, spoke perfect English, and told me about a lot of the sights as we headed into the city.

DH had prepared me for Athens. I wasn't surprised by the heat, or how the sunlight on the bleached buildings would hurt my eyes. I knew how the architecture would look. I knew I would see stray dogs everywhere. But it was still a shock to my system, after the green softness of England (and yes, even London is green and soft by comparison).
But.... I did really like Athens. we were at the Hotel Plaka, which has a great location, was spotless, and comfortable. It was noisy in the Plaka area and the air conditioning wasn't as strong as I needed (I was not yet acclimatized; after 7 weeks there DH was able to sleep without any AC). But I was totally charmed by Athens, and when we went to the roof of the hotel and drank cold beer looking at the Acropolis, well.... what can I say?
So we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the touristy shops in the Plaka, and watching the guards change outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Parliament building. I was trying not to be horrified at the cats and dogs everywhere; I'd been well prepared but it still hurt me so much to see them. Later we met up with lots of friends and coworkers from Canada who were finishing up their duties after the Olympics. We ate dinner late (for me - early for Athens!!) at Sissifos. The food was really good, the view fabulous. It's partway up to the Acropolis; you have to run a bit of a gauntlet of pretty aggressive restaurant "hawkers" who'll try to get you to go in their establishments. you sit on a rooftop in the warm night air, eating wonderful food, gazing at the Acropolis all lit up. Pretty heady.

Wed Sept 1
We had the day to sightsee/shop and had our friend S along (she lives in Vancouver and had arrived a few hours after me; her husband was still working). We again saw the guards at the Tomb outside Parliament; then we went through the Kolonaki area, up to the foot of Mount Lycavettus where we ended up in a little shop where S spent quite a bit of time finding gifts for folks back home. Then we took the funicular to the top of Lycavettus to take in the view. This is a must-see thing if you are in Athens. I would have liked to look in more of the shops in the Kolonaki, but time was quite short. My friend S isn't the type of shopper who would much like the things in this area. Once again, compromise is needed when you're with other people. And my DH, normally very patient and indulgent with me, was getting impatient and moving us along.

We had a delicious gyro for lunch, then DH left us and we spent the rest of the afternoon in the Plaka looking for souvenirs for S's many friends and family back home. I bought a top for myself but I didn't want to OD on buying because we still had many days ahead of us.
Dinner that night was at 5 Brothers, right next to the Roman Agora. DH and the guys he was working with had made great friends with Alex and his brothers who own the place. Some of the people we ate with were heading home early the next morning while DH and I were headed off on holiday with S and her husband B; it was kind of bittersweet. The food was delicious, the setting amazing. But it was v. hard for me to eat while watching all the cats milling around, trying to get a bite to eat. But I didn't feel as sorry for the cats as I did for the dogs. Much of my food ended up being handed out.
We had arranged through our hotel for cabs to take the 4 of us to Piraeus the next morning, for our ferry to Santorini. Although we'd be coming back to Athens in 11 days, it would only be for a few hours, and I was sorry to leave. One more day there would have been good.
taggie is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 02:04 PM
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Thanks for posting this. I was in London earlier this year and am planning a trip to Greece in March, so this is a very timely report. Love the insider restaurant and hotel tips since your husband spent so much time in Athens before you arrived. I'm glad to hear how much you liked Athens; hoping to do the same.
Nikki is online now  
Sep 17th, 2004, 02:10 PM
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Thanks Nikki. I was really surprised at how much I liked Athens. The people were so wonderful, almost all of them, and their English is generally so good that it was really easy to communicate. They were so proud of their city and country; I found it really touching.
FYI on the Hotel Plaka - I thought it was good; clean (hardwood floors) and pretty basic (although it seemed like luxury when we came back from the Island part of our trip). Just don't expect North American standards for things. And it can be noisy - the Plaka area is open until 7 am.
taggie is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 02:13 PM
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Nice to see you had an enjoyable trip. I notice that your report is full of details, even a nosebleed, charming.
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 02:16 PM
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I know mk, sorry about that.... I hadn't planned to be so detailed but once I got started I couldn't stop.
But trust me there are lots of things I've left out! (or at least have tried to be more subtle about).

Am now working up the courage to tackle the Santorini part of the trip. Stay tuned.
taggie is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 02:29 PM
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hi taggie. Enjoying your report and looking forward to the next instalment.
billbarr is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 02:47 PM
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Very engaging trip report taggie! Keep posting please.

Toddle off m_dingdong.
rockhopper7 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 03:10 PM
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Hi Taggie,

Thanks for your post. Lots of useful tips!

Just ignore the better-than-thou types who post here.
Vorkuta is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 03:47 PM
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On to Santorini....
Wed Sept 2
The hotel had called cabs to pick us up at 6:30. My DH was joking with the front desk guy about this being another early morning... on many occasions DH would just be coming in around 3:30 and would ask the front desk guy for a 6:00 wakeup call, so he'd seen it often and had such a world-weary air about him.
Having the hotel book cabs costs more, but it's a good option. We'd tried on occasion to get cabs on our own and they often wouldn't take the fare if they didn't feel like it. This way you're assured of transport, even if there's a surcharge.
Our driver was great, a maniac, so cute!! - full of chatter about Greece's Euro football victory, his uncle's restaurant in Regina, Saskatchewan (most Greeks seem to have a relative somewhere in Canada). He also seemed to be related to every other cab driver we saw that morning. Lots of driving up alongside other cabs, rolling down of windows and shouting out. It was great fun. He drove us through the chaos at Piraeus, right up to the loading dock of our ferry. He also recommended we call his company and book a cab for our return; he said there is no system in place at the port and it can be very hard to get a cab. As you'll see, that was good advice that should've been heeded....

Anyway... getting oneself onto the ferry is quite something. They don't mess around - you'd better move sharply.
We were on Highspeed 1, in business class. I'd been a bit ticked that DH and B had spent the extra $$ on the upgrade (after all, why would one need business class on a ferry?), but I am very, very glad they did. Regular class was FULL of smokers. You couldn't escape it. Business class allowed smoking in some areas, but it wasn't too prevalent, and there were less passengers here.
4.5 hours laters, after a brief stop in Ios, we arrived in Santorini.
Nothing can really prepare you for that first sight of the island. You see in an instant how devastating was the earthquake that turned a round island into a crescent; the cliffs, so steep, descend almost straight down into the ocean.
We'd seen from the stop at Ios that the ferry didn't hang around long and passengers got off very quickly. It was a bit of a scramble to get off with luggage (we had more than we'd have like due to the length of DH's stay in Athens, and my London stay needing totally different clothes). It was fiercely busy at the port, everyone trying to find their transportation and people hawking rooms. Our friends B &S were off to get a taxi to their hotel. We had a transfer arranged through our hotel, the Chromata.
Ferries no longer arrive at the Fira port, with the donkeys and cable car, but at a different one further south. After what seemed like a hundred switchbacks, we were at the top of the cliffs and on our way north, through Fira and on to Imerovigli and our hotel. Everyone seemed to drive like a maniac; there were mopeds, cars, donkeys and pedestrians all jockeying for position on the roads. It's always a bit of a shock when you arrive in a new place and things are so unfamiliar and seem so strange.
Our driver pulled into a parking lot and led us along a walkway for a few feet, then down a couple of stairs. And there in front of us was the hotel check-in desk - 2 glasses of champagne set out for us at a table, and that incredible view of the ocean and volcano rim (caldera) in front of us. I was quite overcome and wept a bit.
We had booked the cheapest room at the Chromata, but they upgraded us a level. It is hard to describe this place. The rooms are all cement inside; each has a terrace with chairs and an umbrella; some have sun beds, or a shelfy thing that comes out of the wall, with a pad, where you can lie to sun. Stairs descend down the side of the cliff, eventually ending at the bar and pool area. There is an infinity pool that hangs over the rim of the caldera. The other end of the pool is in a cave where the bar and breakfast area is. Our room was only down a dozen or so stairs from the top. It was all pink inside, like a watermelon.

The next week was so wonderful. Huge, lovely breakfasts were provided each morning (we didn't have to eat lunch once). Most days we'd explore the towns of the island until late afternoon, the swim and sun a bit, have a drink and snack (olives, crakcers, etc) that we'd get from one of the nearby markets, shower and head out to watch the sunset with our friends, and go to dinner.
I can't really recommend any specific restaurants. While all the food we had was good, nothing stands out.
As for sights, the village of Oia was beautiful, with nicer, more upscale (and more expensive) shops than Fira, which is the capital and bigger. But Fira was great fun to roam around and closer for us to get to. Oia is a very polular place to watch the sunset, but there is another, much less crowded place. In Imerovigli, just by the Blue Note cafe along the pedestrian walkway, there is a church with a terrace, and this is a fantastic place to see the sunset.
We also went to Kamari beach one of the days - B & S have a friend from Sweden who was staying there. But Santorini is not known for beaches (for good reason - they're on the east side and have no caldera view and are rocky and hard on the feet) and although it was fine I'd have preferred to have been on the caldera side, looking at the view. Also enjoyable was the Thira Foundation which had wall paintings from ancient Akrotiri - not originals but copies using a special 3-d photo technique. We didn't go to any of the ancient sites!! It was too hard to leave our lovely hotel....
Bus service on the island is great - there's a central square in Fira for buses and cabs. Bus fare is .90 Euros. One bus runs along from Fira to Oia and stops in Firostephani and Imerovigli. Another route goes to Perissa (beach) and one to Kamari (beach). There are a couple of others.

Once again, though, I was distressed by the animal situation. Fira did not have as many stray dogs as Oia, but there were still plenty. And skinny cats everywhere (I saw a blackie with a mangled foot and he made me cry). They have to be skinny because of the heat, and they are different types than in N. America, so that I can accept. But during the winter with no tourists and very few locals around, there are two options. The first is that they starve. The other is that they are poisoned. This was told to me by 3 different shop owners, that the dogs are poisoned each wonter. One woman said it was cruel but neutering was even more cruel (!).
I gave lots of my dinner scrpas away, carrying a plastic bag in my purse to collect tidbits that i could hand out. A couple of evenings I went along with a plastic bag full of pet food (the markets have lots for sale) and put handfuls down discreetly when I saw animals nearby.
And it is for this reason that I don't think I can go back to Greece, although I loved it in many ways. But it broke my heart in this way, with the neglect of so many cats and dogs.

Anyway.... next installment in the epic - Mykonos.
taggie is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 04:04 PM
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Thanks for the nice comments you lovely people! And I like hearing from m_k... he/she reminds me of my grandmother for some reason.

Will tackle the Mykonos part once my hands recover a bit - it's been a while since I've had to type this much (as my spelling mistakes prove). I'm interested in what Bill Barr will feel about my Rochari Hotel thoughts. hmmmm....
taggie is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 06:58 PM
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I should also note about Santorini that it is very easy to walk between Fira, Firostphani and Imerovigli. There's a pedestrian path so you don't have to walk on the road with the crazy, and mostly inexperienced tourist-, drivers. It's downhill from Imerovigli to Fira and you pass all sorts of tavernas, markets, hotels and houses. Takes maybe 15 minutes. Heading back uphill to Imerovigli is a bit tougher, especially when it's hot, or after too much wine and/or food, but most of the time we did it, and the rest of the time we took the bus. Oia, though, is pretty far to walk. Although DH hiked almost all the way to it one day, the other times we took the bus.
taggie is offline  
Sep 18th, 2004, 02:00 AM
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lol I can take it taggie. Keep the report coming...it is most enjoyable.
billbarr is offline  
Sep 18th, 2004, 12:47 PM
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OK... Mykonos next.
Thursday Sept 9
I was quite sad to bid goodbye to Santorini and the Chromata, but looking forward to some new experiences. We headed to the port to meet up with B & S and catch our ferry to Mykonos. I think what I saw at the port while we waited started things off on a bad foot. First, many many dogs. I bought a hotdog/pastry thingy from a cafe to feed to one, which made the waiter furious. Then, most appallingly, a small horse came walking past the cafes and shops. it had a rope bridle on, was so skinny its hips were jutting out, and worst of all it had a huge gash that had opened up its front rear leg, along the front of it and up the flank. it had partly healed, but the horse was limping as it walked by. Most people were so stunned a kind of shocked silence fell upon the area as it went by; some people (me included) were crying. The horse went in between 2 buildings and disappeared.
Not the best start to the day for sure.
The ferry ride to Mykonos was fine; this was a Flying Cat, the highest speed. Lots of spray up onto the windows. best of all it was a no smoking boat. Hallelujah! We made stops at Paros and Naxos before landing at Mykonos. The winds were fierce as we struggled off the boat to run the usual gauntlet of people hawking rooms, transport, etc.
Although we hadn't been expecting it, a shuttle was there from our hotel, the Rochari, so that was a happy surprise. Once again, there was the shock of trying to accustom oneself to new sights and sounds. We were at the hotel in minutes.
The Rochari Hotel is just along from the town's most expensive one, the Belvedere, and you get essentially the same view over the white buildings of the town to the blue, blue water, for much less cost. Mykonos is a bit greener than Santorini, with lots of hibiscus and bouganvillia that people have planted outside their homes. The Rochari staff is very nice, and they work so hard. There's a nice pool area and the rooms are basic and spotless; ours had a deck with a great view. But I found it really noisy, with lots of door slamming, and noise from people overhead late into the night. Also, many of the patrons were partying all night and would make quite a ruckus when they got back in the morning hours. But I don't know if you can get away from this type of noise in Mykonos.
The other thing was that for the first couple of days we were the only heterosexual people I saw at the hotel. It was interesting to be in the minority. Here in Vancouver, and for sure where I work, being one of few heterosexuals in a crowd is certainly not unusual and it's not something you even really notice or care about. But for sure at the hotel I felt different.
After getting settled we headed into town to look around, watch the sunset by the windmills in Little Venice (it was so windy!), and have dinner. And the animal situation blinded me to any of the charms of the town - it was crawling with stray cats. I was in tears by the end of the evening. At this point, I started to hate Mykonos, and hate Greece. I just wanted out.

After a few hours of sleep (less than I'd have liked, due to noise) and a nice breakfast provided by the hotel, I was feeling better. I went for a walk with just my hubbie and as we strolled through the winding, narrow passages of Mykonos town I began to feel better. We saw the famous pelican providing a photo op down by the harbour. Most of the dogs were wearing collars, and I saw people feeding some of the cats. And the town really is pretty.

As in Santorini, the people work so hard to keep things sparkling white and clean. But then you will see water bottles, wrappers, cans, etc. piling up in public spots. The places along the shore have lots of plastic garbage piling up. I found myself cursing the people who would be so careless and spoil things this way.

After lunch (chicken gyro and a Mythos beer - love 'em) we headed back to the hotel to meet our friends and relax by the pool.
The scene around the pool was quite interesting! Still felt kind of out of place. My DH and B were the only guys NOT wearing super tight, tiny suits. We met a couple of nice people. One guy chatted to me about the cat, "Football", that I was petting and coddling, and I found out that he's a (former) Canadian and stays at the Rochari regularly. Most of the other patrons seemed like they do the same. The woman who runs the pool bar, Mary, is an American expat and very nice. She tends to the hotel's resident cats (as well as many at her home). Football became my favourite.

taggie is offline  
Sep 18th, 2004, 01:14 PM
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Hmmm. Stuff I had included in my post on an "edit" did not show up.

First night in Mykonos we ate at an Italian restuarant in the Lakka (in a sort of square with lots of trees) called Fellini, which wasn't that great.

Our second night, we ate at Maria 's Garden, which was v. good. And amongst the myriad of little shops, one stood out called Presento, which carried different merchandise from the standard touristy stuff. The woman there is originally from Ireland and by the till she had a collection box for an animal welfare group. We chatted about that problem, and I had some reassurance that there is some help for the animals of Mykonos.

The next day we had planned to go to the island of Delos to see the ruins. Stay tuned....
taggie is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Great trip report taggie!! It's good to hear from another Canadian on the board! I'm off to London this Friday with my wife to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary - 10 yrs ago we honeymooned in Greece, so after reading your report it brought back great memories and also wetted my appetite for London, which I have an addiction to. Travelling with other people can be fun, but I really believe in splitting up when necessary and then meeting somewhere for lunch or drinks to talk about what our day was like! Looking forward to the next installment!
kmowatt is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 06:26 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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taggie, did you by chance stroll through Mayfair? I thought you might have seen m_Kingdom2 washing some windows or polishing her bosse's new car.
degas is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 08:50 AM
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degas... you have the best lines on here.
We did walk through Mayfair a few times and had a snack in the Shepherd's Market area.... I kept my eyes peeled because I thought I might see m_k toddling along the street in his/her Prada trainers, trailing several pieces of Vuitton luggage for those multiple wardrobe changes... but alas, I had no luck with a sighting.
taggie is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 09:15 AM
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hi kmowatt - hope you have a great trip!
I have to say that there was quite a bit of, ummm, angst for me in travelling with other people that I've tried not to go into too much here. Suffice to say that I didn't get as much time to do my own thing as I'd have liked. It'll be just my DH and me for this length of time on future trips. This one (Greece portion) wasn't originally supposed to be as much of a joined-at-the-hip one as it turned out to be.
taggie is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 09:40 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Sorry to hear you are sick. Welcome back! I don't use a diary myself.
Now I'll look forward to your Greece report.
cigalechanta is online now  

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