Showing posts from June, 2015

Zurich - 47° 21' 11" N 08° 33' 01" E

A glorious day to head to Zurich for lunch, made even better because it was with Franz Friedl!  We met at Fischstube restaurant on the lake. The terrace perched above the water overlooked swimmers, sailing boats, swans and, in the distance, snow-capped Alps.  Franz treated us to a superb lunch (I ate cod and scallops with lobster sauce accompanied by squid ink pasta and sea grass) washed down by a stunning Savignon Blanc from the region. Following lunch, we wandered around central Zurich with Franz playing tour guide. A beautiful city that has not suffered the ravages of war inflicted on so many European cities.  Yes, there are banks. And yes, they look very solid, safe and old - just what one wants in a bank! Of course, no outing with Franz would be complete without a coffee and cake stop. And as we were in Zurich, where else but Confiserie Sprüngli. Due to the heat, we opted to take our coffees iced - or in this case frozen! In a goblet, topped with cream, in some places, i

Bischoffsheim - 48° 29' 25" N 07° 29' 27" E

Stepping out of Frankfurt Airport, having come from there straight from Athens, we noticed immediate differences.  The crowds didn't seem to press into us.  Train departure times were given in one-minute increments, rather than a rough hour.  The walls and floor tiles were all in perfect order, and looked like they would remain that way for the next few decades.  Announcements come over the intercom in German, followed by almost-unaccented English.  We've travelled only 2,000 kms, but we are in a very different culture now.  It's very Western here. Flowerboxes everywhere! After less than two hours aboard a sleek, comfortable high-speed DeutscheBahn train to Offenburg, we were met by our friend Florence.  She drove us back to her home in Bischoffsheim where we are now spending ten days under her and her family's roof.  Bischoffsheim is a scenic provincial village that is 30 kms from the Rhein River and the German border.  Although it falls under French authority no

Panatheniac Stadium - 37° 58' 06" N 23° 44' 28" E

 We have explored Athens (or at least that where ancient Athens stood), the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, the Plaka, the flea market and ruins of many important monuments that now escape our memory. But what impressed us the most was the Panathenaic Stadium. Not just because it is functional but for Sean, it is a sports stadium and for me, the original (from roughly 500 BC) storm water system is still in use! Constructed completely of marble with amazing acoustics, the stadium hosted the athletic events of the ancient Olympics until they were banned by the Christians for their pagan bent - honouring the Goddess Athena.  They were renovated for the first modern Olympics and hosted the finish of a new event - the marathon. In the ultimate feel good outcome, the Greek, Spyridon Louis, won the first marathon but fortunately failed to repeat in full the legend of Pheidippides who as the inspiration for the modern event. Pheidippides was the Gre

Athens - 37° 58' 04" N 23° 43' 38" E

...and once again, I wish I had taken more history in school. History upon history upon history everywhere. Each time a shovel is sunk into the earth in the old city, ruins are revealed. Sewer systems, house foundations, mosaic floors, wells and walls. The foundation engineers of Athens are a pretty resourceful lot managing to redesign (at short notice I am sure), the substructure of a building to minimize impact on the ruins. But mostly they are just that, ruins.  Even the famed Parthenon, perched magnificently atop the Acropolis, is on a shimmer of its former self.  A few millennia and vandals such as the Christians, the Ottomans and Lord Elgin have pared down this extraordinary structure to a few columns and the odd frieze. And despite this, it remains impressive. The precision with which these huge lumps of rock, way up in the air, were put together with the limited technology at the time is remarkable, even when you have slaves to do the heavy lifting. We explored the

Off the coast of Santorini - 36° 26' 24" N 25° 22' 43" E

Observations regarding the Greek islands we visited. Rhodes: get there by ferry if you can.  Entering the Port of Rhodes made me feel like an ancient mariner. once you have settled in your accomodation, rent a scooter.  You can visit different beaches and you can shop for pool/beach food at supermarkets for half the price. have dinner at a restaurant on the harbour of the old port.  It won't be as expensive as you think. when you have your scooter, go south to find the nicer beaches. Anthony Quinn Bay is sheltered by headlands; it isn't as tourist-y as it could be and it provides some great fish-viewing, even with just swim goggles. take swim goggles. restaurants outside of Rhodes town are 1/2 the price of restaurants in town.  Ones away from the beach can be really good. buy or bring some tupperware sandwich boxes and pack a lunch and snacks for the beach.  We bought some when we got here, and it was 3 Euros well-spent. beaches without surf are much nicer fo

Oia - 36° 27' 40" N 25° 22' 27" E

The cliff tops of Santorini appear to be snow-capped as we approached on the ferry but as we got closer, they revealed themselves to be the villages of white houses that the Greek Islands are renowned for. Stunningly beautiful despite not being very practical. Narrow, steep, winding marbled streets through which luggage, groceries and wine bottles need to be hauled, up and down stairs, sometimes slippery, often crowded and definitely not to any known building codes!  Our house is perched on the cliff of looking the caldera. It is newly renovated, beautifully staged and boasts three bedrooms each with ensuite bathrooms. The water sparkles, the sun shines and our rooftop deck is a perfect place to pass the time. Wendy and Graeme's partners-in-crime dribbled in over a few days.  Once they were all in town, we hosted a dinner party for twelve. Then the party began! We enjoyed a day on a yacht cruising the caldera, hikes along the cliff, breakfasts and dinner at the

Alyki - 37° 00' 08" N 25° 07' 59" E

Sean turns 50!! Alyki, on the Greek island of Paros, is treating us to more blue-hued, stunningly clear waters, more pretty white houses with blue shutters and white churches with blue domes. Sigh... Wendy and Graeme have joined us at 'Laliotis Home'; the gorgeous, marble-floored house with a huge terrace we have rented for the week. The village, with its long sandy beach and restaurants is a 300m walk. We have turned swimming and lazing on the beach into an art form!! Big celebrations were had today for Sean's 50th birthday! After a swim and a laze on the beach, we ate a lunch of local calamari and salad rounded off by a birthday ice-cream cake. Gotta say, it beat anything we have ever bought from Dairy Queen.  For dinner, we ate at a restaurant on the beach with the warm Aegean waters lapping at our feet. Beautiful local seafood with carafes of crisp and chilled white wine with a backdrop of a blazing orange sunset was certainly a fine setting for a milesto

Taverna near Pounda Bay - 37° 00' 14" N 25° 07' 48" E

It is a good thing our long-term plans are flexible.  These long-term plans include, as many of you know, to buy a sailing vessel on the west coast of Canada/USA, pottering around the San Juan Islands and the coast of British Columbia for a year or so, then starting south along the west coast of the Americas to Ecuador, across to the Galapagos, through to the French Polynesian Islands and then carry on to New Zealand and Australia.  Being here may insert an intermediate step between now and Oz. Having spent some time in the Mediterranean, swimming in bathtub-temperature water, eating tasty seafood, noticing the consistently moderate winds from the north, motoring in relatively calm seas AND noticing the permanent 50 percent discount that Croatia sells used 40 foot sailboats for, a seed of an idea has formed.  Perhaps we could spend some time bobbing around the eastern Med.  I wonder if we would have any visitors if we did.

Anthony Quinn's Bay - 39° 26' 00" N 28° 04' 33" E

Life on Rhodes is idyllic. Each day we leap aboard our trusty scooter and explore yet another beach. We swim, laze on the sun, 'snorkel' in our swim goggles looking at all the fish hiding in the rocks. The water is warm, ten shades of turquoise and aqua and clear as clear as clear. We have explored Rhodes old town and the gorgeous Lindos. We missed a 'do not enter' sign and the heroics on the scooter rivalled that of Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond, zipping along the labyrinth of narrow paved laneways dodging people, under shop awnings and around blind corners.  I did draw the line at bouncing down stairs, much to Sean's dismay! The food is fabulous and we have discovered some rather tasty Rhodes sparkling wine that is going down a treat. The local beers slide down very nicely, particularly after a day on the beach.  Things are a little more expensive here and we can see evidence of the issues facing Greece by the boarded up buildings and half constr

Rhodes - 36° 04' 32" N 28° 04' 33" E

Kalim'era Greece! Arriving in Rhodes by ferry was very cool. We disembarked straight into history where the Colossus of Rhodes as fabled to have stood before being toppled by an earthquake in 226 BC. Magnificently preserved fortifications thanks to the Italians who occupied Rhodes after WW1. They removed all modifications done by the Ottomans during their 400 year occupation and restored the city back to the glory of the Knight's Period when the Order of St John of Jerusalem occupied Rhodes.   We are staying a short distance from Rhodes Old Town at a resort called Eden Roc. The view from our balcony is stunning, looking east across the resort's Olympic swimming pool to the sparkly, blue of the Aegean Sea.   And to get around, we have a Piaggio Fly scooter!

Marmaris - 37° 02' 00" N 27° 25' 50" E

Güle güle Turkey! After five weeks of exploration and adventure, we are bidding a farewell to Turkey.  As if we were not supposed to leave, our ferry from Fethiye to Rhodes in Greece was cancelled due to lack of passengers. Four in our case. So, we were bussed to Marmaris to the ferry there. In true Turkish style, the bus stopped for a break and the driver brought us çay (Turkish tea) and water! Marmaris again! Our second unscheduled trip, it seems to be drawing us in. Turkey in review - we have loved it!! Roman Milestone, put in place during  Augustus Caesar's rule The history! Make that the history on history on history. Age upon age - Neolithic, Bronze, period upon period - Archaic, Classical, Roman, Hellenistic, and era upon era - Byzantine, Turkish, Ottoman. Ruins of empire after fallen empire dating back millennium. And filled with historical legends - Caesar Augustus, Cleopatra and Antony, Homer, Alexander the Great, John the Baptist, Mary the Virgin and Suleim