Thursday, July 13, 2017

Greece Trip Part 2

We woke up the next day and decided to go visit the travel agency to get a plan for the week. We had specific things in mind that we wanted to experience while we were Greece. Who knows if I would ever be able to get back here again?

We were delighted to meet our travel agent. Super sweet and helpful! She asked us to come back that evening and she would give us her ideas. So we had a whole day to go and see some sights.

Vern and Ethel wanted to take us down to the southern tip of the mainland of Greece. We stopped on the way and had a not-so-o great lunch at a restaurant on the beach. The Aegean Sea was so blue and beautiful. I put my feet in it and laid on the "sand" which was big hunks of rock and granite and even terracotta.
 Jackie, not really enjoying her shrimp.



 Me, walking on the beach while lunch was being prepared.


 Our waiter was not very friendly, which was strange because we only had two that were not. The others were amazing!

 Vern and Ethel sitting in the sunshine.


 So beautiful!

 The biggest ice plant I have ever seen in my life! It was everywhere.





I grabbed a few pieces of beach rocks so I could have some in my travel collection (you know, since I am a world traveler now. Ha, ha). Granite, marble and something else I couldn't identify.


We ended up 70 KM south of Athens and visited our first ruins, which was the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion. It was crazy to think how old it was. 








Lots of naval battles were fought below us.


 The Aloe Vera plants were MASSIVE!

 Loved the vegetation.

 Again, lots of battles were fought down in this inlet.





 Graffiti from the 1800's.



 Jackie in front of the Temple of Poseidon.





We all got pretty sunburned while touring the temple. There was a gift shop and Jackie and decided we were going to bring home souvenirs after all for our immediate family. Originally, we weren't going to, because we chose to have one bag apiece as just our carry on, so we knew we weren't going to have a lot of room. What we chose had to be very small. But it was fun shopping for them.

On our way back we followed and eventually passed this guy in a van that was so stuffed with crud he could barely see out of it. It was the worse hoarding I had ever seen. It was very dangerous. As we passed him I managed to get a few pictures and a video.


The traffic is so dangerous there, you have no idea how unsafe this is! The driver is in there somewhere!

We went and met up with the travel agent and she gave us an amazing plan! Four days worth of tours for only $250 apiece. This was including a private tour guide for two days. One for the Acropolis and one for the day to show us around Corinth. Very cheap!

Of course, I was hungry so we risked our lives to cross the highway to the marina. I can't tell you how scary that was! As I was standing on the tiny concrete medium strip in the middle of a six lanes of traffic (going very fast), I kept thinking to myself as I was waiting for the light, "I can't believe I am voluntarily standing here."  I will explain more in a bit...

We ended up going to a very America place called TGIF. This is when we encountered our first taste of Grecian cats. See that cat right there laying in the planter?...

We prayed for our food and boom, he was at our table trying to snatch our food!


Weird cat! The Greeks really like their cats. They have strays everywhere. Yet the funny thing is, is we didn't seeing any roadkill. Not one dead cat on the road, did I see in all our travels. Not one dead anything. They even feed their strays. All along the streets of the neighborhoods you hear fighting cats and see little tin foil bowls with cut up hot dogs for their food. There was cat scat everywhere. You really needed to watch where you stepped.

After having dinner at the marina, we went and looked at the HUGE yachts. We took our life in our own hands again as we crossed that highway back to our apartment. You have a red light that tells you to cross halfway. The problem is that "half way" is a thin narrow 2 foot by 10 feet long strip of concrete. There are cars going 50-80 miles an hour inches in front of you and behind you. I was so afraid the backpack Jackie was carrying would get hooked on a mirror and she would be ripped into the street and killed before my very eyes. You just sort of stand there and pray for 2-3 minutes until the light finally changes. This was by far the most stressful part of being in Greece. It seemed that people did not follow traffic laws. They parked on the sidewalks, they blocked people in, they practically ran you over if they could . Speed limits weren't enforced and motorcycles were allowed to go anywhere they wanted. Their favorite thing to do was drive in between the buses and cares and make their own lanes. They didn't where helmets and rarely did you see a blinker being used. They made Portlanders look polite!

We got back to the apartment and slept pretty good that night. Part 3 coming soon!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Greece Trip Part One

I never want to forget this trip to Greece, therefore, I decided to have a written record of it on my blog. Got up at 3:30 in the morning to make it to the airport three hours early for our international flight from Portland to Amsterdam (10.5 hours). I have always been told how awful they are and boy were they right! The upside was Jackie and I realized that we probably hadn't sat down and watched a movie from start to finish in months. That was kind of nice! 
 Vern, Ethel, Jackie and I's feet on the carpet of PDX. Vern thought we were nuts!

 Waiting anxiously to board the plane!


On the airplane!!!

Once we arrived the Amsterdam, I was in culture shock. People didn't wait for you or move for you. I line was a suggestion. I couldn't believe how "rude" people were in my American eyes. I was terrified that Vern and Ethel were going to step out in front of a people move and die! They were going so fast! We had a three hour layover, so we went to a bunch of shops.

 The "lines" into customs were crazy!

 Ended up buying some tulip bulbs from Holland. Thought this was the best way to bring a bit of Holland to my home!

 These painted cows were all the rage! (Jackie)

 Of course beautifully painted wooden shoes!

 Got 4 hour flight from Amersterdam to Athens, Greece. Here is my first glimpse of the beautiful white city!

Flying inland to the airport.

This is when all the scary drama started! After we picked our rental car (that was a story in itself), we got lost in rush hour traffic in a city of 5 million people. Vern was driving and thought he knew the way to the apartment because he had studied the route so much on Google Earth. So we no written directions. After stopping twice and getting thoroughly lost in the seedy side of Athens where we were confronted by beggar children in a grocery store parking lot ( a whole other story in itself). When we got back on the right road to the right Marina, Vern started seeing familiar landmarks. We all realized that one of us should have bought an international SIM card so we could have contacted the poor man who was waiting at our apartment for two hours to give us our keys. By some miracle, we found the apartment and then PRAISE THE LORD, Manos was still there. I was seriously thinking I was going to have to sleep upright in this tiny car we had rented. I probably could have, considering I had been up at 30-plus hours at this point. 

 The apartment was amazing. Everything was inlaid in Marble. Floor, stairway, walls in bathrooms. Counters, tables and fireplace.

 We decided to go to bed at 7:30 p.m (Athens time). But the beds were not what we thought. We ended up making a makeshift bed for Jackie and I to sleep on by taking the cushions off two couches and the "mattress" off the hide a bed. It worked and as we laid down, Jackie said, " I just feel like crying." I replied, "Jackie, I am so sorry I got you into this!" We were both traumatized after all of our "firsts". Crazy Motorcycles, being lost, aggressive beggars, Motorists not yielding to pedestrians (I almost got killed 5 times just getting from the airport, to the grocery store, to the apartment! The next day, I almost got hit by a Tram, because there were no warning lights or sounds. I stepped onto what I thought was an abandoned track, when I got across all of a sudden there was a tram coming. Yowza!!! That was scary! I started looking very carefully after that!

The Acropolis is back there! Could see it from our balcony!

A remnant monument dedicated to the last Olympics held in Athens.

 So the next day we got up and felt the warm climate. We looked out the balcony and were just stunned by the view. We all met in the kitchen and processed the horrible previous day. We cried and hugged and prayed over the rest of our trip. It was good! We had coffee on the balcony and decided if we just stayed in this apartment with this incredible view, it would have all been worth it.
Never was brave enough to use this. They don't want you to put paper in their sewer system. Kind of a pain. 

 The City of Athens. One of our views from the balcony.
.
 We were in a very safe apartment-like section of town. The only thing that was gross was the smell of stray cat poop and urine. They were everywhere!


 We were on the seventh floor. Gives you an idea of how limited the parking is and how narrow the streets are. People parked on the sidewalk ALL the time..



Vern made us breakfast that morning. It was so nice of him. Watching him back in the place he loves is priceless. He used to live in Athens back in the 1950's and worked at the air force base for 2.5 years. He knew quite a bit of Greek and everyone was impressed at how good he did with their language. He kept being taken for a 50-60 year old even though he is 80! One waiter even guessed he was a pilot! I guess he just looks like one. Vern loves to fly and even had his own place when I met him.
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