Welcome to my blog. I write mostly about travel and in particular my love of Disney, with a few tidbits such as musings about movies or theater thrown in for good measure. I have stories dating all the way back to 1997 so be sure to explore! I don't post regularly, so if you want updates be sure to join and follow this blog (links below). Feel free to share, and if you want you can also click the Facebook or Twitter links below. You can also follow me on twitter. And be sure to comment letting me know what you think!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Europe, Summer 2012 - Animals of Santorini

Animals of Santorini

Many cats and dogs run free around the village of Oia. I'm not sure about the cats, but the dogs mostly seemed to be collared so I assume they have owners. Nat, being an animal lover, snapped several pictures of the animals:

      Nat's food pics
Next up, Athens

Europe, Summer 2012 - Nat's food photos

Nat's food photos

The food we had in Santorini was quite photogenic, to wit:

Bruschetta - Athens, Greece

Butter beans in tomato sauce - Perissa, Santorini

Oia, Santorini

Calamari - Sunset Restaurant, Ammoudi Bay, Santorini

Crepes - Perissa, Santorini

Vegan flan - Vegetarian restaurant, Madrid, Spain

Eggplant Dish - Vegetarian restaurant, Madrid, Spain

Balsamic roasted vegetables - Sunset restaurant, Ammoudi Bay, Santorini

Fava beans with local capers, olive oil, tomatoes - Nectar restaurant, Oia, Santorini

Greek Salad - Oia, Santorini

Tofu and vegetables - Vegetarian restaurant, Madrid, Spain
Greek yogurt with honey and nuts - Perissa, Santorini

Lemon hummus - Lotsa restaurant, Oia, Santorini

Mythos beer - Oia, Santorini

Greek salad - Oia, Santorini

Local Yellow Donkey Beer - Pelican Restaurant, Oia, Santorini

Greek yogurt with honey and nuts - Perissa, Santorini

Fava, pepper and tzatziki dips - Oia, Santorini

Local olives and olive oil - Magna Grazia hotel, Athens, Greece

Moussaka - Thira, Santorini

Morning coffee - Oia, Santorini

Spanakopita - Thira, Santorini

Stuffed peppers - Perissa, Santorini

Local Yellow Donkey Beer - Pelican Restaurant, Oia, Santorini

Cous cous tabbouleh - Nectar restaurant, Oia, Santorini

Local tomatoes - Oia, Santorini

Watermelon - Perissa, Santorini

Pomegranate champagne - Nectar restaurant, Oia, Santorini

Europe, Summer 2012 - Athens

Part 3 - Athens

Our flight arrived in Atens after dark. We were a bit concerned about going to Athens with all their recent issues, bu Charlotte - who is very interested in ancient mythology - was dying to see the city and The Acropolis in particular. After landing we caught a cab and drove to Athens. First I was struck by how well maintained the public highways were. When we got to the city, however, it was a different story. There was a lot of evidence of recent unrest and many shuttered businesses.

We arrived at our hotel, the Magna Grecia, and checked in. This is a very old hotel and the room was very quirky with the frayed look of a place with old-world elegance gone somewhat to seed. The room was nice enough, though with an odd layout. It was ostensibly a suite but the second bedroom was more like a large closet with a bed. And the bathroom was particularly odd with fixtures that Had a purpose that was, to me at any rate, something of a mystery. And I'm fairly well traveled.

The hotel also boasted a lovely roof top restaurant with a spectacular view of the Parthenon and the Acropolis.

Unfortunately Charlotte had caught some bug somewhere along the way and was not feeling well at all. In fact she didn't even want to leave the room on that first night to see the Acropolis. This was really a shame considering this was something she was really looking forward too. It was late at any rate so we turned in and hoped she would feel better the next day.

The next day she felt no better. We took turns going out and walking around the local shopping areas while Charlotte rested. By the light of day the city looked much better, and the streets were bustling with locals as well as tourists.

A bit later in the day we decided the one thing we must do was a trip to the Acropolis. Charlotte was not going to let a little illness interfere with that! She put on the "Greek Goddess" dress she had purchased and off we went. We took a cab to the Acropolis where we purchased our tickets to see the Parthenon and the other relics. I was impressed when the ticket taker noticed we had overpaid for our tickets (Charlotte was considered a child) and took us back for a refund.

Here Charlotte is wearing the hat that Nat bought
It was an extremely hot day for the climb to the Parthenon, but the sky was cloudless and the views spectacular.

The tour of the Acropolis pretty much wiped us all out and we had an early flight and a long travel day ahead of us, so we headed back to the hotel for the rest of the day venturing out only for dinner at a local restaurant.

I did manage to go to the rooftop restaurant for a nightcap overlooking the awesome night time view of the acropolis. As I was the only person there I chatted with the chef (who was extremely well traveled - he had even at one point leved across the street from a High School I attended for a semester), the waitress (who was from Rumania) and the hostess. They were all lovely people - as were all the people we met in Greece - and I had a very nice time chatting with them.

Next up, Madrid

Europe, Summer 2012 - Bonus city - Madrid

Part 4 - Madrid

Bad news - our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:00 and we were not sure how long it would take to get to the airport nor how long it would take to get to the airport or to check in, so we arranged to have a cab pick us up at 3:30. We were a bit worried whether the cab driver would be on time, but he was and we were in the airport in 30 minutes (€60 cab ride). Good news, for the return flight we were booked in Iberia business class so we were able to make use of the Olympic Airlines business class lounge.

Bad news, once we boarded I realized I had left my iPad at the gate in a charging station. Good news, the gate attendant was kind enough to run back and get it.

Good news, the flight was on time. Bad news, this was by far the worst business class I have ever seen. I don't think the food was different - either way it was not very good - and the seats may have had an extra few inches of leg room but that's it. All they did to make it "business class" was to leave the center of the 3 seats empty.

Thankfully it was a short and uneventful flight to Madrid where we had a scheduled layover. Bad news, the layover was for 8 hours. Good news, as they checked out luggage through the next flight we could spend the day visiting Madrid and take in one more city. We were afraid they would make us get our bags between flights which would have ruined this plan.

Once we arrived at Madrid we went through customs and took the train to the Sol station in the center of Madrid. It cost €5 each (€20 total) and took about an hour. (On the return trip at the end of the day we took a cap which took 20 minutes and cost €30. My advice - take a cab).

Our first order of business was to find a vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurant for lunch. No mean feet in a city that none of us knew where the language was one none of us speak. But we found one - although they were just opening and we had to wait a bit to be served.

We just tooled around Madrid for a couple of hours taking in the sights. Madrid is a lovely city with lots of old time charm.

Well, that was the end of our trip. For the last leg of our flight we flew in "real" business class - even with the fold-flat seats. As we were leaving Madrid Andie looked out the window of the plan and commented on the clouds. They were - and I am not exasperating - the first clouds we had seen on the entire trip. This was a fantastic trip and I hope you enjoyed reading about it.