Monday, April 28, 2008

3 days on an island - bliss!

Two weeks ago Bel and I flew from Frankfurt via Athens to the Greek island of Santorini. We had a few days before we had to return to Athens for an event thrown by my company, so we took the opportunity to take a few days and relax, not doing much at all...and that's exactly what we did.

The most stressful part of the 3 days was on arrival when we took a taxi from the airport to the hotel, and proceeded to start to carry our suitcase down all the stairs to the reception. Luckily someone met us along the way and took the suitcase from us, leaving us to enjoy the view, the walk, and the sand from the Sahara that was hanging in the air, making it quite humid - quite a change to Germany where is had snowed on the Monday leading up to the trip.

The next day we had almost completely to ourselves in the town, as there were no cruise ships in the harbour. We found out, however, tha when the season really gets going, 11 cruise ships per day can arrive, swelling the population of Fira from 10,000 to 40,000 in minutes. I really don't know how this little town of tight streets and brightly coloured houses can cope, but it somehow does.

On day two, Bel and I got a little taste of what it could be like in Summer, when 1 cruise ship from Norway turned up. The difference in the number of people and the buzz in the town was amazing, compared to the first day.
After a bit more walking around Fira, Bel and I followed a whole heap of tourists down the 100s of steps to the harbour, to see what the view of the town was like from the water. Unfortunately you can't see much of the town from down there, but you can take a donkey back up for 5€ per person. For your 5€ you get one hell of a ride on a donkey that you can't control, but who knows the way inside and out, and a very sore arse the next me. :)
After the donkeys, we did a bit more (window) shopping and then had dinner in a small restaurant where the whole menu was only in Greek. The owner came to our table and asked us what we would like to eat, without us ever seeing a menu or hearing what was on offer. We told him that Bel is vegetarian, and he suggested a bit of this, that, and the other, and we ate our selves silly for peanuts - YUM!

Day three saw us get on a bus (full of school kids watching violent videos or porn on their mobiles) to Oia, on the north tip of the island. Oia is similar to Fira in that the houses are all painted white with coloured roofs etc, but much quieter and more arty. It is also apparently a great place to come and watch the sun sink into the ocean. Supposedly you should turn around and look at the reflection of the sun on all of the white houses - we didn't stay though, as we were too buggered from all of the walking of the last few days.
On the way back in the bus, I had another of my "german experiences" where I managed to find germans and start talking to them. The lady was quite shocked when she sneezed and I said "Gesundheit", as she had already heard us talking in English to each other - I love shocking people like that. :)

Anyway, if you get a chance, you should really check out the island of Santorini. It really is a beautiful place, but try and get their before tourist season starts to avoid the crowds. Who knows, you may be there at the right time to watch all of the locals painting their houses and footpaths (steps get done every 10 days or so) in preparation for the tourists.

Master said!!!

Oia seen from the northern top of Santorini

A Greek church looking all pretty against the blue sky

The old Mills of Oia from the northern tip


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Life and Death

This week in our circle of friends and family we have had both good and bad news.

So, to those who are in the process of developing and introducing a new life to the world, we send our heartfelt congratulations and love.

To those who lost a loved and cherished life from this world, we send our heartfelt condolences, and want to say that we share your sorrow and that our thoughts are with you in this truly awful and difficult time. No parents should ever have to lose a child, and no siblings should ever have to lose a brother at such a young age.

Our love goes out to all those involved, and to our other friends and family that we miss on a daily basis.