The last of the Trip

  • Jul. 25th, 2009 at 7:14 AM
honeyelle: masquerade mask falling (unveil)
1.14pm (Brisbane); 7.14am (Dubai)

After such a big dinner on Monday night (we ate dinner, a traditional Italian dinner with Tuscan grown vegetables, with the other guests), there was no way we were doing anything on Tuesday. Another rest day.

On Wednesday, however, we got up early, caught the seven o'clock bus, which we knew ran on time, and went to Florence – or Firenze as it's called in Italy. We were going to see David. Ann, our travel agent (do not get me started), said that we'd be able to book tickets online or over the phone while in Tuscany. No, actually, it was booked out until August sometime. We took the chance, and waited in the queue.

The queue wasn't that long. We waited for about half an hour and because we were there so early, we got straight through with the first group of people.

Everything pales in comparison to David. It is unreal. It was like the Colosseum, I could sit just staring at him for hours. If I was by myself, I probably would have. I looked at other paintings and other statues, but you just come back to David.

There wasn't anything else we wanted to see in Florence, but we came across, totally by accident, a rather nice looking church. We didn't go in, the outside was impressive enough (I don't think you could go in, anyway). Those two things are what I will remember of Firenze, and I can't be happy about it.

Thursday, being the day before Moving Day, we just chilled. I went for a swim – I wish we had a pool, but more, I think, I want to just start swimming again.

Yesterday, Friday, was the beginning of Moving Day. And as per usual, Moving Day had it issues. The bus from Anselmo turned up late, took a long route and did a couple of unusual stops along the way. Our train to Milan was an hour and ten minutes late; from what we can gather, someone hopped off the train – it wasn't going from Florence to Milan straight, it had stops on either side – and was hit. Then there was traffic on the way to the airport. We were dropped off at the wrong terminal and had to catch another bus. I don't know why the fates decided to be cruel to us on Moving Days (since Santorini to Paris, our second Moving Day), but we have not been fazed at all by it – maybe that's why – and think it's just part of the adventure.

It did pay off, though. The entire five of us were upgraded to Business Class from Milan to Dubai. I don't know if I'll be able to travel anything but Business Class from now on. It's so easy, it's so comfy and it was much easier to stay awake. And awesome noise reducing headphones and useful gifts (I found a new, must improved make-up bag) and great food. I think it was easier to stay awake because I'm back on Brisbane time. I'm trying to position myself with as little jetlag as possible.

We're waiting at Dubai International Airport, until about 10am here (two and a bit hours) for the economy flight to Sydney. I like Dubai's airport, but when a noise happens (bell, siren, alarm) it's headache enducing. There's people everywhere. I like airports, but this is not my favourite. Brisbane Domestic is familiar, safe. I long to be home.

A Field of Sunflowers

  • Jul. 20th, 2009 at 5:39 PM
honeyelle: (writing in notepad)
1.39am (Brisbane – Tuesday, 21 July); 5.39pm (Tuscany)

Saturday and Sunday were rest days. We laid by the pool on Saturday, it was very warm, and covered ourselves in sunscreen. Saturday night, I started Shattered – which isn't exactly for university, but I am so happy that I've been able to write anything at all after Sam's grade.

Sunday on the other hand, it was a little cooler. Cool enough, well breezy enough, that no one really wanted to go outside. Plus James was arriving, so Beth didn't want to do anything but see him. We watched a lot of MTV. I wrote more Shattered.

Today, however, we took the chauffeur, Giovani (I think that's how you spell his name), and he took us around the Tuscan countryside showing us all the walled, medieval towns and castles and dropping us at a few to walk through. It was so nice to be driven around in a car and not getting a bus tour. It felt just like a private tour. I didn't take many pictures – and I missed the sunflower picture moment – because after a while, all the walled cities, all the landscapes look the same on film. Even in person they tend to run together.

Vineyards are one of those things that you need to see in person. Not picture can capture the beauty of a vineyard. In pictures it just looks like a sea of green. In person, you can actually see the lines, see rows and rows of grape vines. Even see the grapes. This was true for both France and Italy.

Italy, I didn't realise, doesn't just have vineyards of wine. There are olive trees and sunflowers (for sunflower oil). The sunflowers are beyond words. Fields and fields of sunflowers following the sun. If I were to come back to Italy, I would try and find accommodation looking over a sunflower field. I would love to wake up to a sea of yellow – not a yellow room, but yellow made by nature. I can only imagine what it looks like from the sky. Also, sunflowers are very defined – you know exactly how they “feel”. If they're happy and 'singing' they're yellow and looking to the sun. If they're sad and, basically, dead, they're faces are fallen, they aren't a bright yellow but a vomit green and they're looking at the ground. Out of everything today, this is probably the best moment I had; seeing the sunflower fields.

The "trip" to Pisa

  • Jul. 17th, 2009 at 11:20 AM
honeyelle: (new dawn/new beginning)
7.20pm (Brisbane); 11.20am (Tuscany)

We went to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I forgot. Between our two trains on Wednesday, we had a bit of a break and walked to the tower. Unfortunately, it was the hottest day we've experienced on this holiday so far; and if you've been to the tower, you'll realise that there is no shade in the tower's fenced area.

As a family, the tower wasn't as cool as the buildings around it. But also, like other tourist points, it was packed. I was more than happy to look at it from the ground and not go up on top. Anyway, what if the tower decided that was the day it was going to topple over?

Right now, I'm lazing by the pool with Beth as some Dutch or German boys play in the pool. It's rather weird looking at kids of about eight years old organising a game of tag with a ball in a different language knowing that I used to do that in English.

Mum and Dad just returned from the bus stop. They've missed the bus twice today. They were early the second time, but so was the bus. Obviously it's a sign that they shouldn't be traveling by bus today. But they picked up some fruit and veg for lunch – it's just too expensive to eat here; plus we have to notify them ahead of time, which we didn't do.

This is the holiday: lazing by the pool. (Even if it's a little noisy than it was earlier this morning.)

Moving to Tuscany

  • Jul. 17th, 2009 at 8:10 AM
honeyelle: (new dawn/new beginning)
4.10pm (Brisbane); 8.10am (Tuscany)

Four days is probably the longest I've been without writing up our Europe adventures. Last time I said I was going to go to the beach on Wednesday. Well, we did go to the beach, but I did no writing or reading. We met a Canadian couple, Tyler and Candice, who were on their honeymoon. (Although, why they're calling it their honeymoon, I don't know; they travel overseas once a year.) We sat under umbrellas and chatted for several hours. They gave us their email address and Dad gave them his website (which now means I have to go home and update it very quickly) with contact details and a drawing he'd done of a clock tower in one of the Cinque Terra towns.

Mum really wanted to use the paddle boats that were mention on Hotel Pasquale's website. We hired one for an hour and it had a slide on the back. I think Mum liked the paddle boats the most. Dad lost his sunnies going down the slide, too; we left part of our family at the bottom of the Cinque Terre beach.

The next day, Wednesday 15 June, was another moving day. There were no strikes and we didn't have to catch any taxis. For a moving day, that's pretty good. I don't remember much of the day – as I think I've mentioned, I fall asleep on transport, anyway.

When we arrived at the accommodation (oh, wait, we did have to catch a taxi to the place we're staying), we stepped out and were nearly knocked down. The heat was awful. The heat is like an Australian summer; that isn't a fun heat. They showed us the 'apartment' we're staying in. Well, you can read my TripAdvisor review: there's no air-con, the flies are everywhere, the food costs a fortune, there's no easy access to transport with the accommodation taking us to train stations and such.

It shocked us. It's not what we expected.

Yesterday, we got up real early, six o'clock early, to catch a bus to Florence, to then try to catch a train to Rome because I wanted to see the Colosseum. Trains work a little easier in Italy than in France, in the sense that we were able to book seats on the next train. It took an hour and a half to get to Rome, and once we got our bearings, it only took a twenty minute walk to the Colosseum.

Isn't it big? I mean, I knew it was going to be huge, but it's really, really big. We didn't go inside (it was an hour and a half line) or take a tour (it costs a fortune); but we sat a little distance away eating ice-cream just looking at it. The heat was unbelievable yesterday too. But even if it wasn't, that's how we like to look at tourist points; sitting down, out of the sun, absorbing the atmosphere, a little bit away from all the tourists. That made the whole experience of the Colosseum better; although next time I'd like a tour, but a tour when there are no tourists in the Colosseum. A private tour. Of course, I'd need to be insanely rich and not care about where I spend money.

We didn't see anything else in Rome. It was too hot to be walking anywhere. The traffic was awful; we couldn't catch a bus or a taxi to see the Vatican (the only other real point we would've looked at). In the end, we went back to the train station and changed our train time to get us back to Florence earlier.

It was still hot at our accommodation (yes, I don't know the name of it, but it's no hotel), we ate some dinner and went to sleep.

Burning Skin

  • Jul. 13th, 2009 at 9:23 AM
honeyelle: shows coloured pencils with "i live to create master pieces" (Default)
5.23am (Brisbane – Tuesday 14 July); 9.23am (Cinque Terra)

I got burnt today. I didn't mean to and to us it seemed like the sun didn't urn our skin as fast. I shouldn't have been so stupid about it. Honestly, how could I expect to not get burnt? I'm fair skinned; fair as Snow White. Unusually enough, only one side of my left arm got burnt.

This came about once we caught a train to Riog[???] to walk back through the five towns of Cinque Terra, back to our hotel in Monterosso. We started to walk. My left arm was facing out from the coast, to the sea. The first walk from R to Manalora[?] was easy, as was Manalora[?] to Cornila (save for the steps), but the next walk to Venzetta, dear lord! I think we were on the easy path. Yes, it's easy if you're a hiker and mountain climber. We got to Venzetta (four kilometres over one and a half hours), had an ice-cream and gave up. The map said that to go from Venzetta to Monterosso it would take two hours and it was only three kilometres in length. Obviously, it was going to be hard. So we gave up and caught the train back.

And that was that for the day. Tomorrow is beach day where I shall sunscreen up and do some editing or writing - hopefully.

What happened to Italy?

  • Jul. 12th, 2009 at 7:42 AM
honeyelle: shows coloured pencils with "i live to create master pieces" (Default)
3.42pm (Brisbane); 7.42am (Cinque Terra)

I had planned on writing on the train yesterday, but of course, something came up. A big something. But let me start from the beginning.

On Friday, we were still at Beaune. Dad and I visited the Hotel-Dieu Hospice, which was visiting, but I think I might have enjoyed it more if there was less construction happening. It took us about thirty minutes to go all the way through, so that was our morning taken. (I also had to return my bike, unfortunately.) As a family, we decided the Friday would be a rest day, merely because we were travelling to Monte Carlo (Monaco) on Saturday and had to prepare ourselves for that. I am not the best traveller in the world. Travelling makes me tired, even if I sleep all the way from Destination A to Destination B.

Saturday, we got to the train station on time, only to find that the train we wanted was no longer running. Beth and Mum's stomaches dropped to the centre of the Earth. They were thinking we'd just try to get trains all the way to Monaco, even though we'd miss our own booked trains and all of the other fast trains were booked out. I didn't even think of all this. I heard only a little bit of the conversation with the station attendant, as I was not next to Mum and Beth, but for some reason I immediately thought of a taxi. Obviously, Mum and Beth talked to Patrick (the taxi driver who drove us from the station to Rue Fauborg St-Martin) and found another taxi driver willing to go to Lyon's train station.

After a detour, two hours of watching the GPS and 340€ later, we arrived in Lyon, before our train made it in and got onto our booked trains.

We arrived in Monaco sometime in the afternoon.

Monaco, I thought, was similar to Las Vegas. There are casinos everywhere and it's a very glitzy place. It isn't. There are only a few casinos, all in the same spot – where the snobs drive up their cars and get stared at by the people waiting for someone famous to arrive. (I didn't see anyone famous.)

We went into one of the casinos, not to anywhere the tables were because we weren't properly attired, but we played the pokies as Beth had never gambled in her life. She won 40€ on top of the original 10€ Mum gave her. I didn't win anything, but I think it's because the machine went cold after paying out to Beth.

We went back to our itsy-bitsy hotel (where the showers were awfully small) and slept.

The next morning, after breakfast, we made our way to the train station. Next to our train it said “siprime”. Because none of my family speaks fluent French (unfortunately) and the word wasn't in our phrase book, we ignored it until 10.00am – twenty minutes before our supposed train. Usually at about the twenty minute mark, they also put up which platform the train will be arriving on. When this didn't happen at 10am, I went to ask another train attendant what's happened to our train. It turns out that the Italian trains were on strike. I was told we can take a train to Menton, a fifteen minute cab ride to Ventimigla and then try to figure out what to do from there.

We did exactly that. But in Ventimigla there are no buses to Genova directly (where we were trying to get to, to then get to La Spezia). We were told we could hope town to town to Genova. We hopped on a bus to San Remo (without a ticket because we didn't realise the bus driver sold them or that we had to get them beforehand; and we couldn't pay when we got off as their was no one at the bus depot), hopped off at the bus depot and supposedly there was a bus to Genova. We waited an hour and forty-five minutes. The bus did turn up, but wasn't letting anyone on – whether they had tickets or otherwise; the driver took on extra people in Nice and therefore the bus was full.

In the end we took a three hour, 400€ cab ride to Montorosso (Cinque Terra). Which is where I'm sitting now, looking out my window at the view.

This account, unfortunately, does not include all the people we met. In particular, one Swedish lady at the bus depot who spoke Italian and English. We seemed determined not the leave us without knowing how we were going to get to Cinque Terra. She rang her friend, who's a cab driver and got a guaranteed 400€ fare compared to what the drivers at the taxi rank where charging (500€). I feel that we could've made it through the day without her help, but would've paid much much more money doing so. We were so grateful Dad gave her one of his drawings.

Riding & Chateaus

  • Jul. 9th, 2009 at 12:08 PM
honeyelle: shows coloured pencils with "i live to create master pieces" (Default)
8.08pm (Brisbane); 12.08pm (Beaune)

I haven't written anything since the train ride. I was going to on Sunday, however, I've been distracted. Distracted how? I've been reading Sookie Stackhouse novels. I know, right? More vampires. More female heroines. More bad writing. But I have stopped. After four books, one a day, I have stopped reading because I read about Eric and Sookie and Beth tells me there isn't anymore Eric/Sookie for a while. I love Eric. He's the only reason I read the books. (Beth even drew a comic about it.)

When we got into Beaune on Saturday – Beaune, by the way, is in the Burgundy region of France (where they make all the wine) – we headed into the markets. Beaune does markets how markets all over the world should be run. Firstly, walking down the main street, there are the bits'n'pieces part: clothes, music, shoes, underwear. At the corner, going from the main street into the town square (not a Stars Hollow town square with grass and a gazebo; although there are a few of them around too), but a bare, sectioned off area purely designed for markets, the corner holds all the roasted chicken sellers – we bought one and it tastes almost like turkey. We were asking ourselves why Australia wants to ruin chicken so. Then turning into the market square you are hit with fresh produce. All sorts of fruits and vegetables – much fresher than the fresher type we could obtain at Australian markets – and even some more unusual stalls (there was a purely olive stand, a stand with dates – Dad's favourite – and a stand of dried fruit). Inside the hall, next to the market square, the hall is air-conditioned to keep the cheese cool. A hall the size of a high school basketball court hall housed all the cheese you could ever want. Most of the market sellers were really good with the fact that we knew nearly no French, but we did ask in French “Do you speak English?” Some say yes, some say no, some say a little (and a little compared to my knowledge of French is a lot). The cheese lady knew none, so we pointed, but, then a French couple who spoke English helped us out, and even suggested a cheese we should try. We bought some Haribo lollies from a good-looking guy who's grandmother didn't speak English, but he did. Haribo, Beth and I first tasted in Disneyland, is the best type of lolly available. I especially like the crocodiles with the jelly on the top and the cream, softer lolly on the bottom; like the race-cars we have at home. We came home to Mum, who didn't get the see the prettiness of the market because she had an awful headache, and showed her what we bought for so little money.

I can't remember what we did that afternoon, but I think we relaxed. Travelling days take it out of us, me especially.

Beaune as a whole has been a relaxing time. There isn't anything you're supposed to see in the region, just the vineyards. The day we arrived was cloudy and a little chilly, as was the next day. Not like Paris at all. Paris was hot. Europe was hot. It has suffered a heatwave. Oh, Europe. You should visit Australia in the summer-time. That was not a heatwave.

On Monday, we woke up early (although the sun was already up) and it was a bright day. It was not cool. It was not breezy. It was the perfect day to bike ride. Which is exactly what we planned on doing. We were collecting our bikes from Floran (the bike renting man) and riding through the vineyards. By eleven in the morning, we had sunscreened up and were ready to ride. We rode through Pommard, Versay and into Mersault at which time we missed the chateau I wanted to visit in Pommard. It was also then we realised that the bike track, a very easy riding track to follow, there were signs for twenty kilometres, didn't take you to the chateaus directly, you had to find them once in town. We looked for Chateau de Mersault and found it at the base of the town on the east side. It looks similar to the house from the Longborn house in Pride and Prejudice, but then, quite a few of the chateaus I looked at on the internet looked like the Longborn house. We walked around the grounds, nibbling on lunch (as we weren't actually allowed to eat lunch on the grounds) and I took a few pictures. On the way back to Beaune (Mersault is 8.5km away on the bike track), we found Chateau de Pommard and decided to come back on Tuesday to see it. It was a perfect day for riding, no breeze or anything.

On Tuesday, I rode to Pommard three times (Pommard is three kilometres away from Beaune). Tuesday morning with Beth to make sure that we could get on a tour. (Chateau de Pommard was the one chateau that I really wanted to see.) It turned out that we didn't need to book, but just show up. We rode home. A couple of hours later, the entire family rode to Pommard. Our tour guide spoke English rather well, but it was heavily accented and sometimes hard to understand. The wine cellars underneath the buildings were cold and held an enormous amount of wine. The wine tasting itself, was not my cup of tea (I'm not a big wine drinker), but I found it was worth the 17€ it cost to get in. The Dali exhibition was rather spectacular, in my opinion, although I was a little disappointed I didn't get to see the inside of the chateau.

After visiting both Chateau de Pommard and Chateau de Mersault, I think I liked Mersault's grounds better.

On Wednesday morning, the rest of the family took their bikes back, but I kept mine. I've become addicted to this cycling thing. (Tuesday night, Dad and I rode to Pommard and back again because we felt like a sunset ride. Gosh, that was breezy.) When I go home I'd like a bike, or at least clean up the one we have. I rode to Pommard in the early afternoon and then again in the late afternoon. Both times it was breezy. It got breezier as the day went on and the ride to Pommard because almost impossible the wind is pushing against you so hard. Pommard is also on higher ground than Beaune. So the ride back to Beaune is very easy, a cruise downhill and all you have to worry about is hitting the stone fences at the corners. (I can't turn very well.) I've kept my bike again for today because I want to go for another, hopefully easier, ride today. But I've been looking out the window today, it seems like the wind starts up in the afternoon.

Over the past couple of days – I can't remember which days exactly – but we've had some French pastries. Citrus flavoured treats are my favourites. But we also ate at a pizzeria – we didn't want to spend the money it would cost for French cuisine when we didn't know what French cuisine is, save for the snails and the frogs legs. We had two pizzas and we decided they were better than the Santorini ones, though I can't remember what the Santorini ones tasted like since I was very dead to the world.

It's now 1.38pm. I have new sunglasses, I have chocolate (not exactly wanted by me, but I seem to eat it all the same), and I have my grades (which turned out better than I expected). All in all, I'm feeling pretty good.

While in Paris...

  • Jul. 4th, 2009 at 8:20 AM
honeyelle: (writing in notepad)
4.25pm (Brisbane); 8.20am (Paris)

When I cut myself off, basically mid-sentence, last time, I was going to Paris. Now, today, I am leaving Paris. So I have missed Paris and the last day in Santorini on this journal. I feel rather bad about that, but I lost my routine of writing a journal entry at breakfast because there was no where nice to sit for breakfast.

So, June 30: our last day in Santorini. We planned on doing nothing. No sunscreen, no walking, no getting sweaty. Just a day of relaxation looking at the view. You can imagine how well that went down. At about two o'clock in the afternoon, Mum and Dad decided they'd like to walk around the peak out the front of our view – Beth and I found a church on the first day on the otherside; I believed there was a lookout point from the top, we were going to find that lookout. The bugs on that walk, compared to the first time I did it, it was like the plague. There were so many bugs. Little ones that weren't around before and you can't see them except when walking the track. Once we got to the other side where the paths diverge into two, Beth went ahead to see if the path went to a lookout. It didn't look like it - the path was probably made by all the people doing what we were doing: seeing if a lookout was really available. Because there was no lookout point, Mum and Dad thought they'd like to see the church.

The walk back though. Gosh. It was easier for Beth and I than the first day – I wasn't going to die that day. Mum, however; she was struggling. It was a tough lot of stairs, I have to admit. I just kept to my mantra, “Thighs. Thighs. Think about your thighs.” I had to think of something besides my calves which hurt the most when climbing stairs.

After the walking, we showered, dressed and went for dinner again. More Greek cuisine; not as good as the night before though (at least in my opinion). We figured out I'm allergic to sesame seeds. (The men that worked and had friends at the tavern seemed to come together for a smoke and a chat. It wasn't a tourist type of restaurant, it was the type of restaurant that the locals would visit to have a chat with friends.)

We went back to the villa, packed and fell to sleep for the next day's travel.

July 01. Travel day. Up early for plane out of Santorini. Six hour trip to Paris. Then, Paris. Oh, Paris. I do not want to stay in Paris when I live in France for my year. Coming into Paris was hard. Mainly because we got really irritated with our travel agent. She validated our Eurail pass for only the three weeks she thought we'd need it. Which meant we couldn't get our free ticket into the centre of Paris. (What I don't understand is why the woman in the ticket booth couldn't change the validation date for us.) So that cost us 34€. That's about 60-70 Australian Dollars. That's a bit of money that we didn't need to spend. The next bit was the train. When we got off at our station, the train was packed and we'd learnt from the previous stations that people will just push people they don't know to get onto a train. Mum, Dad and I got off okay. “Where's Beth?” I said scared that my little sister would get lost on the train by herself. Yes, she's seventeen. Yes, she probably would've been okay, but we had no way to contact her as Dad and I had the mobiles. When the beeper sounded someone would have had to jump on with her. Dad made for the door, and Beth was getting off and the beeper sounded and then we were all okay and laughing because, good lord, Paris public transport is great, but everyone uses it.

First day in Paris was finished with Subway and McFlurries.

July 02. Boo's 18th birthday. Disneyland. (I forgot to say it when we woke up, but she also forgot.) Mum and Dad did a 'hop-on, hop-off' bus tour around Paris – we weree told it was very hot. Beth and I went to Disneyland. We caught a train by ourselves; when you have no luggage it is very easy to do. Once we were on the A-line train (the one going to Disneyland) we felt we were very capable of catching trains and finding our way around the stations.

Disneyland itself, though... I reckon Beth and I should've done a couple of days. We were exhausted after six hours – four-thirty in the afternoon – and we'd only done Toon Studio in Walt Disney Studios, and Fantasyland and Adventureland in Disneyland Park. Fantasyland was by far our favourite park – the architecture of the buildings is just a dreamer's playground. Our favourite rides were: the Cars-inspired ride in Walt Disney Studios where you sit in a car and it spins round at different speeds looking as if it will hit into another car; the Mad Hatter Teacups where you sit in a tea cup and there is a solid metal in the middle which you need to turn to spin the teacup (the faster you turn it, the faster the teacup spins); and the Magic Carpet ride which was where you sit on a magic carpet and the person in the front moves the carpet up or down, and the person in the back tilts the carpet. The ride with the never-ending queue was Pirates of the Carribean. Beth and I didn't really do that many rides – lines were long (it was school holidays) – but we enjoyed the atmosphere and looking at the buildings. I enjoyed the day; I go to take some great pictures (none with characters because I'm nice and let the little kids go first and then the characters have to go) and hang out with my sister.

July 03. The Batobus tour – must-see Paris sites day. While Mum and Dad drove past the main tourist attractions on the the 'hop-on, hop-off' bus tour the day before, we thought we should see the important ones as a family. Plus Dad really wanted to see the Musée d'Orsay (and that was a stop on the boat tour). We hopped off at the Lourve first, mainly because I wanted to see it. I had the camera again today (it doesn't bother me), and took some pictures because otherwise people wouldn't believe I'd visited.

Next stop was the Eiffel Tower. We didn't go too close too it – there were so many people. SO MANY people. I took some photos and Beth got to see it, but we didn't go up the top – which was fine.

Final stop was Dad's Musée d'Orsay. It was still a busy museum, but no where near as long a queue as the Lourve. By this time it had been almost six hours since anyone had last eaten. Us girls had started to get hungry, but Beth and Mum were the really pale ones. After we paid an exorbitant amount for lasagna, Mum said I got a bit of colour back, but usually my hunger disappears after I sit down. (Drinking water doesn't help, it makes me feel a little more ill because I have nothing in my stomach.) We walked through the museum for another hour and Dad and I went back to the Van Gogh room while Mum and Beth waited at the exit and we left. There was a bit of impressionism; although my favourite paintings were on the first floor of the girls carrying water buckets on their heads.

Once we left the museum, we split up; Beth and Mum on the boat, Dad and I walking. Both pairs heading towards the same place – Hotel Cluny (which I haven't mentioned split us up onto two different levels and had tiny rooms for sleeping only). Dad and I got back first, early enough that we had pastries and Dad had a coffee. We almost missed Mum and Beth because the lights wouldn't change and they'd think they got back first.

We came home, had our salads and pastas from Monoprix (something like the French version of Marks & Spencer) and fell asleep.

July 04. Today. Right now (9.34am) we're on a fast train (TGV) heading towards Dijon, out of Paris towards Beaune where we will be staying in a convent and bike riding to chateaus.

In Transit

  • Jul. 1st, 2009 at 12:05 PM
honeyelle: (writing on laptop)
7.05pm (Brisbane); Between Athens (12.05pm) and Paris (11.05am)

I'm somewhere between Paris and Athens. I look out the window and see some mountains and think off Switzerland, but I know I'm way off.

The Santorini sunrise, which I saw this morning on my way to the airport at six o'clock, in comparison the the sunset, well, there is no comparison. The sunrise is much more beautiful. You can look at the orange bulb while the entire thing rises up out of the foggy horizon, out of the ocean.

Greek Cuisine

  • Jun. 30th, 2009 at 7:06 AM
honeyelle: shows coloured pencils with "i live to create master pieces" (Default)
2.03pm (Brisbane); 7.03am (Santorini)

Today is Mum and Dad's 25th wedding anniversary. As such, when we were picking earrings out in Fira for Beth's 18th birthday (two days away), Dad saw this beautiful three-tone gold ring in the shape of their wedding bands. Their wedding bands are rather special because, firstly, Dad had to buy them twice (he got cold feet and Mum sold the rings and then they were going to get married again), and secondly, they come too close in a v-shape; there is a beginning and an end on these rings.

Beth, for her birthday, got some gold “key of life” design earrings. They too are very pretty and I'm feeling slightly left out because I have no Santorini gold. (I do have a charm though.)

That was yesterday's shopping adventure (most of it spent in Angelo's jewellery store). We also took a bus to Akiroti beach – the red beach.

The bus system for tourists is wonderful. The main depot is in Fira; for the past two mornings, we've made the trek down to Fira to catch a bus to where we want to go. To catch a bus is about the same price at home to catch a train to the city. The buses are comfortable and you get to see more of the island without the annoying voices of tour guides, compared to if we took a tour bus. One the bus trip yesterday, we were able to see how high up we actually are. (Michael, one of the managers here at Sunny Villa, said we're 365 metres above sea level.)

The red beach is caused by the rock formation above it. A cliff almost hangs over the beach, and the rock is red. The rock is red. The beach... has a red tinge to it. It's not really a spectacular red. The black beach on Hawaii was much more spectacular merely for the fact that the black sand was still being created and you could see how it was being created. It's a nice beach, but not worth the 7€ it costs to sit on the beach.

I snoozed the rest of the afternoon, woke up hungry where Mum found a little local restaurant which served, supposedly, great Greek cuisine. Let me tell you now, it does.

We had an early dinner – early by Greek standards, late for the Harvey family – at Verda's (?). We shared two entrees, two mains and two desserts. The entrees were Fava (a Santorini special) and tomato fried fritters. For mains, we ate mousaka and pastichio. Dessert was one dish, but we had two of them; bavklas(?).

The Fava didn't quite agree with me – I believe it had too many different flavours in it. Fava is mashed chickpeas. Our fava had onions and pepper and lemon juice over the top too. While it sounds... like something I wouldn't eat, it's worth a try and then move onto the tomato fried fritters. I enjoyed those much more. Santorini tomatoes (as the fritters were made out of them) are fantastic. Santorini tomatoes are never watered (according the the Santorini Handbook) and get all their moisture from the air, this is what makes them so tasty. I'm inclined to believe this because even after frying, the tomatoes in the fritters were tasty and easy to eat.

Mousaka, to us, is like a vegetable lasagna. It has a base of potatoes and eggplant with a cheesy sauce over the top. It has no meat (much to Dad's dismay), but is satisfying all the same. Beth and I would like to try and make it when we get home. Pastichio is basically pasta, mince and a fluffy cheese sauce; layered exactly like that. It tasted a bit like chicken two-minute noddles. The three varying textures of that meal made it interesting to eat.

Dessert was my favourite part. We never get dessert eating out as a family because we always order our own meals, which we have now learnt is not the way to go. Baklavas tastes similar to Mum's peach sultana crunch, only without the fruit. It has a pastry base, with some sort of filling in the middle of the pastry layers (I can't exactly tell what was in the filling) and drowned in a honey-type syrup. Best thing ever. Sweet too. I'd love to try and make that when I get home.

Obviously, the meal was the best part of the day yesterday. Not because it was food, but because it was tradition Greek cuisine. We're going to the same place again tonight.

Ancient Ruins

  • Jun. 29th, 2009 at 7:26 AM
honeyelle: shows coloured pencils with "i live to create master pieces" (Default)
2.26pm (Brisbane); 7.26am (Santorini)

I was told that Santorini sunsets are amazing. I guess they are amazing if you don't see them all the time. At home, we get some fabulous sunsets. Last night's was better than the night's before, but still, a sunset is sunset. The Santorini sun sets high. I don't know if it's because I'm so high above sea level or because I just can't see the horizon, but it's very high. It sets late at night as well: 8.45pm. I want to go to bed then.

We took a bus to Kamari yesterday, with the intention to climb the hill up to Ancient Thira. Well. The road up is a five kilometre road. And it's very, very high. The highest point on the island. Once we were up the top, we could see the black sand beaches (we'd already seen one in Hawaii, so it wasn't such a big deal to step on one – especially when it costs 7€) and the entire town of Kamari. At the top (after a 10€ minibus trip), we paid 2€ to get into the ruins. While it cost some money, it was worth it. I'd never seen ancient ruins before. The most impressive ruins, in my opinion, were the animals on the back of the wall of a temple that could still be seen and the theatre, because you can actually imagine what the theatre looked like.

That was our day, really. We walked to Fira and around Ancient Thira and back to the villa, all in all, five hours of walking. My legs got a little burnt, and my chest and face were red, but today, I don't look so burnt – just more freckly.

Walking Day

  • Jun. 28th, 2009 at 7:37 AM
honeyelle: masquerade mask falling (unveil)
2.37pm (Brisbane); 7.37am (Santorini)

No one every mentions or reminds you that Santorini is actually an island. It comes with all sorts of island like things. The most obvious, and irritating, one this morning is the breeze. Gosh, is it cold! And when you think about it, of course Santorini will be cold at times. The breeze is unbelievable. It's scared Mum and Beth into not going to Kamari where Ancient Thira's ruins are.

I was hoping to catch up last night, but I think this might become my routine: journaling while having breakfast. I wanted to do it each night so I don't miss or forget anything, but I'm just exhausted. So while eating my Special K with milk (a rather large accomplishment since I'm very picky about milk), I've been thinking what I'm writing today.

Yesterday, I got my dream hat. No, that was not the most impressive thing I did. It is, however, a very awesome hat. We walked to Fira, a good twenty-five minute walk, and had a look around the shops. I found the type of charm I'd like for my bracelet, a Greek design charm (the Greek design looks similar to Ancient Egypt design), because I don't think I could find a charm of anything I've seen. Beth also found a birthday gift – Greek design earrings.

We came back to Sunny Villas, exhausted, jumped in the pool – which was freezing because the sun hadn't warmed it up yet – and then sat and watch the view for a while.

At about five o'clock, six o'clock, Beth and I decided to follow the path along the cliff face in front of our villa. I had to hold Beth's hand for some of the time as the path got rather close to the cliff and I'm rather scared of heights. On the other side of the peak is an abandoned church. It gave me an idea for a ghost story, but it was rather beautiful. There is also a lookout (I think), however, Beth and I took the lower path. I want to go back along it and up to the lookout; it gives an uninterrupted view of the ocean and the other islands.

Coming back to the villa was really hard. I don't believe I am that unfit; golly, was I panting and feeling the blood rush to my head when I sat down with Mum and Dad. I think it's a bit left over from my head-cold a week and a half ago – I couldn't walk up and down our stairs without being short of breath. Beth and I jumped in the pool again.

Dinner was a mess. The meal itself was fine, even a little salty, but dinner really isn't necessary for us. Especially not when we're eating at 8.30, 9.00pm. We don't eat that late and are really not that hungry that late. But we're not hungry at five o'clock or six o'clock when we'd usually eat dinner at home. We're just going to skip out on dinner.

All in all, a good walking day. No souvenirs and no shirts, but a good walking day.

Getting to Santorini

  • Jun. 27th, 2009 at 8:19 AM
honeyelle: shows coloured pencils with "i live to create master pieces" (creativity)
3.19pm (Brisbane); 8.19am (Santorini)

I am rested, I am well. I am not in the least bit hungry or tired. We're in our villa on the side of the cliff in Santorini. It doesn't look exactly like the view that was in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, but I know Beth's happy and that's the point. (It was her Europe holiday choice.)

I'm going to interrupt myself and just say that the fog cleared then reappeared. Unless you've been on Santorini, you may not understand. It took a whole minute for it to: disappear, and we could see some of the other peninsula's of the island, and then it came back just as fast, hiding them from view again.

It's an unreal feeling, thinking that I'm in another country, another continent. When people ask if I've been to Europe, I usually say that I've been London and EuroDisney. I haven't been to Europe. I haven't seen Greece or true France or Italy. I haven't been. So now, I'm in Europe. It's unreal. And it feels like I was meant to be here the entire time. At the moment (8.32am), Beth is standing at the end of our little courtyard (tiny, tiny courtyard) and she looks like she's supposed to be here. Beth and I weren't made for Australia.

Our flight was delayed last night to Santorini. It meant that we didn't eat until 11.00pm – super late for us considering we usually eat at 5.00pm. We'll have to get used to it I suppose; supposedly everything is closed from 2pm-6pm for siesta. Because our flight was delayed we stayed in the airport longer than we wanted to. It baffled us to no end that people we smoking inside the airport. That they smoke in coffee houses, that they smoke wherever they wanted. It got to the point that we thought we'd just sit at our gate and wait, because, generally, people aren't smoking there.

We went to our gate and as soon as we looked up, they changed the gate. A different gate. A gate outside the security checkpoint. On a wild goose chase, we trailed up some stairs and found another security checkpoint, we just had to ask if we could walk through. They seemed okay with it. I think maybe they didn't understand English so well, but we got out, checked every board we came across making sure that the gate didn't change again. Finally we went through another security check – a more through security check where Dad got padded down and I was asked to open my laptop lid. We sat, I slept on the plane and then we got a cab (you just have to trust they aren't going to hit anybody, human or machine). They truly have winding stairs and we walked down them with our suitcases, we found reception, got put in our room - (Oh, you can't flush toilet paper down the toilet on Santorini. I'm not sure if that's all of Greece or just here, but it's a weird thing not to do.) - ate some pizza and fell asleep.

Regarding Flying

  • Jun. 25th, 2009 at 7:57 AM
honeyelle: (writing on laptop)
1.57pm (Brisbane); 7.57am (Dubai)

We decided that each of the pairs (Beth and me, Mum and Dad) would each have one person with Brisbane time on their watches (for medications and the such) and one person with local time. I have Brisbane time on my watch, but feel like I should buy a cheap one just for this holiday so I know what the local time is – especially for Beaune.

We landed in Dubai at about 5.15am this morning (Dubai time). I didn't realise Dubai's airport was so large. And rather beautiful. Boo has been taking pictures – not too many though, since we're not stopping here I don't think its worth too much of my camera's memory.

I don't like flying. Actually, no; I do like flying. I like flying short distances. I like flying when I don't get headaches. I like flying when I don't have to stop and connect to another flight to get to my destination. This is my second stop. From Brisbane to Sydney. Sydney to Dubai. We're then going from here, Dubai, to Athens – taking our luggage through customs – and then going from Athens to Santorini. It's a long time. About twenty-four hours on a plane over a thirty hour period. I like flying, but this is insane. I just want to get to the holiday.

(There's not enough water. I didn't get nearly enough water on the Emirates flight and the service to get water took forever – I fell asleep once waiting for someone to bring me water. I'm just thirsty constantly and I can't get a bottle as we'd have to change currency and it'd cost a fortune then.)

Latest Month

July 2009


RSS Atom
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios
Designed by [personal profile] chasethestars