Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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A Brief Respite

September 18, 2010

The next week or so of our vacation was nice, but pretty uneventful. We saw a temple of Poseidon and a temple of Artemis near Athens. Then we headed out to the villages Ritsa’s family is fun and spent some time with her uncle and aunt Constantine and Helen. The second day, Ritsa’s friend R showed up to join us.

We spent time in the villages with various and assorted members of Ritsa’s family, and we managed to squeeze in another trip to Monemvassia. There was also a fair amount of time spent swimming at the beach.

The highlight of the time in Livadi was watching Aunt Helen climb up on to the kitchen counter with a broom to kill a wasp. As you can see, we had a nice, relaxing time there.

On to bigger and brighter things: Lesvos. Lesvos (or as the Greeks call it, Mitilini) is a Greek Island near Turkey. It is the home of Sappho and where the term “lesbians” is derived from. These days, it as well known for ouzo as it is lesbians.

We shared a beach house with R, and we could actually see Turkey from our house. Swimming and day trips ensued. I will get into the day trips in the next post, but one interesting thing we did at the beach house is buy produce from the vans that drive by. We bought of kilogram of dried chickpeas (which we did not finish and will bring home with us) and a kilogram of sword fish, of which we ate about 2/3 and some cats ate the other 1/3.

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And Don’t Call Me Shirley

September 16, 2010

I am finally getting  a chance to blog about my vacation.  Everyone give thanks to Galata Life Hotel.  I will be starting with the beginning of the trip, which was August 26th, 2010.

We flew from Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA.)  The only interesting thing about the flight is that I got to drink two cans of complementary Warsteiner.  Lufthansa is nice.

We spent the morning in the executive lounge thanks to my wife’s elite status and our international tickets.  From there we flew to Athens (ATH.)  The flight to ATH was very different from the flight to FRA.

First, there was a LOT more talking.  The flight to FRA was a graveyard compared to the ATH flight.  Greeks are a chatty bunch, and this flight was no exception.

The second, and much funnier part of the FRA-ATH flight was the bathroom five rows ahead of us.  I watched a little old man leave the bathroom, and, a few minutes later, a woman entered the bathroom.  She turned around and came right back out.

I chuckled a little to myself, figuring the man had left a pungent odor in the stall.  I thought I had further proof for my hypothesis when another woman went in and came out a few minutes later, none the worse for wear.

However, I was wrong, because the next person who was supposed to enter the bathroom was a little girl, guided by her mother.  I almost laughed out loud when the little girl poked her head in, pulled it out quickly, and just shook her head “NO!” to her mother.  The mother then, looked in, looked down, made a face, and escorted her child back towards the back of the plane.

Another person also refused to enter the forbidden zone, but she summoned a flight attendant.  The attendant, looked in, looked down, scrunched up her face, and summoned another attendant.  The second attendant looked in, looked down, closed the door and locked it from the outside.  He then went and found a sticker and placed it on the door.

On the way out, I read the sticker.  It said, “Out of Order.  Do not use.”  I never did find out what that little old man did to that poor bathroom.

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Taking The T.A.R.D.I.S. To India

May 25, 2009

Finally, I have internet access.  The Space Apart Hotel was the last place we had access.  It was the place we stayed in London, and I was very pleased with it.  We had a little studio that came with a kitchenette and a washer/dryer.  And when I say “washer/dryer,” I mean a washer that is also a dryer.  I never have figured out why we have to have two machines to do one job…

However, we found out the hard way you should not use the timed dry function.  After 60 minutes, the clothes were still very damp.  So, I set it on automatic dry.  This would not have been such a problem if it had not been 11 o’clock at night.  The dryer was a bit loud, and it kept making this swishing water sound that really worried us.  Thankfully, the clothes were dry the next morning.

After leaving London, we went to Glasgow.  We stayed at the Kelvingrove Hotel for the one night we were there.  It was a nice place with really friendly people.  The receptionist was excited for us going to the Doctor Who exhibition, and one of the other employees had been there.

The exhibition was fantastic.  It had the classic monsters that have been in the new series, a lot of the good new monsters as well.  There is even a dalek you can stick your head in, move the plunger and gun, and it changes your voice to sound like a dalek.  It was great fun, and Ritsa took a video of it.  I will see if I can get it posted to either my blog or YouTube later.

The receptionist at the hotel gave us a recommendation for dinner at Mother India.  We had a leg of lamb there that was to die for.  It was tender and covered in spices.  I could have eaten an entire lamb done like that.  It is a must eat in Glasgow.

The next day we went to Edinburgh to pick up my sister-in-law. More about that tomorrow!

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Prison, Tea, Celebrities and Murder

May 18, 2009

Another busy day in London!

This morning we headed to the Tower of London and discovered yet another site we could spend most of a day touring.  The Beefeater-led tour of the grounds was great, but seemed really short even though it was an hour long.  Then we saw the crown jewels.  They were impressive, but I got more enjoyment out of the Henry VIII exhibit.

We came back to the hotel room and got ready for high tea at The Dorchester.  It was fun, and the food was amazing.  The fun part was sitting next to a room where all this activity was going on.  We had no idea what it was.  Then we heard a guy asking if he could bring Barbara Windsor out.  We got kind of excited, because we thought maybe she was a minor royal with the name Windsor and all.  Turns out, she is a pretty famous actress.  So, that was our brush with celebrity for the trip.

From The Dorchester we went and saw The Mousetrap.  It was written by Agatha Christie, one of my guilty pleasures of reading.  Ritsa guessed the killer, and I had guessed the killer and dismissed it because I had read a similar plot in one of her books.  I will not, however, reveal the killer.  That would be wrong.  Go see it; it was very enjoyable.

We are now packing up in order to catch a train to Glasgow tomorrow.

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The Tudors: True Bollywood Stories

May 17, 2009

Today we went to Hampton Court Palace, as featured in The Tudors.  We again took the Tube, but we managed to account for route closures ahead of time today.  We then had to change to an overland train, and after a total of 45 minutes, we were walking into the palace.

I am not familiar with Tudor construction, so the use of red brick surprised me.  I always associate it with construction in the 1940s in the U.S.  The palace is rather large.  We spent six hours touring the different wings of the palace and the gardens.

While I was a bit disappointed that the real people were not as hot as the actors in The Tudors, it was still a fascinating place. The gardens were magnificent, and we got to see the oldest and largest grape vine in the world.  I do not know how people can show up and only spend an hour there.

After Hampton Court Palace, we came home and ate at the Curry Place/Palace.  They seem to use the two names interchangeably.  We had a very good meal there, though.  I love lamb vindaloo, and even though it could have been a touch hotter, I figure they might have not wanted to kill the white American.  They had some Bollywood movie playing, and we found ourselves hypnotized by it a few times.  We have no idea what the plot (if there was one) was, but all that synchronized gyrating is mesmerizing.  Speaking of movie-like things, the first table when we walked in was populated by an Asian woman with funky hair and a sleeve and her table-mate, who had a shaved head and tattoos on his skull. I felt like I was walking into a set of Blade.

Oh, it is between the Queensway and Bayswater stops, if you want to eat there.

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Heaven and Hell

May 17, 2009

Our first day in London, we hit a couple of major tourist spots.  Of course, our day started in normal fashion for this trip: the quickest underground line to Westminster Abbey was closed for repairs.  The second most convenient route was also blocked due to repairs.  That left us the third best route.

Westminster Abbey was beautiful.  To get there we had to get off at the Embankment stop, which let us see the London Eye from across the Thames and took us right by the Houses of Parliament.  The movies do not do the Houses justice.  They are HUGE.

As I said, the abbey itself was gorgeous.  I am a sucker for gothic architecture, and the abbey has it in spades.  It is hard for me to decide on what part was my favorite, but I think I liked Poet’s Corner best.  If you are in London and have not seen it, see Westminster Abbey.

From there we went to the War Cabinet Rooms and Winston Churchill museum.  The cabinet rooms were pretty interesting, but the WC museum left me a little bored.  They had some neat interactive displays, but I was still left a little cold.

Then we ended up walking through the exercise grounds for the calvary.  We got some pictures of mounted guards and walked pass the entrance to Downing Street, since they do not let you get near #10 any more.

We walked by Trafalger square.  Neither one of us really wanted to spend time there, although Nelson has an impressive column.

We then mosied on through St. James Park and avoided both wildfowl and canoodling couples.  The park is beautiful.  I would not have minded wasting an entire afternoon there, but we had to soldier on to see Buckingham Palace.

We missed the changing of the guard by quite a bit, so the palace itself was kind of boring.  We did not stay there long.

Finally we ran an errand for one of my wife’s co-workers and hiked to Harrod’s to pick up a bag.  Harrod’s is my own special kind of hell.  It was full of people and over-priced, over-designed… stuff.  We got out of there as fast as we could.  We even asked the girl that rang up our purchase what the fastest way out was!

That left us with a tube ride home, a quick dinner of salad, bread and cheese, and an early bed time.

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What A Crazy Trip So Far!

May 15, 2009

This is one of the worst flights we have had on a trip, all for reasons of our own making.  Allow me to recount all of these for you:

1. I left my contacts and contact solution with my sister-in-law.  This actually is not too bad since she will be meeting us in Scotland in a few days.  (We are also sans deodorant.  Sorry, London.)

2. Then I proceeded to spill my full water glass all over my lap and a little into my wife’s lap.  Thankfully I did not hit the guy sitting on the other side of me.  I spent the next six hours of the flight with a damp lap.  There may or may not have been chafing.

3. Next, I sprayed my wife with salad dressing while opening the over-pressurized container.

4. Then it came time to fill out our landing cards for passport control, and I could not find my passport.  I figured it must have been in the backpack in overhead storage.  When the flight landed, I opened up my backpack before disembarking, and the passport was not there.  Begin minor meltdown.  It turns out the passport had gotten stuck in the pages of a book in a different bag.  Disaster averted.

Other than those four things, the trip has been good so far.  The Heathrow Connection was clean and quick, and Paddington station is large and is pretty awesome in the daylight, I imagine.