Barb's thoughts #2
Trip Start Sep 13, 2010
87Trip End Feb 02, 2011
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Where I stayed
We have continued to travel by train, ferry, bus and rental car and have had no reservations at hotels or B&B’s. It’s a great way to see the country-side vs. flying. I’m actually enjoying the freedom/flexibility vs. having a set schedule and advanced reservations. I was nervous when we ended up in Venice at 7 p.m. with no reservations (we thought we had some, but didn’t). It worked out fine, as you’ve read, and since then winging it has worked out well. We just find the area or view we want, have a price range and particulars in mind and go for it.
The weather was cool in both Croatia and Greece (except for Naxos, in the islands). Some of the leaves are turning into the Fall colors, which I didn’t see much of growing up in Florida or living in Hawaii. The houses in all these countries seem to have very similar construction and there isn’t much around the houses such as patio furniture, kids toys, etc. Shopping is still sparse, but better from time to time with more choices. The countryside has been very barren. Little in the way of trees except for olive trees.
Smoking is everywhere. I almost think many people smoke because they are bored. They also sure have a lot of time to sit and drink café. I wasn’t part of the Starbucks scene, so maybe Americans do the coffee breaks just as much. They also get started later in the morning. Probably because of the late night dinners, etc., but possibly also because the sun doesn’t rise until after 7:30 a.m. With Bill and I being morning people that sometimes creates a challenge.
I actually found a variety of salad dressing in a grocery store in Greece and not just vinegar and oil. Greek salad does not have lettuce - just lots of tomatoes, red onion and blocks (larger than a deck of playing cards) of feta cheese and, of course, vinegar and oil and oregano (I finally figured that out). Sometimes they get fancy and add cucumbers, olives, and/or capers. They do love their olive oil. We recently had mountain greens (which I thought would be spinach) and they were floating in olive oil. They were good and after we finished all of them, the waiter still had to handle the plate carefully because of all the amount of olive oil still on the plate.
I noticed that “Married with Children” plays in Greece a lot. I hope they don’t think all American families are like that.
It does seem a little expensive here. The most I’ve paid for the use of a toilet so far is $2 in the Rome train station. Gas has been running almost $8 a gallon and we just did one load of self-service laundry (which was VERY difficult to find) and paid about $7 to wash and a little over $5 to dry - one load. At least they furnished the laundry soap. We are doing a lot of laundry in the sink (with a bar of soap or dish detergent. The most requested form of payment (and sometimes the only form of payment) is cash. Which will be nice not to have any credit card debt when we return.
I was really been embarrassed about my lack of knowledge about Dubrovnik. I guess I was paying too much attention to Desert Shield and Desert Storm to remember that the country was going through a “Civil War” during that time. Apparently they still have warnings upabout landmines if you go hiking. We haven’t had much news about the USA except what my mom e-mails me (thanks mom), but had one day with the British Broadcasting System in our apartment in Hvar and experienced a full day of them rescuing the miners in Chili. How cool was that!
We are still having hit or miss with the WiFi and when we have a strong, convenient link Bill really knocks himself out trying to update the travel blog. I must admit that we take a whole lot of photos, but don’t want to bore people with all that. Sometimes we upload the story without many or no pictures and sometimes we upload without taking the time to do the captions - just trying to get them uploaded while we have WiFi.
I’ve been amused to see how many men carry, and openly fiddle with, prayer beads. Some have VERY large ones and swing them around. I haven’t seen many women using them, at least not openly. You can imagine the discussions Bill and I have had on why the men need the worry beads……
Greece is one big marine head. What I mean is NO toilet paper in the toilet and it’s hard to find a shower with either a shower curtain or door. Makes for a wet bathroom.
As we were leaving for Naxos Island on Monday we found out that there was a train/rail workers strike the week of October 25 - 29th and there wouldn’t be metro service to the airport any of those days except the day we are flying (after returning from the islands by ferry) because it’s a holiday, 1940 Refusal to Yield to the Axis (basically saying no to Italy wanting to take them over). The strike in Spain had delayed us a day leaving Lisbon, but we made our flight and will make this connection to London this Thursday (in route to INDIA!!!)
In Athens, they are having a marathon this week-end and, of course, it’s a big deal. Little known facts are that they guy who ran the first one to announce the victory at the Battle of Marathon died right after he delivered his message. Of course he ran 42 km vs. the 25 km of the current day length. During the early Olympics they performed in the nude partially to make sure you were a male. Very interesting to read the history of the Olympic games.
I’ve included some pictures of cats and dogs. They are wild and everywhere. Apparently many of the dogs are “adopted” by particular neighborhoods. During the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens they rounded up all the stray dogs, vaccinated and sterilized them and then returned them to their neighborhood. Both cats and dogs (on the street) are VERY well, if not overly, fed.
The Acropolis, the rock that the Parthenon sits on, is SO impressive. You can see it from all over Athens. No wonder it’s such an important symbol for Greece.
Looking forward to moving on to London this week-end and then to India and Southwest Asia. Time is going quickly. Can’t believe we’re into our seventh week!
My best to all,