Fran on Holidays last year

Fran on Holidays last year
Vino at Mercatello

Friday, October 3, 2014



Arrived back in the afternoon and met by our kind taxi driver Aristedes. He's a big Greek man with a scraggly pony tail and a very kind attitude. 

Checked in and I have a room with a view. THE view in Athens - of the Acropolis.
My perfect Athens view from my room
Magic view. Up to the roof top  to drink -  the view and the wine. Jill's not feeling too good with her coughing so we didn't stay too long. We headed out for a short walk and a very touristy type dinner. Early night 


Up at a reasonable time and down to breakfast to find Jill not good at all and  has called the doctor to the hotel. So a slow start and then a little walk around the Plaka. She felt a bit better and we went along the streets towards Parliament to see the changing of the guards. Beautiful day. 
View form our coffee shop

Sadly Jill didn't want to continue and returned to the hotel with Chris, so I went
exploring on my own. I found the upmarket area with the expensive shops and I did
some people looking - not shopping! 

Also found the local department store Aticca. It was a kind of upmarket department store spread over 6 floors. They put the men's clothes on 1 & 2 and the ladies clothes on floors 4 & 5. So different in Australia where womens clothes are much more visible. Tried a few things on but didn't buy! Then made my way, in a round about way, to the Acropolis area and wandered around, had a sandwich and got back to the hotel at 4 to check on Jill. She decided not to go out again. Sad news. 
So up to the roof top I went to drink - both the view and the wine and was joined by Chris. 
The perfect guard!

 Chris and I went out for a last dinner together and had what was probably one of the better dinners - certainly in Athens. 

Off to bed after packing. 
Jill and Chris are leaving at 5.45 am
I'll be still asleep so we said are farewells tonight
It's been a wonderful holiday having the "Wandering Wilsons" along on the holiday adventure. Swimming and island hopping. 


Up and out and felt strange again by myself. Did more wandering and people watching and went to the jewellery museum. All of Athens is a jewellery museum from what I can see there are sooooo many shops! I had people making me all sort of offers and discounts. I kept saying - after trying things on. I really like it but I'll have to bring my husband back to see it. He has the cash. That usually ensues a further discount. Pity it's not going to happen! 

Picked up again by Aristedes, this time accompany by his wife Maria who became my best friend by the time we had detoured around the city on a little side trip. They provided water and a pastry this time and I was out at the airport in very good time. Worth the money. 

Went to the lounge, which involved practically walking back to Athens and waited for the boarding which was on time. Had a lovely flight with an air hostess who was so trim and beautiful I thought she might be an out of work actress. 

Now sitting in Paris waiting for my flight to Singapore where I will meet up with Narelle , my Sydney school friend. Fun times ahead!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Last morning in Hydra

Our last day on the island dawned with the usual cacophony of noises starting at 7am. 

I'm sitting writing this to the echoes of a saw, dogs barking, donkeys baying, people chattering, school kids talking, a lady sweeping the terrace and a cat meowing. 
It makes it  all rather real though as if living in a little country town by the sea. 

After we pack its down to the harbour for coffee, a visit to the museum, a walk around the other headland, lunch and onto the ferry at 3. We are seriously hoping the water is not too rough today. 
Views from the fort on the headland

My friend Kerrie, who recommended Hydra to me, told me when she travelled here,  everyone (but her)  was vomiting into bags being handed out by the staff - Kerrie, you didn't mention that before!  
Really it's not too bad and I too would recommend Hydra. 

Photos of Hydra :

Donkeys carrying the island rubbish

waiting at the harbour for their load

Walking around the port and along to the next bay

An Aperol Spritz at The Pirate Bar 

Afternoon stroll

One of the many little shops

SO many bobbing boats



Our arrival in Hydra was a relief. Glad to get off the boat onto this lovely little island. 
The donkeys of Hydra
It's a little like a theatre. The small harbour sits in the middle of a very round bay. The land looks like the stalls and the water is the stage. And what a busy stage it is - boats scampering in and out, water taxis called seabirds flittering around, donkeys in various shades of donkey brown lumbering slowly with their load of bags and shops goods, tourists with sun hats perched, cats sitting to attention in front of the fishing boats hoping for a morsel, shop keepers on watch for anyone interested in their goods and the cafe sitters watching it all from the stalls. 
Beautiful port of Hydra

Fishermen selling fish with a cat waiting …...

A porter met us - I was disappointed we didn't get a donkey with our porter but we had a man with a cart. Remember there are no vehicles on Hydra! 

We walked  away from the harbour through narrow streets which opened after a short distance to a wide tree-lined paved street (no cars). and with every step I was hoping it wouldn't be too far or steep. Chris has hurt his hip and is walking rather gingerly. I had booked a guest house which had great reviews. It's set back a little and overlooks the harbour. It turned out to be an easy 5 min walk back which in fact almost takes you to the edge of this pretty town. Then the houses go climbing up the surrounding hills. It's quite dramatic. 

The guest house is lovely. The stone used, a beautiful golden honey colour, is larger and has a lot of concrete around it. Our house had some steps up which gave us the view back to the water. The rooms are lovely and I'm on the same terrace as the Wilsons. 

We unpacked and headed back to the harbour for a drink. We joined the front stall sitters and enjoyed our first viewing of the theatre of Hydra. But not before having a quick look at some of the little shops dotted along the front opposite the water. The first one had some lovely things and many discounts. It's every close to the end of the season and all prices are dropped. I suspect they are elevated before being dropped. Jill and I did our usual - "I'll try this - you try that and we'll swap."  Jill had her eye on a very smart navy and white, light cotton jumper (see photo as to who bought it!  And then wore it out of the shop due to cool breezes)    
Aperitif in our new jumpers

After our aperitif we headed to a little restaurant recommended by Rick Steve.
It was run by a husband and wife team who were just hilarious. He had spent the day in Athens and left most the work to her. They quickly pointed out what they had that was fresh and we ordered. He then came out of the kitchen disappeared for while and returned with meat on a plate. He buys as he goes from the very nice butcher nearby.  Very good food.  I'm getting to love the Greek starters. Each night we share one or two and tonight we shared stuffed peppers and zucchini balls. Delicious. 

And so to bed. Lovely comfy room and quiet area. 

 Until. ........


Noise:  dogs barking, roosters crowing, someone sawing, children talking on their way to school located near the guest house. Even with earplugs in the noise was amazing. No sleeping in past 7am. 

I caught up on my photo sorting and we had a little fruit breakfast in our rooms before heading to the harbour for coffee and a little pastry. 

Then a little more browsing the shops, taking photos (this is a photographers paradise) and then a walk along the path leading away from town to the next bay. What a gorgeous walk it was. The sea is still a little rough so no one was swimming but at spots along the walk you could see where swimmers could climb down to the rocks and use some of the metal steps installed to make getting in and out of the water a little easier. Would love to have a swim but not as nice in the wind. 

We pottered around and had a light lunch  on a verandah overlooking the little bay. We watched the little seabird taxis fly into the harbour delivering mostly locals saving them the walk around the coast. They look so cute we decided to catch one back. What a hoot. They fly along, bumping and splashing and providing a great ride back into the main harbour of Hydra. 
Flying seabird taxi

After more aimless wandering we headed back to our guest house to relax. 
I did some washing and then sat reading under an umbrella on the small stone terrace. Such a lovely spot and so quiet this afternoon in contrast to this morning. 

An aperitif was calling so Jill and I left Chris and headed to the Pirate Bar for our cocktail. We followed this with a simple dinner at a local taverna. 

And so to bed. 
Oh and I got hot water this afternoon after my COLD shower this morning because the hot water button in my room was turned off!  And the host forgot to turn it on

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rock in' roll in' ridin' to Hydra

Monday 29th - to Hydra

Our last night in our little cave house. I have a double door onto the patio and I can open the top part (like a horse door but smaller) and leave it open all night. So I can listen to the sea, the wind in the wires of the windmill but very little else. It's truly a magic place to stay. 
Breakfast on the terrace is lovely especially as the waiter now knows us and brings our coffee in large mugs with extra hot milk on the side. It's sad to be leaving but Hydra awaits. 
Hydra is a small car-free island recommended by my Sydney friend Kerrie. She and her husband sail over here and she told me it was a charming little island and isn't far back to Athens. Everyone we've told about going to Hydra has told us it lovely so we can't wait to get there.
It was all fine timing to leave Oia, taxi to the airport, and then from Athens on to to Piraeus port. But with the luck of the Irish we did it. Connections! Our taxi driver in Oia recommended his friend in Athens. So remembering my good experience in a similar situation in Sicily serval years ago, trusted we would be looked after and not ripped off. 
And it was magic. We landed early, and everything went like clockwork so thanks to our taxi driver Archimedes (or something like that) we are sitting on the 2pm fast ferry to Hydra and will be met by a donkey to transport our bags to the hotel we are staying in. Fingers crossed its as good as it sounds. 

15 mins later .........
Fingers crossed we get there. After stopping at Poros, a really green island, we rather regretted  not getting off - for 5 mins later there were scenes reminiscent of  Titanic without the band. But there is a crazy show on TV where the contestants are dancing in front of a weather map in short swirly dresses. The hydrocat swooping  and rolling and its like being  on a roller coaster (still is! Writing this is taking my mind off the dipping and rolling) a lady opposite me is vomiting into a bag and people are gasping ooh! arrh! at regular intervals. Ride em cowboy! A man who seems to know about the boat said the driver is going too fast for the current between islands. Where are the pirates when you need them! Aaarrrggghh!

At first I was joking about us being able to swim the rest of the way but now it's looking likely - and I haven't got my fins on! Makes the plane ride, in the wind, more like a walk in the park. Steve is probably thinking I'm exaggerating but I'm .............. Well maybe a little. It's starting to settle and I can't wait for my fourth form of transport today  - a donkey ride.  

Sunday : a day in Fira


Woke to howling winds which they tell us are about a month too soon! Back on with the good old Bonds zip hoodie and off to the bus to Fira, the capital of Santorini. Comfortable bus ride down passing lots of walkers and apartments on the outskirts of Oia and we felt vey SMUG about our superior position. 

Arrived in Fira and within a few paces had eyed a massage place for poor Chris who is struggling with back pain, a result of a weeks swimming and a slight tumble down a rogue stair in Oia. We booked him in and went exploring. 

Imagine lots of tourists in a mish-mash of clothes due to the windy, cool weather (the most outrageous was the lady in sea aqua tights, beige linen knee length dress, purple wooly cardigan and a multi coloured scarf. I felt the height of fashion by comparison!) Then there were: snapping cameras, ooh and arrhs at the views, buskers playing very mellow tunes outside the large Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and multiple jewellery stores. 
Inside the Cathedral the little Greek lady who was cleaning was muttering - probably about the disrespectful tourists, sweeping and realigning the candles people had lit and put into the sand tray. 

Meandered the streets towards the cable car and decided not to ride it. It looked way too swaying for us. Instead we climbed stairs and visited  the Catholic Cathedral. It was painted yellow in contrast to the white of most of the buildings. 

Ventured into the Red Donkey for lunch and shared a few plates. Chris left us for his massage and Jill and I decided on a wander through the shopping streets. Not too much to attract us but I did buy some Spanish espadrilles! After being in France and not buying them, I then find some I like in Greece!

A few streets later we found a linen shop and after much ducking in and out of dressing rooms, sharing clothes and giving Very Honest opinions of how fetching we looked, Jill bought a blue/white linen top and I bought a very blue asymmetrical top and a burnt orange linen dress! Well done us. 

We made our way to the bus station and along with all the badly dressed tourists rushed onto the return bus to Oia. What an experience. Apart from a driver who thought he was in a James Bond speed scene, the real entertainment came with the conductor! What a cranky Greek he was. Smart mouthed, sarcastic, mean spirited and a tourist hater! His comments to various passengers included: "what language do you want to me to say it in" (to a poor Japanese man); "I'm not a bancomat" to the Spaniard who tried to give him a 100 euro note; "if you are getting off here - hurry" as people were trying to push through the crowds. Jill and I had a good seat and had a Greek language lesson from three local siblings who were carrying a huge white box, which we offered to hold on our laps. Our guess proved correct. It was the eldest one's 14th birthday and they had been to buy a cake. She proudly opened the box to reveal a big white heart shaped cake decorated in gaudy red roses. Not to be too mean, I did think perhaps they had a hearty diet and would enjoy the big cake. They we all three of them rather well covered. The eldest girl had quite good English and then started to teach us a few Greek words. Not sure we were good students. 

We all got off at the same spot and as their house was right at the bus stop I thought we might be invited in to meet mum and share the cake. No such luck. So we crossed the road and entered Oia from the start of the village opposite to where we were staying. 
It's a little more upmarket  - cave house and lots of "beautiful people" were lying on deck chairs around individual plunge pools. We could see them from the top walkway as all the little cave house appear to tumble down the cliff face. It was wonderful to see. 

We enjoyed a wedding  conducted on a little rocky outcrop, saw some local little girls playing with their Barbie dolls, dogs sleeping in door ways, the rich and maybe famous sitting in cafes drinking wine, and others enjoying a Greek style passeggiata. Lovely scene

We reach our end of the village and Jill - after a little urging from me, bought the beautiful navy silk top and I stopped in and picked up the pink silk. We are ready for a glamorous night out now. 

The crowds were gathering for the sunset and we smugly walked back to our "villa with a view" settled in with snacks and beer! (out of wine!) and snapped another few !!!!  Photos. What a sunset. Bright orangey pink sun, silvery lined clouds, rays plunging into the sea and changing every second. It's an amazing sight. 

We had the loud neighbours (guess where they came from!) move in this afternoon which destroyed our peace but gave us a laugh. 

Another lovely dinner at Papagalos with our fun gay waiter and then to bed. 

Saturday: Farewell First Class Steve


Woke later than we planned! Steve didn't get up and roam the quiet streets but Chris did. Finally hit the streets and visited the bookshop! The rocky outcrop with the spectacular view and of course the patisserie where Steve had spied some delicious pastries. We sat in the terrace sheltering from the dripping rain and enjoyed warm milk pie and apple tart. Yum. 

Before long it was time for Steve to depart. He had on his very sad face. We had heard his Airfrance flight had been changed due to a strike and he was now on Emirates. A text later from him in Athens confirmed he had won the upgrade lottery. He was First Class - all the way to Melbourne. Yay for Steve. Now he'll find it hard to fly business. 

After Steve left we had our little siesta and then Jill and I had some girl time! We decided to try a little shopping. Well picture us in possibly the nicest boutique in Oia and becoming friends with the lovely girls then spending quite some time trying different outfits on. It's was great fun. On my own I may not have tried things and I think Jill would have been the same but together! We went into the same dressing room and swapped things around. We have different figure types and some suited one and some suited the other!
Finally I decided on a lovely coral coloured silk top. Jill didn't find anything so the lovely girl told us to visit their other shop around the corner. It's called the silk shop and had may different things. Well into the shared dressing room again and more fun. Jill loved a naval silk top with  soft sleeves and a fitted band around the bottom. Lovely. She decided to "think" about it but I'm sure it's the one for her.
We scurried back to Chris with a bottle of red and nibbles and watched the sunset. Not as good as yesterday so that'll make Steve feel better. 

Found a lovely restaurant not far from our villa and we settled in and I had my first moussaka. Yum. The waiter was a hoot. Slightly gay - like that guy from the fashion show. Very funny but so attentive and brought us the nicest house wine I had tasted. 
We hid from the table of 4 Aussies next to us. They were loud and we didn't want to get involved in their singing of Aussie Aussie Aussie! 

But they guessed and spent a few minutes describing all they had "done" in their six weeks holiday. We found out at least 20 things about them but gave away nothing much at all. Very "lock and key" 

Home to mint tea and a good sleep