Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Up, Down Repeat

If you plan on biking on these Greek islands be prepared to mostly just go up then down. There’s not much flat in between. The problem with down is that, although easy, isn’t really relaxing because you really have to concentrate and the braking is hard on the wrists. 

Ionian islands

There are 7 main islands in the Ionian group and we’ve visited 4. Some are very small and the populations range from about 2-40 thousand. We started in Lefkas, went to Ithaca, then Kefalonia and Meganisi.

We’re biking on main roads connecting one side of the island to the other. The roads are windy with many switchbacks. Fortunately the views are spectacular and the roads are lined with many different wild flowers. 

There are actually people down on that beach. They look like ants. 

All ports in Greece are public so the boat can’t reserve a spot in advance. That means that as we set off for a port to stay overnight there’s no guarantee there will be a spot for us and we may have to try somewhere else. 

Our typical view while moored.

Not all the houses in Greece are white and blue. 

This is an appropriate place to find goats. Some are wild, others have bells that tinkle like chimes as we go by. 

Another stunning view. 

A study in contrasts. Lots of luxury yachts in the vicinity. 


Monday, May 29, 2023

The Stigma of e-bikes is GONE, thankfully

It wasn’t until our 2nd bike trip in Italy that e-bikes started to be available. Five years ago In Croatia about 1/2 were e-bikes but there was still some stigma associated with having one. Well thankfully that’s no longer the case. This boat is flying flags from the countries represented on board. Two French,2 Italian, 2 Kiwis, 4 Americans, 4 Canadians (another couple from Golden BC).  The ages range from 35 to 94 and guess who didn’t have e-bikes? The older couple from France!

Technically this is Day 3  but since we didn’t get to the boat until about 9:30 pm on the first day it hardly counts. Day 2 had 400 m of elevation (yikes) and it didn’t take long till the French couple managed to secure e-bikes which means we’re all on e-bikes. Today’s elevation was 800m (260 feet) so we were very grateful for the extra boost otherwise I might still be there. . 

Here’s an animated video of todays trip. There were so many switchbacks I lost count. 

The boat is definitely not luxurious but fortunately, because 2 couples cancelled due to the changes, there were empty cabins and we managed to secure one cabin each. Good thing because the actual floor space in the room we would have had is 2 feet by 10 feet. Describing it as small is an understatement. Marj and I would have known each other a lot better than we’d ever want to. 

So far the weather is perfect (highs of 23-26) and the views spectacular. Then there’s the food and wine. 

Through the porthole in the room. 

Lifestyles of the rich and famous:

Friday, May 26, 2023

Greek Adventure/Best Laid Plans

Unfortunately when you’re travelling, much as you might carefully plan, there are some things beyond your control. When Marj and I booked this trip last year we chose the tour with the beautiful wooden sailboat as I’d never been on one before. Apparently last week the boat had other plans as it broke down and is in for repairs. The tour company scrambled and managed to find another boat for us but it’s a bit disappointing. 

The boat we booked:

The boat we’re now on. It looks a bit like a run down pirate ship:

I’m sure Plan B will be fine but it’s a bit of a downgrade. 

Our first view of Greece didn’t disappoint - even though this photo was taken through the plane window the water is beautifully blue and clear.

Yesterday we just kind of wandered around Athens getting our bearings. We watched the changing of the guards outside the parliament, at the tomb of the unknown soldier.They do a very strange slow motion kind of movement - lifting their legs high and wearing goofy shoes. To each their own I guess. 

Listened to a few street musicians. This guy was playing with a bow on a multi stringed instrument and he got kind of annoyed at me when I asked him the name of the instrument. So I still don’t know. 

Another guys was playing a hammered dulcimer (Santouri) and was quite skilled.

This morning we’d hired a guide (our taxi driver from yesterday) to do a tour for us. He was supposed to pick us up at 10 but was a no show. On to plan B: we got on the hop on hop off bus then wandered some funky streets full of shops, restaurants and of course gelato. 

This beautiful old Byzantine church is the view from our hotel window. Behind it is the big bell tower with, you guessed it, big (and loud) bells. They rang at precisely 9 pm and 12:54 am. Strange.

They say bad things come in 3s - they might be right. I had this whole blog written then somehow with a wayward keystroke I erased the whole thing. It’s always good to be flexible and adaptable when you’re traveling. But perhaps we can stick with plan A from now on.

Tomorrow we board the boat and since there is no wifi on board I’ll post when I can. 

Note to interested musicians- we passed a music store today and I asked the proprietor about the stringed instrument above.  Apparently it’s a Bulgarian instrument, a type of Lyra and the doubled strings are ‘sympathetic' meaning they vibrate when another one is played. Gadulka

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