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A short list of things I’ve learnt this week

15 Aug

1) Greek people are really friendly and helpful, except for the ones who work in museums. You’d think they’d never seen a child before.

2) Tourists love posing like idiots in front of ancient monuments.

3) The British are a lot better than the Greeks at monument information and interpretation. The philosophy schools, workplace of Plato and Socrates (yes them) had no sign you could see from the footpath. It was only by studying a tiny map really carefully, that we worked out what the scrubby area of land surrounded by chicken wire actually was.

4) The Aegean Sea is the perfect temperature for cooling down after dusty, sticky Athens.

5) Grilled octopus is delicious and not at all chewy.

6) Churches in Naxos are apparently never open.

7) The 2pm bus from Halki to Naxos town could give the Northern Line at rush hour a run for its money. I expect the kind lady who put Dickon on her knee wasn’t aware quite how heavy he was. I hope the fact she got off at A&E wasn’t down to us.

8) You can’t drink the tap water in Naxos, it tastes of salt. But bottled water is €2 for 9 litres and it turns out that the knee high taps around town aren’t actually for washing your feet…

A short list of things I’ve learnt this week

5 Aug

1) The Greek alphabet. I learnt it at school and it’s come back to me, which is pleasing.

2) It’s not wise to feed a pint of chocolate milk to a child after an hour walking in 36 degrees. Unless you want to see it again all over the cafe floor.

3) The Greek hillsides smell of figs.

4) If you drop your purse on a footpath from a monastery into the village, don’t rush to cancel your debit card, as a kind person might hand it in at the tourist office.

5) Oregano crisps are nicer than they sound.

6) Bakeries sell little homemade choc ices by weight. Five cost about 2 euros. Bargain.

7) If the playground is locked because it’s ‘out of order’, everyone will just climb over the fence to get in.

Yassou Greece!

3 Aug

I’m blogging on my phone, so this is going to be short and sweet. Our Athens apartment is lovely, high ceilings and tiled floors. The local souvlaki place is delicious and very reasonably priced and we had a successful first day sorting ferry tickets, buying mastic products and votives and seeing soldiers in skirts.

Yesterday we got the bus to Meteora. Comfortable as these things go and only took an hour longer than we’d been told. We stopped at a service station half way and tried a delicious sticky nutty jelly thing. Don’t know what it was called but the top had been caramelised with a flame.

Meteora is stunning. Huge grey sandstone rock pinnacles looming over the little village. There are six monasteries on the top of pinnacles and caves with rickety platforms, once home to hermits. This morning we climbed the steps to two monasteries in the shimmering heat. The churches are stunning, every surface covered with paintings, icons and carvings and silver and ostrich egg lamps. The devout kiss the paintings and a member of staff follows them round, spraying the glass with cleaner and wiping. Impressive levels of hygiene.

After a restorative ice cream, Dickon’s was banana with peelable edible jelly skin, we walked down the hill back to the village past bee hives, wild artichokes and shrines, the smell of warm figs pervading.

We’ve been listening to Percy Jackson and My Family and Other Animals, eating Greek salad (obvs), grilled meat and oregano crisps.

PS I can’t upload photos because I’ve used up my storage and I really can’t be faffed to work out how to sort that on my phone. If you want to see my pics, I’m on Instagram, user name vwallop!

I won!

30 Sep

Back in the mists of time, do you remember me asking you to vote for me?  It was a blog award type thing called the MADS, I was nominated in the Travel category, obvs.  Well I won!  I got a glass trophy thing, some lovely flowers and a £500 travel voucher for Home and Away.  Brilliant huh?

If you voted for me, thank you very much.  If you didn’t, I shan’t hold it against you, because I’m nice like that.

Living without a car

11 Sep

When we came home from our round the world trip a year ago, we decided not to buy a new car.  We live in London’s Zone 2 and have pretty much everything we need on our doorstop, from schools and libraries to shops and doctors.  We also have a car club, which we’ve joined and make use of every couple of weeks.  We weren’t saying we’d never own a car again, but it seemed very achievable to live without one for at least a year or two.

We then unexpectedly became the owners of a large, quite bouncy dog.  I wondered whether our no car policy would be tested, I had no idea whether the car club allowed dogs, and she’s a country bumpkin who’d never been on public transport.  But a year later, it’s going well.  The dog squeezes herself quite happily into the back of the Zipcar VW Golf for days in Richmond.  She’s sits, not very patiently, on the bus, attempting to leap out at every stop, for trips to Battersea Park.  And she has even travelled by escalator; paws splayed, alarmed look on her face as the wall moves next to her nose.  It helps that she rarely barks, loves people, and is very calm when she’s on the lead.

We’ve taken her on holiday by train a few times now.  People always ask us if we have to get rail tickets for her too, but dogs travel free.  I think she quite likes the train, she tends to be a minor celebrity with everyone stopping to stroke her as they make their way to the buffet car.  She’s so friendly that people can’t help but smile. Apart from the horrified family who were supposed to be sitting next to us but hurried away to another table saying “what if she does a poo.”  Honestly.

We’re generally considered odd, for choosing to live without a car in this day and age, but I think more people should try it.  It’s good for the environment, which makes me feel better about my hot bath addiction, and it’s really not as difficult as most people seem to think it is.  Even with a dog.