Girls Gone Mild – Day Three

This morning we were back in the gym very early – even though we knew there was going to be a lot of walking today. There’s something soothing about being in an empty gym in the wee hours of the morning (trust me, there is no sarcasm in my words)

IMG_7977As I was making breakfast and going through our groceries I saw a few of our purchases from the Asian Supermarket from yesterday and realised we forgot to open the SoJu!

We saw it in the Korean restaurant we went to yesterday but didn’t drink it so bought a bottle later in the day because we wanted to have some – Will need to make room for that tonight.

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Our plan of attack today was to visit the QueenVictoria Market. This time I checked the opening time online and saw the food and veg sections open at 6am and the rest of it opens at 8am!

That didn’t sound right to me  but we got ready and walked down there. As it turned out, most of the shops were open and trading!

Melbourne has really turned on the weather for us! 22 degrees today and it was such a lovely fresh walk down there.

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We spent a bit of time clocking up steps, walking up and down the aisles but not really finding anything to buy.


I think we got more excited to go back to “our” coffee place. Last year we exhausted their supply of “free to try” chocolate coffee beans. (We bought lots of jars of them too!)

This year, we were excited to be back and wouldn’t you know it, the woman who served us remembered us from last year! She was lovely and I’m sure we were memorable not for raiding their chocolate coffee bean bowl, but because of our lovely personalities and enviable good looks.


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On the way back mumma bear wanted to stop in a kitchen store and I saw this which I thought would go perfect in my kitchen at home!

The only thing missing is the word “permanently”

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The next stop on our agenda was St Kilda so we topped up our public travel cards and hopped on a tram.

A vigorous discussion about whether you had to “tap on” and “tap off” ensued and a local woman thankfully interceded and said tapping off was not required on the tram.

We got to St Kilda and passed the various cake stores. I’m not sure how others feel but those cake stores seem to be better in fantasy than reality. Every time I go there I feel excited to try something but often it disappoints and my mum noted that the cakes at Brunetti looked better.
We didn’t get any cakes.


We ended up lunching at the same place we did last year. Well it was pretty good last year so why ignore a known entity?

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And the food was pretty good!!! Those serves were huge! In fact we were wondering whether we’d be able to take our leftovers with us so when the server came to take our plates away my mum asked “Do you do doggy style?” 
Of course she meant “Do you do doggy bags?” which the rest of us girls quickly restated.
I bet that server will have a story to tell tonight!


My mum wanted to walk to Port Melbourne. Sounds like a good idea in theory but it was so very windy and we were against the wind and walking in a warm sun the whole way.

Of course we stopped for pictures and coffee as we walked.


And finally we were there!! For a brief horrifying second we worried that there might not be a tram from there to Melbourne but thankfully there was.


I’m not sure why the “thumbs up” (Fonzie would be proud) has made an appearance in our photos but we all got into the spirit of it by the end of the day.

I’m not sure about the other girls but I’m pretty sure that I’ve had enough excitement for the day and am looking forward to getting into bed and dreaming about days with no wind.

Now, where’s that Soju…

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Greece is the Word – Day Eight

The “sleeping in” plan didn’t work. How can you sleep in when you are in a country that’s just waiting for you!

Before I get into today, I just want to comment on the bathroom situation. Skip this paragraph if you’re afraid of TMI.

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That picture above is typical of what you’ll see in a lot of public restrooms, including air Bnb’s. I’m not sure exactly why, something to do with the sewer system, but they don’t want you throwing used toilet paper in the toilet bowl. Of course, if you dirty the paper, then yes, it needs to go in, but if you are just doing what affectionately known as number ones, then that goes into a trashcan/bin that will be beside the toilet.
Sorry for grossing you out, but yes, that is what happens here.

Today was a slower day after what we did yesterday. Hubby and I walked back down to Glyfada around lunch time.

We went into the Police Station to report his wallet being stolen the other day and not only did they not seem interested, they were encouraging him to go do it somewhere else. Finally he got to speak to someone who jotted down some details on a throw away piece of paper, made sure that the credit cards were cancelled and said he’d let us know if anything came up.
As we walked out of his office I said to hubby “he’s scrunching up that piece of paper right now”

Oh well. Like we said, it could have been worse. The cards weren’t used

We stopped to get some lunch at a bakery that was in Glyfada. Look at this!

 

They look amazing and they tasted even better! I just find the produce seems sweeter and more full of flavour here.
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We grabbed some water to bring to our table and I noticed the bottle had the names of cities around the world.

It didn’t take long to notice the error….

And the winner is …. Not Sydney.

IMG_6874When you’re with a group of ten it’s hard to synchronise it so you’re all ready to do the same thing at the same time. Up until now we’ve managed quite well considering, but I have to say that most of the afternoon was spent waiting around.
That’s why this entry is not really picture heavy. It was just a more relaxed kind of day. I felt like I spent a lot of it just sitting, waiting in the car.

We drove down to Piraeus to pick up our tickets for the ferry trip tomorrow. We’re going to Naxos and taking our cars.
It was a busy little hub down there. I would have taken photos but in all honesty, I was a bit anxious about taking out my phone.
I tried to get a picture of the ferry from the ferry ticket office.

 

 

We were rushing to get back from there because we were supposed to be meeting up with family at 6.30.
We didn’t get there until almost 8pm but had such a lovely time. Hubby and I met old and new relatives and the time just flew!
They provided us a wonderful dinner!!! It was really too dark for photos but I tried to snap a picture of one of the meat trays.

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We had such a late night last night and tonight was no different. Normally that would be fine but tomorrow we’re up early!! We need to be at the ferry at 5.45am.

Very excited about going to Naxos!! See you on the island!

 

Greece is the Word – Day Seven

Every evening I tell myself “I’m going to sleep in tomorrow” yet every morning I’m up as soon as the sun starts to come up. I can’t help it. I can hear movement outside, I knew the day is fresh and new and I just want to be a part of it.

It is no different here in Nafpaktos. We’re so close to the water we can smell that salty air and it’s so enticing.

We walked straight to the waters edge and continued along the coast to the area where the restaurants face the water. Even though it was early there were still people in the water or enjoying a cup of coffee at the tables.

I took a photo of the pebbles we were walking on. It looks so pretty and is so different to anything we have in Australia.

IMG_6751As part of our walk, we discovered this cute little bakery that made the BEST spanokopita.

That spinach filling was just so full of flavour and cheesy creamy. It was just delicious. We tried to go back for me to take on our journey today but she’d sold out. I almost cried real tears.

We took our spanokopita back to the beach area and found a bench to sit on while we waited for the rest of our group. As we sat there, a couple of cats started to gather round. Normally, when you’re at the beach with food it’s seagulls that start to circle you! Here it’s cats.

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And if you’re wondering, yes we did share with them. When they meow so tragically you IMG_6759really have no choice!

After a Greek Coffee or two, we did a bit of last minute Nafpaktos Tourist shopping before heading up to the castle once again. This time it was open!

It’s such an interesting place.
There’s tons of information on the internet if you’re interested but for us it was just something to think about the people who had walked the same steps we had walked in history. Thinking about when this was a working castle and the jobs people were doing.
There are also amazing views of the coast from up there and yes, it does seem as high up as it looks!


We left Nafpaktos and headed for a village where there was more family waiting to see us. The drive was going to take us through windy hilly roads again. I’m not a fan.

It’s gorgeous scenery though and the hills and mountains are dotted with wind turbines.
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It’s also not uncommon to be stopped by cattle… This happened to us more than once on our journey today!


We didn’t get to the mountain village until well after 4pm. Hubby hadn’t met his relatives before and it was all very special and emotional. We don’t speak Greek and only one of their party spoke English so the translating took a little while but it didn’t matter. It was lovely to spend the time together.
I took some photos from their balcony as the views they have are just breath taking.


They wanted us to share a meal with them so we stayed and talked about old times while eating what they had prepared. Most of what we were having had been grown on their land/property. Even the goat (I’m almost sad to say? Just quietly, it was soooo tasty!)

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This is by no means everything but there was Greek salad with home produce (the tomatoes were just so sweet!) potatoes, zucchini and feta cheese made from the milk of their own goats.

Everything was just too delicious! I ate way more than I should have just because I needed to taste more!

You may also notice the wine on the table, that was made by them as well.

Time was really moving on now and we were conscious of the long drive back to Athens, but they asked us if we wanted to see their farm. They had to go there to feed the animals.
How could we say no?

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We drove down a treacherous dirt path to get to it. I don’t know how these people use these roads every day…

Everything we saw at the farm was interesting and new.
From the goats to the cows with their baby calf.

We watched the cows feeding. I tried to take some photos but they moved back as we got close.

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Unfortunately hubby is allergic so we had to go and wait in the car but the kids in our group were able to watch the goats being milked and had a go at doing it themselves too! Now that’s an experience they wouldn’t get at school.

Again, the views from the farm are just breathtaking. I seem to be saying that a lot!


Everything took much longer than anticipated and we didn’t get back to their house until well after 10.30pm. They begged for us to stay rather than drive back down that awful road with minimum light but we just wanted our own beds and clean clothes so we left.

We didn’t get back to Athens until after 2.30am.

For the record, I have had my life time share of treacherous road driving.

And now, it’s definitely time for bed.
Kalinychta until tomorrow when hopefully, I will be sleeping in…

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Sixteen

Our time is coming to an end and we’re kind of running out of new things to do but I also feel like I want to spend more time around this Dotonbori area.

There is just so much to see and do!

So many different foods! So many people. It both terrifies and excites me.

This is not the place to be if you don’t like crowds!

Hubby was having a bit of a lie in this morning so I took myself for a walk and really enjoyed watching people going about their business.

Most of the shops aren’t open until 10am. That may sound late but they also stay open very late. I really wanted to get some junk cute things from Daiso. I know we have this store in Australia but I’ve never been in one in Australia.

IMG_4213.JPGI know there’s just cheap, nothing goods in there but it’s exciting!!

So are the 100 yen stores! I just love them!!
“This is really only 100 yen??” I find myself exclaiming.

It’s much easier to shop in these stores when hubby isn’t around.
Look at the cute little Hello Kitty bag I got for 100 yen. I think it might actually be a bag to carry cold/fridge foods but I’m going to use it as a make up bag for as long as I can. It’s just too cute!

When I got back to the room, hubby and I had a breakfast of coffee and naughty bakery goods (Oh god I love them so much) then set off to walk through the streets and I snapped a couple of pictures along the way.

 


I took that pic on the left to show how every apartment has an area for bike parking. There aren’t that many places for cars and usually they’re off site (not in the same area as the apartment block) but bike parking you’ll see EVERYWHERE!!!
It’s pretty stressful walking down the street. We’ve seen lots of near misses between people on bikes and cars/buses/pedestrians but never actually seen a collision. I don’t even know how we haven’t because they’re crazy on their bikes!!!

As we walked we talked about places we’ve been and foods we’ve eaten and we started reminiscing about the huge bowls of ramen we got at this particular food court. Unbeknownst to me, hubby started to walk towards it (we were about four kilometres away) I had no idea. He didn’t tell me, he just kept walking.
It was about 2pm at this stage and I was starting to get pretty hungry. I kept pointing out restaurants saying “Mmmm that looks delicious, should we go there?” but he would barely grunt out an answer.
I guess it was his little way of annoying surprising me.

We got to our favourite food court eventually but when we went to the place we ordered the ramen from, the menu looked different. We couldn’t tell what it had been that we used to order!!
The girl at the counter didn’t speak English (we were trying to ask if a particular dish had meat in it. Pork? Chicken?) So she told us to wait and got someone else who also didn’t understand us.
IMG_4206In the end, hubby pointed to some things on the menu and said we’ll just take that.
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I’m not sure that there was any meat in it. There could have been very very very pink bacon in it. Perhaps some tofu like thing… Not sure, but it was pretty delicious!
In the middle there were like fried noodles. I’m not sure exactly. They were crispy. I don’t know the name for them.

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We also chose to drink Calpis which is everywhere here and a delight to say out loud.

“Oh I just loving drinking Calpis.
Would you like to drink Calpis?
thought you’d never ask!”

It was like a more delicious version of lemonade. I really liked it. No diet version though so it’s unlikely I’ll be having it again. Diet drinks aren’t easy to come by here by the way. You will find them, but not as easy as you find them in Australia and many restaurants don’t offer any sort of diet drinks.

So although we enjoyed what we ate, it wasn’t what we were expecting.

We consoled ourselves by visiting the 100 yen bakery downstairs.
OH.MY.GOD this place!
I could have eaten the whole store but we only picked two varieties.

 

I liked the one on the right a lot more. It had a chocolate filling too! The berries were soooo sweet. I just loved it. The other was either a baked cheesecake or had a custard filling. I wasn’t quite sure.
It too was delicious but not as good as the first.

Tomorrow is our last day in Osaka and we’re capping it off with a visit to Rinku Town!! I’m so excited!! The train has taken us past this place every time we’ve arrived or left but we’ve never stopped. It’s full of outlet malls apparently!

I’m not even a shopper but I’m excited!!! Hubby, where’s your wallet??

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Fifteen

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Today hubby and I visited Kobe! What a surprise this city was!

But before I get to that, I have to mention this. At one point when we were on the train, a conductor came through.

He opened the door from the adjoining carriage. Stood looking towards the door at the other end, and bowed. Walked through (counting I think?) and when he got to the other door, he turned to face the door he’d just come from, and bowed again.

Things like that just continue to amaze me. They are so polite and show so much respect. I wonder if that extends to the private life as it does in their public life.

Speaking of trains, we had a different experience today. We weren’t sure we were on the right train so we asked a conductor that was walking through. He said yes, we’re on the right train for Kobe, but if we get off at the next station and catch the train from platform five, we’ll be on an express and it will be better.
Sounds good right?
What he didn’t bank on was the speed with which hubby and I whipped off that train and onto the train that was on platform five. Turns out that train was the local (stopping at every station) train that hadn’t left yet. It was JUST leaving as I jumped through the doors so proud at having made it…. and then we noticed it was stopping at EVERY station. Wrong train! The express arrived minutes later and we watched it race by as we chugged along… 

But at least that one got us to the right location. No such luck on the way back but that’s another story for another day…

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We had sweets for morning tea when we got there.

I’m addicted to these baked goods.

How can these sweet little puffs of sugar be so high in calories?

I don’t know how everyone here doesn’t go mad for them!!

We were impressed at how modern and clean Kobe looked as we got off the train. So many interesting things to see. We wondered what parts had been affected by the 1995 earthquake.

The freeways are just amazing! It felt like we were in a different country at times. It was so different to anything else we’d seen since we’ve been in Japan.


We walked around Harbour Land and saw a few places we thought we might like to have lunch, but really wanted to walk through China Town first before deciding.
IMG_4188When we were in Yokohama, we were sorry we’d eaten lunch before going to their Chinatown, this time, it didn’t seem to matter.

The China Town in Kobe isn’t as big as the one in Yokohama.

Why would we visit China Town while in Japan?

I think it’s just interesting to see how the Japanese interpret that culture.

Plus the food is just yummy.

 

We got some pre-lunch snacks!


I just love those sesame ball things! These ones had red bean paste in them.

Hubby had the things on the top right. I think he said it was pork? And bottom right, well they just looked cute!! I’m not sure what they were as I didn’t get any of them.

So after walking around for probably too long, we went back to Harbourland and found a buffet place that was really very reasonably priced! Everything else seemed not worth it really… but how could we go past a buffet? So many foods to try!!!

And we were not disappointed. I took a photo of most of the food we saw there.


We had quite the ride home via train and ended up stopping at Dome-Mae station and walking back from there.

We were still too full for a proper dinner tonight so we just bought some snacks to eat in our room.

Another day full of a lot of walking and a LOT of food!!

I’m sad that our trip is almost over.