Roman Around – Day One

Surprise! We’re in Rome!!

I woke up with mixed feelings. Sad to be leaving Greece but also excited for what lay ahead. I’ve been to Italy before but it was too many years ago and hubby has never been at all so this was going to be something new for both of us.

It was sad to leave the rest of our travelling buddies who were going back home today. After being with the group for so long, it a little strange to just be on our own. I kept thinking we were missing somebody.

When the group got to Athens airport we saw that we were departing from different gates and had to go through different security screening areas. We asked the security officer if the gates meet up on the other side as we wanted to know whether we were saying goodbye now or if we would have more time together.
The guard said in a heavy accent “No, it separate. Say bye-bye here”
It was just cute.

The goodbye was too quick and too sad…

The flight from Athens to Rome was only 2 hours and it seemed to go fairly quickly. I had last minute anxiety about speaking Italian so was reading the Italian inflight magazine for most of those two hours in the hope it could increase my vocabulary.

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Hubby and I had researched it and decided we would take the bus to our apartment which is pretty close to the train terminal in Rome.
I tried to take some pictures as it drove along but that never works.

Some of the streets were so pretty with green trees shading us but the buildings are all full of graffiti! We saw the same thing in Greece. What is it with these places and graffiti!

We kept driving and then… out of nowhere, out jumped the colosseum!! I think the whole bus exclaimed at the same time!


It looked pretty impressive. I’ve seen it before but it was still a thrill.

Our apartment is just a short walk away from here and we just fell in love with the building as soon as we saw it!! I was so happy that it was as nice as the pictures we’d seen online. Maybe even better than the pictures.


The picture top right is the ceiling in our apartment. It’s curved like that. Looks pretty good! And the ceilings are so high! It feels like were in a palace. I love this place!!

We were going to rest and take it easy but got caught up in the atmosphere and immediately went out exploring. I snapped at things without knowing what they were. Tomorrow is the “proper” sight seeing day. This was just a bonus walk.

We stopped for some dinner. We really wanted authentic pizza but not sure we got that. The place was ok but not amazing.
We also ordered a bottle of wine for both of us. Although I drink often, I don’t drink a lot and a whole bottle between two… well I can tell you my Italian was flowing after that.

The first picture above is the restaurant we stopped at, the second is our wine, third our meals (pizza and calzone) and last is the complimentary limoncello the owner brought out! How nice was that!
We passed a million tourist shops and lots of them sell these things. I haven’t gone in to see what’s in them, but I’ll just leave the picture here for you to see. Try explaining that one to your kids.

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Without looking for it, we came upon Fontana di Trevi,


It was pretty impressive. Much more than I remember when I was here last.

We are going to go to these sights again so we didn’t linger. In any case, it was absolutely littered with people. We were here in the evening and I’m sure there’s people here all day long but probably especially busy at night.

pain_web_1280x720.jpgI accidentally dropped my phone on a young girls head while trying to take an overhead shot of the fountain.
I still feel bad about that but it probably would have been a little funny watching it as an onlooker.

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I joked to hubby that if we kept going the way we were, we would see all the ancient sights before we even had our first night’s sleep!

We passed by the Pantheon and again, that was quite by accident.

We saw a sign for Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) and decided that would be our last stop before heading back.
It was starting to get dark so I couldn’t take many photos. I was telling hubby how when I was here last there were vendors selling chestnuts at the bottom of the steps and they’re still there! You might see some chestnuts in the picture on the right.


Very weary but I want to show you the fabulous parking that people do here. Why stick to one direction when you have one of these cars?

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Backwards, sideways, parallel. It all works!

Arriverderci readers!

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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…

Greece is the Word – Day Five

When we first got to Athens, we were told that there was somebody doing some painting at the Air BnB we were staying at.
When we got there we saw an older guy painting a side fence white.
You can imagine our surprise when last night, we got back to our apartment and saw this.

 


Our first thought was that someone had vandalised it but the more we thought about it and saw what was up there, the more we thought this wall has been commissioned to look like this!
Feel free to let me know YOUR thoughts on it.
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We had an early start today as we were driving to Nafpaktos but driving through Delphi on the way.

Always time for morning selfie while on the balcony drinking coffee.

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I snapped a couple of pics along the way.

We passed such beautiful scenery but it’s hard to take photos while you’re a passenger in a moving car.

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We stopped for snacks and I picked up these sesame square things. Oh my god so tasty!!!

They’re sesame seeds and honey.

They taste like Sesame Snaps but thicker and just soooo good.

Just before we got to Delphi, we passed through Arachova and our whole party must have said in unison “Lets stop here!”

We ended up doing some shopping and having lunch at a restaurant that had views of the valleys. Here are a few pics of Arachova.

 


I need to show you the views from our restaurant too. It just doesn’t seem possible that such beautiful places exist!! Oh, and while I’m on the restaurant, I’ll show you a pic of the moussaka I ordered too. I think I’m almost over my moussaka compulsion. No more moussaka until I’m back in Australia and I attempt to make it myself.

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Once we were done, we made our way to Delphi which was literally the next town over.
We were looking for the Ruins of Delphi.

I didn’t know anything about this site and I recommend doing a google search and learning a little about it yourself.
Check out the photos. This place was amazing!! The entry ticket also includes entry into the Museum. We didn’t think we wanted to go into the museum but I’m so glad we didn’t miss it as it had tons of interesting things to look at and read about.

 


After  the ruins we were still up for more shopping and I let my credit card run wild. Thank you Delphi. My family and I will be enjoying your wares for a while!

 


And finally, about 9pm, we got to our Air BnB at Nafpaktos and our hosts were the most friendly people I have ever met!! They were waiting at the door of the apartment. They hugged us and were so eager to show us the rooms. It was like we were family returning home from a long time away.

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The wife led us into the kitchen where she presented a tray with a couple of liqueurs and another tray with a cake.
Not only had she provided this to us, but she made it all herself! The liqueurs AND the cake! And they were both sooo delicious!
I can tell you the liqueurs didn’t last long and I don’t think the cake will last much longer either.

After showing us everything they said goodbye and let us get on with the night.

I just feel so at home here!

Although the plan was to stay in as we got in late, we really wanted to have a quick explore so we walked down to the Port passing so many restaurants and interesting roads and avenues. We must have looked “different” as we were getting a lot of looks but people were so friendly.
Hubby and I went into a souvlaki/burger type take away and got three different skewers, a couple of pieces of pita and fries for just under five Euro!

They also really love it when you speak to them in Greek so I really try with the few words and expressions I know. The longer I say the more it will become familiar I hope.

Can’t wait to see more tomorrow.

Greece is the Word – Day Four

This morning we woke up to cloudy skies and a wet ground but it was still fairly warm.
The plan was to drive along the coast to Sounio, and to see The Temple of Poseidon while we were there.

There are lots of beggars trying to get money from motorists by either selling something, offering to “wash” your windscreen, or simply by holding out a cup.
Here was one guy (above)  we encountered who was washing windscreens.
It’s a sad situation. There are so many that do it though so you’d have to think there are people that give them money? Otherwise why would they persist?

It was a beautiful drive down the coast.
There does seem to be a lot of graffiti about, no matter what part of the city we are in.

The weather cleared as we neared The Temple of Poseidon and it was even a little humid as we walked around there.
The Temple of Poseidon was rebuilt in 440BC. It’s just amazing to think this structure has been here for so many years!!

Here are a few photos we took of the Temple and views of the surrounding area.


That bird in the last picture is a “rock partridge”. At least, that’s what one of the guides told us! Noisy little things they are! The guide also said they’re considered the guardians of the Temple.

After an hour or so there we headed back towards an area just outside of Sounio where there were a whole lot of restaurants along the waterfront. The views were just gorgeous. This is Greece to me! Enjoying a beautiful meal, by the clear blue water with good company. It was such a lovely atmosphere.

As there were a few restaurants, we walked past quite a few but not before checking out their menu. We wanted to be sure we ate at the right place!
The owners would come out and try to entice us to come in. When we said we were just thinking about which one to go to, and they saw us leave, they actually got quite pushy and aggressive with one guy actually “suggesting” we move our cars (They were parked on the road almost in front of his restaurant.)

One person in our group has a severe seafood allergy so when we picked a place we thought we would eat at, we informed the server and explained that whatever was eaten could not even be cooked in the same oil that any seafood was cooked in.
He assured us that it was fine and that we had nothing to worry about. “You have nothing to fear” he stated.
Hubby, who was still looking over his shoulder at the owner from the last place we checked out whispered under his breath “the only thing we have to fear are the other owners if they see we’ve come in here”

Here are a few pics from inside the restaurant, and the water that we could see from our table. How clear and pristine is that!!


Oh and I should add that I tried to order moussaka again as I wanted to compare it to the other one I had here but guess what… although it was on the menu, it wasn’t available as they were still preparing it and it was going to take another 45 minutes!!! I swear this Moussaka curse is never going to be lifted!!

I ordered a bean dish instead and it was just so delicious!! Every dish I’ve had so far since we’ve been here has had so much oil! That has surprised me a bit. Maybe it just has to do with the food I’m ordering.

After lunch we stopped by a beach and enjoyed the sunshine. Such a picturesque little spot.

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We wanted to do a bit of shopping so we stopped at a mall  in the afternoon.

It was so like home that we almost forgot we were in Greece!!

So many familiar name brands wherever we looked…
Of course, that all changed when we went outside and tried to cross the road. Crazy drivers everywhere.

IMG_6397I had a double Greek coffee while I was there. I can say I’m a fan!

Our plan for dinner was to go back to Glifada seeing as we’re so close and it’s so beautiful there. I won’t post anymore pictures of it. It will only make you jealous!

I will share some pics of a 24 hour bakery we visited down there. I would have taken more but we were told “no pictures, it’s the policy” so I had to put my camera away

Hungry yet?

I’ll sleep tonight and dream of dodging traffic and going the wrong way on one way streets.

It’s all Greek to me!!

Greece is the Word – Day Two

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Arriving in Athens, we met up with our relatives who arrived from their respective countries within an hour of our flight.

We are so excited!

Despite all being deliriously tired we can’t wait to be out on the streets of Athens.

We got into our cars and while we were being driven I took in the sights. Gorgeous huge mountains on one side and years of history on the other.
It’s so amazing to be caught up in this world where people have walked for centuries and centuries on one side and a bit of graffiti ruins the landscape on the other.

Rules don’t seem to apply here but even so, there are “unspoken” rules and that makes it all work regardless. These unspoken rules apply particularly when driving. Needless to say, I won’t be driving over here.

Before reaching our apartment we went grocery shopping. You may remember how much of an experience this was for us in Japan. Here today, I didn’t find it so much different than what I’m used to at home except for the fact that the prices are in Euro’s so at first glance, it seems the items are pretty cheap until you do the monetary conversion.

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I did find these though (left)

Hubby can’t understand why anyone would eat something so dry but I just LOVE them!

And when you dunk them in coffee it’s the best!

Our apartment is Glyfada and about two kilometeres from the beach. I’ve spelt it Glyfada but as with many of the names here, it can be spelt several different ways.

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We were going to refresh and rest before heading out but we got a second wind and decided to head out right then.

What a gorgeous area! And so many different types of people down here. A lot of graffiti too. Surprising how much there is considering this is considered a “rich” area.

I’ve been dying to have a moussaka for a while now. Everytime I try to order it in my home town, something goes wrong. I figured my chances of having it in Greece would have to be pretty high right?
So we went into a restaurant and saw moussaka was on the menu! Great!
The others ordered their food and when it came to me and I said “I’ll have the moussaka please” with full excitement ad anticipation of a great meal.
Instead I received this response.
“Oh I’m sorry, that’s on the menu but we’re often out of it”

Inside I cried but I did have a pastisio (pictured below, right) that was just sooo nice and creamy!!


We also had a Greek salad which was presented with a block of feta cheese on top. (pictured above, left)

Definitely needed a walk along the coastline after that and saw the setting sun lighting up the sky in pinks and oranges.

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Deno touching the Mediterranean Sea!

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Now I really feel like I’m in Greece!