Roman Around – Day Three

We wanted today to be a relaxing day. We just wanted to walk around, do a bit of shopping, take a few pictures and to see what happens.

First thing we did was go to the supermarket where I spoke to the guy behind the counter. I’m just so proud of myself whenever I do that! It’s only because I don’t expect to be able to speak but when I’m there, it comes natural. They don’t even ask me where I’m from or anything like that. It makes me feel like a local.

I had read a bit about Villa Borghese so we were sort of making our way towards that.
We were walking on Via delle Quattro Fontane and found ourselves at the intersection where the four fountains were!
I took pictures of the fountains – some were taken from across the road so not that great but still a cute little intersection.


We didn’t really have breakfast because hubby wanted to get some pizza like we had yesterday. Yesterday we saw these particular types of pizza places all over. Today, for some reason, we couldn’t find them.
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As we walked around looking for this special type of elusive pizza place, we stopped at different sights.

I could not believe we were taking so much time to look for pizza in Rome. I don’t blame Rome, I blame hubby who passed quite a few places that were “not right”. He could have had pizza if he wanted.

We were walking for about an hour when we got to the top of the Spanish Steps and decided to explore the church that is there.

There was a guard up there refusing entry to anyone who had exposed shoulders/arms or legs (Wearing shorts) About half of the people trying to enter were turned away.

I took a few pics inside.


It was very quiet in there. People were respectful of their surroundings. I had spent a bit of time by myself taking photos and looking at it all and realised hubby wasn’t with me. When I was done, I looked around for him and saw him sitting quietly in one of the pews. I motioned that I was ready and he got up and we went out.
When we were out I said “Were you there all that time? What were you doing?”
Without missing a beat he replies “I was praying for pizza”

Alas, that prayer took a little time to be answered.

Took a few pics of the Spanish Steps during the day this time.

We walked and walked without any direction. Passed lots of places selling foccacia…

We eventually found ourselves in Piazzo del Popolo. The Piazza del Popolo (the People’s Square) is located inside the northern gate of the city, which was once called Porta Flaminia. The square is situated at the beginning of Via Flaminia and was the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire.


There is a Leonardo Da Vinci Museum there and we were going to go in but when we went to buy the tickets, it was SO stifling hot and humid in there we couldn’t stay!!! What a shame.

Shortly after, a miracle occurred. We saw a place that had pizza that hubby wanted to eat.
I hear the angels singing as I write this.

I spoke Italian to the guy behind the counter like a champ and ordered us some pizza slices. They charge by weight so you just tell them how much you want and then they cut and weigh it.
I took some pics through their display windows.


It was REALLY good. I think they fry the base or something. It was really crunchy and the one we had was filled with prosciutto. YUM!!

With our hunger satiated we were able to think clearly and we moved on to Villa Borghese.
It was an interesting little place! There’s statues of lots of famous people. The one to the right is Victor Hugo.

Lots of people were getting around on bikes and carts which you can hire relatively cheaply.
Here’s a few more pics from inside.

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There’s nice views of Rome from the top. It was really peaceful up there and if you find yourself in Rome and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist spots, I recommend you come here.

We were tiring by now.

Looking for the perfect pizza place will do that to you.

We just walked and surprisingly, we found ourselves at the Vatican again.
Although we didn’t have a plan, that wasn’t the direction we would have chosen so we changed direction and before we knew it, we were at Piazza Navona.
At least I think that’s where this is.

 


Very pretty place!! Probably more so if you’re not sun struck and tired.

Hubby and I wanted to try some authentic Italian Limoncello so we went into some place that advertised a 500 ml bottle for 5.20 Euro or something like that. When I paid for it, it was 7.20… damn those people who scam tourists!!! In any case, it was still a good price and as I write this, I’m quite a few shots in so I really don’t mind!!!

We’re full up on Limoncello, cheese, proscuitto, salami and bread. Not sure we’re going anywhere for the next few hours!

When we eventually woke from our gastronomic stupor, we wandered back out for some good authentic food. Everyone here beckons you to come in. It’s hard to say no. We went into one place and didn’t really like the menu so after being sat down, we got up and said we were looking for something else.

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We walked past this one place close to our apartment and liked the look of what we saw on other people’s plates so stopped in.

It’s getting quite addictive for me to speak Italian to the servers or really, anyone else!
I’m just so darn proud of myself. (Yes I’ve said that more than once)

I was pretty happy with my pasta! I just wanted a simple meal with a beautiful, flavourful tomato sauce and I got that.
Hubby’s pizza was also good. I can’t remember the pizza’s all having a thin crust when I was here last but they are all like that. Super thin!

Water in restaurants is relatively expensive. We paid 3 Euro for some table water.
Public washrooms are something else that mostly aren’t free. We’ve seen them for one Euro. Hubby and I will usually duck in somewhere and get a drink or coffee and use the bathroom rather than pay extra for a public one.
I won’t tell you how long we spent trying to locate a McDonalds one day, so that we could use their restroom!! If you have young children and you’re coming here it’s probably something to consider.

Only a few days left of vacation now. We have to make the most of our time here.

Buona notte amici

Greece is the Word – Day Eleven

I feel we are staying at the perfect location. Not in the centre of Naxos city but close enough and with enough restaurants and stores to keep us fed and occupied. The rest of our party is just loving the sea which is just metres from our rooms.

Hubby and I went for an early stroll along the water. It’s so peaceful and calm at that time.

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We stopped to get some coffee and pastries.

The ordering system sometimes confuses me a bit.
In any case we got a spinach pie and what we thought was a sausage and cheese pie. When we bit into it, we realised the “sausage” was a hot dog type sausage.
It was still ok, just not what we were expecting.

After checkout we headed into Naxos. We were wanting to see the older part of the city and of course, Apollo’s temple which are doorlike ruins of an ancient temple standing on a scenic point looking over the city and sea.
Here are a few pics I took on the way to and at the Temple ruins.

 

 

 

It was a very warm day and the walk up to the top of the older part/castle was challenging at times but it was really interesting to see the white buildings and the stairs going up and up and up, draped by colourful bougainvillea.

 


View from the top was breathtaking

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We started to wonder about the population here and if most of the homes are holiday homes or if there is a resident population. It would be interesting to see what it’s like in the off season.

We haven’t had pizza since we’ve been here and today was as good a day as any. I really enjoyed what we had. It was pretty cheesy!! But apparently it was not “Greek” style. We’ve got that to look forward to yet..

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Before we got back on the ferry for Athens, we stocked up on snacks like the smart people do. Next time we’ll try to remember to bring a deck of cards too!! It’s a long trip back. I was eating some of the spanokopita we’d bought, mostly out of boredom, and said to hubby “eat some too!” and he replied “why? because if I don’t eat it now there won’t be any left for me?”
He knows me well.

Oh, and both on this trip, and the trip over, I was surprised to find children begging on the boat. How do they even get on there? Do adults sneak them on to do the begging? Has someone bought them a ticket so they can beg? It’s sad to see and hard to resist. That’s probably why they do it. Who can say no to a kid saying “do you have any money so I can have something to eat?” or something similar.

The bathrooms on the ferry had an sea view by the way! I was going to take a photo but unfortunately, I fell asleep and by the time I went back there, it was already dark.

I was dreading this long trip back but actually it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Sleeping through most of it probably helped.
Sadly, our time is almost to an end here in this gorgeous historical country but there may be a surprise coming up…. stay tuned!

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…

In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Six

Thankfully the weather wasn’t as brutally cold today! I left our little apartment just before 7am and it was quite comfortable to walk around.
I managed to walk down to the Dotonbori and took a pic to prove to hubby that I’d been there!

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When I got back hubby and I had some breakfast then headed for Osaka station. We were going to Kobe today!

When the conductors come into your carriage on the train, they bow, walk through, then bow again before leaving the carriage.

It wasn’t long before we got into Kobe. Hubby had looked at a few things he wanted to do there. One was the “Kawasaki Good Time” museum and another was the Shin-Kobe Ropeway up past the Nonobiki waterfall to some Herb Garden.
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But first, Starbucks.

I’m beginning to hate this chain as hubby can’t seem to function without it.

This Starbucks was in an interesting building (left) in an interesting area of Kobe.

We saw a few things in this area that I guess were relating to tourists?

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I only took a photo of the Sherlock Holmes one but there were more.

I’m sure if I searched online I’d find out the story behind this area.

After his coffee hubby was back on getting to the Rope Cars.

I just wasn’t into the rope car idea.

I hate the thought of being suspended like that.

I did really want to see the waterfall though so I persuaded hubby to just walk up there. I thought it would be a peaceful way to get up and enjoy… well enjoy the serenity!

 


There were a few steep bits but mostly it was a pretty mild climb up.

 

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We were able to see the waterfall from a few different levels. The sound of the water rushing past was also quite loud. I really loved it here. It was just so peaceful. I could have stayed there a little longer but it was time to move on to the next thing.
Here are a few pictures I took from a few different viewing areas.

 


What I love about Kobe is they have these beautiful hills on one side, and the water on the other. Kind of like Adelaide but even closer together than Adelaide. Really, it’s such a beautiful city.

Last time we were in Kobe, hubby and I lunched at this buffet place. It must have made a big impression on us as we found ourselves gravitating towards there again today.
There really was a great selection of foods from Japanese staples to Italian food and things like fries. It was lovely and familiar.
I’m just not adventerous when it comes to food and was really really craving pasta today.

The views from our table were pretty special too! I thought I took some photos but I can’t find them. Here are a few from the Observatory Tower that we went to earlier in the day and some while we were out and about.

 


We’ve seen a lot of naked women statues in Osaka and there were more in Kobe.

 


After lunch we were in search of the Kawasaki Good Times Museum. We saw it in the distance!

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But what we didn’t know is that it’s closed on Monday’s… argh!!! Will have to research that one better next time.

We decided to wander the streets a bit more and found ourselves going through China Town where hubby made a friend with one of the stall holders who really really really wanted to be Australian just like us.

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Sadly we did all we could do in the few hours we were there and were soon back on the train back to Osaka.

We found ourselves back at the Umeda Sky Building and went up again.

 


Riding down those escalators BETWEEN buildings at such a great height is really something!

 


IMG_5709We stopped for a drink and watched the suited people rushing by to get wherever they really needed to be.

This place was cute because it seemed none of the workers spoke any English. Hubby pointed to the drink he wanted (they had bottles behind glass).

It took two workers to understand what we were ordering.

Two minutes later they come back to us saying “sold out” and they were both holding four bottles each from which hubby could make his second choice.

They are just so accommodating here!

So sad that our trip is quickly coming to an end. How did that happen?

I’m leaving with a picture for an ad that I saw today. I don’t know what this is advertising. Perhaps you have an idea?

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