At breakfast we were greeted by quite a surprise. Dad was sporting a pair of the most disturbing poodle leg socks, which brought us considerable joy. Sadly, no photo. Once we were on the road we headed in the direction of Mount Nebo. This is the spot where Moses stood and saw the land promised to the Children of Israel. (more…)
Highway 40 through the Negev was seriously spectacular! Clare even took us on a cool little side journey to see two huge craters. It was so dry and arid, but so picturesque. Everything was closed in the tiny town we planned to stop in for lunch, but luckily we had some left over food in our packs, so we stopped for a nice little picnic in the park. Eventually we made it to Eilat but not before stopping once or twice along the way to take in the magic of the scenery. Feeling pretty beat from the long driving day we sussed out our airbnb apartment and grabbed some breakfast things for dinner from one of the only corner stores we could find that was actually open. It took quite a search to find too.
Dad had us up bright and early on Tuesday as he was only mildly excited about the underground western wall tour he had booked us in for! It was pretty amazing and genuinely a lot less archaeologically nerdy than I had expected. We did the tour with a guide and even though I’d been down there before it was still really interesting. We saw a 600t stone lifted 16m into place using who knows what? We also saw a ramp up to the top level of the temple mount had been built by Herod as an aqueduct. (more…)
The bus trip North was an easy one with no connections. The countryside was pretty barren and dry. When we arrived at Peniche we were able to be picked up and given a lift to our apartment with our airbnb host, Marco. He was a really nice guy and joked about Aussies and their long holidays “I hate Australians, do they ever work?”
As happens when you travel a bit I guess, we had gotten pretty lazy when it comes to looking everything up before we arrive in a new country. Usually the result of this slackness is two very frustrated humans. In Portugal we fluked it! We arrived at the airport and headed to information to find out about busses. “The next bus leaves in 15 minutes”. Perfect. So we jumped onto the bus to Faro city centre. From here we waited a total of ten minutes for a connecting bus all the way to Albufeira. It was the last bus trip we were a little worried about as it was getting to be late arvo on a Saturday when we arrived at Albufeira and started asking around for the last leg trip. Amazingly the bus was sitting right along side the one we arrived on, ready to go. We were stoked.
We had a great time with the Scots. They were always up for a chat and found our van pretty funny too. Think they mostly enjoyed the fact that we weren’t English though…
A Scotsman walking through a field, sees a man drinking water from a pool with his hand. The Scotsman shouts ‘ Awa ye feel hoor thatâs full Oâ coos Sharn’ (Don’t drink the water, it’s full of cow crap.) The man shouts back ‘I’m English, Speak English, I don’t understand you’. The Scotsman shouts back ‘Use both hands, you’ll get more in.‘
Hard to believe, but Fez was even more crazy than Marrakech! From the second we jumped off the train at 2am (not literally this time) it was nuts. We caused a massive argument amongst the cab drivers by not using the first guy we spoke to and loaded our bags in while they all yelled at each other in Arabic. Our driver was pretty sheepish two minutes later when he realised he had a flat tire and that we needed to hop in one of the other taxis.
As we pulled into the crazy bustling streets of Marrakech it was time to part ways with Ibrahim. He had been good fun but really up and down thanks to Ramadan. He was cranky and tired one minute and the next cracking gags. Like when Jared first tried his turban on, Ibrahim spotted him and said “Hello Muhammad, where is Fatima”. I lost it! After dropping the kids off he left Clare and I at the main square, Jamaa El-Fnah. And after asking what riad we were staying in, gave us rough directions through the old town (or Medina) streets and told us to look out for a number 7 over the door. Sounded easy enough.
By the time we had dropped the kids off (not by the pool), then found our accommodation (which included me running off to find wifi to call the owner and confirm her unit number, which Clare enjoyed a lot, except the opposite) we were smashed. So we just grabbed some pizza from across the road and passed out.
The drive to Sitges was super quick and this time it wasn’t due to Jem’s disregard for the speed limit. We met our airbnb host, who happened to speak zero English, which wasn’t a great combination with our zero Spanish. It was heaps fun trying to sort out house rules, deposits, check out times and whatever else we needed using noises and hand gestures but we actually did alright.
When you know a place is dodgy, you see everything from that perspective and your head can run away from you thinking the worst. That is exactly what it was like on the train through Naples to Sorrento. We felt like we were about to be robbed at any moment and that everyone who walked past us was in fact a pickpocket. It didn’t help being circled by a couple of motley guys on the platform, but it was a local who let us know we were on the wrong train and how to change to the right one, after Heidi yelled out “Sorrento here we come”, and he said “no”. Even if it did mean getting off at an abandoned station.
We have just made the trek overland from Greece through Albania and Montenegro continuing on to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia . An amazing and fun trip we would definitely do again. Since transport information about this trip was hard to find and came from a number of sources we thought we would throw a few things down in one place to help anyone thinking of doing the same, or in reverse.
Meeting up with Jeremy in Croatia has pretty much been a week long laughing session! As soon as we saw him he was cracking us up with stories of moneychangers giving him €16 for his $50 and the fact that he had hidden his passport under the rug of our apartment. Watching him try to walk in thongs (something he never does back home) was pretty much the highlight of my week!
One of our necessary pass times during this trip has been reading reviews for Hostels and Hotels. It is actually very funny what some people think you should know before staying somewhere. Here are a few actual examples. I have included the author’s name, as I believe they deserve all the credit for sharing these amazing insights:
Harry J – “the bed was a bit soft”
Jamie R – “one bathroom is entirely blue which is quite off putting whilst the other is the same colour as HP sauce”
Lucy S – “I don’t really understand, why everyone is saying that the breakfast is really nice. It was just toast with ham and cheese, jams, eggs, cornflakes and yoghurt. No fresh fruit, cheese, ham or vegetable. Anyway I would not stay again, cause the town is very boring and there is nothing to do.”
Doctor W – “This all would have been a 5 star review, but when it came to paying there was confusion on our part. We ended up paying twice as much for the room (we thought the quoted price was per person).”
The train trip to Meteora was pretty slow. Thanks to the old lady sitting behind me, who answered her phone at least 20 times, I think I could now have a phone conversation of my own in Greek. It pretty much goes something like “eh, darg darg, nehn, eh darg darg, neehn”.
When we first arrived in Mykonos we weren’t sure exactly which port we had landed in, as there are two. So we wandered over to the motorbike hire shop, pretended to be interested and convinced the lady into giving us a map. Turns out we were at the one close to town, so we wandered into the town square looking for street signs to find our accommo. We also had to contact the owner to meet us there, as it was an apartment not a hotel. We asked at a few tobacco stands and finally found one that sold phone cards. When I explained what it was for, the lady just phoned them herself which worked a treat. We then wandered up some windy concrete stairs in search of the apartment. Half way up the hill the cutest little old lady (all hunched over as she shuffled along) pointed us in the right direction. It was a great spot right at the top of town.
The ferry from Rhodes got us into Santorini port at 1:30am, so as soon as we arrived at our hostel a few minutes later, we passed out and woke up just in time to check out. We were only in this hostel for a night so we grabbed a bakery feed (thanks for the tip Karis, so much deliciousness) and headed to the black sand beach of Perissa while we waited for the next bus to Fira and our next hotel.
On our way to Santorini we had a few hours stop over in Rhodes. Quite a pretty little port town with old city walls originally built in the 4th century BC. The streets outside the old walls are nothing special, but those inside are a great maze of alleyways, overpasses, bridges and tunnels.
You have genuine concern it’s not going to be a great stay when upon entering your hotel you step on a dog turd in the corridor and walk it all over the rug inside your room, only for the owner to say “oh terrible sorry” and just hang the rug outside on a railing. But when your paying 30euro a night for two people you can’t really complain and things did improve. Even if the shower head did fall on me a few times and there was only a bottom sheet on the bed with one itchy blanket. Luckily our travel towels make excellent light blankets on a warm Turkish evening. The Turkish breakfasts were pretty good here; omelet, fresh bread, tomato, cucumber, feta and olives. The hotel was super budget and actually called a Pension. Located a 5 minute walk out of the town centre in suburbia. An area with unit blocks, some with half missing roofs, tin Sheds and the odd tractor.
Istanbul is one crazy place. It’s on the european continent (unlike the majority of the country) but it is crazy like most big Asian cities. From our first experience to our last it was hilarious!
Our first, a simple bus ride from the airport into the city. Only problem, they over filled the bus so when we got on there were no seats left. No worries we can just stand in the isle yeah? Apparently not. We were ordered off. Only concern was that the luggage doors were closed. I told them we weren’t getting off until they got our bags out. Probably because they did not want to think about going back in there considering how ‘well’ they packed everything, they weren’t sure what to do. Eventually after hoping on and off 3 separate times, we were allowed to stand haha. We stayed in an airbnb place near Taksim Square with a quiet little local named Ozan. Pretty simple place in a very basic street with enough cats to swing a room. They were all pretty feral too. I accidentally patted one and contemplated amputation once I realised what I’d done. There was a cool little cafe up the street that did great coffee and even had Wi-Fi.
As soon as we arrived at the Hossegor Surf Hostel we chucked our bags in the room and hit the beach. It wasn’t the warmest day but it was so good to see the ocean again. The hostel was nice and the owner is a champion, but it is a bit of a man cave! He is super relaxed and friendly, but this laid back approach clearly influences all aspects of his life. The place has good facilities, but it gets cold at night and wasn’t real clean. One bloke left his mash potato and sausages in the pot on the stove for two days haha, pretty gross. Seeing what the three other back packers were cooking (and leaving lying around) for dinner each night actually made us realise we are fully eating like kings for povvo travellers really. Smoked Salmon pasta, lamb and prune tagine with couscous haha, not the most economical meals. Sometimes you can waste a lot of time looking for a descent shop too, as we did one afternoon where we ended up walking about 10km through Capbreton, only for it to start raining halfway back. Ah well good excuse to stop for coffee.
Our last week and a bit in Paris was basically a blur of cycling, picnics, walks and trip planning sessions in our favourite cafes. A great little cafe right near the girls called Le Petit Indices and our local Cafe Audjourdui, where the urinal and hand basin are side by side in the unisex bathroom. Pretty awkward, but of course I had to give it a go. Weird that Heidi had to wash her hands twice while I was in there though?
Everyone knows Parisians love the arts, beautiful parks, literature, berets, pencil moustaches and croissants. Having now spent a month with these fine Monsieurs, Madams and Mademoiselles we have learned of one or two less obvious things they love.
First and foremost, NETT HAS ARRIVED!!!! It has been less than 24hrs since she did, but it’s already been great!
Just before arrivée de la Nett, we had a nice coffee with the girls in a cool little cafe. Post arrivée de la Nett, we had a nice coffee with Nett in a cool little cafe. Flat chat here!