22 Nov – On the waves of the Ionian Sea

A full day at sea and a rather bouncy sea it was! There weren’t too many people in the various dinning  rooms and there were equally few people at the numerous enhancement lectures. Even some of the presenters at said lectures were some what under the weather. As were a few of the servers. It all made for an interesting day. Despite being a person rather prone to sea sickness, I did fairly well in that I attended every meal and lecture and enjoyed a beer at lunch then wine at dinner. By dinner we were actually in calmer seas. 

I took no pictures yesterday. I found the idea of balancing a camera to try and show you the tossing waves and bouncing  horizon a little more than I could manage. Dad figures the seas were about three meters with wind waves on top. Winds 35 to 40 knots. It was blowing a gale! No more. 

I have to say I was quite happy when we finished with the Ionian chop and entered the calmer waters of the Adriatic. Yesterday evening we were entertained with a very clever and funny rendition of  Get Smart and James Bond on stage. They did a great job of providing a quality live singing and dancing show with some quite sofisticated visual affects.

All in all a good day but I’m soooo glad to be back in clam seas!

Good night from somewhere off  the Croatian coast.

Greek ferry service

Good thing we like Loutro becasue we’re still here. The ferry schedule indicates two ferries today from here to the next place on our agenda. Remember, we’ve decided to not hike from one village to the next but to ramble around the various villages and take the ferry between. Great plan until there’s suddenly no ferry.
So here we are checked back into our very nice room in Loutro.
We are hoping the ferry will show up tomorrow and that we we will be able to continue. We may yet walk to Agia Roumeli (our next stop) but once there we still need to continue on a second ferry either tomorrow evening or the next evening…… The hike between these next two places is rather more than either of us want to try in a single day.
We had a lovely day despite the change in plans. A hike this morning up into the hills behind the village and down into the next cove, then back over a head land. We passed Roman, Venetian, Saracen, Turkish ruins. The place is steeped in ancient history. Goats and wild flowers in great numbers.
The afternoon while away with a painting expedition up in a flower meadow under the walls of one of the ruins.
Now it’s time for yet another meal. Something has been on the spit all afternoon and it smells really delicious!
Gotta go – Kathy has a major hunger on……..

2 April – Our arrival in Hania Crete

Before describing our joy upon finally setting foot in Crete after some 39 hours of travel, let me tell you about last night. This was our second night on the road so to speak and our second without sleep.

We arrived in Athens from Rome at just before 2am. The airport didn’t have any pay by the hour accommodation. The benches in the arrivals hall looked fairly uncomfortable. There is a luxury hotel across the road. We walked over to see if they’d rent us a room for  four hours.

“No madam.” Said the slightly affronted concierge. “This is a luxury hotel we do not rent rooms by the hour.”

There was a lounge just next to the lobby. “Open until 2.” We were informed.

I noticed another room, it looked very enticing with subdued lighting and couches. “The library.” the dear man told us. “It is open all night.”

“So if we sat in there and read a book and fell asleep, would that be a problem?” I asked.

“No that would be just fine.”

 

During this echange, Kathy was just about dying of embarrassment. She would have just paid for the room and practically begged me to do this.  I just couldn’t do it! We went to the library, unpacked toothbrushes and clean shirts, used the hotel’s very fine restroom to freshen up and made ourselves comfortable. If eye brows were raised – and I’m sure some are being now as you read this – no one came and tossed us out! In fact every effort was made by the staff as they cleaned up next door to be very very quiet.

We didn’t really sleep, but the horizontal position was restful. At 5:30 we were back in the airport eating breakfast and by 8 we had boarded the last of our four flights. I’m sure you can imagine our delight when we touched down in Hania a short time later.

We caught a bus into town. Checked that the buses are running to Sfakia – they are. Good to know for the next leg of our adventure tomorrow. We walked a couple of blocks to our delightful hotel. This place is tucked into the narrow car-less streets of the old town. It is up against the cathedral and surrounded by charming shops and restaurants. A perfect location and itself very quant and comfortable.

We explored the old town and harbour. There is something new to look at around every twisting corner. Buildings centuries old. Charming balconies, bright brained doors. Flowers tucked into pots and crevasses. Cobbled streets, bright colours, warm yellows and burnt oranges. Blue trims. We found two excellent restaurants for lunch and dinner. Delicious meals served with style. Deciding we wanted to have a night cap on our moonlit balcony before turning in for a much desired night’s sleep we went to buy a small bottle of  Limoncello. We only found a large bottle. Asking the store owner if he had smaller ones proved most informative. “Why would you want to drink that when you can drink something local?” He asked as he brought a bottle and two glasses up to the counter from nether regions.

We sipped the local brew. Hmm. Smooth and very acceptable. It’s made from distilling the left over gunk when wine is made. Who knew. Honey is added at some point in the process. We bought a small bottle. No label of course. Back we came to our room. Suddenly we were both so tired we realized we couldn’t handle any more of anything. We were in bed and deeply blissfully asleep within moments.

 

Oasis of the Seas – the biggest cruise ship in the world (to date)

Oasis of the Seas - the biggest cruise ship in the world (to date)

Biggest is not necessarily the best!
So many people are asking me about the Caribbean cruise – so here are a few pictures and a few comments. Very briefly – it was better than I’d anticipated but not something I want to do again in a hurry. I think this cruise line “Royal Caribbean” should be known as “Pirates of the Caribbean.” The ship was a delight to behold from the inside (and there you have a stern view of what it looks like from the outside). Individual crew members worked very hard to please, but while the SAR reunion was outstanding – the cruise was lame, (trite).

Off into the deep blue sea

No picture today, just an up date that I’m off today for a two week cruise out of Fort Lauderdale on the “Oasis of the Seas”.

however first an anecdote.

a fellow at the hotel – which is the Ramada and is a dump – noticed a bunch of SAR techs – we have these round-the-neck name tags. He want up to one and said he’d known a guy who became a SAR tech – Mike Simpson. The person he spoke to said no Mike wasn’t here, but his widow was. The guy came and found me. Turns out he served with Mike in the RCD in Germany and he remembered me coming to do PE in the mornings with them. He recalled I “ran their asses into the ground”. I actually don’t recall that – my recollection was the other way around. Still the point is how small a world and how nice that he took the time to come say hello.

SO on that positive note begins this segment of the adventure.

Trekking on and in a glacier

image

So how very cool is this. Me and two of our three guides are inside an ice tunnel within the glacier. We spent the morning tramping around the glacier – mostly on its surface which seemed to be either ups or downs with not too much level ground. As you can see we were wearing crampons for the obvious reason – the glacier was very slippery! The ups were fairly easy but the downs took some getting used to. Crampons do not work like skis for obvious reasons.  My mantra was “trust the crampons, trust the crampons” a slip would not have been fun. In some of the steeper sections the guides cut steps into the ice with the ice axes – for which I was most grateful.

My last ride

My last ride

So in case anyone is wondering – horses are good climbers. Yesterday I went for another ride – I really am pretty hooked on Patagonian trail riding. We started at the end of the valley you can see in the picture and climbed up a very steep hill side – to this look out. I’d be very untruthful if I didn’t admit to being more than slightly scared! But trusting the horse to be sure footed was pretty much all I could do. The view was worth while and the return ride not nearly so scary as we went a different route. At the end of the ride we came to a really level long flat stretch – almost like a grassed over old runway – anyway that was awesome because we just let the horses go for it – side by side galloping – it was so much fun! A great way to end my Patagonian riding adventures.

A hike near Mount Fitz Roy

Well here I am back in Internet land. El Calafate. So a quick review of fun times in El Chalten.
The first day I hiked about 21 Kms up to this lake at the base of Mount Fitz Roy. The lake itself was pretty understated after the more beautiful ones I’ve seen down here however the hike was really pretty and easier than some I’ve done. The weather doesn’t look great but as I’ve said so many times, if it’s not raining cats and dogs sideways here, or snowing – the weather is good. It was actually pleasantly warm and there was hardly any wind – another rare bonus.