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By this Author: chrisvasil

Ferry Patras > Venice - my first cruise

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So we were on the 32-hour ferry from Patras to Venice. That seems like a long time, but the timing is perfect - leave Greece at midnight, arrive in Italy at 8am, and lose 1 day on the ferry but save 2 nights' hotel.

The ferry itself is pretty good, basically a cruise ship. We didn't have a cabin, and so were allowed on the "dock". We only found out the second day that that included the indoor part (which is basically the inside of a cruise ship as I imagine it - fancy carpet and chairs, a bar, TVs, etc), so the first night we slept outside on the dock - until around 5am, when heavy rain started to flood our part of the ship. At that point we moved inside, to avoid our things getting wet, and noticed that people are sleeping there - and so we found a spot and also slept there.

Here is where we slept the first night (between tables)

Me sleeping the second half of the first night and the second night

Our stuff, locked to a table. The people on the chair to the right of the table complained that our luggage isn't close to us (and was close to them), but all the space is common so I just said that's where the luggage is and that's where it will stay, and I won that discussion.

Facilities include a pool, which they drain at night and refill in the morning.

Posted by chrisvasil 16:26 Archived in Greece Tagged boating Comments (0)

Olympia / Stuck in transit

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We took a 9:30 bus from Athens to Olympia, which should be 3 hours away. That should have given us a few hours to explore the ancient Olympic site. Unfortunately the bus was very indirect, and we arrived just in time to take the 4pm train to the ferry docks in Patras. The bus was also very expensive, 30 Euros per person. We should have taken the train (which is said to be really bad in Greece, but at least got us from Olympia to Patras very quickly and cheaply).

Here's me in the train station in Olympia.

Posted by chrisvasil 16:24 Archived in Greece Tagged bus Comments (0)


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Aug 22-24 - Santorini

Santorini, in the Greek islands, is incredibly picturesque. Villages of white and blue houses and churches are perched atop cliffs that rise out of the ocean.


We explored the islands on ATV (it's street legal over there - top speed 52 km/h, reached after flooring it for awhile and while going downhill after). Watch out though, no driving an ATV under 6 years old (it was actually pretty exciting, like a go-kart, until I saw that label that says a 6 year old should be able to drive it).

The islands are renowned for their sunsets, and did not disappoint

Posted by chrisvasil 16:22 Archived in Greece Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Athens - Acropolis and a modern city

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Athens was nice, the Acropolis is a massive complex and the related ruins were also impressive, though we've been spoiled by the things we saw in Turkey, Syria, and Jordan.

The rest of the city is just charming, with narrow cobblestone streets and a lot of unique shops and good affordable food (souvlaki, spinach pies and gyros).

Posted by chrisvasil 00:14 Archived in Greece Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

People in Egypt

sunny 40 °C
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Are by and large very, very different from those in the rest of the middle east. My guess is that they have been spoiled by having too many tourists, and so rather than being intrigued and welcoming many of them see foreigners as a way to get moeny. For example:
- Even convenience stores charge a "foreigner price", for example quoting 5 LE for a bottle of water when the actual price is 2 (foreigners can negotiate down to 2.5, but shouldn't have to -- it's a convenience store)
-Public transit also charges a foreigner price - we tried to take a minibus in Luxor, which a horse-and-buggy operator said was .25LE, and they tried to charge us 1LE
-Helpful (and unhelpful) people often demand tips, for anything from giving directions to shaking hands and saying hello. So rather than seeking out friendly locals we have little choice but to try to avoid them
-Vendors hassle passersby much more assertively than in other places, sometimes grabbing their arms or standing in front of them so they can't go forward.
-Vendors try to guilt-trip their way into sales ("you took so much of my time, when I could have been selling things to other people, and now you don't buy anything??")
-There are a lot of beggar children, and a lot of them will follow you for several minutes and touch your arm to get your attention. Some have the audacity to ask for money while being 8 years old and smoking cigarettes (the same one also asked for beer).
-The police are conspiring against foreigners. At a (wonderful) street stand I asked how much for fresh sugar cane juice, the police said 5LE then said something in Arabic to the guy working there. The guy ended up charging 1 LE, which we later found out is the same price he charges to locals. Fresh sugar cane juice is excellent, and we spent the next 2 days in Cairo looking for other places that have the equipent (massive machine that presses the juice out of the cane by flattening it between 2 metal spools)

Note that we did meet some very friendly and helpful people (like the vendor in the above example and the person that offered to pay for our drink in the same example, and the people we met on our transit journey to the airport) both in the towns we went to (though less than in other countries) and especially in Cairo when we went to the non-touristy parts. The above is our impression after coming from countries where almost everyone is incredibly friendly.

Posted by chrisvasil 00:13 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

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