The Final Leg

What a fabulously wonderful whirlwind of a trip!

We’ve eaten just enough gyros and schnitzel to last us until the next time.
We’ve (window) shopped our heads off – with the odd purchase.
We’ve travelled by plane, by ferry, by train and the U-Bahn.
We swam in the Aegean Sea and followed the footprint of the Berlin Wall.
I brushed up on my 4-5 words of Greek whilst Chris sprang straight back into her almost fluent German.

There are no major flights out of Berlin, so on our last day we awoke from our caravan slumber and headed for the train station – to Hamburg

We wondered if maybe Spandau, which is just out of Berlin, was famous for their ballet?

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It was quite a seemless journey all the way to the Hamburg airport and onto the plane where we toasted our fabulous trip.

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Seeya Germany….

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with your black forests and blue skies…..

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Hello Dubai….. at 12.45am….. and 38 degrees!

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Lucky, we only felt it for a brief moment until we were whisked away by air-conditioned bus to our connecting gate, where we only waited an hour or so before getting on our final leg, and going straight to sleep.  I don’t know how we slept as it was the bumpiest, most turbulent flight I think I’ve ever been on, but we were so tired – we managed to sleep through.

So a big thank you needs to go to my lovely cousin for “inviting” me on this trip, for doing the essential research, for being so easy to travel with and for reigniting a long lost joy for seeing Australian bands live.

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As we fade into this fabulous Santorinian sunset, I’ll say :
Kalispera, Gute Nacht and Good Night.

❤️❤️❤️

Noice one Poiter

Anyone who knows Chris knows that she is a diehard Midnight Oil fan, so when she found out that her all time favourites were going to be playing in Europe near where we were going to be – she jumped at the chance.

Now, me – I like to go to the opening of an envelope, so even though live concerts aren’t really my thing (the last one I went to was Kenny Rogers – who rocked, just by the way), I was more than happy to make Chris’ dream come true.

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We needed to fly out ‘somewhere’ in Europe – so we made it Germany – where the Oils just happened to be doing a gig on the exact day before we were due to fly out – the coincidence is uncanny!

Even though Poiter and the boys usually garner 15,000 strong crowds back home, over here, they’re playing much smaller, more intimate venues like Huxleys – a grungy bar attached to an even more grungier casino, which holds 3000.

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We did a little reconnaissance to the venue in daylight hours so we’d know where we were going that night.

Yep – this is the place!

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And lucky we did, because even though we managed to arrive almost on time, the other 2998 people attending all planned to get there at exactly the same time!  A mostly male crowd, with a spattering of Oil loving ladies.

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Even so, we purchased our one beer of the evening and Chris manoeuvred us into an unbelievable pozzy – right at the front (slightly to the side) – we didn’t want have to go to the toilet and risk losing this amazing spot.

This chap on the left behind us looks a little sinister here, however he turned out to be a really sweet young man and also happened to be a photographer hired by Poiter and the boys to take pics during songs 3, 4 & 5. He and about 3 other photographers were ushered into the alleyway between the stage and the fans at song 3 and were just as quickly whisked away after song 5.  We haven’t seen his pics yet – but keep an eye out on his Instagram – @derflip

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Pete didn’t disappoint with his world known dance moves from the first second all the way through to the second encore – 2 solid hours.
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Even during the couple of slow songs, which allowed the boys to have a bit of break, Pete sang with such emotion that it still must have taken it out of him.

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I know all these photos are of Pete, but let me tell you, the rest of the chaps gave a massive performance as well – special mention to Rob Hirst on the drums – he was incredible!

“Blue Sky Mine”
(This is on Chris’ Facebook page, so hopefully you’ll be able to open and see it)

So, my thoughts on live bands have been completely turned on their head… maybe it was the bands I was seeing?  Maybe it was the fact that we were at the front almost wearing Poiter’s sweat?  I don’t know.  All I do know is that I can’t get every single song from the Diesel and Dust album out of  my head!

Well done gentlemen.

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Apologies on the quality of some of these photos – I did what I could with an iphone in a jumpy crowd.  You’re welcome.

Mauerpark – Berlin

On Sundays in Berlin – all the shops are closed which is great because it means that everybody gets to go to the markets in Mauerpark.

We caught the blue line on the U-Bahn and followed the crowd to a mecca of trash and treasures.

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There is literally something for everybody.

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Pictures on wood…

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Furniture, cameras and, why would you go anywhere else for all your ladder needs?

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When we were kiddies my sister and I had fashion face barbies – one of the large Barbie heads on a stand that you could put make up and hair styles on…. Chris never had one, possibly because neither of her two older brothers had one to hand down to her… but she really wanted one.

I suggested she grab this one.

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Chris also found a lovely shell suit jacket that she fancied…

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There were old cases a plenty… and this mystery in a can – liquid frozen whole egg ?

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If you’re after Crazy Bastard Sauce, then this is the place to come.

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If only this were at home – we would have taken the trailer down there.

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Do you love a bit of a china tea cup?  Or what about an old fashioned phone dial up phone?  Owl collection anyone?

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There was also a heap of food vans where I sampled the most disgusting hotdog –
OF . ALL . TIME! Maybe in hindsight there was a reason that it was the only place that didn’t have 30 people lined up to purchase their wares?  It was spat out and thrown in the bin after the first bite and we headed for the first place that sold schnitzel with mushroom sauce.

Caravan of Dreams

OMG!  Can I just tell you about the place we’re staying at tonight.

We checked out of the Hotel from Hell this morning and moved across town to Hüttenpalast
Their philosophy is:  “There has to be more to life than having everything.” Maurice Sendak

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An old warehouse style building with vintage caravans inside – set up like an indoor camping ground!  There are shared toilets and showers which are pristine (pristine Christine!), shared gardens and lounge areas and we’ve got our own caravan to sleep in.

This one is Chrisso’s – it’s the Puck

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Perfect for one!

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And this little beauty is mine.  It’s a teardrop or ‘egg’.  I’ve got a swing underneath where you can lounge whilst perusing the bookshelf or play chess with the home-made chess set

teardrop vanThere is outdoor furniture…

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A lovely lounge area

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Help yourself to water

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Or tea and coffee

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An outside chill out area

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A second chill out garden

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Another caravan in our section

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The view from my upstairs van

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The next door neighbours

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Lots of gorgeous little quirky things hanging around

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This is Orca, the resident pup who I’ve befriended… he loves me.

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No, really he does….. look.

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Chris and I have decided that this is going to be our new business venture in WA.  Who’s with us?

Berlin!

I had written a whole blog post about how terrible our hotel in Berlin was…. but you know what?  I sounded like a complete whinger and nobody wants that.  So let’s just say that our hotel wasn’t great and get on with what was.

Berlin.

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I’m not sure how I feel about Berlin if I’m honest.   I really didn’t have any preconceived ideas or expectations. History fascinates me and Berlin holds quite a few of the bigger historical stories, so coming to Berlin should have been really exciting for me, also didn’t want our visit it to be all about the war and the wall, but after a day of wandering around and seeing landmarks and memorials and pieces of the wall, it’s hard to make it about anything else.WALL
They are placing pieces of the wall back in their original spots around the city as a symbol of reunification.

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And they’ve also laid different tiles to mark where the wall was positioned.  Some lengths sit under new buildings.

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There somehow seems to be an infinite amount of broken bits of the wall for sale.

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Some reminders are a bit hard to take… this statue shows the two kiddies at the front being trained to England to be fostered out and behind them is a group of kiddies who were being trained somewhere entirely different…

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This is the plaque.

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Our hotel was in the Potsdamer Platz which was part of a dead zone when the wall was up – it was flattened and buildings torn down.  Now it is the thriving hub of Berlin and has a massive square – not too dissimilar to Federation Square in Melbourne with restaurants and a big open space and an Imax theatre, etc…  But it also houses parts of the old hotel that used to stand in that very spot.  I tell you it’s eery.

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It makes you feel sad and little bit sick to think about the amount of beautiful buildings that were destroyed.

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Chris had read about a relatively new initiative in Berlin where a very thoughtful person is placing these plaques around Berlin.  They sit in front of the houses or places of work, (or where the buildings used to be) of the people who were killed during the war.  We were lucky we knew about them otherwise they would have been easy to simply step over.  This city has certainly moved on in so many ways, but there are some things that will take generations before they can truly move on.

The first one says:

Worked here
ARTHUR KRONER
JG 1874 (born ?)
humiliated / disenfranchised
Cursed in the death
2.4.1943plaques

This is the Brandenburg Gate where the building of the wall first began.  It’s a shame that it’s remembered for that because it was built in 1791 as the royal city gate and is quite a beautiful piece – architecturally speaking.
(I don’t know what I’m talking about – I just like it)

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Now one place that has turned more touristy than any other is Checkpoint Charlie.  This was originally the principal gateway for foreigners and diplomats between the two Berlins from 1961 – 1990, but now it’s more tacky than Times Square…

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Note the chap here dressed up in uniform with a list of prices around his waist…

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That’s the price you pay to have your photo taken with a hat on next to these two disinterested ‘actors’ in front of the checkpoint hut.

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One thing they have done well though is the Holocaust Memorial.

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It took 17 years of discussion and planning and construction, but it was finally completed in 2005.  It’s the size of a football field and set out like a grid.  We walked a couple of meters in from the side, but if I’m honest, it didn’t feel right to walk in any further.

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Just as Greece was all about the gyros, Berlin is all about the schnitty – that’s a veal schnitzel for this of you that aren’t from Australia.  Chris (you may remember her as Kiki – but we’re in Germany now and I’m yet to find out our German names – it’s probably still Chris) Anyway, Chris used to live in Zurich, Switzerland back in another life before marriage and kiddies and she confesses to eating a fair few schnitties in her time, so this was a great opportunity to get out there amongst it and taste a few of Berlin’s finest.

Our first night was what we’re calling a run up to a good schnitty because we found ourselves in a shopping centre at night and we were all of a sudden starving – so the food court was found and optimistically a schnitzel was purchased.  There might have also been a cutlery malfunction…. We’re not proud.broken forkWe promised ourselves that this would NEVER happen again, so the next evening we headed towards a little German pub (although they’re just called pubs here) that I had read about which was walking distance from our hotel. It was a lovely, cosy pub with train platform bench seats that sat back to back (with no back to them) so when you sat down and somebody sat at their table behind you, your backs just leaned up against each other.  Like I say, it was cosy.  Well, they did not disappoint.  We also realised that if we just bought one dish to share then we wouldn’t leave feeling bilious – so we left satisfied both in our tummies and in the knowledge that we’d finally learned something.

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Chris and I both love a downstairs department store food court – like the one at Harrods or Galleries Lafayette, etc….  Well, we found the Berlin one – Ka De We – which stands for “Kaufhaus des Westens” (Department store of the west).  It’s described as a ‘mind-boggling bonanza of gourmet treats from around the world.”

It has everything you could possibly want in a food hall.  Things we’ve never seen before…. These were eggs of flavoured salt.  I thought they might be Easter eggs.  Luckily Chris is fluent in German food.

SALT EGGS

They’ve got a mini cup cake place – the cup cakes were tiny bite sized morsels.  I tried the matcha and ginger – and it was delicious!

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We went for a little wander through the suburbs – that’s what happens when you get off the u-bahn a stop or two after the one you were planning to….

I think you can tell what sort of neighbourhood you’re in when this is spray painted on every corner!

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You might also want to think about how you lock up your bike….

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But after a wrong turn, we were met with a fabulous street of all sorts of shops – this book/music/stationery shop was right up our alley.

And look what Chris found…. do you remember that we’re seeing Midnight Oil whilst we’re here in Berlin?  Chris is a little bit excited!

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I hope that wasn’t too many facts for everbody….. and just in case you’re wondering, the beer is lovely.

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Goodbye Santorini

Goodbye Santorini!

Honestly, it’s been great, but we’re ready to move on now, so thanks for putting on one last show so that we could remember why we put your on our list in the first place.

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We decided that we’d had enough of the steps and had dinner at our hotel restaurant.  They have a lovely view, friendly staff and yummy food.

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We both know where the sun shines…

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The lovely staff members – Christopher (R) makes the kickarse cocktails and Kostas (L) brings them to you – a great team.

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We’ve noticed a drone hovering over our hotel on most evenings at sunset – as awesome way to get great photos…. but a little in your personal air space when they’re hovering outside your balcony!

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This is our new best friend, Sara – she’s awesome.

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The last glimpse of Santorini by night

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And our last sunset as the last cruise ship sets sail.

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Thanks Santorini – You’ve been great!

It’s pronounced Bo-Gan

You know it’s time to leave when you’re sitting in your jacuzzi on your balcony and all you can hear is a group of drunk, loud, obnoxious Australians shouting at the top of their lungs about how effin’ great rugby is.

Some rugby competition was on back home and the Santorinians kindly played it on TV and in all pubs – so you could hear the cheers and jeers from nearly every balcony around the caldera when the game ended.

We listened to Aussie Aussie Aussie – Oi Oi Oi and not one, not two, but three rousing renditions of Waltzing Matilda coming from a balcony a few hotels down.

Then, just as we were wondering if the afternoon could get more annoying, a bird flew over us and shat about an inch from Kiki’s face into the pool…..

It’s time to go…… Santorini!

Carbonara

20 years ago Kiki, her now husband Nigel and his brother Shane travelled around Europe and she ate carbonara from a restaurant in the main square.  It was hands down the best carbonara that she has ever had and every one since has never lived up to it.

We searched the square when we got here and as there is now a chinese restaurant in the place where the original restaurant once stood and on enquiring about the length of time the current restaurants had been there – Kiki had to take it on the chin that a second tasting of that carbonara was not going to happen.

So, the next best thing was to go to the first restaurant we came to that had carbonara on their menu…..

The verdict was that it was very nice, but…..

It seems that we’ll never have the carbonara again like the one we had when we were 26.

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The Caldera Walk

This is definitely cruise ship season here in Santorini.  There were three in this morning and one more joined them later in the day – that’s about 6 – 8 thousand extra people per day in the little town.

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The passengers get tendered across to the old port where they can choose to ride up the funicular, tackle the stairs – all 584 of them or they can ride up on a donkey.

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These poor donkeys must have a hell of a life trudging up and down these stone stairs carrying tourists in the searing heat.

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My feeling is that this poster of the happy donkey from Shrek is not a true depiction of the real donkey’s feelings about their job – especially for 6 euros that they’ll never get to spend!

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We headed up the coast a bit more today.  We decided we’d walk as far as we felt like it and then turn around, taking in the lovely sights…

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and the lovely gardens…

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We got about half way to Oia and stopped for lunch here

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Then we turned around and made out back along the Caldera Walk… We justified that walking half way to Oia and then back again was akin to walking the whole way there…. it’s simple maths.

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This cat was clearly not happy with his lunch and was waiting to speak to the manager.  He sat there like that without moving, even when I tried to talk to him.

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She was pretty windy in Santorini today, which helped us up the steps gust by gust.

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Just at the top of our hill was this restaurant – we’d read in “Secret Santorini” that is was pretty good, then we told our new best friend at the front desk who screwed her face up at the mention of the name and tried politely to encourage us in a different direction… but we persisted and went there anyway.

We blew in – literally and were ushered upstairs for a better view.  All the tables except one were in the full sun so we asked to sit at the table in the shade…. this was obviously an issue for the 4 bored, scruffy looking gents standing around with nothing to do.

The main guy said – “No you sit here.”

We replied, “We’d rather sit here though.”

He sighed and although I couldn’t see his face as he’d turned away from us, I just know he rolled his eyes.

We sat where we wanted to and the table was dusty and the bench seats were all ripped. They begrudgingly took the plates and cutlery away leaving only one glass on the table.  It was at this point that I remembered I’d eaten there on my last visit to Santorini and remembered having a lovely meal – I remember Madeline going on and on about how good the tomatoes were – they really were good though, so can’t blame her.

We waited a good 5-10 minutes where nobody offered us a drink or to wipe the table or to have anything to do with us.  They were just standing there waiting for something to happen.

So it was decided that Santorini was full of restaurants, so why should we waste our time and money here…..

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Move forward 4 more minutes and we were sitting in Ouzeo, had ordered and were downing a cold one!

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A lovely dinner was had and then we walked back to the cliff to witness this gorgeous ‘second’ sunset – the beautiful colours that come up after the sun has gone down.

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This is what happens when you stick your head in somebody’s panorama shot

Lovely ladies with a lovely sunset

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Then we rushed home to witness more of the sunset before it disappeared.

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And we wished our lovely neighbours goodnight.

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Is this a little bit creepy?

So, I had this photo frame pendant at home and before we came away I went through about 500 old photos to find one where Kiki’s face would fit.

This was taken on my 18th birthday.

I’ve worn it twice now and nobody has noticed.  Well, Kiki finally did, but only after a while of having it on.  She hasn’t changed a bit!

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OIA – Look at that Sunset!

When you’re in Santorini, you have to get yourself to Oia (pronounced IA) at least once.  They have similar little streets with the same touristy shops, but there is also some fabulous little finds that are worth the trip alone.  You also get a great view back to Fira and the rest of the island.

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You also must take the obligatory selfie

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Kiki was drawn to the aqua doors down this little alley.

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And there are views out of every window.

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We went into this funny antique type shop and I saw this mosaic elephant…. now I purchased the exact same elephant for me Jenny back in about 2009 for her accidental elephant collection when I was up in Geraldton – specifically at Bennett’s Elite – Geraldton’s longest standing clothing and haberdashery store.  It was a random item then and just as random now.  I don’t remember paying €35 for it though.

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And this is where you buy your love locks…. Kiki and I didn’t think it was necessary on this trip.

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Another must see is the Atlantis Book Shop – it’s incredible!  Built into this little cave, with books from around the world and their story painted high up on the ceiling.

Don’t miss it.

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I didn’t enquire about their rent a cat service…

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… but there was one there at the ready.

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We asked at the reception of our hotel where the best place was to see the sunset in Oia and there was a bit of trepidation in giving us names… but Catch was one of the suggestions.  The reservation was made on our behalf for 7.30 – enough time to wander around the shops before the sun set…

We’d finished the shops a bit early and thought we’d grab a drink before dinner but when we finally found the ‘secret’ location…. she was closed – not completely…. they just weren’t open yet…

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But rather than let us in for a drink, they said please give us 5-10 minutes and shut the door, making us wait outside…

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She was a little windy and some of the view was tarnished with solar panels, but other than that – it was lovely.

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We had seared scallops…

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Kiki had a steak and I had this glorious saffron risotto with squid – divine.

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And then the magic happened.

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Sunset photo – it was absolutely freezing at this stage as you can see by Kiki’s stance.

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The restaurant called us a taxi and when it turned up there were two other people in the car.  As there is a limited number of taxis on the island, and a maximum number of people trying to exit Oia after the sunset, we jumped in.  I immediately started chatting…

“So, did you guys see the sunset?”

“ummm…. ah, umm” shrugs shoulders

“oh, where are you from?” I said hopefully in English

“ummm, republic of Belarus.  Minsk.” He stammered.

“Oh, um…yeah, no, I’ve got nothing.”

The car ride after than was pretty quiet.

I Should Be So Lucky!

What could be better than to be woken from your slumber to a chap bringing you breakfast on your balcony…. and to this view?

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We ate up and took off up to the main town whilst it was still cool.  It amazes me how trees can just grow out of nothing!

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Today we walked up a different road hoping the stairs wouldn’t be as steep, but we were wrong!

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It did give us a chance to see some different lovely doors though.

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And a different church…

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The last time Kiki was in Santorini was 20 years ago and she had the best pasta carbonara of her life, so we worked our way to where the restaurant was to see if we could be lucky enough to have it again… but there was a Chinese restaurant, a souvlaki joint and a souvenir place – none of which had carbonara on the menu.

The last time I was in Santorini was about 3 years ago and we were recommended by the taxi driver to try a gyros at Lucky’s – and we did, a couple of times, so this time I promised Kiki that we would have the best gyros in town.

My heart sank a little when we got to where I thought it was when I saw Nick’s grill and an optician in the spot…

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But then as we walked a little further down the street, I was lifted out of my doldrums when Kiki said – “Is that it?”

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Yep, that was it alright.

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She was perfect…

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“This is it Kiki, this is it!”

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I think we all agreed.

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Hello Santorini!

Today was the roughest day we’ve had weatherwise so far, so we thought what a great day for travelling…. but then as the ferry sloshed around in the Med, we thought, maybe not! Kiki was fine, but I felt a little queasy for most of the 2.5 hour journey and was very happy when the announcement was made that we were pulling into the Santorini port.

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This was our Super Runner fast ferry, where the back lowers down and cars and people jostle for position to get off first.  The hoards of people lined up to get on do so in one big rush and the ferry takes off again all within about 5 minutes.  You don’t want to be snoozing when it arrives!

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Our bags were getting a little bit heavy by this stage, so this chap was our favourite human being.

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The journey up the side of the cliff is a fairly precarious one with cars and huge buses all making their way up from the port around about 20 hairpin turns – buses have to take wide turns, so the traffic coming down the hill go on the wrong side of the road to pass them – how we have not seen an accident yet is beyond me (touch wood and all fingers and toes crossed!)

Our driver got us safely to the top of the cliff where we were met by another chap from the hotel whose name we didn’t catch, but he took our two huge suitcases and started to run downhill with them…. he was tipped.

This is Kostas who helped us to our room; Christopher, the bar tender and maker of cocktails; us ready to take on the town and the view back down to the ferry around the hairpin road.

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Our room is amazing and the view is even more amazinger!  At first we weren’t sure where Kiki was going to sleep.  We tried out different possibilities…

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But then we noticed that they’d set up the lounge as a second bed. Very comfy, and lucky for Kiki.

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And, if you don’t mind… they gave us a complimentary bottle of wine.

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This is our balcony, complete with private jacuzzi.

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And our view out across the caldera and to the cruise ships which seem to be in every day.  As the Royal Princess departed, she tooted the theme from the Love Boat – slightly out of tune, but definitely recognisable.

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As we were in the heat of the day we popped into the spa and sorted through all of the beach treasures we’d found so far.

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Before heading back up the gazillion stairs for a wonder in the cool of the evening.

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Spot the guard dog.

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Every door you look through is like Alice in Wonderland taking you to somewhere more beautiful.

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There are lots of churches built up high in Fira.

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We had what we like to call a “Duplex dinner” at around 6.30pm rather at 9ish when other people like to eat.  It is called a “Duplex dinner” because when we growing up our very good friend Marie Duplex used to have to be home by 4pm for dinner.  We could never understand why she had to be home so early…. but now that we’re a bit older – we love a Duplex dinner, so thanks Mrs Duplex.

And this is where we had it.  She was a bit overcast, so the sunset was a fizzer, but still a fabulous view.

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And this is the view back to our hotel.  When booking we searched and searched for a hotel a the top of the cliff so we weren’t going up and down stairs all day…. but Santorini gets a bit packed up at the this time of the year and our options were limited.  Hence we’re at the bottom of the accommodation wall.

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There is one little section of stairs where people have started adding their love locks.

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How did this jeweller know that Kiki was from Gero?

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On our journey through the islands there have been a plethora of selfie takers… now I’m not one to shy away from a selfie, but I certainly don’t take myself too seriously by primping and preening and getting my hair just right… except for this one.

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Then a group selfie… we’re loving Santorini!

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We got to the end of one street and were met with a continuous line of people – across the whole width of the street.  So many people that we couldn’t even slot into the conga.  We waved our hands up and around like we were about to enter a skipping rope and jumped in and were headed down the street with the cruise ship tour…. we were very lucky we didn’t end up on the ship at the buffet!

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We headed back to the hotel and loved the pretty lights of Santorini…

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and stopped at the bar so Christopher could conjure up a cocktail creation..

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Cheers Santorini (and Christopher) – you’ve really come through.

Cheers!

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We are sailing

We managed to arrange the boat trip the next day, so we made sure we were waiting down by the windmill at the port for our bus transfer to take us to the other side of the island to board Captain Yiannis’ boat.

We got ourselves a comfy spot and proceeded to people watch the other 40 people onboard.

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There was Yiannis and his wife and their small (about 2 years old) kiddy who was amazingly well behaved and didn’t fall overboard although there was ample chances for him to do so.

They also had one crew member who we named Stavros as it was the only Greek name we could come up with and he was there to drop the anchor, cook the lunch, drive the boat and flirt with the pretty girls – needless to say, he didn’t speak to us the whole 9 hours!

The trip took us to some beautiful island spots around South Naxos and Kouffonisia.

This little bay was named after the name who built this church, but there was no other information given about that – so that’s good for the people who aren’t interested in the facts 😉

The water here was so clear – it was incredible!

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There were plenty of gorgeous caves to swim in as well…. but watch out for sea urchins!

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It was a lovely cruise on a very nice boat, but I’m not sure how many more hours I could have stared at this site…..

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Sun’s out = Bums out, amiright?

A lady sitting next to me asked where we were from and when I told her she asked, “Can you not sit out in the sun in Australia?” Sitting there with my long sleeved rashie dress and a towel covering my legs I replied, “Well, you can if you want to, but I choose not to.” “Yes”, she agreed, manoeuvring herself further into the sun, “I also don’t like to be on the grill.”

#sunsmart

Missed the boat!

Today was meant to be our boat tour to another couple of smaller islands.  It had been planned and booked and we had the tickets with the time the boat left – 9.30am, but we had to get the transfer bus to the other side of the island so there was a second time – an earlier time obviously of 8.40am… now that all seems simple, right?  But on the ticket it was written time of tour – 9.30am to which I took as the time we would be picked up. So, even though Kiki and I discussed that we thought it was a late time to be transferred, etc…. it still didn’t twig that we had it wrong – so by the time we did work it out, we had quite literally missed the boat.

We marched straight over to the tour office and the lovely Elsa made a quick phone call to the captain who said that he was going out again tomorrow (he doesn’t go every day) and that we could join that tour instead – problem solved….

The question now was what to do with this day that was already planned out?

Well yesterday on our way home, we came across this lovely beach, but couldn’t quite work out how to get to it.

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We wound our way around the funny streets until we got as close as we could and then walked around the rocks until we found it… it turns out that we could have driven about 50 metres further along and walked down a few stairs, but our way was way more adventurous!

We had  a swim (water was a little warmer) grabbed a couple of lounge chairs and got comfy…

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When as if out of nowhere an angel appeared holding a sign that said “Massage”

Umm, yes please.

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This woman was amazing!  She lives in Athens and comes to the island each summer and just wanders the beaches with her sign, her bottle of oil and her magic hands.

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Fully relaxed and slowly learning the art of an afternoon siesta – we headed back out to Naousa to enjoy the town in a cooler part of the day.  We also wanted to see if the fabulous sea glass beach was full again.

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We weren’t quite sure where the beach was, so we walked up and down a few little streets, and then…. as if it was meant to be…..

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Kiki jumped straight in whilst I sat up at the beach bar watching in the shade.
(the rest of my body is in the shade).

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We weren’t quite sure what the tide was doing – coming in or going out, but the water just kept pushing the treasures up onto the beach, so Kiki was able to walk up and down the same beach finding new treasures on each turn.

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She managed to find about 5kgs worth!

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Our bag was full and the sun had gone down so we finally, after about 3 hours, called time and headed back to Paros for a well earned gyros and an early night… We’ve got a boat to catch in the morning!

Around the island we go…

We hired our least favourite car since being here…. it wasn’t one bit stylish or pizzazy… so insignificant that I can’t even recall what type/make/model it was and we took no photos of it – but it did get us from A all around the island back to A again.

We headed south from the Paros Port and pretty much followed our noses (coupled with Kiki’s excellent navigation and Greek sign reading skills).  We drove down all the dirt roads to get to far away beaches, and it paid off big time.

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I mean, look at the colour of that water….

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Just look at it!

If it helps those who are not enjoying the bragging…. it was really cold.

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At the north of the island there is the second biggest village/town called Naousa which has its own small port/marina, some lovely beaches and lots of restaurants and shops.  Much like Paros, but perhaps a little more upmarket and it seemed that the people there were a younger and trendier crowd – we fit right in.

 

This is how all the restaurants dry the occy.

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As we were winding our way through the labyrinth of streets we passed this little bar and both did a double take to check it out.

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And we were met with the BEST sea glass collecting beach that we’ve come across.  Not only sea glass, but treasurable pottery and china and bevelled coloured tiles – we had hit the motherload!

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It doesn’t look like much, but the water was clear and the conditions were perfect.

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We stayed there at that beach for a couple of hours, but the midday sun got too much and a siesta in the aircon was needed… but we’d be back – there’s no stopping this collector!

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Don’t worry Puss….. we’ll be back.

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Hostage situation?

After an exhausting day of adventuring we passed by a massage place. It looked clean and tidy, so we said why the hell not?

We were met at the counter by a scruffy looking gent, two woman and two young kids. I was immediately taken back to the fateful massage we endured in Cambodia where a naked toddler essentially pole danced in me Jenny’s face – encouraged by the owner – his mother!

The chap opened up his appointment book with a heavy sigh – they were so busy.  We locked our time and went on our way. 
On our return the two women, who were obviously the “therapists” were there. They looked at us and the man announced “they are for the massage”. 

The man was the father of the two kids and from what I could gather his wife ran the dead skin fish eating spa around the corner and they both tried to get the kids out of the shop, who were playing around the equipment. 

As soon as the women started our foot massage they threw themselves into a Greek whisper marathon where they took turns at taking a breath. There was a lot of eye language between them, looking at the man, then back at each other, then out the door, all the while frantically whispering to each other. Every now and then one would ask us if we were ok or if the pressure was good, to which the other immediately copied. They even mirrored each other’s massage moves, making me think that one was learning from the other, we couldn’t tell which one though. 

I did wonder if perhaps they threw themselves into the “reflexology massage” with as much gusto as they did their conversation, we might have had a half decent treatment. But, then I wondered if perhaps it was their choice to work there. Were they being forced to rub strangers feet for the scraggly looking man? Was he paying them fairly? Had they had a break all day? They clearly weren’t trained therapists, so maybe my theory was true. I was fascinated. If only I could understand Greek I would have asked them to speak louder. We could have hatched a plan to save them and get them off the island…..

At the end of the massage Kiki’s lady asked if she had problems with her hands. Kiki said she did a bit with one hand. The therapist said, “yes, I could feel it.” My therapist, having watched and listened to that exchange immediately turned to me and asked if I have a problem with my head. Ummmm, sorry, what?

That night we walked by the shop again and next door at the cafe, drinking and laughing together was the scraggly man, his wife, both the woman and some other people. 

This doesn’t mean that the case is closed, but it probably means that I’m off the case. 

This might be where he made them live.

Guantunamera

Kiki and I were sitting in a cafe, enjoying a mojito and listening to some old time winners over the DJ wireless when the old favourite “Guantunamera” came on. 

Points for guessing what lyrics we sang. 

This song is now also triggered by the sunset. Each night we sit, waiting for the Earth to spin far enough away that the sun disappears from view and that song pops into our heads.  We only know one line and the lyrics are always the same. 

I guess it’s the price you pay. 

The people that you meet

“Cargo Ship Costas”

We met Costas in a nautical themed shop in the Naxos old town. He asked us where we were from. 

“Sydney?” He asked confidently

“Perth”, we replied in unison

“Geraldton?” He returned in rhythm 

“Yes!”

“Ah, I used to work in cargo ship in Geraldton.”

What a small world. 

BEB, do you know him?

Paros, Greece

At the ferry port, one by one buses and car loads of people and their luggage arrived and filed into the undercover waiting area.  There are no set rules like first come first to get on the ferry… although there are some people who definitely thought that rule existed, so as people arrived and naturally moved to the open spaces nearer to the gate, there were some other people who had arrived earlier, but had chosen to sit on the bench further back who couldn’t cope with getting on the ferry after those later people…. so the dragged their suitcases through the waiting crowd.  No excuse me or pardon me… just push your way through.  So as the ferry approached and the gate was making the get ready to run through noises, I got poised.

Note the tongue out for maximum concentration.
On your marks!

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Today we were sailing from Naxos to its neighbour Paros just a short 45 minutes on the slow ferry.  So we said goodbye to lovely Naxos…

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… and stared wistfully out the sea and other islands

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Until we arrived in the Paros port

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It was such a beautiful calm day

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The port in both islands are very similar with the obligatory white and blue church…

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and a windmill.

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We were staying in the old part of town where cars are forbidden, so a tiny little one seater motorbike/scooter/ute came to pick up our luggage and we walked with Dimitri, our local go to guy to our hotel – The Argonauta.

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Reception

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Front door

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lending library

Then we got stuck into the shops in the old town.

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A restaurant for miniature people

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A Paros siren just hanging around in town.

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Some of the shops have aircon, but not all of them, so they shop workers sit outside their shop chatting and smoking with the other non aircon’d shop workers…. or if you’re lucky enough to find a vacant one, you could rest your weary shopper legs as well.

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Paros has different types of shops which is a refreshing change from shop after shop selling the exact same wares.  We have also been assured in every single shop that we’ve gone into that all their wares are made in Greece, by Greek people, designed by Greek designers – Greek.  Greek, Greek, Greek.

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There are lovely little holes in the walls and narrow laneways filled with cafes and restaurants.

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We had asked our new best friend, Dimitri where the best beach would be to find sea glass and he said “I don’t know what this sea glass is.”  We explained, “you know the little pieces of glass that wash up on the beach?”  He replied, “Oh, you mean the rubbish?”  “Yep”

Dimitri didn’t know where we would find such a thing and he assured us that all the beaches on Paros were cleaned regularly – not what a collector of treasures is after.

After a damn good wander through one of the main streets, we found ourselves on the beachfront for something to eat at watch the sunset and amazingly enough this beach – right here had the treasures we were after.

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We collected by the lowering sun and then watch her set over the mini boat harbour

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How pretty is the lady?

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I think this gives Broome’s Staircase to the moon a bit of a run for its money.

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Whilst dining on Greek Italian food, we watched the ferries come in and out of the port making it quite a spectator sport (accidental rhyme)

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