Today is a bit of a sad day… this is the wrap up post for this particular stage in the journey… It took seven years to get here, and suddenly I blinked, and the holiday was over. The funny thing is, we are already discussing ‘the next trip’.
Let me sum this one up for you. In all honesty, it has been an amazing holiday. A bit of a whirl wind, yes. There are so many places I just wanted to spend more time in, and just appreciate what I was seeing.
I tried to capture that in the 1500+ photographs I have taken in the last three weeks.
The journey started with Cyprus. For Cath, this is where she works and lives at the moment. For me, it was another marvellous country to explore. I saw things here like the buffer zone and the division between North and South that I had not experienced. There were diverse landscapes of the barren interior, to the mountains, to the coastal ‘tourist’ towns. You could find your adventure here if you looked. I loved the Troodos Mountains. They would have looked amazing capped in snow. The winding roads were an adventure in themselves. The banquet we had in Pafos for lunch was incredible. What really blew me away though was going North to Kyrenia and the castle on the coast. I loved this place with its old world harbour and Castle. I could have climbed around that castle for days 🙂
The next leg, Romania, was incredible. To be honest, we did not see ‘Romania’, we saw Transylvania, and with that, only a small glimpse. I saw snow on mountains for the first time. Might not seem much, but think back to your first experience of anything… kind of breath taking really. I climbed a mountain (Ok, it wasn’t a huge one, but once again, I don’t have mountains at home!) I saw brown bears, not in a zoo, but frolicking in the wild… Yes they were eating food put out for them, but they did not have to come to entertain us. The castles were fantastic, completely different from the Castle in Kyrenia. I could have hung around them, exploring every nook and cranny for days. Even the cobbled streets were something I had only seen in pictures and movies, now I have walked (and slipped!) on them. With the exception of a few negative experiences, the people we met along the way were friendly and genuinely appeared to be very happy. The ‘Dracula’ thing was expected, but honestly was not as ‘in your face’ as I thought it would be. It was even quite funny at times with some of the themes, the drinks, the dishes for dinner. For me, my favourite town here was Brasov. I could have stayed here for weeks, just enjoying the atmosphere of the town.
From Romania, we went to Athens. I know we didn’t get to post on this during our journey, but Athens was beautiful. To be standing on ground and looking at structures that were older than Christ is kind of mind blowing.
This was the place where legends like Zeus and Hercules were born. I was walking on the same ground as godly people.
To be able to look at artefacts that were dated 700 years before Christ is kind of… well… incredible… and to think that the things we have today are lucky if they last you five years. The hospitality in Athens was also fantastic.
Our last night there, we dined at some restaurant.. somewhere.. Next thing we are downing shots of some local liquor (on the house of course) and dancing with the waiters… we stayed until closing of course.
I really enjoyed wandering around the ancient ruins and having the opportunity to see these relics (and the same asian girl in the red dress that appeared in most of our photos because she kept posing in front of everything for ages!).
As I said, the age of this place is very hard to imagine. Athens was a bit of a whirl wind tour, a chance to glimpse a bit of the sights, to wet the appetite to come back and see more.
What we were patiently waiting for though, was our last three nights… Santorini. Wow. Thats all… Wow… go and see it for yourself. The narrow winding streets are like being in a maze. Some are so narrow they should be one way traffic, but of course everyone just jostles until they are on their way again. Even the donkeys would deliberately block your path (not really, but it seemed that way!!).
Ok… so we might have been just a little bit spoilt here (thank you Cath) with a room with a balcony, spa, and view over the volcano, but it was worth it. If you are going to see Santorini, do it in style, not on a budget. The walk from Fira to Oia is incredible.
Hard slog, but worth it. Pack a decent pair of hiking sandals or shoes because not all of the trail is on paved road. I would definitely walk from Fira to Oia and not the other way around… I remember some of the trails I was walking down, thinking they would be a killer if you were going the other way. The pictures don’t do the stairways any justice at all… We had to walk up/down three flights of steep stairs just to access our room. There are stairs everywhere!
I really loved the sunset cruise. I didn’t mind that we didn’t get to go to the white beach or black beach or red beach… I wasn’t going to swim unless it was really hot. Just the opportunity to sit back and watch the world go by for a couple of hours was great. It really gave me an appreciation of the cliffs we had been climbing up and down (ok… we walked down the cliff face and got the cable car back up, but looking at it from the ocean side, we would have been crazy to walk back up that slope!!) The volcano is still an active volcano, so being close to something like that (even though there was no chance of eruption) made you realise how temporary things can be.
All up, I now have stamps in my passport (very neat ones all in a row) and this stage of the journey will now come to an end. With all the amazing things that we have seen, experienced and tasted, the best part was being able to do it with my best friend Cath. Until next time, enjoy lifes journey and don’t be afraid to explore.
Signing off… Cass