Tag Archives: Greece

The eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth quarter review

22 Oct

I am trying to play catch up with my blog after such a long hiatus, so the content posted in the last nine months was not up to previous standards.  That said – I was reminded by my friend Carissa at Everyday Adventures in Asia that it is not a competition and I should continue to blog for the pleasure of it.

The eleventh quarter (like the last 12 months) was one of lots of travel – I had just finished six months at my new job and was definitely in the swing of things.  Unfortunately, that meant that the time I had to blog was reduced quite dramatically – meaning that I had to cut my post schedule, but I did manage to continue, which is more than I could say for June, July and August!

Even with the reduction in posts there were some fun elements and wanted to take the time to relive a couple of my favorites.  Do you remember either of these?

  • I posted on part of our trip to Greece and taking wedding photos in front of a certain church in “Do you speak English? (A Santorini photo shoot).”  Every time I walk into my apartment I am reminded of that wonderful trip because our “money shot” has been blown up and framed on the wall above our couch.  Believe it or not, I have even more photos from Greece that never made it onto the blog – but at least I was able to give you a sense of the wonder of that honeymoon.  I would go back again in a minute!
The church and the two of us - a perfect pairing - the money shot

The church and the two of us – a perfect pairing – the money shot

  • Replacing things in the new year (part 2) – My saga regarding the main air conditioner in our apartment where I narrowly missed an electrical fire thanks to the circuit breaker flipping.
    Would you use this plug?

    Would you use this plug?

    We have continued to have to replace things in this apartment, but did decide to stay another year when our lease came up in September.  The price is right, the location good and the landlord very responsive.  That said – I will predict now that this is our last year in this place (but I’ve been known to be wrong before.)  The most recent change was we got a new refrigerator at the end of August which we used as part of our negotiations.  It is larger than our old one and does not frost over every other week, so both of us consider it a good trade-up.

The eleventh quarter also contained Chinese New Year – introducing the Year of the Horse and after the official holiday we did slip off for a lovely vacation, so I’ll see if I have the energy to post on that one.  Any guesses where we went?

The twelfth quarter I also managed to get a handful of posts together – though this is when my work travel really started to pick up.  I’ll be posting retroactively on some of my trips (like the Hong Kong post earlier this month) to give you a sense of where I was and what happened – so more to come, but I did want to call out this post on living in Shanghai that I posted in May:

  • Door to door service – talked about the convenience of a big city – the good and the bad.  I’ve had even more things delivered since this post – not having to carry them and getting lower prices is a strong incentive, but luckily I have not had any more visits from the police recently.

I also thought I would leave a teaser – not all my travel in the twelfth quarter was for work.  Li and I managed to slip in a trip to Bali at the end of April that was absolutely phenomenal.  Here are a couple of photos.

A temple - and beautiful blue sky

A temple – and beautiful blue sky

Exotic Indonesian fare

Exotic Indonesian fare

Finally – the thirteenth quarter when I started posting again.

My most popular post was on Taxi Roulette – trying to figure out the best way to get a taxi and get around this city.  I have downloaded a new taxi app recently and am trying it out as well.  We’ll see how the taxi situation continues to evolve here in Shanghai.  Also – as per one of the comments – I have finally seen the new gold taxis on the streets.  They look like London Black Cabs, but they are gold – and since I was in London in June, I have a pretty recent comparison.  I haven’t ridden in one yet and don’t know if they are more expensive or have any special features, so more to come.

There are a couple of posts that continue to rack up the page views – even when I wasn’t posting which I find very interesting and thought I would call them up here as well.

1) Buying a jade bangle – which I did in Hong Kong two years ago AND

2) The pineapple cake wars – my descriptions of the two main competing pineapple cakes in Taipei in the summer of 2013.

I am guessing that somehow these two posts have gotten picked up by one or more search engines and they provide a steady stream of visitors to my blog.  It was definitely strange when I came back to see that traffic had not dropped all that significantly – which could be a good thing or a bad thing!  Folks don’t tend to leave comments on those posts now though – so I really appreciate those of you who stayed with me during the hiatus and your support as I share about my jumbled life.

Now I am (kind of) up to date, so hope to be back here soon with more stories in Shanghai and looking back over the last year.

Did I miss any posts you would have put at the top of your list?

 

Advertisements

Do you speak English? (A Santorini photo shoot)

16 Feb

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, please click here.

I'm ready for my close up

I’m ready for my close up

We had spent a pleasant morning in Santorini walking along the old path.  I was dressed in a long white flowing gown that Li had purchased for me that complemented the scenery.  Li wore a blue shirt with a white collar.  We meandered along, looking for the best angles and light.

Along the old path

Along the old path

I felt like a movie star.

We were looking for a certain place that would memorialize our belated honeymoon – a certain view that already had been publicized hundreds of times before.

Looking for the light

Looking for the light

Finally, after asking for directions at multiple places, we found it – the blue roof church with the white bell tower that had appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine many years ago.  The best views are actually taken from a parking lot above the church so you can look down with the Aegean sea behind you and puffy white clouds.

Together under the blue, blue sky - and dressed for the occasion

Together under the blue, blue sky – and dressed for the occasion

In the parking lot were over a dozen Chinese tourists snapping away – posing together and individually – some in casual clothes, others dressed up for the occasion in similar outfits as Li and myself.  We asked a couple of different people to take photos of us  together and hoped that we would have the “money shot” in the bunch that would represent out trip to Greece, our marriage and give us happy memories for the future.

It was a great experience and after we shot those photos we headed back down to the Old Path and started making our way to find a place to have lunch.  Before we got very far, we were stopped by some people eating at one of the many restaurants along the path.  Their table was closest to the path and they looked at me and very timidly asked “Do you speak English?”

Li and I looked at each other and nodded ascent.  They then asked, “Why are there so many Asian women in long white dresses like yours around here taking pictures?  You look beautiful – but we can’t quite understand why there are so many right here.  We’ve been eating lunch and must have seen two dozen women dressed that way over the last hour or so.”

We smiled and explained how the church above the restaurant had turned into something of a Mecca for Chinese tourists because of its fame in the National Geographic photo shoot.  The group who stopped us said they were Canadian but had never heard of that specific photo.  We then shared how the Aegean Sea could be phonetically translated as the Sea of Love in Chinese and how young Chinese couples wanted to get a shot by the church as a memory.  We suggested they climb up the path to take a look.

We talked a little more, sharing where we were from and why we were there and at the end parted company with a smile and good wishes and went on to look for the perfect spot for lunch.

Have you had a random question like this when you have been traveling?  The funny thing is – most of the Asian couples they had seen could probably have spoken English because if you are traveling in Europe without a tour, you need someone who can talk with the hotels.  It was only because I had a non-Asian face that I was asked this question.

The church and the two of us - a perfect pairing - the money shot

The church and the two of us – a perfect pairing – the money shot

The tenth quarter review

25 Jan

Wow – ten quarters later I am still keeping it up.  This review is slightly delayed, but I wanted to take the time to call out some of my favorites from the last three months.

I was able to share many posts from our trip to Greece – and the post that got the most views was looking out at the Horizons of Chania, Crete.  Even though not as popular as Santorini, Crete really made a strong impression on me and I would go back there in an instant.

Sunset in Chania

I started my new job and made a couple of trips to Beijing which I enjoyed.  Sometimes you need something new to remind you of what’s just around the corner.

Posing with Chairman Mao - note the gray sky

Posing with Chairman Mao

Finally – my new mini-series that I kicked off with posts from my cousin Matt – the I’m ready to move to China series.  His fresh set of eyes were a favorite of readers and mine too – now I just need to convince him to come back so he can write a follow-up series!

Did I miss a post you particularly enjoyed?  Let me know!  Looking forward to the upcoming year of the horse and lots more travel in February.  Come along for the ride!

Beginnings

5 Jan

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, click here.

At the start of a new year, it seems appropriate to think of where we came from – or rather where the cradle of western civilization was developed.  On our last day in Athens we went to see the ruins of the ancient agora – the marketplace that existed thousands of years ago.

IMGP6927

The agora is situated with hills surrounding it, monuments and temples perched above.

IMGP6954

We wandered through the “streets” wondering at whose feet may have walked on the stones, then peered into one of the most ancient churches that exist in Europe.  That would have been the beginning of something else.

IMGP6869

If stones could talk – what would they say about that time?

IMGP6971

This post is my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning.  To see how others illustrated it, click the link.

How do you define a beginning?

Initial images of Santorini

17 Dec

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, please click here.

Leaving Crete was bittersweet – we had had a wonderful time in both Chania and Heraklion and could have stayed there the rest of our vacation very happily.

Li prior to boarding the ferry - he's not a fan of boats, but everything worked fine

Li prior to boarding the ferry – he’s not a fan of boats, but everything worked fine

Boarding the ferry though, the anticipation continued to build as the siren call of Santorini became louder and louder.  The sky was blue and we sat in luxury on the second level of the ferry.

Casting off under the Greek flag

Casting off under the Greek flag

On the way!

On the way!

Disembarking we found the driver from the hotel and along with another couple headed up the steep cliffs to our hotel.

Right outside the door of our room

Right outside the door of our room

Li had selected the hotel because it was on the highest point of the island and so the car twisted and turned going higher and higher until we arrived.  After settling in to the room – built into a cave in the cliffs – we decided to walk along the old path to a restaurant recommended by the hotel.

Our room - snug inside the cave

Our room – snug inside the cave

The initial view from our hotel

The initial view from our hotel

Each curve presented another picturesque view.  We even saw people taking pictures on the top of a building in front of the caldera.  Upon closer inspection – it was a bride and groom.

The caldera

The caldera

The caldera - zoomed in on the bride and groom

The caldera – zoomed in on the bride and groom

Looking back towards the hotel

Looking back towards the hotel

Lunch was delicious – and as we finished up – the bride and groom came and took a shot just in front of us.   I decided that was a good omen, given that we were considering the trip our belated honeymoon.

The bride and groom came to us - though others were photographing them too

The bride and groom came to us – though others were photographing them too

The white roofed houses and the blue sea and sky

The white roofed houses and the blue sea and sky

How can you not smile with such a beautiful view

How can you not smile with such a beautiful view

We headed back to the hotel, took a swim in the pool and then I posed for a few more pictures before the sun slipped over the edge.

IMGP5627

Santorini was living up to the hype – and we had three days left!

Have you visited somewhere that surpassed your already very high expectations?

Heraklion – the end of day 3

8 Dec

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in the fall of 2013, for other posts in the series, please click here.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we got back into downtown Heraklion.  The next day we were heading on the early ferry to Santorini for three days of white buildings nestled on cliffs.

We decided to find the main square and look at the church there and then wander back down to the port.  Unfortunately when we arrived the church was closed for the afternoon, but after poking around we were able to find out it would be opening soon.

Scouting the church before it opened

Scouting the church before it opened

We settled in the square outside to wait.  It was a perfect afternoon and Heraklion has free wifi throughout the city so it was a painless process.  After a thirty minute wait we went inside.  It was worth the wait.

The Greek Orthodox churches we visited during the trip are incredibly ornate – the murals, lamps and decoration all much more elaborate than the Roman Catholic churches of my childhood.  This one in particular was not that large but very grand.

First view of the inside of the church

First view of the inside of the church

Close up of the chandelier

Close up of the chandelier

IMGP5496

To make it even more special, the stained glass windows colored the foyer shades of the rainbow as we left.  Outside in the square they were setting up for a concert to celebrate the end of the World Tourism celebration.

Light streaming in the foyer

Light streaming in the foyer

On Sunday, most of the shops were closed, but we followed a crowd of people to a square with a view of a fountain and went to try some special Greek sweets.  We both had a glass of fresh juice and delicate doughnuts dipped in honey.

Fresh juice, sweets and the lion fountain in the square

Fresh juice, sweets and the lion fountain in the square

Sated from the treat we wandered back to the port.  The sun dipped low in the sky washing the seaside with warm light.

Flowers for sale as we wandered through the streets

Flowers for sale as we wandered through the streets

IMGP5549

It was a magical evening.

Viewing the sunset

Viewing the sunset

After walking along by the old fort, we headed back for dinner – a lamb schwarma meal right off another square.  As we ate a tumbling club set up their mats in front of us and we were treated to a thirty minute performance of ribbon gymnastics.

IMGP5605

Smiling from the enthusiasm we started to wander back to the hotel, but stopped again at the site of yet another concert with traditional Greek music.  A night market had sprung up and we swayed and danced with everyone else in the square.

IMGP5597

Go to Crete and go to Heraklion.  The city will draw you in, like it did us.  We went there on our honeymoon, but will have memories forever and it seems fitting to write about the trip given we just celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

The trip, however, wasn’t over – we had much more to see.  More to come.

Our first lamb lunch and the ruins of Knossos – Greece Day 3

24 Nov

This post is part of our adventures in Greece during the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, click here.

After an early morning bus ride and a visit to the museum in central Heraklion we looked for a place to grab lunch before heading to the ruins of Knossos.  Greece is famous for its lamb and so Li decided to try his first set of Greek lamb chops.  Even though the restaurant seemed very ordinary the lamb was excellent – it started us on a quest to try as much lamb as possible during the remainder of our visit.

The first set of lamb chops - that we continually

The first set of lamb chops – that we continually tried to top

Then we found the bus stop and road the bus to the end of the line where the reconstructed ruins of Knossos waited for us under sunny skies.  Because of the special event that weekend – World Tourism Days- entrance was free, so avoiding a guide who tried to sell us a pricey tour, we entered.

Layout of the palace - with the original descriptions from renovation #1

Layout of the palace – with the original descriptions from renovation #1

The ruins had been reconstructed nearly 100 years ago in a way that was very modern – it was supposed to give you a sense of the way that the palace was laid out.  However, since that time, archeological practices have changed so we eavesdropped on several guides who were explaining that many of the descriptions and renovations are now not seen as culturally accurate.  Under any case it did give you a sense of grandeur of the Minoan civilization and gave me a sense of wonder that so long ago this very large building with multiple levels and staircases was constructed.

Ruins with the pines and mountains behind

Ruins with the pines and mountains behind

A recreation - to give a sense of what may have been

A recreation – to give a sense of what may have been

View of a storage room with many jars

View of a storage room with many jars

Recreation of the Minoan Bull mural in one of the rooms at the top

Recreation of the Minoan Bull mural in one of the rooms at the top

We wandered for a couple of hours then headed back to the city of Heraklion where we discovered the rest of World Tourism Days waiting for us.

Another recreation evidenced because I don't think cement was commonly used at that time - you can see how there were multiple levels

Another recreation evidenced because I don’t think cement was commonly used at that time – you can see how there were multiple levels

The beautiful blue sky

The beautiful blue sky

An ancient road - think who may have walked along these steps...

An ancient road – think who may have walked along these steps…

Where have you seen your favorite set of ruins?  Does ancient history or modern marvels sit at the top of your list?

Apologies for the delay in the posts – my travel continues, but I’ll get on track eventually.

Flying high

7 Nov

I am still going through my pictures from Greece.  It is happening in fits and spurts between my new job and business travel and trying to stay in touch with my friends.  The whirlwind continues, but I am having a wonderful time soaring above it all.

These photos from Heraklion, Crete capture my feeling perfectly.  They were all taken on the same day.  I am the one flying high above – enjoying the beauty below and looking for a safe place to land.

Birds flying in the cathedral square

Birds flying in the cathedral square

Sunset over the harbor

Sunset over the harbor

An ancient wall and an airplane above

An ancient wall and an airplane above

I head out on another business trip this weekend so may be out of touch for a while, but will come back with more stories and photos.  I just need to make sure I don’t get caught up in the many currents that exist when I’m that high.  Landing can be the most difficult part – trying to relax after the go-go-go of work as it’s a long way down.  I’ll manage.

Do you soar?  What things make you ready to take on the world?  Where do you soar?   The skies of Greece were an ideal place.

Heraklion, Crete – the delicate details

3 Nov

This post is part of our travels in Greece in the fall of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, please click here.

After a wonderful experience in Chania, we headed out early the next morning to the capital of Crete – Heraklion.  We took the bus and the views up and down the coast made us both want to get off and explore further.

Shortly after arriving at the hotel and checking in, we headed to the Archaeological Museum in the center of town.  The travel guides suggested we go there first before heading to see the ruins at Knossos because it would give us a better idea of how things should have looked in the past.

The museum was wonderful – it gave us a glimpse into the history of that area over 3000 years ago.  One thing that struck me was the delicacy of many of the items on display.  The attention to detail made many of them seem like I could take them home today.

There were crowns…

IMGP5233 IMGP5277

and small bronze statues that looked like dolls, though I believe they were icons or offerings to the gods.

IMGP5267

One of my favorites were the delicate murals on the walls

IMGP5174

and then the mosaics lining the floor that were as beautiful as carpets.

IMGP5246

I tend towards delicate jewelry and details.  The Minoan culture even though it was so long ago was very relatable and made me very excited to see the rest of Heraklion and the ruins of Knossos.

This post was inspired by Alisa at Where’s My Backpack.  Her travel theme this week is Delicate.  I am happy to participate again in one of her weekly travel themes.  To see how others define delicate, please click the link.

Have you ever felt that you could walk into another culture and feel at home?  What details do you need to see for that to happen?

Chania, Crete – Greece Day 2

29 Oct

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in September and October of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, click here.

Chania, Crete is not nearly as well known as Athens – or even the other more famous Greek Islands of Mykonos or Santorini.  Chania is a beach town, known for a beautiful harbor, a mosque and a tangle of streets that draw you in with restaurants and sweets and vendors.  Crete is the cradle of civilization, home to the Minoan ruins which are even more ancient than the temples we had seen the previous day.   We would see ruins the next day, but first, Chania itself.

We woke to a beautiful morning overlooking the sea.

Day break from the balcony

Day break from the balcony

After a long walk to enjoy the fresh air and sand between our toes, we headed out to explore the town.  The town is situated on a harbor which is surrounded by restaurants overlooking the water.  There was a breaker protecting the harbor that curled out into the water where I would guess there had been a fort or perhaps a guard post.

I don't often find octopus hanging on my way - made us smile

I don’t often find octopus hanging on my way – made us smile

Initial view of the main harbor

Initial view of the main harbor

Church in the square

Church in the square

We wandered until we found lunch.  After lunch we checked out a maritime museum with exhibits on making rope and filling holes.

Looking back at the harbor from the other side

Looking back at the harbor from the other side

A street performer on the way to the museum

A street performer on the way to the museum

There was this cool exhibit of the lights used in lighthouses as well

There was this cool exhibit of the lights used in lighthouses as well

We then walked all the way to the end of the breaker – a long walk under the pounding sun but worth it for the incredible views.

IMGP5005 IMGP5022 IMGP5041

Finally we had some frozen yogurt – mine with peaches and honey and then wandered back to the hotel to watch the sunset.  The owner of the yogurt shop was extremely friendly – even insisting that we not pay until we finished the yogurt and making sure it was up to snuff.

IMG_20130928_180529 IMG_20130928_194348

Sunset over we returned to the town and found a restaurant where we could view the lights of the harbor and eat seafood.

IMG_20130929_005716

The next day we would take a bus to the capitol and see ancient ruins, but for that day we were happy being beach tourists under starry skies.

Both of us agreed that Chania had caught us under her spell.

Have you visited a less famous town during a trip and had it enchant you?  Those are the places that you talk about first, before the ones that everyone recognizes, the secret that you want to share – or go back to.  Crete was that for us.

The Mad Woman in the Attic

stories of a serial expat and solo traveller

Marta lives in China

8+ years and counting!

Foreign Sanctuary

Lead and Live a Life Less Ordinary

Crazy Chinese Family

My crazy Chinese Family I married into...

Writing Between the Lines

Life From a Writer's POV

A Kick In The Butt

Advice on all things FITNESS by Personal Trainer Ariana Dane

China Elevator Stories

Conversations with locals in China

Chasing Sunsets

Current Location: The Daraja Academy; Nanyuki, Kenya