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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ceremony and Celebration


Recently friends of ours invited us to their son's wedding.
We attended the ceremony at the Hindi Temple, here in Brisbane, where the ceremony was inclusive and joyous . . Cameron and I decided, that this was the type of ceremony to have . . . people offered their advice and talked throughout . . . and the sight of all the Sari - glittering, over the top jewellery - and the smells of incense and offerings was gorgeous.
We were made to feel very welcome by all. 
Thank you

The Patterning and layering of design, texture, colour and sensations was incredible.

I loved the colours in the dresses, the dancing, and the food. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Greece 2014

GREECE   September 8 -  October (26 Days )

Where to start? I love the atmosphere, the history, the scenery, food and the people ...        
However the graffiti on every surface, some of which are full of powerful, social/political statements! and the abandoned and neglected buildings everywhere, does make it feel that it has experienced far better days.

We loved finding ourselves in a traditional area for lunch, where the families were hanging out for the day, after attending church, auctioning off all sorts of things ... The noise and laughter was incredible. 

Then we returned to our hotel area of Plaka, to enjoy some of the delicacies .... And wander some more.

We stayed in the Plaka Hotel for th
is leg of the trip, which was central to everything, and the terrace had great views of the Parthenon.


Doing the tours and Hop on Hop off bus, and Walking the myriad of alleyways, getting lost, and poking our noses into shops full to bursting with items, which must have graced some incredible homes, in the past . . . . was fascinating.

Between the northern slopes of the Acropolis and Ermoú Street, the picturesque Pláka neighbourhood boasts two important archaeological sites on Pepopida Street: the first-century BC Roman Agora, and the second-century Library of Hadrian. However, the main attraction of this historic area is its charming village ambience. Narrow pedestrian streets and the cheerful little squares of the Pláka quarter which are lined with lovely bougainvillea-trimmed pastel-painted houses. Tucked away in peaceful corners of the neighbourhood are historic churches, such as the Metamórfosis Church in the southwest and the Church of Kapnikaréa in the north. The picturesque setting encourages leisurely strolls. We spent many a lunchtime and afternoon just meandering. Gorgeous!

We appreciated the abundance of authentic Greek restaurants with inviting terrace seating. However . . . .even though many of the restaurants look enticing, most are tourist traps (with aggressive hosts baiting passers-by to enter)  We asked the local taxi driver for recommendations before choosing a restaurant in this area. . .  then we tried the quieter streets hidden away on the hillside, which concealed cute little cafés and tavernas. Also nestled into the slopes north of the Acropolis is Anafiotika, another atmospheric village-like neighborhood where tourists can enjoy a traditional Greek meal. The winding medieval streets  are a delight to explore.

 Today was dedicated to the ancient archaeological wonders ... the Parthenon which was quite a hike and hot, but well worth seeing all the sights, including Erechtheion with it's Porch of the Caryatids . . . who does not know this?

 We spent the afternoon in the Athens Archaeological museum and other sites on the Acropolis. 

( Brianna, I have dozens of images for the 'Butts and Boobies' through Europe ....some very nice butts!!!!!)   

This morning we enjoyed a hearty early breakfast, and saw more of Athens tourist sights and enjoyed some more meals.

Now at 8.15 pm we have just arrived back to the hotel, in time for me to write this, and then venture out for a cocktail and evening meal .... 
while gazing at the Parthenon, all lit up. I don' think I would ever get sick of looking at it.. . very romantic!

Off to Crete tomorrow. Flying, so I can see the sea and Islands from the air craft. Then will travel between the Islands by boat .... Looking forward to it!!

Now must away .... They make a mean Manhattan, and the Parthenon is all aglow!


Yesterday we had a smooth plane trip from Athens to Crete, Heraklion. I avidly watched the sea change colour from a milky pale blue, to a rich cobalt. ( I must admit I was expecting the aquamarine and turquoise hues of PNG .... ) Settled into our hotel, right on the Harbour, which supports an old Venetian port / fort.
Our room has a verandah, which receives the most whimsical sea breezes. You can almost taste the brininess, and the blue of sea and sky coats you in a feeling of lassitude .... 
The sight of fishermen, the clink of yacht masts gently meeting, woven through with the sound of sea gulls brings back the feeling associated with those of idyllic childhood holidays. .... Very hypnotic!

In the afternoon we roamed the streets. Discovered an old Byzantium church and sat listening to the ritualistic singing and chanting for so long we almost looked religious .... Almost! 

The iconography, carving and architecture was not overbearing. The light dappling through the stain glass appeared to ripple on the walls....it was alluring.

We Lost our way through the streets till 9pm and then ended up in an old courtyard which had been converted into a restaurant. 
Click screen to close ... The tree trunks were covered with twinkling lights, which extended up into the canopy which twined overhead. 

Cameron was so jealous of the size of the olive and orange trees...

There was a parade of cats meandering on the tiled roof enjoying the smells wafting from the wood fired oven. Yum! earthy and delicious .... 
The red carafe of wine we drank was large and chilled, and sneakily strong ... Even Cameron joined me .. the one pot screamer, in being silly. As we made our way back to our Hotel we both agreed that the streets gave the impression of having developed a definite increase in curves!

As we woven our way(I loved that we thought we were out late on a week night at 11 pm) there were still lots of People out everywhere .... Entire parks swarming with tables full of groups laughing and enjoying the balmy air. . . . I fully approve!

Today we are off to do the obligatory Hop on Hop off bus .... And a mosque, museum, and to try some more Greek food. Then tomorrow we are off to the Temple of Knossos and the hills. ....
That is ... If we can move off this veranda .. ... 
Just watched a 40 plus yacht lazily move out the harbour ... To set sail to seas unknown. 
Don't you love the magic and mystery of that!

The ever changing views and breezes are beguiling .... Maybe the bus can wait! .... 
No! Cam is on a mission, and says, "We are Off!"
 Hop on hop off bus in Heraklion .... Mmmmm. No! The entire tour is approx an hour, and the amount of history imparted negligible. Visit the museum, as most of the artefacts are there.
Spent afternoon having a gorgeous sea food meal on the wharf. Cameron's seafood cocktail was cooked from prawns caught that morning, and were still warm from the pot... Calamari was so tender.... 

That night we walked through the markets... Great sponges. The smell reminded me of the days when I had the Art supply shop and I regularly bought sponges from Mr Geriaukus - here in Greece. When the parcels arrived and I opened them, the smell of the sea  would linger for days. . . .
now I am here, and I can smell the sea in all the sponges around me . . . gorgeous!


Tour of the temple of Knossos. Another mmmmmm! I remember studying this in Ancient History and Art, and was brimming with enthusiasm .... Everything has been reproduced and the archeologist, Mr Evens (I think ) rebuilt parts, and he used pure imagination .... Once again, the museum holds all the originals.

By bus, Proceeded up into the mountains. Saw the Venetian windmills, a monastery with some ancient icons and sculptures. . . . And some even older nuns. 
Had lunch and then had a pottery demonstration, (which reminded me of the ones in Turkey,) and then Cameron walked up to Zeus's cave, full of stalagmites, while I looked through the village shops.
Great way to see the countryside, but the trip up the treacherous mountains and then down again, was scary! Back to hotel and then Walked out along the long Venetian fort wall, while a noisy, massive music concert was being performed .... Fireworks and mayham! Fun!
Up early to catch ferry to Santorini Island
Great trip, smooth and fast and at one point, accompanied by two dolphins. 
Bus trip to Hotel with view of the Caldera.... A very nice place! 
Our heavenly treat to ourselves. .A week of Bliss!!!!

View to the hills behind

Stopped in and Arranged for a Catamaran boat ride around the Islands. 
Had a swim in hotel pool, ate fresh seafood and drank wine to the twinkle of lights, which cover the hills.. . Yep! I am finding my 'Greek Mamma Groove!' ... And Cameron is starting to finally accept the leisurely pace of the 'slow go'

Hotel Volcano View Villas balcony
View other side to the sea

We spent a glorious time on a large catamaran with 8 including crew. Sailing around the Islands. Swam, snorkelled, ate seafood and watched the sublime sun sets.

Leaving the vessel with great reluctance, we spent another two days wandered around the island of Santorini, on foot and by bus. Stayed out late each evening to watch yet another great sunset. 
We could have spent another week here on this Island . . .  so relaxing!!!!
Our local hang out at Sunset.

Bought a couple of beautiful pieces

Then returned to Athens ... Stayed at The Divani Palace Hotel, Koukaki so we could Travelled around streets, took the train and revisited acropolis ... Sat at sunset watching the Parthenon .... Lovely.    

Delphi and the Monastery's of Metoria

There are places in the work which exude peacefulness, and entice you to relax. Delphi and the Monasteries have this magic.. . that is if you are lucky enough to arrive on a day with few tourists!!

We stayed at the most incredible hotel, where the 60 meter plus length, of 3 meter high windows allowed access to the view unhindered ... And what a view.


We met some great people from N.Z And S.A 

explored the town of Delphi and enjoyed some fascinating tours of ruins and museums.

This was another highlight for us both.

If they were not monasteries and nunneries  . .  we may have stayed longer ...... Wonderful!   
Back in Athens, we stayed in the Divani Palace, Koukaki. Enjoying a trip in small train, buses, and travelling through the small winding cobbled roads, through the old area called Plaka. I do like the cobbled stone roads, the outdoor eating, the music and the food. 
(Read .... I have cooked only one meal in weeks .... and loved the fact that in that time, every meal has been different ... The atmosphere, furnishings and ingredients have varied greatly ..... And I have adored every single experience!)

AbuDahabi. . .

I do not know what to make of this place. it was as hot as Hades, and swirling in a haze of sand when we landed, but we were quickly sped away by our Limo, in air-conditioned style to our Hotel - 

The Jumeirah at Etihad Towers - and then we were in air-conditioning again . . I am pleased this was a rest stop for the week, and not a tourist destination. . . .though having said that, it was a great rest stop!!!! 

We could keep on moving ... But like every great holiday, there comes a time to end it .... and return home. So with reluctance, (knowing there are so many places I would love to explore ) we accept, that we have been so very fortunate, to have travelled the roads we have ... and that the remainder must wait for the future.

Thank you to my family for a fantastic holiday, and so many incredible memories .. 
Love you  xx