Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Mykonos

Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos was one of my most favorite Greek islands...  Captivated by the whitewashed buildings, the colorful busts of color and the cobblestone streets make this an island you must visit.  We started our day by renting a car and traveling to the famous Windmills.  The windmills are one of Mykonos most recognized landmarks...and of course a must see!

We had a amazing morning strolling through the cobblestone streets.  The best laid plans in Greece are sometimes no plans at all.  Around every corner were little hidden secrets of this amazing town. 
So go get lost in these streets and see what you can find. 
Ahhh....perfection - Handmade Pasta!  Really, I mean really!???  Where can you turn a corner and find something so cool to experience!  I wanted to put this guy in my suitcase and take him home! 

We didn't get a chance to eat here but if we ever go back it is on the list!  Seemed to be a very popular place - probably because the greek man making the pasta on the street.  Fabulous!

Ahhh...and meet my little pelican pal - Petros (well the legend of Petros)!!!! The pelican is known to be the mascot of the island.  There are 3 pelicans that currently reside in Mykonos and they love spending their days drawing attention from passerbyers and lounging around the harbor.  The fishermen feed them the catch of the day.... nom nom nom!  What a life! 

Yet something else I wanted to put in my pocket and take home!  This is NO small animal...yet so cakm and relaxed!  And when one strays too far... they get a chariot ride back to the town!  They are considered royalty.

Little Venice! A Charming Neighborhood with Magnetic Appeal!
Little Venice is one of the most romantic spots in Mykonos. 

The Aegean Sea rolls up to these beautiful and colorful whitewashed buildings.  Further down the way the walkways open in front of the buildings offering up artist galleries, shops, bars and cafes. 
Perfect for an afternoon stroll and if you are lucky the best sunsets on the island!

And We Took to the Beach for Yet Another Afternoon!
Mykonos has fabulous beaches - ah's a GREEK ISLAND! 
What best to complete a day in Mykonos but visiting a great beach... and bar!
We found this great hotel (Manoulas) that was recommended to us and just down the hill from there we encountered this amazing beach and beach bar.  Feet in the sand and whisky umbrella shades made this my island paradise! 

The beach bar there was Grrrrreeeeaaaatttt! Perfect scenery for a few appetizers and happy hour! 

And while on the subject of Happy Hour... Who can visit Greece without experiencing OUZO!  96% alcohol by volume... It was very much like drinking liquorish.  Strong and not my drink of choice but another "when in Greece moment!"  Again on my soapbox about traveling.... for goodness sake - if you go to these place...please experience them!  Experience everything about them that you can in the time allotted!  Eat like a local, drink like a local and engulf yourself with the wonders around you.  Chances are you wont be back!

We enjoyed traveling here in the month of May and the weather was PERFECT!  Tourist traffic is lower on the edge of the high season which is mid to late May and early June.  Safe travels my fellow globe trotters!

The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience.  The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him.  He goes "sight-seeing."  ~Daniel J. Boorstin

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A City in Ruins... Athens, Greece

ATHENS - The Acropolis "High City - In Greek"!
We had one crazy day in Athens....Since we were traveling by cruise ship we had made a plan to make a mad dash for the Acropolis first thing in the morning.  We disembarked the ship, negotiated a taxi and were fortunate enough to be one of the first on the hill that morning.  This place gets insane not to mention hot as the day progresses.  So my advice - be there when it opens to enjoy it as it should be enjoyed and not with thousands of strangers.  As you can see from the shot above, people were just arriving.  This is an OBVIOUS Athens MUST DO and seeing the Parthenon was amazing. 

From the top the views are infinite of the city.  That's a lot of rock and stone for one city!  Another MUST DO - Is the Changing of the Guards at the Parliament Building in Syntagma Square.  A very cool thing to watch and it happens every hour.  These guys called the Evzones represent the best of the best as they have to stand over 6ft tall and remain motionless for extended periods of time.  And who can pull off shoes with pom poms on them any better!
And while you are there you might notice hundreds/thousands of pigeons!  Buy a bag of corn to feed these hungry birds and see what happens.  I was a little shocked at the aggressive behavior but it made for a great memory and picture!  Do take note that there are people here that will give you a bag of food and then offer to take your picture.... this is a money making scam. If you want a picture - great - if not - stay away and don't take anything from anyone you don't know. 
The PLAKA!  A City within the city in the shadows of the Acropolis.  The Plaka is an awesome way to spend the late morning/early afternoon.  Strolling these streets in what is notably the nicest neighborhood in central Athens will charm you.  The streets are lined with cafes, jewelry shops, art galleries and tourist shops.  We had a wonderful morning here as we people watched and enjoyed a java and a coke.
In the afternoon we did as we normally do and got off the beaten path.  We found the Athens Flea Market and made our way inside and outside of this open air market.  Locals buy their fish, beef, poultry, produce and fruit here and it is a sight to be seen!  Flopping fish and hearing the locals negotiate with each other in Greek is mind blowing.  Note- don't wear open toed shoes or flips through this place... fish juice!

  We found a hole in the wall place, he disappeared inside and came out with an authentic gyro!  This thing was the size of a small animal and cost about a buck fifty!  Getting away from the tourist areas will save you money and buy you more authentic cuisine.  So when in Athens... do as the locals do! 
It's All GREEK to ME!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia - The Pearl of the Adriatic

A day can easily be spent roaming on and inside the old town walls.  History abounds as you step back in time.  Start your morning off by buying a ticket and talking the long stroll around the old town walls which were constructed in the 10th century (fortified considerably in 1453).  A full walk around the city on the walls is 3.5 miles - It was the best way to start our day and get our bearings in Dubrovnik!

Rent a self guided tour contraption where you buy your tickets for a full history report of what you are seeing as you walk the walls.
The old town is a fully working and functional town.  It was so neat seeing the ladies hanging out their laundry on the lines, gardening and going about their daily lives in the midst of touristville!  After our journey around the city we did what we do best...found a cafe on the stone streets and shared a drink.
I will say the best place to catch the view and have a beer and glass of vino is BUZA!!  This place is hidden in the walls of the city but when you walk out to the cliff you find this amazing place! 
Grab a table on the cliff and enjoy the day!  We actually tried to find this place when we walked around the city but never could find it.  It wasn't till we took a boat ride around the harbor that we saw it!  Worth the adventure of finding it...well besides the interesting bathrooms... cliff side! 
My Wine at BUZA!  Yum... well hey walking the city earn it! 
Enjoy Dubrovnik if you ever have the opportunity to explore this gem!