Heraklion – The Wee Train – 6 August 2019

It’s fascinating watching other people work, especially when you’re on holiday.

In the morning I watched a crane with grab loading scrap metal on to a ship. Maybe it’s a ‘man thing’, but I just found it fascinating. It wasn’t just the amount of scrap they dumped at a time, but also the delicate precision with which they could pick out a car tyre from the load that was dumped on the quayside and put it into another pile. Like I say, maybe it’s a ‘man thing’.

We walked in to to town of Heraklion, or rather, the Old Town. It didn’t seem like Rhodes, the other walled town we’d seen. This one seemed a bit more run-down.

After walking for what felt like miles we found a little train, a trolly train I think it’s called and it took us round the walls, in and out of most of the city gates, because it is a city, not a town.
It was quite dilapidated in places furthest from the sea. Lots of old crumbling buildings and football pitches with knee high grass.

We got off at the wrong stop which was supposed to be for a shopping centre. It didn’t look like one, it didn’t even look as if there had ever been one there, and had to walk for a bit in the hot sun. What we did find was an Italian cafe where we had an overpriced latte for Scamp and cafe freddo for me.

Walked round some ruined buildings with a new church in their midst and eventually found the town centre exactly where we’d got on train.
I got a tee shirt, probably the best one I’ve got so far
Scamp found an M&S! Demanded she have her photo taken outside it! She never asks for her photo to be taken outside Marks in Stirling or Glasgow. Maybe it’s a ‘woman thing’!

Cafe Jardin at night (second formal night). We both had risotto which was absolutely beautiful. This was the second menu.

Danced for a while, then off to bed after a wee G ’n’ T on the balcony watching the stars.

PoD was a steel cube on a plinth in a sort of town hall building. Couldn’t understand the significance of it, but very elegant building.

Sea day tomorrow.

Rhodes – City Walls and Giros – 5 August 2019

This city has walls to keep the dobbers out. A bit like Larky with sun.

We survived the winds and high seas last night and were ready to go adventuring. We got off the ship and went for a walk along the promenade then into the city through one of the gates. Inside was like a giant marketplace with shops, and restaurants. No pubs, but all the restaurants seemed to sell alcohol. It was quite a pretty place ins and little groups of trees to break the monotony. It was also full of people, lots of people. There seemed to be people everywhere. We stopped for a drink, because it was hot today. Scamp bought a table cover and I bought a dodgy looking Rhodes tee shirt to tick the box for buying a new tee shirt in every port we docked at. Bought it from a grumpy wee man.

We wandered round and round and always higher up the hill. Eventually we came to the road outside the city walls and then tried to find an alternative way back to the ship. We ended up going down the Street of the Knights which was an interesting street, very steep and with old renovated buildings on both sides. Lots of them with the original coats of arms of the knights who had stayed there. At the bottom of the street Scamp found a restaurant and we went there for lunch. She had Chicken Caesar Salad and I had Chicken Giros which is like pan fried pieces of chicken served with tzatsiki and a wrap. We’d been told to look for it somewhere in Greece years ago by, I think, a dance teacher. Both lunches were excellent. One washed down with a glass of white wine and one with red. Sat in the shade of trees outside it was lovely. If you’re ever in Rhodes I can recommend a good restaurant! Walked back down the road and finally came to the sea, from there it was a short walk to the ship. On the way we took photos of each of us at an arched window through the city walls, but we’d to wait for a couple of girls to finish their selfie poses first!

I did a bit of painting from the ship, but it started out well, then became muddy and eventually I gave it up as a bad job.

Cap’n Bob gave another of his doom laden messages this evening after we’d set sail. Oh, we’re sailing into a storm, with winds in excess of 40 knots! The seas are going to have waves 3m high! The Kraken will wake! Some areas of the ship will be locked off. Make sure you tie down all your valuables. He finished with “… and have a pleasant night on board Oceana.” Numpty.

PoD was a little lizard on the city walls.  I think it’s a Blue Tailed Skink.

If the ship survives the storm we’ll be in Heraklion tomorrow.

Mykonos – The walk of shame – 4 August 2019

Woke to find we were on the port side although we were on starboard last night. Curious!

When we looked out we were next to the dockside and looking out over a pretty little marina to the rocky and scrub covered hills behind with lots of little white houses dotted all over the place. A bit like Skye without the rain. When we walked down the gangway we were met by a long queue for the free shuttle bus to town. I made the corporate decision to go on the water bus to town instead. Paid our €4 and got on the little boat which was nearly full. A bit choppy going out past the harbour and a wee bit ‘rocky boats’ (Technospeak). Got to the tiny little harbour and walked out to more white painted houses. Some with blue doors and window shutters and a church with a blue domed roof. Very pretty. Very picturesque.

We wandered round the twisty turny streets of Mykonos and I found hundreds of photo opportunities at every corner. Finally reaching the three windmills that seem to be the icon for Mykonos. The little narrow cobbled streets are full of tourist shops. Most of them displaying no price tags. That’s a sure sign that the items are expensive. “If you need to know the price, you can’t afford it.” Up near the windmills there is a car park. Some of them have been there a long time, judging by the thickness of the dust on them and by the dates of comments and signatures on them. I added mine too! Just over the hill from the windmills is a little white walled church. More photos taken.

We stopped for a drink at a cafe near the windmills and I had another Cafe Freddo, not as good as the first, but that’s usually the way. After that we made our way back through the labyrinth and just missed the boat back to the ship. Sat in the sun and the strong wind and caught the next one. The sail back to the ship was more rocky and rolly than it had been going because we were sailing into the wind. The boat was rolling side to side and pitching forward and back at the same time. Interesting!

Back in plenty of time. Time to do a small painting. I wasn’t all that happy with it, but the Posca white brush pen worked well for placing the white houses on the hillside! Watched the mobs of travellers coming and going from the ferry port along the dock from us.

We should have been sailing at 4.30pm, but ever more frantic messages, firstly over the ship’s tannoy and finally into the cabins calling for two passengers, Jean and Derek Hart, to make themselves known to the reception told us that we wouldn’t likely be making that cut-off. Two large suitcases were unloaded from the forward gangway and dumped on the quayside. As the clock ticked around to 5.30, the dock gates were locked and it looked like we would be sailing without the Harts. Just when it seemed they’d given up hope of finding them, two folk ambled down the road to the locked gates and looked up at the crowds standing at the ship’s rail and on balconies. A great cheer, or should that be ‘jeer’ went up and the gates were unlocked which allowed the Harts to do the walk of shame, grab their cases and get back on board. I imagine Cap’n Bob would have met them at the top of the gangway with “Wait outside my room NOW!”

At 11.15pm I went up on deck with a crowd of others for an open air talk by an astronomer bloke. It was utterly fascinating as he pointed out constellations with a laser pointer. Saw the Milky Way, The Plough and loads of other stuff. Like I say, utterly fascinating.

It should be Rhodes tomorrow.

Piraeus, Fish Markets and scots – 3 August 2019

Yes, you read that right, scottish with a small ’s’.

If you are a long term reader of this blog, you will already know about americans and english, unfortunately we met some scots today. Not real Scots of course. We think they might have come from Embra. But first, the rest of the day.

Woke to find the ship was being re-fuelled from a tanker boat. Took some photos and went to breakfast. Full Scottish breakfast because I’m on holiday. Then we were off to investigate Piraeus.

First we got lost because that’s what you do in a new destination, then formed a plan of sorts. We’d already agreed that we weren’t going to Athens to see the Parthenon or the Acropolis. We weren’t even going on the open topped Red Bus, because the predicted temperature was 40ºc which is just stupid-hot for us cold climate folk. We were going to head off hoping to find something interesting, get lost then make a plan. The ‘something interesting’ I found was a motorbike shop with partly eviscerated old bikes outside. Virtually everything but the frames had been stripped out. It looked like the place that motorbikes come to die. I took lots of photos and then we got to the planning.

Just in case we did get seriously lost, there was always the iPhone to rely on, but where’s the fun in that? The plan was to walk along the side of the bay, keeping the water on our left side and see what we could find. We walked for a good couple of miles and found chapels with ornate interiors, statues to apparently famous people and a shop that sold ‘chibs’, no spellchecker, not ‘Chips’, but ‘Chibs’. Seriously life threatening pieces of sharp looking metal. Everything from pen knives to Japanese Samurai swords with machetes and throwing knives in between. Crossbows, reflex bows and pistols. Try getting them through security!

Further on we had to stop, because we’d lost the sea. It was nowhere to be found, so check with the iPhone. Apple Maps had the answer and we found a way to go back that didn’t involve simply following our trail of breadcrumbs. Our route took us through a market that seemed to have a lot in common with ‘The Barras’. Loads of meat being sold from chiller cabinets. Fish in glass topped freezers and fish on slabs with the stallholders shouting that they had fresher fish than their neighbours. Loads of fruit and veg, plus, of course the usual toys and odds & ends that the sell in ’The Barras’.  Today’s PoD came from the fish market.

Stopped at a coffee shop where Scamp had a Cappuccino and I had a Frozen Cappuccino. What a taste. I had to wait ages for it because the first one the Barista made apparently wasn’t good enough and got thrown out. It was worth the wait. I’m now a convert to Cafe Freddo. At least in the summer. Bought myself a little espresso cup. Cost €2. After a while we found that we were back on the street we started from and the sea was back on our right hand side.

Went to the pool at the stern of the ship. It’s an adult pool and it’s tiny, but there are two whirlpool jacuzzis next to it. Lay and baked in the sun drinking Mojitos and thinking “This is the life”.

We went to dinner at night and were placed at a table with four of the most obnoxious individuals we’ve ever sat with. They started off by simply ignoring us, then in a condescending way they told us that they were all related (Inbred, I think is the proper term) and they apologised for leaving us out of their conversation. The ‘lady’ next to me had such a loud Morningside accent and such an enormous ‘bool in her mooth’, it was difficult to understand her. Then I realised that her slow precise speech was because she was absolutely ‘Rat-Arsed (that’s a condition about fifty stages on from ‘Three Sheets to the Wind’).  She thought she was so refined, but the smell of alcohol and smell of stale fags told the real truth. Some people should be made to wear warning signs.

We left them to their sibling ramblings and left before coffee to watch three boys crucifying pop songs. Scamp liked the songs, I didn’t

Oh yes and one last thing. There’s a bell tower in Piraeus that plays “Never on a Sunday” on the hour, every hour!  I’m sure you feel better for knowing that.

Tomorrow it’s Mykonos.

A day in Greece – 20 June 2015

Up early, yet again because the workies have to fix the sink in the bathroom, whilst ignoring the bashed and dented set of drawers and the dodgy bedside light and the dripping air-con outside.  Oh well, at least they’re making a start at fixing this old ship.  I think if we slap another coat of paint on the metal parts and then a coat or two of varnish on the woodwork, most of the geriatric passengers will never notice the ship is sinking.  Anyway, up at 7.00 and on deck by 7.30.  When the gangways were set up and “a secure area had been established around Oceana” we were ready to disembark and make our way into Corfu. 

We decided to get the bus in to town then walk back.  We walked around the old harbour and into the old town.  Scamp settled on a ride on the wee train.  She trainalways makes a bee line for these wee trains.  Sometimes they are a lot better than the Red Tourist bus, mainly because they go slower and give you a chance to see what the commentary is describing.  I really enjoyed the ride, but the roads around here are terrible, even compared to our potholed roads.  You sometimes have to visit somewhere like this to appreciate how fortunate you are.  After the train ride, we walked through a large park in the centre of town.  There we saw more evidence of Greece’s financial dire straits.  It didn’t look as if the place had been cleaned for weeks.  There was litter everywhere and the grass was dry and burnt looking.  No work had been done on the flower beds and there were weeds growing through the paving stones.  It must be difficult living in a country with a national debt problem.  Across the street there were horses and traps taking tourists around the town, but we didn’t bother.  We’d been on a train.  Behind the horses was a cricket pitch!  Apparently it dates back to when Britain owned or ran Greece.  It was probably Britain that showed the country how to get into debt in the first place!  (A little bit of politics there).

I’d brought my laptop with me so I could update the waiting world with this blog, so we went looking for an Internet cafe.  There were plenty of cafes offering free Wi-Fi, so we stopped at one, had a beer each and the blog was uploaded in a much faster time than the ship’s Wi-Fi.  I found out how to say “Thank You” in Greek.  It sound like “e phar ee sto” with the emphasis on the sto.  I stopped to buy some natural sponges for watercolour painting and Scamp bought a bagsheila for taking her lunch to work.  By then it was time to go back to the ship.  We walked back and although it looked like a long way, it was really a pleasant walk.  Had lunch when we got back and then sat near the pool, both of us managing to swim a bit and soak up some sun in the Jacuzzi.  Oh, yes and the sink was done, and a very nice job they’ve made of it.

We watched the start of the sailaway and then went for dinner.  Steak tonight was too well done.  It seems like a hit or a miss.  Maybe it depends on who cooks it.  Thanks to the four at the opposite table drawing back their curtains, we got to watch the scenery float past.  Not as dramatic as last night, no submarine pens, just rolling hills in the middle distance.

After dinner Scamp wanted to hear a piano recital and I swore at this slow computer and the badly written File Juggler.  It’s supposed to be the PC equivalent to Hazel (Hazel the app, that is!), but it’s nowhere nearly as clever as that.  It works – kind of, and not all the time.  Pretty pointless really.  However it passed some time until Scamp was done, then we went to the Tropical Party on the pool deck, where we used to live.  It was dire 1960s Hi Di Hi holiday camp nonsense and the wind was cooling me down, so we left.

Drink, hot chocolate and bed in that order.  Not getting up early on purpose tomorrow.  Not for nobody.  It’s Sunday, so it’s a long lie in.  That’s the plan anyway!  We can but hope.