Saturday, July 11, 2009
My work in Asia Pacific is so hectic that I even cannot really plan a holiday as I was used to do when I worked in Europe. The only opportunity I could think of to have a short holiday break was end of June. In July I have to complete my project in the Philippines and in August I have to start a project in Malaysia and one in Thailand.
Just 2 days before I would land in Amsterdam I could call my wife to tell her that I was coming back for two weeks and that we had to find a last minute trip to Greece. I had never been in Greece and she either. My children and mother visited Greece already, my son even two times. So we were excited.
As my wife wanted to meet her niece in Athens, we went to the travel agency to book a last minute to the capital. It turned out to be quite expensive and asked the lady for other options. The problem was that the cheap charter airlines went only to the holiday islands and not to Athens, so the only flights were regular airline flights, being two or more times expensive than the charters. Finally we found a 1 week last minute to "Skiathos" one of the Sporade islands north of Athens, but only 4 hours by boat and bus and decided to go to the capital from Skiathos for 1 or 2 days to visit her family member and daughter.
It's a small island, the high summer season was not started yet and everything is close by. It was lovely, the apartment (hotel Renee) was nice with an excellent view over the sea from the balcony or the terraces where we took our simple breakfast.
We rented a motor bike for a couple of days but later on decided to extend the rent for the whole week. It was 15 euro a day only. The route to the apartment on the mountain near Skiathos city was quite steep and I didn't want to walk that part one or more times a day, I would have died if I did. Later on I found out that a taxi up hill was 5 euro already. And anyway, if you want to discover the island you had to go around by bike or car, there is only one bus from the main city to the other end of the island, where one of the few nice beaches is located.
Interesting was a trip to one of the highest mountains, where an asylum for pets, mainly dogs, was located, close to an old chapel. It seemed to be ran by an English lady. Visitors/tourist could walk with the dogs, but you could also adopt an animal. Depending on your home country, there was the ability to bring the pet to your home, the organisation behind it could arrange it for you. For The Netherlands, they have another procedure as I heard from my daughter. She has a Greece dog herself.
Another day we took a boat tour of a day to the other 2 sister islands, called Skopelos and Alonissos. Of course we had to see the dolphins, and we really saw them jumping next to the boat, the small cities and harbors and the little church on a mountain near to the see where the wedding in the movie "Mama mia" was shoot. That's what they told me and what they use to attract tourists to take the tour, I had never seen this movie, but I have to do now or at least shortly.
Another day we went to the north part of the island and went to the beach to make a photo shooting of my wife in her bikini, with some rocks and the see as background. The water is so clear, I have never seen this before, not in other Mediterranean beaches, nor in Asia Pacific. While we were doing the foto shooting an airplane came over so low and noisy, it was really frightening. The beach was at the end of the runway on the island. It had a very short run way, and I remembered that when we arrived, the pilot had to use the brakes as I never experienced before. When he turned away from the landing strip, the end of the strip and the sea was only 50 meters away.
One of the last days, we went to another part of the island, we crossed the highest point and found close to it a restaurant for lunch, with a stunning view over the island, Skiathos city and the see. You could see the giant ferry's coming and departing again. They must have so many ferries in Greece, I was not aware of it. After lunch we visited a small chapel again, with very nice icons (wall and ceiling paintings) and a place with monks and a tourist sales outlet, where you could buy wine, honey and much more home made products.
Usually we had our dinner in one of the many restaurants at the boulevard along the two ports. The Greek salad was excellent, I think we had it every day, simple but a good starter, we will repeat it back home many times. The fish and meat is good as well, my wife loves the fish, I love both. But even more than the food, I liked the sailing boats anchored in the new port. It remembered me on my own sailing life, almost 10 years ago. Maybe next time when I come back here, I will rent a sailing boat in stead of an apartment.
The last day we visited Skiathos city and climbed the old city streets up to the tower with a view over the old and new ports of the city. Nice view and many pictures taken again. It was a short holiday, but we have enjoyed it so much and fell in love with the country, the island, the weather and the food. If there is a chance we will come back.