Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dubai

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Hawthorn Hotel, Deria.


Sunday 13/7 - Caught the 12.15pm bus from Rafina to Athens Airport for our flight to Dubai. Sat on the tarmac for an hour due to heavy traffgic at Athens airport. Finally took off & arrived at our hotel in Dubai about 12.15am.

Monday 14/7 - Slept late & just made it to breakfast before the restaurant closed. Took a taxi to the Gold Souk & the Spice Souk. The amount of gold & diamonds is incredible! Most of it was too gaudy for me, but I did manage to find a necklace I liked. 3 colour golds (white, rose & gold) and diamond cut...so it really sparkles. 4pm - off on Safari! 4 wheel driving through the desert, sunset in the desert & dinner (& drinks) at a bedouin camp. Entertainment included; camel rides, belly dancing, hena tatoos & finally star gazing (but only 2 stars to be seen!). A good experience! Back to our hotel where we visited the 49er restaurant/bar & the Gravity Bar. Both had bands that played very loudly and in our view very badly. We finally collapsed into bed about midnight.

Tues 15/7 - 7am pickup for our transfer back to the airport and our return flight home.

Rafina, Greece

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Avra Hotel, Rafina, Greece


Saturday 12/7 - We finally arrived at our hotel in Rafina at 1am.

Sunday 13/7 - We had brunch at a cafe over looking the harbour (everything over looks the harbour here in Rafina).Checked out the bus to the airport and spent an hour or so in an internet cafe before collecting our bags to catch the bus to Athens airport.

Paros Island, Greece

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Irene's View Villas - Agia Irini


Sunday 6/7 - George & his wife Irene are wonderful! As we haven't had a chance to get to the shops yet, they plied us with food & beer and Greek hospitality. There was a problem with the 3 bedroom villa so they have given us 2 x 2 bedroom villas. So we have our own villa & the kids have one right next door. The view from our balcony is spectacular. Blue skies, blue water, little islands and lots of sunshine. A hop skip & a jump to the swimming pool and a short stroll down the hill to the beach & the taverna. After we'd settled in, we took a taxi back to the Port, Parika and did some shopping. Then strolled down to the beach for dinner at the local Taverna.

Monday 7/7 - Slept late, bacon & eggs for breakfast, a dip in the pool, an hour in the sun while the kids went into Parika to hire a couple of scooters. Lunch, siesta, a dip in the pool, a couple of hours reading & drinking, dinner, drinking, & bed. Looks like this will be our daily itinerary for the next week!

Tuesday 8/7 - Much the same as yesterday, except Mark & I took one of the scooters into town to check our email. When we got back the kids took off to explore on the scooters. Found another local taverna/bar. Sipped cocktails & watched the sun go down, then enjoyed another greek feast.

Wednesday 9/7 - Another day in Paradise! The sea was so calm today. Mark & I lazed about the pool while the kids took off on the scooters again. We all played in the pool in the afternoon, had a siesta & pasta for dinner & the kids went up to Noussa to discover Paros by night!

Thursday 10/7 - Only a few days to go. The time is passing too quickly! We think the kids had a good time last night as they didn't get home until 5am. Mark & I took a scooter & headed into town to check our email & update our blog! Now it's back to Paradise for a swim, lunch, siesta & afternoon drinks. It's a tough life! It was quite windy today, but still hot. Cooked a BBQ dinner and had a quiet night at the villa.

Friday 11/7 - Mark & I hired a car in the morning. In the afternoon we did a tour of the island. It's not very big, it took as about 2hrs to drive around most of the island. Back to the villa to relax & have a siesta before dinner. Went to a very classy restaurant in Pounda (the next bay) for dinner.

Saturday 12/7 - Mark & I have to leave this afternoon, as our return flight from Athens to Dubai has been rescheduled & the ferry we were booked on for tomorrow does not give us enough time to get to the airport & checkin. So we relaxed in the morning & did our packing (while the kids slept). Then went into Parika about 4pm for drinks & an early dinner before our ferry departs at 7pm. Our ferry was cancelled due to rough seas....so we were transferred to a bigger ferry departing at 9pm. Passed the time sipping drinks & watching the sunset over the harbour with Club Med 2 in the foreground.

Athens, Greece

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Hotel Amalias - Amalias Avenue, Athens, Greece(near the Plaka, walking distance to the Acropolis)

Friday 4/7 - An early morning as we had to catch the 8am train to the airport for our flight to Athens. The flight was delayed (of course) and we finally arrived at our hotel at 3.30pm. Wandered out tom check out the free wi-fi spot in Syntagma Square - Mark & I enjoyed a drink while Bree played on facebook. Wandered further afield to find somewhere for dinner, found a great area filled with lots of cafes with outdoor tables. Had souvalaki, tzatziki & greek salad for dinner and meandered back to the hotel to fell into bed about midnight.

Saturday 5/7 - A lazy start to the day. It's quite hot here in Athens so we've decided to hang about the hotel until Aimee arrives then walk up to see the Acropolis when it's cooler. 4pm Aimee arrived and not long after her cousin Sancha dropped in to say hi. We will meet up with her at 9pm for dinner, after we've visited the Acropolis. 6pm The Acropolis is spectacular and there was a band tuning up in one of the ampitheatres - looks like there might be a concert on later tonight, the acoustics were awsome. The view over Athens was stunning. Pictures to follow! 9pm had dinner at a typical greek restaurant, meet Sancha's boyfriend for a quick drink before heading back to the hotel. Tara & Nick arrived while we were out.

Sunday 6/7 - A 4.30am wakeup call so we can get the train to the Port and the ferry to Paros. Bought business class tickets as we'd heard the ferries get packed. Glad we did! Standing room only out in economy class. 11.45am arrived Paros, Blue skies, blue water, whitewashed villas - we've found paradise! Took the bus to Agia Irini and phoned George to collect us from the bus stop. I didn't know it was possible to fit 6 big bags & 7 people into a Holden Astra - but it is!

Rome, Italy

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Hotel Milani - via Magenta, Rome. (1 block from the main train terminal)


Tuesday 1/7 - Arrived at 8.15pm. By th tim we got our luggge took the bus & train into Rome terminal & found out hotel (only 1 block from the train terminal) it was 10.30pm. We went to a nearby restaurant for a late dinner then bed.

Wednesday 2/7 - We slept late this morning. Hey we're on holiday! It was very hot so we decided to laze about the hotel in air conditioned comfort & then take an open bus tour of the city late in the afternon when t's cooler. So we read & did our emails & blog. The bus tour was good, and included an audio descrbing the city sights. Saw the colleseum, St Peter's, vatican city, circus maximus, lots of other Piazzas & fountains, the trevi fountain & the spanish steps. An early dinner (8.30pm), then back to the hotel & bed.

Thursday 3/7 - It's 10.30am and I am updating our blog. Mark & Bree are still in bed. Touring around sure takes it out of you! 1pm - we met up with my cousin Anthony who works at the Vatican. He gave us a tour of his building - the holy office which is right next door to St Peter's Basilica. He introduced us to one of the archivists who took us into one of the vatican archive rooms & showed us ancient texts that not many people get to see. Most of what we looked at was from about the 1540's. Hand printed books and books from the holy index which is an index of prohibited books. It was amazing to see such old books. Most of them have been restored. You can see the difference in the parchment (they use Japanese parchment for the new sections as they are acid free & will not damage the original parchment they have been melded to). Then Anthony took us up to the roof of his building and we had a view of St Peter's, the Vatican & the surrounding areas of Rome - breath taking, awe inspiring and unique (as only friends & relatives get to go up to the roof). We took a few photos so we can brag! Said goodbye to Anthony about 3.30pm and walked next door to see inside St Peter's & the Pope's tombs. Magnificent! Hot & tired & didn't want to cue for the vatican museum...so Mark & Bree will have to come back again to see the Sistine Chapel (I saw it last time - 20yrs ago). Back to our hotel, dinner & an early night as we have an early start tomorrow.

Paris, France

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Citadines Hotel Les Halles (Metro - Les Halles). Walking distance to Notre Dame & the Louvre (very central).

Saturday 28/6 - Took the Eruostar train from London to Paris. Nothing spectacular about the underwater tunnel it's just like any other train tunnel, but we love travelling 1st class on the trains over here! Met up with Francine & Pipo at the hotel. Had lunch at a nearby cafe and the waitress was hillarious. Pipo wanted to see the eiffel tower so we spent the afteernoon walking around Paris. We walked for miles (& my feet are still hurting!) Went back to the same restaurant for dinner (because the waitress was so entertainiing & we couldn't walk another step). Dinner was superb and we laughed & joked with the waitress & fellow diners. A good way to end the day.

Sunday 29/6 - Met up with friend's of Francine's from Geneva - Rohan & Lore and went to Montmartre for lunch. A great view from Montmartre looking backing down over the city of Paris (photos will be ploaded soon). Again a great lunch & lots of laughing with friends & waitstaff. Whoever said the French are rude had better visit Paris with us! 4.30pm said goodbye to Francine & Pipo. 7.30pm took the metro to my friend Malibu's home. Met Malibu's children Theo & Tom, and a couple of Alain & Malibu's friends, Zoran & Didiere. Zoran is doing a world tour & hopes to come to Australia so we look forward to meetng him again in Perth! Another ex GO friend, Francis who lives in Lyon was also in Paris, so it was good to catch up with him unexpectedly. We had dinner at a typical French bistro (thank you Francis!) & of course ate, drank, talked & laughed. Finally had to leave to catch the last metro home (metro closes 1am).

Monday 30/6 - Slept in, had a late breakfast/early lunch. Spoke to Bree she was at London airport, has 4-5 hrs to wait for her flight which is due into Paris at 5.30pm. Her bus rear ended another bus at Heathrow airport when she arrived, luckily no-one was hurt. 5.45pm to 8pm we had a minor panic attack as we couldn't get through to Bree's mobile. Finally had a call from Tara at about 8.10pm. Bree sent her an SMS advising she was stuck on the train between the airport & Paris as her train had crashed into the rear of another train. Again no one was hurt, but I think she should walk instead of fly. Doesn't bad luck run in 3's? Bree finally arrived & Mark & I rushed off to La Poncinelle Restaurant to meet my ex GO friends for dinner (finally arrived at 9.45pm). We had a great night - Patrick has put his photos up on facebook - have a look! We missed the last metro however we were only a 15min walk away from our hotel & Patrick had pointed out which street to walk down. It was a pleasant walk home, but our feet ar sore from all the walking we've done in Paris.

Tuesday 1/7 - Checked out of the hotel & stored our luggage. We took Bree on a whirlwind tour of Paris. Walked past Notre Dame and the Louvre on our way to thee Paris Eye. The view from the ferris wheel was fantastic. Bree got to see the eiffel tower, montemartre & the whole of Paris in a quick 10 minute ride. Back to the hotel & off to the airport for our flight to Rome.

London, UK

Citadines Barbican Hotel. Only 2 metro stops from Kings Cross International Station

Friday 27/6 - Arrived back into London about 3pm. Took the metro to our hotel as only 2 stops away. Cost us 4 pounds each. Took a stroll around the nearby streets - wierd everyone drinks in the streets, probably because the pubs are so small! Dinner, drinks & a quiet night at the hotel.

Saturday 28/6 - Took a taxi back to Kings Cross Station, only cost us 6 pounds 30 pence (cost us 8 pounds on the metro). Good value! We booked 1st class seats on the Eurostar to Paris...the only way to travel! Included breakfast and lots of leg room.

Halifax, Yorkshire, England, UK

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The Railway Inn. Not a very salubrious place, but the rooms were newly renovated & clean.

Wednesday 25/6 - On the move again. Took the train to Halifax (via Leeds). Halifax is where Mark's family originated from.

The Imperial Crown HotelVery nice & only 1 block from the train station.

Thursday 26/6 - Visited the Halifax library and chatted to the archivist to try to locate Blackmires Chapel. Took the bus to Shelf and meandered through a couple of cemeteries looking for relatives - no luck. Walked back down to Northowram (in the rain) & caught the bus back to Halifax. We spent a quiet evening in our hotel as the rain had set in.

Friday 27/6 - Went to Lister Lane Cemetery where Nathan Downsborough is buried but couldn't get in as the gates were locked & no-one around. It's a sad & neglected place but does look like some renovations have been started. Took the bus to the West End to try & find Blackmires Church - no one has ever heard of it. We found a Methodist Wesleyan Church but it was only built in 1889 and Blackmires is older...but it may have been replaced with this one. The blokes in the pub told us that the area around this Church was known as the swamp & Jeremiah & John lived at 3 & 5 The Swamp in 1851. The local cemetery had some old tombestones (1779) but it was so overgrown we couldn't walk around it.
Caught the afternoon train back to London.

Edinburgh, Scotland

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Chez Tara & Jessica. A 2 bedroom apartment walking distance from the station, right in the heart of the city.

Monday 23/6 - Took the train from London to Edinburgh to visit Tara & Jess. Had lunch at a local pub, visited Tara's workplace & went to an Indian restaurant for dinner with the girls & Nick (Tara's boyfriend).

Tuesday 24/6 - Took the train to Falkirk to see th Falkirk wheel. Very impressive. Had a quiet afternoon/evening at home and Tara cooked us dinner.

London UK

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Citadines Hotel Trafalgar Square. Nice hotel & great location. Walking distance from the Tower of London & Buckingham Palace.

Saturday 21/6 - Finally arrived in London and got to our hotel about 10.30pm.

Sunday 22/6 - Believe it or not today the sun is shining here & Mark is happy because they have bacon & eggs. Walked along the Thames past London bridge. Did a beefeater tour of the Tower of London, saw the crown jewels & the armoury. Had lunch at a local cafe. Visited the Tower Bridge and walked across the top section (not as adventurous as the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb - we took the lift up). Walked back to our hotel stopped at the corner store to buy beer & wine and had a quiet drink in our room. Early evening we strolled down to the Palace, Lizzie wasn't answering her doorbell so we just looked about the grounds & took photos of the guards before heading back to Trafalgar Square for dinner.