Saturday, April 21, 2018

Lunch in Santorini today

Eating octopus is as expensive as eating lobster but I still do  it. The only other country I had access to octopus is Spain. So as expensive as it is, I don't mind the expense.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Santorini, Greece

Yesterday when I asked about the ferries from Heraklion to Santorini, they weren't even sure if the ferries were sailing. There was a 24 hour work stoppage, pan hellenic, all sailing vessels were docked and not moving. The travel agents wasn't even issuing tickets, told me to check at the port in the morning. The ferries started sailing again and so I got on a ferry and less than 2 hours later I arrived in Santorini. It is very beautiful. Santorini consists of a few villages with Fira as its capital and the most northerly village is Oia (pronounced eeya). When one sees pictures of Santorini, they are most likely take in Oia, blue church domes and whitewashed buildings, so iconic of Santorini. A local bus runs between all villages. I arrived in Fira with no reservation but I knew there was a little pension next to the bus station and that is where I am staying. Other guests wants views of the caldera. Me? I don't care, it is just steps away. I hadn't plan on visiting Santorini but I saw the ads in Heraklion and realized that it is quite close by. So I came! I'm glad to have included Santorini, beats having to come again on another trip.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Imbros gorge, Crete

The longest and most beautiful gorge in Crete is the Samaria gorge, some 16Km long but it wouldn't open till May 1. So the next best thing is Imbros gorge, opened all year round and only 8Km long. It is all downhill and really spectacular. So I hiked it this morning, took 3 and 1/2 hours of walking through some beautiful scenery. There were quite a lot of people, both young and old. The toughest thing was avoiding the fresh goats' turd, they are everywhere.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hania, Crete

I left Spili this morning, changed buses in Rethymno and arrived in Hania around noon! I found this sleazy hotel next to the bus station and decided upon it. At 35 Euros a night, I can use the money I saved to eat better. This is the place to eat seafood. I had a platter of fried seafood for lunch which was really good. Old town Hania is quaint and adorable and a very popular destination for Europeans. There is an airport here. The buildings in old town are close together and form a maze and it is really fun to wander and zigzag into every little lane. Every turn seems to offer a picturesque vignette. Many of the upstairs have been turned into rooms to let.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

First full day in Spili, Crete

High above the mountain village of Spili is a plateau where the wildflowers blossom in exuberance every Spring. It is quite late in the season but there were still plenty to see and enjoy. The most prized are these tulips that are very typical of this high mountain plateau. They were all over the place and absolutely magnificent.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Spili, Crete

This is supposed to be a great place for wildflowers. However I've just got into town and the locals doesn't seem to know or care. There's a group staying here at this hotel that has gone out to hunt for wildflowers. I'm hoping to meet them and ask them. I did walk around the neighborhood, it is a small mountain village. I saw huge colonies of orchids.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Heraklion, Crete

I left Thessaloniki very earl this morning and it is an hour's flight to Heraklion, the capital of Crete. I have doing all the major sites today and I have tomorrow, after which I take the bus to Rethymno for a few days. I hope to do some hiking in the villages. I was at the palace of Knossos this morning. It was a Minoan settlement, a people that predates the Greeks and was here 4,000 years ago. They were a very sophisticated society, their art, crafts and architecture is well ahead of other civilizations around the same circa. This picture is called 'the blue ladies'. No one really know his they look like. This is a presumption from other depiction of the men and women of that time. One thing is certain, they found a few blue fragments of frescoes and presumed this was how it would have looked originally.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Ano Poli

At the top of Thessaloniki is the old city, Ano Poli and the ancient Roman walls to keep out the Slavs and other Barbarians from the North. It has incredible views of the city below and the port. In 324 BC General Cassander married Thessaloniki, the half-sister of Alexander the Great after the latter's early demise and established a city in her honor. Thessaloniki in the province of Macedonia remained important in Roman and Byzantine times. The great fire of 1917 destroyed almost half of the city and was rebuilt by French architect, Ernest Hebrard. Today Thessaloniki, the second city after Athens is a thriving metropolis.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Greek Orthodox Easter

I'm stuck in Thessaloniki with nothing to do for 2 days because of Greek Orthodox Easter. I have another day and then I fly to Crete. By what I have read Crete promised to be an exciting place. I need the wild, not cities and Crete can provide me with that.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki is the capital of Macedonia, a region of Greece, the ancient kingdom of Philip and his son, Alexander the Great. Greece wants the country of Macedonia to stop using the same name. The name of Macedonia belongs to this area. Later it became second in importance to Constantinople and has a lot of Byzantine remains. The museum for Byzantine culture details the progression of the Byzantine empire, from early, middle, late and after while under Ottoman rule. It is a very interesting museum. All the relics are found in Thessaloniki. It still has a lot of Byzantine churches from the middle to late Byzantine period.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Meteora, Greece 2

Another great day in Meteora, my last day, saw 3 more monasteries today. This is my last day here, will be going to Thessaloniki tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Meteora, Greece

I'm in Meteora now, arrived yesterday. I left Delphi yesterday and after 4 buses, arrived in Kalapaka, the village closest to Meteora. This morning I took the Meteora bus and went up to visit a few monasteries. They are all on top of huge rocks and the climb up was so tiring. I could only managed to visit 2 of them. I'll do more tomorrow. I have tomorrow to do more and I leave for Thessaloniki after that. It is an incredible feat to have built these gigantic monasteries on top of all those rocks. Before the advent of stairs and steps to them, everything from people (monks) and things have to be winched up. It is an incredible feat. It is inspiring to observe the dedication of these Christians. Meteora is an awe inspiring place.

Monday, April 02, 2018

More anemones

As if I didn't have enough, I dragged my taxi driver from yesterday literally out of bed to go search for anemones. He lives next to the taxi stand and the cafe he hangs out at called him for me. So off we went. I told him I saw some from the bus that took me to Delphi 2 days' ago. We didn't see any. I can't remember where I actually saw it. So I instructed him to turn back and as we were about to ascend the hill heading up to Delphi, I saw some from the roadside. He stopped and back up. I jumped out and ran to the side of the road and lo and behold, there they were. It wasn't for nothing after all. I'm happy!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Happy Easter

To all celebrating Easter today, Happy Easter. The Greeks will celebrate Easter on April 8th. Picture of the dome in Hosios Loukas yesterday of Jesus Christ Pantocrator. He is risen! Allelujah!

Mauve colored anemones

What a surprise! This morning while taking a taxi to the monastery of Hosios Loukas. I saw a lot of anemones on the roadside. I asked my driver to stop on the way back. I climbed up the hill and took a bunch of pictures. Imagine my delight! I was in anemone heaven.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Delphi, Greece

I arrived late and the ancient site is closed. I will be hiking on Mt Parnassus tomorrow and will see the ancient site on Sunday. Spring time in Greece is so glorious, the wildflowers are everywhere and are so beautiful. It is a terrific time to visit, less people and lovely weather.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A very long travel day

This has been an extremely long travel day, left Kardamyli at 8.10am, arrived in Kalamata at 9.10am, waited 6-7 hours for bus to Patra. The trip to Patra took 4 hours and I'm finally here. I had dinner, ate some street food round the corner from the hotel which is next to the bus station. I have showered and am getting ready for bed. I have an 8.30 am bus for Amifssa, takes 2 hours. Then I change to bus for Delphi. Till then, goodnight.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Today in Kardamyli

That was yesterday. What a difference a day makes. It's raining today and I'm kind of homebound. I keep hoping the rain will abate for just a few hours so I can head down to the beach. I think I have my wish. It looks like it is clearing. Yesterday I hiked for 7 hours in a deep river gorge on a dried river bed, clambering over little rocks, large rocks and huge boulders, up the gorge, on the ridge and down again. I saw the length and breath of this area in one day. I went through dried scarab land and lush olive groves. It was so incredible, though hard. I kept telling myself, with each step I'm closer to the end, with each passing minute I'm closer to the finish line. It worked. I kept going and going for 7 hours and had a spring in my step all the way, sprinting to the finish line.

Hiking in Kardamyli

I did a 7 hour hike today, almost took everything out of me. First was a 3 hour hike in the dried river bed, climbing over large boulders, small stones and medium size rocks. That was hard but once I got in there, there was no going back. I had to go on and on, doing that for 3 hours. Then at some point I leave the gorge and climbed the steep embankment to leave the gorge, to walk on the top of the ridge for a few more hours. Finally to head down to Kardamyli. Even that was hard, clambering over rocks and more rocks, chased by dogs barking loudly. It was quite hellish!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

March 25 Greek Independence day

Today is Greek Independence day and there was a parade in Sparti with people all dressed in their national costumes. It was so beautiful. I got emotional. Mystras is closed on Sunday but I went out there anyway. I took the taxi there, walked down the hill to take photographs. There are wildflowers everywhere. The best time to see wildflowers is the first 2 weeks of April though I am here at the end of May. It was raining a little but it didn't bother me. I walked the whole 5Km back to town stopping to take pictures. I happened upon this plot of anemones. What a find. I would have totally missed it if I were in a motorized vehicle.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Mystras

For over 200 hundred years, Mystras was a thriving kingdom until the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Today on the steep hillside is a collection of ruined churches, some are in better shape than others. Some even retained their beautiful frescoes. This is an UNESCO world heritage site. I was here 10 years ago and it has always been my intention to return. The best time to visit is early to late Spring when the whole place is filled with wildflowers. This is one of the best places in the world to see wildflowers.

Sparti and Mystra

I left Corinth this morning, took the bus to Corinth canal for the bus to Sparti. No one understood me when I asked about Sparta. The ancient city was called Sparta. The new town is Sparti. Upon arrival in Sparti, I had a terrible lunch. I took off and headed for Mystra immediately after lunch. It was great. Just like I remembered it. The whole mountain was covered with all kinds of wild flowers and my favorite, the red anemone. It started to rain but it didn't dampen my enthusiasm. I had a great visit. I will head over there again tomorrow even though Mystra is closed. I saw some great olive groves with potential for great photographs.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Corinth and Acrocorinth

I arrived late last night in Corinth. The town is ugly, concrete blocks built haphazardly. It is lacing totally of any aesthetic sense. It was a travel day yesterday, leaving London on an almost 4 hour flight to Athens, took 2 hours on the Suburban train to get to the Peloponnese and to Corinth. I was dead tired. I got up early this morning, took the bus to ancient Corinth. I remember I wasn't able to get into the site the last time I was here 10 years ago because the park closes at 3pm and I was too late. It is quite an extensive site, here are the remains of the ancient city that St Paul wrote 2 letters to. Both letters are in the Bible known as the epistles of 1st and 2nd Corinthians. What Corinth lack architecturally, it is splendorous in its display of wildflowers. They are everywhere in the fields, olive groves and roadside, blood red poppies, white Asphodels, yellow mustard flowers and daisies. It is quite a visual feast. It is a great time to be here for the wildflower displays.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Heading out again

I'm about to head out again and will return to the Outer Hebrides later in the trip. There's another eBook in there. I'm excited. I will continue to post while on the road.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Hebrides , an eBook by Anne Chung

This eBook is now available on Amazon Kindle, has lots of pictures and a clickable table of content. I'm leaving in a few days to go write more eBooks about more adventures.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Hebrides

The Hebrides isn't a place most people dreamed of going to. The Inner Hebrides is more popular than the Outer Hebrides. The Inner and Outer Hebrides is a chain of many islands which only a few are inhabited. Why go there? What's there? My mission in life is to visit unusual and quirky places How would the Hebrides fit into this category? It was the phenomenon of the Machair that drew me to the Hebrides especially the Outer Hebrides. The Machair are these wildflower meadows that explode in the Western shores of the Outer Hebrides every Summer that piqued my interest. As I search the few guidebooks on the Outer Hebrides, I underlined every line that said, 'Machair' and these were predominantly the places I stopped at. The locals are happy to point out the Machair to you. It is not a very well known detail of the Machair but I love wildflowers and wouldn't miss any place in the world where I would have such an all access pass to! Indeed, it was wild. I loved and enjoyed every Machair that I could get to. I want more and much more. There are plans to return. Be warned. If you are like me, it will be your undoing also! This book will help you plan and make your Machair experience a reality! Let me illuminate the challenges to travel to the Hebrides and how to overcome them and make it an enjoyable and successful experience.

Friday, March 09, 2018

The Hebrides, both Inner and Outer

This eBook is almost ready for publication. It details my 2 trips to the Hebrides, an outlying region of hundreds of little islands off the coast of Scotland. It is a fascinating place. I was asked, 'what's there?' to which I replied, 'nothing'. Only some of the many islands are inhabited by a very hardy stock of people. The empty spaces and the empty beaches makes for such an idyllic escape.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Garden of Ninfa, Italy

A year ago I was in Rome to visit the garden of Ninfa. It is just outside of Rome, a short train ride away and it is the most glorious garden in the world, built against the ruins of a medieval city, it is evocative and has this other worldly mood about it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ebooks on Amazon Kindle

I have written a few ebooks for Amazon Kindle. Check them out.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The garden of Ninfa

Ninfa was a medieval city, now in ruins. It always had a garden there for centuries, built against the back drop of these ruins. It is beautiful and romantic, some has called it 'the most romantic garden in the world.' The Caetani family owned it for centuries and has recently set up a trust and/or foundation to care for it and keep it opened to the public for eternity. A visitor asked why there are ruins in the garden and was it put there for effect. So ignorant. I have an ebook on Kindle detailing all about the garden. It was such a pleasurable visit.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

The duck pond

This is the pond at Charleston farmhouse, a place where the children of Vanessa Bell entertained themselves. Not many of us have the wherewithal growing up. I remember we had a pond like this growing up which was at the bottom of the hill from where our ramshackle house was. It was a pond where the ducks played in. We raised ducks for food, we were dirt poor. It was at the edge of a rubber plantation where mosquitoes rule the air. We spent many childhood moments playing and sharing this dirty pond with the ducks. We were so poor, we had to improvise and use whatever was close by as our toys.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Fano, Denmark

There are actually places like this in the world where the flowers just bloom and blossom into such exuberance. This was on the island of Fano in the far Western side of Denmark. This is my idea of an island escape, not the tropical stuff. I love to go back. This was in the Summer of 2015!

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Wanderlust

I have a serious case of 'fernweh.' Weh in German means pain or an aching. 'Fern' means faraway. I have a serious aching to be far away. Do you feel the same?

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Machair

What is a Machair? (pronounced macca) They are these flowering grasslands found mostly in the Outer Hebrides and they stretch for miles and miles. They are a delightful sight to behold! Over the warm Summer months they bloom and produce a riot of colors, much like a Persian carpet. I was in the Outer Hebrides in July of 2017 and have plans to return in 2018!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Christiania, Denmark

Christiania was an army depot that squatters requisitioned and occupied illegally and refused to move. Today it makes for a sublime dawdling through the houses built higgledy piggledy all over the place. In Summer it is the most beautiful part of Copenhagen. I came here twice in the Summer of 2015 because it is so lovely. Sometimes the best places are those without a museum, artwork or shops or any modern building and therefore devoid of the tourist hordes that are invading the big metropolises.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Snakehead fritillaries

In April of 2017 I went to Cricklade, a little village outside of London to see these wild flowers. The whole of North meadow was filled with these beautiful wildflowers that come back year after year. I made a special trip just to see it. Others have gone to England at the time of bluebells but I was in England at the time of snakehead fritillaries. I wasn't disappointed. It was wonderful!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Cathedral in Sienna

I have my ticket to travel already, leaving end of March with a very loose sort of itinerary. Each time I'm in a church, my prayer is that I will be able to continue to travel and see such gorgeous places. This is truly a sumptuous church, I was here 20 years ago and it had made such an impression on me that I knew I wanted to come back. The opportunity to do that was last April/May as part of a trip to Rome and Florence. I am grateful for my life!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Travel plans for 2018

Are Americans the only ones in the world always mulling over New Year's resolutions? Do we only decide to change our lives at the start of a new year? Why? We should be constantly taking stock of life and reorder it whenever we can rather than at the start of the year. Do I have any or have I made any new year resolutions? No. I make changes constantly throughout the year. At this moment I have a ticket to fly in 2 months and that will already take me well into half the year. I have young friends who are still mulling over travel. Its tough especially when there are so many destinations but the plan should be to take one country or one city at a time. Start with a very simple and rudimentary plan and as one's expertise increases, then to make more elaborate plans. Young people are so lucky. There are a lot of budget airlines flying to the major cities in the world. There are lots of new concept hostels with incredible locations. The reason to stay at home has diminished. I celebrate my 66 birthday in a week and I'm still doing hostels and backpacks!

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Summer 2015

I made sure I was in Stockholm for mid summer celebration and I was but it was rained out. I was hoping to wear a flower crown and dance round the pole but the place was so wet and  muddy. I want a do over!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year 2018

2017 was a great year but 2018 is already shping to be even more wonderful. It is going to be another wanderlustful year. I have my plane ticket already and the dates made out and it is coming up sooner than anticipated. I am not complaining. I was here in Mystra on the Peloponese in March 2011 and this will be my first stop among many many others. May your 2018 be full and wanderlustful too!