Reflections on a cruise-cake

The "cruise" is over... and now I think it's time to look back on the experience.

A couple things of note:

First, as I think I mentioned, the tour didn't leave the day it was supposed to. Originally, we were going to meet Saturday evening for Evia Island... but plane delays meant that got pushed back a day. So we ended up leaving the mainland at about 3pm on Sunday instead... but not by our little caique (the 16-person boat) ... but rather, by ferry. The wind was too strong for the boat to make the crossing with passengers.

This would become a re-occuring theme of the trip.

We spent that first night in Karystos.... and the second as well (again, because of the strong winds... the port authority wouldn't let us sail). We then made our way to Marmari, Panagia, Nea Stryta and then back to Marmari.

We ended up missing a couple stops we were really looking forward to (for me: dropping anchor and diving off the edge of the boat, for Jeff: some ancient ruins).

But while it would have been nice to do the WHOLE trip... you can't really predict the weather... and the winds actually made the temperature much more bearable (it was around 35 most of the week).

Other than that, it was a great experience. Evia is a very quiet little island. Most of the towns we visited were very non-touristy... very little english, often no ATMs, most places didn't have debit/credit card machines to pay for goods... very much an old world/new world contrast with Athens (where we are now).

All in all, I'm really glad we did the tour. It gave us a look at Greece we likely wouldn't have seen. And met some great people and interesting characters along the way.


Baby got back... burn

I love love love love the sun.

Always have, always will.

Ever since I arrived in Greece I have just been BASKING in the glorious rays.... which just feel more wholesome than the little piddly ones we get in Rankin.

Quality, not quantity, people.

I've been ultra paranoid about sunscreen though... wake up every morning and slather on the stuff... "factor 30" as the Brits on our tour say.

But today I went without... just to see what it would be like* ... and paid for it. I've got a bit of a burn on my back (accidentally fell asleep on the beach... oops!), but I'd only give it a 3 out of 10 on the burn scale. Not too bad, if you ask me.

But I'm definitely going to get back on the sunblock bandwagon. No more burns for me!

*still went for the face-30 though... I refuse to get sun damage on my gorgeous face haha



Best parts of our messed-up flight fiasco....

  • McDonald's juicy Big Mac at the JFK airport. It's been so long, and it was heaven.
  • Berlin Air has this really cute "comfort gift pack" that they put on your seat when you get on the aircraft... with a blowup pillow, blanket, eye cover, ear plugs, extra socks, tooth brush, tooth paste... etc. And you get to keep it. So cool.
  • The 2-euro, 7-minute massage chairs at the Berlin Air gate, en route from Dusseldorf to Athens. Best 2 bucks and 7-minutes of my life.
First thoughts of Greece:
  • From the sky, everything looked just so white. It was startling.
  • From the ground... it's almost desert-like in places. And the soil is largely very red, almost like PEI soil
  • The ocean is just the richest colour of royal blue. Drool-worthy
  • It's veeerrrry warm (easily 30-35 degrees) but there is such a fierce wind, it's really not a big deal.
  • People have been so wonderful and kind... and generous. Seeing we looked paniced in the airport, letting us get ahead of them in purchase lines...We found this shoe shop in Rafina, and the girl spoke very little English, and was probably my age. We told her our sad luggage story, and she helped Jeff find a pair of sandals...and then gave them to us for 5-euros off. Such a sweet gesture.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed

So I would say I'm officially jet-lagged... or at least my internal clock is massively screwed up.

It seems like I'm alway hungry and I'm on this roller coaster ride of sleep-deprived false energy and flat-out exhaustion, where I can't even keep my eyes open.

I know what the calendar date is... but I have no clue what day of the week it is. So bizarre.

So we're not on the boat yet... it had to be pushed back a day because the London group (most of the tour) got delayed (by the same delay as us... grrrrr). Talk about frustrating. Probably could have saved ourselves hoards of hassle if we'd only known.

So the night was spent at Hotel Avra in Rafina... somewhat off the beaten path, with more Greek tourists than Anglo like us.

Anyways. We meet up with the tour after lunch today, and then we are off. I really can't wait.



I'm so incredibly frustrated right now... I don't even know if I have the words to describe what a freaking fiasco this is.

I'm sweaty, sore, tired, anxious, blistery, worried... and actually just want to go home.

Jeff can't find any clothes... it cost us 110 Euros to kind of replace our toiletries (airport pharmacy probably not the most cost-effective way to do it, but we didn't have another choice).... this is going to be freaking expensive. Luckily our insurance covers it... but it's a refund... so we have to front the costs.

We missed the early bus to Rafina, because we couldn't find each other, so we HOPEFULLY will be on time to meet our boat... but who knows.

I've been trying to call the tour operator, but can't get the phone to work... I'm just so sick of not understanding what I'm looking at... and *sigh. I just want to relax. That's the point of this. And it's so not happened yet.

We're here. I'm writing this at the marina at Rafina. It's beautiful, I love it. I'm never going back.


Yes, that's German for welcome... or maybe hello... I really don't know at this point... or care...

Now if you've been paying close attention, you may be a bit confused. At no point in our planned itinerary were we to stop in Germany. Rather, it's (hopefully) the last leg of Murphy-kicking-us-in-the-ass-Law.

So everything was going smoothly, no delays... we're cruising down the Van Wyck... waving to Shea stadium etc. We arrive at JFK, head to the Olympic Airlines counter (not actually planning to check in, we still had 6 hrs before our flight was to leave) and findout that our flight's been delayed an additional 4 hours... meaning we wouldn't be able to catch the cruise out of Athens.

So a bunch of Amazing-race-esque running around later... phone calls to our travel insurance folkies... hooking up the laptop to scope out the best flight, best price... and hopefully leaving in the next 3 hours.

We settle on Berlin Air. We have to get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 4... and an hour and a bit before our flight was to leave. Taxis refuse to take us (you have to go the "official" route, through a taxi-organizer I guess... we were trying to flag one down) ... Finallyl we check in... we're the last ones (they have already taken down the Berlin Air signs.... are dismantling the lineup posts etc)... and the kind lady marks our tickets as 'special'. Talk about special treatment.


Special alright... turns out it meant we had been "randomly" selected to go through an intense search of self and carry-ons at security. Somehow along the way, the security nimrods managed to lose Jeff's boarding pass... and we're told to go on without it... by the time we finally get to the Berlin Air gate, they think we are totally useless Canuks, no boarding pass, running for the plane etc.

Seven hours later, we arrive in glorious Dusseldorf... and they've lost our bags. The next hour or so is spent trying to overcome a significant language barrier... and somehow arrange to *maybe* get our bags sent to Athens for after we return from the cruise... but they may have to be sent to Rankin. Who knows.

I came out of it okay, I packed really light and had checked an almost-empty duffel... just had all my liquids/tolitries etc. Jeff on the other hand ... well now needs to powershop for an entire 10-day trip to Greece... in under 2 hours.

Somewhat of a fiasco... but tonite we'll be on a boat... and hopefully will begin the relaxing part of this vacation. We could really use it.


We're off!

Finally! The day, the hour, the minute has come.

We leave in about an hour and a half on our Calm Air flight. We're then in Winnipeg for one night (well, barely one night...) and then take Westjet to Toronto at 6am.

In Toronto, I'm getting my hair cut before getting our American Airlines flight to Laguardia. And LUCKILY our final flight from JFK to Athens has been rescheduled to depart four hours later... which means we should have no problem switching airports etc....

And we will finally arrive on Saturday, at 12 noon... in Athens... before boarding our little boat to cruise the Mediterranean.

Not sure how much internet access I will have, but will update when possible.

Till then...

Nine little squares

I can sleep anywhere, anytime.


24-hour daylight? No problem.

Planes, trains, automobiles? I got it covered; put me in a moving vehicle and within 30 minutes the eyes droop...the head starts to bob...

Hell, I've even fallen asleep standing up once (granted I was really really tired, and kind of sick... and it may have been after my one-and-only all-nighter in university).

And while it generally works in my favour, it can be a bit tricky when you are doing some heavy-duty travelling. I end up completely throwing off any form of normal sleep pattern. Reading doesn't help, because reading makes me sleepy...

All-in-all it makes the process a little tricky. I generally just say screw-it, and give into my narcoleptic tendencies. But I did a bit of travelling by myself when I was living in France, and you hardly wanted to be caught dozing when on one of those high-speed trains... and end up in Budapest after a little catnap...

But then I found a solution.


Yes, the little numbers-game that took the world by storm a couple years back is my savior. It doesn't need undivided attention, but it keeps my mind active... and thus not sleepy. I basically started taking a book of Sudoku around with my any time I was going to get on a plane. At least then I would be awake for all the freebies (as few and far between as they are these days)... and on shorter flights, I don't get completely messed up.**

So when I was packing my suitcase last night, I remembered SUDOKU! I haven't done a puzzle in ... maybe a year or so... and I've forgotten how much I like it. Little puzzles that don't zap too many brain cells... with light at the end of every little puzzle.

I sense a revival coming on of this long-neglected addiction....

** Anyone who knows me well is familiar with the fact that I am EXTREMELY dopey when I first wake up... which can lead to forgotten carry-on items ....


It's all Greek to me

So the countdown is on... the boy and I leave for our grand vacay in just 2 sleeps (or 2 working days, depending which one of us you are talking to... )

Half of me thinks the time couldn't pass fast enough... the other half is freaking out because there is "so much to do, so little time."

Most/all of the logistical stuff is done, flights booked, hotels reserved (even car service to get our butts from Laguardia to JFK)...

Now it's fitting in those last minute-dinners, pet arrangements, trips out on the land... (and in my case, laundry, laundry and MORE laundry...) before taking off on Thursday night... not to mention tying up loose ends around work. I've got a bunch of stories I'm trying to finish off before I leave... they'll be dead by the time I get back... and he's got mounds of work to do (leaving at 5:30 in the morning to put in extra hours before we go...)

Considering we're only leaving on a 2-week holiday... I shudder what would happen if we were gone any longer. Apparently Rankin wouldn't survive without us, haha.

And I've been spending the bulk of my lunch hour trying to teach myself basic Greece. The site I was just looking at starts off:

The Greek language is considered as one of the most difficult languages to learn.
Greeeat. We're off to a good start. English = hard, Inuktitut = hard, Greek = hard. Can't I learn an easy language at SOME point in my life?

I'm hardly trying to become fluent before we go, but I have this thing where I hate to go to a country and not be able to say something as simple as "thank you." It's only polite. I've been using this really neat site that the BBC set up pre-Olympics... for the pronunciations.

On my list so far...
  • ya-ssas = hello/goodbye
  • ef-ha-ree-sto = thank you
  • para-ka-lo = please
  • nairo = water
  • beera = beer (!)
  • Ang-glee-kah = English
  • Meh leh neh = my name is
  • Me lah teh Ang-glee-kah = do you speak english
Ok, so I'm a total dork. But I don't like to be rude, especially in a foreign country.

Now if I could just figure out that darned alphabet...


Smooookin! (a la the Mask)

I was perusing the NY Times today*, when I came across this article.

I'll be honest. I'm not the world's greatest fan of smoking. It more grosses me out than anything else. And I shamelessly trumpet how proud I am of my mom for quitting a couple Decembers back.

But COME ON. Is smoking really something that NEEDS to get considered when slapping a rating on a movie?

Ok, okay. Kiddies are impressionable. I get it. But here we have a VILLAN smoking. He's out-and-out a bad guy. Kids GET good-vs-evil. It's not like the Hulk is lighting up a Virgina Slim. The bad guy is puffin' on a cigar.

Whatever weirdo kid is idolizing the villain probably has other problems beyond being influenced by a comic book-turned-silver screen character.

But that's just me.

*I wish I could say this was a part of my daily journalistic fare... but the embarrassing truth is that a banner on my Gmail lured me in... something about Brangelina's psuedo-twins...



Hats off to Megan for this video.

I have to be honest, I don't normally post videos on my blog... because generally I don't watch them myself. The internet connection up here kinda puts a kaibash on any YouTube addictions...

But this one is just... too hilarious to ignore.

And follows nicely from my last post.

And if you are still a bit wishy-washy re: clicking on play... how about this:

I promise the words "punching beavers in the face" play a part.

And who can say no to that?


This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Viacom International Inc



Just read this on the newswires....

C-T-V has announced it has aquired rights to "Hockey Night in Canada" theme song. For production purposes, here's a portion of the song.



TORONTO - CTV has acquired the rights to the song that's been CBC's `Hockey Night in Canada' theme for the past 40 years.
CTV and Copyright Music and Visuals, the company that controls use of the classic song composed by Dolores Claman, announced Monday afternoon that CTV acquired all rights to the song in perpetuity.
The network says it will use the song on NHL broadcasts on TSN, RDS and during the broadcaster's coverage of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
CTV says it made an agreement in principle Friday with Copyright Music and Visuals after CBC announced a contest to find a new theme song.
The contest announcement followed months of negotiations that failed to result in a new licensing agreement between CBC and the agent.
CBC's licence to use the song expired at the end of the Stanley Cup final last week.


Conquering Victoria Island

Hey folkies..

I just thought I'd draw your attention to this really cool website/blog that I've come across. It's updated on a daily basis by these two Aussies who are making the world's first trek across Victoria Island. The island is the 9th largest in the world, and 2nd largest in Canada.

The two guys are in their early twenties and are hiking, unsupported, across the tundra... and hauling something like 250kg of gear behind them, over all sorts of terrain.

Anyways, if you have some spare time, it's totally worth a look. Their website is http://www.1000hourday.com/


I'm a genius



The boy just pointed out that we somehow have to get from Laguardia to JFK in-between flights. And they were booked as a single flight route, not something I messed up myself.



Hey all...

First, I really want to thank so many of you for coming out of the woodworks and showing your support. I see the hit counter... and I know people read my blog... but the same people tend to comment (not that I don't appreciate their input!) and it was so nice to hear some new voices.

Second. I think I'm going to keep going with the blog... but circumstances over the next month or so may mean that I'm not posting as regularly.

Third, and most exciting....


That's right. The boy and I are taking a nice little vacay at the end of the month (just 16 days away!!!) and the destination, dear friends, is Athens and beyond.

We had been planning on going south (read: SOUTH south, as in Mexico or something) but on a whim Sunday morning, decided to go to Greece instead.

The selling point, being this AMAZING boat tour around Avia Island. It's to be 8 days long, which will give us a couple days in Athens at the end of our trip. It's not a cruise, but rather a trip on a "traditional Greek caique" (which, of course, I've been calling a "cake") that is for about 12-14 people.

I kind of shy away from the GIANT CRUISE idea... it just seems a little pointless to be in a moving hotel when I could be jumping off the side of my traditional Greek cake, to go for a refreshing swim in the clear blue waters.

My dream vacation isn't a sure thing yet... we're waiting to hear from the company to find out if we've secured space. There's only a few spots left on the boat (one of the drawbacks to such a small "cruise") and so we've got our fingers crossed... waiting anxiously until about 11am, when they should know the answer.

Obviously my/our Athens trip won't be a total bust if we don't get to go on this boat trip, but I will be a little disappointed.

But it's not like there aren't other options.

Has anyone out there been to Athens/Greece? Any suggestions? As I said, this was kind of done on a whim... and neither of us know all that much about the must-dos in the area (other than the Parthenon, duh, haha)

WE GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!