Tuesday, 29 May 2001

We took on our travel agent about the dodgyness of Egypt and had a small victory I guess. They agreed that it didn't sound right not to have seen Luxor and have helped us change our plane tickets and gave us a discount on a Delphi trip. Better than nothing I guess, and we can't say that we didn't try and make it better for the next poor suckers that come along.

Yesterday I made a nerd pilgrimage to Delphi to consult the Oracle about whether we would be successful in Dublin. He told me to "Know Thyself" whatever that means! Actually we couldn't find the Oracle but we did see ruins of the temple of Apollo an amphitheatre and a cool stadium. The country around Delphi is really spectacular too (when you look past the hoards of tourists in the way) with massive mountains and in the distance the sea.

Today we have planned a shopping day. Can't believe the number of shoe stores in Athens! There is a constant crowd of women surrounding them at all times...might see if I can cram my massive feet into a pair of stylish shoes. The other essential item to buy today will be an extra bag to put all my purchases in!

We fly out of Athens at 6am tomorrow morning bound for Dublin. My stamina and bank balance are in urgent need of refuelling - I don't know how I did 2 months last time. I guess it is because this time I don't have to go home - the adventure continues!


Sunday, 27 May 2001

Made it through Egypt alive and pretty much unscathed! We had lots of trouble with our travel agent - dodgy sleazy guides that wanted us to be "in love with them", a totally stuffed itinarary meaning that we didn't get to see anything in Luxor, not giving us back our voucher...the list goes on. We are working ourselves up to go and take on the agent in Athens and tell him what for. This aside I had a great time and next time I know how to do it (preferably with a man - Egypt is not a place for two women!) Egyption men do not know how to handle western women, they constantly ask stupid questions like are you married, do you have a boyfriend, and take any oppurtunity to touch you - very yucky and stressfull. They are also very insistant and always after tips - you have to tip EVERYONE in egypt from your driver to a policeman that gives you directions.

I have changed my mind again about Athens, it is clean and friendly and the traffic is wonderfull - compared to Cairo anyway! Cairo is totally CRAZY! Cars and horse drawn carts and buses and mini vans weave amongst each other on the laneless roads, beeping constantly and testing their brakes to the limit (best just to close your eyes and pray!) People everywhere in all manner of clothing from elegant saries to long white gowns with turbans and arab men in bad suits. They say that breathing for one day in Cairo is equivilant to smoking one packet of cigarrettes!

The pyramids were amazing, have to be seen to be believed! Cairo stops and the great pyramid starts litteraly right next to apartment blocks. We went for a camel ride and had our pictures taken on them - very cool. The camel owner thought it was very funny that my name is Ali as that is his name too - he then said I had "Lovely Jubblies" (!!??) The Cairo museum was fantasting too, with heaps of stuff from all over the country (made up for the bits we missed!)

We hopped on a plane for Aswan the next day and got on the cruise boat. Couldn't believe how luxurious it was, 5+ stars. We were waited on hand and foot for the three nights. Stuffed ourselves silly with 4 course meals and tidied up my tan by the pool on the sundeck. They even turned down our beds while we were at dinner - I am not used to this style of living! While at Aswan we went on a Felluca ride, saw a Nubian village (actually we were ripped off by the dodgy guide and saw one shop in the Nubian village!!) and went to the Sound and Light show at Phillea temple where the heiroglypics are lit up and the story of the temple is told - Very interesting.

Set sail for Luxor the next day after seeing Phillea temple in the daylight (this time in a group, not one on one like off the boat - much better!) Over the next 2 days we also saw Komombo and Edfu temple. All the temples have the same design but each has its own god and different incriptions and statues. The guide was really good and expained the incriptions too us. Took so many pictures of temple that I don't think I will be able to tell which is which! The temperatures on these days reached up to 45 degrees and really dry.

One night on the boat there was an Egyption party (quite tacky - yes) and everyone had to dress up Egyption - Sue and I went a little cloth buying crazy and I now own a few more shawls. The highlight was when all the waiters from the dining room got together and sang with drums - amazing!

Back in Athens now and quite tired of travelling. I am really looking forward to getting to Dublin now.


Monday, 21 May 2001

Off to Egypt today for 5 nights. We have booked a package tour because we a blousy girls and didn't think we could hack it on our own. Looks pretty luxury though, with 4 stars all the way and a luxury cruise on the Nile from Aswan to Luxor.

Athens is actually a pretty cool place, much to my surprise after so many people had told us it was not very nice. The acropolis is fantastic, it is enormous and everything is so well preserved. The parthenon is the most impressive with almost all the columns intact and some of the original statues still there. You get a great view of the city from the Acropolis too, Athens sprawls for ever. The theatre of Dionysis is was also pretty impressive, I think I have seen it before - did the 3 tenors sing there?

On our first night we went and saw the movie, The Tailor of Panama, at the open air cinima in Plaka, where we are staying. The movie was really good and from where we were sitting you could just see the Acropolis lit up behind the screen!

Yesterday we went and saw the pom pom dudes at the Greek parliament. Had my photo taken with one, you have to join a line to do it - the guards must hate it - bloody tourists! We were there for the special Sunday changing of the guards. It is very much like the changing of the guards at Buckingham palace with the band and the march to the barracks, only the military costume is very different. The tall and very built Greek guards wear white stockings and pleated tunics with a tassled red beret. The best bit though are the clogs with pom poms. When they walk they scrape the clogs against the marble, and the steel spikes make a noise.

We also went to the museum which was great. I have never seen so many statues in one place. The Mycenean stuff was the highlight...so much gold!


Saturday, 19 May 2001

In Athens this morning. We caught the ferry from Santorini last night arriving in a sleepless daze to try and find a hostel. Athens is another massive European city and we are not keen to stay too long. In its favour though there are not too many places in the world where you can stay under ancient monuments like the Parthenon and Acropolis and I am looking forward to seeing these.

Our remaining time on Santorini since my last email was very chilled out and relaxed. We went to Perrisa which is on the other side of the island from the busy touristy Fera town. We stayed in a Studio appartment with a pool that ended up being even cheaper than the hostel! I love travelling out of season!

The beach at Perrisa consists of black gravelly stuff so you would feel like you are laying in a big rockery if it wasn't for the ocean and the massive cliff that rises up on one end of the long beach. From Perrisa we also did a day trip to the red beach which is the best beach I have seen in Greece. You have to walk in and when you walk over the headland it lives up to it's name with a cliff of red volcanic rock and beautiful deep green water. We spent most of the day basking in the sun here.

When we first arrived in the islands we were shocked to see people laying in the sun all day trying to get the ultimate tan (mostly all over!) After realising how hard it is to get burnt here we actually started to see the attraction! It was funny talking to some Aussies on our last night and we were all comparing tans! Something I would never even consider doing back home. I hope my tan lasts till I get to Dublin!

Today we are shopping around for a cheap tour to Egypt today but it seems that the only people that want a tour of Turkey are loaded! We have become very accustomed to shopping around though and will push on.


Emails from Greece

9th April 2001 - Samos

Left Turkey this morning, sorry to leave so soon but looking forward to
Greece. We are in Samos today and off to Paros tonight. Not much to report
yet though as I've only been here an hour.

Since my last email I have spent 4 days on a 60 foot Gulet Ketch, sailing
from Olympos to Fetihye on the Mediterean. 4 days of laying in the sun,
swimming snorkeling and total relaxation. Most of the time was smooth
sailing apart from one night when we encountered a storm. Most of the
passengers (there were 12 in total + 3 crew) spent this whole time sick,
but Sue and I managed to sleep though most of it!

Went on a tour of Epheses yesterday which was pretty cool, the ruins are
really well preserved and some of the buildings, especially the massive
theatre are awesome.

Sue and I finished off our Turkish experience with a Turkish bath. A very
odd experience to say the least but well worth it. You strip down and wrap
yourself in a linen cloth and then go lay on this hot communal (boys and
girls) marble slab. Then this Turkish man points at you and beckons you
over for a scrub down. It is amazing how much skin comes off! You are
pretty much bear all at this point girls! Then they massage you with soap,
wash you hair and then your done. The massage is really rough and the foot
massage had me in hysterics.

15th May 2001 - Santorini

This email comes to you from the island of Santorini. This place is
absolutly amazing, the place is built on top of massive cliffs that rise
from the sea on one side then gently reach down to the other side of the
island. The views are spectacular and well worth the millions of steps I
must have stepped up today to see them!

Today we trekked up to the still active volcano on one of the small
islands off Santorini. After this we went for a swim in the hot springs
and then caught a donkey up to the top of another island for some more
spectacular views. We finished off the day watching the sunset from the
town of oia. I am way over my film quota as everywhere you turn there is a
cool church or whitewashed house, very picturesque.

We have also been to the islands of Naxos and Paros which were not quite
as spectacular but still nice (it rained on Naxos - which is not meant to
happen in the Greek Islands) We celebrated Sues birthday in style on Paros
with a yummy classy dinner and then drinking at a jazz club called
Pirates. The owner beckoned us to sit with the locals at the bar and we
enjoyed many free drinks once he found out it was Sues birthday. We think
we might have birthdays more often!

Naxos was also a nice place, until it rained anyway! The unfinished temple
of Appollo rises up on the far horizon looking really spectacular. We went
to a Greek cultural night on Naxos with Lute and Fiddle music and dancing
as well as local liquors. We even got to dance at the end.

A couple more days on Santorini to go, then maybe another island. We are
thinking we might skip mainland greece and see if we can afford a trip to
Egypt! Not sure yet though, I guess that is what I like about this travel

Probably should go check out the nightlife now, but am too buggered!
Perhaps tomorrow night...


Emails from Turkey

29th April 2001- Cannakale

I am alýve (and Katýe and anyone else that mýght have been worrýed I was
not stayýng at the 5 star Swýss Hotel so I was not taken hostage!)

I never ýmagýned that Istanbul would be so cool. Lots of magnýfýcent
mosques and castles, street markets and cafes, streets fýlled wýth people
enjoyýng the sun and socýalýsýng, I even saw a Whirling Dirvýsh.

The relýgýon ýs really ýn your face too wýth prayers amplýfýed thoughout
the whole cýty from the mýnurets 5 týmes a day (the fýrst at 5:50am!) The

people are really frýendly, they all want to know whether we are Australian
and then they want to sell carpets, one guy even showed us a flyýng carpet
whých was pretty ýmpressýve but we stýll dýdn,t buy. THey are not too
persýstant though and ýt ýs really ýnterestýng to talk to the locals. Brian
was offered payement of 2 turkýsh women for me by a man who claýmed to be
able to make pavlova and gýve great massages (hmm temptýng). Brýan talked
him up to 3 chýckens and a goat though, I am not sure ýf that ýnsults me
or the Tukýsh women the most!!

I am ýn Cannakele at the moment on an Anzac Day tour. We toured the area
today whých was very ýnterestýng and movýng. An Australýan hýstorýan that
specýalýzes ýn Gallýpolý showed us around and I learnt a lot about what
actually happened and not just what the natýon buýlders of the týme
wanted the publýc to hear!

Braýn and I have been huntýng down the authentýc Turkýsh experýence. Last
nýght we bonded wýth the locals ýn a cafe where people played cards,
backgammon and a game called Okey (I have no ýdea how to spell ýt!) whých
a couple of old turks showed us how to play, whých was fun sýnce they spoke
no englýsh! We have also enjoyed lots of really yummy Turkýsh food wýth
Baklava for dessert.

Tomorrow ýs the dawn servýce, we leave Cannakle at 1:30am to get there and
wýll arrýve at Lone Pýne at 2:30am...ýt,s goýng to be a long and freezýng

There ýs so much more to tell but I can,t fýt ýt ýnto one emaýl. Sorry I
haven,t replýed ýndývýdually to you all but týme ýs money (although not
that much...everythýng ýs so cheap) and I need a být of sleep before we
leave tonýght for the servýce.

3rd May 2001 - Goreme

I am in Goreme in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. I have been on 2 day
trips around the region seeing the amazing rock formations and caves.
From the 3rd to 10th Centurys the Christians carved into the rocks for
protection leaving behind a labarinth of caves and undergound cities. It
has to be seen to be believed! Today we went to the place that they filmed
some of star wars - I think the place were Obi One comes from and where
those funny short guys with the glowing eyes are (I am sure a star wars
buff out there can inform me of the details!

Anzac Day in Gallipoli was an awesome experience, very moving and
patriotic! We got a position way up the back on a hill for the dawn
service and as the sun came up on Anzac Cove it was so moving as you
imagined the boats arriving and the men charging up the beach. The Aussie
service later that day was even more moving with everyone singing "We are
Australian" and cheering the diggers as they made their way to the
reserved seating (one of them was from my bus). After the service a 2 up
game was started on the road while we waited for our buses. At 1 million
lowest bet, Brian, Kate and I were the bank, distributing tokens (rocks
coloured in pink) to the punters. At one stage we had about 200 million
Lira (or 400 dollars!)

Spent 4 days in Istanbul after the tour seeing all the touristy things.
The Grand Bazarre was awesome, testing out my bargaining skills I bought a
leather jacket!! The men here trying to sell things are a real
sleazes...it is very funny! I have had many offers of marraige and one guy
asked if he could "control my breasts" !! Gets a bit annoying after a
while but it is all part of the experience I guess.

Off to Olympis on the overnight bus tonight (the second in 3 days...yawn!)


Friday, 18 May 2001

Welcome to my travels. I am sick of messing around with group email lists so I thought I would steal Sue's idea and use Blogger. But just because I am not emailing you guys doesn't mean I don't want to hear from you so keep the emails coming with news and goss from home.


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