Travel

Looking around for fab photos by Andrea, Mediterranean video clips and/or fantastically fun crazy-making commentary?

On April 28, 2008, we began an amazing 23-day adventure of a lifetime. We visited Six greek cyclades islands, Acropolis of Athens, Amsterdam and Sneek (northern Holland). This is our complete itinerary

3, 2, 1… Take Off

Milos

Sifnos

Santorini

Mykonos

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Mynde here… just so you know. I realize after re-reading some of our own blogs that Andrea and I often switched writer mid-stream. Oh well. It got done, that’s all that matters. And now, it’s been nearly two weeks since we’ve return home and here I am finishing up this last little piece.

This piece may be last but it is not small for on this final day of our European vacation, we traipsed all over the city of Amsterdam and the blister on my foot was a happy souvenir to bring home! Our dear friend and tour guide Richard made sure we saw as much of Amsterdam as possible. I am so certain we would not have been able to see as much without Richard, so Thank you again Risi!

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The Netherlands are known for a few things…besides flowers (which I am sure you got your fill of my million-flower exposition on the last post), there are of course, the windmills, wooden shoes, farms and animals. The past two days have been all about the Dutch life. From windmills in Zaanse Schans to a traditional fishing village called Volendam (Mynde opted not to dress up and take pictures with the other tourists.) The seemingly endless countryside with horses, cows, sheep and goats grazing on the lush green never got tiresome. We visited the local outdoor market in Sneek, took a trip to Snekermeer (Sneek lake), and spent a few hours driving and walking around the quaint little villages that made it seem as if we had gone back in time. All in all, the North part of Holland is quite beautiful with very few tourists, more green than will ever be seen in California and warm people who are generous with who they are rather than the “stuff” they have. It is so refreshing to be away from the materialism of the good ‘ol USA and get a taste of a much simpler life where friends sharing a drink and conversation is more important than what job you have or what car you drive.

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Do you like flowers? What about tulips… something the Dutch are now famous for? We visited Keukenhof , also known as the Garden of Europe or the world’s largest flower garden. This blog will be short and sweet because the pictures will speak for themselves. We originally took over 500 pictures of just the gardens and have narrowed it down (phew) to what we think are the most amazing. Also of note, it must have been a special day for St. Bernard owners as we encountered over a dozen in the park. These large lovable dogs captured everyone’s attention as you will see in some of our photos.

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Friday, May 16, Athens

May 19, 2008

Delphi was somewhere that Mynde had been looking forward to since we decided that Greece was our vacation destination. However, there were a few considerations that were not completely realized and/or taken into account during the vacation planning. One such consideration was the extremely quick pace of our itinerary and another was that Delphi was about 3.5 hours by bus from our hotel room–one way. That said, we opted to just relax, sleep in a little and check out some more ancient sites that were closer and that we had not seen during our first day in Athens. All that really means is that we will get to visit Delphi on our next visit to Greece.

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After we slept in more than we’ve slept in on any other day on this trip, we rolled out of bed at 8:15 a.m.! We enjoyed a continental breakfast and checked email, etc. and then headed out to see the Acropolis on what was turning out to be a very clear and warm day in Athens. WOW!

I think we saw more people visiting the Acropolis than we saw on all the islands combined! Yes, as Andrea likes to say, “Look, more rocks!” but these rocks have been around for over 2,000 years and are quite impressive when you are standing right before a column that’s as high as a 3 or 4 story building. Andrea took lots of pictures and we even shot a short vid for your quick viewing pleasure.

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We decided to catch the early ferry to Athens since the weather seemed to be headed in a chilly direction… again. Our original plan was to catch the 7pm ferry from Naxos and arrive in Athens around 11:40pm. It was going to be a “run” to figure out where to pick up the Metro to the Plaka and the hoof it to our hotel. We were both glad we weren’t having to figure out where to go in Athens at midnight. Taking the earlier ferry was a good choice!

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Keeping with our new plans, we hopped on the early ferry to Paros. It was a short ride and only 7 Euros, so why not?? Amy met Mynde and I at her restaurant with baby (Marley) in tow and quickly escorted us to a room. Steve, a Canadian living on Paros for 17 years had simple but more than adequate accommodations with a full kitchen and 2 bedrooms (too bad we would not be here longer to cook–next time maybe). Every “hotel” thus far–with the exception of Mykonos–has been very simple with nothing more than beds, bathroom and maybe a sink and hot plate if we are lucky. It is almost as if the Greek people are not nearly as “needy” when it comes to places to lay your head. Clean, modest (all with a TV even if it only has 8 Greek channels), maybe a balcony with a view, that is all that is necessary to them. I have been reminded many times throughout this trip to find appreciation in the simple things–materialism just doesn’t have a place in the beauty and amazement of the Greek isles.

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Monday , May 12, Naxos

May 15, 2008

We awoke to a chilly, overcast day and decided that the scooter option was out. Way out. Naxos is BIG…and big means that we would not only freeze our butts off, but that they would be sore from riding around on such a little seat. I guess I should qualify “big”–it is 428 sq. km…that is about 265 miles. It also has the highest point in all the Cyclades–Mt. Zas (Zeus). So what that translated to for us is “CAR.”

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For our final morning on Mykonos, we enjoyed our hotel’s continental breakfast (excellent), packed up our stuff and got ready for our early afternoon transfer to the port and ferry over to Naxos, a quick 45-minute trip.

After our goodbye’s with Roy and Garry, we spent our morning in Mykonos town shopping and walking in the breezy sunshine. The weather is not as warm as had been earlier on our trip AND we are not complaining. So we’ve lived in our sweatshirts! Who cares… we’re in Greece!

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“I ended up knowing who I am and understanding that I was meant to be here; that I have a purpose.”~ Vince Voong (coaching)