|Monday 14 May 2007
Panic wasn't supposed to happen this early. It's 1315 - I'm 5 minutes late. I quickly lock and gather up my bags and throw them in the car. Tony said to pick him up no later than 1330 but it takes 20 minutes to get there. On the way over I realise I'd left my luggage keys behind. Driving like a maniac, I arrive at Tony's slightly after 1330. He's walking out the door with his bags. "There's no rush", he says. "Yes there is!" I reply in my panicked state. I drive back to my place, encountering every slow driver in Launceston on the way. Tony's nervously clutching the seatbelt, I find the keys where they had fallen on the floor, right where I'd been packing the bags. It's another 10 minute drive to Mum and Dad's place. They'll take us out to the airport. Luckily they were waiting for us and we quickly transferred the bags and packs to their station-wagon. Dad had the car in motion before mum had closed her door.
They drop us off at the airport and we check-in at the Jetstar counter, just making the check-in time. Time to relax. My ears prick up when I hear a check-in call for "Mr. Underlin". What? Is my old friend Michael in the airport? Has Tony kept a secret from me and he's coming with us??? Well, no. We didn't see or hear from him, so the trip continues as planned.
We arrived in Melbourne 10 minutes early (1610) and head straight to the international terminal and find the Emirates check-in. The queue is quite long and takes us about 30 minutes to get to the counter. After check-in Tony buys some Euros at the currency exchange counter then we go through passport control and security check. Tony gets into an argument with the woman at the security check about his toothpaste tube. The limit is 100ml (that's millilitres) and Tony's toothpaste is 120g (that's grams) and he's telling her millilitres are not grams, and so it goes on for 30 seconds until he decides it's better to give up than be arrested!
It's still quite early for the flight so as we pass the smell of coffee I tell Tony I've never had a Starbucks, so we spend the next 20 minutes having coffee and cake. Then we wonder through some shops. Tony buys a Sudoku book and something to read on the flight. He also gets some toothpaste, seeing he had his confiscated. We arrive at departure gate 9 with an hour to spare. I look at the departure monitor for our flight. It reads "Relax". Tony starts on a round a Sudoku... then another. At this rate he'll have all the puzzles finished before we board.
The flight itself was quite enjoyable. The inflight entertainment system kept us amused and occupied for the seven hour flight to Singapore. The only downer was a woman sitting opposite us travelling with two babies and two other children that took it in turns to cry, howl and squawk the whole flight.
Tuesday 15 May 2007
Arrived on time at 0100. At Singapore airport we freshened up in the toilets at the end of the concourse where not many people go to. A very quiet terminal at this time of the night. Just enough time to stretch our legs and it was then another security check to get back on the aircraft, departing 0210. Another 7 hour flight to Dubai, much the same as the previous sector... cry, howl and squawk.
Arriving in Dubai at 0510, the airport was rather busy for that time of the day. It's the major terminal hub for Emirates Airlines, and very smoky - considering there are special smoking alcoves but that doesn't stop cigarette smoke wafting through the entire terminal. Our next flight to Athens was delayed 3 hours until 1230. That would leave only 90 minutes for us to make our Mykonos connection. We had plenty of time to look around Dubai airport and sought out an ATM, so we could use the local currency to buy iced coffee and a donut. Then found the 'quiet area' to sit back and relax for an hour or two.
The Athens flight had several more delays, 1230, 1300, then 1330 eventually taking off at 1350. We discovered it's all due to an Air Traffic controllers strike at Athens airport. The inflight entertainment on this flight was the superior ICE (Information, Communication and Entertainment) system and a lot more user friendly than the one on the two previous flights. We enjoyed viewing the onboard cameras that looked down as we travelled over the middle-east and eastern Mediterranean, especially the approach to Athens over the Greek islands.
Arrived at Athens airport 1700. We rushed through the terminal and spotted a departure monitor. Our Mykonos flight had been cancelled.
Oh f%#@k! What do we do now?
We got through passport control and then collected our packs. We made our way to the Olympic Airlines flight check-in to see if there was another flight and were directed to the ticketing counter nearby. As we waited in line, a frustrated Greek man had an all out argument with the girl behind the counter, attracting the attention of the airport police. Anyway, we eventually got to the front of the queue, tolerating several push-in's. The next available flight to Mykonos was two days away. This would not do, so we were directed to the airport information counter and then redirected to a travel agent downstairs. The Pacific Travel agency were tremendous in the way they assisted us. They booked overnight accommodation for us at Loutsa and booked high-speed ferry tickets for tomorrow morning - business class seats for the price of economy - wow, a bargain in a time of personal turmoil. Tony ran back to the Olympic ticketing counter to have our flight tickets cancelled - why they couldn't do it when we were there earlier, I'll never know.
The man from the hotel complex met us and told us to wait for his wife to pick us up, as well as a couple of Americans from Texas. Our overnight accommodation was a new-ish looking apartment/villa/hotel complex. We showered and changed and went looking for the bus stop we would need to get to tomorrow. Hunger was catching up with us so we walked 2 to 3 km further and found a taverna by the shoreline. I had beef steak and beer. Tony had some kind of fish dish. It was a bit scary walking back to the hotel in the dark. The road didn't have a footpath and there were lots of crazy drivers whizzing past us at all speeds. Back at hotel by 2130.
Wednesday 16 May 2007
Up at 0500 to catch the Airport-Rafina bus at 0545 - however, the bus drove straight past us. We have to catch this ferry or we're gonna get stranded again. We wait for the next bus which doesn't come. We walk back to the hotel to ask the night porter to ring for a taxi. He doesn't understand English very well and there's a communication breakdown. He drives us down to the shoreline area where we eat the night before, but there are no taxi's about at this time of day, so he offers to take us all the way to Rafina... for €20. Yes, we're desperate... what ever it takes! What seemed like only 5 minutes later we arrive at Rafina ferry terminal. And you're right, we just got ripped off.
The early morning light is amazing. We get our cameras out and quickly take some photos around the port area as the sun comes up and then find our ferry. Its the big red one at the far end of the port. We ask the man at the ferry if we have time to wonder around and take more pictures - which we do, so we go bazerk taking photos for the next 15 minutes. Onboard we're shown our allocated seating in business class and then buy some breakfast from the canteen. We see other people onboard the ferry we saw at the airport yesterday including a young American gay couple who suffered the same cancelled flights as us. The ferry leaves on time at 0725. The ride aboard 'Highspeed 2' is quiet and smooth, but as always, there's a chain-smoking Greek sitting nearby. It's something I'm sure we would have to get used to as our trip unfolds. The scenery of passing islands is calming after all the travel stress of the past 24 hours.
The ferry briefly docks at the island of Tinos to let off a few passengers and then its a short journey of about 10 minutes to Mykonos. The ferry arrived at 1020 at the new port, a few km's away from Mykonos Town (Chora). We get a taxi to Hermes Hotel, our home for the next few days.
The hotel sits on a ridge above the town and we have a stunning view of Mykonos Town, the ports and nearby islands. We decide to walk into the town, down the main road to start with them through small winding alleyways to the old harbour, happily snapping away with our cameras as we go... We've been here before (May 2000), so it's just a matter of re-aquainting ourselves with the surroundings.
We see tourists gather to see pelicans posing on top of the white-washed buildings.... walk through more alleyways, not really sure where we are going, but coming out of the labyrinth at Little Venice, one of the icon picture-postcard sites of Mykonos. Naturally we take plenty of our own. I spot the taverna used for filming the final scene of The Bourne Identity. We visit the famous landmark windmills, five of them in a row, now fully restored. We walk to where the main bus depot is and buy a few grocery items at the convenience store - just the essentials; beer, chips, that kind of thing, to eat back on the hotel balcony.
When we arrived in Greece, Tony realised he wasn't getting any mobile phone reception. He'd been told it was all set up and ready to go before we left - apparently it wasn't. We find an internet cafe to send off an email to our tech support guy back home in Australia to get global roaming established for the phone.
The afternoons are hot and it's a steep exhausting hill climb back to the hotel. Not being used to the heat yet, we have a short siesta in the room. Later we venture out to the hotel pool deck and get our kit off - well, down to our swim shorts that is... we're way to old for Speedos and not quite as athletically built as we used to be! We take a dip in the pool, which is rather cooling and sunbathe for a while. Two hours of hot Greek sun is enough for one day, so it's back to the room. Another short siesta then we enjoy a can of Mythos Beer on the balcony and watch the sunset. Took some nice photos of the sunset. A big cruise ship has anchored in the bay next to the windmills.
For dinner tonight, we found Blue Ginger, a Thai restaurant located up the hill, just behind the hotel. I'm hopeless when it come to Asian food, so Tony orders for me. Overall, it was a rather strange dinning experience; two Aussies in a Thai restaurant in Greece... with Enya background music.
Thursday 17 May 2007
Had breakfast at the hotel then ventured into town and bought return ferry tickets for Delos (€12.50). Had to pay additional €5 to enter the site. We'd done the guided tour on our previous trip, so we opted to go without guides to save time and went photo snapping. We found the Terrace of the Lions. I'd badly wanted to see this as it has been removed for restoration last time we were here. Noticed lots of small lizards running about.
Returned to Mykonos at 1215. Had lunch at a harbour-side taverna (Mythos beer and pizza) and later bought some souvenirs. Walked back to hotel and spent the afternoon by the pool. Sent some emails off to Dad and Grant (my boss). Later had beer on the balcony. We're certainly getting a taste for Mythos beer. In the evening we looked around Mykonos town for a nice place to have a meal.
Friday 18 May 2007
Breakfast again at the hotel then headed out for a walk. We had planned to walk to Super Paradise Beach but we missed the turn off because we either misinterpreted the sign or we misunderstood the direction the sign was pointing to. Anyway we ended up at Platys Gialos, were we stayed last time we were here. Found the hotel we stayed at too, right opposite where the bus leaves for Mykonos Town. It had started to cloud over and the water was a bit choppy. The caique (small ferry boats) to the other beaches would not be running for another hour or so. We walking along the foreshore, past the restaurants and hotels to the other end of the beach. Had a coffee at one of the tavernas and decided to walk back to Chora (Mykonos town) as it was clouding over more.
We entered Mykonos from the southern road and walked about a bit, buying souvenirs. Went looking for the Maritime Museum. After some confusion at reading the directions in the Lonely Planet guide, we discovered we were standing right outside it all the time. Had lunch at Nikos Taverna. Yes, Mythos beer again with Cheese Balls followed by Moussaka. Luckily we were inside and not dining alfresco as it rained rather heavily for about 10 minutes. Bought more souvenirs on the way back to hotel.
No the best weather we wanted. It rained some more and stayed cloudy all afternoon. Tony read his book while I slept. Around 1730 we walked into town and had a few drinks at Castros Bar, in the heart of Little Venice. I enjoyed a few rounds of Tequila Sunrise on Tony's shout. The place has large window's for sunset viewing with classical music to relax the mind. Later we wondered around (and rather merry after all those tequilas) and found a taverna to eat at.
Next island... Santorini
... is an airline based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is the Middle East's largest airline and it operates scheduled passenger services, with nearly 2350 flights each week, serving 92 cities in 59 countries in Europe, North America, Middle East, Africa, India, Asia-Pacific and the competitive "kangaroo route" between Europe and Oceania. Cargo activities are undertaken under the Emirates SkyCargo name. Its main base is Dubai International Airport [more].
|Singapore Changi Airport
... is a major aviation hub in Asia, and is the main airport in Singapore. Located in Changi on a 13 km (3,200 acre) site, the airport is about 20 kilometres (12 mi) north-east of the commercial center of Singapore. [more]
...is a Greek island and one of the top international tourist destinations, famous around the globe for its cosmopolitan character and its intense nightlife. The island is part of the Cyclades, lying between Tinos, Siros, Paros and Naxos. [more]
... isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, had a position as a holy sanctuary for a millennium before Olympian Greek mythology made it the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. [more]