Cruisin in the Aegean Part 3

The next day we woke up in Heraklion (Crete). I was so excited because Crete had so much history, until I remembered that cities with a lot of history tend to be industrialized….so we literally walked up the Main Street by the port. Nothing else happened. There are a total of three pictures.

Santorini

Santorini

Later that day we ended up in Santorini! I was super excited to be in Santorini because it is the what people think of when they think of Greece. It was supposed to be the complete opposite of Athens. Which it was, because everything was clean and every store was closed and we were facing dangerous winds. We tried to make the best of Santorini but it was very difficult. We were supposed to stop by and take photos of the island but it was too foggy…we were supposed to stop by the town of Thera but the wind was so dangerous we ended up going back to the boat as soon as it got dark. Santorini was really disappointing but what can you do?

We went back to the boat and once again we were approached by the cruise director to nominate a gentleman for the Ms. Orient Queen Peagant. Gavin sat down pleased that he had humiliated himself the night before so Adam from South Africa got nominated. He refused to dance like Gavin the night before but he was told that there would be no dancing, which I hope was comforting.

When time came for the Ms. Orient pageant, it turned out that Adam had tricked the cruise director into nominating his older brother Alex into the pageant. Adam and the rest of the Contiki tour sat back and watched Alex, a man from Colombia, a man from Argentina and our +1 try to win the title of Ms. Orient Queen.

The first part required the men to show off their muscles. Alex was embarrassed, our +1 of course took it too far and made things awkward…especially when they had to show their abs. The second part required the contestants to run across the lounge and kiss as many women on the cheek in the audience as possible in 30 seconds. When it was Alex’s turn the cruise director encouraged the Contiki girls to help him out so the 9 of us lined up so that Alex could kiss the 9 of us on the cheek. Alex won the kissing competition!

The next competition required the contestants to grab a woman from the audience and then run to her cabin and get dressed in her clothes. When the men came back they were given make up and were told to walk the runway. After a gorgeous strut Alex walked away with the crown and a bottle of champagne. We went to the Disco Disco bar to celebrate his win. We all sat down and after ordering glasses we were joined by our +1 who brought a bottle of his own champagne to share with us. Everyone felt obliged to return his kindness and we all sat quietly sipping champagne with him while the boat tipped back and forth. Our + 1 as expected kept making awkward comments the point where most of the girls slowly left the bar. The boys on the other hand thought he was hilarious and stuck around to see what other strange things he would do. This was when he ordered a special margarita that had the words, “I Love You” for Courtney, our tour manager. Courtney kindly accepted the lovely drink, which was followed by our +1 telling her he loved her, making the situation once again very awkward for everyone.

After the exciting afternoon everyone went to go pack our bags because we docked in Athens the next morning. Later we decided to spend one last night together at the Disco Disco bar, it was pretty uneventful until our +1 declared his intentions to marry our tour manager with a 3,000 year old ring, despite their “recent rough patch”  a patch that Courtney did not know exist.

The next morning the entire Contiki group had breakfast together before we went our separate ways. After the cruise ship docked we got on our coach and Courtney passed on last remarks and played “Summer of 69” one last time. Most of us got out at Syntagma square and hugged eachother good bye. Gavin and I grabbed our bags and headed to our hostel to spend another two days in Athens….AUGH!

Gavin and I reached our new destination, a hostel that had a 96% score on hostelworld.com. When we arrived with our heavy bags in tow we were shocked to learn that our booking for a 3 bed hostel for €23 each had been moved to another hostel that was “around the corner”. More like, around the corner up, the street, to the left, and down a block… When we arrived at the new hostel we got rebooked into a 4 bed hostel for the same price. Gavin and I were dumbfounded, we had booked a completely different hostel online with a smaller room and then they decided to change our booking to a different place and charge us the same for a room with more people in it!? We were frustrated and asked for the room that we had booked, a 3 bed hostel. Unfortunately the only room with three beds was a private room for €34 a night each…we were paying €30 each a private hotel room a week previously and they wanted us to pay more to stay in a hostel!? Gavin talked the hotel manager into giving us the 3 bed hostel room for €23 each, the bonus was that we didn’t have to pay for the third bed which was nice.

Gavin and I settled into our hostel room. Gavin took a shower and noticed a dirty towel had been left in the room. When we were about to sleep I noticed a small bed bug crawling on my pillow. We jumped out of bed and looked for more bugs. We didn’t see any but we did however notice that the sheets on the mattress were filthy. Gavin and I went to the Hotel manager and demanded cleaner sheets and placed the cleaner sheets on the plastic wrapped mattress. We then pulled out our private sheets from home and placed them on top of the bed and slept in them. The next morning we woke up to eat the “free” breakfast that we got from the hostel.

At the President Hotel we got hot eggs and sausage and cakes and spinach pies and Milk pies and salad and fruit and so much amazing stuff. At the hostel we got a roll and a boiled egg. Everything else we had to pay for. At this point we just did not care anymore and desperately wanted to get out of Athens, but we had to wait until the next day for any such luck.

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium

We decided we would spend our last day checking out the Olympic Stadium. Every surface was covered in Graffiti, glass walkways were destroyed and had cones directing people away. An artificial pond was brown and filled with Garbage. When we reached the train station we were informed that the Greek Train workers were on strike, and refused to drive the trains to the airport on the day we had to leave. Gavin and I sighed with frustration, It was just another day in Athens.

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Island Hopping in the Aegean Part 2

When I posted my last blog article I neglected to mention that we were in Patmos that afternoon after leaving Kusadasi. I also for lack of remembering names did not list any of the people on our Contiki tour:

Left to right: Lollie, me, Essy, Aliesha, Gavin, Elysia, Adam, Alex, Lauren, Sean, Victoria, Alyssa

Left to right: Lollie, me, Essy, Aliesha, Gavin, Elysia, Adam, Alex, Lauren, Sean, Victoria, Alyssa

 

Courtney, our Contiki tour manager from Australia (not pictured)
Adam & Alex, Brothers from South Africa
Sean, from London
Alyssa, from Toronto
Victoria from Calgary
Alicia from Terrace
Elysia and Lauren, cousins from Tasmania Australia
Lollie and Essy, friends from South Africa

 

 

 

Patmos was regrettably not as exciting as our previous islands so we decided to not do an excursion. Patmos held a religious importance to many in Greece. It is said that Patmos was where Saint John was sent into exile in a grotto. While he was there he wrote the Book of Revelation. At the highest point on the island is Saint John’s Monastery. We took a bus to the top of the mountain to see The Monastery then took a 40 minute hike down the mountain, past Saint John’s Grotto and back down to the Town.

Back on the boat we had a toga Karaoke party. Things got a little awkward when a guy ( who shall hence forth be referred to as our “+1″ ) sang a song dedicated to us Canadians, ” All by myself”  by Celine Dion. For some back reference, our +1 had been around since day one but his presence in the blog up until this point was unnecessary. +1 was really just a weird guy who tried to tag onto our Contiki group and eaves drop on any information our tour manager gave us. It was awkward because clearly all the members of our group didn’t appreciate him taking advantage of the tour insights we all paid for, never mind he always made sure to make every moment he spent with us awkward and uncomfortable. Not to mention he spoke in the most monotonous serial killer voice this side of Hannibal Lector!

Anyways, I guess he was feeling neglected and decided to send us some passive aggressive message about how abandoned he felt by us….which you know was weird because we did not know this person and he was not a part of our Contiki group. Everyone always tried to be nice but then he would ALWAYS make things awkward…

Toga Party

Toga Party

Despite the awkward moment, our toga party went on without skipping a beat. The group divided into two groups and we had a karaoke battle! The other group sang Blink 182s ” all the small things” and we killed it with “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Then the entire group sang the theme song for our trip, “Summer of 69”, which we all got the magical score of 69 on! Later Gavin got roped into a traditional Greek dance and I sat back and laughed.

The next day we woke up in Rhodes. Gavin and I decided to not do the Rhodes Acropolis excursion because we had seen quite a bit of ruins at this point and preferred to sleep past the 6am departure time. Rhodes is considered a world heritage site, it has classic Hellenic ruins, medieval castles and a mosque. This was the only island where we spent the entire day at the dock.

Gavin and I wandered the town and found ourselves at a medieval castle. We hadn’t seen any castles on our trip yet so we decided we would check it out. Since it was early tourist season in Rhodes. The entire castle was empty so Gavin and I ran around having photo shoots and enjoying the freedom of wandering an entire castle on our own.

After touring the castle we walked from the old city to the new city, went to the part of the island where people could jump into the water and swim and saw a lone diving board about 300 meters into the ocean.

Later we saw the place where the “Colossus of Rhodes” once stood. The colossus was a giant statue that stood at the opening of the Rhodes bay. It is no longer there but ancient texts around the world talk about how massive this statue once was.

Later that night on the boat we had a fancy meet and greet with the captain of the cruise. We had to dress very well, I unfortunately had nothing nice to wear and neither did Gavin. We took a photo with the captain (which cost €10 so we did not buy it). Afterwards we sat for dinner and were approached By the cruise director. She needed a couple to take part in a ” rock and roll couples contest” Gavin and I were the only couple in the group so we were voluntold to do this mysterious contest after dinner at 9pm.

It turns out it was a Grease (yes the movie not the country) themed contest. Gavin and I were forced to dress up with two other couples! I was put into a crepe paper poodle skirt with pigtails and rouge, Gavin wore an Afro wig with drawn on moustache and side burns and a soul patch. We had to do the choreography to the song, “You’re The One That I Want”, Some crazy jumping dance moves with the help of the staff and do a huge random dance number where we ran across the lounge. It was embarrassing and exhausting to say the least…We did not win but we won a shot glass and a crappy hat.

Island Hopping in the Aegean!

Our time in Athens had been plagued with longing to escape. We were only in Athens for our Contiki cruise and if the cruise was no good it would have made our stay in Athens fruitless. Luckily the Contiki tour so far is amazing.

Our first night we all went out to this local restaurant to bond. The price of the restaurant made us cringe a bit at €35 each, which roughly translates to $50 dollars canadian each. The restaurant was in a cozy corner up a long flight of stairs that Gavin and I had missed. The area was so pretty with steep steps lined with chairs tables and lights. We walked into the restaurant and sat down.

Our restaurant featured live music and live greek dancing. Our table was filled with so many different greek appetizers from fried zucchini to pita to greek olives. We were served chicken and pork souvlaki. After our amazing night we went back to the hotel.

A couple of the people from our Contiki tour stayed up and hung out in the lounge while everyone else wanted to get an early night for our super early morning.

The next day we got onto our cruise. The cruise was nicer than what I expected and not as extravagant as what Gavin was expecting. The cruise departed and we were on our way to Mykonos. When we arrived to Mykonos unfortunately it was raining and grey. We walked around the island and had some local crepes.

Today we had a 6am wake up call to go on a walking tour of the Ephesus ruins in Turkey. The ruins were astounding and way more intricate than the ruins of the acropolis. We were impressed by how large the city was. We visited the terrace houses, which were the ones of the wealthy in the town. The Terrace houses were recently discovered.

We then went to a Turkish rug store where they showed us how they made Turkish rugs and how I almost got trapped into buying a five thousand dollar diamond ring that was forced onto my finger by the sales person, and would not come off of my finger for a few minutes….

We bought some authentic Turkish delights which are fantastic!

Tonight we look forward to a toga party with our Contiki tour and Rhodes tomorrow.