Fifth Month of our World Trip
Greece | Italy
Still in Greece, the quiet island life has really suited us. We settled into a fantastic routine of school work in the mornings, lunch at home and then a stroll down to town for something to do and then back for dinner and movies in the evening. We hired a car and toured all the filming sites of the movie Mamamia as a birthday treat for 9 year old Spring.
After resting, cooking and spreading ourselves out for a few weeks we chose to take the fast ferry back to the mainland. Our return to the Greek mainland was one of the scariest rides of our lives, and we have taken sleeper buses in Vietnam. We really thought that the ferry was going to turn into a submarine at any moment and Winter sweated a kilo of fluid, I am not even exaggerating.
Once in Athens we visited the city centre and were completely mezmerised by the ancient ruins of the Acropolis. Likewise we thoroughly enjoyed the Acropolis Museum, known as the National Archaeological Museum. It is filled with excellent restorative work, is not too big that the children got bored and has a great combination of models, photo’s, short film and artifacts making it one of the best museums we have visited. We took our time in the Acropolis and also visited the Olympic Stadium, another family favourite.
Escaping cities is what we have come to do as we feel they are not representative of the country as a whole. The accommodation is always the smallest and poorest quality in cities (on our budget anyway) and the wifi is not guaranteed to work any better than the country. We feel rushed and exhausted after city visits and so our next move was to head across Europe. We started to plan our route when we realised we would like to see more of Greece.
After obtaining road maps and a hire car we set off on a four day tour of some of the most visited historical sites in Greece. First was Kalambaka and the Meteora Monastries, next was Delphi and the ancient ruins on the hill side on the edge of the town, then we headed to Korinth and stayed in a small town called Loutraki. After seeing the ruins and Corinth canal we headed to the last destination on our list, Nafplio. We walked some of the prettiest streets in Greece and visited the huge castle that sits above the city.
These little known towns host amazing man-made sites and have an abundance of hotels to choose from. We found very reasonable places at great prices and simply followed the crowds and tour buses to the sights along the windy roads and across rocky outcrops. The people of Greece are the most friendly we have encountered since Sri Lanka. Strangers will help you or shop owners will recommend the best places to go to find what you might be looking for, all without any underlying personal gain. We felt extremely safe and there is limited language barrier.
By the time we reached Athens international airport to fly to Rome we felt that we had really experienced Greece’s diversity; from the quiet island life, to the city and to the far flung man made wonders on the Greek mainland. Unfortunately our contentment was short lived and soon completely evaporated at the airport. We had a complete shocker in the matter of only a few hours. It was such terrible timing because then we entered Italy and found it to be ridiculously expensive and so we hid in our villa for a few days before venturing into Rome.
Winter was able to tick off one of his World Wonders; the Colosseum.
Rome was far from our villa and it cost us $12 Euro a day to travel the 40 minutes in. I travelled to Europe 18 years ago and so planned our tour days in Rome. We toured for half a day, four days out of seven. The temperature was between 35 and 40 each day and then there was the rain. It was tough to tour such a massive city in the heat and on our last touring day the rail system broke down. We had to walk from the Vatican to the Colosseum to get on our railway line to exit the city. From the moment we stepped out of the Vatican it took us 3 hours to return to our villa. We were so exhausted.
We had no idea that the girls took this photo of us until we woke up and they were laughing their heads off.
Next we caught a fast train to Florence and the cost of the four tickets again floored us. It cost us $250 AUD to travel for 1 hour and 20 minutes down the line. We realised then more than ever that if we wanted to travel around Europe we needed to get a car and fast. We begin to organise a lease vehicle for three months. We are sure that a visit to the UK and Scotland will be better with a car.
After the hectic site-seeing schedule in Rome we were simply too exhausted to fully appreciate Florence and so after a bit of walking around and only one night we headed out of town to a Tuscan farm in Dicomano 40 minutes North East of Florence.
Our Tuscan farm stay was another massive highlight for us.
We spent hours walking and touring the expansive grounds and saw many wild animals, such as deer, snakes, lizzards, butterflys and lots of frogs. The clean air, slow pace and sun shine helped us all recharge our batteries. The wine was fantastic also.
We needed this farmstay and all seemed to instantly unwind. After one night we extended our stay, the rest of Europe will have to wait.