When preparing to travel Part 3 (things I didn’t use)

I packed the lightest I could on the recent week trip to Greece. I used almost every item I took, except these. Things packed not usedDetails on how I packed and what I took were in these previous posts.

I didn’t use the swimsuit, sarong or shorts.

The extra t shirt was not needed either.

The Kindle, not used.  I had a paperback and that was all I needed. Annoyingly I left it at Birmingham Airport on the way home and I hadn’t finished it.

The Cag in a Bag, as it rained on our last day in Santorini, if I had not packed it away would have been quite useful. By the time the rain got really heavy we were back at the villa, so we only got damp, not wet.Ten minutes later the sun was out.

All beds were new and sheets clean so sleeping sack not needed.

Good quality towels were provide even in the cheapest 30 Euros a night room, travel towel not needed.

Would I pack all of these again? Yes. They were light and took up very little room and could have come in useful.

I am glad I had room for an extra, warm top. I wore one and packed a second. The evenings and mornings were chilly and the last day it rained and was quite cool.

I really could have taken less toiletries as all bar one room (the cheapest) provided shampoo and shower gel. All the rooms had towels and a hair dryer. This was not the Greece I was used to. They had decent showers and hot water too.

Greece has moved on from the days of showers over the toilet, thin towels and old mattresses on a concrete base. We paid from 42 to 60 Euros for a double room with breakfast, and that price did not always reflect the quality of the rooms. We didn’t check out hostels and having just seen this review of the Hostel in HerakIion I am pleased we didn’t.

I will be sharing details of where we stayed and the costs of our week in Greece in my next post.

 

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When preparing to travel….

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.  ~Susan HellerWill it all fit? The money is fixed at £500 plus flights for 7 nights backpacking around the Greek Islands. The flights to Crete are booked and one night at the Kastro Hotel is reserved via Booking.Com and both were well within the budget. I just hope we manage to find some equally good bargains on rooms in Santorini and wherever else we visit. Packing, that is a different matter. We saw these UPPTÄCKA backpacks at Ikea and bought them because they have wheels too. When we used rucksacks on our RTW trip we so rarely needed to haul them on our backs and I really struggled with carrying my pack even though it weighed less than 10kg. I guess I am less a backpacker and more a flashpacker and at 55 I have nothing to prove.

I am also a convert to packing cubes. The pink and blues ones are also from Ikea. No hunting at the bottom of the bag for undies or socks. And full, they all fit perfectly into the larger rucksack. I have found these on the left purchased at Lakeland so useful, keeping cables, adapters and plugs all in one place, combined with these adaptor wraps, also from Lakeland.Cable tidies These certainly help me not to leave any adaptor plugged in at a hostel or hotel. And when, inevitably I have to unload my hand luggage to be searched at airport security. We also need to be prepared for cooler evenings as Greece in April can be chilly, yet if we are hopping on and off ferries I don’t want to be lugging a heavy coat on a warm day. My trusty Kag in a Bag combined with a warm top will have to suffice. One pair of shoes to travel in and one pair of sandals. And that is it. The trusty cagool It all has to fit into these two rucksacks, one to check and one as carry on. If I could only take one carry on that would be ideal, however the airline we are travelling with have a 5kg limit for hand luggage. We had to pay £48 for each bag we check, and have an allowance of 20 kg per bag. The 20 kg cannot be split over two bags, you pay for the bag not the weight. Who needs 20 kg for a week in Greece? Reluctantly I paid for two bags on top of the flights. The fact that the flights dropped in price by £40 the day I booked somewhat softened the blow. Still Thomsons, it is a silly policy. The bulkiest and heaviest items (apart from shoes) are toiletries. I keep saying we will cut back, and always struggle to do so.Too many toiletries I have bought a 3 in 1 shower/shampoo/conditioner, I use hardly any make up and have had my hair cut in an easy to manage style (thanks Vangelis) as I am definitely not taking hair dryers and straighteners. Maybe one hair product to project it from the sun. Sun lotion, toothpaste, Eight Hour Cream and Bare Minerals Sunscreen and that is all. Did me for 5 months on the RTW trip, will certainly do for 7 days in Greece. I am packing and flying tomorrow, wish me luck. And please feel free to share your packing tips with me.

Going back ‘home’ to Greece

I first travelled to Greece in 1979. There were four of us travelling overland on a bus from London to Athens.

coral and camper

The not so trusty VW with me and The Kiwi

 

Sara, my uni friend, and I had been working the summer at The Avon Gorge Hotel. It was rather a good summer job, as bar jobs go. My tips paid the rent, I had free food from the hotel, so with no other expenses, my wages paid for the trip to Greece.

Our customers were a good mix of locals who tipped well, hotel guests visiting Bristol for business or pleasure and a weekly coach load of Americans who were doing Europe in a week, (think, If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Belgium). One of them thought the Clifton Suspension Bridge was a copy of The Golden Gate in San Francisco. That is a true story, I promise you.

We even had the Kent County Cricket Team stay once. Amazing how a logo on a polo shirt can get you into every club in Bristol for free. But that is another story and this post is not about Bristol or a night on the town with cricketers. It is about Greece.

food in Greece 1979

L to R Rob Ross, Ellie Ross, Cath, me, and out of shot, the Kiwi

My ex boyfriend had travelled to Greece the summer before with a guy named Rob. It was he who suggested I go to Greece and hooked up with Rob and his VW van. I suggested it to my uni friend and she was keen. We mentioned it to another girl who was working  the bar with us, and she decided to come along too. We had also got friendly with one of the receptionists, Ellie Ross. Amazingly she was also working at the hotel to pay for her trip to Greece. Then we discovered that Rob, the man with the van, was her brother.

coral and rob

Me, Rob and Cath at Corinth Canal

The overland journey by bus was pretty awful. I have recollections of travelling though the former Yugoslavia, where old ladies increased the charge to use unuseable loos when they realised they had a coach full of Brits. Being confused that we were not getting served with food and found out that was because we asked for the menu. And I am pretty sure we left one passenger stranded in Zagreb.

The highlights, for me, were travelling through The Mont Blanc Tunnel, and seeing the Geneva Water Fountain.  The fountain was always shown in the 60s tv show The Champions. I also recall rather good food being served, with wine, at a French motorway service area. Coming from England, good food is not what we associate with a motorway cafe. Certailnly not in the 70’s. That is why we used to take flasks and sandwiches and picnic on the verge of the M1. And wine, while driving?

We arrived in Athens and Ellie took us on the train to stay the night with the family of her ex boyfriend. In Kifisia. I am not sure that we had known then she had a boyfriend or where we were going to stay that night, we just let Rob and Ellie take the lead as they seemed to know what they were doing. Kifisia is the last stop, and is a leafy and affluent suburb. Water sprinlers kept the manicured lawns perfect.  Chilled water was kept in Gordon’s Gin bottles in the fridge. The decor was sumptuous. One night of luxury.

Ellie and Ross

Ellie and Rob

Anthony, her ex, and Ellie had met in England at University. His mother was English and his father was Greek. They had met as spies during the war. He was now something very important in the government. And I was staying in their house. That night the family and friends took us swimming off the rocks and afterwards for dinner in the hills. And that is when my love affair with Greece began.

I recall piles of food coming out, Greek Salad, lamb chops, chicken and potatoes, retsina flowing and wondering how I would be able to afford this. The bill, once split came to about £1.cheers

The next day, Rob came and picked us up in the ancient VW. He had one other passenger, John, from New Zealand. We camped in Athens and went to the Wine Festival. Nursing hangovers from hell the next day we set off around the mainland, visiting The Acropolis, the Corinth Canal and Mycenae. For someone who had studied and loved Classical Studies this was a dream come true.

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One night we went to see The Trojan Women in a Greek Ampitheatre. I had studied the play at school and now I was watching it in Greek, in Greece.  Afterwards we went to a taverna that was full of young men who were in the army on on Naitonal Service. They kept sending wine to our table. We later set off to the beach to camp for the night. Someone decided we would have a disco in the van. We got sort of arrested, a long night at the police station ensued.  Only after a lot of waving of arms and shouting did Anthony and his sister mention who their father was. We were then allowed to leave. We were woken in the morning by the fishermen whose boats we had slept in.

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After a more peaceful nights camping we left the van and took the foot ferry over to Aegina and Spetes.Cafe Spetses

Rob then decided to go to Piraeus and see where we could go from there. By then we were all so laid back we had decided that we were only allowed to make three decisions a day between us. Cathy had decided to run of with a Greek man after Spetses, so it was just the five of us who decided to go to Crete.

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Again, how excited was I to be visiting Knossos.

Knossos

Knossos

Things I had read about at school, now I was actually there.

Campsite in Crete

Campsite in Crete

We camped here just outside Agios Nikolaos. When I returned to Crete in the 90’s all this had been built on. Five star hotels stealing the views.

But all things had to come to an end, and we had to say goodbye to Crete.

This was the last day, just outside Heraklion, making the most of the beach.

OMG was I that brown and thin?

OMG was I that brown and thin?

And waited in the shade for the ferry back to the mainland.

Snoozing

Snoozing

I am going back to Crete next week. The flight is booked and one night in Heraklion. Then it is off to the port, to get a ferry and make only three decisions a day. One will be to go to Santorini to keep the last promise I made to my mom. To reunite her with her friend the wind.