Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crete is calling

A week from today our dateline will be Chania, Crete. A friend asked if I would share some of our tips for finding inexpensive accommodations, so here are some of the web sites we've used: We stayed in a waterfront hotel in Paros (an island in the Greek Cyclades)for 40E per night that included a buffet breakfast in April 2008. A quick check of this web site this morning, showed nine listed that are available the end of this month ranging from 20 - 28E per night; and some are studios.

We also use which offers accommodations ranging from luxury to cheap places. Another favorite:

We usually double check to see what other travelers might have said about the place. While opinions can vary widely, if a place gets high ratings many times, we don't hesitate to book it. Such is the case with the Lefka Apartments we have booked in Chania. Trip Advisors comment that they couldn't believe a place was as good as that described by other travelers until they arrived and experienced it. We will report in after our arrival.

We also found on our last trip to Greece that people do wait at the ferry dock with hand-printed signs advertising rooms for rent at incredibly low prices. . .so armed with our web sites and sense of adventure, we are holding fast to the plan to have no reservations in Greece and no set island destination other than our first week in Crete (and that is because we knew we wanted to further explore Crete and would easily fill a week or more doing just that).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Countdown: Greece

Yesterday a friend asked for our itinerary. "We have none," I replied. A brief silence followed.

Actually as the departure date nears, we have added a stop to our return, so we know where we will be for the first week (Chania, Crete) and the last five nights. We've included 5 nights in Paris to our return routing, thanks to Mr. Marriott and those loyalty points that lured us in to a timeshare purchase two years ago. ( We will fly from Athens to Paris on EasyJet, the cheapie airline for $73E p/p. (

As for yesterday's bombing in two Greek cities (one at the Athens Stock Exchange) . . .we are still heading to Greece, as of this writing. The BBC reports that the bombers called a local newspaper alerting folks to the bomb and allowing police to seal off the area before it detonated. Couldn't help but wonder if they used the news tip line?

Jackie took the photos on this post in Naousa on the north coast of Paros, an island in the Cyclades. We took the public bus ($2.40E) from where we were staying to this once-fishing-village, turned somewhat touristy-fishing village.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stavros and Spinalonga - Novel Destinations

While we have no set Greek destinations, beyond the first week in Chania, two possible 'novel' destinations have been added to the travel journal. Stavros, on the Akrotiri Peninsula, 14 kilometers east of Chania is where Anthony Quinn, as Alexis Zorba, did his famous dance in the 1964 black-and-white Academy Award nominated-movie, "Zorba the Greek". We will watch the DVD prior to the trip right after reading the 1952 novel, of the same name, by Cretan author Nikos Kazantzkis.

At the other end of Crete, off its north coast, the island of Spinalonga, was Greece's main leper colony from 1903 to 1957. "The Island," a 2005 novel by English writer, Victoria Hislop brings the island and its one-time residents to life, sparking an interest in visiting it one on of the many day trips offered.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Peru and Chile Beckon

Fellow cruise enthusiasts from Camano Island, WA have booked a 23-day combination cruise/land trip to Peru and Chile this coming November.

They'll spend three days in Santiago, three in Rio de Janiero, cruise Cape Horn, Chilean fjords and Straights of Magellan, head to the Falkland Islands and into Uruguay.

The trip is being done in part with Grand Circle Tours ( and Holland America cruise line ( The price (including airfare from Seattle to Santiago and a return flight from Rio to Seattle) is just $129 per person, per day. They head out Nov. 15th. We will watch for trip reports from them.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Special occasion destinations

Special occasions call for out-of-the-ordinary getaways. Jackie wrote about three luxury getaways, all within a day's drive of Seattle -- Desert Wind Winery, Prosser, WA; Thornewood Castle, Lakewood, WA and Sooke Harbour Inn, Sooke, British Columbia -- in, "Special days, special destinations," in the Seattle Times, NWWeekend section, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009. Read about them at:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Greece countdown

We are heading to some Greek Islands for five weeks this fall. Which islands, we don't know.

And we may not know until we catch the ferry to get us where ever we end up going.

What we do know: We'll fly Seattle to London Heathrow on British Air, spending a night at the Courtyard Marriott, ( walking distance to Gatwick, from where we will fly out early the next morning on an inexpensive Easy Jet flight to Crete.

We have reservations in Chania for a week-long stay at Lefka Apartments ( The complex comes recommended by TripAdvisor members ( - in the past we've relied on their opinions and stayed in nice, but inexpensive accommodations. After spending a few nights there in spring 2008, we vowed to return to this old Venetian port city which allows further on-foot exploration of it. We continue to search rental car web sites but may opt to use public bus service to explore the neighboring villages.

We have a flight booked from London to Seattle five weeks after our arrival in Greece - we don't yet know from where we will be departing to connect to the London flight.
One thing is for sure, because we don't know where we are going, we've had to expand our research. With this trip, we have considered revisiting island favorites from our spring 2008 trip as well as expanding our travels to Symi Island and Rhodes, both near Turkey, which prompted new considerations . . .a stop in Istanbul perhaps? Among favorite web sites are: and

Plans are that we will each of take a wheeled 21"-carry-on bag and a smaller bag. . .a large 'purse tote' by Baggalini Bags for Jackie with a smaller everyday Baggalini packed in it. Joel will have a small bag with documents and books to read during the flight. (We don't do Kindle - we take paperbacks). Travel clothing will include Chico's, Ex-Officio and TravelSmith labels - all which can be washed and dried overnight and don't require pressing.

We've purchased a 2.7 pound NetBook by Acer; it's loaded with Microsoft XP and provides internet connection. It is easily tucked into the side pocket of the Baggalini. If we can figure out how to connect its three-pronged cord to an adaptor for Greece we will have it made. Jackie is reluctantly entering the digital camera world, leaving her bag of film canisters and 35-mm camera at home.

Alaska Airlines - credit card mileage plan changes

They aren't increasing the annual fees for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card.

The two things that will change: 2009 is the last year we cardholders (who are in good standing) will be awarded anniversary miles. The $50 campanion certificate will be increasing from $50 to $99 on Oct. 1, 2009. This applies to all new certificates earned on or after Oct. 1, 2009. All of this comes in a letter we received today from James Rice, a Sr. VP at Bank of America and Rick Rasmussen, Director of Customer Loyalty & Marketing Programs at Alaska Air. They assure all other card benefits remain in place.

Life gives Lemons? Make them a French Festival

Menton, ( a town nestled between the Italian border and the Principality of Monaco, will host its annual Fete du Citron from February 15 – March 3, 2010 ( This garden-filled community is a quick train or bus ride from neighboring Nice. As its name indicates the Fete du Citron -- Citron Festival --is about all things citrus. . .floats are decorated with lemons and oranges, they are featured topics of exhibitions and are the basis of a myriad of public celebrations.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...