Sunday, May 19, 2013

TravelnWrite’s Sunday Snippets and Snapshots

With oh-so-many things to tell you about Greece and other delightful destinations, we are starting a series of Snippets and Snapshots.

We begin with something fishy about feet in Crete:

It seemed the craze in Crete -- from its large city Heraklion to its tiny southwest coast village of Agios Roumeli – is the fish pedicure. I’d read articles about this type of beauty treatment (one, a 2008 article in the Seattle Times, reporting Washington State had deemed them both unsanitary and illegal) but until visiting Crete, we’d never seen such a salon. 

While our sandal-calloused feet would have been a tasty treat for them, we couldn’t quite bring ourselves  to stick our travel-tired tootsies in a tank with these tiny (toothless?) technicians. 

Would you have tried it? Or have you tried it?

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

WA Weekend: Wenatchee's Summer Sips and Savories

We’re taking a quick detour from Greece to tell you about a couple great reasons to put Wenatchee, Washington on your summer travel list. First there’s:

Ohme Wine and Food Gala, July 13th, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

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We attended this event last summer which is set in the midst of Ohme Gardens, a lush treed oasis high overlooking Wenatchee, offering stunning views of the Columbia River Valley as well. We are still talking about what a fantastic time we had there!

This year,12 Wenatchee Wine Country wineries will provide the sips to go with savories from 12 of the top chefs in North Central Washington, using locally farmed food. We can assure you, they start planning the pairings weeks in advance to give you the most amazing array of tastes.

CashmereVictoriaBC 064Live musicians provided the background music as we strolled through the terraced gardens sipping and sampling. They’ll be doing it again this year.

Note:  while it is an extremely popular, well-attended event, you don’t find yourself tooth-to-jowl with fellow attendees as can happen at similar events near Seattle.

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Attendees will experience the pairings of: Viscontis  and Jones of WA Winery; Cured and Malaga Springs Winery; Tastebuds  and Horan Estates Winery; Ivy Wild and (Beaumont Cellars; Smokeblossom and Martin-Scott Winery;  Shaktis and Crayelle Cellars; Windmill and Stemilt Creek Winery; Iwa Sushi and Voila Vineyards; Cashmere Cider Mill and Baroness Cellars; Inna’s Cuisine and Saint Laurent Winery; The Eatery and Esther Bricques Winery;  Chateau Grill and Chateau Faire le Pont Winery; and Cave B and their Tendrils Restaurant.

Ticket info: The gala is a benefit for Ohme Gardens so the price is: $60 per ticket if purchased by June 30; $70 July 1-12. Tickets can be purchased at, Ohme Gardens, or the participating wineries.

The New Pybus Public Market has opened –

After more than a year of dreaming, planning and construction,Pybus Public Market, the second-largest, covered year-round market in the State, opened its doors last weekend in a remodeled 1940’s building in the heart of Wenatchee. Food vendors aplenty are filling its stalls, check the link below for details. 

Soon it will be sporting a bright neon red sign similar to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the largest covered year-round market.

CashmereVictoriaBC 044The Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market, located in the west parking lot of Pybus Market, also opened last weekend.

(They do have wine tasting at this market – a ton of fun.)

Pybus Market will be open seven days a week starting at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday. Tenant hours will vary. A list of tenants and their business hours is available at  Grand opening: Saturday, June 22, 1 p.m.

Getting to Pybus Public Market, 3 North Worthen):

Wenatchee is about 150 miles from Seattle by car. Flights from Seattle on Alaska/Horizon air.

CashmereVictoriaBC 055(Easiest tip: It is walking distance to the Columbia River bridge, pictured to the left.)

Wenatchee Ave traveling South: Take a left at 2nd Street down to Columbia. Turn right and follow Columbia south to Orondo. Turn left at Orondo and cross the railroad tracks. The entrance to the market is straight ahead.

Wenatchee Ave traveling North: Take a right (east) on Orondo Avenue and cross the railroad tracks following it right down to the market.

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Happy Travels! We’ll have some more Greek tales for you on Sunday’s Snippets and Snapshots.
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

That Easter in Greece ~

We may never experience another Easter like the one in Greece. . .

Sfakia2Amster2013 046Greek Orthodox Easter is considered more important there than Christmas. We were fortunate this year to be in Crete and experience first-hand Easter Sunday, May 5th.

As with any holiday, decorations and preparations were the prelude to the event. This Easter wreath decorated a restaurant entry in Chora Sfakia, the small harbor town on Crete’s southwestern coast where we spent part of Easter Week.

Holy Thursday – Megali Pempti

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In the early evening, as we walked past our favorite bakery, run by our friend Niki and her husband, in Chora Sfakia, she invited us in to see the production of Kalitsounia, the special cheese pies made for Easter. 

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Her mom, pictured with her above, was taking the lead on the baking. Her sister, on the right, was also called into duty.

Sfakia2Amster2013 060We were honored by getting to sample some from the first batch out of the oven.

(I must tell you – this was one of the highlights of the trip!)

Holy Friday – Megali Parskievi

In the early afternoon, not long after we disembarked the ferry that  - in 30 minutes - had taken us further west along the coast to the small village of Loutro ; the place we would celebrate Easter, we couldn't help but notice that ‘Judas’ had been strung up on the beach awaiting his Saturday night fate.

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As we sipped a libation late Friday night at one of the waterfront cafes, the sound of chanting alerted us to an approaching  processional.

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Led by the priest, along Loutro’s ‘main street’, (a sidewalk bisecting  the waterfront businesses and cafes), a flower covered  Kouvouklion, representing Christ’s tomb, was carried to the ferry landing where additional prayers were said before it was carried back to the church.

Among the Easter traditions. . .

Sfakia2Amster2013 167Easter eggs are dyed a deep rich red, signifying the blood of Christ, most are plain but this basket’s eggs had religious images on them).
They weren’t made of chocolate nor were they hidden as part of a children’s game – they were eaten as part of the traditional Easter feasts on Saturday night and Sunday.

Holy Saturday – Megali Savato

The traditional Easter feast features roast lamb. And by late afternoon  Saturday the air was thick throughout the village with the smell of wild thyme and oregano-scented roasting meat being prepared for the late night feasting that would take place at every restaurant. (The front skewer is filled with pork, peppers and onions.)

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Sfakia2Amster2013 111Judas was hanging not far from the church, where the Saturday‘midnight’ (actual time 9:15 p.m.) service was held.

At the conclusion of the service, the bell clanged repeatedly as its rope was pulled, announcing the Priest’s proclamation: “CHRISTOS ANESTI!” (Christ is Risen!).

Then, in a scene much like a New Year’s Eve, the jubilant people filling the church and its courtyard began hugging and kissing, fireworks echoed across the bay, and candles were lit for the processional to the beach.

And then Judas burned.

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Flames shot high in the sky and the crowd fell back as embers, like fireworks began falling.

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We stood spellbound watching until the flames died and it was time to feast.

You might think this Easter story ended there. Ah, but, not so fast. . .


En route home, we spent a day and a half in Athens. Last Friday morning during a short walk near our hotel we happened upon a picturesque old church.

Sfakia2Amster2013 476Entering, we found ourselves with three priests and another gentleman, (a church deacon or senior warden type, perhaps.)

It quickly became apparent that he had been asked to take the priests’ photo. Even more quickly, it became apparent that he wasn’t quite sure how to use the digital camera he’d been handed. 

So, I did what any shutter bug would do: I offered to take the photos. 

By then, their camera battery needed to be changed and while we waited, the younger of the three clergy, who spoke perfect English, explained to us that the week following Easter was still considered Easter Week – the Easter service was performed each day from Easter Sunday until the following Saturday. 

He told us about the church and its history – its murals dating back to 1100.  Then ‘the photo shoot’ began;  I took group shots and individual shots.  I took a quick one with my camera as well:

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“Thank you,” the young priest said as we finished.  Then, as we were leaving, he called out,

“God Bless You! Christ has Risen!”

Yes, as I said, we may never experience an Easter like that one in Greece. . .

Map picture

This is our contribution to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox, Travel Photo Thursday.  Head over there for more photos and come back to TravelnWrite for a few more Greek tales. . .

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Travel Tip Tuesday: Packing, Pickpockets, Part 2

DCVegasSeville2011 157Prior to our Greece trip I wrote about packing and pick pocket prevention. Several of you responded with comments that bear repeating:
An anonymous  reader suggested: “Instead of the plastic hangers, you might want to check out "flocked" slim hangers. Available at all kinds of stores like Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc.
What I like about them is: much thinner than plastic so they fit better in a suitcase, nothing slips off of them, and best of all the hanger top swivels so you can hang them over doors or on bi-fold closet door hinges.”

I couldn't find any prior to our trip so took the plastic hangers and clothes pins - and used them many times. But will find some prior to our next trip.

From South Korea, Nancie McKinnon who writes Budget Travelers Sandbox added:
“I throw a door stopper in my bag. If I end up somewhere where I think security is not that great, I can pop it under the door. I also carry a small foot brush. It's especially great when you are walking around in sandals, and cleaning up after a long hard day of sightseeing.”

Canadian blogger friend, Leigh at Hike Bike Travel where I first read about Clever Travel Companion security pocket tee shirts, wrote that she has worn them and predicted we would like them.

We did wear ours - several times in Greece - and called them 'the Piraeus shirts' a reference to The Scout's previous pickpocket incident on the Metro from there. The front-and-center zippered pockets comfortably held a passport, money and credit cards. The downside of the shirts was they are made of a blend of material which makes them stretchy and the sizes run small. That combination made it feel like wearing a body girdle (a hot one at that).  I would recommend ordering a size larger than you usually wear - but for peace of mind, they were fabulous!

Karen McCann, (a native Californian who moved with her husband to Seville, Spain ‘for a year’ in 2004 and still lives there) writes the blog Enjoy Living Abroad, and recently wrote a post on travel security tips that was so informative I told her I was going to direct you all to it.  Believe me it is full of good tips;  check it out by clicking on:  Enjoy Living Abroad

washington wednesdays 005And if you’ve got a tip or two for saving money, packing and/or keeping yourself and your belongings safe, please add them in the comment section below on the home page or for you subscribers send us an email:

I’ll make sure they get shared with everyone in future posts. If you missed that first post, you can click here to read it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Umbrellas unfurled ~ An Amsterdam Weekend!

The good news is that I still fit the long pants I wore to Europe a month ago and can even wear my silk long johns (I thought for weeks I had needlessly packed) under them.*

The bad news is that I am wearing long johns after a month of romping through Greece in shorts and tee-shirts. 

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But we’ve left that 80-degree Mediterranean sunshine behind us, packed away the shorts, and have dug to the bottom of the suitcases for warm clothes, unfurled those Seattle umbrellas and set out to make the most of our weekend in Amsterdam.

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Today’s temperature is about 55-degrees, a cold wind blowing and rain often. Somewhat unseasonably cool, we were told by one local this morning. Certainly cold to those of us who last weekend were taking afternoon siestas to avoid the heat of the day – today’s siesta is to warm up and dry out before setting out again.

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The good news about their colder weather is that it delayed the tulip season so we’ve managed to see some of the famed-blossoms along our morning’s route which took us to the flower market and then into the street markets of the Jordaan district.

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We booked our stay here using Hotwire (the web booking line that tells you the class of the hotel and its location but not the name until after you book). We are in the NH City Center Hotel  - a spacious ground floor room, ceilings that are nearly 20-feet high, a view of one of the city’s many canals and two bathrooms, as in two toilets; one in a room with a tub and sink and one n a smaller room with a sink.

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I have to tell you it was difficult leaving Athens yesterday and had we not booked a non-changeable reservation here, we’d have been tempted to stay there longer. Wednesday it had been difficult to leave Crete. Greece has won our hearts – again! Although, I must admit, Amsterdam is charming in its own wet, gray way (flowers, cats, good food and wine). And it helps prepare us for our return home on Monday.

*The asterisk in the opening sentence means the Diet To Go, got up and went while in Greece. Far too many potatoes and fresh bread temptations to pass up while there. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Traveling ‘n Writing at TravelnWrite

Sometimes there is a time to travel and sometimes a time to write.

 In the case of the last week, travel has won out.  I’ve plenty of travel tales to tell and a few tips that you might find useful – but they will have to wait. . . for this is the time to travel ~ there’s a lot of magic out there just waiting to be enjoyed. . .hope you find some where ever you are in the world. 

Here’s some of the magical places we’ve found:

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Travel a different road this weekend. . .you never know what beauty might be just around the corner!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

In Loutro ~ Come Saturday Morning

I write this Saturday afternoon on my deck looking out on  Loutro – so small its main ‘street’ is a sidewalk that bisects restaurants and gift stores that line its crescent-shaped shore.

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Being back here is such a treat that I can’t help but wonder if we didn’t unintentionally save the best for last on this sojourn of ours through Greece.

I’ve allowed myself plenty of idle day-dreaming time on this picture-perfect afternoon during which I’ve pondered  the speed with which our time here has passed.  The trip that, in its planning stages, seemed to offer endless days has come to a place of being able to count our remaining days in Greece on one hand. (I can assure you that the only thing getting each of us on that plane next Friday  – is the commitment we’ve made to each other to return again.)

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The surrounding countryside is harsh, home to goats and sheep that graze on its acres of wild thyme. Hiking trails cross it, looping past remains of structures dating back to the time of Venetian and Turkish occupation and providing  water views so stunning that you must pause to absorb them.  On our last Saturday in Greece as we followed one of those trails, I couldn’t help but think of this song from the 70’s by a group called The Sandpipers. . .

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“Come Saturday morning, I am going away with my friend. . .

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We’ll Saturday-spend till the end of the day. . .

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just I and my friend.

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We’ll travel for miles in our Saturday smiles . . .

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and then we’ll move on. . .

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But we will remember, long after Saturday’s gone.”

Happy Easter to all of our friends in Greece. And happy Saturday to you all. Hope you will also have a Saturday that you remember long after it is gone.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hora Sfakia ~ On the Libyan Sea

I write today from Hora Sfakia a small harbor town in southwestern Crete overlooking the Libyan Sea.  Here we are  further south than Africa’s Tangiers, Algiers or Tunis.

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Our Greek travel itinerary was designed to include a return to this remote  little spot – our third time here -- where even after a three year absence we remember waiters, store owners and others we came to know during earlier visits. Much to our surprise, we too, have been remembered!

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We are staying in the same hotel, Stavris, as we’ve stayed in previous visits.  It is a laid back place with basic rooms that are a favorite with the many hikers, backpackers and others who flock to this area for the hiking opportunities in the Samaria Gorge – the largest, longest, deepest gorge in Europe with walls 1,500 feet high in places. (We didn’t pack the boots or we would have also hiked the gorge this trip.)

So we’ve done some ‘urban’ hiking in this tiny town of 302 residents, but as you can tell by the photo above the in town views are pretty spectacular.  Only a handful of cars squeeze through the narrow streets so the only sounds we hear are children playing, and goat and sheep bells and their bleating songs  from the hillsides.

And speaking of views, this is the view from our room:

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During the time of Turkish and Venetian rule, this town, being an important maritime center, was the nucleus of the Cretan struggle for independence.

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And Hora Sfakia played a major role in WWII because it was the place from where more than 11,000 Allied troops were evacuated by ships in the middle of the night over a four-night period the end of May following the Battle of Crete. This memorial commemorates that evacuation.

Further up the hill a memorial brings yet another war time remembrance.  The clear portion at the base of this memorial houses human skulls; those of local residents who gave their lives during the war. . .

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The plaque next to it reads:

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Our journey continues through Crete as we move further west this coming weekend. Hope you’ll continue traveling with us. Today is Travel Photo Thursday so head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more travel tales and photos.


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