Friday, February 2, 2018

Destination Greece

It's decided. Destination = Greece
Home to Gods and Goddesses and Heroes

Now the fun begins!

You've heard me say that we do all our own planning -- and perhaps that's why we always have such a fantastic time, 'cause we got nobody to blame but ourselves if a trip falls short of expectations.

When I say "we" plan it, I really mean Mr. C.  He's amazing.

We start, many times, with an itinerary from an outside source -- an agency, tour group, or -- I am particularly fond of Eyewitness Travel books (I own quite a collection of them!) because it has a section for "3 Days in Wherever" which will give you all the highlights for a quick overview.  Or conversely, "A Week in Wherever" for a more in-depth and slower paced experience; plus a section for "day trippin" -- providing day trip options (to the Equator and Otivalo Market, for example, from Quito, Ecuador; or to the island of Capri or the Lost City of Pompeii from Positano) that expand your experience without having to move from your lodging.

Once we have a framework for each city we think are not-to-be-missed for this plane fare, we go to work on what's to see & do at each destination.  We like to loiter and lounge a bit in each spot, so what might be a one or two day stop for most is usually longer for us.

I've said it repeatedly -- I would rather see less and experience more.   Our last trip, the Baltic cruise, is a good example -- one day in each country, two years later, is a complete blur for me.  Had we the choice, we'd have spent the better part of a week in each of the stops -- in Helsinki, in Stockholm, and in Copenhagen. And certainly at least a week enjoying the rich history of St. Petersburg.

Once we get that locked down, Mr. C books our flights.  Now we have a framework.

Next he'll book our hotels.  We like to be flexible, but do not enjoy the anxiety of not knowing we have a place to lay our head at night.  Preferably on a feather pillow.  With a down comforter.  And room service.  With excellent coffee. And a nice big shower for him, and a nice deep tub for me. And a nice restaurant in case we don't feel like trundling out one night in search of a dining experience after 10 or 12 hours on our feet, but just want a nice bite close to home and an early tuck-in.

Next step is transportation from the airport to our 1st hotel.  Sometimes this is a taxi, sometimes it's the subway, sometimes it's just as economical to have a car & driver pick us up.  It's certainly more reliable, which is comforting after 24 hours of non-stop travel.  

This is followed by transportation (plane, train, car, bus?) from town 1 to 2; and from 2 to 3; and etc., unless we are driving ourselves.  This can be cumbersome, but Mr. C doesn't like leaving any of this to chance.  

Then there are activities to be booked -- it's part of the cultural experience to attend the Opera in Vienna;  The Ballet in St. Petersburg (we saw A Midsummer Night's Dream);  The play at the Estates Theater in Prague;  

A concert at the Palau de la Muscica Catalana (it was a highly entertaining guitar quartet @ the Palace of Music Catalana) in Barcelona (the Concert Halls are sometimes as awesome as the performances);   

A performance of mystic and magic at the Opera House in Sydney;  

The Sala Rim Nam, the traditional Thai Dance Drama (where there was very little "dancing" and no drama that I could detect) in Bangkok; 

As opposed to the traditional Flamingo (in which both the song and dance and accompanying music was very dramatic) in Seville; 

And we can't forget the bullfights (gosh, if only I could forget the bullfights!).  Usually these performances need to be booked ahead of time, although our very nice hotels are also good about bookings for us once we arrive.

Here's a travel tip:  Many local venues will "hold back" a few tickets for use by the concierges of the nicer hotels.  So -- it's always a question worth asking.  We've been pleasantly rewarded for our effort on more than one occasion.

I'm in charge of finding & booking our cooking class, though.  Greek food -- oh my goodness, my mouth is watering already!  This will be country #6 for cooking classes.

In all this planning, though, there is an added benefit.  We have discovered that once we arrive, we are already well-acquainted with our destination, albeit remotely so.  

Planning our transportation from city to city gives us a real sense of the breadth of the country.  Planning our events gives us a sense of what is culturally important to them.

We often times stumble across something by accident as we wander about on-foot, but recognize it as an item-of-interest on our "list" of things to see & do.  We have our "cheat sheet" of foods to try, of national & regional dishes:

Such as Oxtail Stew in Rome;
 Catalan Bread in Barcelona;
Pork Knee in Prague;
 Okonomyaki -- and eel! -- in Japan); 
and the worst -- by far the worst -- Guinea Pig in Cuzco.  

But also there are local cheeses & wines and the like, which vary from region to region.  We keep this list tucked into our pockets so when we happen upon them on the menu we are poised to indulge.
So if you've been to Greece, let me know what your travel tips would be.  Some secret little nuggets that we might not find in a travel book.  Some quaint little Ma & Pa restaurant that might not make the charts.  An out-of-the-way experience or stop that others might pass by.

'Cause these are the reasons, my friend, that we travel.


1 comment:

  1. I am ready for your trip to begin and anticipating great photos and stories!
    Safe travels!


Join the conversation ... comment now!