Friday, August 14, 2009


A cruisy beach holiday destination where every thing is easy and all within a short walking distance from each other. This town is very touristy as lots of the English holiday here during the summer break. There are lots of beaches to choose from, the section we visited was the Gold Coast which is made up of lots of small beaches divided by cliffs. We didn´t get to al lof them but we tried our best! The water there was quite clear but not like it was on the Greek islands.

On one of our days in Lagos we decided to go sea kayaking. Liz has been wanting to do it for ages and I am so glad we finally got to do it. It was so much FUN! We joined in a 3 hours tour, with Liz and I being an unbeatable team in a double kayak. We got to go farther along the Gold Coast then we could walk and got to see and go through all the grottos along the way. The were so lovely and in some of them the water shone a bright green due to the sunlight filtering in through the cliffs and cracks. Was really pretty. Liz and I were also the only female couple kayaking and we totally kicked everyones butts back to shore!!

The town gets quite lively at night so one evening we went in and ordered some cocktails and enjoyed it all. Nearly bought some souviners during this time but luckily we saw sense and decided to go back during the day (the memory of our Oktoberfest spree was still fresh in our minds!). And thank goodness we did. What I wanted to buy in my semi drunken haze did not look at all good in the light of day. Phew, a close call!

I managed to get a bit burnt here and so now I am feeling sorry for myself. It is however our last beach stop until Valencia so my skil will have time to recover. And yes, we have been applying sunscreen everyday. Lucille we´ve already managed to finish both of the tubes you sent over with Timothy! Don´t stress though everyone, we have another bottle to lather ourselves up with!!


What a lovely city! So clean and friendly with lots and lots of monuments all around which seems a little strange but I´m sure there is a good reason! OUr hostel was in a prime location right in the middle of a mian square with a 10 minute stroll to the water. In Lisbon there are lots of buildings which still have thier fronts covered in tiles which looks really cool. Some of the patterns are quite busy but others are quite beautiful and it makes them really stand out.

The city is split up into neighbourhoods so we just walked from one to the next. Except for on, Belem, which we had to catch the tram for. Our missions here was to find the best custard tart bakery in Lisbon. Liz had read an article ina London paper ages ago and we had saved it so that we could find these delicious delacies. At first we thought we had failed in our mission but after asking a local we were pointed in the right direction. Now, I don´t really like custard and all things related but these were amazing!! So scrumptious! The recipe is so secret that only 3 bakers know it and when 1 reitres it is passed to a new baker. The even mix the ingredients in a secret room each morning and iwth both locals and tourists buying these, they sell 13 000 on a weekday and 20 000 on weekends...holy! So good. It is safe to say we had a few each before getting the tram back to the centre!


Here we only stayed 2 nights which was plenty. There is not alot to do in Athens especially if you are not interested in Ancient Greece. We are in the not interested category. However, we figured we would at least go and see the Acropolis because it was there and we felt we should.

Our morning started off with the watching of the Changing of the Guards outside Parliament House. This was really interesting as it is very traditional and not at all like the one outside Buckingham Palace. It happens every hour so it´s not as regal as Englands. We then headed into the Plaka where all the shops and tourist places are. There were so many sandles I wanted to buy but I held back and didn´t even buy one pair! We then headed to the Acropolis. €12 to gein in. Highway robbery! So we walked around the fence and got snaps of it from far away. We did however notice on our walk around the fence a lovely, brand new museum dedicated to the Acropolis and it only cost €1 entry. €1!! So we actually got to learn about the Acropolis, look at artefacts, enjoy alovely view from the top floor and most importantly, did it all in the comfort of air conditioning! That pretty much sums up our day in Athens - it was too hot to attempt anything more that that.

That evening we packed up our bags again in preparation for a day of flights - first a 3 hour flight to Milan, then a 4 hour layover in what was to be the smalles and most boring airport layover EVER! Then another 3 hour flight to our destination- Lisbon.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Eat, Swim, Sleep

This was to be my motto for the next 10 days of our journey. Our first night in Athens had us showering, eating some Gyros, then sleeping as we had a very early start (5:30am!) the next day!

Our Greek Islands tour started with a very slow ferry ride to Mykonos (5 hours), this was not so bad as we spoke to some people on our tour and got our itinerary from our leader Dax (idiot!). We thought this tour was fairly independent but it turns out that every day and night there was a dinner or activity organised, Eeek! This was not what we wanted. Luckily they were all optional so Liz and I opted out of most of them, main reason being the organised dinners would cost €10-15 each where as we could go and eat in a restaurant for €20 combined AND get actual Greek food. Most nights the food was of other nationalities. As if I paid to go all the way to Greece to eat pizza and Thai!! Crazy bastards.

Anyway, as I was saying in the beginning, we mostly slept, ate and swam. The sleeping happened at all times of the day whether on the beach, in our mini tent huts or by the pool. The eating also occurred throughout the day, dinners were my favourite. We ate in quite a few Greek Taverna's and I think we only had sub par food once (thanks to our leader who took us to this place). On Mykonos I had my first Moussaka. Delish. Here I also had what would be the tastiest Greek Salad of the whole trip. On Paros, we stumbled across a Taverna near our beach, which had a fantastic view of the whole bag and here we had tatziki and iced coffees. Our campsite had a family run restaurant attached to it and I had stewed meatballs (Mum I think it's almost the same as your sausages/meatballs in tomato sauce from the cookbook). They were amazing! Santorini had us tasting fried cheese, stuffed tomatoes and of course more tatziki! Santorini is also where our tour leader took us to the sub par restaurant which also smelt like a toilet - not pleasant at all! Our last island, Ios, had us eating mostly Gyros (we were a little over them by now!) and again another restaurant where we decided to be brave and try the calamari, but it came out on the dish with all of the tenticles and it's head. All fried. I had a little trouble eating it and had to cover up the remaining body parts with napkins!

Onto the actual islands. They are not at all what were expecting. When you see photos of the islands you always see the white houses and the brilliant blue water. This is exactly how they look, except for the brown, barren land that surrounds everthing. As the islands are so windy no vegetation grows there. Also their ground is very rocky so I'm guessing the soil is not very furtile. But it is just an odd contrast. The water is amazing though. On each island it was a different shade of blue or green. Our favourite water was on Mykonos but my favourite beach was on Ios as it was actually sandy! The water was quite cold in comparison to the heat of the day but if you had been sunbaking it was so lovely to dive into. Our skin colour has improved and is no longer pasty white. HOORAY! This was one of the main goals of the islands - plus tasting all the food of course! Mykonos and Ios were the party islands and you'll be happy to know that we did participate in one evening out in the clubs where nothing happens until at least 1-2am. I was so bloody tired! But I did it and with only 3 drinks in my body I managed to get home at 4am. What a feat! The nightlife that we experienced was on Ios and I have to say that I wasn't that impressed with it. When I went into the 3rd bar and heard the same songs for the 3rd time, I knew it was time to go. This nightlife was not for me.

Paros and Santorini were much quieter islands. Paros seemed very chilled out and seemed to be the holiday destination for families. Here we went on a boat cruise around AntiParos (the small island next to Paros) which took a whole day. It was lovely. In true backpacker form the boat was small and packed, but what we got to see made up for it! We jumped off the boat into such clear water - it was like something off The Great Outdoors! On Santorini we went on a half day tour where we got to climb up to the edge of an Active Volcano. It was so cool! There were even spots where you could feel the sulphur coming out of the ground. Santorini used to be a round island but due to the largest volcanic eruption in modern times (the only other larger ones were prehistoric) it split the island up. But don't worry, it's dormant and it's been predicted it won't erupt until 2025 (the last eruption was in 1950). Phew. We were safe. This tour also took us to the hot springs which is caused by the volcano somehow, and the water is muddy brown and about 6 degrees hotter than normal. The mud is supposed to be good for your skin but I chose not to cover myself as it felt gross!

Our accommodation on the island was fairly basic, as we stayed at campsites. We slept in little canvas hut things which locked and meant we didn't have to share with strangers! Yay! But on Paros we actually slept in a tent, on a mat. Let's say it wasn't our most comfortable nights sleep. The only gripe I have is that on the islands you cannot put toilet paper in the toilet. No no no, you have to put it in the bin beside you. That has no lid. That smells like shit. Literally. This very much grossed me out, especially on the 2 party islands as the more drunk people got, the less clean they were. This is not ideal when sharing large shower and toilet blocks. Eeewwwww!


It was to take us 4 train changes and a whole day of travelling to get to Edinburg. But we were well prepared with snacks, books and blow up pillows for the journey. Edinburgh is a beautiful city. All of the old buildings make it almost seem a little magical especially with the Castle dominating up on the cliff. Our hostels here were so so, these ones were not as clean as the last in Wales but I'm learning to not be so picky and just get on with things. If I think about it too much I'd probably never set foot in another hostel! Our first night here we grabbed some kepbabs and went down to Princes Park and just admired the Castle and then took a look around the city. We had the whole of the next day to explore so we thought that to get some background info on the city that a walking tour would be best. It went for almost 4 hours but we did get alot from it, espeically on how much the Scots dislike the English and few stories about some quirky character in history. I didn't make it into the Castle as I already had an information overload and couldn't handle another 3 hours of reading.

The next day we headed off on our Wild in Scotland tour which was to take us up into the Highlands and to the Isle of Skye. The first day was alot of driving but we did stop at a few palces where battles had taken place; the most important one being Culloden Battlefields where over 700 Sctosmen died in a huge battle. It was quite a sad story acutlaly and the memorial there impacted on us alot. By late evening we had finally made it to Skye. The scenary over the last couple of hours of the drive was breathtaking. The Highlands are just so beautiful. I could never get sick of looking at them if I lived there. Our hostel here was fab! It was almost more like a home stay- it was so clean and friendly and quirky. It was called Skye Walker Hostel but inside there were life size cut outs of Star Wars characters on the walls wearing bits of tartan. Hilarious!!

The next day was a great day. A lazy breakfast and then a short drive to the base of the Black Cullen Mountains where we waled to the Fairy Pools. They were lovely! We were encouraged to go for a swim in them but seeing as the water was 8 degrees, Liz and I decided to pass! Some were brave and soon had skil as red a a tomato! The mountains were huge but amazing - they were quite rocky and of course were black and just loomed over you as you looked up at them. That afternoon we did another big walk. This time to Old Man of Storr which are these huge rock pillars in odd shapes that look like they have been placed there on their edges. We walked/climbed right up to the base of one of the pillars. Took about an hour but the view form up there was incredible, the mountains and lochs looked like something from a painting. And we lucky on this day to have sunshine all day so everything looked even more beautiful with such a blue sky.

Our dinners and breakfasts were included as we paid a ktity at the beginning and then food was bought form that. We were lucky enough to have 2 chefs on our trip and they cooked dinner for us both nights. It was simple stuff they made but it tasted bloody good! No one minded at all cleaning up afterwards after such a tasty dinner!! On the Saturday night the ownders of the hostel and some of their friends played music all night. Mostly fold but some modern stuff as well. It was fantastic. They were all really good musicians and they even played Bound for South Australia for the Aussies on the tour!

Our last day of the tour was again mainly driving, we stopped in Stirling to hear aobut William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, saw Eileen Dolan Castle and a quick look out at Glen Coe. Ooo I forgot to mention on the first day we stopped at Loch Ness. It was a beautiful loch and no, there was no spotting of Nessy, just a million midgies! We also got to try some whisky, single malt of course. Gosh it was strong! I added some water and found it quite nice, Liz however gave her dram to some of the others. Back in Edinburghwe were worn out so we had dinner and repacked out backpacks ready to leave bight and early the next day for....Greece!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Due to the ridiculous amount that people are charging for internet (1 euro for 10 mins of the Greek Islands!) I'm a wee bit behind on the blog. So bear with me and I'll try and fill you all in as best as possible.

Wales was beautiful. It was really the perfect way to start our trip. We headed to a little place called Betws-Y-Coed which is up in the North and is at the edge of Snowdonia National Park. It took us 3 train changes to get there from London but I love the trains so I didn't mind one bit. Our hostel was quite small and quaint and we shared a dorm with 2 English lads who were in the town for field work. Geologists. they were so lovely and considerate. Their mothers should be proud!

The main activity to do in Betws-Y-Coed is to walk. So that is eactly what we did. Armed with our walking shoes and waterproof jackets we picked up a booklet with walks around town from the tourist info centre and headed for a short 4 and a half mile stroll. This walk took us though some woods and along a beautiful clear reiver. It was so quiet in there, eventually we makde to Swallow Falls which were a bit disppointing but a good conversation with some fellow walkers made up for it.

Our mian objective for the trip was to climb Snowdon Mountain. This is the tallest mountain in Wales and England standing at 1085m. The Geologists in our room advised us to head to one particular spot as they knew one of the paths started there. So this is where we headed nice and early on the Sunday monring. Now what you need to know is that there are 6 paths up Snowdon with degrees of difficulty. Being the novis walkers we are we needed the easiest path. The one we went ot was no this. The sign at the start of the path stated "this is the most difficult of the walks, NOVICE WALKERS ARE NOT ADVISED TO CLIMB THIS" Eek! So luckily we had picked up a leaflet of the easiest walk and tour delight it started in the next town over. While waiting fo rhte bus, 2 men n a mini bus offered us a life (it was safe Mums and Dads, they were part of a charity climbing the mountains!) as they were headed that way. So eventually we started the walk. There was a defined, nicely sloping path, views were beautiful and things were great. It was about 2/3 up the mountain that it all started getting harder. The path was getting steeper and we were now up in the fog so it was quite cold. It also didnÂșt help that the last mountain we had climbed was last summer and we are extremly unfit! Towards the summit I think I was taking 20 steps then stopping, 2o steps then stopping. Just short of 3 hours we finally made it to the summit! HOORAY! And wah a spectacular view - fog and more go. You couldn't even see 2 feet in front of you! By now I was cold and sore so we went into the shelter for what was the best cup of hot chocolate I've ever had! What an achievment! Now we were faced with a tough decision - to walk 3 hours back down or catch the trin. After much umming and ahhing we decided on the train for 2 reasons; #1 we were stuffed and #2 the buses back to our hostel stopped around 4:30pm and I did't want to miss it. We slept very well that night and woke up surprisingly good the next day with no sore muscles!

The rest of our time here was spent doing other small walks around th etown. There are so many beautiful woodlands in this area it was amazing walking through them and their Gorges were lovely as well. The weather actaully held out for us and we only had one day of rain and even that wasn't so bad as it stopped and stared. Even got a couple of walks in!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quick Update

Hi All! We're doing well, we have been to Wales and are now in Scotland. We have been having trouble getting on the net to update but hopefully soon I can write a bit more. We are off to Greece on Monday which we are very excited about as there will be sun!! Love to you all