Sunday, July 1, 2012

Greece 2012: Part 3 - On the Beach in Tolo

Part 3 of 5 on our trip to Greece...

Day 7 - June 2

On Day 7, we ventured out of Athens. We went to Tolo, which is a touristy, beach town. We woke up relatively early and had breakfast from the bakery again.  Then we took the metro to the other side of Athens, where we got a taxi to the bus station.  A bus took us to Naflio, and from there we tool a taxi to our hotel in Tolo, which is just 15 minutes from Naflio.

Trip from Athens to Tolo - Click to Enlarge (Blue and Red circles explained in Day 8)

The hotel owner is a family friend, so we chatted with him for a few minutes and then headed up to our room.  I should say "Our Room with a View".  I just stood on the balcony and stared out for quite some time... it was beautiful.

From our balcony

Looking down from the balcony, we literally could have dropped things in the water.

Looking to the right from our balcony

The beach was off to the left from our balcony

I stepped back to get the balcony in the picture... just to prove I wasn't lying... these really are from our balcony

Standing in the same spot as the photo above, I turned around and took a picture into the room... See my happy relaxing husband? :)

After John broke my trance, we went down and walked along the beach and scoped out the restaurants of the town.  We discovered that there were 3 different ice cream shops, so we got some ice cream.  (By the end of our stay in Tolo, we tried all 3)  We also talked to the hotel desk about day cruises.  The only day of our stay that there was a cruise was Sunday (the very next day), so we booked a cruise to Hydra and Spetses.

We found a restaurant where the Greek National Basketball League championship final game was playing and watched that through dinner.  Then, we tucked in early that night because we had an early call in the morning for the cruise.

Day 8 - June 3

Day 8 was one of our earliest mornings.  We woke early for cruise and were downstairs for breakfast at the hotel by 7am, so we could eat and get a ride to the port for our cruise that departed at 8:30.

Leaving Tolo... it's hard to point out, but one of the buildings you can see is our hotel.

John being John :)

Spetses - We passed it on the way to Hydra and came back later.
Our first stop at Hydra came after 3 hours on the boat. (On the map earlier in this post Hydra is circled in Blue) Hydra, for those of you new to Greek, is pronounced: EE-dra, not: Hi-dra.  Hydra is famous for its naval contributions through Greek history and for the fact that they do not allow cars.  People get around on donkeys if they can't get by on foot, with an exception for garbage trucks... there are a few of those on the island and we did see one while we were there.

On Hydra, we walked around the bay at the port, which was very pretty.  We found a spot for some lunch and just enjoyed the island atmosphere.
Coming up to Hydra from the boat

Our Boat - It had to leave the port because there wasn't space for all the day cruise ships that come and go to be there at once.  It went around the corner and came back when it was time for us to go.

John sees what the statue sees.


Now we're on the other side of the bay - you can see the statue we were taking pictures with over there.

More donkeys

The monastery on the island.

After 2.5 hours on the island, we got back on the boat to go to Spetses (Circled in Red in the map pictured earlier).  The boat had gone past Spetses to get to Hydra, so this was a much shorter ride.  Spetses is famous for Bouboulina, who was a female Greek Naval Admiral.  (Well, it was actually the Russians who gave her the title of Admiral posthumously, but she was still the highest ranking woman in Greek naval history)

We first went to the Bouboulina museum, but we discovered that a tour had just started and another would be starting in 45 minutes that should still give us time to get back to the boat.  We wandered around the port area a little before returning to the museum.

Coming up to Spetses on the boat.  That big building is a hotel.

A statue of Bouboulina

At the museum, we found a very large crowd.  Apparently, it was a Greek National holiday (not sure what), and a lot of Greek people were using their holiday to visit the museum.  Thus, there weren't tour guides left to do an English tour.  Luckily the ticket seller spoke excellent English and offered to give us an unofficial tour.  Thanks Linda!

Bouboulina's house

Her scarf - It has silver threading

A model of her ship

A painting of Bouboulina that looks eerily like Washington Crossing the Delaware (small picture to the left)... but this one's earlier...

After our museum tour, we went straight back to the boat and we were back to Tolo around 7 pm.  We found a grill that served gyros (what you would traditionally see as the Greek pita sandwhich) and souvlaki (skewered grilled meat) for dinner, and we had ice cream for desert from a shop down the street.  Day 8 was a fun adventure, but we were both ready to hit the sack by the end.

Day 9 - June 4

We slept a little later on day 9, but we were still up in time for breakfast, which was a good thing because they were serving my favorite type of Greek pastry: Bougatsa! - Most people in the US know about Baklava, but if someone ever offers you a different Greek pastry called Bougatsa, take it!  There appear to be several different variations out there because we saw some earlier in the trip that didn't really look like what I know as Bougatsa.  (It should look like a flaky pastry)  The Bougatsa at breakfast was great and I probably had more than I should. :)

After breakfast we went out on the beach to swim.  It was a little cold, but we did swim for about half an hour.  Then we laid out on the beach for a bit before returning to the hotel to clean up for a mid-afternoon lunch.

At lunch we ate a ton at a restaurant on the beach... we were both stuffed afterwards, but it was good.  (PS I eat salad in Greece... a lot!  I like their salad because there's no lettuce, just: cucumber, tomato, olive oil, vinegar, oregano, and feta. - Delicious!)

After lunch, we decided to use the room as our beach, since it was right on the water, with more shade and less sand.  Given our large lunch and all the pastries I ate for breakfast, we had a very small dinner. - We split 1 gyro and a small ice cream (If you're keeping count, that's the last of the 3 available ice cream shops).

Day 9 was a nice relaxing day with no pictures because I'd already taken pictures of the view and I wasn't going to take our nice camera to the beach just to get basically the same view. 

Day 10 - June 5

On the 10th day, we were up in time for breakfast at the hotel again.  That morning, we rented some chairs with an umbrella at the beach, so we could sit out for a while and read.  We left for lunch to eat at another beach restaurant, and while we were at lunch it got very windy.  We went back to our chairs after lunch, but sand was blowing in our faces.  After a little while of being pelted with sand and deciding that it wasn't going to let up, we returned to our hotel room beach again for the last few hours before dinner.

Night-time view from our hotel room beach.

For dinner we had Pizza and a dessert crepe; both were very good. There are lots of Pizza and Crepe places in Greece, so even though it's not traditional Greek food, it seemed appropriate for our trip.  Plus, we'd had plenty traditional food by day 10.

I think day 10 is my shortest day description... all we really did was relax on the beach and read books, which was a lot of fun, but unless I were to retell the story of the book I read, there isn't much to say.  :)

Day 11 - June 6

We returned to Athens on the 11th day, but before we did, we had one last breakfast at the hotel - They had Bougatsa again!  The trip back to Athens was not as exciting as breakfast though. 

We decided to take the more economical bus back to Naflio, but the bus passed us up at the first stop.  Luckily some friendly Canadians were waiting for the bus too (so, yes there were 5 of us there with luggage and the bus drove right by), and they knew that the bus had another stop down about 3 blocks that the bus wouldn't get to for 15 minutes because it went to loop by the port first.  Then once we got to Naflio, we had a short wait before we could catch the bus to Athens, and about 30 minutes into our ride to Athens, everyone had to get off the bus and wait 5 minutes for a new bus to come because there was some mechanical issue.  The bus ride back was not as fun as the trip there because the woman in front of us had some BO issues that made John nauseous and made my eyes burn to the point of not being about to see out of my contacts. We finally got to the metro stop and took the metro back to Holargos and John's parent's apartment. 

John's parents were home when we got there and had made lunch, which was much appreciated given our difficult trip back!  We relaxed at the apartment for a bit and shared trip stories (John's parents had been to Germany while we spent a couple days in Athens and 4 days in Tolo).  We had dinner at the Taverna around the corner, and then called it a night.

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