Monday, June 11, 2018

Port Douglas

Port Douglas feels miles away from anywhere, yet is a busy little tourist town, about 45 minutes north of Cairns.

The Main Street:
Farming here is mainly sugar cane, on the flat areas in front of a large mountain range called the great dividing range, with some really tall mountains here and there.

This is the hotel. No views of the water, but the whole complex of about 4 buildings is arranged around a waterway with tall trees and a walkway down it, leading to a swimming pool.

This is a typical suburban street in Port Douglas, most houses are holiday rentals or for sale.

This is the beach, accessible from the hotel, about 200m away. Looks nice for swimming, but you cannot go in as a crocodile might eat you! Four ks up the beach you are allowed to in a patrolled area.

Day One we hired bikes and rode into town to see the Sunday Market.
Nice, with good quality things for sale.
Good here for biking, flat with little traffic.

This is a wharf just by the downtown area:

Day Two was a drive from Port Douglas up to cape tribulation.
Lots of rainforest blocking spectacular views. Nice to stop at an ice cream factory, and fish and chips by the beach. Windy roads, with an opportunity to see crocodiles which we passed on. Not that up to date as you need a ferry to get across the Daintree river. Makes a journey of interest though.

Our hotel, while being quite near the beach, does not have a view of it. Neither do any of the houses next to the beach have a view of it either, so it must be policy.
When you do end up on the beach all you see is palm trees, so it has a plus side.

On the negative side, you are warned not to swim in the lovely water because a crocodile might get you. Even standing close to the water is not recommended.

Another day off, just going into town about four kms away, doing usual touristy things.

This next pic is one from the lookout on the hill at the end of the big beach, just up from the town:

Day Four and a drive inland was planned. Inland scenery was different, with termite mounds.  Stopped at a coffee plantation, saw coffee being roasted, and a video on how they grow and pick it. Lunch in a little country town then off towards Kuramba then on towards Cairns.  Nice but not spectacular.

Another day off.

Day 6 or so! Got to go on a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. Actually an island. About half an hour, transferred to the beach and off snorkeling.  The day was overcast and it rained some, but the things underwater were wet anyway. Saw a turtle, a giant clam, corals and lots of brightly coloured fish.

Some of us went in a glass bottomed boat and saw clams, coral.
Walked around the island, very small which had an old (140 years) lighthouse on it.
After we got out the gannets came in and were impressive dive bombers.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Athens Wednesday 6th September 2017

Leaving day. Ugh. No fun for us then.
After a late wake up and a leisurely breakfast, we walked the 200 m to the Acropolis Museum. What a deal: 5 euros to get in! Architecturally a wonderful building.

They do not like you using a camera inside, so if you are interested in what it looks like, this is the link to the official site:
The stuff inside, well one Minotaur starts to look like another. How it is presented is superb.  We enjoyed the audiovisual stuff and the odd small recreation of the pediment sculptures.

A nice cup of coffee in the cafeteria, which would have been worth five euros cover charge by itself.

One of the best parts was the top floor, which showed most of the frieze in position.
It was like having a view from a scaffold, high up.

Cannot believe the amount of work that was put into the carvings and friezes.  Very beautiful.  Takes a few days to start getting into the way of things here. A huge amount of work put into the museums to bring back some idea of the history of Greece.

Going to the airport, we were originally going on the metro, for the sum of eighteen euros.  The taxi was a fixed price of 38 euros, so for twenty euros extra we got a taxi.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Athens, Tuesday 5 September

We tried unsuccessfully to keep this low key and relaxed as we were getting a bit frazzled with the heat.

Two tasks: One, check out the National Archeological Museum. Two, take the tram to the beach for a swim.

Sometimes, it just pays to ask your hotel receptionist how to get somewhere.  By the time Bill had misread the subway map, which admittedly was a bit non specific, and you pop up out of the underground expecting the Museum to be at least close, only to find it is a 1k walk away....

National Archeological Museum

Quite an impressive museum, if you like pots.  Rose started at one end and was minutely examining every thing she could find, which was LOTS. Of pots. Busts of this and that, and so on. One of us took time to point out if we check everything, we might be here for weeks.

One amazing item was a mechanical zodiac indicator with actual bronze gears. A CAD animated exploded view, coupled with  an actual reconstruction to show what a feat this was.

Tram trip to the beach

Neat tram, good trip. The beach was nice, but the water not really clear enough for snorkelling.
Trip back not so nice as we had to stand most of the way.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Athens, Monday 4 September 2017

If you are ever in Piraeus, the port of Athens, do not, repeat NOT get on the x80 port bus. Just a big bunfight trying to get your bags on, then even more people get on the next stop squashing everyone in a hot bus for half an hour. Getting out at the Acropolis was another frantic rush to get out around too many people.

Guess we have had it good so far, so why expect perfection?

Cruising is great in theory, but it can feel like you are on a merry go round, each day a new port and you do not know what it will be like.

Probably good for finding a nice island, for instance Rhodes we liked very much.
A more relaxed holiday might be, go to Rhodes, find some hotel in a remote village and stay for 7 days.  Needless to say, it would have to have really clear water for snorkelling.

Sunday we did the Roman Agora, which you can see most of from the outside. So why did we buy tickets for 6 Euros? Dunno.

Nothing truly astounding.

Here it is, with the temple of the winds:

Forging ahead to the Ancient Agora, made it to the ticket box, but Rose pulled the plug, which made Bill quite happy, as he was near empty.
Sat in a cafe, Rose had coke, Bill had an Ouzo.

Monday, set off again for the Ancient Agora, tried to buy two iced teas, then realised I had left my wallet behind.  The waiter said no worries, and gave it to us anyway.

So a 1k walk back to the hotel and then returned to buy our tickets.  Rose thought it was nicer than the Acropolis, but I thought it appeared to be the foundations of what was once there, just like the forum in Rome. Having said that, we did find both of the buildings, one of them reconstructed, to be as impressive as the Acropolis.

Pics of the Ancient Agora:


Back to our usual cafe, where we balanced the budget with the waiter.

The area seems to have lots of homeless cats, and we noticed a young woman busy feeding them.  She has treated lots of them for blindness.  We tried to give her 5 euro but she flagged it away. 

Here she is with the cats:

Now zoned out under air conditioning. 

So what do we feel about the Greek people? Four days is not enough to give a really informed opinion, but the ones we have come into contact with seem to be friendly, competent and helpful.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thursday 31 August 2017

Oops! It appears 5 days have vanished! We left Athens and back up to Kotor, so not much new there, wandered round town looking for a shop that was selling a particular bag as a present. Just as we were about to give up there it was.

This is the view from the lighter used to transport us to the shore - the ship is in the background:

This is part of the wall around Kotor:

Again we tried to get to Mykonos, but again, too windy. So days at sea spent reading and relaxing.
A few gym sessions, in which motivation was noticeable by it's absence.
Food is a problem.  Just too many choices and all yummy. Evening meal is a 5 course feast.  Some of us are buckling at the knees for some reason.
I actually missed out the shrimp cocktail!  Talking now with Mike and Chris at the cafe sokrates.


We found this to be the nicest of all the stops.  A short walk off the boat and into the old town which had quite a lot of character.

The old castle was due a look, which had been turned into a museum.
Reasonably interesting to look around, but you have to bear in mind most of what you see is mostly recent renovations, but nicely done.

Stopped in at a very nice garden cafe for a drink.  Cafe Socrates if you are ever there. Here it is:


Not as nice as Rhodes - just more shops as usual:

Monday, August 28, 2017

Athens day 2

Caught the bus into town and did the Acropolis/Parthenon. 
A lot of repairs are being done to the Acropolis, new stairs in the theatre and they look fabulous.
Parthenon felt smaller than expected.  Quite a trek up in the heat. If not hot, would have been a lot easier.  Crowds made it more wearing. Went through Hadrian's Gate.

Three lines to describe a whole day? Quite a lot of it spent sitting in a bus!
Some time eating nice cherry ice cream. Some spent in the street near our Athens hotel to be, sitting at a cafe slurping back a beer. Some time spent walking in a park heading for Syntagma Square. Athens is a large city and we have only looked at a very small part.

Some wonderfully presented sandwich and ice cream shops.

Friday, August 25, 2017


Missed out Mykonos due to high winds, so an extra day to be had in Athens.
Easy enough to catch a bus into town from Piraeus. We decided to check out our hotel which we will stay in next week when we finish the cruise. Finding it was easy, it is in a very nice area called Plaka.

Which looks like this:

After a beer, back to Syntagma Square to look at the guards. 

All this needed walking up and down hot streets. The impression is of a bigger than expected city, with only minimal indications of an economic disaster having happened.
We had dinner in Sabatinis, which is a pay more,  for more, restaurant on the ship, due to a voucher supplied by Cruise About. Thanks Nigel!
Truly a memorable dinner, started off with breads and olives with olive oil and balsamic dip. Next came shrimp cocktail, then spaghetti scallops and other shell fish in a tomato sauce.
For main course, lobster tail with risotto. For desert, coffee creme brûlée.

We are just starting to get a map in our heads of the ship. Our excuse is that the pointy end looks just like the blunt end from the inside.  Just noticed tiny signs on the wall indicating sharp end.