Summer 2011: Morocco, Portugal, Spain, and more
Fri 11/05/12 12:12
Back in Dubai
And to my surprise I've started to jog a littleIt’s been almost a week since I’ve gotten back to Dubai and as expected it was easy to get back into the “normal” routine of things. In some ways it doesn’t even seem like I’d left, certainly not for the two months that I was away. Thinking back this summer was the longest vacation that I’d taken. The other ones were closer to a month and a half, this one almost two months.
Worried about doing nothing, and even worse, getting comfortable doing nothing, I decided to start walking again… not that I ever stopped, but I wanted to ensure that I kept moving after the vacation. So my first walk was for about two hours and by the time I got back I was embarrassingly drenched in sweat. It was so bad, that my shirt looked like I’d been swimming with it on and my shorts looked like I had a bladder control problem. I decided to stay closer to home and would stay on the school’s track instead of on the streets. Why am I telling you all this? The simple reason is that it led up to me actually starting to run instead of walk. Admittedly I ran slowly, but I am running much to my own surprise. Over a kilometer at once which isn’t bad for a middle-aged, overweight smoker in ninety-degree heat, who hadn’t really ran for about thirty years. Oh, I ran a little bit here and there, usually just to see if I could run at all, then for a few years, about fifteen years ago, I ran on a treadmill.
The trip was good, I saw some things that I didn’t plan on seeing, and to my surprise I think that is what made this summer’s trip the best. The Leaning Tower of Pisa and Pompeii are the two that come to mind right now, but hanging out in the smaller cities of Greece was also a highlight. Now that I’m back I’ve got to start planning my next vacation. A little known fact to many of my friends is that the school pays for a roundtrip ticket to the US every year, this year I didn’t use it in the summer like I usually do, so I may use it to go to Australia for Christmas, or maybe even Argentina.
That’s all I got except to thank my Brother for reading the blog religiously while I traveled. As far as I know he was the only one, and it felt good to know that someone was out there so to speak. If you did read but didn’t let me know, thanks too.
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Fri 26/08/11 12:43
Just a little bit from being home
mixed feelingsIt’s about 12:20 and I’m sitting in the lobby of the hotel that I’ve been staying at in Athens. My plane leaves at 5pm and I’ve already gone down to the tourist area to get a t-shirt. Now what do I do. I could go to the airport and wait for until 3 to be two hours early for my flight. I could hang here for another hour or so, and then leave. I could go for another walk, but no… don’t want to do that. So the question remains, what do I do? I’ll probably hang here for a little bit, then go. It will probably put me at the airport at about 2 or so, but at least I won’t be stuck in one place the whole time.
Well, I got to the airport at about 3, maybe a little bit earlier, but now I’m sitting at my gate at 3:30 waiting for my flight that leaves at 5:30. I guess I remembered the time wrong, so now I’ve got two hours of sitting. No worries though, I’ve got 85% battery charge so I should be able to do something that will make time go by a little bit faster than just sitting and staring at the floor.
So now it’s 8:31pm and I’m sitting in the Cairo airport. Hmmm… except for a few staff I’m the only person here. My flight leaves from a terminal that appears to be empty, and my gate is at the far end of the terminal. It feels like it’s deserted. I kind of like it though. I would definitely like it more if I only had an hour to wait instead of, hold on there seems to be a problem with the time. According to my computer it’s 841, but according to the airport it’s 741. Must be 7:41 that means I’ve got about 2 hours. Next stop Dubai.
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Fri 26/08/11 01:30
The last day of my vacation
that's the way I look at itI’m sitting on the train in Thessaloniki waiting for it to leave the station, I think there’s about five minutes before I start the six hour trip to Athens. It’s been a long time coming that my vacation is coming to an end and to be honest I’m mixed on whether I’m glad or not. There is one side of me that wants to get back to normal life, you know, sleeping in my own bed kind of stuff, but there is also a side of me that doesn’t want this to end. The last week, or maybe two weeks have been a lot of fun and if it could keep going I think that I would be very happy.
The trip to Athens started this morning about 5 hours ago. I got up at 7, took a shower then took the scooter back. I should have returned it yesterday, but I had had a few beers and I don’t think the owner of the shop would have appreciated me showing up with beer-breath. ☺ So this morning I’m driving around the town looking for the shop but can’t find it. Remember the scooter is loud and it’s relatively early. I felt like a complete jerk. I did return it, and walked back to the hotel, grabbed my backpacks and headed out the door. I didn’t know when the bus would show up and I didn’t know where to catch the bus, but for some reason it didn’t bother me. I must be getting a little bit more relaxed or maybe more confident about traveling. I asked a guy in a café where the bus stop was he pointed out a small wooden building about 20 meters away, just across the street. Taped to one of the walls was a bus scheduled, it On said that the bus would be there at 8, it was now 8:15. Damn. The next bus would stop at 12:45. So I’m sitting there trying to figure out what I am going to do, when guess what? The bus pulls up. Sweet.
The bus dropped me off at Thessaloniki at about 10, I grabbed a city bus to the other bus station across town. As we went through the city I saw the train station off the main road so I decided to check to see if there were any trains to Athens that fit my schedule. The next train was at 12, about 45 minutes from the time that I got there. Another sweet.:)
So now I’m on the train to Athens. It left the station not more than five minutes ago and it’s supposed to arrive at 1715.
I got to Athens at about 5:30 and it took me a total of about 15 minutes to get to my hotel… actually it probably took me closer to 30, but it seemed like 15. Other than getting something to eat I didn’t do anything. At one point I started to take a shower with the expectation of going souvenir shopping, but decided that I could do it tomorrow. I have to be at the airport at 3, so I’ll have most of the day to look for some souvenirs.
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Wed 24/08/11 05:22
Just Scootin' Around.
Fun, fun, fun.Ah, the good life. I headed out this morning about 930. I started late mainly because I couldn’t fall asleep last night. At about 2, I started to get worried that I wouldn’t fall asleep at all, eventually though I did. This morning I didn’t have any specific place that I wanted to see, and nothing that I could say that I wanted to do, besides go for a ride on the scooter. So I hopped on and I was on my way. I pretty much just followed roads at first, I did kind of have and idea that I wanted to go to other towns to see what they were like, but I was a little worried about driving the scooter on a highway. The best thing for me since I haven’t ridden motorcycle in about 13 years was to take it slowly so I stayed around this city. I did find a road that went up into the hills that surround Neos Marmabas and followed it. It was a blast, relatively no cars and a serpentine road that went on for about 25km, in fact after the paved road ended a dirt road kept going high into the mountains. Great fun. The road took me through some small villages, cafes and few other interesting things, but the views are what made the trip memorable… well, the fun of the scooter helped too. ☺
After about 20 minutes of just being on a dirt road I decided to turn back, mainly because I don’t know how reliable the scooter was and I didn’t want it to break down and have to push it the full way back to the city. Once I got back to the city, I was a little bit braver and decided to try the highway to the next city. For about 5 km I cruised along with the motor screaming away at about 50 on straightaways and 60 kph going downhill, cars constantly passing me, and then reality kicked in… maybe I should say the vision of me losing control and flying through the air kicked in and I turned into what looked like a beach. I’ve talked about the water of the Med… Aegean before, there is no other word for it, but stunning. It’s got a blue-green tint, clear and to make it even better it’s the perfect temperature. So I went for a wade in the water, I wanted to swim but there were a lot of sea urchins in the water, so wading was the best plan. A little bit disappointed I headed toward the city again until I found another swimming spot. This one was off rocks, and to be honest I think I like swimming off rocks better than a traditional beach. I’m not sure why, but I think it may have to be that the water gets deeper quicker, and maybe because you don’t get the typical waves that you do on a sandy beach.
About the only thing that would have made the morning better was if I was with someone. Usually I like traveling alone, but today was one of those days that having a buddy here would have been great.
I ended the morning back in the hotel drinking a beer. It’s definitely a good life.
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Tue 23/08/11 14:33
Couldn't have picked a better placeThessaloniki was kind of a bust mainly because I was tired of big cities. In another time who knows, maybe I would have found it fun or interesting. It had some good points, but all the things that I don’t like about big cities were too much for me. So I’m glad to be out.
I’m in Neos Marmabas right now sitting on the balcony of my room as I write. The hotel is on a quiet side street not more than 150 meters from the one main road. It’s sunny and warm, just about the perfect temperature, and I’m feeling pretty good in the shade of the balcony. The first thing after I got here was to find my hotel, the city is pretty small so I found it relatively quickly. The next thing was to rent a scooter. For some reason I just feel like I have to do it. So now I’m a proud rider of a rented scooter. With the power of about 30ccs between my legs, I headed back to hotel to change and then on to the beach. Since the whole city is on the beach I followed the main street until I found a big enough beach. Yeah, I got to admit it was pretty nice. I hung out there swimming and laying in the sun for about two hours, though to be honest I don’t know how long I was actually there. I know that I was there long enough to get sunburned though. When I first took off my shirt on the beach I looked like the typical farmer. I had dark face and dark arms, but super white stomach and back. It actually took some courage to take off the shirt, but I figured that I’d never see the people on the beach again, so what the heck. By the time I got back to the hotel, I had dark arms and face, and lobster red stomach and back. :) The water was great, the sun even better… It was what I needed.
After driving around the city a little I headed back to the hotel. Having the scooter is so much fun. The muffler is really loud so as I’m going up hills I’m sure there are people in their houses that can’t hear their tv as I pass by. ☺
Tonight I headed out sporting a red glow, but feeling pretty good. I almost had that, “let’s party” feeling, so I kind of dressed up and headed for the main part of the city. The city is pretty small, it’s not tiny, but it’s small enough that if you set your mind to it you could probably walk all the streets in about an hour. There are two main streets, one that goes through the middle of the city, and one that heads out of the city. The street that goes through the city is where the tourists are, and that is where the fun is. I don’t know, sometimes it’s just fun to be a tourist, you walk around with no purpose, maybe stop to look in shops, maybe stop to have a beer, take a picture or two, it’s just fun. That’s what I did tonight and I had a great time.
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