Thursday, April 30, 2015

Santorini 1

Well, this certainly was a good choice for our last stop. What a beautiful place.
Last week on Crete I got looking at the place we booked in Santorini and something about it did not sit right with me. So I cancelled our reservation and booked this place which is so nice. It is bright and clean, has friendly staff, a pool, is a five-minute walk to the beach, and breakfast is included. It is the only place we have stayed that is not an apartment.
We are in a little town on the opposite coast from the port, but the island is only five miles wide. Yesterday we had thought we would go into Fira and walk on the trail that goes from Fira to Oia. But we got up late and decided to just go into Fira and look around then take the bus to Oia. But we were sitting in a restaurant having lunch when we saw a group of what turned out to be German hikers with backpacks and hiking poles clumping by. We found ourselves following them and ended up walking the whole trail. It is nine km and not very hard, just a few climbs. So glad we did it. The views were stunning and it was quiet with not too many other hikers other than the Germans. We kept stopping to let them get by (there seemed to be about 15 or so of them), then they would stop to take pictures and we would catch up. We finally took a long rest to be sure they got way ahead of us.
I can't describe how beautiful that walk was, with the views over the sea to other islands and the white buildings spilling over the cliffs. It was warm yesterday but there was a wind all day so it was just right for a walk.
The sunset in Oia is world famous, apparently. We did not stay to watch as we were a bit concerned about getting the bus back but people were gathering already at 6:00 or so, huge crowds coming in on gigantic tour buses. It is all tourism here. This is a good time of year as it is warm but not too crowded. Like Crete, many places are not open yet. There is a lot of painting going on.
We are just going to hang around today and maybe take a boat ride to the volcano tomorrow.
Top photo is on hike, bottom is our hotel.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Crete 1

Greetings from Hersonissos.
We are quite liking our time here. We arrived with no problems again, again had a driver with a sign waiting for us. Our apartment is really just a studio, all one room, quite basic, but very clean and on a quiet street just off the Main Street.

We have been taking it quite easy. Geoff is better at that than I am. I am always feeling that our "job" is to see as much as possible. Crete seems to be very much a tourist island, so the focus is on getting us to spend money. The season has not really started so quite a few stores and restaurants are not open yet. Apparently this is a party destination in the summer but right now we have mostly seen Europeans our age around. I now realize that I would never want to live in a senior-only community. Fortunately there are a lot of young Greeks around to mitigate the situation.

The weather is actually a bit cool, has been  around 18-20 degrees, but is supposed to warm up a little tomorrow. We walked to a nice beach yesterday and spent a few hours there but today was cooler with a cool breeze. I booked tickets on the ferry (a catamaran!) for when we go to Santorini on Monday so we took the bus to Heraklion to pick up the tickets. Remember the bus we took to Corfu, Jude? That is what I was expecting, one step up from a school bus, maybe with some chickens in crates on top. But no. The island buses are like big tour buses with comfy padded seats and storage underneath for your luggage if you have any. It turns out that the bus station in Heraklion is about a five-minute walk from the port so we should be able to take the bus on Monday and save ourselves about 30 euros.

We spent a few hours walking around Heraklion. The old port there was Venetian so it is very picturesque. Had lunch in a nice market.

Geoff thinks he could handle driving here so we may rent a car one day and explore the island. I think a guy who drove to Tobermory in a minivan on the wrong side of the road should have no problem.

I was so looking forward to having a meal like Jude and I did back in the day in Greece. I remember the delicious roast chicken and potatoes we used to have. But so far most of the food is what I think the restaurants think tourists want - fish and chips, schnitzel, chicken fingers. Even the Greek salad does not taste as good as I remember. Maybe it tasted so good because we were so hungry back then.

I took the bottom photo from the bus today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Happy Birthday Jim

Jim Christmas 1975 Prince George

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sad day

We got Nick euthanized today. He had lost more weight-skin and bones- and just wasn't doing well, so I called on Sat and made an appt for today, so that Richard and I could go together. They were very good at the vet's, but I cried even when I made the phone call, so it was just hard.
He had a good life though and made it a long time, 15 years. We will miss him. He was a good, smart, and engaging cat.
On Friday when we went out for supper, we went for a walk at Waterfront Park, and saw a woman walking behind a dog, little white, fluffy maltese type. She had found it and asked if we could help, as she couldn't catch it. We ended taking it home that night, as the dog tags were for New Mexico and Vernon?! Lesson: if you move, update dog tags so if your dog runs away there is some way to contact you.
Anyway, dog couldn't sleep that night unless someone was laying beside him, so, I slept in bathroom beside him, not very comfortably. He was a very nice dog, but clearly not used to our house.
Called the SPCA and pound, and pound guy said, 'Oh, Arthur, he wandered a long way from home'
So they came and picked him up and Arthur was reunited with his family. Who should give us a bottle of wine for a) ensuring he was safe for the night b) giving up a night's sleep for a).
An emotional animal weekend, to be sure.
Weather has been beautiful here, sunny and warm. Lilacs look they will start blooming soon. I beg someone to disagree with the idea of global warming.
New job is still going well, I am enjoying it.
OK, going to go have a bath and probably weep in the tub a little bit again for Nick.

Rome 2

At Athens airport waiting for our flight to Crete. We are so ready for some relaxation time, we have had enough of crowded cities where we do not have a clue. We figure out what we need but being always alert is tiring.
Rome is another place we will have to return to. I suppose if we did more research before we travelled we would see more, but I am not motivated until we get there. It was good that we booked a tour at the Vatican Saturday - the crowds there are unbelievable. I mean, crammed in and pushing your way through like on the Metro. And that was with a guide. Although we had to wait a bit, we got to things much faster than if we had just gone ourselves. Plus the guide was very good. The Sistine Chapel was the highlight. When Jude and I were there it was much darker but the paintings have been cleaned since then, plus our guide said there is new lighting. St. Peter's looks much the same except Pope John Paul is buried there. Apparently he's a saint now.
Yesterday we went to the Roman Forum which is what I liked best of all we have seen in Rome. Even though it is right by the Colliseum it is quiet down there and much less crowded. To think that we were looking at things built by Romans 2000 years ago is amazing to me. Everywhere we have gone there are Roman remnants.
Went to the Trevi fountain before the Forum but it is being serviced so no water there. It was a nice walk through old streets to the Forum, though.
After all that we stopped for a beer then just ate there so we could go back and pack. Which we did not do, needless to say.
The metro in Rome is very crowded. They have only two lines. Yesterday Geoff had to wait for me at our stop because I could not get off and had to go to the next stop and go back. So I was a bit concerned about going to Termini Station to catch a train to the airport this morning. But our landlord told us about a train station within walking distance of our place so we walked over there yesterday and got tickets, which made me feel relieved. Of course we got on the wrong train this morning and thanks to some nice people who told us we were not headed to the airport we saved some frustration.
I did really like Rome and Roman people. They also seem reserved (maybe it's from living in a city), but many people have helped us out. Lots speak English.
We ran into some Roman soldiers.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

News from Gp

For once we have some news here. Feels like not much happens here normally.
We have started some rennovations.  I will finally get new flooring and Wilf has been busy taken up carpets and taking out walls. The trade off for new floors is he is going to change some of the walls.  We will also paint while we are at it.  When I say "we" I mean mainly him, but I am contributing in my way. Wilf is taking the month off and says he is enjoying the work, (the part where I don't help I am sure).
I have started some new projects, a lady I know asked me to make 5 sweaters for her family so I have started them, it is going well.
Our Amaryllis is almost in bloom, I can hardly wait to see it.
Read more »

Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Lisa

Baba's backyard 1982


We got here just fine yesterday with no problems. Don't know why I get so anxious when we move on. We took public transit to the airport but had arranged to get picked up in Rome. I do like having someone with my name on a card waiting for me. Geoff was just shaking his head at our drive in. Nobody signals and most drivers appear to be talking on the phone or texting. However our very calm driver got us here safely.
Our apartment last night was unbelievable - two bedrooms, two bathrooms, hardwood floors, marble bathrooms and just huge. However we were only there because our assigned suite was double booked. So we had to move today to another nice but much smaller place.
Our plan today was to go to the Coliseum and see stuff over there but we finally found our metro stop only to find that line was on strike today. Came back to the apartment to regroup and decided just to walk there. It turned out to take only about half an hour. The Coliseum is amazing of course. Those Romans were incredible. It was a lot more crowded than I remember from when Jude and I were here back in the day.
By the time we were done the metro strike was over so we took the subway back, stopped and got a pizza to take back for supper.
I booked a tour for the Vatican tomorrow. It just seems that there is so much there that it would be overwhelming. Here's hoping the subway is running.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Paris 2

It's probably not news to anyone that Paris is a great city. We have enjoyed our time here. We went on a hop on-hop off bus tour on Monday, a great way to get our bearings. There is so much to see, the few days we had were not near enough. We really did not have time to go into any museums or buildings except the Louvre and Notre Dame. Since we are not staying down by all the action, we have had to spend some time figuring out how to get around on the bus, etc. I guess this is where seeing Paris on a tour would save you lots of time. But then you would not see now people live and what the neighbourhoods are like.
It would be so wonderful to live here. There is a shopping street not far from our place that has a butcher shop, fish market, bakeries, fruit and vegetable stalls, cheese shop, etc. so every day you could go out and buy the freshest food for your meals.
We heard that French people are rude but have not found that to be true. They are reserved, like people in Reyjkavik, and probably the way people at home would be if we were inundated by tourists all the time. People in stores (there do not seem to be a lot of tourists in our neighbourhood) are helpful and put up with our fumbling French quite graciously. A couple of old ladies have talked to me on the bus.
We feel quite proud of figuring out the buses we need. We wanted to use the Metro but buses are more convenient where we are. Reading a map is a different story. There are so many little streets that change names in the middle and just seem to peter off that we have been lost many times. It has taken two of us to find our way a lot of the time. Geoff goes by the map and I go by landmarks so between us we eventually get to where we need to be.
I am surprised by how many Fench tourists there are. And kids all over the place. Makes me miss the boys, we have been very happy when Jude Facetimes us with them. They give us kisses on the iPad. Kane seemed quite interested last night when I gave them a tour of the apartment.
Top photo is Geoff's thumb and me in the Montmartre cemetery not far from here. Bottom is our elevator, it has an iron cage door and just fits two people and luggage.
To Rome tomorrow.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

London 2

This is out of order but just want to remind myself of our last day in London.
We went over to the Canary Wharf area to see the London Docklands Museum which is in an old building on what was once West India Quay. Anyone who watched Call the Midwife, we passed by Poplar on the way. The museum was good, not as crowded as others. It seems we always come here on spring break so we have been running into lots of chattering school groups, but none today.

At Canary Wharf you don't feel as if you're in London at all. It is all high rise office buildings, talk about gentrification. There are a few restaurants to and shops in old warehouses.  I remember in the late 80s all the talk about developing the docklands because it was a Canadian family, the Reichmanns, who were doing it. The tallest building there is One Canada Place.

The weather was beautiful so we had a late lunch outside, then back to pack which didn't end up happening until Saturday morning. Why do we never want to pack?

We took the Eurostar from London to Paris. I love train travel. Wish it was not so expensive.

Paris 1

We got ourselves to Paris just fine. This is the view from our little apartment in Montmartre. Right now Geoff is sitting on the little balcony reading with his coffee in the sun. You can hear kids playing outside and occasionally church bells.
We are planning a day off, maybe just go for a walk in the neighbourhood. Neither of us feels that we must see sights in Paris the way we had lots we wanted to do in London and Reyjkavik, so we can take our time. It sure is beautiful here. It was raining yesterday in London and here but today is beautiful.
We didn't realize until this morning that the time changed!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

London 1

We took the number 11 bus today which goes from Liverpool St. Station to Victoria Station, passing most of the sights that the guided bus tours do for a lot less money. Of course there is no commentary but we recognized most of them. We were on top at the front so had a good view of everything. There are areas that are very different from each other in a small area, you get a good view of this on the bus.

We took a walking tour of the East End this morning. There was only one other person on the tour so we got all the guide's attention. It was actually called "Undiscovered London" and although there was some history obviously what the guide was really interested in was street art so we saw a lot of that, which we enjoyed. Afterwards we spent a couple of hours in the Spitslfields Market. There were a few stalls that looked as if they had been stocked from Daphne's basement.  I do like the east end, it's more ordinary people there.

Anne took a day off work yesterday and met us at the Imperial War Museum. We got tickets to see a special exhibition called Fashion on the Ration which was about how people, especially women, made do with not many resources regarding clothing during the war. It was great. The museum has changed a lot since we were there last in 2012. There is a really big WW1 gallery and I thought of Will all the way through it. Very well done.

Anne was not feeling well so did not join us for supper. We got tickets to see The Commitments. Jude has been encouraging us to go see The Book of Morman but Geoff did not want to see it. There is a deal on a discount ticket website where you can add a meal at any one of a variety of restaurants before the show you are going to see, so we did that and ate at an Italian restaurant only a block form the theatre. We both enjoyed the show (thanks for the recommendation, Laura), me probably more than Geoff, but he did like it too. The music was great.

We are really enjoying London, have done a lot of walking. It is very nice to have an apartment and make our own breakfast, leave on our own schedule and have room to each have our own bit of space  in the evenings.

Am starting to feel a bit nervous about going to Paris.

Below is Geoff on the No. 11 bus by St. Paul's.

Monday, April 06, 2015

mom, lisa, jim

It was a wonderful weekend! Mom and Lisa got in a few minutes early on Thursday. We visited for a while and then off for some sleep.  On Friday  we went shopping for new clothes for Mom, she bought skinny jeans and a couple of tops, very trendy and they look fab.  Lisa and I bought nothing.  We watched the Imitation Game, I enjoyed it very much very interesting gentleman, certainly complex. Saturday Jim came and we got in more visiting.  Sunday I was spoiled, mom and Lisa cooked and Jim cleaned up.  Thanks for the gloves and earings and good times. It was very relaxing and enjoyable.  I also talked to Richard  and Henry called.  A happy 57th birthday indeed.  Thank you to my guests for being so easy and for the interesting conversations.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happy Birthday Laura

Edmonton 1980

Oxford 2

Just hanging around a bit at Anne's until it's time to start cooking the lamb. No one here has ever cooked one before so it is an experiment of sorts.

We have been having a good visit here in Oxford. It has been quiet as we have not felt compelled to see a lot. It is nice that it is a long weekend for Anne and Del. Anne took Thursday off too and we went to town to see the new library that just opened there which is where we saw all kinds of interesting items from the Bodlean Library on display, like the Magna Carta. And a tapestry from the 1500s that is a map.

Geoff and I went to the Good Friday service at the church close by, St. Mary and St. John, where Anne used to volunteer in the garden. It was a three-hour service and we weren't planning to stay for the whole time, but it was so good that we did.

Yesterday we took a drive to see Bletchley Park. That was a great call for an outing. It was so interesting and so well done. Amazing to stand in Alan Turing's actual office. Geoff and I spent too much time in the cinema, though, watching old newsreels from the war. Mom, I wonder if you saw any of them? We all enjoyed our day, Geoff especially in his seat in the front passenger seat. Out for supper last night in Jericho, not far from where we stayed last year, Jude.

Anne, Geoff and I went to church this morning, a really good and joyful service with a christening. We looked around the churchyard for a bit after, then came back for Easter chocolate.

Off to London tomorrow.
Top photo is a recreation of the Bombe machine that Turing and colleagues developed. Bottom is in front of the manor house at Bletchley Park.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Grande Prairie

Mom and I are in Grande Prairie visiting and enjoying ourselves! Our flight here was even early on Thursday, so we were here a bit early.
yesterday, we went for a little drive and saw old abodes. It is interesting how I can still remember the way to St Gerard's from the white house, and know the park that had a wading pool.
I have a hard time locating myself in town, though. I can't tell where I am.
We watched the Imitation Game last night. Poor guy. Good movie though.
Jim is supposed to be in town today, we think. One never knows for sure with Jim though. He is like the wind.
I have been sleeping quite a bit, and napped yesterday too. Kept myself awake today though and made myself do a little bit of thesis. I think  I have caught up on sleep.
Went to Vancouver and Victoria last week to see some ACT teams there. It was pretty busy-but good to see how they did things there and see what we would like to do and what we don't want to do.
Would have been good to see a bit more of the cities, but no time.
New job is coming together-getting people in place and set up. Feels good to get these things done.
There is a lot of talk in the community, well at least health care, social service, and policing community about our team. I am surprised by the people who are talking about it.

Jim has arrived, so will sign off!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Happy Birthday Will

2003 Edmonton Folk Fest


It is great to see Anne and Del and have time for a proper visit. Their apartment is very nice and in a quiet area. When you look out any window all you see is trees. It must be great in summer when the leaves are out. There is a lot more room here than they have had before and it is really comfortable.

We took the train to Bath on Tuesday and stayed there overnight. Bath is one of the places we visited in our backpacking days, as the kids will know from many years of watching slides. Of course a place like that does not change much.

Our hotel was right in town close to the sights but on a quiet street. After we checked in (were able to get in early again!) we took a walking tour, most interesting. Then we went to the spa. This is new since we were here last. There is a warm pool, steam rooms and a warm rooftop pool, all using the water from the springs. It was wonderful. On Wednesday we went to see the restored No. 1 in the Royal Crescent (beautiful) then the Fashion Museum at the Assembly Rooms, most fascinating with unbelievable clothes. The highlight of our sightseeing was the Roman baths. There is a lot more of them to see than when we were there last and the tour is really well done.

Took the train back and went to the pub with Anne and Del and friends, a few of whom we had met at the wedding.

Looks like today will be a relaxing day. Anne has taken it off and she has a couple of projects Geoff will probably help her with but it is nice to not have to be busy. 

I thought I had a cold but Dr. Anne has diagnosed my symptoms as allergies which makes total sense.