Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Ok, so after Greece the plan was to cruise through Italy for a few weeks then sneak up into Europe... that was the plan. As with any good plan it was bound to change. While Rox and I were looking at some maps and some ferry times it came to our attention that aside from the culture, social and economic golf that separates Europe and Africa, its actually not that far at all, so we thought for the Europe half time show we could mix it up and down to Africa... best decision ever.

We spent a couple of nights in Tunis, exploring the markets, smoking shisha (oh how I missed that smooth sweet taste), eating street treats and generally enjoying the north African vibe. It was rather European actually, well, they tried to. Fortunately for us it was still very Arabic. Super liberal though! I was expecting Cairo styles, but in Tunis you can see girls and drink beer! What the!

Sport and Africa.... the perfect combination.

From Tunis we headed down to Kairouan for a day to see some impressive mosques. The town is one of the top four most important places for Muslims, up there with Mecca, Jerusalem and some other one. There are 300 mosques in a medium sized town!

From there we went down to Tozeur to get real hot. Walking around it was 48 degrees Celsius... that is pretty hot! We did some exploring, found a brick making village which was actually interesting, sifted about town, got invited to some old ladies house to get out of the heat in (she feed us too, good old Tunisian hospitality).

We then went by 4WD to the SAHARA DESERT!!!! whoop. It was frickin awesome. When you looked into the wind it felt like you had just opened up the oven door, but there is no tasty pie smell.

Ok, you all know that I am super cool right? One of those people that are up with the latest trends, likes arty movies and has style... well, I am sorry, but I may have misled you... I am not cool at all, in fact, I am very very geeky. Which made the next thing we did the most exciting moment of my life....


...we went to the exact spot where George Lucas filmed STAR WARS IV: A New Hope!!!!! Woah... We walked around and explored the exact set they uses... oh my goodness.. Mark Hamil was here! It was very cool.

Tunisia has confirmed what I think I already knew... I love the Middle East and North Africa. It was not just a 5 week stand I had a few months ago. That's the thing with travel, so many places you fall in love and say you will return but in reality the odds of you coming back are really quite slim as the world is so big. There is so much I want to do but so little time and money! But I have a sneaking suspicion I am serious about North Africa...

Carpe Diem.

Italy: Sicily

So from Naples we went down to Palermo in Sicily and hired a car and spent a few days doing a lap of the island. It is a very cool place, quite densely populated actually.
We checked out the Valley of the Temples, which as you can see from the photo did indeed have temples, but was in fact a ridge, not a valley. For the record, I stole that joke from Rox.
From there we cruised along the coast to Catania to climb Mt. Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. It was big and active (smoke coming out). We piked and drove most of the way up and just climbed a little hill. Good views though.

While we sifted around the island we just slept on the beach and cooked pasta over the fire. It was fantastic, although a little dirty (who needs showers...). Waking up each morning, going for run along the beach and taking a swim. Living the dream really.

The white sheet was out bed for the night.

Italy: Naples

You know how everyone says they love Italy and how fantastic Italy is and how you have to go to Italy. Well, I figured there was probably some truth in it but was sceptical about any country that everyone said was awesome, how could it be? Would I love it? And if I did, would I love it like I love ice cream or like I love bread? Would I get the instant gratification ice cream offers yet come away either hungry for something else or super sick or it? Or will it be a consistent love like that of bread where you always come away with you hunger abated yet it is sometimes a lot of work to get it done and often requires a spread?

Well, you will be pleased to learn that Italy in fact combines both ice cream and bread! Literally and figuratively. I love Italy! It is super cool. And you can get Gelato (ice cream) in a sweet bread roll! So the cliche is right, everyone loves Italy (I am sure there are exceptions...)

Naples is south of Rome and is a very cool City. As we got off the train you get the impression it may be a little dirty and smelly, but that is what makes it so great. It is real. There are heaps of different people lurking about and the pizza is fantastic (very different from Winnie Bagoes pizza so you can't compare, Winnies is still the greatest. Naples pizza is simply dough, cheese and tomato paste.... yet is ever so tasty).
From Naples we also explored Pompeii, the Roman city de-stroyed by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79AD. It was very cool in that it was an entire city of houses and shops etc, rather than just a temple. We also stayed a night in Salerno, just south of Naples. From here we went for a walk along the Amalfi Coast which is super super beautiful. Steep cliffs coming down into the ocean. Some bush, lots of cool houses built up along the coast.
Naples was very cool, and if the cities up north are as good as they claim to be then I feel every second word of my future posts will be "awesome", or I will simply not be able to describe them.

Greece: Athens, Delphi, Meteora, Patras

I am terribly sorry about the huge huge delay in posted to this blog but I haven't really had a chance to sit down on a computer and get it done, I have been busy doing a heck of a lot of not much (many ours on trains, ferries and appreicating stuff). I will try and get up to date now as I am sitting in an air conditioned internet cafe and its super hot outside. One post for the entire main land of Greece does not do it justice, but thems the breaks.

So Greece then... after an 8 day celebration of us conquering Crete we arrived back in Athens. It felt like we had never left. We went and stayed with Cams mates which was super handy.

We went to the Acropolis, its pretty old, on a hill and looks alright. It was actually more impressive from a distance rather than up close as there was heaps of restoration going down.

Who would have thought ancient architecture could be so interesting? I thought they were all just stacks of rocks... that why we travel I guess. Live and learn. Check out this wicked Ionic capitols on fluted columns.
We jumped on a bus and heading down to Delphi, in the south, about 3 hrs by bus from Athens. It is here that the Ancient Greeks through the centre of the world was, it also is home to a big Temple of Apollo and was where a super wise Oracle lived. So its a pretty important and impressive set of ruins. There was a neat sports stadium here tiered seatingand a row of starting blocks for sprints, all this is 2000+ years old, its good to see they enjoyed sport back in the day as much as we do.

We also spent a night up in Meteora where there are a bunch of Monasteries built on top of cliffs. The rocky cliffs rose out of some green bush and we did a bit of exploring around the bush which was cool. The Monasteries are all Greek Orthodox so it was cool to get an insight to where they are coming from.
We left Greece via the town of Patras. Now, if you read Lonely Planet or any other guide to Greece they will probably write off Patras as merely a transit point, a place to leave as soon after you arrive as you can. This was our intention but due to ferry times etc we ended up staying a night and spending a day. After some help from the best tourist information place in the world we got some free bikes and rode around the town for a day. There were some very neat churches, ruins and friendly people. We also semi-accidentally got on to a main high way and rode out on to a massive bridge. It was an exciting adventure.

I shall finish this post with a quote I read at one of the monasteries. Not sure who wrote it. Ponder this:

"Faith is not a matter of understand, but of confidence. And confidence is not unreasonable, it transcends reason. It does not contradict logic and reason, it goes beyond them. In the Orthodox Church, this transcendence of reason is not its denial but its elevation to a point where it can accept the experiences of the divine revelation. The transcendent reason is faith is the absolute surrender of our self, our abandonment to the will and mercy of God."

Friday, June 15, 2007


Ios: A Party Island.

We were destroyed by, and we destoryed, Ios. There isnt really much to say about Ios. We stayed at a fancy resort for real cheap, slept and beached during the day and went into one of the 400 give or take bars during the night. Met a few kiwis there and a bunch of people from the Santorini Hostel were doing the rounds of the Greek Islands.

Our time on Ios was pretty much the opposite of our time in Crete... very touristy, didnt seen any locals and slept in a bed.

Sorry no pics as this computer is really slow.... and I am way behind on this blog sorry... in fact I am in a whole other country now. Stay tuned. Its hard spending time in an internet cafe when there is so much cool stuff outside to see and do (and ever so tasty pizza!). I still love you all though. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


So right now I am sitting in an Internet Cafe during my siesta on the Greek Island of Santorini, today has consisted of sleeping in, getting up to watch the All Blacks smoke France, go for a swim then hit the bakery. This afternoon will be Americas Cup then some drinks on the beach.

We have been here 4 days, give or take, I have lost track. Spend all day chillin in the sun, being tourists and exploring... and all night pretty much just partying. Its hard being me, but I think we deserve it after the last month of 'work'.

Santorini reeks of quintessentialism. Everywhere you look is pretty much post card perfect, so if you have seen a post card of this place there is no real reason to come. My only complaint is that the sand on the beach is a little to hot sometimes... but I guess I can get over that.

We did a day tour yesterday on a boat with a few people we met at the hostel. It was super touristy and it was weird being herded to each different site: A quintessential volcano, some quintessential hot springs, some quintessential villages, then a quintessential sunset.

Here we are enjoying some quintessential gyros and some quintessential beers.

And last, but by all means not the least, a very very quintessential greek island sunset. Can you smell the quintessentialism wofting from the screen? Boy, I think I need some new words to describe this, but I am not a word smith.

Tomorrow we are sneaking over to Ios for a sneaky peak, rumours are that it is a "party island", what that means I am really not sure, but I hope to find out.

Have a great week people and enjoy watching Team New Zealand smoke Luna Rossa.

Crete: Sougia -> Hania

Crete: Done.

After 26 days meandering around the island, clocking up over 300kms on my poor little blistered feet, walking 45kms in one day, up 1km and down 2kms another, we have done it. Was it worth it you ask? Yes, yes it was.

The last few days went by really speedily as we cruised along the coast. We got caught in the rain on the last day which put a bit of a dampener on the mood, but we got stuck in a taverna waiting for a bus for 4 hours which justified some celebratory drinks.

Here are my boys, big ups to them for putting up with me for so long.

Andrew Roxburgh: Was sick as a dog but can still walking hundreds of kilometres

Cam Davis: He won Crete 5 -3 - 1.

We spent a few days in Hania, staying at a nice place with lots of character, the room smelt pretty bad by the end of it.

We hired a Suzuki Samurai and cruised around for a bit. I drove around on the right hand side of the road, it was fun as. Although there were moments when Rox had to give me a friendly reminder to get off the left side, and other times where I had to pretend we were pedestrians and just weave through the intersections. Good times none the less.

We went to see the War Memorial at Souda Bay. Here 467 New Zealanders are buried here from the 1941 Battle of Crete, we laid a poppy (courtesy of the Rangiora RSA) and had some reflective moments.

We also met up with a random kiwi chick we met on CouchSurfing.com . She is a horse trekking guide and allowed us to help her set up, so I am now a horse brushing guru, the best advice I can offer is to just go with the flow.

So we have now done Crete, good and proper. It is a fantastic place, I highly recommend it, and if you are interesting in doing the E4 trail I am happy to hook you up with some info.

Right now I am in Santorini... I think I will post about that separately... so I won't sign off with my usual wit.