Monday, September 29, 2008

Clean is the New Dirty

Ed. Note: I'm posting this after being back in Canada, wanted to elaborate on some of our specific experiences on the trip :)

Docked in Datca, the largest port we will visit in Turkiye. This is the home of our fabulous Hamam (Turkish Bath) experience... sorry no pictures!!

10 people from the boats pile into 2 beat up old Toyotas that have arrived at the harbour to take us to the hamam. The cars are quite small, so I end up sitting on the middle console in the front, sandwiched between a rather large and hairy Turkish man and Kevin, Pickle's husband (sorry again Kevin!). Upon arriving at the bath, we are greeted on the steps by chickens and roosters and ushered into the foyer where we are given wooden bottom shoes and towels distinctly resembling tea towels. All the girls are wearing bathing suits, as we have been told that "if we don't want it washed, keep it covered".

Next, into the coed hot room. This is a domed cement room echoing with our barely suppressed giggles. And its HOT. So hot we can barely breathe as we attempt to lay on the burning marble slab in the middle of the room, or use the cold water taps to douse ourselves for momentary relief! In comes a couple of large hairy men, wearing nothing but tea towels. Hmm.. they are the same men that drove us here... They point at one of the girls and direct here face down onto the excruciatingly hot marble slab and proceed to scrub her down with an exfoliating mitt (same one for everyone!!). Takes me a minute to realize that the grey stuff covering her body is actually skin... there goes my tan! After the scrub down, she's off to the shower to rinse before being soaped up by the other hairy man. Jill's next. Face down on the table, skin rubbed off, butt slapped to indicate she should roll over onto her back and whoosh! there goes her bikini top thrown across the slab by the hairy man! We make eye contact and that's it.. we can't stop laughing for the next 20 minutes! Everyone gets a topless rub down from there on in. This is lucky for the boys, who are all waiting in the room for their turn on the table! What a way to get to know your boat-mates...!

Once you've been thoroughly scrubbed and soaped it is off to the foyer again to await your turn on the massage table. Mama and grandma give you a complete rub down with oil, even into your scalp. While you're waiting the family will keep you company by hanging out watching Turkish soap operas at full volume and smoking like chimneys.

Despite the craziness, this was one of the most entertaining experiences of our trip, and Jill and I are both glad that we did it. We were sooooo soft and supple after that! For those worried about topless experiences, rest assured that this is not a normal occurance and that the bath employees were spoken to by our contacts in Datca and it didn't happen again. Also, not all hamams in Turkey are coed. I would totally recommend the hamam experience to anyone traveling in Turkey!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Greek Dancing, Those Girls Style!

Ed. note: posted after return to Canada

We were really bummed to find out that we were going to miss out on the usual Greek Dancing night that Seascape attends in Patmos because of a slightly different itinerary than usual for our trip. Not to worry, those girls can make their own excitement!

Leaving the taverna after dinner in Vathi, I noted that there was a group of Greek boys waving at us from another taverna along the harbour. Having already linked arms with my girls, Jill and Suzanne (an honorary Those Girl), we were a force to be reckoned with. We skillfully evaded the skippers by singing happy birthday serenades to a couple of boats on the jetty, and made our way back to the taverna with the boys.

After sitting down with them and ordering some retsina from the cute barmaid, we realized that we had a little language barrier. All the boys were from Vathi, and none spoke more than a few words of English, and we no more than 5 words in Greek! After a few attempts at communication, I decided that the best way to break through the language barrier was by dancing! Turns out that the barmaid (and her husband who was sitting with us (she was quick to point out his ring to us!)) were professional Greek dancers! After a little switch of the music and the kicking (literally!) of tables out of the way to make a dance floor, we were in business! All three of us got up (Jill after a little prodding and a little more retsina!) and had some dancing lessons. Step forward, step back.. arms up, holding hands...

Once Jill got into the spirit she gestured to the group that she was ready for some plate smashing. Everyone laughed at her, as this is not really common practice in Greece due to the priceyness of plates! However, they obliged her request by smashing empty retsina bottles (by now we had finished quite a few!) onto the cement floor... oh dear with the flying glass! Jill actually ended up gushing blood, with a shard of glass stuck in her leg. Luckily Poppi (the cute barmaid) came to the rescue with a bottle of Johnny Walker Red that she poured on Jill's leg to sterilize the wound! Thank goodness for Greek medicine :)

After we thanked the boys and Poppi extensively for the dancing lessons and free retsina (we tried to pay!), we decided we should head back to the boat for a little nightcap. Apparently we still had a little excess adrenaline going on, because Suzanne and I decided that we needed to do a little midnight cliff jumping! Thank goodness for the kindness of Skippers, who (despite some minor grumbling), will allow themselves to be woken up at 1 am and cajoled into getting up to have brandy and coffee waiting to warm up cliff jumping Greek goddesses! Trust Those Girls to do it up in style!

Tales of seduction on the Aegean Sea

On our last night in Athens (when Jeff arrived) we drank a bit too much wine and on our way back to the hotel, we spontaneously bought some matching bling shoes and even managed to talk the guy down from 35 E to 29 E. We were pretty impressed. with ourselves. Turns out the other 2 girls on our boat also came prepared with some shiny shoes! That's Jill, Suzanne, Marnie and Danni from left to right.

So we arrived at the dock in Leros last Sunday to get on the boat and start our adventures out at sea with Seascape Sailing. We met our skipper, John, and was introduced to our new family for the next week. We are on the boat named Vassilis (nicknamed syphillus due to a former Skipper with quite a reputation!). Our new family are: Jim and Marnie from Toronto, Rafi from LA, Suzanne and Anthony from NY and us, Muffy, Buffy and Tex (Jeff... from florida). That is us and Skipper John below. Looks like he got a lot of sun... maybe also a few too many cocktails!

John told us all the rules and regulations of boat life in about 5 minutes flat. Rule #1 captain gets a beer, rule #2 open the hatches and rule #3 make sure the fenders are in place. We took off and were given our first instructions of removing the fenders and tying clove hitch knots. Yey, we were excited we learned something new! The boat was awesome, the sun was great and I wasn't feeling so hot. Stomach was queasy and i was determined not to get seasick on the first day. There was no way i was going to be a wimp, no way. I tried to rise above it and get over it, but alas my stomach did not agree with me. So I mentioned something to Marnie and she laughed saying I feel terrible too, I just took a ginger pill. Next thing you knew, ginger pills were flying around the boat faster than beer in a highland games tent! Once we were all feeling better, we used our new skills of tying knots to the fenders and getting the boat ready to dock at our first stop, Lipsi. I have no idea what we did there. but i bet it included a pastry item, a drink or two or three, some really great food and perhaps some sightseeing or renting an ATV. As you can see, we really have a good time (and look hot in helmets) when we ride ATVs! We were probably going REALLY fast in this picture thanks to Danni's super driving skills.

This seems to be the order of play for each and every day as I look back to remember what we have done. Sometimes we shake it up and stop and swim and snorkel on the way to another dock, just for shits and giggles. So to make a long blog shorter, that is our life in a nutshell. We get up, shake off the hangover by walking to the WC (only one hole in the ground toilet so far!), we eat, we sail, we swim, we eat, we sail, we dock, we see some sights, we drink Mythos beer, we eat, we dance like greek goddesses, we watch the stars and milky way and we sleep. Then we repeat this exact same thing the very next day.

So some great things we seen are monasteries and blue roof churches and houses and people and we even rented ATV 's one day and scoped out the island. Oh, at this point i should also mention, I have eaten my entire body weight in bread in about 5 days. I think I've set a world record for bread consumption, have decreased my fruit by 98% and i'm still managing to take at least one #2 per day (although we don't talk about that on the boat, our proper British captain thinks us Canadians are crude talking about peeing all the time!), Danielle will be glad to hear that my body systems are working just fine!
So now we're on Kos (island and harbour name), a larger, tourisy island for 2 nights while we switch a bit of crew for the next week into Turkey! We love Greece but are really excited to add another stamp to the passport. We'll be sad to lose some of the peeps on the boat, but we still have the foundation of Muffy, Buffy and Tex to spice things up. And who knows, there may be more tales of seduction on the high seas to come!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Baklava sugar high!

So many days away from a computer! We've spent the last 2 and a half days in Athens. People here are very friendly, as we found out when we were personally escorted to our hotel by a man that saw us looking at our map (true tourists!) in Syntagma Square. We are finally starting to get over being sick, just lots of phlegm now (yum, I know..). Tex; from Florida, arrived yesterday, and we immediately drug him out to conquer the city bus system (metro strikes for a couple of hours a day here it seems, just when we want to use it!), explore the Plaka and see the National Acheological Museum. We thought the best way to get him over his jet lag was to get him full of beer and baklava. We had to try every kind of baklava in the patisserie in order to decide what we liked the best, so Jeff had some strange, sugar-induced dreams last night!

Today we woke bright and early (after Jill slept through the alarm, and Jeff kept us up all night with his snoring..) to tour the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Tower of the Winds and wander through the Monastiraki area. Jeff finally got his gyros, although it sure took us a long time trying to figure where he was going to get a "hero" sub in touristy Athens! The Parthenon is pretty amazing, there is tons of reconstruction going on all throughout the Acropolis and it just makes you think that much more about how much work must have went into the original construction, without the use of cranes and other machinery. The views of Athens from the Acropolis were pretty breathtaking as well (we'll have lots of pictures of that once we finally get around to posting some..).
Tonight is our last night in Athens, so I'm sure we'll be hanging out in the Plaka (where our hotel is.. location, location, location!). It is a cool "traditional" area, near the Acropolis, but it is packed full of tourists. Fun to hang out in though, the tavernas stay open really late and you sit outside drinking wine and stuffing yourself with olives and tzatziki (and bread! Jill can eat bread!) while Greek musicians play.

Tomorrow morning we are up (way too early!!) and flying to Leros for a day lounging on the beach and taking a break before we are off sailing. We're ready for some beach, and non-touristy islands. The cities have been amazing, especially London, but we're in need of a slower pace for a bit. I'm looking forward to the Leros break to gear up to socializing with the 6 new people that we'll be living with on the boat for the next two weeks.

Hopefully internet in Leros will be as cheap as here in Athens. Despite a somewhat long walk to the internet cafe from our hotel (we ate gelato on the way to spur us on) it is only 2.80 euros per hour to use the internet. As opposed to 1 pound per 10 minutes at the airport in Luton! Next post will hopefully be some pictures!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One country down, 2 to go!

So first things first, both Danni and Jill are sick! eek! it totally sucks, not like flu sick, but ears, nose and throat sick which makes flying so much more difficult. Looking forward to the flight to Athens today!
So this week while in London, being like real locals, we shopped at Oxford street, had high tea at Wolsely (where we got scolded for taking pics by the director!), met up with our local friend Amy and her 2 Canadian travelling friends Chris and Nick where we cultured ourselves at Spitalfields, went for a pint and then a curry before heading back to the hostel to sleep. By day 5, Danni did not have to look at the tube map anymore becuase she knew exactly where to go at all times, she's so smart!
We were also excited to go to the theatre while in London, and we ended up with tickets to an AMAZING show called Wicked (the story behind the witches on Wizard of Oz!) We highly recommend it to anyone who's travelling or here!

Gotta run, must eat and medicate prior to flight!

Monday, September 15, 2008


That is in reference to Danni's feet, not ok. She was an idiot and didn't break in her shoes before walking 8000 miles in one day!

Last night was the first night we got almost a full nights sleep since leaving home, we will guesstimate 7 hours. Yey for us. Dorm room hostel living is not as easy as we anticipated, we don't like to think it's because we are getting old.
Since arriving in jolly old London we have, walked over 500 miles per day, met 3 new people for our Facebook, , reconnected with old friends, seen Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Big Ben and House of Parliament, Royal Courts of Justice, Fleet Street, Camden Town, St Paul's Cathedral, Spitalfield's market, many pints of cider and just as many sleeping pills and have NOT eaten Fish and chips from newspaper! In addition to having almost perfected our British accents, we have mastered the Tube! This is a short one, as the internet is expensive and we need to get coffee and on the tube to get our shopping done on Oxford Street and purchase theatre tickets for tonight! Cheerio!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Almost Vacation...

Alright folks.. it is 6:00 pm. Jill and I are fully packed; everything that can be crammed into our backpacks has been crammed. We managed to fit a pair of pants (Sorry Jan!), although we are wearing them as they wouldn't fit in the bags. And Wonnita, we decided to go with jeans :).
We're currently drinking Stongbow (in anticipation of course!) and eating some toasted tomatoe sandwhiches so that Jill has no veggies to mould in her fridge over the next month. We're off to the airport soon to check into our (hopefully!!!) first-class seats for the loooong flight to London, so we'll keep ya posted of the haps and adventures of Those Girls minus 2 (probably to be referred to as simply Those Girls for simplicity sake from here on out though!) as they occur.
Cheerio old chaps!