Location: Rome, Italy
Hey Planet Ranger Fans,
I have spent the past 18 days in Italy. Arrived Rome & did all the usual sightseeing things & found a great pizzeria & gelateria. I forgot that you buy your bread & pizza here by the weight. I'd like to inform you my map reading skills have not improved. Yep got lost many times in the streets of Rome, worked out very quickly, souvenir stands + tourists = sights to see. But I also found so many other tourists holding same map, turning it in so many directions, and looking at street signs, with the same HELP ME look I have mastered on my european vacation. So I aint the only fool out there gang.
Well it was time to leave Rome & had no idea where I wanted to go. So flipped a coin & headed south to Naples. Well it wasn't what I was expecting. It was dirty, polluted & dangerous. When the hotel staff tell you to get back when the sun starts setting, you know your not in a friendly place. One thing I can confirm there are no road rules there, vespas , cars they all aim for you, no one stops for a red light. It is true gang White Men Can Jump. Every time i hit the streets of Naples, I dodged on coming traffic, I jumped over more hurdles than an Olympic contender, and I got my professional stuntman licence in the time I was there. So, out of something bad, something good came out of it.
I ended up using Naples as a base to visit the famous Amalfi Coast. Soaring mountains on one side, plunging cliffs on the other and roads so narrow a midget couldn't fit thru. So imagine being on a bus, with a bus driver who thinks he belongs on a formula 1 race track. foot on the pedal going around these winding mountain roads, and little ol me shitting myself ( i actually think i did ). But the Amalfi Coast was worth the cure for my constipation. It is truly beautiful & a must on your travel itinerary. I also caught the ferry to the Isle of Capri, and hired a little boat to drive around the island. Came to the Blue Grotto, and a guy in a row boat takes you inside. Conversaion with this guy ended up being, he lived in Sydney for 3 years & worked in Miller Street North Sydney, where we all work. Small world people. Now he is happy doing this for a living. He's found his bliss.
Well got tired of the south & headed to Milan. It was fashion week, and there were models everywhere you looked. It was like being a kid in a candy store. The northern italians are beautiful race & to all the single girls, get to Milan. They are lookers, stylish & there is money in this city. I know money doesn't make you happy, but it sure doesn't make you unhappy either.
Caught the train to Lake Como & met a young italian girl at the train station who had carved herself a didgeridoo & plays on the streets & that's how she survives. We hung out together for the day & she was one happy content person. So yep money doesn't make you happy, finding your bliss does.
Currently in Genoa, used it as a base to visit Portofino & cinque Terra. It is part of the italia riviera. It is a beautiful port & they have nature tracks. I walked one of these tracks, and I was thinking to myself, I dont see any other people around & it is dead quiet. That didn't last. I was looking ahead, and I saw this anima in the distance, as I got closer, I thought what is it, until I was close enough to see it was a massive wild boar with one of its young. It looked up, we had eye contact, it started moving in my direction, I did the about turn & saw this gate It had a sign Keep Gate Closed Wild Pigs in the Area. I didn't worry about opening it,I was busy climbing over it, the bugger was on my trail. Trust me he wasn't cute like Babe, he was the size of a rhino.
The next day I go to do the Cinque Terra trail. 5 towns along the coast. The tours shows have a lot to answer for. They paint this romantic picture of mountain and coastal walks. Here's the reality, the paths are rough & rugged, some of the paths are a foot wide, with a massive drop below you & your thinking sweet Jesus dont let the ground give way. They also dont tell you, that you have to climb these steps that NEVER END. I swear I kept looking up & more steps, turn a bend & more steps up. I thought I was clmbing Mount Everest & was going to plant the aussie flag. I swear, people were stopping along the way up, then the thought occured to me, I have heard every accent along this trail, except italian. We've been conned people, the italians know what a horror this walk is, they've left it to the unsuspecting tourists & the worst thing is I paid to be miserable. The weather changed when I was half way from 2nd to 3rd village, torrential downpour & gusty winds. I was not happy, you couldn't get off this mountain, you just had to keep going.So an hour later, clothes and shoes totally soaked, I gave the Romantic Cinque Terra trail the finger & got my sorry arse back to Genoa, on a 3 hour train ride & totally miserable.
So it hasn't been all parties and bliss, I head to Rome tomorrow to catch a flight to Ibiza. Yep I'm going back to what I love. I leave the mountains to the fools who want to climb them. i'M GOING TO iBIZA, to the nightlife and mirror balls & laser lights & dj's that I so love. Bring it on baby.
Sorry for this incredibly long blog.
Take care & it's Arriverdeci Roma from me.
Ciao Bella's & Bello's
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Currently in the beautiful city of Prague. I have walked its cobblestone streets and discovered its beautiful medieval architecture. I have spent the past two days walking for 15hrs, crossing its many bridges, including the famous Charles Bridge with its many statues, climbed hills to Prague Castle, visited the Gothic church of St Nicholas, have climbed 13th century towers so narrow they provide a rope to ascend and descend, and enjoyed the old town square with its famous clock, and churches and have even allowed myself to get cultured. They are currently having a festival here and I attended classical music recital in Lichtenstein Palace and attended the 5th International Folk Music Dance Festival in the square in the Old Town.
I tell you now, those folk dancers know how to move. Talk about difficult steps and high energy stuff, whilst wearing the traditional village costumes of past times. I was suitably impressed. Then the solo by the Xylophone musician , who received a standing ovation, he really hit those notes, the violin dueling competition,impressive,and I say the accordion, a musical instrument I grew up with, is alive and well in Europe. I say we should bring this revival back to Oz and get cultured.
After all that culture I had to balance it out and check out the club scene, they have the lamest music here and the clubs are not as good as back home. It might be the place I was recommended so its not a good call.
Off to Italy tomorrow, and will continue this European adventure, let the road take me where it will. Nothing planned when I hit Rome, so will decide tonight by flip of a coin North or South Italy. I like for this short time , my life not to be planned and structured, it is nice to have things just unfold.
Travel tips I have learn't in the past 4 weeks :
1. Sign language is absolutely necessary and a universal form of communication ( helps that I'm Greek )
2. Pack multiple number of t shirts ( always running out )
3. Never where white ( my shorts are now grey to black )
4. Be prepared not to find a laundry
5. Deodorant sprayed on your least pungent clothes ( why - no laundry )
6. If you have no sense of direction, this does not change when you are reading city maps ( hence discovering the undiscovered )
7. Be prepared to laugh at your stupidity ( yep I've cracked myself up all thru this trip )
Well gang that's it from me, hope you are all well and life is good.
Lots of love
Location: Zakynthos, Greece
I am typing on greek keyboard, so may be typing errors.
One thing about travelling expect the unexpected. I had allowed myself 3.5hrs time on arrival in Piraeus ( Athens ) to catch my flight to the island where my family originates Zakynthos. This wasn't going to happen.
The ferry arrived 1.5hrs late, and then further delays at the 2 next ports. I had befriended a greek couple at the port of Milos Toula and Bill who manages a souvlaki home delivery business ( how greek can you get ). Well this couple took me under there wings, they phoned there friend who drives a cab in Athens to wait for me at the port, flight was 6pm ferry was docking at 5:30pm, so they cancelled that, they phoned there friend at the main bus station, last bus+ferry connection left at 5:15pm, they even phoned olympic airlines on arrival in case flight was delayed ( it wasn't ) and they rebooked my flight for the next day. I asked to compensate them for all there trouble, but they refused. It is the old saying never judge a book by its cover, they looked like they belonged to a bikie gang, and toula had a front tooth missing. They were the warmest and nicest people I had mey along the way.
I made it to Zakynthos in time for the festival. The town itself s only 10 streets, and it was packed from everyone from the mountain villages. There were fireworks and good old fashioned greek marching band, and heaps of stals and festivities, we partied till sunrise.
Zakynthos is beautiful, the Cycladic islands of Mykonos and Santorini are beautiful ( but void of vegetation, and very windy ), but Zakynthos has green vegetation, 450 sea caves along the west and south coast, the famous shipwreck in the bay, and the bluest water in the world. It has some great beaches for swimming, I went to Kamalaki beach, walked out 50 metres and the water only came up to my waist. The water is also very warm, like swimming in a bath. The green sea turtles migrate to this island from North Africa to lay there eggs.
Negotiated a cab fare of 24 euros to visit the mountain villages where my family comes from today. I couldn't believe it I think I found the only other gay on the island. I was listening to his phone conversation to his friend ( mind you he was taking his hands off the steering wheel, negotiating mountain roads ) and his conversation with me ( endless compliments ), and asked him straight out, and yep he's gay.
It is a traditional greek island, and this is what you ant to experience when you visit a country its people and culture.
It's great going down to the port and seeing the little fishing boast moored, selling fresh fish caught that night, seeing the simplicity of life and watching people at night walk along the main streets with family and friends and having a chin wag. It's also nice seeing kids play street games, instead of playstation.
The island has really progressed since I was last here, we have now 2 internet cafe's. Awesome.
Well I am going to enjoy my last greek salad, tsatziki and cheap greek wine only 2 euros for 500mls. Have 8:30pm flight back to Athena and a 9am flight tomorrow to Prague for 4 days. I arrive Italy on 1 September and have no idea if i'm going north or south. I will flip a coin and let fate decide.
I am seriously enjoying being free and discovering places and people, I am misquoting here but Thoreau wrote " If you dont keep pace with your companions, and you walk to the beat of a different drum, listening to your beat and follow your path, and let the others follow the path most trodden".
My love to you all.
Spiro the Greek
Location: Milos, Greece
Sorry for delay in writing, I have enjoyed being away from technology and the real world, and loving Greece homeland of my ancestors.
Firstly let me say I wish I could transport all of you over here. We share the hard times, it would be great to share the good times with the people you love. Your all great and truly missed, and yes loved.
My wacky adventure started on my arrival in Athens, having left winter in Sydney, I was greeted with 40+ degree tempreatures in Athens during my stay. I really love Athens, just seeing the Acroplois again, I honestly never get tired of that beautiful piece of history, and seeing all the other archeological sites, changing of the guards at Parliament house ( only the best of greek youth are used for this role ) to the Plaka ( old city ) and just being around greek culture again ( seeing a play in an amphitheatre under the Acroplois at night all lit up on a hot summer night ). Adjusting your body clock to greek lifestyle, you do not have dinner till midnight and go out to bars and clubs at 1am till sunrise.
I did a couple of tours around Athens this time round. Went down to Pelopponese to see the best preserved amphitheatre, the Minoan ruins dating back to 1800bc. Also travelled to Cape Sounion, 1.5hrs out of Athens along the coastline to see the Temple of Poseidon. It is poised on a cliff, with the Aegean as its backdrop built in 444bc, it was impressive.
Had a couple of little mishaps. The speedcat from Hydra broke down in the Aegean, and we were floating around for an hour whilst the crew conducted repairs, you should have heard the drama from the greeks ( we are not a quiet race of people ). Also, the following day, I went to northern greece to see the temple of delphi & the monasteries of meteora a 2 day excursion, the bus broke down on the mountain in the middle of nowhere. The poor tour guide a young girl, kept smiling at the passengers as she repeatedly phoned the office. No one was picking up. probably having afternoon siesta, it took 45 minutes till someone answered and a couple of hours before another bus turned up. I wasn't phased all the part of travelling.
After the heat of the mainland I was glad to hit the greek islands, and first stop was Mykonos, & yes it is a party island. It was 7 days of practically no sleep, bars , clubs and beaches. Met some aussie friends and picked up a few more new friends along the way. Yes Mykonos was very good for me. It lives up to its reputation.
Second stop was Santorini, and this was no different. Met some gal pals one fron Oz the other from London, and we made lots of new friends at beaches , bars and clubs. Santorini is a volcanic island, so the beaches are black sand, and burning hot during the day. Its like walking on hot coals to get down to the water. But it is probably the most beautiful of all the cyclade islands. The hotel location and panoramic views lived up to its reputation. Absolutely beautiful. Went to Oia to see the sunset and have dinner on a taverna on the cliff, and it cant be put into words how beautiful it was. It's a place you should come once with your partner. It just oozes romance.
Now in Milos, which is a traditional greek island, void of tourists. I love it, you feel like your in greece, as 90% of the people holidaying here are greek, It is traditional architecture, with white washed homes, magnificent sunsets from the capital Plaka, hot springs and more beaches than any of the other cyclade islands. It is also half the price of Mykonos & Santorini for food & accommodation.
I am off to my home island tomorrow Zakynthos for 5 days and going to enjoy the festival and the best beaches in Greece.
I did a side trip to Berlin. It was brilliant. The hotel I booked, was in a perfect location, 200 metres from German Parliament & Brandenburg Gate, The only thing the hotel omitted to mention, it is built right next to a railay track. The room I had , the train ran parrallel to my window and I could touch it. The room was well soundproffed, and it was quieter than my house back home.
Berlin lives up to is reputation. It is a city people come to and fall under its spell. It inspires creative thinking, and the architecture and monuments and galleries reflect this. There is a memorial to the murdered jews near the Brandenburg gate. It is a series of massive blocks, different heights and depth on a large block of land. When you walk thru these blocks, it plays on light, temperature, and it plays with your mind. It overpowers you.
Also went to see Saschenhausen, the concentration camp used as a model for all the other camps the germans were to build in the war. It was an emotional draining tour. The inhumanity people are capable of is uninmanageable.
I did go to an underground warehouse party I was told about. It was in the warehouse area of Berlin, just had directions how to get there, there is no signage and you hope to God you find it, because it is a place in the middle of nowhere. The Berliners live up to there ecclectic parties.
I must say the germans were a lot friendlier and nicer than I expected. I actually wished I was in Berlin for another week, because I only touched the surface.
I've only been gone 3.5 weeks but it feels longer for me. So happy being away from the corporate world and so happy not dealing with superficial people.
I have met some incredible people on this trip, and I hope I meet more over the next few weeks. This is a growing process, and leaving our little corner of the world gives you a chance to reflect, appreciate and change.
I send you all my love and I hope the world is being kind to you.
Remember you are great special people whose beauty will never fade.
Spiro the Greek