Knossos

Today, between the raindrops, we had a lovely tour of the palace in Europe’s oldest city, Knossos. The palace ruins you will see are from 1700 BCE! (Although some of the items are reconstructions of what they think it looked like.)

The city around the palace was built in 7000 BCE. Layers upon layers of buildings with lots of questions. For instance, what does the double headed axe represent? (Hint: it is not a weapon.)

And where is the labyrinth they talk about? Perhaps it is just the many splendored palace with 4 stories of amazing rooms?

And the Minotaur? How did he come in? Just a wonderful myth about the Greek gods, created 1000 years later. I love those Greek myths!

More photos in the Crete album.

Laundry

I know, not the most glamorous of topics. However I have always wondered how one does this on a long journey. We were so excited to come to a “real” hotel so we could hand wash our clothes in the sink.

Unfortunately the sink wouldn’t fit a pair of my socks, let alone Wm’s t-shirt. We will be braving the storm to seek laundry services.

I remember my grandmother telling me how much she loved her washer and dryer. I thought this was funny back then. Now I am ever grateful for our machines.

Airport time

We are sitting in the Santorini airport waiting to fly to Athens & then to Crete. There are no direct flights or ferries to Crete, even tho we are much closer to Crete. The taxi ride here took 15 minutes and cost €30! Ah, Santorini! It is a good day to leave. And it is raining.

Mediterranean Diet

Well, we both need to work on getting fit. Some doctor suggested the Mediterranean diet. So here we are! But I am unclear how gorgeous cheeses of all kinds, fluffy pastry dripping in Thasos honey, huge slabs of meat wrapped in freshly made pita bread, and the freshest of oranges squeezed there on the spot…will help the “get fit” part.

french toast slathered in honey and walnuts

Packing

How does one pack for a four month journey? Washing one’s underwear everyday sounds dreadful. But should I consider it comparable to washing dishes everyday if I stayed home? My Kenneth Cole suitcase is an international carry-on size. Fully loaded, it weighs 22.5 lbs. (so far). Everything fits but there will be no wiggle room.

Violence in Buenos Aires Airport

We dodged a bullet this week!  Apparently there was violence in the international airport in Buenos Aires on Saturday because of a baggage handler´s strike. Frustrated passengers smashed a ticket counter and threw things at employees. Not to mention that most of their flights were cancelled on Friday and Saturday.

We flew through Buenos Aires on both Thursday (the day before the strike) and on Sunday (the day afterwards).  Although we did fly via the domestic airport, which is many miles away from the international airport.

Here is a news article on it: http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?ContentBlockID=6a8e6f22-3124-4776-99c8-4e84a1d70277

Day in Ushuaia

The weather here changes faster than it does in Portland!  Woke up this morning and it was a bit cloudy, but nice.  Went to breakfast and when we were coming back it was suddenly pouring rain!  Then it stopped, then it started again.

So instead of going hiking somewhere, we just headed downtown and spent the day shopping and wandering around.  Ushuaia has an amazing number of flowers, especially lupins (which are HUGE and of all kinds of colors), foxgloves, poppies, and scotch broom.

Finally found a t-shirt I liked.  I only brought 2 t-shirts with me because of the aformentioned luggage limits, and I figured I would buy one or two while here.  Of course, I mainly needed t-shirts for Buenos Aires and for Iguazu Falls, where it was very hot! From now on, I´m probably mainly wearing silk underwear and fleece.  But I bought it anyway.

Ushuaia

So we arrived in Ushuaia tonight, got our luggage, took a taxi to the hotel, settled in, had dinner (yum!) and then went out for a walk, getting back to the hotel around 11:30pm — just as it was starting to get dark!

Cindy had ravioli stuffed with Fuegan lamb (Fuegan meaning from Tierra del Fuego) and I had a pork chop in orange sauce with ratatouille vegetables.  And calafate ice cream for dessert!

Much colder and windier here than at Iguazu!  Really beautiful place, surrounded by craggy mountains and wind-swept water.  And the hotel we are staying in is really nice.  Looks handmade out of wood, with all kinds of cute details.  And dinner in the hotel was excellent.

Gotta get some sleep now so we can go sightseeing tomorrow.

Flying

I should have blogged about this before, but I was still gathering information.  Before we left for this trip, we had heard stories about the Argentine Airline.  Not just about how they like to lose luggage, or that they steal stuff out of your luggage, but also that they only allow you 15kg of checked luggage total. That´s about 33 pounds, which is not a whole lot of stuff if you are trying to pack for a trip where you will experience temperatures above 105 degrees F and way below freezing.  But we managed.  Between Cindy and me, we were able to get our checked luggage down to 27kg (which allows us to buy a few very light things on the trip!).  Apparently they are merciless about the weight limit, and charge $5 per kilo for anything overweight.  Since we have a bunch of flights, overcharges would really add up for us.

Then, when I got my final confirmation from the airline, it not only repeated the 15kg limit for checked luggage, but also said that there was a 5kg limit for carry-on luggage. Yikes!  I´ve already mentioned my camera equipment, and you can bet that weighs more than 5kg.  We though the 7kg limit on our flight several years ago to NZ was insanely low, but 5kg?  No way.

Meanwhile, several people had warned us that there was very little space on flights for carry-on luggage, so they might make you check some stuff.  Check my camera equipment?  Over my dead body maybe.

So I was worried.  But I need not have.  Nobody ever cared about our carryon luggage, and we have been on 3 different internal flights and there has always been about the same amount of carry-on space as on a typical flight in the US.  So no problem with that.

Speaking of flying, today was our big day of flying.  We left Iguazu Falls, up in the far north of Argentina this morning, flew to Buenos Aires, then flew from there to El Calafate and finally to Ushuaia.  Way too many chances for them to lose our luggage.  This is why we booked our flight to Ushuaia a day early — to give our luggage a chance to catch up with us if necessary.  We´ve heard at least two stories where people had to buy a bunch of clothes (including expensive parkas) the morning before the ship left because of their luggage not making it in time.

Again, not a problem.  We arrived in Ushuaia about an hour late (which seems about normal here) and our luggage was there too!

Of course, we have two more flights on Aerolineas Argentinas, so they still have a chance to lose something for us…