Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Romantic view to Marathonissi Island, Greece

On the way to Keri, we passed by this restaurant on a cliff with a romantic view to Marathonissi Island, also known as the Turtle Island.

Zakynthos has many of these kinds of restaurants, hanging on a cliff with spectacular panoramic sea views.

The other night, Dutchman told me, or rather, agreed with me—and this was after looking at the pictures I posted in the blog, that we indeed had a beautiful Greek summer holiday. Pictures does not only tell stories, they preserve memories. Its like an affirmation or a reminder that I am doing the right thing by diligently blogging my travels for posterity's sake.

Travel Period: August 2011
Destination: Laganas (Zakynthos Island), Greece

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Writings under a drawbridge in Amsterdam

Drawbridges are typically Dutch. Because the Netherlands is literally a swamp country, meaning there is water everywhere—canals, rivers, seas, lakes, everything that you can think of that is a body of water, we have that here in the Netherlands.

Ergo drawbridges. We cannot escape from them. They are everywhere in the country, and in the city as well. They come in different sizes, shapes, styles and material. They can cause traffic too.

This one I found in Amsterdam is quite unique. There are writings underneath the drawbridge. It’s in Dutch but the fonts are quite complex for me to understand.

At first glance, it looks like Hebrew to me, but it’s not. It’s actually Dutch.

Can you read it?

Visit Period: July 2011
Destination: Amsterdam East, Netherlands

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Monday, November 28, 2011

The ‘Hoogtepunten’ or the Blue Route in Kaapse Bossen, Doorn

Last September Dutchman and I did a 12-kilometre hike in Doorn, in Kaapse Bossen which is part of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug forest.

We went to our current favourite starting point, the Heleneheuvel, and this time we took the Blue Route or the Hoogtepunten Route (which means: highlights). We liked this route because we walked on different types of terrain through the forest and across the plains, and we saw a variety of scenery.

Normally it takes 3 hours to finish this route but we did it in 2 hours and 15 minutes. We barely stopped to rest, although we slackened our walk in between inorder to take fotos and appreciate nature’s beauty around us. Because of this my knees were slighting a bit. Lesson learned, take some rest at least after an hour of non-stop walking.

At the end of the hike we had pancakes, scone with jam and clotted cream and fresh mint tea at the Heleneheuvel Chalet. Dutchman had pancakes while I chose to try their home-made scone which was delicious paired with the clotted cream. It was quite timely as by the time we sat down at the terrace of the chalet and ordered our food, it started to rain. We had to quickly move indoors.

Anyway, I now have a very good reason to come back to this place. Enjoy their scone and clotted cream once again and do the Brown Route or Hoog Moersbergen Route. In other words, the 14-kilometre hike =)

The route we took was supposed to be a 3-hour hike.

Stiltegebied means Quiet Territory.

These looked like lean fir trees and the beetle, always fighting for his life.

Pretty house in the forest. Not sure if I would feel safe living in the forest. I always hear about scary stories, as simple as thieves visiting at night!

We came across a field with a children's playground and saw droopy mushrooms.

This is the view from the Helenaheuvel Chalet. Very relaxing.

Cheese and ham pancake and a scone with jam and clotted cream.

The chalet and its terrace. The Heleneheuvel chalet is located in the middle of the forest (Kaapse Bossen).

Walking Period: September 2011
Destination: Doorn (Utrechtse Heuvelrug - Utrecht), The Netherlands

Zakynthos, Greece: North Xigia Beach Sulphur Springs and Spa Collagen

So, the title of this entry sums up everything but this Xigia Beach I think is more stunning than the other one. Just look at the view from above...

Breathtaking isn't she?

The milky substance is sulphur coming out of the rocks.

As I have mentioned in my earlier post on South Xigia Beach Cove, there are 2 Xigia Beaches and the northern one is the famous Sulphur Beach that everyone wants to experience. This beach is located about 500 metres from the Xigia Tavern where we had our delicious lunch with accompanying spectacular views.

This Sulphur Xigia Beach is a favourite of mine as well. I like it that its small, very cosy, gorgeous of course and not crowded. It’s got real character, as I always say about my favourite beaches. Nothing commercialised at all, there are no facilities, it is simply natural—just exactly how I like it to be.

Between the crack of the rugged rock walls is the sulphur spring that produces milky white substance in the water. The sulphur sends off a distinct sharp whiff in the air. Sometimes, the smell is very strong, it lingers, but sometimes not. They say sulphur is good for muscle and bone ailments, and for skin problems as well.

We had a great time here for the rest of our afternoon. The beach is pebbly but the beach bottom turns into sandy as you walk further deep into the water.

There is a cafeteria located at the overlook landing area where one can view the beach. This landing area serves as a small parking lot as well.

Here are the rest of my pictures:

One of my favourite beaches in Zakynthos.

North Xigia Beach: Sulphur Spring and Spa Collagen. You go down these steps to the beach.

Small beach but cosy.

People swam to the sulphur coming out under the rocks.

This is the pulley system used by the taverna to deliver food and drinks down to the beach. A cool and improvised system!

Travel Period: August 2011
Destination: Alykes (Zakynthos - Ionian Islands), Greece

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Old pictures of Crete in Lassithi and Sitia

Since we are on Greece at the moment, I saw old pictures in my foto folder of our holiday in Crete a long time ago. This was pre-digital camera age for us: 2003.

These pictures were taken at the windmills in Lassithi and the marina in Sitia.

I managed to take digital pictures of some of the roll film developed pictures we had during our holiday in the summer of 2003. Somehow these pictures survived after one hard drive crash and migration to another but they are very poor in quality. I would need to dig up my old paper fotos and see if I can find better ones. If I remember it right, we had more and better pictures. For now I guess these will suffice.

We had good memories of our Crete holiday. Our apartment had 2 balconies with fantastic views, one looking down to the pool and the other across the plateau. We rented a car and toured the island. We walked a lot. We ate out every night and spent nights watching the nighlife scene. In the mornings we had 2 Euros full English breakfast with coffee and orange juice included. I cannot believe it was so cheap back then. Time fly so fast!

Travel Period: July-August 2003
Destination: Crete, Greece

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Zakynthos, Greece: Fantastic Views at Xigia Tavern during Lunch

Leaving South Xigia Beach, we hit the main road and just 500 metres away we saw this tavern with a spacious parking lot. We stopped to check it out.

It turns out that the tavern is perched on the mountain sea cliff and looking out to the blue Ionian Sea. Fantastic views! I personally loved the thick trees giving shade to the diners, they bid a very cosy and romantic ambience, and oh, the birds happily chirping away from tree to tree. Well, what can I say? In this restaurant, you do not need man-made music to accompany the beautiful view.

So I told the Dutchman—this is it. We are not going anywhere else for lunch =)

When we came back from holiday I did some research on the restaurant and it turns out that its specialty is seafood and the owner is Italian who migrated to Zakynthos, Greece. This restaurant is very popular among the locals and the tourists as well. That is why it took us a LONG TIME to be seated. Guests came pouring in and we have to wait patiently in line. Dutchman was grumbling and ready to leave but I put down my foot and told him to be still.

Eventually we got our table with a nice view. Because the restaurant was buzzing with diners, ergo overcapacity, it took a while for them to take our order and for the food to arrive. I didn’t mind, I am enjoying my view with a glass of wine while waiting. Plus they gave us free bruschettas. That was a surprise indeed and it was delicious.

Dutchman ordered Greek salad and I steamed mussels. We were going to order more but when the bruschettas arrived we decided to just leave it as it is. The food is enough already for both of us. We are not big eaters unfortunately. Our food rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I managed to take a short video after lunch:

Can you hear the noise? =)

At the back of the tavern I saw a garden and an infinity swimming pool. It looked like a perfect place to hold a party or just to privately chill out. I wonder if the owner lives here as well? Well, one thing for sure they have a gorgeous property with breath taking views.

Waiting for our lunch to arrive... there were lots of birds chirping from the trees and we noticed as well that there were many bird houses hanging above us.

From our table we can see South Xigia Beach where we swam in the morning.

Finally lunch arrived! Bruschetta came first.

Greek salad never tastes the same outside Greece. Take note, onions and tomatoes here tastes rather sweeter than normal.

My steamed mussels and half a lemon.

The outdoor terrace is quite spacious. There are enough tables but this taverna is popular so it gets busy during lunch and dinner. 

The taverna has its own private infinity swimming pool as well.

The verdict: food wiped out clean. Garlic and pine corns, they seem to be the theme of this taverna.

Next: More beautiful remote beaches!

Travel Period: August 2011
Destination: Zakynthos Island, Greece

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