Family trip to Berlin

After leaving Zakynthos we flew to Berlin via Athens.  Not the quickest way to go but the cheapest option we found at the time.  We flew with Aegean Airlines who were surprisingly good with 23kg of luggage and meal included. We’d chosen to stay in a small pension-hotel in Charlottenburg- Wilmersdorf because of its excellent TripAdvisor reviews, its decent price, and the fact that it was a single bus ride from Berlin Tegel airport.  The ease of getting to your hotel via public transport is always something I take into account, as our kids are too small to be able to lift their own luggage up and downs stairs or on and off trains and buses. Hotel-Pension Bregenz was on the fourth floor of a six-storey building on a quiet street just near Olivaer Platz, south of Kufurstendamm.

We took it pretty easy and spent quite a bit of time just wandering about. Some of our favourite experiences were: Continue reading

Back in Dublin Town

Well, after being on the road for the last three weeks we are now settling into our new home in Dublin.  The plan is to stay here for a school year while the kids attend school and Ralph finds a job.  Ideally I’d like a job too but the librarian job market here is almost non-existent so instead it looks like I’ll be doing some postgraduate study at Trinity College instead.

Since leaving Zakynthos (sob) we’ve traveled to Berlin and northern Poland (Pomerania) and hopefully soon there will be some more detailed blogs to follow.  But just now we’re concentrating on all those mundane things like getting the internet connect, bank accounts, getting the kids ready for school and starting the job hunt.

The Peloponnese – Monemvasia and Elafonissos

In part two of our trip around the Peloponnese we went to Polilimnio and the Mani.

It was time to leave the Mani even though we’d only had time to see a tiny part of it. We headed south to Areopoli and through the mountain pass towards Gytheio with a quick swimming stop at Mavrovouni beach along the way. Arriving in Gytheio just before lunch, we planned to eat at one of its famous harbourside fish tavernas.  But it was still a little early so we set off to explore Marathonisi, a one-time island, but now connected by a mole to the mainland.  There was an intriguing-sounding Museum of the Mani that occupied an 18th-century tower house that we’d hoped to visit, but alas, it was closed.  In ancient times this little island was known as ‘Kranae’, and according to Homer it was here that Paris and Helen of Troy spent their first night after running away from Sparta. We chose a taverna for lunch and sat at a waterside table where we could see the little fish feeding on the mossy rocks. After a meal of kalamari, mussels and a rocket salad it was time to get in the car and continue towards Monemvasia. Continue reading

The Peloponnese – Polilimnio and the Mani

In part one of our trip around the Peloponnese we went to Ancient Messene, Pylos and Methoni Castle.

After two nights it was time to leave ‘sandy Pylos’, as it was called by Homer. We were going to head east across Messinia, go straight through Kalamata, and then drive south down the second finger, the Mani peninsula. The Peloponnese is surprisingly compact to someone used to the vastness of Australia but we quickly found that the correlation between the kilometres we drove and the time taken to drive them had a less than linear correlation.  Main roads can be tortuously windy with secondary roads lapsing into a single lane in places. Add to that the presence of two potential pukers in the back seat and our progress was slow. Continue reading

Salzburg on a shoestring with two kids, in two days: part 1

There’s a lot to see in Salzburg; experts have calculated you’d need a good 5 and a half days to see it all. We had two. So we had to skip stuff, obviously. Like men, women, and children at an ‘all-you-can-eat-buffet’ with only 10 minutes to go before the restaurant closes, we had to be strategic about our gluttony. But short though our time in Salzburg was, we felt like we packed a lot in in this historic city of 150,000 without blowing our budget, so here’s a rundown of our two days in the hope it might give you some ideas for when you come here, if you ever do, which, obviously, you should. Continue reading

Wieners

I’ve been watching Viennese people. They probably think that, as a tourist, I’m looking at the Hofburg Imperial Palace or Schloss Schönbrunn, but I’m looking at them. What’s more, I take photographs of them surreptitiously. In my defense, if I didn’t use subterfuge it wouldn’t really be possible at all. Es ist meine Lieblingsbeschäftigung, my favorite activity. Continue reading

The trip is getting bigger

Well, we’ve finally bought our tickets.

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Except that there’s been a slight change of plan.  Serendipity, in the form of Ralph finishing his work contract earlier than we thought he would, at the end of February, and the visit of our friends the Travel Junkies means that we are now leaving on the 1st March, and we’re going to Vienna!  Yes, we’re still spending four months in Greece from April to July but Ralph’s early unemployment has spurred us to take off to Europe a bit earlier.

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There was a slight danger we were going to have to do farm work (gulp).

So where do our friends the Travel Junkies come into the equation?  Well, when they recently stayed with us they told us about HelpX.  Now, I’d heard of it before but I didn’t think it was something that a family of four could do.  In a nutshell: its a website that connects hosts with helpers.  The host provides accommodation and board in return for the helpers’ labour, usually four or five hours a day.  Reassured by the Travel Junkies that there are some hosts who will take families, complete with unproductive children, I started scouring the HelpX website and placing requests.  Most of the host opportunities seemed to involve farms and physical labour in fairly remote locations but thankfully I hit the jackpot.  We received a response (one of the few, btw) from a family in the suburbs of Vienna.  Would we like to stay and help their children with their homework and do housekeeping duties?  Would we?  Hell yeah!  Basically that sounds like my life now but in Vienna!

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Jackpot! This is more our style.

So, to cut a long story slightly less long we’re off to Vienna for the month of March before flying to Athens in May.  This will be our first attempt at cheap travel so we might even try a few nights’ Couchsurfing if we’re feeling adventurous.