Last Greek Salad.

We headed out about 4 to wander Oia and have a very late lunch/early supper.

Below are some of the sights and photos of our final meal which was similar to all the others we have had here except for my birthday lunch. We have been forced to survive on gyro and Greek salads…how terrible! LOL. With the occasional baclava (apparently that’s how the Greeks spell it in English here?).

The shot above is from the “Minoan” Castle looking towards our hotel. Below is the view we have up to it.

Here is the great place we have patronized. Notice their gyro is horizontal and over charcoal.

And just to reinforce the whole stair situation below are a couple of shots of Stavros-one is our hotel’s porter toting other guests luggage to the hotel. Typically the porters have one bag in their shoulder and and carry another. But in this case, it appears overpacker’s anonymous hasn’t reached these new guests. I’m sure they are only here for one night!

In order to get to the first picture he has already come down at least 100 steps/ramps and made his way through throngs of picture taking tourists. You couldn’t pay me enough to be him (as if I could even think about doing it).

We have been amazed by the number of visitors here especially given this is the very beginning of season. It has been particularly interesting to see how many couples are here having their wedding pictures taken. It isn’t clear if they are getting married here. Most of them are Asian. They are wandering around town in BIG pouffy dresses and tuxedoes stopping every and anywhere to set up their shots-usually with a photographer and at least one assistant. And some like you can see in the pictures below go way off the trail to get just the right picture!

Of course everywhere in this town there are tourists in each others way trying to take the perfect picture. Mike and I laughed for s good 15 minutes watching the three ladies below taking selfies and posed shots of each other after trespassing into our hotel. What you see below is only a portion of what we witnessed.

It has been a great birthday and I’m so glad we were able to come to Santorini now as I sincerely believe that I don’t have many more of these steps in me…..wonder if I don’t make it back up to the shuttle tomorrow if they will let me move in?

So here is my wisdom for today…when you have a wish to do something, be sure and do it while you can.

I am so so happy I happened to see “that” pool 10 years ago and let it become the reason for this whole adventure Mike and I are on to commence. Thanks to his frugality, our great employers, and our wish to make it happen NOW, I got to fulfill this dream.

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Last Day.

After enjoying a huge breakfast, I’m now spending my last few hours in “that” pool. Above is my view literally as I type this post. Hope I don’t drop the iPad! Now that I achieved this one guess it’s time for a new life goal!

Any suggestions?

Milan Week Three (part 2).

After our very long day to Firenze, we slept late and barely left the apartment. Did wash and started packing to leave. Our airport hotel (we have a 7am flight to Santorini) in Milan is going to hold our rollsboards so we are taking just our backpacks. We spend a night back at the hotel Saturday night. Just like in the US sometimes the cheapest way to get from point A to Point B that aren’t very far apart is to go to Point C which is miles out if the way!

In this case, to get from Santorini to Sofia and not have to leave at crack o’dawn or arrive in Sofia at midnight was to fly through someplace other than Athens…low and behold flying EastJet back to Milan works out pretty perfect…will leave Santorini at 11:20 am and after spending the night leave Milan on Sunday at 11ish arriving in Sofia about 3:30 pm. (Time change).

On Saturday we decided it was time to have a haircut. As some of you may know, I’m trying to have long hair for the first time in my life so my last haircut was at Raymond’s in Houston in late January. Mike got his cut onboard Viking Sky in order to use up some of our onboard credit. So his new faux hawk/shark fin needed some TLC and my head and beard were a mess!

We had passed a barber shop every time we walked to the train station in Paderno Dugano and the barber always smiled as we walked by. So after using google translate to prepare what we wanted-a ponytail sometime in the future for me and a redo of his new style for Mike, we stopped by only to find them having a crowd at 10 in the morning….”come back at 2″….same thing….hmm, we thought we had an appointment but I guess not….”come back at 4″ the nice lady at the desk says, barber smiles and says sorry but see you soon. At four we arrive to there still being a crowd. So we decide we better wait. Soon the nice lady introduces us to her son whom she has called in to translate. His English is better than my Italian but we still have some issues but it just makes the experience all the more fun!

“Do you wish beard haircut?” Si I respond. Suddenly a tiny elderly man appears from the back and I’m ushered into his spotless cubicle which has an old fashioned barber chair.

Turns out this whole place is a family – grandpa now does beards, Son hair, Son’s wife the front desk, and grandson is in his last year of barber training and does the washing (and in our case translating).

What a great experience, the grandfather and I “discussed” me loosing some or all of my beard-I’ve said for years that when I get old it’s coming off so I get my babyface back and loose all this white hair! But he convinced me that with his efforts he would make me younger and thinner and that I had too pretty a beard to loose. So I guess I’ll wait til 65 to loose it! Anyway, he proceed to use scissors, lather and a straight razor to clean up my face. Amazing….I’ve only had an electric trim before.

After he finished with me, I was moved to the washing station while Gramps did the same for Mike.

After my wash Son took over and also used a straight blade (a first for me) to reduce some of the volume and trim the ends which from my reading is exactly what is supposed to be done. After me, the same was done for Mike.

Throughout both we and they took pictures, us for this blog and Mike’s Facebook and they for their Instagram and Facebook as you can see below- we are now their friends from Texas!

All in all it was a great experience that will be hard for the Portuguese to top I’m afraid (since I figure that’s when we will next need a trim.)

Sunday we finished packing, and had the best carbonara Mike has ever made. Late afternoon we walked into the center of our village for our last gelato and found the fixer upper pictured at the top of this post. If we were younger we might consider trying to save it!

For dinner that night we went to the little restaurant at the end of our street for our last real pizza for a while…so tasty and a great way to end our stay.

Monday ate our final caprese salad-poor basil plant, it gave its life for enjoyment.

Also gave the apartment a good cleaning. While we probably don’t have to leave the place as nice as we are are doing,as new Airbnb-ers we need good reviews so we try to leave it as we found it when we arrive.

After lunch we were heading out and Cinzia’s daughter offered us a ride to the train station…so nice to not have to roll our bags there!

Out Train from the village to the station where we were to catch the Malpensa (Milano’s airport) Express train was on time and the five stop ride was uneventful. But the next leg not so much!

We were here to catch the 15:03 to the airport. When we arrived the previous train to the airport was on Binaro 1 so we ran but missed it.

That board over Mike’s head showed “our” train but not a binaro. So we decided to just wait there until they told us which one our train would be on. At 15:04 they finally notified us it was bin 3, up the escalator, wait for slow elevator, go down, get off on bin 3, and of course by then the train had shut and locked the doors. Jeez, no notice and now we gotta wait for the next one. Of course the next train had it’s binaro posted the whole time….wait for it. Yes, binario 1!

Anyway, made it to the airport, found our shuttle to the Hilton Garden Inn (yes David, your favorite) and checked in. After a restless short sleep, we caught the 5:15 shuttle back to the airport to catch our EasyJet flight (which was easy!) to glorious Santorini.

The driver from our hotel was waiting when we exited the airport and after a drive up to the top through incredibly awful traffic -cruise ship excursion busses causing most of it, we made it to Oia.

Thank god for the hotel porters who carried our backpacks through town and down the 100 or so steps to our hotel.

We checked in and they showed us our beautiful cave suite. We had originally booked the low end room but do to a credit card rejection which we think was due to our change of address, we lucked out and were able to rebook at a savings or almost $1000 AND be in s suite with a living room and kitchenette. It only added about $75 to the cost of the total stay over our original room and I think we will save at least that much by eating in some meals and have 925 bucks leftover!

After getting in “that pool” a day early and exactly 10 years after seeing it for the first time, we had our first (of many) Greek salads-no lettuce! By that pool.

Later we reclimbed the stairs up to the Main Street and bought some wine and dips along with real Gyros ( so much better than that pressed meat crap) and had it on our terrace at sunset. After such a long day, went to bed by 9:30!

Awoke on the first day of my 60th year and has a delicious breakfast by “that” pool. About noontime we headed down to Ammoudi, the fishing village right below us.

That death march had us taking the “stairs” down to the fishing village on the Caldera and then taking a path that required rock climbing to get to a spot to get in the Mediterranean Sea where there is an island with a hot spring and a 15 foot place to jump in the water-needless to say after my Cozumel experience I did not jump off that cliff!

The hard part was climbing over the rocks to get out then hike back to the village. It might look familiar from Mamma Mia.

We had Birthday lunch of Greek Salad, olives, spicy cheese spread (Greek pimiento cheese), grilled octopus and grilled swordfish and a birthday baklava.

A nice couple sitting nearby bought us beers after seeing the birthday baklava so we had a nice chat with them. They live in the U.K. but she is from Estonia. Notice it’s the local brew, Donkey, this one was yellow sorta s blue moon style…but they have red, brown, etc donkey brews too

The extra beer did not help the 200 steps back to hotel. They are not normal stops they are slopped and have donkeys going up and down. We both had to fall in the pool after that climb! Thank we have been walking 5-8 miles regularly but the stairs were still murder.

All in all a great way to start my 60th year. But I’ve told Mike that while I want to swim in the Med for my 70th, it has to be from somewhere flatter!

So now you’re all caught up and I’m headed back to “that” pool!

Made it!

Promise I will finish posting about our the last couple of days in Milan but just a quickie to say we made it to Santorini and finally after a zillion steps to our hotel which is as beautiful as I had hoped. And as you can see, I made it into “that” pool and it isn’t even my birthday yet!

Retirem…ahem, stopping work

Image result for santorini greeceDuring Mike’s 50th birthday trip (Venice to Rome on land/back to Venice around Italy by ship), his college roommate Yost (whose 50th we were also celebrating) mentioned he was going to work until he was fifty-nine and a half and not a minute longer.  What a great idea I thought – I’ve been putting money in my 401k since I went to work for Heery in 1983 (and my boss Edney refused to sign my timesheet until I had signed up) and since we sold the house in Key West, Mike and I have been trying to sock away every penny we can….ok, maybe not every penny or otherwise this blog about cruising wouldn’t exist! LOL  It seems to me it is time to start spending it before I am too old to be able to really enjoy it.  Since so many folks keep saying I am too young to retire (even though I disagree with them and think I was old enough 10 years ago….unfortunately the bank account didn’t agree) we will just call it not working anymore .

Since Yost got me thinking, it has been my intention to stop work sometime soon after I turn fifty-nine and half (11/2/17). This happens to support my oft-stated wish to spend my sixtieth birthday Santorini Greece which I think is the most beautiful place in the world…if you disagree, that’s ok, I know I am right on this….I mean look at that picture at the top!) More specifically, I want to spend my 60th in “that pool” I saw the hotel while having lunch in Santorini during my 50th birthday cruise…there may have been a glass of wine or two served with lunch!

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No date for the work stoppage has yet been set (but it is likely to be shortly after the new year), but we have booked our transatlantic cruise which leaves San Juan on March 4, 2018 arriving in Barcelona 14 days later. More on the decision making process on the transatlantic in a later post..but suffice it to say we broke the first rule of retirement not working and exceeded our budget, but hopefully it will all work out ok in the end.

We have also booked three nights at the Oia Mare Suites so I can be swimming in “that pool” on May 2nd.  Our current plan is to spend about a month in Spain (probably half in Barcelona and half in Valencia), then two weeks in Santorini and then a month in Portugal (likely half in Lisbon and half in Porto).  Because of visa requirements we have to leave the EU by June 10th so we are still discussing whether we are coming on back then or heading to Ireland, Scotland and England and then after being out of the EU for 90 days, return to whichever of the locales we have visited along with Italy are most likely to be under serious consideration for our future retirement not working anymore home.  We then will take another transatlantic cruise back to the states in time for the holidays with family and friends.

So come on along for what is sure to be an interesting (albeit long winded) description of the planning for this retirement not working anymore trip and then for the trip itself.  And of course, if anyone is interested in meeting up with us somewhere along the way (the Oia Mare Suites has 22 rooms and there is plenty of room in “that pool” (hint, hint) please let us know…..it would be great to catch up with some of you face to face!