Thursday, August 13, 2009

virtual tour - rogerland

hurray, we finally depart to rogerland. our first stop is basel, roger's home town. we will go to TC Old Boys where roger was a junior champion. the center court there is now named after roger. can you see it in the slideshow? yes it's red dirt. roger grew up on clay, so don't be surprised that he won the french!

our second stop is zug, a beautiful small town near zurich. roger lived not far away from zug but we don't want to intrude his privacy :) zug has a beautiful lake, and we can have tasty cheese at its market near the lake. from zug, it's another 15 mins train to lucern which is a gateway to alps. we can just have beer and relax under the sun by the beautiful lake, or we can take cable car to the top of the mountain. but if you enjoy skiing, probably we should go there again in the winter.

harry bear is going to lugano, the italian lakes region, which is about 2 hours train from lucern. we will not go there this time. instead, we will go to the capital of rogerland, bern, a town named after bear. before we explore this most well preserved medieval town, we detour to thun from where we take a cruise sailing on lake thun. if we are lucky to be caught in a storm, we will see a completely breathtaking scene. but if you are a soccer fan, you should hurry back to bern to meet the orange army. it was flashback EM08 netherlands vs france, although the french fans were nowhere to see.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

greece tour - santorini

from athens to santorini, fast ferry takes about 5-8 hours. but april was not a good time for taking ferry because of the unpredictable weather. so we decided to fly there. it was only 40 minutes. we just took off, the plane already started to descend. santorini is a long narrow island, but quite small. form the airport to the town center (fira, the capital of the island) is about 15 minutes drive.

santorini is essentially the result of a huge volcano explosion. a giant volcano made lagoon of 400m deep is surrounded by cliffs on three sides. many hotels are built on the cliff with magnificent view of the lagoon. most of them are in the town center, but we liked one a bit further away with breaking taking views, volcano view hotel and villas. unfortunately, it was not open until late april because easter was still low season. we did felt a bit chilly, but it wasn't packed with tourists either so we were very relaxed to enjoy the scenery.

fira was a vibrant place, with a lot of restaurants, pubs and shops. locals liked to sing and dance at patios of restaurants. maybe because eating was so important to locals, restaurants were not compromising at all on food quality just because santorini was a popular tourist place. their homemade dips and pita bread were simply fantastic. my favorite was the eggplant dip and greek salads.

sunset in santorini was very beautiful. we went to the village of oia on the northern side of the island. all houses built on the cliff facing the sea were painted in white and blue. we were told that it was required by the law. when we looked close, the outside of the houses were actually quite simple and primitive. but everything just fit perfectly, creating the serenity that i have never experienced before, completing forgetting that the place was once the most active volcano region in the world.

Friday, August 7, 2009

greece tour - athens

we went to greece during the easter break. melbourne is the third largest greek community outside greece. so we kinda felt like visiting the relatives. we landed in the morning. the weather was cool and nice. but the taxi driver told us that it could hit 40s in summer. we glad we came at the right time. the road from the airport to the city was very nice. we thought it might be built for the athens olympics. and on the way we could see the olympics stadium.

we stayed at eridanus hotel, a boutique hotel near acropolis. it was one of the best hotels we'd stayed. small (room and bath were spacious) but elegant to every details. breakfast was excellent. we could see acropolis from the hotel balcony. it was beautiful at night with lights on acropolis.

after we checked in, we took a walk to acropolis. we crossed a market which was selling mostly cheese and sacrificed goats for the easter. berrie closed her eyes, but i couldn't because i had to lead the way. there were also quite a few shops selling nuts, dried fruits and desserts, quite similar to those in turkey. we bought some and sat down in a square, and shared the snack with pigeons.

when we arrived at acropolis, we felt very hungry. we didn't know the area well, so we just picked a restaurant which looked nice with a spacious outdoor area. it was not difficult to order because we had greek food in melbourne many times. but what surprised us was the fine quality of the food and the cheap price (half of that in melbourne, and considering that we were in a tourist place). the meat was grilled just nice. the mashed potato with meat source was very tasty. they had very good tomatoes and olives. the coffee was like turkish style, but just matching the style of the food. we concluded that greek food was not only yummy, but also very healthy.

after the meal, we started to climb the hill to acropolis. it was about 2km to the top, but it was a pleasant climb. the hill is not very steep, and has cafes and restaurants along the way. we were glad that we picked a good time. it was warm, with a little breeze to just cool us down as we walk. the entrance was free because it was public holiday. i am not very good at history, so i think i will refer you to for some background about acropolis, and follow my slides to walk around the site. we were stunned by the technology used for the original site. it has been reconstructed many times, but still couldn't be restored to the original glory and magnificence. archimdes' daddy must be able to tell you a lot more about the greatness of ancient greeks.

the next day was good friday. many restaurants were not open. we remembered that we passed by a restaurant at the foot of acropolis which mentioned easter dinner, so we decided to go there. we were glad we did. from the restaurant, we could see acropolis from very close at night. the lighting shed on the temples, making it look like a heavenly place. that justified the price we paid for the dinner.

our next stop was santorini, a postcard island. don't forget to join us tomorrow.

virtue tour - greece

i am organizing virtue tours for bearplace festival. our first stop is greece. we will visit acropolis in athens and santorini in south aegean sea. follow the slideshow to see the fantastic views and meet local animal friends.