Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mesmerizing Zakynthos

Early in the morning we were ready for our long journey to Zakynthos or Zante. We endured the 5 hour long bus journey with the kids. The view through the latter part of the drive was right out of an imaginary painting that probably couldn’t have been a part of this world. Driving down the curvy mountains along the sea was just breathtakingly beautiful.

After 5 hours we reached our destination on land; from there we were to be ferried to Zante. We got off the bus and our bus drove into this huge Ship which could accommodate so many more buses in its cargo space. Thereafter we moved onto this luxurious Cruise with multileveled decks. The best part was that thankfully I didn’t get sea sick because we couldn’t even know that the ship was moving although it was cruising at a high speed. It almost felt like what one would have felt while sitting in the Titanic.  On our 1 hour 30 mins sail, it was wonderful to see an inquisitive pod of seals swimming along and following our ship till we were in their “territory”.
Finally when we reached Zakynthos we took on foot to explore the town and finalized the cruise which would take us around the entire Zakynthos Island. Later we returned to our resort and the kids were so thrilled since the resort was totally kids friendly with separate tables and chairs for kids in the dinning room, children’s pool with water slides, beautiful playground and a room with toys and books. To top this in the evening - games, magic show, puppet show and tattoos for kids were being organized. This resort was a total kid’s paradise. So rest of the evening kids spent playing on the slides and play room while we relaxed and enjoyed watching them so thrilled and excited.  Since the resort was on the beach Aan and Aananya enjoyed walking on the beach and soaked up good in the sea.
The next morning we were ready for our full day cruise around the entire island of Zakynthos. The cruise was going to be for 8 to 9 hours and would take us around the island of Zakynthos stopping in between at amazing sites and secluded beaches which can be accessed only by sea.It seems like our kids had an easy access to the Captain’s room and were yet again offered to try their hand in steering the ship. I have to admit it was pretty cool though!

Our first stop on the cruise was the blue caves where you can see the magical turquoise water with hints of emerald green. After soaking in the beauty we headed for the Shipwreck Cove, also known as Navagio which is well known throughout the world. As soon as the boat anchored, we ran into the beach and Aanya enjoyed splashing around in the water and Aan had fun swimming. This is where Aakaash decided to play brave and dived from the 2nd floor deck. I am sure that must have been really thrilling for him!

After much of fun and frolicking we headed towards Porto Vromi where we saw the face of Poseidon, the sea god. It is unbelievable to see clearly the face from naturally eroded cave rock. The next stop was Agalas Caves; since our ship was big so we couldn’t go through the natural caves on the sea but people who wanted to dive in and explore the caves were given enough time to do so and of course Aakaash was one of them. The water was so clear we could see schools of beautiful colored fishes from the deck. Later we headed towards Keri caves and in some locations, the only option to go in the water was to dive down and Aakaash and Aan definitely took all the opportunities to get soaked in the beauty of the turquoise blue unadulterated sea. Thankfully for Anya and me; we had an air conditioned lounge with a play area which kept both of us busy and allowed to take our scheduled nap. While we were cruising along the Zakynthos Island, the play area was a big saving grace for us; else the kids would have got totally bored and cranky.

Later when we reached the resort the kids jumped into the kid’s swimming pool with water slides and splashed around. Aananya has a blast since the water was below her waist and she could walk around and enjoyed to the fullest. While in the pool they enjoyed watching the cartoon characters that were moving around as a part of the activities for the kids organized by the resort. Both Aan and Aananya preferred to chill in the water than go join the other kids. After having early dinner at the resort we headed to see the night life of Zakynthos. It was amazing that the market was open till 12am at night, considering almost everything in Europe shuts down max by 7pm. We moved around on foot and shopped a little. This was the last night at Zakynthos the next day we were heading back to Athens. This was a perfect place and holiday for us as a family and especially the kids had a blast in the Galaxy resort. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Historic Athens

When you say the word Greece – the picture that comes to mind is of beautiful turquoise blue water, white sandy beaches, beautifully architectured islands and Greek Gods! Well based on this picture I finalized the location for our holiday!

After seeing the unbelievable and beautiful pictures of Greece we set on our journey from Lagos to Athens. By the time we reached our hotel the day was gone so we decided to chill out and had the feel of Omonia Square which is the heart of Athens and that’s where we were staying too. For the first time we experienced staying in a boutique hotel where every room was designed on a different theme. Our junior suite was glamorous with literally shimmering walls and modern d├ęcor with intricacies and delightful ideas such as a tiny shopping bag with an “out for shopping” door knob tag and a beautiful shopping list note pad etc.

The next day we were fresh to visit the World Heritage Site– Parthenon, Acropolis. It is indeed a spectacular site and surprisingly I thought that the structure was called Acropolis but it’s the cultural monument that is called Parthenon and acropolis means a high city (like on a hill) and there are many acropolises in Greece but that’s what I thought! Later during the day we took the hop on hop off bus and saw the sites of many ancient temples, the Olympic stadium, Hadrian’s Arc, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Syntagma Square and Monestiraki Square.

The third day we were ready to cruise to the islands of Hydra, Porus and Aegina. This beautiful island hopping ship had live orchestra, open decks, lunch, Greek dancers and the spirit to make your cruise a perfect one. However this is the first time I discovered that I can get sea sick… So you can imagine the excitement soon turned into a little bit of disappointment for me. I kinda kept myself excited till we reached Hydra which is a small lush island with narrow maze of streets, beautiful architecture and has dramatic landscape with traditional stone houses. While we were on the deck Aan and Aananya seem to have captured loads of attention and were invited to the Captain’s room to see the wonderful view and steer the ship. Not only the kids but we too were thrilled with the experience.

By the time we headed towards Porus, I was certain that I was getting sea sick and decided to spend time trying to take a nap in the lounge rather than the open deck. Sometimes your body surprises you; I love the ocean and the sea and never thought in a million years that I could get sea sick. Well the moment we reached the beautiful harbour of Hydra I was all set to explore the picturesque town. We explored the stone paved streets on foot since the only traditional vehicle of the island is the saddled donkey, mule or a horse. No vehicles are used in the town.

When we reached back to our ship, the table had been set for a gastronomic 5 course creation of authentic Greek food. After the elaborate meal there was an entertainer who made us laugh with silly imitations of various people from different countries and culture followed by Greek dancers who dragged some of us on the floor to break a leg with them.

We didn’t even realize how 2 hours had passed and we had already reached the docks of our last island Aegina. Aegina is the main producer of pistachio nuts in Greece and is famous for pistachio ice cream which, by the way is not very palatable to me, so while others decided to dig into the pistachio ice cream, I indulged in the chocolate vanilla fudge and then we decided to take a horse carriage ride around the town. This was the perfect way to end our trip to the islands. I will try not to remember the rest of the way back to Athens; that I spent literally sleeping in the lounge to avoid barfing on the decks. When we reached our hotel, we were tired and packed our luggage for the next day’s journey to the beautiful island of Zakynthos

Monday, May 23, 2011

The last destination of Switzerland - Geneva

After travelling from Paris to Laussane, Zurich, Engleburg, Interlaken; finally we reached our last destination Geneva. This is for the first time we traveled to so many places in one trip. Since we reached in the evening we didn’t have much time to see the place however one landmark that I definitely didn’t want to miss was the one of the largest fountain in the world the Jet d Eau. This fountain jets out 500 liters of water per second at an altitude of 140 meters and at a speed of 200 km per hour. It truly is a spectacular sight.

This magnificent fountain was the perfect closing ceremony to our beautiful, adventurous and unforgettable trip. A memory and an unforgettable experience that will stay in our hearts forever and with that we headed back home to Nigeria.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Picturesque Interlaken

During our journey through Switzerland, the days were spent sight seeing and the evenings travelling. The picturesque view from Engelburg to Interlaken was truly breathtaking. It looked as if we were either a part of a grandiose painting or partaking a role of a passerby in a fairly tale. Beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, mountains with waterfall, small medieval looking houses, cattle ranches, leveled lush greenery all around and when it rained, it looked like the trees and grass had been washed and a lawn mower went all over the land and mountains. The view was simply splendid.

Although the journey was taking a toll on us, our spirits weren’t dampened a bit. Our next check point was Jungfrau but due to rain, bad weather conditions and low visibility it did dampen our plans. It’s really nice that you can see the mountain top on TV, that too live and seeing that almost nothing was visible on TV we decided that it was not worth the effort.

So we roamed around the town, soaked in the beauty that was all around us and of course bought the sought after cuckoo clock. After dinner we retired back to our rooms and prepared for our last journey to Geneva.