Greece ~ Santorini

Santorini
Lot’s of places we travel never live up to the hype. An example is Tahiti. You hear about the beautiful scenery, amazing beaches and remote locations. What you don’t hear about is the insane amounts of traffic, outrageous prices for everything and little history.
I was very impressed with Santorini! This island lives up to the hype! There is so much to do here, such amazing cuisine, unmatched scenery and great beaches. There are many places you can stay on this island, but the best 3 are Fira, Firostefani or Oia. The way these towns are built into the side of the mountains is so unreal. A lot of the hotels are old buildings converted to places to spend your vacation, so you will get the real feel of staying in a room built into the side of a mountain. The restaurants are so amazing, great food for a great value. Our favorite was Vanilla located in Firostefani. The scenery at almost any location on the island is jaw dropping. To catch the best sunset you will want to head to Oia, but be prepared to be overrun by tourist.
On Santorini I think the best way to get around is by 4×4 or moped. You can drive from one end of the island to the other end in about 1.5 hours. Oia to the lighthouse. On the way there are many amazing beaches to stop at. You can spend time at a white sand beach, a black sand beach or my favorite the red sand beach. Along the way there a many places to stop and take pictures of the Caldera. There is a monastery at the top of the highest peak with is home to 7 monks still to this day! Great views from up there! Renting the moped or 4×4 is only about 30 euro per day great value. The roads here are definitely some of the scariest in the world! A great day excursion is to go to the volcano by boat which is still an active. It last erupted in the 1950’s. From here you can go swim in the hot springs. Sail the water’s in between the island land masses. Do some island hopping and finish your day in Oia to see the sunset. There is a lot of hiking that day but I think it is well worth it! Times to travel here are anytime of the year but they have a climate much like South Carolina so their winter can be cool even snow on a rare occasion, but the summer is very hot! Great wine tours and vineyards! There is still so much more to talk about but bottom line is you need to travel there and experience it for yourself.
There are many places in the world they think the mythological city of Atlantis could be and Santorini is one of them because of the volcano erupting and sinking half the island in the sea, scientist believe Atlantis could exist here somewhere? The volcano eruption here that broke up the land mass of Santorini was considered to be one of the 3 largest volcano eruptions in the history of earth! If you have any questions let me know and I will do my best to answer them for you.San

British Airways Horrible Customer Service

Back about 3 months ago we were about to embark on what was to be one of the most exciting trips to Greece.  Myself and 5 other group leaders took 40 awesome high school kids to Greece and explored the amazing sites like Delphi, Olympia and The Acropolis.  We met at the high school that afternoon ready to leave in a large bus for Logan Airport.  It was our Bonn Voyage with the parents, there was so much excitement and anticipation for this trip we were taking.  Off to the airport we went laughing having a great time arriving at the airport around 3pm.  We arrived at the airport a few hours early to ensure we had plenty of time to check in with the kids and get situated before we took off to Greece.  After our long wait in the terminal it was time to board the plane now it was about 6pm.  They called our plane section and we starting down the gangway onto our flight on British Airways.  We were so excited the kids were beyond eager to take off on this journey and us chaperones were equally as excited to see what our 10 days had in store for us.  We were all shuffling around on the plane get our seats in order putting our luggage in the overhead compartments and just the buzz was electric from our travel group.  We felt a little nudge in the plane, did not think anything of it.  Five minutes later the announcement over the speakers was to evacuate the plane.  The luggage cart collided into the plane and punctured the shell of the British Airlines Plane.  Due to this crash the integrity of the plane was compromised and they had to have an engineer check out the plane and see if it was safe to fly.  After about 30 minutes in the terminal off the plane was evacuated there came an announcement saying our flight has been cancelled and get this “There are no flights out for 3 days!”.  Well you can imagine the chaos that ensued with a 500 person plane being unloaded and then cancelled.  The people in the terminal became enraged and everyone stormed the service counter looking for answers.  This people are all guests of British Airways who spent hard earned money to take once in a lifetime trips and then all of a sudden there trip has been cancelled and postponed for 3 days!?  We patiently waited our turn to speak with the ONE British Airways representative,  all the while being on the phone with British Airways and the Group Leader was on the phone with the travel company trying to make sense of this and get these kids out asap on the next flight.  The representative told us we need to go back out to the front and rebook our flight.  I told him we have 46 people and that is not possible, but he kept insisting there is nothing he could do.  Still on the phone with the travel company and British Airways getting no where we had the 4 other chaperones take care of the kids and make sure they were OK while we went out and tried to handle this matter.  As you can imagine the the airport was a mob scene and we were way back in line trying to get to the ticket window to figure out  this matter.  I was in one line and the group leader was in another line.  I weaseled my way to the front of the line and started speaking with the attendant.  I tried explaining to her we had 6 chaperones and 40 kids that need to get to Greece asap and start there tour tomorrow so please get us out on the next flight.  She said to come back tomorrow and then you can rebook these kids but you won’t be able to get out for at least 3 days.  Well I was beside myself no way was the group leader and myself gonna let this happen. She kept resisting my requests but because this was for the kids I kept on and kept on with my persistent request for these flights to be re-booked.  She said to speak with another lady when she was done with the customer.  We started a new conversation with her and still we were not getting help re-booking these flights they kept saying come back tomorrow after 10 pm and then you can rebook these flights.  Well we would not accept that as an answer. While this ordeal was going on we told the other chaperones to have the kids call for rides that we were not flying out tonight and we would be in touch with them by phone and email as soon as we new something definitive.  Around 9pm we finally got through to these British Airlines workers and they started helping us.  Of course because it was summer the busy season and we had a large group the only way to get out to Greece in the quickest manner possible was to book the kids on all 1st available flights to Greece.  So we decided to tell the attendant just get us there the quickest way possible, but every kid will need a chaperone with them.  Around 11pm they finally started finding flights to rebook us on and she started booking us 1 chaperone with as many kids that there were seats for on the plane.  There were flights with 3 seats, other flights with 9 seats and others with 6 seats and so on and so on.  They booked us as they found seats available and around 1 am we were almost all booked.  At 2am we were completely booked on 6 different flights flying out all at different times over the next 3 days.  We had to inform the kids and chaperones asap of the changes so some of the kids could get back to the airport in a few hours to fly out.  Needless to say it was a trying, exhausting unreal 10 hours but we made it through and had a great trip once we all arrived in Athens, Greece.  British Airways was not very helpful just kept pawing us off on other people and telling us there was nothing they could do and to come back the next day to re-book.  One would think they would offer a free flight or some sort of refund for this horrible ordeal they put all the customers through that night.  Luckily for our group we had the greatest group of kids and chaperones to stay their course and have a great time regardless of what took place.  In the end this was one of the best trips I have ever been one because of the amazing people we traveled with!greece

African Adventure

On most peoples list of places to go but you never get to is Africa.  This is a shame, you need to find a way to travel to Africa at some point.  The wonders there are just to amazing for words.  Lots of people are scared to travel to Africa because of the violence and diseases, but I can attest that Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia are safe, if your cautious there is a low risk of disease and the people are very nice.  From the sunrises to the sunsets and the animals around every corner Africa are beautiful.  Looking to go on a safari I suggest you go to Kenya and Tanzania.  You have many options here on how to stay, you can either rough it in pop up tents which I loved, you can stay in nicer tents that are luxury in the tent world or you can really spend some money and stay in a safari hotel and live it up.  Depending on what you choose you could pay anywhere from $50 a night to camp to over a $1000 a night for some of the posh resorts.  These are definitely the popular places to travel too in Africa, but for good reason.  The amount of animals you see are bountiful.  You will see a few Cheetahs and Leopards if your lucky.  You will see millions and I mean millions of Wildebeest, Zebras, Cape Buffalo and Thomson Gazelles.  As for every other animal you think of you will see hundreds and even thousands of Lions, Giraffes, Elephants, Warthogs, Hyenas, Vultures to name a few.  Not only do you see these animals but you watch them interact with each other and even stalk each other for food.  To see a Lion stalk a Warthog and chase after it in a violent assault is so unreal.  To watch 10 Lionesses leave the 10 cubs behind in their pride to go hunting is such a sight to behold.  Those little cubs are so helpless and to watch them try to stay alive while the protectors are out hunting keeps you on the edge of your seat.  You get so close to these animals, if they would not bite your arm of you could touch them.  In the winter months their weather is spectacular, cool to cold nights and mild to warm days.  And very very rarely does it ever rain.  Their summer on the other hand is very hot and rainy.  If you travel to Africa in dry season then you will be saved from getting eating alive from the mosquitoes.  It is only in their rainy season where you really have issues with mosquitoes.  The food is delicious and you get to try some amazing cuisines.  The people are one of the best reasons to come here, they are so nice and accommodating.  To see how they live in their villages makes you really appreciate how lucky we are to live where we do.  There does come a point where the locals can be overwhelming with their pursuit to sell you anything they can, but they are just trying to make $$$.  The Masai Mara and the Serengeti definitely live up to their billing.  They are so amazing words do not do those places justice.  Want to take a break from the Safari life you can head over to Zanzibar, Mauritius or Seychelles where you can enjoy some island life for a while.  Another amazing destination is Victoria Falls in this location you get to see the worlds largest waterfall and upgrade your self to a little nicer accommodations if you want.  Vic Falls is home to so many unreal adventurous activities.  From swimming on the edge of the falls in the “Devils Pool” to taking a safari walk looking for White Rhinos, this place has it all.  Some of the resorts here like the Royal Livingston Hotel are just absolutely stunning.  But so stay at a modest, nice and very affordable resort I would suggest you stay at the Zambezi Waterfront Lodge, great location, great price and great people. I have so many awesome suggestions and travel advice that if you need any questions answered about Africa you are more then welcome to let me know and I will give you some great info.

MALDIVES

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Years ago I saw a picture of this island nation from the sky and it was the most perfect thing I have ever seen. From that point my goal was to travel there at any cost. This country which consists of around 1200 little and I mean little islands, which about 100 have resorts on them is the most ideal vacation spot if you are looking for relaxation, diving and everything revolving around water. Maldives is the lowest elevation county in the world only being about 4 feet above sea level. So yes with the ocean rising this place is on the extinction list, maybe gone in the next 50 years. There is no rock on this country, basically the islands are made up of sand they are just large sand bars ranging in size from 10 feet by 10 feet to 1/2 mile by 1/2 a mile. The capital Male is the largest of the islands and is home to about 1,000,000 people. Might be one of the most cluttered nations on earth. As for stuff dreams are made of…. You fly into Male and from there you hop on a sea plane, YES a sea plane and fly to your destination. As you fly over these amazing islands you see nothing but paradise. The coral, reefs, sand everything is the most beautiful hues of blues and greens I have ever seen. The people that work on these islands are so sweet and so hard working, they literally rake the island all day long. Once you get of the plane your shoes come off and there is no need to where them for the rest of the trip because everything is sand. The closest large port is Dubai which is far away about 1000 miles so everything is very expensive. The resorts are the best in the world ranging in price from about $300 a night to $1000 a night depending on your likes and dislikes. If you are looking for scuba diving or snorkeling this is the place. Maldives has the most diverse animals and sea life, coral and relics of any place I have ever seen. The water was so clear and easily the hottest water I have ever swam in not heated by lava. The ocean water was around 90 F, just unreal. The fish here are so trusting of humans by stay clear of the picasso triggerfish if you get hear its eggs it will charge you, don’t make the same mistake I did. The food is great the chefs are amazing and the staff are so accomodating. There is only 1 golf course on in the country and it is located on Kurdeu, it is only a 6 hole par 3 course, but this is because these islands are so small there is no room for a golf course. These islands are so secluded, so peaceful but if you take an excursion to another completely deserted island you will find yourself in the most remote place on earth, so relaxing. The sea life is unreal, whales, sharks, manta rays just non stop sea marvels. It is hot here being near the equator, the temps rise to the 90’s daily and don’t cool off much at night. Of course there are no mountains here, the islands are very flat and arid with some area of plant life, usually plenty of canopies for shade. Make Maldives the number #1 dream destination. The natural wonder of the Maldives is too much to grasp, your constantly in awe.
Joseph

Worth the long flight from the U.S.!

Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount Fuji, Japan

Japan offers so many fun things to do. Masawa, Japan to Tokyo is about a 9 hour drive, 4.5 hour train or about a 1.5 hour flight. There are so many mountains, beaches and beautiful ancient artifacts and temples. When staying in Masawa Japan I would plan on taking a boat to the northern part of the island to see Sapporo and some other local cities. When traveling there in April the mountains will be snow covered and it can be cold or cool but the chance of it being warm is slim. Japan offers a bountiful amount of amazing ski mountains and hiking trails. In Masawa there is an aviation and science Museum which would be a great day of learning and exploring. There are many waterfalls and gorgeous landscapes that the fallen snow will make even more pretty. If you are going to head down to Tokyo I would definitely make it a point to head to Mount Fuji rsing up around 13,000 feet it is quite a site. Both areas of Masawa and Tokyo are bustling areas so I would head there and plan day trips while I am there to see what the region has to offer. I would start in Masawa and head up to the northern part of the country then when I have finished explore these areas, I would probably take a train down the coast to Tokyo. The views you will see would be so worth it! This time of year being April you will be in a off season so you will have the pick when it comes to excursions or places to do and see.

Top 5 places on the North Shore to let your dog run free! (Legally)

1.  Lynn Woods Reservation, Lynn

In the Lynn Woods there are many different trails to hike, run, walk or bike.  There are many ponds, lakes and rivers to go swimming in and the fishing is unreal.  For dogs it is great so many fun places to have fun with your dog.  You will always need to be careful of coyotes and ticks but besides that you can let the dog run free.  There are usually lots of dogs in there with their owners and they tend to play all together.

2.  Bradley Palmer State Park, Topsfield

Similiar things to do as Lynn Woods but they also have a amazing river that flows for miles through the area. 

3.  Sandy Point State Refuge, Ipswich

4.  Breakheart Reservation, Saugus

5.  Harold Parker State Forest, Andover

Always remember to pick up after your dog and have fun!

Map Of Kefalonia!

KEFALONIA GREECE AMAZING!
Kefalonia Tourism Office
This office is located in Argostoli and is open daily from 7:30 am to 2:30pm and then from 5:00 pm to 10:00pm. As you will see on this island midday the island is very quiet because a lot of people take their naps and relax. This tourism center is great it will give you all the information you need from dining to great excursions.

Beaches
Kefalonia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! There is Myrtos which is considered one of the most beautiful places to bathe and sun. Keep in mind some of the beaches on Kefalonia are covered with smooth pebbles so it may be a good idea to have water shoes and flip flops. Walking in your bare feet is typically ok but if your feet are sensitive I would definitely recommend water shoes. Bring a snorkel because the water is teaming with so many beautiful fish and coral. Xi Beach is fun because it is smooth sand/clay and the water is shallow and calm. You can cover yourself with clay and give yourself a little spa treatment while hanging at the beach. Platia Ammos is probably the best beach on the island but you will need to hike down a 1000 foot cliff on the staircase in order to swim there, but trust me it is well worth it unreal place to swim! Honestly no matter where you go on this island you will find serene, gorgeous beaches.

Hotels in Lixouri
Good Values in Great locations!
La Cite Hotel ~ http://www.lacitehotellixouri.gr/
This hotel is about 30 minutes from the wedding site and is in a great central location!
Hotel Palatino ~ http://www.hotelpalatino.gr/
This hotel is a close walk to the center and offers beautiful views!
Hotel Summery ~ http://hotelsummery.gr/
This hotel is once again in a central location and about 30 minutes to the wedding site.
These 3 hotels are great values and a great location to be in when traveling to Lixouri. There are many hotels in this area but these are 3 I choose which I think would be good accommodations.
Gorgeous Hotel but a bit pricey!
Apollonion Resort and Spa ~ http://www.apollonion-hotel.gr/
Unreal hotel, very expensive but very nice!
You will want to stay in Lixouri because that is on the side where Annie and Chris will get married. You will fly into Argostoli but take a 20 minute ferry ride across the bay to Lixouri. If you don’t want to take the ferry ride that’s ok it is a 30 minute drive around the bay to get to Lixouri.

Car Rentals in Lixouri
Imperial Car Rental ~ http://rent-a-car-kefalonia.com/lixouri-car-rentals.htm
This will be a good place to rent a car on Kefalonia. There are many rental companies and types of vehicles but I would rent a small sedan, great gas mileage and it is quick and swift on the tight mountainous roads on Kefalonia.

Things to Do on Kefalonia!
There are endless amounts of activities to do while staying on the beautiful Ionian Island of Kefalonia, Greece. There are castles, forts, 5000 foot mountains, best beaches in the world, best food in the world, caves, secret pools of crystal blue water, island hopping, amazing Greek history and mythology, beautiful fishing ports just to name a few!
Top 10 best things to do while staying on Kefalonia.
1.) Myrtos Beach ~ This beach is a hair raising ride down the side winding twists and turns of a mountain road, but once you are there it is an amazing beach!
2.) Platia Ammos ~ Once again and amazing beach but this one you will have to walk down a very long staircase to get to this secluded area.
3.) Lakadakia Beach ~ This beach is a local hotspot. There are calm waters, amazing snorkeling and just a great place to hang out. If you are look for a thrill there are cliffs and large rocks to jump off out in the deeper areas.
4.) Melissani Cave ~ You will enter through an underground pathway to this gorgeous cave where you will embark on a boat ride into the grotto and out while gazing at the sapphire blue water and the bats flying around above you.
5.) Drogarati Cave ~ This cave is home to some of the world’s most architectural amazing stalagmites and stalactites. They protrude upwards and downwards through this cave. It is a fun afternoon trip. Still these growths are getting larger everyday!
6.) Monastery of Agios Gerassimos ~ This monastery is splattered with gold all through it interior. It sits on a cliff looking over the Mediterranean Sea and is an amazing place to go and watch the sunsets.
7.) Assos ~ This place is fun. You will take an hour hike up to the castle and fort and explore the ancient fort. This is a strenuous day of hiking but down below is a great swimming area and a cute little town to enjoy a nice lunch.
8.) Mount Anos ~ This 5000 foot mountain is set in the center of the island and is home to some amazing views. From the gorgeous cypress trees dotted along the road to the bountiful amounts of animals while driving up it is a fun trip. When you get to the top on a clear day you will be able to see a long way!
9.) Xi Beach ~ This beach is a great place to hang for the day. It is shallow and calm and is lined with a 50 foot cliff which is made of hardened clay. You can pick the clay off the rocks and with water to soften it give yourself a spa treatment.
10.) Island Hopping ~ This island is close to many different islands but if you want to take a day trip to another island I would suggest either Corfu which is believed to be home to some of the best Greek Mythology events and beaches and Zakynthos is the place where you can see a shipwreck on one of the most unreal places on earth. He limestone walls rise up a 100 feet around you and the water is a color of blue I can not even describe need to go there to experience it. The beach is called Shipwreck beach. There is also a marine sanctuary on this island where you can swim or take a boat to see huge sea turtles!

Awesome Towns to Visit
There are so many great places to visit when coming to Kefalonia. Argostoli, Lixouri, Fiscardo and Assos are the largest towns on the island and are home to great restaurants, awesome scenery, nice shops, hotels, beaches and lots of history! These areas are great because the food in Greece is awesome and the shops are fun. At night the towns come alive with dancing and partying in the streets. Greek culture is to relax midday and stay up late at night eating and drinking.

General Info
Kefalonia takes about 4 hours to drive around the entire edge of the island. There are many beaches around the whole island but I think the most amazing landscape and best beaches all fall on the west side nearest to Lixouri! There is Skala, Poros, Pesada and Sami on the other side of the island the east side but they are not as nice as Myrtos, Platia Ammos and Xi! In the winter on Kefalonia it is in the 50’s on average and there is lots of green landscape, but in the summer July and August it is hot in the 80’s and 90’s and the landscapes becomes very arid and scrub. But the good thing is the ocean water wars up quite nicely! Ocean water will be in the high 70’s in the summer!

Kefalonia gets earthquakes quite often so if you are at an outdoor restaurant or beach and feel the earth shaking its ok it is just an earthquake.

My most favorite foods from Kefalonia are olive oil, feta, honey (They have honey farms on the sides of the mountain here!), goat, lamb and red wine! The island smells so good you will be driving and come across a field of all oregano or wine grapes, island is amazing! They don’t have sausages on this island so if you order them at breakfast you will get a hot dog. The Gyro’s here are unreal, omg so good. Olive oil, Feta and Red Wine are the best! When you are swimming you can find sea urchins which when you crack open can be an amazing food!

When driving around the island drive very careful because this is a very mountainous island with huge cliffs and if you take one wrong turn you will be dropping in some spots 2000 to 3000 feet into the ocean. So take it easy!

The exchange rate is about 1.25 to 1. So if you give them $1250 American dollars you will get about $1000 back in Euros.

Kefalonia is located in the Mediterranean Sea between the main land of Greece and Italy! Amazing geographical area! You will want to fly into Athens, Greece and then from there fly over to Kefalonia which will take a couple hours!

Any questions you may have about this island please let me know and I will do my best to answer them for you.