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Greece and Belgium - Sat 13 Oct

BELGIUM | Saturday, 13 October 2007 | Views [893]

We have finally arrived in Belgium in time for the wedding of our exchange daughter, Elke, and her fiance Tom, tomorrow.  It was good to meet up with Elke and her very welcoming family again.
Its been nearly a week since my last blog entry, and now I am trying to work on a French keyboard which switches some letters around, and has instructions in Dutch.  If you find a q instead of an a, or a , instead of an m, pleqse excuse ,e.

We have been moving around a lot with a flight or a ferry trip every day this week. This weeks travels have been:

Ferry to Rhodes
Flight to Santorini in small plane
80cc scooter and quad bikes to circumnavigate Santorini
followed by a flight to Athens
Flight to Brussels - delayed by fog at Brussels airport

In writing negatively about Marmaris in my last blog, I was feeling out of character, but hte feeling was again reinforced as I completed the blog by the internet cafe trying to charge me 4 times the quoted price.

The 45 minute trip from Marmaris was a significantly different culture depite being so close.  The smog followed us unfortunately - the more significant thing to me is that it did not seem to receive much coverage in the local press.  One of the notable changes was that there were churches here instead of mosques - even despite the fact that until the early 1900s Rhodes was controlled by the Ottoman turks.  We were not there long enough to learn much about Rhodes.  I am still not clear about whether the Colloseus of Rhodes was a myth or just a statue whose dimensions grew with the telling.  There is certainly no evidence of it now, but then much of Rhodes has been destroyed by explosions (due to poorly stored choices) and wars.  Talking of explosions, the Parthenon in Athens was damaged similarly, and we are in for a 'shooting' tonight - an intriguing recently renewed marriage custom in Belgium. More of that in my next blog.
Rhodes seems to have been a popular stopping off point.  Paul stopped here on one of his travels (he seemed to go everywhere) and so did the crusaders.  There were also places for pilgrims travelling to the holy lands.

Greek is interesting.  We could read Turkish (after a fashion) but it did not make any sense.  Greek on the other hand uses a unique alphabet, but once it has been transliterated, it actually makes some sense.  In a way it is fun - a bit like reading in code. I´ll have to take a friend trained in Greek next time!

Santorini is quite a spectacular setting on the side of a volcano, significantly enhanced by the consistency of architecture ance colour in the houses on the calder rim.  It is great to visit, but Sarita observed that it is really just a facade (albeit an attractive one) for the tourists and probably not worth a repeat visit.  This got me thinking about the reasons we travel to different places, and while visually attractive sights have their interest, Sue and I enjoy meeting with people, learning about history.  I am glad I came to Santorini, but with Sarita, I think I have seen enough there, especially with so many other places in the world to see.

The sad day came when we had to say goodbye to Gaby.  Sarita is a gregarious person, and copes best when there are others around, and Gaby is a great friend to her.

We caught the plane to Athens and arrived at 9pm, taking only half an hour for the flight.  It then took longer than half an hour for our luggage to arrive!  Perhaps they had to fly back to get it!  By the time we bought our metro tickets, we missed the train by 30seconds and had to wait another half an hour, not arriving in Athens city until 11pm.  The Acropolis looks great at night.  There were a huge number of cafes and people around the base of the Acropolis.  I recall the comment from the book of Acts that people used to like to sit around in Athens discussing philosophy and I don,t think it has changed a lot.  Wished they hadn,t done it outside our door though.  (Actually slept well anyway)
A quick visit to the Acropolis and surrounding ruins in the morning was interesting.  They are doing a huge amount of work there, trying to faithfully recreate the buildings, removing the artifices of more recent restorations.  It will be good to visit in another 20 years to see what they have done.

Then off to the airport - again with no ti,e for a blog.  I will have to carry a computer next time, but it needs to be small.  I have been using Timùs ipod to download pictures every night (thanks Tim) but it is slow and the battery sometimes runs out before it finishes and I have to recharge and start again.  (Yes - there are lots of photos!)  Sarita has put so,e photos on her facebook page, so if you are her friend, you can see a few photos there.  Maybe I will get organised soon - but at the moment I canùt get them off the ipod!

The plane to Brussels was delayed by fog, but we got here to a very warm reception.

Saturday now - the morning of the wedding (there are too many things to do to be able to finish my blog!)

Yesterday we went to Ghent (2nd largest city in Europe in 16th century apparently) and had lunch in a chocolate shop - chocaholics be jealous!

Last night was the shooting - I think it is a resurrected ceremony to chase away spirits fro, the wedding.  It was certainly loud, with large skyrockets (yes Neil, they are allowed to use them with a permit) together with home made explosive powder which is exploded with a hammer and a steel bar.  Tom (the husband to be) invited me to have a go - so I donned earplugs and tried it - exhilarating.  The excess powder was used to burn Tom and Elkes initials into the road at the front of the house.

Sue is at the hairdressers, and I had better go to see what I can do to help with preparations.

See you in a few days (ie - in the blog)

Colin in Aalst

Tags: Airports


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