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Korea Grand Finale

sunny 64 °F

With only one day left, I decided to head out of town on a train and take a look at the countryside. I headed for a popular tourist destination called Nami Island, which styles itself as the Nami Republic. I ran into a couple of very nice people from Singapore on the train going out and we spent the day together taking pictures of the leaves and each other. By pure luck, we were there near the very peak of color and so I went nuts taking pictures. Here are a bunch....
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We ended the visit with a meal of grilled chicken and tofu and 'hangover soup' - which in this version is a dried fish soup with an egg added.

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What a great end to a great visit to Korea! On to Perth tomorrow!

Posted by tdeits 20:47 Archived in South Korea Tagged landscapes trees food scenery island korea foliage soup nami hangover Comments (0)

Adventures on Rottnest Island

sunny 80 °F

Today my AirBnb host Susanne and I headed off for Rottnest Island, a popular tourist destination about 20 miles off the coast near Perth.

More about the history of the island later. We took Rottnest Fast Ferries and rented bikes from them as well. After a smooth 45 minute ride we arrived at the island. We headed down the road.

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The coastline is quite nice, with rolling hills and lots of small bays. It was pretty breezy as well.

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Here's Susanne and me (the lopsided one)

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The island was called Rottnest by the Dutch but it isn't inhabited by rats, but rather by a cool little critter, the quogga

Here's one

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and here are two - they are very used to people (and being fed, I bet) and these guys were hanging out by a picnic table; obviously highly intelligent animals - Yogi Bear class!

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We also ran across an osprey nest on a rock just offshore and later saw the osprey on the wing.

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Our goal was Green Island, a wildlife sanctuary with an offshore island to provide a bit of shelter.

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We had brought snorkel gear and although the water was in the 'you'll get used to it' category, we had a very pleasant swim. Underwater it was mostly seagrass and some nice sized fish. Quite pretty, but I decided not to pack my gopro this trip. I figured I would miss it maybe once or twice and this is definitely one of those times. Just one of those tough calls to try and keep the luggage under control.

After a swim we warmed up on the beach - unfortunately we spent a bit too much time so we were at some risk of missing the last ferry off the island. We started heading back and I suggested we take a shortcut across the island. Miracle of miracles, it actually turned out to be an excellent guess and we made it back with a bit of time to spare. Off on the boat back to Perth and another mighty fine day.

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Posted by tdeits 04:20 Archived in Australia Tagged beach australia island snorkel perth rottnest quogga Comments (0)

Aegina and the temple of Aphaia

sunny 71 °F

On the advice of the helpful travel agent at Blue and White Travel in Piraeus, I took off on one of the many ferries and cruise ships crowding Piraeus harbor in the morning.
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As we left the harbor, I spotted this yacht at dock. Googling it up, I discovered that it is the Topaz which is the world's largest mega yacht. Apparently it cost $500 million to construct. Egad. Later we passed a rather better looking boat.

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It took about an hour and a half to get to Aegina harbor which is quite pretty and lined along the shore with tourist restaurants and shops. The harbor is full of charming small fishing boats that are in active use.

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The major attraction on the island is the Temple of Aphaia. It's some distance from the harbor and I decided to use it as an excuse for a stroll. I bought a bag of pistachios (a major product on the island) from a nice guy who gave me directions - turn left at the stadium and just keep going. He thought I was nuts (ha). I also bought some mandarin oranges and with my bottle of water I set out. The first thing to say about the walk was that the weather was unbelievably perfect. A real Mediterranean climate, mildly warm, low humidity, brilliant blue sky and a very light breeze - one of the best weather days I have had anywhere. Here's a look back towards town - quite a bit of climbing on this walk. I also passed this perfect little Mediterranean house with pistachio trees in the front yard.

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It just kept getting prettier as I walked. After a while my first destination came into view, the church of Agios Nektarios.

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The church is quite new, less than 20 years old. It was built to honor Fr. Nektarios who, after what appears to have been a somewhat tumultuous career in the Orthodox church, retired to Aegina and ministered to the locals.

The interior is under renovation (leaky roof; what church doesn't have one?) but did get a nice picture of the altar and the charming mosaic map of the islands on the floor in front of the altar.

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There was also a lovely domed chamber containing the remains of Fr. Nektarios (miracles have been attributed to him, but I don't know if he has been canonized) and another beautiful altar and mural.

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After this break, it was back on the road (it's about a 7 mile trip). More gorgeous scenery and, finally, a glimpse of the temple.

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I reached the bottom of the last climb to the temple and a car pulled over. A very nice lady, Lisa, who is a sport teacher on the island had pulled over and offered me a lift up the hill to the temple. Maybe she was motivated by the fact that by this point I was crawling on my hands and knees and weeping :) . Whatever the reason, she zipped me to the top of the hill and even took me a short way down the other side to get a view of the other side of the island, which looked fabulous.

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The temple itself was remarkable. It has suffered far less damage than other temples owing to its isolation and I was also the only visitor that afternoon. Here are a couple of pictures of the temple, one when I first arrived and one later near sunset.

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Of course, the view from the hilltop was also spectacular.

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Lisa had encouraged me to consider staying overnight on that side of the island and I was tempted. I decided to walk into the town on the other side of the hill and see I could find a place to stay. I arrived after dark and the entire town had apparently closed for the season. I found one open restaurant and one supermarket - as far as I could tell all the other restaurants and all the hotels were closed. Fortunately, I had a number for a taxi service and so I bailed and called a taxi for the ride back to the harbor to make it in time for the last ferry back to Pireaus.

I made it, rested on board and grabbed a sandwich for dinner in Piraeus before going back to my apartment - what a remarkable introduction to the true Mediterranean experience.

Posted by tdeits 02:28 Archived in Greece Tagged landscapes temples view scenery island weather aegina aphaia Comments (0)

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