TOAL: Entry Six


Tiday we had a lazy day at George’s house to celebrate our first week of travelling. We were woken by the sound of a megaphone which turned out to be a truck selling watermelons passing through the village! Then we had a huge breakfast, apparently they have a big breakfast every Sunday because it
s the only day they don’t have to go to work early. In Greece some days of the week they work early morning, break for a few hours in the middle and work into the evening and others they just work in the morning.

After breakfast we went to George’s local beach for a couple of hours and played volleyball in the sea with him and a friend and went swimming. The water was so warm it was like swimming in a bath!

We then went back to George’s house and had another big meal, this time cooked by his mother which again was brilliant!

We caught the train our of town and made our way to the ferry.


Happy Birthday Asher!

The ferry was crowded and dirty and it was impossible to sleep because every hour or so there was a deafening announcement, preceeded by the most irritating music ever over megaphones. The ferry stopped at several islands and by the time it got to Santorini we’d probably had about 3 hours sleep!

Santorini (Thira is it’s official name) was very very beautiful. When we first arrived we got a coach to the city (Fira) and found somewhere to leave our luggage. The coach zi-xagged up the cliff face which was a bit unnerving as there were hardly and barrieres between the coach and the edge of the cliff – it took some skill to take those corners and I was amazed at the wase with which the coach got up very steep hills whilst full of people. When I say full of people I think I should explain that they packed as many people in as possible, sitting and standing. When they couldn’t get any more into the front door, they decided that they could pack a few more in through the side! It was even more crowded than the bus boats in Venice.

We walked around the city, climbed lots of steep steps until we got to a very high point with a great view.

We then got another coach (they were very cheap) to Perrisa beach which is next to huge cliffs and has black, volcanic sand and smooth volcanic rock. The beach really was beautiful and we swam in the sea for a couple of hours before having a great value Greek meal in a nearby restaurant (about £4). We didn’t want to leave but we had to catch the ferry home.

The ferry was even worse than on the way there but we eventually found a good place to sleep on the deck which was sheltered from an incredible wind over the sea. It was very dirty and there were 6 of us squashed into a small space.

We both started to notice that we’d got sunburn (Wez worse than me) and used aftersun. The waitress had told us that you burn very easily on Santorini because of the lethal comination of sun and constant wind. We’d put suncream on but it had washed off in the sea and we got burnt whilst drying off in the sun. You can’t drink the water in Santorini but it’s cheap bottled. I miss the water fountains in Venice.


Woke up this morning already at the port in Pireas. We’d not heard that many announcements where we were because someone in the past had got frustrated with the megaphone above their head and had ripped the wires out of it!

We got off the ferry at around 6:30am and found that the gates for the Metro were locked. We waited for them to open but they didn’t!

I invesigated and from about three different equally unhelpful travel agents/ticket offices and a shopkeeper I found out that there was a strike on public transport in Greece for 24 hours and the buses too so the only way to travel is by taxi.

We had intended on going to Olympia for the day and catch a ferry from Patras to Bari in Italy (included in interrail pass). We were stranded.

I investigated further, got very mixed information, visited a closed train station, got in a taxi to go to another train station and then the taxi driver was very helpful and on the way told us there were no trains from that station today and took us to the bus station instead. Eventually we got to Patras (where I’m sitting now waiting for the Ferry) but it cost us E23!

Missing you all, will post again soon x

TOAL: Entry Five


We woke up slightly later than planned but still in one piece! We made it to the train on time and were met at the other end in Athens by Wez’s house mate for next year – George the greek. I’ll call him George because that’s the English version of his name and I can’t pronounce or spell the Greek version yet.

We left our baggage at the train station in Athens and went to a nearby cafe for a cold drink and I was pursuaded to try Lipton ice tea (peach flavour) and liked it.

We planned what we wanted to do and went on to visit the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, the Ancient Agora and the Roman Olympic stadium (I think).

The sheer scale of these places is awe inspiring. I can’t even begin to imagine how they managed to build them with the tools available to them. What struck us most was the amazing organisation of the Greek civilisation, right for the sophisticated underground drainage system to their amazing political system – a democracy where new legislation was put up to vote before being passed.

It all kept us interested enough to be walking around Athens until around 5:30pm, at its peak the temperature reached around 40°C and believe me when I say that’s hot

We then caught a train to Halkida and then George drove us to the village where he lives. We met his Mother, Father and sister and they were extremely welcoming and were full of questions. They let us use their shower (beautiful bathroom in a beautiful house) and offered to do any washing we might need doing! (yey, washed my T-shirts!).

They took us out and paid for a Greek meal (which they ordered) The food was fantastic – simple and full of taste and I liked all of it!

We then went back onto the crazy roads of Greece to go into town and go to a bar on the side of the river. By tis time it was almost midnight and the town was full of life, right from children to the elderly! They don’t really drink beer (or whisky) in Greece which was a bit of a shock, but they do party all night and everyone is very chilled and very smooth.

TOAL: Entry Four


Was woken up this morning by a greek female member of the ferry staff saying “Stand up, stand up bys, stand up”. Not a great morning call and it took me a while to figure out what was going on! I think she wanted to clear the corridoor but the next stop wasn’t for a long time! She smiled afterwards.

Spent most of the day planning our journey (on the ferry). It’s going to be very tight but we think we can fit everything in. Wez asked at reception if he could see the bridge of the ship. “That’s not possible” was the answer. The ferry was quite late, lasted almost 30 hours in total!!!

Watched the sunset over the sea in Patras and went off to find the train station and a hostel for the night. We found a hostel but it wasn’t the one we were looking for but was E10 cheaper so we thought yeah! There was a man sat outside on the porch with a slight Scottish accent. I asked him and he said that he lived in Scotland a long time ago, he has lived in Greece for 7 or 8 years. His opinion of Athens wasn’t great, but then locals are sometimes like that.

So we signed in and were shown to a room. The is what you would call extremely basic… I’ll leave it at that.

Walking through the corridoor I noticed a man preparing raw meat on the table. So what did we do? a) thought eww! and left the hostel right away b) shut our door or c) went in to say hello. answer: c

Two guys of unknown origin were sat around cooking meat over a camping stove (in their hostel room) and welcomed us in. They spoke a little English and I asked them if either of them played the accordian I noticed on the top bunk. One of them said yes, in fact he played us a tune and I asked him if I could take photos. He then proceeded to ask money for the photos. I have him about 27p!

They then offered to share their meal with us. “Oh, sorry, we have an early train to catch, we’ve got to sleep”. We managed to escape.

Providing I live through the night (there are blood stains on the pillow in our room) we’ll be catching the 6:02 train to Athens in the morning. What an experience!

TOAL: Entry Three


In one of those bizarre coincidences that happen when you’re travelling, Wez found out that two lads we were talking to in the youth hostel last night went to school with his flatmate for next year.

We drank an awful lot of cheap, strong Slovenian beer and managed to come away having only spent about £4 each! Wez reacted badly to the beer and was a bit ill but we managed to catch the train without a problem. On the way to Slovenia we had a whole compartment to ourselves with amazing reclining seats. unfortunately on the overnight train back when we actually needed them we had to share with two other people, our huge bags and had uncomfortable seats.

I hardly slept at all and I’m suffering for it today. There was a Slovene psycology student in our compartment who spoke beatufiful English.

We arrived back in Venice at around 9am and headed straight for our favourite spot. The spot includes cheap fruit stalls, a water fountain, a public toilet and bins! I followed the cue of a local and ate a large slice of watermelon using my penknife and had a banana and a drink of water for breakfast. We then headed off to the ferry port. We managed to get on the wrong bus at one point and got stranded ourside the city for a while. But with a little fiddling of the public transport system and a lot of walking we managed to find the right check in desk and boarded the ferry.

The ferry is huge and there are people with sleeping bags covering all the outside decks and lining the corridoors! We managed to grab a space in a wide corridoor which is reasonably quiet apart from the engines and nearby escalator!

We’ve had a good meal (a tad on the expensive side) and we’re winding down for the evening. Two things I’ve just remembered –

1) Sunbathing on the deck of the ferry
2) Being led to the train station in Slovenia by an intoxicated Slovene called Jistin whom we lost just in time because he’d decided he wanted to come to Venice with us!

TOAL: Entry two


OK, everyone has finished on the computer now.

Disclaimer: I´m now extremely tipsy, a pound a pint…

OK, Got up at 7:15am local time in Venice. Got a bus boat (still our 24 hour pass) to ther train station to get in a very nice cabin with aircon and adjustable seats. So far we have travelled by car, shuttle bus, plane, coach and boat with lots of walking, but this is our first train!

Now off to Ljubljana in Solvinia.


Arried in Slovenia slightly late and put our baggage in a single locker for E2. Then we started exploring. We found an Iranian restarurant and had a three course meal and Turkish coffee for about 4 pound each!!! Another great find from the Lonely Planet guide! The restaurant owner was chuffed to find out he was mentioned in the guide and showed the entry to all his staff!

We then went on to find the castle on top of a hill where the views are fantastic!

Ljubjana is beautiful in general and I don´t really understand why more people don´t come here. The views are breath-taking and the people are friendly and boy are things cheap. We spoke to a Computer Science student who goes to the University here and he said that only students visit this city.

We´re now sat in the grooviest youth hostel ever, it´s a converted prison but it´ś very posh. Oh and the computer uses Mandrake Linux!!!!

Lots of love from Slovenia xxx

(I love this place).

TOAL: Entry One

Disclaimer: I´m sat in a youth hostel feeling quite tipsy so I may not be typing very straight.


The alarm was set for 12:20am but it didn´t go off and we woke up about an hour late but we still got to the airport in plenty of time. At the airport there was a cool automated shuttle to get to the plane. We didn´t see much during the flight because it was very cloudy but I did catch a glimpse of the Alps. The touchdown was a bit bumpy but not as bad as Morocco!

When we´d collected our luggage and ready to leave I noticed that my dad´s Maglite was missing from my backpack (I haven´t told anyone this yet and I´ll have to buy him a replacement, grr).

We then got onto an air conditioned coach from Treviso to Venice for E4.50 and a bus boat along the Grand Canal to our hotel and left our luggage there. The hotel had a marble floor, a/c, TV, our own outdoor key, triple bedroom, bathroom and a nice view for E25 each!

We then went to buy a coke and ended up paying E16.00 for three glasses of coke and a waiter who insulted Wez (in a jokey way) and I tried to ask the waiter (in Italian) if that included the price of a room! At first we thought he was offended, but it turned out he couldn´t understand my terrible Italian and when he found out what I was actually trying to say he found it quite amusing.

Laura bought us all a gorgeous Italian ice cream and we sat next to the canal eating them. I kept feeling something in my hair and trying to brush it off and wez and laura were laughing at me saying there was nothing there. Then the next time I did it something fell in my lap which I thought was the tail of a very small snake with no head. When I touch it, it moved which made me jump. I asked Laura to look for the head and she said there was nothing there. Then she noticed there was actually a lizard on my hat with no tail!!! It had shed its tail out of self defence… I felt awful!!!

We then walked around Venice for a few hours and got thoroughly lost! The Lonely Planet guide was a godsend though and included a map. It was very very hot and very humid but that was helped by the water fountains with drinking water everywhere and the fresh fruit stalls. I tried to speak Italian to the woman on a fruit stall who was lovely, but again she couldn´t understand me.

We´ve booked a youth hostel for tomorrow night, itś bascically a Catholic-run building of University dorms.

The architecture in Venice is amazing, especially the stark contrast between huge ornate buildings and and derelict shops. Shops are built on the side of churches and there are lots and lots of bridges (to cross the canals). Who on earth sat in Italy one day looking at the sea and thought ¨Ï know, I´ll build a city over there!¨??


Got up this morning without a hangover due to only having consumed two medium sized beers because itś just too damned expensive in Venice to drink any more!

Had a spagbol last night – a proper spagbol, but there wasn´t enough of it. We had brekfast in the hotel and I discretely slipped a wrapped croissant into my bag. I praised the hotel owner on his amazing grasp of the English Language and we went off to a youth hostel (in Venice) to dump our luggage.

Next we jumped on a bus boar and went two stops before the end of route1 and had a pizza. Then we came back a couple of stops to visit St. Mark´s Cathedral and the surrounding area. We sat and ate ice cream because it was too hot to do anything else. The Cathedral was amazing, as was the inside of a nearby church. I wasn´t impressed by the fact that the building surrounding the Cathedral had been turned into a shopping centre though.

We made our way back on an extremely hot bus boat (Im sure it was hotter today than yesterday) and explored the shops a bit more with Laura. Then it was time for Laura to go! I went with Laura to the airport but our first attempt only got as far as the bus boat station where Laura realised she´d forgotten her backpack! As time was tight I RAN back to the hostel to fetch her bag and ran back in the extreme heat and humidity which probably wasn´t a good idea.

We made it to the coach (E8.00 return) to Treviso Airport and got to the airport in plenty of time. Laura cried an awful lot and I was very sad she couldnt come on the rest of the trip with me and wez.

I caught the coach back to Venice and an elderly man sat next to me but he didn´t speak any English. I spent a lot of time reading my European phrase book trying to muster up the courage to get him to help me learn some Italian but by the time I had the trip was over and he turned to me and said in beautiful English ¨Goodbye, I hope you enjoy your trip was over and he turned to me and said in beautiful English ¨Goodbye, I hope you enjoy your trip¨. I said thank you in Italian (the proper way) but he couldn´t even understand that! I said chiao and he understood and left.

I decided to try and find my way back to the hostel throught he windy streets and bridges of Venice without using boats and it was a lot further than I thought but I recognised enough to find my way!

Back at the hostel a woman at reception asked us to help her write a letter in English – she´d done very well already!

In the hostel we stopped in a room with two spanish guys, an American and some guy who slipped in when we were asleep!

P.S. I´ve written more but people are waiting for this computer so I´d better write up the rest later.


Operation TOAL: Phase One

Operation Trip Of A Lifetime: Phase One goes something like this…

Tomorrow morning , lauperr and I get up at 1am to drive to Stanstead Airport where we catch the 6:30 flight to Venice (for £45!). We then spend two days there with lauperr in the sun.

lauperr then goes home on the plane and we wave her off. The following day djkoa and I catch a 24 hour ferry to Patras in Greece, sleeping on the Deck. Once we get to Patras we have 2-3 weeks to see Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, Slovenia, Netherlands and Luxembourg (and possibly Istambul) and find our way back to England on the trains! (I say 2-3 weeks because the interrail ticket lasts for 22 days but djkoa has to come back a few days early for some exam retakes!).

We will be sleeping on overnight trains, in a tent (preferably on a camp site but the side of the road works too) and in youth hostels, living on an extremely small budget and living out of an 85 litre backpack.

I will probably make Amsterdam the last stop where I might meet up with Adam (my boss) who seems to know the place like the back of his hand.

For the next three weeks this blog becomes a travel blog and I hope to update about every three to four days (Internet Access Permitting).

Wish us luck.

Laura’s Birthday

Must be brief for time is short but yesterday was great!

BBQ at lunch at ‘s.

Went to the cinema to see “Descent” which is the scariest thing in the world, don’t watch it if you don’t like: blood, guts, gore, small spaces or things that are lurking in the dark. Seriously, I’ve never been so scared by a film before – I’m the guy who sits there laughing in horror movies usually but this one hit on all the things that scare me, that and I’m squeamish! (sp?)

Despite not having much of an apetite after an hour and a half of gore we managed to clear up a huge meal and monstorous desert at Frankie and Benny’s, I love that place.

Then went back to ‘s, filled the garden with candles and sat around in a group singing songs and making a human pyramid under the stars.

Then we watched Dodgeball (which was a lot funnier than I expected) and went to bed.

“Terror”, Consulting, Partying and Camping

I was at work on Thursday morning when I first heard of the explosions in London. It escapes me how a group of people can actually think they can justify something like that as “The will of God”, which is no doubt how they think they will claim to excuse cold blooded, calculated, indiscriminate murder.

Religious leaders from all faiths have condemned the bombings and they represent no religion I know of, merely the sick delusional thoughts of the few very disturbed people who brainwashed them into doing it. I have a lot of feelings about it but I’ll just sum it up by saying whatever they thought they were achieving, they failed. I have been so impressed by the way Londoners and the British people as a whole have reacted to it all, I’d almost go as far to say I’m proud to be British. That’s probably all they have achieved.

I went to Birmingham, despite having doubts about arriving in the semi-underground train station of Britain’s second city during rush hour, the day after the bombings. And indeed on Saturday they evacuated the city centre where I had been the previous day.

But anyway, it was quite a productive day. I got a few hours of consulting discussing my single sign-on system which it turned out had no simple answer but was certainly something worth working on. Then I hopped to the next train station and had a walk around Birmingham University on graduation day. I managed to convince the travel agent to give me a student card then got quite lost wandering around Birmingham aimlessly for three hours.

The twins’ 18th
The twins next door had their 18th birthday on Saturday night which was a lot of fun, though I spent far too much money on drinks. Nick and djkoa turned up later in the evening and all were merry.

lauperr and I slept in a tent last night and cooked sausage, bacon, eggs and spaghetti hoops in a mess tin over a very small camping stove. It tasted so good by the time we eventually got around to eating it!

Live 8

Oh and Live 8 was amazing, I really wish I’d been at Hyde Park. Although seeing all of the different countries simultaneously holding concerts on TV was just amazing, especially when Will Smith tried to get the whole world clicking their fingers in unison, it felt like it was history in the making. When some of the people were talking on stage I found it very moving, although there were others who irritated me and I felt the things they said detracted from the purpose of the event.

I just hope all the good intentions have even a minute effect.

Please people, now the concert is over, don’t just forget about the whole thing.