Month: September 2018

First (Greece) impressions don’t always count

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (if not, why not?!) you’ll know I’ve recently returned from a 10 day trip to Greece.

This was split into two parts; 3 nights in Athens on mainland Greece, and 7 nights on the island of Santorini. It had been in the planning, technically, for 13 years; the Santorini part, at least, since we first got together. I included it on a travel bucket list a couple of years back. The Athens part was an add on – a “makes sense to do it while we’re in the area”, if you will. .

Oh, and it was also our 10th wedding anniversary trip. No pressure then!

So, here’s the deal. When you build something up in your head, you want it to be perfect, right? And when it’s not immediately perfect, it freaks you out, right?

Welcome to our holiday to Greece.

Athens

We arrived in Athens and it was raining – strike 1. The hotel room looked nothing like the pictures on the website – strike 2 (although kudos to their photographer for polishing what wasn’t quite a turd, but wasn’t the luxurious dwelling we’d been led to expect).

Although it did have the promised Acropolis view from the balcony.

View of the Acropolis from the Metropolis Hotel in Athens

The husband couldn’t get a draught Mythos (Greek beer) as we sheltered from the rain – strike 3.

It wasn’t the positive start to our trip I’d hoped for.

Now, whilst this is completely irrational (as am I), when things don’t go smoothly on holiday I feel responsible. As the organiser it’s my responsibility to make it great. I know I can’t control everything (e.g the weather), but I also take that as a personal affront. It’s one of my quirks.

But when the sun came out and a rainbow appeared, I hoped for the best!

Rainbow from balcony at Metropolis Hotel Athens

Santorini

Fast forward then 3 days, to our arrival on the beautiful island of Santorini. Our pre-booked private transfer wasn’t at the airport when we arrived – strike 1. Once again our hotel room wasn’t as expected – strike 2. But the biggest kick in the teeth of all, Oia, the “village” we were staying in, was really really crowded. Uncomfortably so. There were selfie sticks, and walking tours, and cruise ship visitors desperately trying to cram in the essence of the island in a few short hours.

Obviously you can’t tell from these pictures!

View of white buildings, sea and caldera islands in Oia Santorini

Caldera view from Oia Santorini

But neither of us felt the burst of love we’d hoped for after 13 years of wanting to visit.

It was gutting.

The outcome

I’ll save you the sleepless nights until I share my full travel posts, but it all ended well. Better than well, in fact. The Athens room was just a base, so not the end of the world. The beer got better. We saw some amazing sights. And, as for Santorini, the room was really really nice, once we adjusted our pre-conceived expectations. And Oia is the most beautiful place I have EVER been to in my life. It’s just a case of timing it right and avoiding the crowds, which we managed on multiple occasions.

Stay tuned for more…

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Who thought self hosting was a good idea?

Of course self hosting is good idea overall, I know.

But setting it all up 2 days before you go on holiday, with no time to really look at the results because you should be packing is a little bit daft.

I blame my to-do list whilst between jobs (I’m still “between jobs” and have only watched one HP film and made more of a mess while I sort out our utility room <<insert cliche about breaking omlettes to make eggs here>>). I thought I might feel like I’d achieved something if I ticked off a box. I don’t. I feel like I’ve bolloxed up (technical term) something that at least worked and looked ok.

Actually, who am I kidding? If looking “ok” was a reasonable achievement, I wouldn’t have a (pretty much unused) boxing bag in the garage and 3 brand new lipsticks in my make up bag.

Anyways, just to say if you’re a regular reader I’m sorry about the mess, and if you’re new then this isn’t a truthful representation of what this blog is about, so please pop by again.

The good people at GoDaddy are being rightfully helpful (take my money and stop me being an internet doofus, please) and, thanks to their live web chat, I managed to leave my hair colour on for an extra hour this afternoon. If there are no holiday photos from our impending Greece trip, it’s because I left my hair behind on the pillow in Birmingham.

Also, what an awful logo. And name. I mean, apart from the fact my Dad is dead, I don’t want anyone’s Daddy to be Going on my behalf. It’s all a bit pervy porny, no? And Daddy is wearing god awful hair and sunglasses. GoDaddy that is. Not my Dad. Apart from the fact he’s not around anymore (humour masks my loss), he had impeccable taste.

Having said that, dear GoDaddy, please don’t revoke my (albeit shit right now) blog. It’s gonna get better for all of us, I promise.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

3 days in Dubrovnik

As I gear up for my next holiday (3 nights in Athens and 7 nights in Santorini, starting Saturday, whoop!) I realised I haven’t blogged about my last trip, to Dubrovnik. It’s not like I haven’t had time or anything, the trip was 2 months ago and I’ve been off work for 5 weeks now <<sore point>>. But I didn’t so I’m going to correct that fact and tell you about it now.

I’m not sure when and why going to Dubrovnik became one of my travel priorities, but it was definitely already right up there back in April 2016 when I wrote a list of places I wanted to visit. The architecture, city walls and coastal location made it a really appealing city break; small enough to get around in a few days but enough to do and see to fill the time and feel the city. Of course, later we started watching Game of Thrones, some of which is filmed in Dubrovnik, and my interest was piqued.

We stayed outside of the city walls, in the Ploce area of the city, which means we woke up to the iconic city view of Dubrovnik from our terrace each morning.

Dubrovnik city view from our apartments

This, to me, was more important than being right in the city centre, because it meant we could choose accommodation with outside space (more of a rarity in the city), enjoy a sea view, get dropped off and picked up right outside our accommodation (no taxis or private vehicles are allowed inside the city walls so you could face quite a walk with your luggage) and it was cheaper too.

Looking right from our terrace was a view of Lokrum island.

Lokrum Island view from our apartment

I’d recommend the Ploce are for the above reasons BUT do be aware that it is very steep with hundreds of steps; think about it – to get those iconic city views you need to be quite high up. Walking down is tough enough, but walking back up in the heat of the day (in fact, at any time of day!) is a killer.

Steps from Ploce to Old Town

I’d read before we went that Uber taxis are plentiful and cheap so, after doing the walk once, we used a cab every time. Most phone providers allow you to use your phone plan including data in Croatia, so just download the app and let them take the strain. It usually cost about £3 for a one way journey, which was nothing between the three of us, and in a short break it doesn’t really add up too much. Plus, steps. Seriously. Without the cab I’d have spent a lot more time in the apartment, with broken hamstrings.

Speaking of the apartment, I found it on Booking.com which has a good range of accommodation of all types. Ours was a 2 bedroom apartment with a lounge, kitchen diner, bathroom, and a huge terrace with those city views.

Suzy Apartments terrace

Suzy apartments covered terrace

It made the trip feel a bit more like a holiday than just a city break, because it meant we could eat breakfast outside in the morning, or sit and relax in the afternoon and evening sun after a day of sightseeing. From what I saw during my research, much of the accommodation in Dubrovnik is in private independently owned apartments which are quite dated in style. Don’t be surprised to find a blue bathroom suite or 80s décor. The larger, more cosmopolitan hotels are further away from the Old Town. Inside the City Walls expect to have to carry or wheel your suitcase over bumpy cobbles, and potentially up many narrow stairs if you’re staying on one of the steep side streets.

So, the city itself. As I said, the main part of Dubrovnik is inside the City Walls, accessible from Ploce Gate on one side and Pile Gate on the other. Ploce Gate was, in our experience, the lesser used of the two entrances and a more dramatic (therefore enjoyable) experience.

City Walls and Ploce gate

Ploce Gate Dubrovnik

You have views of the sea, and the old harbour, and Lokrum Island, plus of course the steep walls surrounding the city and back towards Ploce.

Dubrovnik harbour view from Ploce Gate

View through Ploce Gate wall

Dubrovnik Old Harbour looking back to Ploce

Pile Gate is the one used by most cruise ship arrivals (of which there are many in high summer) and is so busy there’s an operational one way walking system for in and out. Don’t be confused about entering the City Walls (to get into the city centre, which is free), and visiting the City Walls (which is a walk around the summit of the walls and is chargeable).

The Old Town is fairly compact and it’s easy to get your bearings and to get around. The main street (Stradun) runs from the Ploce Gate side to the Pile Gate side, and the smaller streets mainly form a grid system, with narrow passageways crammed with eateries which occasionally open up into larger squares. It’s incredibly clean with beautiful architecture.

Dubrovnik Centre

Dubrovnik church

For a different view of the city, take to the sea! The ferry to Lokrum Island (more on that another time) will give you a different perspective on the port, but it’s also worth going on a speedboat trip which takes you to the other side of the city walls along the coastline.

Speedboat City Walls from the sea

Speedboat trip City Walls from the sea

Speedboat trip Dubrovnik City Walls

It then heads out to and and all the way round Lokrum (the Lokrum ferry only goes to the port, so you won’t see the “back” of the island, including the stunning cave below with crystal clear water) before sailing back along the Adriatic coastline.

Speedboat trip looking back at the City Walls

Speedboat trip heading towards Lokrum Island

Lokrum Island inland cave

Adriatic Coast

Speedboat trip Adriatic Coast

We paid 40 euros total for a private 45 minute trip for 3 people (it was 30 euros total to share with other people, and we don’t really like other people so it was a no brainer!) There are lots of boat trips available from the Old Town harbour. You’ll see from the pics you can also do sea kayaking over to Lokrum, but no thank you!

Dubrovnik is just as beautiful by night. Everything is lit up and reflections twinkle in the water. The white marble floor of the main street (Stradun) glistens; there’s almost an other worldy glow about the city.

Nighttime in Dubrovnik Old Town

Stradun at night time

Dubrovnik old town harbour by night

Dubrovnik by night

Dubrovnik city walls by night

Stradun by night

In my next Dubrovnik post I’ll talk about visiting the city walls (hint, there were a lot more steps!) and the cable car to Mount Srd.

Have you been to Dubrovnik? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

A bad day and the impossible task

I already knew last night that today was going to be a bad day.

“Why didn’t you do something pre-emptive to stop it then, you daft cow?” (those are my words, and maybe what you’re thinking too.)

Unfortunately it was too late. I was lying in bed, fretting, listening to the husband snore, reading a blog I’ve become ridiculously immersed in (I think I’m as far back as 2013 posts from this woman now; her family story is fascinating and her writing is really engaging and fun) and wondering why I couldn’t sleep despite my body feeling so so ready for slumber.

Knowing I needed to sleep was one of my problems. I had a second interview for a job this morning, over the telephone, and I wanted to be well rested and coherent instead of a mumbling sleepy mess. We’ve been away at a music festival this weekend, an indoor one. There’s been drinking and lack of sleep and less quality sleep than when I’m at home. My diet has been poor. I lay there berating myself for a weekend of unadulterated fun, which is ridiculous! But this happens to me often. After gigs, and weekends away, and holidays.

“Did I enjoy myself enough?”

“Did I make the best of it?”

“Why did I spend so much money?”

“What could or should I have done differently?”

It’s an exhausting thought process.

If you follow me on Instagram I posted last week that I’ve been something of a recluse while I’ve been off work; pretty much just hanging out at home. It’s all cool, it’s through choice. But I had a lovely day out shopping on Thursday, then lunch with my Mom on Friday. I’d been invited to the afore mentioned second interview, after successfully navigating the first one earlier in the week. The husband and I had an end of summer barbecue on Friday night and sat outside til late with the chimnea burning. Then we were away Saturday and Sunday, catching up with friends and having a lot of fun. I hardly saw any of the bands because it was so hot in the venue and I was so aware that the good weather might be the last sign of summer that I didn’t want to hide away inside (I didn’t love the bands that were playing anyway, I was always going more for the social side). “Was that a mistake?” wondered my tired brain. “Should I have spent more time listening to music than socialising with people I don’t see very often?” Yep, an unsettled mind is fantastic for analysing things it’s too late to do anything about.

After such a good few days, maybe it was inevitable that I’d crash and burn today? I’d had really odd dreams and it was barely daylight when the alarm went off (grey days really drag me down anyway, I feel my mood slide).

Plus, stupidly, I’d run out of anti-depressants. I had a repeat prescription, but hadn’t collected the tablets. Now I don’t for one minute think that the benefits of anti-depressants leave your body in just two days of not taking them, but it’s always nice from a mental point of view to know you’ve got that extra bit of serotonin support when you’re feeling a bit wiped out. I knew I’d need to leave the house today and fetch the prescription; preferably sooner rather than later.

Up I got, with the husband, saw him off to work, fired up my laptop and my CV and collected my notes ready for my interview. It went well, I was happy with my responses and, if I don’t get any further in the recruitment process, I’ll know that I did my best. I really want to get further, because it’s a company I would really like to work for, but as long as I have no regrets in how I conducted myself in the two interviews, I can’t do any more.

And then, it happened. Flatness. Emptiness. Inability to adult. Operating like a normal person was today’s “Impossible Task”.

I read about the Impossible Task recently on Twitter, and it’s gone viral as so many people can identify with the tweet and the sentiment behind it.

Impossible Task tweet

Depression isn’t all crying and sadness (or being Mrs Angry, in my case). It can also comprise of inability to do things you need to do, things you’ve done a thousand times, because they are impossible at that point in time.

You can read the tweets and more about it in this article from Stylist magazine.

So, there I was, facing my Impossible Task. I knew that even the immediate placebo effect of taking a Prozac would help to level me out, but the thought of leaving the house to get them was too much. I went back to bed under the proviso of being cold. I spoke to the husband on his lunchbreak who told me to get up and go and fetch my tablets. I told him I would, but I closed the curtains and went to sleep for an hour. I woke up and sat in the dark for another hour (reading that blasted blog!)

Then I realised there was no-one to help me with my Impossible Task. The husband was at work. I couldn’t expect him to come home and go back out again to fetch my prescription. The house was a mess. And me moping in bed not only isn’t helping, it’s also unfair on the husband.

So I dragged my carcass out of my pit, had a manic tidy up, sorted some washing out, had a shower and even brushed my hair. I went to the supermarket, then I fetched my tablets. And, even before I’d taken one, I felt better. I’d overcome what I thought I couldn’t do earlier today.

I’m not saying this was a depressive episode, because that belittles depressive episodes, and I’ve gone through them enough to know you don’t get over them in one day simply by making the decision to. But it was symptomatic of not practising self care, and also my circumstances. My garden leave is officially over as of the end of last week, so I’m no longer in paid employment. That’s pretty scary. I’m probably pinning more hopes on the job I’m interviewing for than I should, and I don’t have lots of irons in the fire elsewhere right now. This is likely to be situational depression. A feeling of not being good enough that’s come to a head because I didn’t have a job to go to and I allowed myself to retreat inside my own head where things feel worse than they are.

We’re going on holiday on Saturday, for our 10th wedding anniversary trip. We’ve talked about going to Santorini for over 13 years, and it’s been booked since August last year. Me being a dick and feeling all sorry for myself isn’t going to change the situation, or get me a job, but it could well ruin my holiday. You bet I’ll be putting those packets of Prozac in every single pocket and bag when I’m packing for our trip. Placebo or not, I’d like to be married for another 10 years thanks.

This has been cathartic. If you’ve got this far then thanks, as always, for reading. x