Tuesday, May 21, 2024


The  local streets

Local bus

A nearby housing development the Owner showed us through

The Mundra Temple

The ornately carved exterior of the Mundra Temple

Mundra town gates

Sugar cane juice anyone

Clothes mended or herbal advise needed

Driving in the tuk-tuk

The other gate in town

Shri Bhadreshwar Jain Tirth

72 Jinalaya Shwetambar Jain

The boat building yards

All done by hand

The old town on Mandva

Always rubbish everywhere

The beach

Vijay Vilas Palace

Nearby temple

No one around so sneak a few photos inside

The old town walls as we leave Mandva


Wednesday, May 15, 2024



Later we arrive in Frankfurt. Of course, we have missed our connecting flight to Munich and our overnight booking there. After much hunting for help in the deserted airport we head to the Sheraton for the night, courtesy of Condor Airlines. In the morning, we are put onto a flight to Munich and before long we have collected our car and we head out to the motorway on a cold grey day. As we head towards Austria, we drive through the mountains, the trees dripping with snow. After a week of spring Germany & Austria have gone back into winter.  It is gorgeous, but very cold. What a change from hot sticky Mombasa.

Later in the day we check into the Alpine Hotel in the lovely ski resort town of Schladming. This is where Krug Expedition is now based (previously in Ukraine) and we have an appointment there tomorrow. We are ordering GR3. GR2 is getting tired and worn, and will go home after we have explored India. When we wake it is snowing, so after breakfast at a bakery we head up to the mountains to see the gorgeous snowy scenery before we head to Krug Expeditions. The next few hours are spent having a good look through the Krug Rhino which John came over last year to inspect. The next day we finalise all the details. GR3 should be ready in November for more adventures in Europe…. We can’t wait.

We still have a few weeks to fill in before GR2 arrives in India so we are heading to Georgia to see my sister Judy.  We have another 2 nights before we fly out so we head to the tourist town of Salzburg to explore. It is a gorgeous drive with a detour out to Hallsten on the lake. All day it is wow, wow, wow! We head to the cheapest hotel in town, just on the outskirts. It is a pleasant surprise with views of the mountains and a great little local restaurant. After a great brekkie (included in the price) we head to town to do the touristy things. We wander the lovely streets, head up the hill on a cable car to explore the stunning old Fortress and its museums and finally wander through the gardens of Mirabel Schloss where parts of Sound of Music were set. Tick list done we leave town to head to Passau to wander the lovely streets before heading to  Zur Triftsperre Pension in the countryside. What a lovely find, that is when we eventually locate it, set beside a lovely river with plenty of walks for us to explore.

In the morning, we meander along back roads until we reach the town of Landshut. Our hotel isn’t open yet so we park and set off to explore. It is a great find. There is a huge old town area with locals out enjoying the fine weather. We trudge up the steep hill to the castle to explore and gawp at the views.  Sunday morning, we are due to fly out so we head back to Munich, drop off our car and wait for our flight to Tbilisi. There are lovely views over the Alps, then we fly over the Black Sea and drop down into Georgia. We visit the ATM and phone shop before collecting our “rent a wreck” (or so it should be called). The first car has no aircon, and it’s pretty hot here at the moment, so we return it for another one. Then it is off to my sister Judy’s house in the country. Thank goodness for the new sim. We can just put the address into google maps and head off. It is lovely to catch up with Judy and her son Giorgi, who we haven’t met before. Lots of chatting of course.

The following day we head out for a drive up a mountain pass nearly to Russia. There is still plenty of snow and we stop at some lovely Churches. Georgia is full of them! It’s a big day but there is still more to explore, so later the next day we head off to see a few of the Monasteries. They really are amazing. Much later that day we pack up and head back to the city, we have a very early flight to Crete via Athens. Unfortunately, all the flights from Georgia leave early! Yuck! So, we head to Judys city apartment so we can get to the airport on time. We try to sleep, but it isn’t easy when you know you need to get up at 2.30am. We are ready on time and head off, but something has happened on the motorway and the traffic is all jammed up! We decide to find another way! What a circus as we wind through tiny back streets in the dark. We make it to the airport by the skin of our teeth and are relieved to finally get onto the plane.

After 2 flights we arrive in Crete and collect our car. It is still well over an hour’s drive to our digs for the next week in the tiny hillside town of Episkopis. Villa di Palma is a lovely 3-bedroom home which will be perfect for when Judys daughter Nina, Robin & Lyra arrive in a few days’ time. We can’t sit at home all day so we head to the nearby town of Rethimno to explore. It has a lovely old harbour filled with cute fishing boats, a maze of narrow streets to explore and a huge castle looming overhead. We enjoy dinner at a portside restaurant before heading home to crash for the night.

After a slow start we decide to drive to the town of Galatas our friends recommended. It was the site of a battle during WW2 that Kiwis were involved in. There is a cute old museum about the War that the local custodian opens for us. Later we head to the coast to explore, stopping at a rocky beach to give Giorgi time to throw rocks into the water, and then stop at the gorgeous Gonia Monastery with its museum full of lovely paintings and religious artifacts. We finish off another lovely day at a Tavera right on the beach front. The next day we head up the hill to explore our local village and discover local guys preparing a bonfire for tonight as it is Orthodox Easter here. The action is due to start at 9pm, so of course we return. The place is packed and cars are parked up and down the streets. The interior of the Church is crammed and the priests are singing. We wait amongst the crowds. First, it’s the boys playing with the fire, then the bigger boys. Finally, the bigger boys put on gloves and pick up the long bamboo bundles (about 8 metres long each and there are 4 of them) They light the ends of each bundle and take off running through the streets carrying them aloft. There is charcoals falling everywhere. Out of the Church comes the flower decorated bier carried by a few strong men, followed by a priest and a group of singers. All the rest of the crowd follow. Us to! All through the old town dodging piles of embers. When we reach the steep hill down to the lower town most give up, along with us. We head back home as it is getting late. Later we discover that they go through all the streets of the lower town, before returning to the Church. The locals then light a candle and get a blessing and flower from the bier.

Much later that night Nina, Robin & Lyra arrive, so a really late start followed by a lazy day on the beach and a long lunch in the taverna. The next day we all head back to the town of Rethimno. We plan to explore the Fort, but it’s closed for Easter, so we wander the town’s old streets. In the evening, we head up to the hills for dinner at a local Taverna for an awesome meal. Robin lived in Greece a few years ago so he knows what to order. Definitely our best meal here in Crete.

We check our list of things to see/do nearby and decide to drive backroads to the gorgeous aqua Lake Kourna. We explore, have lunch and hire paddle boats for a fun time in the water. The next day another glorious drive over the mountains to the Souga area where we find a stunning cove tucked right at the end of Plakias Beach to swim. Sadly (for me) it’s a nudist beach. Old German tourists look much better dressed. John did say that the ones wearing togs should be the nudists. Later we wander along the waterfront at Souga enjoying delicious Gyros as we walk. My all-time favorite Greek food.

Our week is up at the lovely Villa di Palma. We pack up and head off first. We have to drop our car off near the airport. The others are going to Chania for their last few days. We collect a smaller car and head off to explore for our last few days. We head cross the island through millions of olive groves and reach our first destination – Ierapetra, right on the water. We explore the slightly scruffy waterfront, admiring the boats, the Fort and of course numerous Churches, followed by another great Greek meal.

Our drive the next morning hugs the lovely coastline with lots of windy roads and hairpin bends. Its great zipping around in a tiny car. We reach our next destination of Katos Zachos, and after a great lunch at the beachfront taverna we find our hotel room with magic views across the tiny town. We hike up the amazing Dead Man’s gorge (so named because the caves were used as graves many years ago.) Much later we explore the beaches, and the next morning the ruins of a Minoan Palace. Our gorgeous drive continues as we head as far as we can drive on the Eastern Peninsula. On the way we stop at the stunning Palm Beach, its sparkling beach framed by date palms. A very popular tourist spot. We can’t quite reach the tip because it’s closed - a military base is located here. Finally, on to our next Hotel at Sitia with a short stop at the Topolon Monastery, home of some famous wines.

Again, we wander the old town before a long lazy dinner and in the morning explore the fort before we head off. It’s a cold grey day, so perfect for a long hike up the Richtis Gorge. We take the shorter hike by driving down an incredibly steep and winding road to the beach. The drop offs are scary and it’s one lane only most of the way. A great hike through the gorge and up to the stunning moss covered Richtis Waterfall. Much later we stop at the very cute town of Mochios for lunch. The place is buzzing with tourists. More lovely driving all the way to Agios Nikolaos where we are staying for our last night. We wander the waterfront and marina, and in the morning head out bright and early for the airport.

Sadly, our time in Crete is over, there is still much more to see, so we will be back. We love you Crete but GR2’s ship has landed and she has been offloaded, so its time to get to India. Our next continent beckons!


Driving through the falling snow in Schadming

And the lovely mountains

View of Schladming from our hotel

Checking out the Rhino

Hallstein is across the lake

Inside the castle fortress in Salzburg


Gorgeous Salzburg

Salzburg is the home of Christmas decorations - pity we have too many flights before we get home


Over the river in Passau

Gorgeous old town of Landshut

And the castle

Now in Georgia - exploring up the mountain pass

Yummy potato & cheese fritters for lunch

Still plenty of snow

And stunning Monasteries

The singing was lovely

Back in Judy's country hometown

More exploring

The premier spot

And the view from the top

Our digs in Crete - Villa di Palma

And our view

Inside the Gonia Monastery

There are cats everywhere in Crete. One on every rubbish bin 

Our local Church with the flower decorated bier

Getting ready for the bonfire tonight

The lower old town

Bonfire time- lighting the bamboo

And they are off

We follow

All the way through the village streets

Visiting Rethimno

The port

Visiting Lake Kourna

Lunch is cooking


Heading across the island

Our lovely nudist beach


Following the coastline

I love a red car

Great driving roads

Looking down into Dead Mans Canyon

Thats a salad! Yum

View across Katos Zakros

The Minoan Palace

The stunning Palm Beach

Nearly the end of the road

Windmill at the Topolon Monastery


Heading down into the Richtis Gorge

Finally the falls

The watering system for the olives... each one has a metre

More back roads

Lunch at Mochias

View from our room at Agios Nikolaos

Goodbye Crete