Friday, 28 October 2011

Diving trip to Egypt postponed


I have had a wish to learn diving and to acquire a PADI licence for many years now. If I took a PADI OWD course here in Slovenia it would mostly take place in a swimming pool. The only exception is usually the final dive, which takes place in the Adriatic Sea - somewhere on Slovenian or Croatian coast.


I am a big fan of Adriatic sea, but its underwater life can hardly be compared to some place with coral reefs and countless colourful fish. It is also not all that warm during this time of year...


I guess the closest such place to Europe is the Red Sea in Egypt. Since I visited Egypt back in 2007 I can't get this thing out of my head. My diving experience from that trip is from Dahab (days 13 and 14 of our Egyptian adventure).


Another thing is that such courses usually take quite some time, often stretching over two or even more months. In tourist places like Dahab or Sharm el Sheikh such courses are adapted to match usual holiday durations. This means one can acquire a diving licence in under a week.
However I would suggest not to hurry things more then necessary. You should always keep in mind that the purpose of such courses is to learn to dive independently. If at the end of such course you do not feel confident to face possibly dangerous underwater situations alone, you should definitely reconsider diving alone. A mistake in underwater environment can cost you your life!


I suggest you look into many options available in Dahab and Sharm el Sheikh. Some companies offer ship-wreck site diving, other have superb coral reef formations. You can definitely choose what you prefer.


As the title of this post suggests, things have lately simply not been good for taking a trip like this. I will just have to wait a bit longer to do it, but this thing will definitely stay high on my travel list.

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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Boat put to rest


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Monday, 24 October 2011

From Summer to Winter in a Flash


This year summer just did not want to end here in Slovenia. I liked this fact very much and tried to take it in as much as possible.
I was still swimming in the Adriatic Sea at the beginning of October and had a great warm weekend on Slovenian coast. The initial plan was to visit Skocjan Caves - an UNESCO heritage site, but since weather was simply too perfect to spend the day underground, M. and I unanimously decided to head for the charming Slovenian coast town of Piran. We figured any of the gloomy winter days will be just fine for exploring the caves.
In the end we had a great day enjoying the warm sun and fresh local sea food.


Both of the places mentioned Piran and Skocjan Caves are well worth visiting and deserve a separate post each.


We were glad we decided the way we did. Even more so after a few days, when temperatures dropped for 15 degrees in one afternoon. Another few days later snow covered most mountains higher than 1.000 meters above sea level.


Now every morning temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius and winter is definitely knocking on the doors, or as my favourite author keeps saying - Winter is coming. Well actually at the end of last week, it looked as if it has arrived already - there was snow everywhere.


The interesting thing is, even nature looks like it didn't realise this yet. Leaves are still green on most of trees. Last week's snow was breaking trees all over the place because leaves didn't even turn to autumn colours, let alone started to fall off.
If we weren't picking apples just the other day, I would think autumn is an imaginary time of year that happens only in fairytales.

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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Arriving to Corfu


Corfu - the northernmost of the six main Ionian islands is also supposed to be the greenest of them all. It has been a crossroad where many different nations and cultures have been mixing for centuries. It is still a bit like that today.


We had arranged a reservation of an apartment in the town of Pirgi which is inseparably connected to a bit more famous party town of Ipsos. This town is actually a Greek version of Ibiza. If you are wondering what is the cheapest way to get to Corfu, you should check out one of my previous posts, but if you still prefer Spain, there are always many cheap flights to Ibiza available from many destinations around Europe.


This time our chosen mean of transport was a ferry from Venice to the town of Corfu (Kerkyra). Pirgi (or Pyrgi) is located 15 kilometres north of this largest town on the island of Corfu.


From the first look of the island I did not know what exactly to think of it - it was dark when we arrived. I guess this might be the main reason we were quite impressed with our apartments when we saw them. There was a nicely lit pool in front of the house with a well stocked bar standing right next to it.


Even in the morning apartments with a rather fancy pool looked quite nice - from afar that is.
When I took a closer look it was evident everything was put together with little attention to detail. Tiles around the pool were not put in place very accurately and quite a few of them were already broken (laying on a pile in a corner). There was also a new LED lighting installed on the rail around the pool which might have even looked nice in dark, but in daylight all the wiring was visible and everything was attached with large silicone blobs. It also did not look very rain resistant - luckily it does not rain all that often in Greece...


This trend could be noticed with most of the places lined up by the main road across from the beach in the towns of Pyrgi and Ypsos. However I am pretty sure many of the visitors do not even notice this. Most of those places were empty throughout the day and filled up well after dusk when such "details" are less obvious.


Since we were usually exploring the island during the day, we did not mind those things all that much. However if we wanted to do the exploring, we had to rent some kind of transport - we opted for a couple of scooters.
We visited some really nice places and idyllic beaches, but more on that in another post...

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Monday, 17 October 2011

Ferry deck passenger tips

Travelling as a deck passenger on a ferry is one of the cheapest ways of travel. Many people try to avoid it because they are afraid it would be too uncomfortable and rent a cabin instead. I think everyone who tried camping before, should be just fine as a deck passenger.


Those on a tight budget have another option: "Airtype Economy Seats". Those seats look like airplane seats put in a large room (hence the name) - usually with air conditioning turned to maximum.
Those seats might seem quite comfortable at first, but trying to get a good night sleep in one of them is a whole different thing - usually they can not be put into a horizontal position. That is why I prefer to use my sleeping bag on the floor and travel as a deck passenger - it can be quite comfortable and is definitely the cheapest way of travelling long distances with a ferry.


However if you do not have a problem with the things mentioned and don't like the wind in your hair while sleeping on the open deck, those seats might be a very affordable option.


There are a few things you should keep in mind while traveling as a deck passenger on a ferry:

  • Try to board the ferry amongst the first to be able to reserve a good spot for spending the night. Keep in mind the sun, wind and engine noise.

  • Pack a sleeping bag to keep you warm during the night and a sleeping bag pad (those self inflatable ones are the best choice) for making the hard deck a bit softer.

  • A hammock can be a useful alternative to a sleeping bag pad. Keep in mind there are usually not many suitable places for tying it up on a ferry.

  • The crew will let you sleep on the floor of inside corridors in case of bad weather. Otherwise there are only a few places available inside - depends on crew tolerance.

  • It can get windy and cold even during summer months in the middle of the Mediterranean. Pack a windjacket or some other warm alternative.

  • Food and drinks on a ferry can be quite expensive for what you get. Buy at least some of your own supplies before boarding.

  • Pack something to keep you occupied during the trip (e.g. a good book, card or board games). Do not count on internet or mobile phone network connections.

  • If you are traveling as a large group, it might be smart to consider renting a small cabin together. You can all store your luggage there and use the shower and toilet if you feel the need.

Need another tip on how to get the lowest possible price for a cabin? Check out the link to one of my previous posts.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The cheapest way to get to Greece

As I have already mentioned in one of my previous posts, I was lucky enough to take part in a prize trip to Corfu.
Since transport to the location was not a part of the deal and this was a more or less a last minute trip, I had to do some research to find the most affordable mean of transport from Slovenia to the Greek island of Corfu.


Flights from nearby airports (e.g. Ljubljana, Venice) were either full or too expensive, so I had to search for alternatives. I found out literary the only alternative was a ferry. There were a few options, but Venice seemed the most reasonable - it is the closest to Slovenia. You can expect a lower price if you book way ahead of time and if you can afford adapting your schedule for a day or two. We had to settle for the prices on the date of our scheduled departure.
Generally there are two ferry companies you should check out when traveling from Italy to Greece: Minoan Lines and Anek Lines.


For a moment we were even thinking of taking a car with us on the ferry. We saw many German and Italian cars on Corfu so I guess this is also a thing to consider. We decided to rent a vehicle when we get there.
We opted to travel as deck passengers, which is the cheapest option. If you are thinking of renting a cabin you can get a really good offer (substantially lower, compared to web prices) when the ferry is already on the way. Use your haggling skills to your advantage. However there is a risk involved when traveling in high season - there might be no room left by the time ship sets sail.
Usually there are also "Airtype Economy Seats" available, but in my opinion those are much more uncomfortable compared to simply sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor.
In the end we were happy with our choice - we really enjoyed sleeping under the stars with a light sea breeze in our hair.


There is also a free bonus when taking a ferry from Venice. Even if you don't get to stroll through the streets of this charming Italian city, you get a great view from the deck of your ferry. To my surprise the ferry passed right by the famous Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square). We got another chance to take beautiful photos on our way back.


Even though this may be the cheapest way to get to Greece from northern Italy, one should be aware this type of transport takes quite some time. It took us 26 hours to get from Venice to Corfu. Since Corfu is the northernmost Greek island, you can expect the travel to other Greek islands to last even longer (e.g. it takes more then a day and a half to get from Venice to Crete and it also includes switching ferries).


We did not mind the long journey. We simply tried to have fun from the first minute on the road and I think we did a great job. When you are travelling with the right group of people, you can always count on having a great time.

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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Venice from the Sea


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