This trip lasted 8 weeks and we had a great time. In our 55 day trip, there were two whole days when we did not drink any wine. But in our defense, the wine was good and cheap. Water was good but expensive.
There will, eventually, be photos throughout the travelogue but, at this time, they are listed at the end. You can view them there.
If you have a fast connection, you can view the photos we took of some of the people we met during our 8 week journey through Europe. Click here to view the photo thumbnails. With some we shared a drink, some a taxi, some a meal and some a table. Some we just met and talked to. To all of you, thanks for including us in your holiday. The photos will appear on the left. If you don't have time then continue reading and click on any links of photos that seem interesting, the individual photo file sizes are small and the photos will appear on the left as you read on.
This was the longest trip we have taken to Europe and it was to last 8 weeks. Many of our friends were sure we would stop talking by the third week but those of you who know me, know how easy I am to get along with. Nevertheless, on our last night in a bar in Bruges, Belgium, I asked Christine how the trip had gone. She said that she needed another laundry and a dry cleaner and she could go another 8 weeks. Basically, we both had a great time and the time went very fast. We will do it again.
We used British Airways frequent flyer miles to travel Chicago-London-Malaga, Spain, and returned Brussels, Belgium-London-Chicago. We booked five other flights either through Expedia or directly through Olympic Airlines (for the inter island flights in Greece). We road trains, buses, took an overnight ferry from Rethymon, Crete, to Athens, rented three cars and leased a car for five weeks through Renault (fantastic deal). We walked a lot, mostly uphill as most European towns are at the top of the hill. We walked the 18 kilometer Samaria Gorge in Crete and this was downhill to the Libyan Sea. We each carried one daypack as a carry on bag and one small 22 inch bag on wheels that we checked. I had two small nylon bags hidden in my bag and when Christine found out I had them she proceeded to fill them so by the time we turned in the car in Brussels and flew home, we had four bags to check.
All of the photos on this trip were taken with an Olympus C-700 Digital Camera. In 17 days we took over 700 photos and uploaded 164 to Wal-Mart to have prints made. The digital photos were 1600x1200 and saved in the Olympus HQ Mode resulting in a file size of about 400-500 kilobytes. I used Photoshop to reduce the size and resolution of the photos on these web pages to about 10% of the original size. We carried an Olympus 35mm camera with us but did not use it and will probably not carry it on future trips. I had about 456 megabytes of SmartMedia with me and have now increased it to 712 megabytes for our next trip. I had an international voltage charger for the 2 sets of 4 NiMH AA batteries and never had a problem even after days of shooting with the same set. The C-700 seems to be easy on the batteries. I carried the C-700 in a small "fanny pack". Because the size was small we carried it everywhere.
I had originally booked a car for Spain through www.autoeurope.com but a few days before our trip I found www.carjet.com and they quoted me a much better price which included zero deductible collision damage wavier (CDW) insurance. Carjet's prince for a Renault Clio, 4 door with A/C was 200€ for 10 days. Autoeurope was unbale to match this price.
We arrived in Malaga, Spain, around 1800 hours and we were tired as we had been traveling for 18 hours. We easily found the Record Auto Rental Desk and were told that the car that Carjet had booked for us was not available but they would give us a Renault Scenic SUV. The only problem was that the Scenic was very low on fuel we would have to fill it up as soon as possible. The car looked great so we took it. At less than $20US per day with zero deductible CDW, it was a real deal. Right outside the airport we stopped for gas and I began to fill the tank with unleaded gas, We were tired but luckily Christine asked me if I was filling the car with the right fuel. I looked and it said "diesel" on the inside of the fuel door. I had only put in 5 liters so I went inside to see if the man running the place could give me some advice. Maybe if I spoke a little Spanish he could have helped me. I dragged him outside and pointed to the unleaded fuel and he shook his head no and pointed to the diesel pump. I finally got it across to him what I had done and he shrugged his shoulders indicating (at least to me) that it wouldn't matter. I proceeded to put 38 liters of diesel fuel into the car. Diesel fuel is oily so use the plastic gloves that the stations provide. We were concerned for a few days but nothing came of our error and later I learned some people in Germany add some gas to their diesel in the winter to keep the diesel from turning to gel.
We drove through Malaga up to the Parador Gibralfaro below the castle and overlooking the sea, city, and the bullring. We had booked through the Internet at three of the paradors in Spain, Malaga, Granada and Ronda. The rooms were more expensive than we usually pay and much more expensive than other places we saw in Spain but they were fantastic. Paradors are run by the Spanish Government and are located in historic buildings, monasteries, castles, etc. We had really great rooms in all three paradors. They have a good cancellation policy and you can view all the sites at www.parador.es. You can book at this site and it is the official parador site. You must book early for some of the sites where there is a big demand. We booked 6 months ahead for the Parador in Granada and it is in a small old convent right on the grounds of the Alahambra Palace. It cost $207US per night without breakfast and it was worth every penny. If you book a room make sure you bring the confirmation form with you. We had originally booked through a website that I thought was the official parador site but it was not. They confirmed our reservation but when I requested a copy of the confirmation fax they acted like I was questioning their ancestry. I finally got them to send the confirmation fax and it clearly stated that the reservation was not confirmed unless I sent them a new credit card to guarantee the reservation as the credit card I used had an expiration date prior to my arrival. had I not persisted in requesting the confirmation fax we would not have had a room when we arrived. Because of the way they acted, I cancelled our reservation through them and made my own through the official site www.parador.es. We saw someone at the front desk in Granada who was trying to say they had a reservation but they did not have a confirmation and they were out of luck. I receommend you use the official parador web site.
After checking into a really large and nice room at the Parador Gibralfaro we went down and had a drink on the veranda overlooking the city and the sea. It was a great view. I ordered fried fish and Christine thought she ordered smoked tuna. I got fried fish and she got pate sandwiches. We vowed to be more careful when ordering. We got much better at ordering and most all our meals in Spain we very good. We were very tired but we tried to stay up as late as possible and went to bed after 10PM. This helps us adjust to the local time. After a good night's sleep we went down to the restaurant and had some coffee.
On the road, we drove east to the seaside town of Castell de Ferro for lunch and then north to Granada. We had booked a room at the Granada Parador which is in the Alahambra Gardens. This parador is built in an old convent, the Convent of St Francis and the Spanish Catholic kings were buried for some time in the old church of the Franciscan convent today the convent is the parador de Granada. In the year 1521, the kings remains were moved to the Royal Chapel where they lie now. And, if you lodge here, you can spend the night in the gardens of the Alhambra. We got a really nice room with a balcony overlooking the Generalife Gardens. We had booked an entry time to visit the Alahmbra through the Internet but the hotel talked us into exchanging that for a guided walking tour. The walking tour was very good but it was still a tour. It was in two languages, English and German and the Germans got the short end of everything that was explained. We could have done well with just the earphone and it would have been cheaper. Speaking of earphones, we rented them at the Chapel Royal and unless you can relate to all the Spanish names that are mentioned every 3 seconds, don't rent them.
Here are some photos we took in Malaga and then in Granada. In this no frames version, they will open in another window, use your Back button to return to this page:
The following photos are Panoramic Photos and will open in another window. Use your BACK button to return to this page.
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