On the Move to Rhodes and Crete

I’ve now been on Santorini for just about two months, and it’s time to venture onward. Tomorrow night my friends and I are heading towards Rhodes on a 16 hour ferry ride (wow, that’s about the length of the ferry I took from Italy to Greece 5 years ago). We’ll be there for a few days, then 3 of my friends are headed up to Turkey while by friend and I turn back towards Crete. I’m really looking forward to hiking the Samaria Gorge. After exploring Crete for a week, we’ll then return to Santorini for another week or so before I fly up north to London for a few days and then Dublin. After my trip up north, I’m planning to head down to Spain for a month — and hitting the Tomatina festival near Valencia with a few backpackers I’ve met over the past couple months while I’m there. Next up, Africa in late September — I’ll post another update with details of that itinerary once it’s more final.

I’ve heard rumors of another Greek strike on Tuesday and Wednesday, so hope that doesn’t get us stuck somewhere — but regardless of where we get stuck, there are worse places to spend a few extra days than a random Greek island.

Coining a New Term – “Cliffing Around”

“Cliffing around” = to wander awkwardly doing absolutely nothing for extended periods of time

Greece is full of stray dogs; everywhere you look they are roaming around. In Athens, they have more rights than people in many cases. My friend got denied of entrance into the Acropolis with coffee because it could stain the limestone — while less than 10 feet away, there were stray dogs pissing on the limestone. Anyway, the back story on this specific term is that we’ve somewhat adopted a dog named “Cliff” here in Santorini this summer. I’m not quite sure why, but we think he is the dumbest, most awkward dog on the island.

It started because we found Cliff on the beach, gave him water, and then he proceeded to eat the water dish we were using — and hence we could not give him any more water on an island where there is no freshwater whatsoever. Not a smart move on his part. Since then, we see him wandering around the island, always looking dumbfounded as to what he is doing and generally not doing much of anything at all. Hence the term, “cliffing around” was born this morning over breakfast at yet another Cliff sighting at Atlas Bar in Perissa.

And even though we call him the dumbest dog on the island, the fact is we’ve all really taken to liking him. He’s the only dog we’ve nicknamed, which is a sign of our sincere affection for him.

The joys of island life and the things that never cease to entertain…have you been “cliffing around” recently?

Update: For more on “cliffing around”, check out Brooke’s post.

Why Do Americans Get (and Take) So Little Vacation?

Sherry Ott at Briefcase to Backpack posted an article on America’s No Vacation Culture and included the CBS news feature embedded below.

It’s painful to see people work their entire lives away and not enjoy what life has to offer. I’m glad to be bucking the trend on this one — while working in corporate America, I used as much of my vacation time as physically possible to visit far away places. And now I’m on an extended “vacation” traveling the globe working virtually for YouReach Media and Virtual Results.

In America, people live to work. In most of the world, people work to live.

Problems with International ATMs While Backpacking and How to Protect Yourself

I seldom talk to a backpacker who has not had money issues while traveling, particularly if they are a seasoned traveler with multiple trips under their belt. I’m no different. Among the common problems I’ve experienced and hear about from other travelers:

I’ve now undertaken 7 trips abroad and have a few tips as to how to protect yourself from these problems:

  1. Make sure that you have at least two bank accounts with DIFFERENT institutions.┬áIt goes without saying that there should be at least some reserve in your backup account, I’d recommend somewhere in the $500 range.
  2. Especially for those doing extended trips, ensure that you can transfer money from your primary account to your backup account via online banking.
  3. Travel with a friend when possible as a safety measure. The chances are slim that two people will both have money problems at the same time, so traveling with a friend is always a good safety net.
  4. Carry large amounts of cash. This can be dangerous in the event that you get robbed (it can happen), but will provide some peace of mind that you won’t run dry on funds.

I personally carry a Bank of America debit card, two bank of America credit cards, and a Charles Schwab debit card as my backup while traveling abroad — though there are no transaction fees on my Schwab card, so I’m thinking about making that my primary account going forward.

Have you experiences ATM problems on the travel trail? How do you protect yourself from getting stuck in a bad situation without any cash on hand?

And if you’re just plain broke while on the travel trail — well, these tips won’t really help you. Phone your parents or a close friend and ask for some extra funds…or stop where you are and try to find a job.

Independence Day Party in Santorini

The folks at Beach Bar are throwing an Independence Day Party for us Americans currently on Santorini. We have 19 registered participants on Facebook already and I’m completely stoked! Here’s the description of the party on Facebook:

Start Time: Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 4:00pm
End Time: Monday, July 5, 2010 at 4:00am
Location: Beach Bar Perissa Beach

THE OFFICIAL AMERICATHON DAY!!

ALL DAY PARTY FROM 16.00PM!!!! LIVE REGGAE BAND FROM 17.00PM
SPECIAL PRICE ON DRAFT BEER, JELLO SHOTS, AMERICAN ANTHEMS, BEER BONGS, FIREWORKS AND MORE………………
THE ONLY PLACE TO PARTY

ALL SUNBEDS FREE!!!!!!

If you happen to be in Santorini right now, come on by!

Group of Uruguay Fans in Santorini Celebrating their Victory over Ghana

A group of us were watching the Ghana-Uruguay game last night at Meltemi, a bar here in Santorini that plays English commentary for all the World Cup games. Across the way at Grandma’s, a small restaurant that sells primarily gyros, a huge group of Uruguay fans had congregated to watch the game. They were loud every step of the way, but their celebration when the game was decided for good was a pretty memorable experience. Seeing celebrations like this is part of what traveling is all about. I didn’t stay out after the game last night, but I could hear hooting and hollering all night from my balcony a few blocks away. Below is a minute long video I recorded from my camera of their victory celebration:

Regardless of how cool it was to see the celebration in person, I’m with David Gibbons when he said on Facebook “I don’t care what the scoreboard says; Ghana won. Shame on Uruguay.” The blantant handball in the 120th minute was a shame to see (you can see that handball on the HuffingtonPost if you missed it).

Exploring the Wild Blue Yonder