Get ‘Em To The Greece!
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
There are moments in our lives that seem to define us. Moments that we keep going back to which we play over and over again. Two years ago the Travel Hogz had no idea they would be doing exactly just that. Playing the scenario of their travels over and over in their minds. The weight of their Euro adventure still bewilders them.
Traveling is fun however, when you are living out of your suitcase for 12 months, moving every 3 months with 2 spoiled dogs, whom by the way, think they are human, isn’t exactly your ideal travel situation. Ideal or not, the Travel Hogz were darring enough to attempt this topsy-turvy trip. An unforgettable journey which brought joys and often, doubt.
The Hogz left March 1st heading to Greece abiding by the U.S. passport EU rule. You are only allowed to stay within the Schengen area for 90 days. Croatia isn’t part of the Schengen, yet, so the non Schengen hub for our Hogz is you guessed it, Croatia. Greece, on the other hand, is part of the Schengen, and has always been on the radar for our traveling dare devils. Since they were in that neck of the woods, why not go?
From Dubrovnik to Athens it is approximately a 15 to 16 hour drive. Oh the fear ahead of them! No good news turned up on searches on the internet about driving from Dubrovnik to Greece. Stories from 2014 entailed a little skepticism. Tales of windy roads, cliffs, inexperienced Albanian drivers, who were known to only own sheep not cars by neighboring countries, frightened the Hogz, as well as Miro and Zoran, the drivers. What did they get themselves into?
Off they went in the middle of the night. Through the dark back roads of Dubrovnik and Montenegro in hopes to pass through Albania midday so at least they could see the bad Albanian drivers hurling towards them.
Nothing around except narrow streets and from the looks of things, neighborhoods WAIT? NEIGHBORHOODS? YUP! Houses in small neighborhoods! Granted it was dark, but they could faintly make out the dirt roads that lead to smaller streets of homes and parked cars in actual neighborhoods. What were the ancient bloggers of 2014 referring to? Their fear was obviously based on mythical claims.
In the hills, they could see a glitter of city lights below. It wasn’t at all what people had mentioned. The bloggers of road trips past had painted disaster as if one wrong move of the tire and, your life would end. However, it still didn’t alleviate the fear of bad Albanian drivers which could result in either a head on collision or a flipped van off of the side of the road. Regardless of fear, they ventured onward.
In less than 2 hours, they reached mid Montenegro. Miro suggested to take a ferry in order to shave off a little time. As they drove onto the ferry (amazed it was in full operation at 1:45am), Coco and one of the Hogz were excited to hop on. Yay! They began to relax as the ferry pulled away from the port and 3 seconds later (or so it seemed) they were on the other side! Whoa! What? Wow! That was fast, why even take the ferry???? How could that short ride shave off so much time? Well, it did. Approximately 45 minutes! They drove off of the fairy and onto the more than perfectly paved highway. INTERESTING. Another surprise that has proven the 2014 bloggers incorrect! Thoughts of cliffs and dirt roads with bad drivers started to be a worry of the past just like the blogs. By the time they reached the Albanian border, the sun was just beginning peep over the hill tops.A breathtaking thing to see!
Stopping at the customs window to show their passports, the co-piloting pup raised up from his nap as he thought every border patrol window was a McDonald’s drive thorough. "Where are the pomme frits" the dog seemed to be asking. He loved the European name of french fries because it sounded like Pomeranians get frits or fries, if you will. He made his way to window to order french fries. Sorry Cocies, no Pomme Frits! Poor little pooch didn’t know he wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
Once at the second border (Europe seems to have 2 within 5 feet of each other) to cross into Greece, there was complete chaos. The Hogz had read about an incident and tension between Albanians and Greeks 5 months prior. A Greek citizen was shot at the border and tensions had begun to rise between the two countries. There were several tour buses, cars that were breached at the curb, and Border Patrol randomly making people get out of their cars and buses for a search. Everyone was made to open their luggage and it was complete chaos. The Hogz were nervous. Why? They didn’t want to be caught at a border in a foreign country, with 2 dogs (though they had all paperwork and pet passports), scooters (where they may have been asked for proof of sale and maybe pay duties/taxes) and possibly be questioned why they were headed to Greece in a van. The officer asked Miro to pull over and to see the passports. The Hogz just knew they would look in the back of the van and start the questions. In less than 5 minutes, Miro was back in the van and crossing the border into Greece. Whew, our friends got through quickly. No search, no questions, just stamped passports and a continuation of a beautiful sun rise with incredible scenery of mountainous terrain of Greece. The dogs were tired. The Travel Hogz were exhausted and drivers determined to get ‘em to Vóula to their Aitrbnb (approximately 20 minutes past Athens).
Here’s a question: who owns the 5 feet of space between the two borders between Albania & Greece? Albania or Greece? Do they have joint ownership? In the words of Arsenial Hall, “Things that make you go hmmmm."
Once the trip’s end was nearing, and they neared Athens, everyone was in full relief. The dogs eyes bulging and their bushy tails were wagging as they wondered what was going on.
“When do we get to the Greece?” The pups wondered.
After a 30 minute standstill in Athens traffic, a few turns and circles later, Miro and Zoran landed the Hogz safely to Voula. Kuddos to Miro and Zoran! They were the best!
Big, spacious, wrap around balcony, 2 bedroom marble floored Airbnb. It was enough space for all to stretch their legs and feel comfortable.
One of the dogs wasn’t too Happy. Could you guess which one? Half blind and completely def, this poor little dog had no idea where he was. No more red rug and dark grey couch like in Dubrovnik. Only white marble floors, a white, couch and a white table. Running into everything head on wasn’t his idea of fun. Depression was slowly setting in and his blindness quickly. Sleeping began to be his favorite and safe past time. The other dog however, just needed to know which way the kitchen was, and it didn’t take him long to figure it out.
The first day out they found coffee and wow! How nice the people were. In the coffee shops, restaurants, boutique retail stores, barbershops and nail shops. Even the neighborhood gym! Just nice all around, and the more they encountered the same people everyday, the more the Hogz felt at home.
A great choice to set up shop was Vóula Greece. A small neighborhood or village, if you will, with lots of delicious places to eat, awesome and friendly people. Rey Pablo with Alexandria and Sunday who were awesome and gave our two travelers the best service, ESTEKI thanks to the owner for his terrific hospitality , and Öppen where Brunilda, the beautiful waitress who took excellent care of them and laughed at their silly American behavior, were a few of the Hog favs.
There are several grocery stores, parks, and coffee shops (Coffee Island was the best) within walking distance. Quite a convenient little location especially if you want to avoid large crowds and hustle and bustle of Athens. Stay in Voula. It’s the perfect combination of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills whipped together without so many people. Only 3 to 4 blocks from the beach (if that). Modern apartments kiss the sky, but there is still lots of greenery and gardens. Private gates and entries to the complexes, wide streets, although not so favorable sidewalks, gave the town a very pleasant and sophisticated look.
Best food award so far goes to ….. Greece! Runner up is Croatia. Greece has amazing food. Depending on where you go tasty, the food is not too oily or salty.
Best Places to Eat Voula:
Öppen - Voula- the best pancakes and burgers, veggie & beef!. Stellar service and especially a friendly waitress named Brunilda whom the Travel Hogz will miss.
Steki - Voula- across from Open is one of THE best Kabab places in town. Great food and very friendly staff. Going to miss To Steki and the smiles!
Stoleto - in Glyfada a great place for yet another perfect atmosphere and delicious food they have dishes that range from Italian to Japanese (try the sushi!)
Street Wok - Gylfada, not in the mood to sit for a while and need something quick? Excellent & fresh!
Blends - Gylfada Perfect on a sunny day! The best quinoa salad in town! Well designed & tons of atmosphere
Amigos - Gyfada Amazing Mexican food. You would think you are in Baja. Friendly service. The chimichanga’s and margaritas are much to write a blog about!!!
Rey Pablo’s - By far everything on the menu was great! Mojitos! Delish! And all of this comes with the best service and friend staff who take good care of you. Konstantina and Sunday gave the Travel Hogz the best service and two travel thumbs up to the bar tender who always made delicious drinks!
The Kitchen Lab - Very good and plenty to choose from. American based menu. Perfect to get a taste of home if you are from the states
Of course the Hogz need their daily dose of java and the chain of stores which relics as their favorite, is Coffee Island. The Travel Hogz Coffee Around The World award goes to this place! Coffee Island in Voula was close by and the Hogz enjoyed coffee there almost every day of their 90 day stay! Yum! Good service, smiles and most of all, good coffee at a reasonable price! The crew came to know them fairly well and what kind of lattes they wanted.
What's The Deal With Sidewalks?
While in Europe, curbs became “A Thing” for the Hogz. Since they are well rounded experts on exploring cities via foot and scooter, they are looking out for their fellow travelers. Especially someone who is handicapped. Voula is no place for a handicapped person nor parents with strollers!! The curbs are partially destroyed everywhere you go. One section of a block is usually broken concrete and a few feet down, they are perfect. A few feet from that, nothing but dirt. A little ways down, there’s a huge drop for a driveway or a 3 foot curb. A little exaggeration there, but you get the point. Why is it so inconsistent? Even when they walked, one of the adventurous travel dogs had to jump curbs as if jumping ship! They noticed it a lot in Europe, but that is a whole different blog. The inconsistencies of Europe.
The Hogz found it hard at times to ride the e-scooters consistently on the sidewalks due to this inconsistency. They even blew a tire. Do you know how hard it is to get tires for a MI XAIMEN SCOOTER in Europe? You can’t! Due to non existent spares they ordered tubeless ones with expedited shipping from China (which took 2 weeks) because they were only in Greece for one more month when this occurred. Since they needed their scooters to facilitate so many of their practical tasks, one Hog couldn’t wait and decided to simply buy another scooter in the meantime. Reason to believe these Hogz are just plain spoiled. After checking almost every bike repair shop, where no one would replace the tires, they found one! Called Athens Vélo. The owner, Noel, was fantastic! A pleasure to talk to and extremely helpful. He replaced the tires once they arrived, and helped them sell one of the e-scooters.
If you find yourself staying in or visiting Voula, there’s another affluent neighborhood next door that has even more charm. Glyfada. It was home for one of the Travel Hogz’s besties when she was growing up and home of a modern day shopping mall. What a great place to spend your day. Stores such as H&M, Berksha (Euro store check it out if you can) Zara, Mohito, Mango (More Euro stores different and stylish to say the least) lined the streets for window shopping or potential shopping bliss. Many higher end Greek designers boutiques were among the savvy. You won’t have a problem finding a place to eat either. Sundays, especially, is typically “Family Day” for Greek culture. Every family packs into all of restaurants to enjoy time together. You can hardly get a seat. It was a beautiful thing for our travelers to experience. Just a 10 minute ride on the tram or bus from Voula to Glyfada and you can enjoy the captivation!
There are even a couple of grocery stores in Voula. Do, however, be mindful that grocery stores and most places to shop are closed on Sundays or they close early. They ain’t got nothin on the hours at Ralph’s or Trader Joes on the West Coast of the U.S.! Which brings us to the odd hours dilemma. Which leads into our next topic.
The Odd Hours of Europe in General
Every now and again The Hogz found themselves at a Samsung store, doctor’s office, nail shops, barber shops, pharmacy or any clothing boutique on any given weekday. If you aren’t noticing the opening hours, lets just say, you’re F#$#d! Some places had hours that seemed odd. Open Monday’s from 8am-2pm closed from 2pm - 5pm open 5pm to 9pm, Tuesdays open from 4pm-9pm, Wednesdays open from 10am-3pm, Thursdays closed, Fridays 8am -4:30pm Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh..... well you get the point. Confusion was often the look on our travel buddies faces. Luckily they were able to get coffee any time of day at the same place at the same time everyday.
The Samsung store was one place that they went often where the lovely Elli would often help them. She was fantastic, very knowledgeable about the products in the store and the best friendly customer service! She took care of them whenever they came in with questions. However, the Hogz could never consistently remember the days and times they were open. Duh...why didn’t they just Google it??? All in all it was a joy to take a trip just to see if they were open.
While on the subject of odd hours. How is a person supposed to remember these hours at different locations? Let’s not get started on the pharmacies. What happens if you are sick? Are you supposed to get sick during the hours they are open? Geeze! Usually there is a 24 hour pharmacy, however, the Hogz never encountered it in Voula. Beautiful area, just don’t fall ill!
Getting to Athens from Voula is quite easy. The tram station isn’t far and neither is the bus stop.
Just hop on and go. Google maps is excellent for moving around Europe in general, and it tells you the exact trains, trams and buses to take, when to leave and where to exit. Also like the U.S. times you should start heading to the bus station or tram station.
Athens is, of course, is where most of the main attractions reside from Voula.
There’s Acropolis with the Parthenon the Athenian temple , Theatre of Dionysus,
The Propylaea, and the Historical Museum of Athens. What a sight to see! Tour the grounds for about $12 and walk on the outskirts into the parks and find food everywhere! Great food and almost every restaurant has a view of the Parthenon.
Breathtaking especially at night. Just be mindful of pickpocketing and beggars who give you things like a rose, a key chain or some kind of souvenir. “For you, no, no money no! For you beautiful!” Then they call out your spouse and ask them for money. The women ask your spouse to pay for the roses to help take care of their unborn child. The Hogz suspected this isn’t a real baby. What a game they try to run on tourists! Not on the HOGZ! They’ve seen it all being from California!
There are several tours to help you enjoy your time in Athens even more. Venture the historical Oracle’s, Islands of Greece and land marks and more. Hop On, Hop Off bus tour is a great way to see things on your own without trying to figure out how to get there. Grab a brochure as they are all over Athens and online as well. Believe it or not Hop on Hop off is in many other parts of the world. Though this was an option, the Hogz pretty much preferred exploring most of their surroundings via foot or e-scooter.
There are so many more attractions outside of Athens about 10 miles from Voula such as is Poseidon's Temple. Our travelers didn't go as the weather wasn't exactly warm. A little chillier and rainier than normal according to the locals.
Island hopping is also fun, but not so ideal in cold and rainy weather. However, someone was having a birthday and dreamed of going to Santorini. This Hog's dream finally came true!
Someone was turning 50! In order to properly celebrate this iconic event, a trip to Santorini was in order! The Airbnb hosts were able to watch the dogs and off they Hogz went. Using Get Transfer, arrival to the airport was simple and quick. Picked up in a private car to the airport then a 45 minutes flight later they arrived in Santorini.
The scenery was unbelievable. A daisy filled coast line with aqua waves clapping against the rocks on one side and mountainous fields of greenery and lime stone on the other. Sparsely places stone homes sat here and. If you are planning a trip there be sure to plan for it accordingly. Summer time is triple the cost, winter is much lower but DRESS FOR WINTER! (Heavy eskimo attire strongly suggested) Strong cold winds are present in March and some of April. The Hogz enjoyed it but would have had more fun if the weather was better. Santorini was COLD, every windy & rainy!
Travel Tip # 18 - Don’t take a lot of luggage to Santorini! You have to climb stairs and go up inclines especially if you are staying in Oía.
Oía is the best side for sunsets and is the iconic side with white buildings and the blue domed churches that perfectly match the blue sky and sea. The Hogz made the right choice there. Hotels are nice, however, if you get the wrong one, your bed is a brick! The Hogz enjoyed the view in the first room but moved to a second room with no view because of the bed catastrophe. Granted the hotel was very accommodating, the second room was even worse. On top of that at 5:30 / 6 am there was lots of clumping noses like the sound of a million children running on the roof! How could that be? After not sleeping for 2 days they were already exhausted and were awakened by this noise. A peep out of the window revealed DONKEYS! YEP you read correctly….DONKEYS! Donkeys used to be transportation up to the hills of Santorini until people until it was deemed cruelty to those poor donkeys. Now they use them for bringing towels and amenities to the hotels. But what bout cruelty to our traveling insomniac traveling pals??? That was it, time to take action!
The Airbnb scout began and after finding one, viewing & booking it, they moved in right away to enjoy a nice quiet remaining 5 days in a spacious, cozy beautifully decorated Airbnb. They named it “the Keebler House”. It was such a joy for them to stay in a fairytale like, 2 bedroom 2 bathroom, gated, house with a view even an emperor would envy. Slumbering in a cloud of a king sized bed, the Hogz got some much needed rest for the next 4 nights. It was an amazing experience.
Visiting Santorini pre Summer will be a sight for sore eyes. Construction is abundant so the true beauty isn’t quite revealed. Although summer is high season which will give way to crowded streets and even more outrageous prices.
Thira where the birthday Hog spent the day celebrating was a little larger and more restaurants and from the looks of things more partying. No thanks for your fellow travelers. They were booked at a spa for an intimate bath and couples massage to celebrate.
Oh The Food!
For great pizza head over to Skiza Cafe in Óia. Oh my what a great place to have a view of the sea above the cliffs and homes embedded in the hillsides below. Great Pizza and terrific desserts! If you want friendly, home cooked authentic, Greek food head over to Karma Restaurant. Someone at the hotel recommended it. This adorable mom and pop restaurant was the most interesting place to have aa charming and intimate birthday dinner. The owner was fantastic and the food was impeccable! The cook was the owners brother. OPAH! What a great dinner and amazing company!!! So you can imagine how things went down especially, when you combine Travel Hogz with genuine people. They ended the birthday night dinner and dessert with the happy birthday song from the owners and a neighboring table.
Saying goodbye to Santorini was bittersweet. It has a reputation of beauty and affluence. During off season look forward to lower high prices. A cup of coffee in most places was 8 Euros. An astounding Airbnb was approximately $500/ night and this was in March. image the prices in the summer.... close to .double! So if you are planning a trip to Santorini, be ready for high prices, but catch the deals at the cusp of high season!
In less than 2 hours including pick up from Óia and to the Athen airport, the Hogz were back in Voula. What a trip! Amazing but it was good to be back home in Voula.
EASTER IN GREECE
You are in for a real treat for Easter in Greece! Religious festivals are relevant all over Greece with centuries-old traditions and customs take place throughout the year in Greece and Orthodox Easter is one of the greatest such celebrations. Greeks follow the Holy Week rites in commemoration of the Passion of Christ and celebrate His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Let’s find out about some of these age-old traditions.
During the Holy Week, the churches’ chandeliers and icon screens are dressed in black and purple ribbons, enhancing in this way the atmosphere of mourning for the coming crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ. On Maundy Thursday, Greek home ovens get very busy as traditional tsoureki (a type of fragrant Easter brioche) is baked, along with lamprokouloura (Easter cookies). Eggs are immersed in red dye – the red color symbolizing the joy for Nature’s rebirth and the spiritual regeneration that comes with the Resurrection of Jesus. On Good Friday in churches Epitaphios (a wooden canopied bier representing the tomb of Christ) is covered with flowers of various colours. At the end of the evening service a procession takes place headed by Epitaphios, the priests and acolytes. People follow along the streets of cities, towns and villages listening to psalms being chanted.
The Hogz were blessed to witness this in the village of Voula! Amazing! Simply amazing and there was a little Confectionery shop / bakery called La Merise that they would stop by every so often to grab gelato or treats and when Easter rolled around, the shop was full of Easter goodies!! The owner was so friendly and her face would light up whenever they would go in.
Relaxing in Voula & Glyfada
Care to boost the feel good factor of your Athenian getaway? Of course you do!!!! You will LOVE massages especially if you are staying in Voula or Gyfada. Nothing compares to TOUCH & RELAX in Voula & Glyfada & Masazaki - Glyfada. The staff at both establishments were so friendly and awesome! Five stars are due!
Travel Hogz Travel Tip: It’s better to buy a package deal from the beginning because after the first one, you'll be addicted! Why not save while being a pampered addict?? The Hogz loved the terrific services they endeavored so much it was almost weekly routine at least twice per week and regretted harnessing the packages. These massages helped re-align their spines from the rough rides over those lovely sidewalks.
Gettin' Dolled Up
If you are an Insta beauty, then getting your nails done is going to be a must. Where should you go should you be in Glyfada on the perfect shopping spree? Akra Nail Spa. The best service in Gylfada! Travel Hogz felt at home in this beautiful boutique. Sophia did a superb job on the Mrs. and her Gellies lasted 5 weeks before lifting!!!
Hog # two woke up one morning and couldn’t believe what she was witnessing.
The elder of the two travel dogz could hardly stand and was walking in circles only to fall over.
Stroke! Could it be a stroke????! So the Hogz rushed little guy to the nearest vet they could find. They hauled him away in the dog stroller walking swiftly. By the time they arrived, they noticed the hours of operation weren’t in their favor.
Regardless of closing time, they rang the door bell and knocked violently on the door. Luckily, the door slowly opened. There stood a little old frail, Greek lady who looked as if she was the original Daphne of Greece. Hunched over and looking as if she was barely able to speak, she mumbled something that resembled“Yes?” Without saying much, except that the dog was having a stroke, the despairing look on the Hogz faces warranted a nod of approval and a to wave come in from the ancient woman. God bless their soul. As they entered the lobby with the pooch draped over their arms, they hear someone speaking loudly in Greek. It was the doctor on what seemed to be an intense phone conversation. The door to a large room was open, there was a desk at the back of the room where she sat, and in the middle of the room was a gurney. On the gurney laid a cat on it’s back, spread eagle with blood everywhere. The sound of the doctor on the phone and the sight of this poor kitty drew a very uncomfortable feeling of horror upon them. It was a literally a scene from what seemed to be a scene from the Frankenstein movie.
After approximately five minutes of anxiously waiting, the doctor finally hangs up and slowly glides from behind the desk out into the lobby, “How can I help you?” As she approached the Hogz, both of them hone in to her bloody gloves on her hands as they reached outward to touch their white fluffy dog. “NOOOOOOOOOO”, they both thought when she began to touch and examine the sickly canine. Cat still laying in the background on the gurney, all four legs spread eagle and bloody. Whose cat was that????
After a speculative exam, the doctor said it could have been a stroke and prescribed cortisone. Outside and back into the stroller, the parental instincts kicked in, and they decided to go to another vet in Athens to get a second opinion.
Forty five minutes later they arrive at a larger vet where Dr. Mikos examined him thoroughly, ran some tests, gave him and antibiotic and found liver and kidney damage. His kidney was on the fast track of failing. A few more tests and an ultrasound, the pooch was put on medication and a special diet so was his brother as his liver enzymes have always been a concerned and a bit high. The older Travel Dog recovered and no more problems. The other Travel Dog continued his daily shenanigans of food hunting. Thanks to Dr. Mikos both dogs were happy and healthy! Here you can tell how much happier Happy felt!
The Weather Was Odd
Man was it chilly and always raining. Even the locals thought the weather was a bit odd. Cool and rainy in May? Not your typical Greek Spring weather.
Boredom began to creep in as the weather stood tepid and rainy. Not able to ride scooters or go to the beach and actually get in the water was becoming a tad bit depressing. At least if you are somewhere that there are lots of museums, you can entertain yourself. There’s only so much to see and do in Athens over a course of 3 months when the weather is a concern. Sooo, why not take a mini vacation somewhere else in Europe? Close enough but yet you get to experience a completely different culture.
The hunt began with searching for pet sitters for the pooches. The previous groomer, Alex in Voula was the first candidate. He was so great with the dogs and their grooming a couple of times and loved working with them. Unfortunately he was in the shop all day and had a very large dog of his own. No one had over night boarding. On the very last hunt the Hogz ran across Bio-bites pet boutique in Gylfada. A pet boutique and store usually doesn’t board. It was worth a try and the try turned out to be more than just a pet store.
Overnight boarding with the best owners! Mike & Lavis! They took excellent care of the dogs even with administering their medication and treating them special. Both dogs were in heaven and loved Mike & Lavis' ! Thank God for these two!
Country Hopping Is a Must While Touring or Living in Europe
Planted in one country, the Hogz are seen as already on vacation in the eyes of many. The freedom to go to Europe and live there with their little dogs and hop around on the perfect bunny travel trail. No morning commute, no bosses to deal with and no one to answer to! Hmmm maybe not, but they still had to work like everyone else, answer their clients, and tend to their dog‘s wants and needs just like children. In fact, when they had their fun shift during the day while everyone in the U.S. was snoozing. Then they had to go home at a certain hour and pull the work shift for another 8 hours. Working European time from 6pm to 2am (Los Angeles time 9am to 5pm) was killing them. No one saw the fatigue and grumpiness behind the frolic, but the fact that Europe is so vast and so interesting, that staying in one place for three months at a time is a disservice to a true traveler while in Europe especially when the weather doesn't permit daily trips to the beach.
When you are in Europe, you MUST explore every facet. Aside from that, the flights are quite cheap because it's pretty much like flying domestic in America. So, yes the Hogz planned vacation time while "vacationing" in Europe. These darned Travel Hogz! Why are they always traveling like that? Because life is a game, play it; life is a challenge, take it head on; life is an opportunity, seize it! The Hogz did just that!
With the curiosity for exploring and capturing experiences in life, why not hit Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, or the Czech Republic while being so close. Ok Done! The Hogz booked a two week vacation! Time to have a little more fun!
A short flight into Brussels from Athens, 4 days at a great Airbnb with a killer view and time well spent in several comic museums including the Herge Museum (TIN TIN CREATOR). One Hog wanted to see this museum for over 8 years. Finally, another checkmark off of the bucket list. There were a few other animation museums that were pretty amazing . The cliche of a Belgian Waffle was tackled a few times over and the 4 days ended with a walk around beautiful Brussels.
Next stop Amsterdam. They caught a train from Brussels to Amsterdam. A 2 hour 45 minute scenic ride and they arrived in Amsterdam. A short Uber ride later and they were at the Annomite Hotel on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Great hotel with breakfast included! The hotel shuttle was free to the nearby train station and it was worth buying a pass for 3 days. Aside from reasons why most people want to come to Amsterdam that we don’t care to know about, it is an amazing city where there are more bikes than cars! With bikes in high demand, there was hardly anywhere to park a car or even walk! It was actually quite a sight in a good way. A visit to Madam Tousauds and a few souvenir shops to try a savory sweets such as the infamous “brownie” the Hogz found that this town was filled with lots of character.
Brilliant connecting canals and water taxis are what guides this city to greatness. The Hogz booked a couples dinner cruise/tour to take on these sights. A perfect way to see the main part of the city. The Ann Frank House was a coveted todo, but unfortunately, it’s always booked for months. Travel Hogz Travel Tip: It’s recommended to book months in advance prior to arriving, when you take plan on traveling to Amsterdam. It was fun while it lasted but time to uproot and venture onward. Off to Switzerland they went!
Landing in Zurich, the rain kept coming down. Luckily the train station connected from the inside of the airport. No surprise there, it's Europe. Europe's convenient transportation systems are the best when it comes to moving around with ease.
As the Hogz made their way to Lucerne via train, another breathtaking scenic 45 minute ride and whola! Lucerne! TICKET BUYING IS A BIT TRICKY! Always ask! The Hogz hopped the wrong train on the way back to the Zurich airport but luckily got off without going too far in the wrong direction.
Arrived in Lucerne and a short walk from the train station (which was lovely and housed an underground mall), they found the airbnb host promptly waiting. The the apartment/ studio faced construction and railroad tracks and reeked of cigarette smoke. EWWW! Exhausted and famished, one Hog managed a quick walk to the store and later discovered there was there was no shower gel or soap. The grocery store was closed at 7pm! Awkward! They had enough, found a nearby boutique hotel and requested the receptionist show them the rooms first. Cute with a spectacular view of the snow covered mountains, breakfast included they booked it and moved into the hotel. The host of the Airbnb was great so they never told him they didn’t stay there. Travel Tip #45 Always look thoroughly at the photos of your Airbnb! Scout out the neighborhood and views from the photos prior to committing to a location. Are there any stairs? Is there an Elevator, a hike up a hill? All that should be considered when booking your Airbnb.
The next morning the Hogz weren't sure which direction to go sight seeing. They spotted a tour group from China tagged along. Sure enough, they were lead right to the Chapel Bridge. Thanks to their Asian tour group of travelers.You can never go wrong behind them in any country because they know the best places to go!
At the Chapel Bridge they found a gorgeous river surrounded by picturesque mountains and Swiss buildings. It was like a dream or something right out of a Disney movie. Clear blue water cascaded under the Chapel Bridge. The Hogz took a nice long stroll as feelings of surrealism set in.
A few days there and a train ride back to Zurich to catch a flight to Prague.
In a little under an hour, the Hogz arrived at the Airport in Prague. By the time they reached the Grandior Hotel, they were exhausted from the early am flight. Room service that night needless to say. To keep them bubbling with enthusiasm, the following day they had to explore. Walking a few blocks they encountered lots of gothic historical buildings and the famous astronomical clock in the main center. Prague is another place you must see. It too is like a mythical but gothic fairytale! Things to see, the John Lennon Wall (they overshot it and didn’t go back due to rain,) You should visit the Charles Bridge, The National Museum of Prague and the Prague Castle which was a little further away and once again not enough time. They did however stumble upon the metal museum which was pretty amazing. This museum was full of figures made from scrap metal. Transformer figures, motorcycles, Game of Throne figures, Disney figures and more. Definitely a Travel Hogz two thumbs up!
A few away there was an enormous toy store! Clowns love toys so our glowing Hogz rushed right in. It brought back some childhood memories as some of the toys from their childhood were still being sold.
Another interesting place to visit in Prague is the Národní muzeum or in English Historical building of the National Museum. This national museum houses One of the most important buildings in Prague was declared a national cultural monument in 1962. Czechs loved and admired by foreigners, fatefully connected with modern Czech history, over time merged inseparably with the idea of the National Museum as an institution.
A lovely 4 days went by and the Hogz were back on the trains, planes and automobiles heading back to Athens. What a wonderful experience even in the rain.
As their third month approached it was time to start preparing for the 15 hour ride back into Split Croatia. Unfortunately, 3 days prior to shoving off, the airbnb host in Spilt canceled when she was asked about a dog sitter for the pups even though her profile came up as accepting dogs and her profile was her holding a dog! A good thing they checked. Travel Hogz Tip! ALWAYS DOUBLE CONFIRM! Everything close to the main town center in Split was booked. The Hogz panicked, but were able to find one very small, and it was small Airbnb. Well, that's it. It had to be booked on such a short notice. Thank goodness there was at least this one!
As Miro, Drago (Miro's other pilot aside from Coco), The Travel Hogz & Dogs piled into the van 10pm they looked back on the memories of Voula. Greece was definitely one of the best experiences they had and is bucket list worthy! Another chapter closed and another reopened. Split, Croatia get ready because The Hogz are coming back!