Slow road to Cyprus – the epilogue!

Map: Asia (location), subregions as delineated...

Map: Asia (location), subregions as delineated by United Nations geographic classification scheme, except *: Northern Asia* Russia in Eastern Europe en:Central Asia territories geographically, wholly or partially, in Eastern Europe Western Asia territories geographically, wholly or partially, in Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, and Northern Africa Southern Asia Eastern Asia Southeastern Asia territories geographically, wholly or partially, in Melanesia (Oceania) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reflecting back on our seven weeks road and sea trip from Bath, UK to Cyprus, most things went really well but there are still two open questions outstanding from earlier blogs:

  1. Would we do it again?
  2. Where are we planning to go next?

Without any hesitation, we would certainly do it all again and would thoroughly recommend it. The most important ingredient is “time” to fully enjoy the experience – that’s why we latched on to the theme of “slow travel“.

As for our next adventure, we plan an extended trip to the Orient (or East Asia). Once again, we shall embrace the theme of “slow travel“. We have set up a new blog called “Exploring the Orient” and we hope that you will find our new postings of interest. We leave Europe on Monday, Oct. 1. Why don’t you check out the new blog at the following link:

http://discovertheorient.wordpress.com/

If you would like to follow this new blog with an email update, simply click the “follow” button on the top right hand side of the new blog.

Many thanks for reading and commenting on this blog, viz.  Slow Road to Cyprus. We have had a lot of fun writing it 🙂

We hope to retain your interest with our new blog.

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Slow road to Cyprus – what did we learn?

Chips (BE), French fries (AE), French fried po...

Chips (BE), French fries (AE), French fried potatoes (AE) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in products such as soy milk and low-fat yogurt, has been shown to reduce breast cancer incidence in rats. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Subregions of Europe (UN geoscheme)

Subregions of Europe (UN geoscheme) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reflecting back on our seven weeks road and sea trip from Bath, UK to Cyprus, most things went pretty well.

It took us quite a bit of time to reflect before trying to answer the question “What did we learn?”

Well, here are a few suggestions:

1. MEDITERRANEAN DIET

Probably, the most profound thing that we learned on our seven week trip was that the Mediterranean diet was dead or dying. Both of us had previously spent a lot of time in Italy  so we were particularly shocked at the deterioration in the Italian diet, especially in the North but also the South. We observed that both tourists and Italians were typically dining out on pasta and pizza. What really shocked us was seeing young children having a portion of french fries on top of their pizza! For us, “fast food” seemed to have replaced the  Mediterranean diet.

2. NORTH/ SOUTH VARIATIONS

These days the media is full of stories about the economic and social differences between North and South Europe because of the Euro. Sadly, this has created too many stereo-types, in our view. Travelling for seven weeks across both North and South Europe, we observed that from our perspective that reality was slightly different to the media inspired stereo-types. For example, we found that costs in Germany and Austria compared favorably with the UK but Italy was more expensive. We talked to Australians who shared that Eastern Europe was becoming more popular as a travel destination because of the high level of costs in Western European cities.

3. OPEN-TOP TOUR BUSES 

After good experiences in Montreal, Sydney, and Edinburgh, we had become fans of the open-top buses to familiarize ourselves with new cities. We took open-top city tours in our European adventure in Vienna and Budapest which were excellent. In Prague we took a city tour both on foot and by bus. In Venice we used the ferries extensively or just walked. In Florence, Brugge and Frankfurt, we walked or took taxis.

4. COST OF TOURS

The cost of overnight accommodation was what we had expected. Similarly, the cost of eating out was not that surprising too – as indicated earlier, we were surprised at the premium cost of quality food in Italy. On the other hand, we had completely under-estimated the cost of tours, so we soon learned to be discerning in are choices.

5. SHOPPING

There is still good value to be found, especially in Italy but beware of the tourist traps which are still very expensive. Check out the shopping malls where the locals go.

6. FOLLOW THE LOCALS

Quite a few times, we deliberately tried to steer away from the tourists and typically followed the locals. We tried to stay overnight and eat in areas that were popular with local people, not just tourists.

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Slow road to Cyprus – Do we have any tips?

 

English: Map of Cyprus showing all Municipalit...

English: Map of Cyprus showing all Municipalities and communities with over 750 people (government-controlled area, 2001 census) or over 500 people (Turkish-occupied areas, 1960 census), as well as 34 former Improvement Boards with population less than 500/750 people. The map was designed by Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Roman Baths (Thermae) of Bath Spa, England...

The Roman Baths (Thermae) of Bath Spa, England. This is a 6 segment panorama taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reflecting back on our seven weeks road and sea trip from Bath, UK to Cyprus, most things went pretty well.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Do your homework and plan your trip carefully in advance
  2. Stay at least two nights at each location
  3. Book accommodation in advance on a cancellable basis
  4. Build in plenty of time for relaxation
  5. Plan variety, so that you are not constantly doing the same thing
  6. Check out the different neighbourhoods before booking accommodation
  7. Park the car and use the metro or buses in busy cities
  8. Develop a daily budget and allow for contingencies

 

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Slow road to Cyprus – What was the funniest moment?

Alf

Alf (Photo credit: momono)

Reflecting back on our seven weeks road and sea trip from Bath, UK to Cyprus, most things went pretty well.

Probably, the funniest moment was May 1 in Frankfurt, Germany. Even the Germans,  who are known for their restrained sense of humor were all smiling at Alf’s experience. Neither of us speak much German but Alf decided to try a local specialty for dinner.

Marilyn received an excellent steak but Alf got what he’d ordered:

Green sauce with boiled potatoes and hard-boiled eggs!

File:Grie Soss 3.jpg

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Slow road to Cyprus – What were the low points?

Cranes in the harbour of Limassol, Cyprus

Cranes in the harbour of Limassol, Cyprus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reflecting back on our seven weeks road and sea trip from Bath, UK to Cyprus, most things went pretty well.

The low points were probably related to picking up our cargo cruise from Salerno, Italy to Limassol, Cyprus.

To be fair, right from the beginning and throughout the planning, we knew that this would be the high risk point, with zero option of mitigation.

We chose the only available sea crossing for us to travel with the car. The alternative would have been to ship the car in a container and probably for us to fly.

So the low points were probably:

  • Being stranded in Southern Italy for two weeks and not knowing if we were ever going to get sea passage to Cyprus
  • Arriving at the ship in Salerno to be told by the Chief Mate that the ship had no record of our passage

Well, of course, we encouraged the ship to check with their head-office (which they could not do because it was Sunday and the key staff were on the beach), so the only solution for them was to take us anyway…

Overall, the trip was a great success and a few low points are to be expected…

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Slow road to Cyprus – what went wrong?

 

Sign No. 330 – motorway

Sign No. 330 – motorway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reflecting back on our seven weeks road and sea trip from Bath, UK to Cyprus, most things went pretty well.

Our SatNav system was generally excellent but it played up spectacularly a few times

  • Directing us into the sea when we arrived at Dunkirk, France
  • Sending down a cycle path in Belgium because a road was being repaired
  • Suggesting that we go off-road when confronted with extensive roadworks on a German autobahn
  •  Taking us off-road through fields and forests in Umbria and Tuscany

Of course, we just switched the SatNav off for a bit to cool down….

 

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Slow road to Cyprus – what went well?

English: Map of Cyprus showing districts

English: Map of Cyprus showing districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Royal Crescent in Bath, England. This is a...

The Royal Crescent in Bath, England. This is a panorama of six segments, taken with a Canon 5D and 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Roman Baths (Thermae) of Bath Spa, England...

The Roman Baths (Thermae) of Bath Spa, England. This is a 6 segment panorama taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reflecting back on our seven weeks road and sea trip from Bath, UK to Cyprus, most things went pretty well.

Here are a few pointers for other potential travellers:

  1. We found Tripadvisor.com very helpful in planning and costing our over-night accommodation.  We tended to make most of our reservations with Bookings.com on a cancelable basis.
  2. We planned our route around places that we really wanted to see, and restricted the mileage that we covered on any one day.
  3. We made extensive use of tourist buses to get our bearings and an excellent overview of cities that were new to us.
  4. We checked out carefully, in advance, the neighbourhoods in which we were staying, so that we got away from tourists and met local people.
  5. We walked extensively until we got our bearings in new cities.
  6. We bought cheap passes for the Metro and used it extensively, especially in Vienna.
  7. We built plenty of free time into our plans.
  8. We planned plenty of variety into trip, so that we could experience the contrasts of seeing art and architecture one day but go hiking in the hills the next, sampling local food and drink along the way.
  9. We kept a detailed log of events that was helpful in writing our blog.
  10. We tried to keep clear of touristy restaurants, where we knew that prices would be higher and quality more variable and less authentic but most of all to be with local people to let all our senses loose on the experience.
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