Greek Islands (Hydra, Poros, Aegina)

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The tower on Poros. It’s the attraction of this very small island. A short walk from the port.

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Hydra as it welcomed me.

One of Greece’s major attractions is the Aegean Sea and its islands. There are many options – some farer from the capital (some even very close to Turkey), some around them. If you want to get to a far one, such as the most famous one, you will need more than a day trip.

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I climbed up one of the hills to look at Hydra. It wasn’t very big.

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To get to these three islands (and they are the obvious options due to their proximity to Athens), you can either go for a “cruise” tour (pictured) or take speed boats yourself.

You should definitely go on your own. The “cruise” tours are not worth it.

First of all, it wasn’t really a cruise. I’ve been on many cruises, that wasn’t one. It’s got almost nothing but a boutique (that not only had a very limited selection, but only for women) and some cafeterias.

Secondly, it’s incredibly boring. The only time there was entertainment on the “cruise” was on our way back to Athens. Other times, people were just trying to sleep on the sofas. The Wi-Fi didn’t work (and they were aware of it) and there’s no substitute to that.

Thirdly, it practically included nothing. No tours were included on this – you either had to pay extra to join the excursions, or you could walk around on your own. On Aegina, that would be impossible. No drinks were included. You couldn’t even drink free tap water. No snacks or refreshments, of course.

Finally, the included lunch was crap. The buffet had an extremely limited selection with merely two main dishes to choose from – chicken, which was all right; along with extraordinarily poor fish. The kind of white fish that tasted exactly like they were stuck together with glue. Oh, and no drinks.

So the “cruise” “tour” was actually just transport with lunch. Why would you pay for it?

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The main attraction was Aegean, the so-called “first capital of modern Greece”. Its claim was about as legit as claiming Kowloon, Hong Kong was a “historic capital of China” due to a Song Emperor allegedly fleeing to Kowloon.

I’m not asking you not to go, I’m just saying you should not expect anything more than the above. There’s one archaeological site, which was nice. You would have to get transport or a tour to get there.

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The other main attraction was this Byzantine-style church, which was actually built relatively recently.

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The one in Athens was apparently modelled after this.

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Hydra was the other highlight. It was a nice island and you can walk around looking at the buildings.

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And the sea.

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You can’t swim there though. To swim, you need to pay extra and go on a swimming excursion.

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Ireland (Dublin and beyond)

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I came here to avoid meeting Their Catholic Majesties The King and Queen of Spain, who were visiting Exeter College the same day I flew.

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Galway Bay. Very close to the inspiration to Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl”.

Bus driver said the song wasn’t realistic when it mentioned a Galway falling for an Englishman.

He also told us he was detained in the United States for asking “any craic” (craic = fun, ie “what’s up”). 

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Weather wasn’t very good, unfortunately. It’s not rainy or anything, but the Sun didn’t really come out.

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The General Post Office. The museum was definitely worth going. So inspiring.

The GPO was the headquarters of the rebels during the failed 1916 Easter Uprising.

At the time, Ireland was debating home rule – whether to be autonomous, or be directly governed by Westminster. The United Kingdom was set to grant it, but the First World War put a pause on it – the republican movement was non-existent and Dublin was quite pro-British. In fact, many Irishmen volunteered to join WWI, fighting for the British Empire.

Ireland, including Northern Ireland, was around 0.8% of the total population of the Empire, and despite being in a general war, Britain still had plenty of military resources for this side of the British Isles.

A very small group of revolutionaries, armed with firearms from Germany, occupied certain major buildings in downtown Dublin, with practically zero public support.

In the beginning of the uprising, Dubliners despised the group, spat on them and all that. There was even a woman who marched into the GPO, telling them off, saying they had no mandate to do any of that.

Her Majesty’s government responded with an iron fist, sending a disproportionate amount of forces into what is now the Irish capital. They destroyed much of the city centre during the week, and still couldn’t best this tiny team of unsupported militia.

Public opinion, magically, started to stray. By the end of the week, when the occupants surrendered, republicanism became the majority and home rule was destined to be DOA.

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I went on a tour to the Cliffs of Moher.

A bit disappointed actually. Very, very foggy. Also very windy. Little rocks kept hurting me.

Should’ve gone for the NI tour.

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Feeling like Harry Styles.

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One of Dublin’s landmarks, the Spire. It’s very tall but out of place.

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Now you don’t see me!

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The river.

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Dublin Castle. Didn’t look like one.

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Near the cliffs.

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The cliffs just go on and on and on like it’s chained to the rhythm.

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Ethical. Got it in my first go anyway.

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Trinity College Dublin.

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Hainan, China

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During one of our cruise trips, my family and I visited Taiwan (no photos kept, I’m afraid), Hainan, and Vietnam (coming up next). This is about the huge island in southern China.

Just in case there’s any confusion, the words do say “the match that sells little boys” (or perhaps better translated as “The Little Boys Match”?). It’s either a wordplay on the story The Little Match Girl (which in Chinese sometimes turned into a boy – talk about transgenderism!), or the owner was just exceptionally twisted (and was called “little match” or something).

When I said visited, it was like a few hours, much like all other cruise tours all over the world. It’s not my favourite destination but this interesting sign was just something you cannot possibly miss.

The island itself was fine – it’s got beautiful beaches. That’s it, really.


Also, I have got my first follower! I’m not Taylor Swift-ing this – I’m genuinely surprised a complete stranger actually managed to find this site (created just last night) and liked it with the two less-than-stellar blog posts with ultra-old photos.

I was totally expecting the first reader to appear only after 50 posts or so, so this means a lot to me!

xoxo