Monday, 23 May 2016

Athens, Samos, and Greek island hopping

Beautiful Klima bay Samos at sunset
Eagle creek load warrior international
I'm buzzing with excitement and unable to write much for this post as tomorrow we set off on our six week trip to Samos and I'm trying to pack everything I need into a cabin bag only. This is an experimental packing trip as next year we intend to travel for approx 4-5 months on cabin luggage alone. It's my roots I'm really worried about lol

We did buy some compression cubes but after much trial and error decided that we could pack more stuff without them. There is something incredibly freeing about not having much luggage although my friend thinks I'm barmy, she needs a bigger bag than this for an overnight stay.

I will be taking my laptop so hopefully will post snippets of our trip as its happening. we will be spending two nights in Athens then flying to Samos on Thursday. We will be exploring Samos in detail and completing some of the fabulous Nightingale walks. We will also do a little island hopping to nearby Chios, Patmos and Ikaria where apparently most of the population live on average 10 years longer than those in the rest of Europe and America with one in three Ikarians living into their 90's. I need to find out what their secret is or maybe i'll just ask my mum lol.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Advanced fabulousness, my mum and a trip to Lille

Me and mum 
It was my mum's 86th birthday last week and being more into giving and receiving experiences than giving and receiving stuff me and Lovejoy took her on a trip to Lille to celebrate. 

Mum had never been on the Eurostar and it was on her bucket list. We were catching the 8.04 train from St Pancras so stayed over night in the Premier Inn on Euston Road which is pretty much directly opposite the station. What Premier Inn's lack in character they more than make up for in comfort, cleanliness and good value for money. One and a half hours later we were in Lille. It took us longer than that to get to Brighton a couple of weeks ago.

I'm very proud of my mum,  she may not dress in garish colours and ostrich feathers but she's bloody marvellous and not just for 86, she gamely kept up with the two of us wandering all over Lille, eating and drinking and generally being bloody good fun. Advanced style eat your heart out.

C&A in Lille what joy

Lille is situated in North West France approximately ten miles from the Belgium border and is a lovely quirky medieval town full of the most wonderful boutiques, eateries, patisseries and architecture. We wandered round the gorgeous pedestrian streets of the old town which combines old style Flemish influence with modern shopping malls and everything in between. We even found a C&A much to my delight.

Au Vieux de la Ville
Carbonade Flamande
We discovered that the best places to eat in Lille are without doubt the Estaminets and the most well known in Lille is the Au Vieux de la Ville which we loved so much we went twice. These are frequented by local people and can get really busy however, we went early so had no trouble finding a table. Estaminet means small cafe and these were charming places full of character and quirky bits and bobs not to mention wonderful artisan food like Carbonade Flamande a wonderfully falling apart beef stew and Rabbit with prunes. 

Apart from losing ourselves wandering through all the quirky streets leading off the Grande Place (main square) we visited Lille Cathedral, the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille, France's most recently completed Cathedral and a national monument. The Cathedral was completed with a modern facade in 2000 in time to celebrate the millennium.
medieval entrance to the cathedral
modern facade 
two sides of the same coin

Just beautiful

Gorgeous stained glass window

Pillars of the Earth
Lille is a charming quirky medieval French town and we all loved it but the most memorable part of the trip for me was spending some quality time with my mum.