My Weekend With Sokratis | Travel to Johor

It is said that Greek people are so hospitable because, in ancient times, one never knew if the traveling stranger at one’s door was a mortal or a god or goddess in disguise. Well, this weekend, if I were a goddess, I would have been a very happy goddess indeed!

A map showing the location of Kastoria, located near the Albanian border.

My student Sokratis (you know you’re a teacher in Greece when…) lives with his parents in Kastoria, a small town in the northern part of Greece, near the Albanian border. He invited me home for the weekend, which also happened to be the weekend of his seventeenth birthday!

We arrived in Kastoria on Friday evening, and that night, Sok and I went to a bar. After midnight had come and gone, we realized it was his birthday! We celebrated a bit and he taught me how to play backgammon, which may as well be the Greek national sport. It’s a fun game of strategy and I really enjoyed playing. I also promised to teach him how to play cribbage in return!

Freshly seventeen and showing his English teacher how to play backgammon in a bar! Life is good.

The next day, I got the official tour of Kastoria. It’s an absolutely gorgeous town, set on the shores of a large lake. With coniferous trees all around and snow-capped mountains in the distance, this Montana girl felt right at home! The first stop on the tour was the top of a nearby mountain, which offered beautiful views of the town and surrounding area.

Sokrati and his father at the top of the mountain.

The town of Kastoria and surrounding area.

Next, we went to a cave! It’s called the Dragon’s Cave, and even though I’m claustrophobic, who on earth would refuse a trip to something called the Dragon’s Cave?!

Inside the Dragon’s Cave!

When you hear the words “Dragon’s Cave,” do you hear it in a big scary booming voice in your head?

I do.

A bridge crossing one of the small lakes inside the DRAGON’S CAVE! See, it’s more fun with the voice, isn’t it? Are you saying it out loud in the voice now? Yes! Do it! Go!!

The final stop on the tour was a visit to a church dating back to the 11th century. It’s amazing; the sheer oldness of sites in Greece never ceases to blow my mind. In Montana, “old” for us typically means Old West. We don’t really do ancient in Montana, or anywhere in the US for that matter!

The church still had its original frescoes, although the eyes of the saints in the images had been gouged out by the Turks long ago.

Taken inside the church.

The church itself, complete with cute little priest sweeping outside.

Since Saturday was Sokrati’s birthday, I brought a few things to give him. Sokrati loves to read, which is most definitely something I want to encourage, so I gave him Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad and my copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. It’s not too hard to find books in English here, but they still feel like treasures! I also made him a card with a word search puzzle inside, and a CD of some of my favorite music.

And that’s how I found myself sitting at the dining room table of a Greek family, eating delicious homemade kolokithopita (Greek pumpkin pie), and listening to Ani Difranco and Tom Waits.

Sok and his mom, hard at work on his birthday word search puzzle!

As for the rest of the weekend, it’s a blur of constant eating, with Sokrati’s father refilling my ouzo glass and shouting, “Water is for the frogs!” The delicious, homemade Greek food made by Sokrati’s mother just kept coming. I hadn’t had homemade food like that in months, and looooordy lordy, folks, it filled some deep need within my soul. I ate like a starved woman, and just when I thought I was going to burst, my hosts were there to tell me I was falling behind; and just like that, my wine/ouzo glass was magically refilled, and there was yet more food on my plate. In fact, on Sunday morning, we slept late, barbecued plate upon plate of sausages grilled by Sokrati’s father for a snack, and then immediately went inside and sat down at the table for lunch made by his mother.

If Heaven exists, my friends, I hope that’s exactly what happens there.

The grillmaster, posing for a photo in between flipping the sausages and telling me to keep eating.

On Sunday afternoon, Sok and I headed back to school. His parents told me that since I am now “like a daughter” to them, I must come back to Kastoria when I am in Greece again. I was put on the bus with two sandwiches, two huge pieces of kolokithopita, and a bottle of wine.

The bus ride was two and a half hours long, and I spent the whole ride listening to music, gazing at the gorgeous countryside out the window, and simply swimming in my love for Greece and its wonderful people. I’ve heard time and again that Greece is a great place to visit, but a horrible place to live. Having lived here since September, I can say that there are definitely certain aspects of life here that make that statement ring true. But I must say that no matter what happens economically or politically in Greece in the coming years, these people will always be simply delightful. They’re full of surprises, larger-than-life and committed to their fellow man in a way that many other world citizens may never experience.

Me with Sokratis and his mother, overlooking the lake and Kastoria.

At this point, I have less than two months left in Greece. But when saying goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Tasiopoulos, I wasn’t just saying I’d see them again: I believed it. I’ll be back. I dare say Greece couldn’t keep me away if it tried.

Με αγάπη,



Travel With Ease Blog » Now playing roulette is easier than ever

There are a number of sites where you can play roulette, it is a simple game where the only thing you need are your senses and a shining luck, and if you think you have both then do not wait, jump the gun immediately. One thing that I assure is that you will have the time of your life, and if you are really lucky then you will walk away with nothing but a fortune but you must have an internet connection that’s all. If you are in UK then you can play live roulette in the UK.

This game can potentially be your way to become rich, though not conventional but this game has made a lot of people very rich. And now is your turn to be one, all you have to do is play live roulette at Super Casino. This is one of the sites where you can play this game, and needless to say this site is very reliable and offers you a chance to play on American roulette wheel, which further increases your chances of winning a huge sum of money.

While playing this game all you have to do is not allow yourself to get carried away by a string on wins, because this streak can end any time without prior warning, so if you think you can keep yourself from committing any foolishness of that sort then take the plunge and make yourself nothing but rich after all a little bit of extra money never hurts, right? So join the world of live casino games and have the time of your life.

Asia Travel Guide » Blog Archive » Houses Abroad

Sometimes, when you travel to a certain place, you might fall in love with the place (seriously) because of the scenery, or the people, or the life there and you are thinking of migrating to the country you are in love with.

Before actually packing all your bags and moving, you need to find Properties to buy Abroad first.The site has a list of properties available for sale in Europe.Instead of going there yourself and finding a real estate agent to look for a property for you, why not look for it yourself online first?

If you are interested, then only you contact the property owner or the estate agent of the property.It saves a lot of time as you don’t have to go and look at the Houses Abroad a real estate agent will pick for you and you will probably ending up not liking most or all of the houses the agent picked.

Besides,it could also be an investment when you buy Properties Overseas.

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Travelling Blogger | 9 Wonderful Experiences Tourists Always Miss

Traveling to an exotic locale is a chance to see sights and experience things that are not always available to a tourist in their home country.

Even when going out to enjoy new experiences, it is easy to be caught in a travel rut and do the same things everyone else does. These are the most common experiences missed by tourists.

1. The Comforts of Home

Staying in a hotel among other tourists can deny you an opportunity to feel more at home on vacation. A rented house or cottage, on the other hand, can offer a chance to meet neighbors and cultivate friendships in the country you are visiting.

2. A Taste of Local Culture

Sometimes the best way to get a good feel for the culture around you is to get away from the tourist traps and attend a festival. There you can get a sampling of local music, local art and local foods among other things.

3. A Local, Guided Tour

If you really want to go to new places and see sights tourists rarely see, hiring a local guide is a good option. They can take you through places and events that hold more meaning than being a good place to take a picture.

4. The Great Outdoors

One of the best things to do at home is to get into nature, and it can be equally fun abroad. Take the opportunity to climb a mountain, hike a trail or row a boat across a lake. If you are in a city, go to a local park and explore trails.

5. Lesser-Known Landmarks

Tourists in Paris usually go to the Eiffel Tower, but that doesn’t mean that is the only place you should visit in France. Part of the fun of traveling is exploring lesser-known landmarks. It is a good way to learn the history and culture of that place.

6. The Taste of Home Cooked Food

What would it be like to go to Italy and not eat authentic Italian pasta dishes? Step outside the hotel and chain restaurants to savor the local flavours. You might discover a new favorite food or get a different take on something you already enjoy.

7. A Different Photographic Perspective

Everyone takes pictures of themselves on vacation. A better option is to also chronicle the sights and sounds around you. Those pictures can help you relive your vacation more vividly at a later date.

8. Exploring a Different Path

Sometimes the best thing to do is not stick to the guidebook. Explore other trails. Visit other towns. Go to other places than what is suggested. Some of the best sights are the ones not widely seen.

9. Local Entertainment

Want to get a feel for the land you are visiting? Think about doing something besides hitting shops and museums. Take in a game involving a local soccer team or go watch a street performer.

The bottom line is being creative about what you choose to do on vacation can help you experience things other tourists can only dream about doing.

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Jessy is an adventurous blogger. Her favorite travel destination is Papillon Grand Canyon – and you should go there too!

Guest Post

Travel news, stories and tips for backpackers


For anyone looking for a beautiful holiday spot, far away from all the mundane things of life, then look no further than the wonderful Hawaii. Poipu vacation rentals are another way to enjoy the island without the necessity of putting up with other people. Also those who want to rent a Kauai vacation home will be thoroughly pleased with the outcome.

The beauty of hiring a holiday getaway such as those mentioned above is that it will come up to even the highest of expectations, albeit in lush and luxurious surroundings. With these houses and condos, families can relax without worrying about dressing up for dinner, or having to eat in formal dining rooms before the restaurant kitchen closes.

This island is the oldest of the Hawaiian isles and as such, it is possibly the most beautiful and serene. But that does not mean that it does not attract other kinds of groups. Although the sea is right there at the foot of the gardens, there are also many other kinds of facilities on offer, like tennis courts, to give anyone who feels energetic something to do. Even sea fishing is on hand for even the beginners. When just the right fish is caught, pool side grills are there to enable the family to chow down on the catch of the day! There is nothing that could beat that for a fresh meal.

For shopping, there are several grocery shops in the nearest town which has all the basic necessities for the group. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available at the local farmers market, which is a great way to meet the local people.

If the family would like a change from home cooking, there are several restaurants set opposite the beach which covers just about anything that a family would care to eat. The restaurants in the area have everything from burgers and fries, to ice cream and wonderful seafood, for those who want to give it a try. There are more formal eateries where grown ups can get away from the kids. But dressing up in this place is not what anyone would think. Men usually put on a plainer kind of shorts than those worn at the beach, and a colorful shirt, while the ladies where something cool and strappy.

During these evening meals, entertainment, not surprisingly, are made up of Hula shows. Sometimes guests are keen to join in so be prepared to wiggle those hips a little!

For those with energy to spare, there are some very interesting things to see along the beach and up the cliff sides. Of course, there is also a road to these spots, but surprisingly for this beautiful place, in very poor condition. Also one of the best excursions are the helicopter rides. The views are absolutely breathtaking and will stay with the viewer forever.

One thing that will be observed while walking is that the soil is a reddish brown. It does tend to stain everything so favorite items like shoes or t-shirts should be left back at the condo. All in all, this is a most beautiful place to relax, get some sun, and generally ease the mind of any stresses or strains in everyday life!

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Malaysia Public Holidays 2013 –

Malaysia has two kinds of holidays – national and state holidays. The national holidays are celebrated in the entire region of Malaysia whilst the state ones are acknowledged by certain states of Malaysia concerning the relevance to the state itself.

Public holidays in the states of Malaysia are mostly|are mainly produced from local events (birthday or installation of the rulers), religious festivals (Isra Miraj, Good Friday, Eid al-Fitr), and traditional local holidays (Gawai Dayak and Kaamatan festival).

List of Malaysian national and states holiday 2013
The list of Malaysia 2013 national and states holiday are provided below. Please note that it is only an estimate, so we do not and cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information available.

New Year’s Day
Tuesday, 1 January 2013
All states except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis & Trengganu

Birthday of Yang Dipertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan
Monday, 14 January 2013
Only in Negeri Sembilan

Birthday of the Sultan of Kedah
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Only in Kedah

Maulidur Rasul
An Islamic holiday to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad
Thursday, 24 January 2013

Sunday, 27 January 2013
Only in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang & Selangor

Federal Territory Day
Friday, 1 February 2013
Only in Federal territory of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan & Putrajaya

Chinese New Year
Sunday, 10 February 2013

2nd day of Chinese New Year
Monday, 11 February 2013
All states except Kelantan & Trengganu

Anniversary of Installation of the Sultan of Trengganu
Sunday, 4 March 2013
Only in Trengganu

Good Friday
Friday, 29 March 2013
Only in Sabah & Serawak

Declaration of Malaka as Historical City
Monday, 15 April 2013
Only in Malaka

Birthday of the Sultan of Perak
Friday, 19 April 2013
Only in Perak

Labour Day
Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Hari Hol Pahang
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Only in Pahang

Birthday of Raja Perlis
Friday, 17 May 2013
Only in Perlis

Vesak Day / Vesak Day / Birth of Buddha
Friday, 24 May 2013

Kaamatan Harvest Festival
Thursday, 30 May 2013
Friday, 31 May
Only in Sabah & Labuan

Birthday of Agong
Saturday, 1 June 2013

Gawai Dayak Festival
Saturday, 1 June 2013
Sunday, 2 June 2013
Only in Serawak

Israk & Mikraj / Isra Miraj
Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Only in Kedah, Negeri Sembilan & Perlis

Georgetown World Heritage City Day
Sunday, 7 July 2013
Only in Penang

Awal Ramadan (Start of Ramadan fasting month / bulan puasa)
Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Only in Johor, Kedah & Malaka

Birthday of the Governor of Penang
Sunday, 14 July 2013
Only in Penang

Birthday of the Sultan of Terengganu
Saturday, 20 July 2013
Only in Terengganu

Nuzul Al-Quran
Thursday, 25 July 2013
Only in Kelantan, Perak, Penang, Perlis, Pahang, Selangor & Terengganu

Aidil Fitri / Hari Raya Puasa / End of Ramadan
eid al-Fitr
Thursday, 8 August 2013
Friday, 9 August 2013

National Day
Saturday, 31 August 2013

Birthday of the Governor of Serawak
Sunday, 8 September 2013
Only in Serawak

Malaysia Day
Monday, 16 September 2013

Birthday of the Governor of Sabah
Sunday, 6 October 2013
Only in Sabah

Birthday of the Governor of Malaka
Sunday, 13 October 2013
Only in Malaka

Hari Raya Haji / Qurban / Aidil Adha
Tuesday, 15 October 2013

2nd day of Hari Raya Haji
Wednesday, 16 October 2013
Only in Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis & Terengganu

Birthday of the Sultan of Pahang
Thursday, 24 October 2013
Only in Pahang

Sunday, 3 November 2013
All states except Serawak

Awal Muharram / Islamic New Year / Ma’al Hijrah
Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Birthday of the Sultan of Kelantan
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
Only in Kelantan

Birthday of the Sultan of Johor
Friday, 22 November 2013
Only in Johor

Birthday of the Sultan of Selangor
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Only in Selangor

Hari Hol Almarhum Sultan Johor
Friday, 20 December 2013
Only in Johor

Christmas Day
Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Malaysia Holiday 2013!

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The Sultan of Brunei: Lord of the Oil Fields – Brunei

Brunei is a tiny sultanate whose wealth can be measured in oil. It can be found on the NW coast of Borneo. The sultan is a rich man indeed and the country is a reflection of his astonishing wealth. Statistically the population of Brunei boasts the highest income per capita worldwide, and is a society that is not only subsidized but tax-free as well.

Travelers need to be aware that accommodations in Brunei are astronomical and the only alternative is the youth hostel Pusat Belia which can become quite crowded at times. The accommodations in the mid-price range are said to be not be worth the price, so expect to pay some big bucks when you are looking for a place to hang your hat.

Besides basking in the luxury of Brunei, there are a few things that tourists will enjoy during their holiday. Jerudong Park Playground is one of the attractions that are not to be missed when visiting Brunei.

The park is open from 5:00 PM until 12 midnight and is only open Wednesday through Friday as well as Sundays. It was in 1994 that the sultan commissioned the park to be a gift to the people of Brunei. It was free to enter until the year 2000, but when things began to change, the locals began to lose interest. Visitors to the Park will see many of the rides are not in service, languishing until they are re-insured or waiting for parts to arrive. If you have nothing to do on one of the evenings that the Park is open, you may find it a unique experience to roam the huge grounds that are almost deserted.

Near the Park is the Empire Hotel where tourists can have dinner or tea and feel as if they are royalty as they luxuriate in the lavish surroundings. While there you can get a peek at the palace of the sultan.

A tranquil retreat is Tasek Merimbun also referred to as Merimbun Heritage Park. Here you will find the largest lake in Brunei with trails for walking or hiking. There are also two islands where visitors can engage the local boatman to transport them there. The most fascinating aspect of Tasek Merimbun is its black water, which is the only lake like it in Borneo.

Ulu Temburong National Park is worth a trip, but with permit regulations and procedures you are advised to go with a tour rather than see it on your own. It is a beautiful place where you can walk through the jungle along a walkway in the canopy which will give the visitor a birds-eye view of the rainforest below.

So if you decide to visit Brunei, be sure to bring plenty of cash and credit cards to enjoy the luxury and history that is so much a part of this land. You won’t be sorry you visited, but you may be a little poorer for doing so.

Fun Travel Blog » Romance In Newport Beach

It’s no secret that finding a honeymoon location or a place to take your sweetheart is important. With many places to choose from, you may be surprised to hear that Newport Beach is actually one of the most romantic – yet also one of the most overlooked areas in the entire United States.

For honeymooners or those in love looking to re-kindle the flame, Newport Beach has a lot to offer when it comes to romance. The entire environment and setting around the Beach is romantic, with romance budding at each and every turn.

On a hot day, walking hand in hand down Marine Avenue on Balboa Island is enriching. You and your mate can check out the sites and talk about things. Then, you can head over to Balboa Fun Zone and play games together, enjoying the best life has to offer. To show her that you care, you can even win her a stuffed animal – one thing that all females seem to love!

On the harbor of Newport Beach, a romantic gondola ride remains one of the most romantic things to do. A gondola ride is great to relax, sitting back with one another
and enjoying the best of the beach. Sometimes, nothing beats just enjoying the presence of one another and taking in some of the best sites that vision has to offer.

Once night begins to set in, nothing is more romantic than a trip to the Bayside Restaurant or the Aubergine, two of the most romantic restaurants in Orange County. Both you and your partner will enjoy the setting here, as well as the food.

After you have enjoyed a romantic dinner, you can watch the sunrise on the beach. Both sunrise and sunset is breathtaking at Newport Beach, something each and every
couple should experience at least once in a lifetime.

Before you call it a trip, you should also make sure to get pampered at a local spa. The spas around Newport Beach are exhilarating, something your whole body will find superb. Whether you go as a couple or separately, a relaxing day at the spa is very hard to rival.

When it comes to a honeymoon or a trip as a couple, Newport Beach is one location you’ll remember the rest of your lives. There is so much to do here as a couple, you’ll probably want to come back again and again. As time goes by and you get older, you’ll find that Newport Beach is the perfect place to come back to – no matter where the road of life takes you.

Franny loves getting away from home and is a big bargain-hunter. Read more of her articles at

Posted in U.S. Travel

Tags: romantic vacation, honeymoon, beach trip, Newport Beach, US travel

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Fun Travel Blog » Introducing Your Child to the Wonders of Photography

So you’re going on a big vacation. Why not introduce your child to photography a few weeks before, and use it as a way to get them excited about the trip – while at the same time, giving them a way to store the memories of that trip forever.

You will undoubtedly be treated to some early shots of grandma as a headless wonder, but these will also be accompanied by some unexpected jewels. As the young photographer learns more about his or her new hobby and why grandma’s head was not in the picture, skills will begin to develop and you will start to see a legend of the world through the eyes of your child. Don’t be surprised to see more pictures of the family pet than of anyone else.

Help your child set up scenes to photograph, whether it’s a sandcastle on the beach or their favorite stuffed animal sitting held next to a statue in a park or museum. Once home again, you can play around with your child’s toys: let him or her experiment with how toy trucks and cars can be set up and photographed in such a way that they look like their full sized counterparts.

After you return from your trip, buy an album or scrapbook for your child and have fun putting the pictures into it. Make sure to put the date on the back. If you’re so inclined, you might also write some notes next to each picture or keep a journal of your own (depending on the age of your child) so you don’t forget the special memories that go with each picture.

If your child gets very interested in photography, remember the library has books about the subject, including some for children. You can also find these books at your local bookstore. If your child has an interest like this, by all means, feed it.

Is there a younger sibling in the family? Read up on taking pictures of babies and small children, then share the tips that you have learned with your young photographer. Such things as putting a piece of scotch tape on a little one’s finger for example can lead to some fantastic facial expressions, as he or she tries to figure out what has happened and how to get rid of that thing. Armed with a camera, encouragement and a little bit of knowledge, your young photographer may be the one to get THAT picture, making it doubly a family treasure.

Getting a child interested in photography is giving them a gift that may well last them a lifetime.

Michael’s philosophy of traveling is simple: take lots of pictures and put your feet up as much as possible. Read more of his articles at

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Posted in Scrapbooking, Travel with Kids

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on Saturday, February 3rd, 2007 at 3:46 pm
Category: Scrapbooking, Travel with Kids.

Travel With Ease Blog » Best Places in UK

You cannot boast of being in the UK unless you have had this experience of its Amazing selection of its special events. Below are various places to visit to enjoy your visit.

Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

Since AD 122 Northumberland has undergone a very minor change. There are a number of sites on the wall where illustration of Roman archaeology is vivid. For instance, at Chester’s fort which is an hour drive from new castle the foundations of a number of buildings are up to today visible. To be able to have a fantastic moment take a walk along the wall when you happen to visit there.

Natural History Museum

This is where you can find dino jaws. Features of 10 new animatronics dinosaurs are what dinos jaw are comprised of. Its 9meters long with 96 teeth. For less than 30 dollars you can visit this archeological site together with your family.

Turkish Baths and Health spa

This is in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. It was revived by refurbishing of Victoria Royal baths. Inside it your find Islamic Arches and screens,painted ceilingsa glazed brick works. To visit this place you only need less than 10 dollars, where you can move from room to of different temperatures. After that you can visit a tea room which is just a walk up the road for a drink and a slice of a cake.

Lincoln Cathedral and the Da Vinci Code

It’s known to be one of the fines of the buildings in the Europe. Lincoln is visited every time in the year round. Its popularity has grown since it plays part in the Da Vinci Code movie .The Westminster Abbey is replaced by the cathedral that featured there but denied them permission to shoot the movie there. You can go and admire the carvings. You only need less than 10 dollars to visit together with your family.

Tynedale Beer Festival

It’s an attractive village in that started life as a Roman settlement. Visitors can enjoy an alphabet of brews from abbey dale to Youngs.The place has several beds around therefore no difficulties in walking in their resting places.

New Castle Race course

This is where you find sport and glamor. Lovers of sport fill the New castle race course throughout the year. Horses have been racing in this course since the year 1982.Its also the East’s premier race course which occupies 812 hectares’. Arrange a picnic and enjoy a sport of Kings with your family.

Climb Big Ben Clock Tower

Its correct name is St Stephens Tower. Big Ben is that Bell that rings each hour. The Bell is names after sir Benjamin Wall. The repeated Bell Dong throughout the year is very unforgettable. Imagine having a view of it is free of charge, anytime any day anybody can visit.

Outdoor Proms Concert, Belton House Grantham

It is a place known by many as a location for house dramas. When you wish to watch the English National Orchestra, this is where to go. For only 60 dollars you can take your family to visit this place and have fun.

Acquire an online driving licence to be able to drive round the UK.