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.

» Blog Archive » Safari holidays are the new thing, so try a Luxury safari at one of these destinations!

Provided here are some of the most astonishing and stunning Safari resorts in the world. Well Africa has always been the best place in the world where you can go on safari, so here are some of the best resorts.

In Kenya there is the Porini Wilderness Safari. This isn’t just a resort, this is a safari bundle. What’s different about this park is that it keeps you completely in touch with the environment, all of the parks are Eco – friendly. These Bush camps are specifically designed to have as little impact on the world as possible, so great for those that are eco-friendly. The guides are world renowned for being experienced and great tours; they are all accompanied with a 4X4 wheel Jeep.

This one is for those that want to see some of the most dangerous animals in the world. This is called the Maasai Mara Big Cat Safari, set in Kenya this is the place to come and see the Big Five. If you want to see a Lion, then this is the place to be, this is where they are most plentiful in one area, but you have to keep your wits about you. They also take you around in open sided 4X4 jeeps, but they do through in an added bonus by taking you on a night Safari!  Kenya Safari holidays have become th most popular in the world.

Next is a truly majestic safari, the Zambia Classic Safari. This safari crosses across two of the main national reserve parks in Zambia, the Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi and Livingstone Park. This safari is even better for tourists because there is so much to see. Well there is the Elephant, what an amazing animal, this is by far one of the most popular animals in the world. The biggest and most amazing of all of these features is this one, the Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Diving holidays have been very popular here for the falls have a hidden secret called the Devil’s Armchair.

Tags: African Safari, Holidays, kenya safari, luxury holidays, safari, Safari holiday, safari holidays

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» Blog Archive » You May perhaps Enjoy Disney Cruise for your Kids

You might setting numerous excitement and cool things for your children. Depending on how much time you may perhaps spare for your trip or how long a cruise you may give there are several Disney Cruise Caribbean to select from. You might make a decision 3 night and 4 night to Bahamas; a 7-night cruise to the Eastern Caribbean as well as to the Western Caribbean; and you might come to a decision the long cruise from 7-14 days to Mediterranean and Europe. Disney cruise also grant Translantic cruise for you too.

Unfortunately, these Disney Vacations Packages are costly and you have to gather as a lot of experiences as achievable and magnificent time] with with] that. Activities and adventure abound and there is plenty for everyone – get pleasure from] this cruise.

Things You Have to Know

First step, permit lead together with with] staterooms since Disney Sea Cruise is exclusive.

For the charge of category 10 rooms, you may possibly put your name down for for category 9 rooms. There are six rooms on Deck 5 that have portholes that are partly obstructed. You must reserve in advance for the particular rooms – 5024, 5020, 5524, 5022, and 5522 – as they obtain booked fast.

Book for a low priced stateroom if that is what you may give – but perform it actually truly early. If you’re belatedly, the low priced rooms will be booked by an alternative guests. It’s important even whole of risk.

If possible, check in earlier. like!

To save time and cash, get yourself a lunch pack before you disembark for excursions. Use room service to the complete as it is included in your price. (Room service will tariff sodas and bottled waters!)

In the morning, you may lead your day with with] shore excurtion. get excitement from] their meals.

You might save cash by bring your own bottled waters.

Tags: cruise disney, cruises disney, disney cruise, Disney Cruise Lines, disney cruises, disney magic, disney wonder cruise ship, magic disney

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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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