Trips in 2014: Parga, part 1/3.

Day 1.

Finally had time to sit down and upload my photos from Greece tonight! As I mentioned in my entry about Kolmården, we had to get up at the crack of dawn on Monday the 4th. I never thought we'd have to get up that early given that our hotel was right next to the airport, but we had to make sure we had time to find our parking space and catch the transfer bus from the parking lot to the terminal etc. At half seven our flight took off for the airport of Preveza in Greece, where we arrived about three hours later. Our transfer bus drove us north along the beautiful coast and soon enough we'd caught our first glimpse of Parga. My first impression was that I recognized it from the pictures on the travel sites - it was just as picturesque in real life. By the time we were dropped off at our hotel it was way past lunchtime so we just left our things and headed downtown. I was so exhausted so the rest of the first day is a bit of a blur (the heat combined with the trip's first drink downtown didn't help haha), but one thing I do remember clearly is that I loved Parga from the start :)

Day 2.

Day 2 was less hazy... After breakfast we headed down to the main beach of Parga - Valtos beach, where we rented beach chairs and hung out until the late afternoon. I've actually never rented beach chairs before; I didn't think I had the patience to spend hours at the beach, but it was so pleasant there that I didn't really mind. The walk to Valtos beach from our hotel was very hilly, but it was worth it given how scenic it was:

Once we'd freshened up at the hotel we headed back downtown for dinner. After dinner we climbed up to the Castle of Parga (you can see it in the first Day 2 picture above). Getting there involved steep climbing and lots stairs, but the breathtaking view made it all worth it. We hung out up there, exploring the castle's nooks and crannies until the sun had set and it got too dark to walk around safely. Greek ruins are so different from ones I've been to before - around here a castle like Pargas would have had safety railings all around and probably been closed to the public in many areas, but I guess that'd be impossible to keep up in a country like Greece where there are so many ruins.

(We got up there a bit too late to take many photos but we went back later in the week, so I'll post more photos of the beautiful view from the castle later.)

I'll stop here tonight but now that I've edited and uploaded all the photos I promise you won't have to wait as long to see the rest.

Outings: Kolmården Zoo.

I'm slowly but steadily working on catching up with everything after my vacation... After this week things should calm down a little bit. I know you're waiting to hear about Greece, but since I prefer to update chronologically I'll start with the day before we left, Sunday the 3rd. It's when we drove those five hours north to Stockholm, and stopped by the Kolmården zoo on our way there. In retrospect, it wasn't the best time to go because it turned out to be one of the warmest days of the year and as you can imagine the animals weren't that active in the 30+ degree heat. However, it's not often that we get an opportunity to go there - I hadn't been there since 2009 and P. hadn't been since the 90s - so I am glad we went anyway.

In any case, here are some photos from our day at the zoo. (Most of the animal photos are taken with my telephoto lens which isn't great and I normally never use it, but I wouldn't have been able to get close enough with the prime lenses I tend to stick to these days.) The first animals we saw were the bears... One of them was playing in the water. It was so cute to see such a large animal being so playful :) After the bears came the tigers (with some smaller animals inbetween).

The view from the Kolmården zoo is so beautiful, but you can't really see it here due to the heat haze.

We went to the dolphin show as soon as we could to make sure we'd get in, but it turns out we needn't have worried because the zoo was far less crowded than usual, probably because it was so warm. I love dolphins, they're so stunning. (While I don't think it's right to keep them captive, this zoo claims to do a lot of great things for them as a species, so that eases my conscience a bit.)

Since my last visit to Kolmården they added a new cableway over their safari park. In the past you could drive through in your own car or get a bus but the cableway has replaced that option and I found it so much better this way. The view over the surrounding area is beautiful and it's easier to spot the animals from above than from the ground. It's not everyday you see lions and giraffes in a Swedish forest...

Once we were back on the ground again we visited the apes. They were not as active as I remember them being in 2009 but we got to see some of them playing around at least.

Last but not least, the elephants which were some of the final animals we saw before we drove the final hours to Stockholm and had dinner with my aunt, uncle and cousin. Needless to say we were beyond exhausted when we finally made it to our hotel by the airport late in the evening, and we had to get up just after four in the morning to catch our flight the next day. We were soo relieved by the time we reached our hotel in Greece and could relax at last. But, more on that later :)

Around here: Back from vacation.

Greece was wonderful (go there!) and I can't wait to share all about it! We came back home on Monday evening and went straight back to work on Tuesday. Things at work sure did pile up in the mere six workdays that I was gone (I worked one day in the middle of the three weeks I had off), so I'm in the middle of catching up and my desk is a big mess. On the homefront there've been chores to catch up with, unpacking and lots of laundry of course, but tonight offered a welcome break when we went to see our local soccer team play. Just before we left for Greece we learned that we'd won VIP tickets for the game. Neither one of us is interested in sports at all, but of course we didn't turn this opportunity down, and we ended up having a really good time. Our team's 3-1 win certainly didn't hurt either.

It's cooled down a bit here during our absence and we're down to temperatures around 20 degrees rather than 30, but after this summer's heatwave and our week in Greece which was even warmer than here, the change is more than welcome. I am holding on to summer as best as I can though and intend to make the most of the weeks we have left. This weekend I'll be crossing off some summer musts that I haven't got around to doing yet, but I will be back to share photos from Greece and our day at the Kolmården zoo as soon as I can :)

Life lately: July 2014.

Watching | Being on vacation we've watched a lot of different films this month, most of them not so good. One thing that stood out was the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy. We watched the first earlier this year and this month we finally watched the other two. I didn't really care for Before Sunset because nothing really happened in it? I can't imagine having to wait for 9 years for the third part! I quite liked Before Midnight, on the other hand, it's definitely my favourite of the three and the only one I would watch again. I find the story/concept fascinating now that I've seen all three films but I don't really get the hype that surrounded the films earlier on, before the final one was released? But maybe I'm just being unromantic ;)

Listening to | Lots of different things, nothing specific for this month.

Consuming | Icecream & drinks on the balcony.

Reading | I'm about to finish The Snow Child which I've really enjoyed. (Anyone else read it and see the parallels to Frozen?)

Visiting | My parents, grandma in Poland, P's parents...

Enjoying | Being on vacation from work! Going to the beach, swimming in lakes and the ocean, taking the days as they come...

Making | Some photobook pages, but honestly I didn't spend much time in front of the computer during the month of July.

Looking forward to | Greece on Monday! And possibly going to the zoo on Sunday.