West of the Chora in Astypalea there are several remote coves with beaches. We were told Konstantinos Beach is the most accessible, but the first time we tried to reach it we found parts of the road washed out with gravel and rocks that had spilled down from the hills, so we ended up turning around. A few days later we tried again and were happy to see the road had been freshly graded and we were able to complete the drive quite easily.Read the full post »
Despite being in Astypalea for a while, we couldn’t resist climbing up through the steep, winding streets of the Chora to see the castle at the top on our very first day.Read the full post »
We didn’t visit many churches on this trip — Europe is stuffed with them, and no matter how impressive they are, they tend to blur together after a while. But we did visit St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, partially lured by the famous Caravaggio painting hanging in its oratory.Read the full post »
To get our bearings on our first full day in Valencia, we took a leisurely wander through the heart of the Ciutat Vella (Old City). It was a Sunday and a holiday so most sites were closed, but it was a good overview of the places we might revisit later.Read the full post »
The Seville Cathedral (formally the Catedral de Santa María de la Sede) was constructed on the site of a former mosque beginning in 1401. It took roughly 100 years to build and is considered the largest Cathedral in the world (but not the largest church — it’s complicated).
From the outside, the Cathedral has the feeling of a fortress, with solid stone walls rising on all sides. It is intimidating rather than welcoming despite the ornamentation that hints at what is inside.
One last blast of freezing rain and flurries blew through Toronto just before our plane was scheduled to take off. We felt lucky to be delayed by only one hour, which we spent watching the robotic arms of the de-icing machines spray down our plane with a fluorescent green liquid.
After a stop in Montreal and six more neck-wrenching hours trying to doze on the plane, we arrived in Lisbon around 7 in the morning. Even from high above, the famous “light of Lisbon” was already evident, glowing on the orange rooftops of the buildings we flew over.
On our way to London, we took advantage of the Icelandair stopover option, which lets you extend a short changeover at the Reykjavik airport into a stay of up to 7 days for no extra airfare. We took two full days, spending the first day in Reykjavik, then taking a Golden Circle bus tour on the second day.
Our overnight flight landed very early, so we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed out to explore drizzly Reykjavik in a haze of jetlag. Impossible to miss almost anywhere in the city is Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland. It took 41 years to build, with construction starting in 1945 and ending in 1986.
It cost 900 ISK (about $9) to go up the tower in an elevator, where we were rewarded with photogenic views of otherwise low-rise Reykjavik.