We decided to grab a few items for lunch at Lidl and carried them with us on our journey to the centre. The free bus was great and it travelled fast with very little stops. We jumped off at a park and had a short walk through the pretty gardens. Next we went to the Parliament building to witness a very strange goose step, tango and waltz kinda thing by the two soldiers outside. It was getting hot so we took refuge in a chocolate shop. We chose to exit through a different door which led us into the foyer of the Grande Bretagne, a rather exclusive hotel.
We then headed to Plaka, a pretty pedestrianised area, past the Roman Agora and The Bath House of the Winds, all in the foothills of the Acropolis. We took a different route back to the main square and came across Athens Cathedral. A very grand building with extremely ornate decoration inside.
Next we headed to an area called Exarhia. There is a lot of political history in this area, which used to house the main university and possibly the most graffiti we have ever seen. There were many little side streets with coffee shops full of students. The drink of choice for most was what sounded like a 'freddo' which is an iced, sweet, frothy expresso. After sampling a freddo we headed to catch the free bus, via a road full of many ornate buildings and back we went to the cultural centre. There was a concert in the park so we took a quick look.
Back at our accommodation we had a bite to eat, packed up our bags and at midnight headed to catch the tram to take us to the bus for the airport, ready for our flight in the morning. Once safely at Athens airport we found some comfy chairs and managed to get a couple of hours sleep. Next stop France!
A short walk to Lidl to buy some Mediterranean style breakfast.; cheese, bread,fruit and Greek yoghurt. On return to our accommodation we enjoyed our meal on the balcony overlooking Athens. A very beautiful scene.
Following breakfast we took a relaxing walk to the nearby park and cultural centre. From here a huge set of binoculars allowed a close up view of the Acropolis. Whilst we were enjoying the view from the top of the cultural centre, we were in for a surprise ...
The building started to shake, people in the cafe started to move from the balcony to be away from the edge. They seemed to be in a hurry, a mild state of panic. The building stopped shaking after approximately 20 seconds and people slowly returned to what they were doing before. We stood rather confused. We could see the lift shaking inside it's channel so assumed it had been travelling fast and hit the top too hard causing vibrations. There was no other logical explanation OR was there ...
We asked the local people what had happened and their answer was rather worrying.
THAT WAS AN EARTHQUAKE - 5.3!
We were a little stunned but everyone else seemed back to normal so continued to explore. We felt other tremors as we looked around but the building seemed to flex and respond well.
We sat inside and ate our lunch next to a piano. Different people came and played some beautiful tunes whilst we sat enjoying an incredible panorama of the ocean on one side and of Athens on the other.
Wwt couldn't take the lift back down as it was now out of bounds due to the earthquake, so we walked. We looked around the National library next which was very shiny and new. When we eventually got back to our accommodation we ate a lot before finishing off some Japanese tea we had been given in Bali.
At 9pm we headed back to the cultural centre for a free concert. It was a mixture of traditional jazz mixed with a series of electric modern sounds. It didn't last long so we went one floor higher to the lighthouse for a night view over Athens. Here we listened to some phenomenon piano players in the luxury lounge.
A fantastic evening and as we left we watched the musical fountains dancing. A cool breeze accompanied us for our walk back to our accommodation.
Our flight landed at around 8.30am. We had both managed to get a fair amount of sleep on the 11 hour flight. After making our way through the airport we found bus X96 which took us to our accommodation.
We dropped our bags, freshened up and had a great breakfast of cucumber and tomato salad, olives, feta and Greek yogurt, what a treat!
We then caught the bus (040) into the centre of Athens, which dropped us at Syntagma Square where we saw the parliament building. On the way we saw some ancient ruins and a spectacular archway. We made our way down a long pedestrian street to Monastiraki Square where we caught our first glimpse of the famous ancient Greek Acropolis high up on the hill.
We walked in the general direction of the Acropolis and along the way saw the Library of Hadrian and the Roman Agora. We then followed a path up Areopagus Hill for our fist proper sight of the Acropolis and also amazing views over the whole of Athens.
We walked around the slopes of the Acropolis and saw the Parthenon. In the Acropolis museum we saw videos of how they had taken statues from the Acropolis to renovate and preserve in the museum. It was interesting to watch these enormous stone statues being manouvered by machines, knowing that when they were originally carved no such machinery existed.
We continued our walk around the slopes of the Acropolis walking through pretty, narrow alleyways full of cats, quaint little houses and churches and eventually made our way to the Plaka District.
We wandered through the narrow streets in search of an ATM and food! Since July 2019 each ATM in Greece charges a usage fee of upto 3 Euros for foreign cards. A nice little money maker considering how many tourists visit Greece! Having found an ATM we decided to try something traditionally Greek to eat, a gyros and souvalaki. This is meat and salad in a pitta but the pitta is nothing like the ones at home. It is soft and fresh and they cover the contents in a delicious Tzsatziki sauce. It was very satisfying!
By now it was getting dark and we were tired after our long journey so headed back to our accommodation for some sleep.
After our forth different breakfast on the final morning at our hostel (spicy omlete)we decided to skip the local bus for 3 Ringgit and take a Grab taxi. It would take us 10 minutes rather than 45 plus. We would normally take the cheapest option ... local bus, however this time Grab was the cheapest. We used a new user discount voucher and the total journey came to 1 Ringgit (20p).
The journey was quick so we arrived early. This gave us enough time to explore Tesco and buy some snacks plus visit the Aeon Mall to use the post office.
We changed our mobile ticket for a boarding pass at Melaka Central and we paid the 70c terminal fee. We waited patiently for our bus. The terminal screen showed all of the buses arriving but ours wasn't displayed. We tried to confirm with the staff if the bus was coming but they didn't seem too concerned and told us to wait. The bus did arrive but it never made an appearance on the screen.
It was a 27 seater with massage seats that were huge. The massage seats didn't seem to work but the seats were very comfortable. The driver drove relatively fast but stopped for regular comfort breaks about every hour of this 4 hour journey. Well, we thought it was 4 hours! We arrived at the immigration post for Malaysia, we left the bus passed through in 2 mins and off we went again. We next travelled quickly in the bus through 'no man's land' before being told to grab all of our belongings for x-ray as this was the Border post for Singapore.
Inside there were huge queues. It appeared we had entered just at the wrong time and stood before us were soooo many Chinese tour groups! We had to queue behind them for over an hour. Once we finally made it to the front we were stamped entry to Singapore. Next we went to find our bus. There was a big bus parking lot outside but no bus. We checked every one but no bus! Eventually we spotted a man also from our bus and he couldn't find it either.
Well not exactly, but our bus had indeed left. However, we found another one from the same company and climbed aboard. They were going to the same destination and it appears this is totally normal and happens all of the time. Our journey across the bridge to Singapore continued. We travelled past many of the Singapore attractions. Marina Bay Hotel ( the big ship skyscraper), Gardens by the Bay etc, etc, etc
We arrived at Beach Road, our final destination after about 6 hours. This meant a small change of plan. Instead of walking around a few of the attractions as we had planned, we just had time to eat! We had changed our remaining Ringitt for 5 Singapore dollars, about £3. This was enough to buy 2 chicken rice meals at the busiest restaurant we found, located just across the road from the bus stop.
Now with all our money spent, we headed to the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) station, Lavender, by walking the streets of Singapore. We thought the best way to get a ticket would be at a small ticket office. However, we were in for a surprise. We were expecting to buy the tickets on an ATM card, as being as advanced as Singapore, we expected this would be easy. Wrong! First the ticket office didn't actually sell single tickets and second, cards were not accepted for single ticket purchases.
We had to take money from the ATM, but double what we needed as this was the minimum withdrawal. This meant we were stuck with an extra 5 dollars. So, what we decided to do was eat again! We ordered Chinese dumplings, cups of tea tarik and a bowl of noodles. Delicious!
The MRT station was easy to navigate, fast and efficient. We navigated the change of lines easily and arrived at Changii airport, the best airport in the world! We had a long wait as our flight was 2 am the next day, so we explored the butterfly garden, rode the SkyTrain between T2 and T3 several times to view the world's largest indoor waterfall and went to the movies for free. Singapore has 2 free movie theatres and one was showing Mary Poppins 2. It was ok but not as good as the original.
When the movie had finished we made our way to our gate, boarded the plane and were off on our 11 hour Scoot flight to Athens.
We were not too sure where it went so just hopped on. We followed the route on our GPS and discovered we were near a famous floating mosque, so jumped off to take a look. We soon discovered it was quite a walk but after crossing a field of the strangest, bounciest grass we eventually arrived. The mosque is built on a jetty over the water. We had a look around (it wasn't hugely spectacular) and then headed back to catch the bus. As we walked along the huge long road a man stopped and kindly gave us a lift to the bus stop. We were very grateful as this meant we could catch the next bus rather than waiting an hour for the next one.
Back in town we had arranged to have dinner with some people we had met in the Cameron Highlands. We headed back to same hawker stall and shared many different dishes including sesame chicken, pork noodles, cuttle fish, various little chinese cakes and some black glutinous rice with coconut milk, quite a feast.
It was one of those days where we needed to set an alarm to stop us over sleeping. We didn't need to be at the tourist office to register for our tour until 9am. However, we did not want to skip the excellent breakfast served at the hostel.
Breakfast was great, followed by delicious coffee. We walked to the tourist office, registered and joined the 9.30am Melaka Heritage tour. The guide was very nice and she took us around many places in the old town from the old Governors House, the fortress destroyed by the British and Harmony Street. We saw great views from St Paul's Hill, the church with no roof and visited many other religious buildings: mosques, Hindu temples, Chinese Toaist-Buddhist temple. Yesterday we also went to a Sikh Gurdwara but although it was beautifully lit they had closed the main gate to entrants.
When the tour had finished we walked through the streets of the old city looking at the British, Dutch and Portuguese buildings. We also visited a few boutique art shops before walking to a small Indian restaurant. We ate quite a spicy chicken curry, rice, vegetables and poppadums. The waiter was really nice and other staff helped answer our questions about the milk in tea tarik.
We moved on to the air conditioned luxury of the mall. We were in search of a special gadget to take to France. A mosquito zapper. We knew the Mr DIY store had them so this is where we headed. We didn't manage to get the tennis racquet style we had intended to get but a very cool 'owl version' that lights up. We have tested it and it zaps mosquitos really well!
Next we headed back to our hostel via the cookie stall, Dutch graveyard and sweet shop. We picked up a few snacks for tomorrow when we leave Malaysia and head south to Singapore.
After a short break and a chat to 3 English girls fresh out of uni, we decided food was required. A short walk to our favourite hawker stall where we shared chicken satay and a bowl of noodles. We finished off with sweet glutinous black rice with coconut milk and a cup of iced Chinese tea.
Our last night in Malaysia - complete!
We wandered into the main town and headed for the tourist information office to see if there was anything on whilst we are here. We found out there is a free bus which goes around the town and a free heritage walking tour at 9.30am tomorrow. We then walked around the Dutch area and along Jonker Street, which looked so different to last night's tourist filled night market. We looked in a gadget shop and found a little waterproof bluetooth speaker which we bought as this will be good for on the boat.
We then headed slightly out of town to a hill for sunset. On the way up we noticed lots of very old Chinese graves. The view of the sunset was slightly blocked by a very tall block of flats and there were lots of mosquitos so we made a quick decent via a monument to the people killed by the Japanese during the war.
After our big breakfast we didn't feel the need for lunch so had an early dinner at a hawker stall. We had the most enormous bowl of noodles with chicken, luckily we had only ordered one with a view to trying something else, but were so full we didn't need to!
As it got dark we walked along the river which was all lit up with coloured lights. We passed lots of little restaurants and at one there was a couple and it was the girl's birthday, we knew this because her boyfriend had decorated the table with balloons, candles, flowers and a picture of her, how romantic!
As we turned the corner we came across a street food market. We walked through the market looking at all the lovely food and heard some music playing. We took a seat to listen. The singer welcomed us and explained it was a charity event to raise money for children born with heart conditions.
As we sat and listen we decided to have a dessert after our huge bowl of noodles. We choose a shaved ice dessert called a cendol ABC (we are not sure why) but it was very tasty.
Once the music had finished we strolled back along the river, lit with neon lights to our accomodation.