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Ok, so we are English and Brettos looks like it should be pronounced Brettos, but if you want to go and look for this place, pronounce it Vrettos. As the guy we asked said, "It's Vrettos, Vrettos. It begins with a B". Yeah that's why I said Brettos!!!!!
Anyway, enough of that. We had seen this place on a Australian cookery TV show and with our trip to Athens not too far away thought that we had to visit this place.
Michael Vrettos opened his distillery in 1909 on the Plaka, producing ouzo, Brandy and a few Liqueur flavours.
The 'draw' of this place besides the range of ouzos, brandy's, wines, beer's etc, etc, is the colourful way the bottles are set out on floor to ceiling shelves, various coloured bottles with light's to accentuate them even more, quite eye-catching, so much so that you will see many people just popping in to take a picture. I was tempted to tell them to have a drink while they were there, but hey it's their choice and their loss!
We appeared to miss out on the Olives and cheese that other people got but we had just eaten.
My wife had a cocktail, recommended by the owner and I had a glass of sauvignon and when we payed a second visit my wife had a different cocktail and I got all boring (or English) and had a beer.
If you get to visit Athens, go down to the Plaka and try a drink in The Vrettos bar, more than a treat!
I've seen pictures of the monasteries at Meteora and thought that maybe one day we will have to go and see them for ourselves.
So this year we booked to go as part of a 3 week tour of Greece.
I researched for good hotels and picked one in Kastraki which is at the foot of Meteora. Not the easiest place to find, if you haven't been before, but WOW when we got there it was truly amazing.
Breathtaking scenery both when looking up at the monasteries and looking down when we went up to them.
Now you would expect, when being in such a wonderful place that you would pay for the privilege, but on the contrary. The hotel was the cheapest of the 6 we stayed in on our tour, but was certainly a brilliant place to stay. We had our cheapest meal of the whole 3 weeks in Kastraki and having paid anything from 3.50 to 5.00 euros for beer in Athens and Patras, I was overjoyed to pay 2 euro for a half litre of beer in Kastraki.
There are 6 monasteries, 2 of which are inhabited by nuns rather than monks and these are St Stephen and Rousanou. All 6 can be visited but they close on various days to the public. The owner of our hotel told us the opening times, so we weren't wasting our time. We chose to just go in one. They were all busy and I think you lose the serenity when these places are packed. Yes you will have to pay to go in and please be aware to dress respectably if you would like to enter. Shorts are not allowed for either sex and ladies will have to cover their shoulders.
Meteora can be found on the plains of Thessaly near to the city of Kalambaka and is a pretty straight forward drive from Athens or Patras from the south or from Thessaloniki in the north or Igoumenitsa on the west coast, which is a short ferry journey from Corfu.
Myself and my darling wife recently flew with Easy Jet to Athens and then returned from Corfu with them. The prices were low, but as other people point out the baggage at the end adds to the cost. But I actually found that to our advantage.
Packing the night before we left for Athens I realised the my darling was taking loads of luggage and I was able to go online and add 3 kg's of extra luggage to our booking. Now I'm pretty sure had we booked with other carriers we would have had to make do with our original amount of luggage, therefore causing me and Mrs Wonderful to pack in peace. While we were away I was able to repeat the addition of the 3 kg's.
The flight's both left on time and arrived early, with absolutely no fuss.
We also booked 'Speedy Boarding' for both journey's, which I thought was a wise move, enabling us to sit together, without having to race to the aircraft. I notice that easy Jet have introduced pre booking seats, which I think is a great idea and so much better than speedy boarding, because we could not believe that even though people had booked speedy boarding they still raced to get on first, which amused myself and the gorgeous one greatly.
I really did everything about the whole process of booking and the complete travel experience very enjoyable.
We have 2 cat's, both long hair and both enjoy the occasional scrap. So cat hair can be an absolute pain.
The previous vacuum cleaner we had was good, until we got the cat's. So we had a look at Dyson's. We thought the 'Animal' one a bit too much for what we needed and settled for the DC25 all or multifloor model.
Sad as this might appear, I couldn't wait to give it a go. I started on the living room carpet and was impressed by the power of suction. I then moved into the kitchen/dining area, which is hard wood flooring. I changed the mode to suit the flooring and was equally impressed with the way anything that got in my way was 'eaten'.
Both myself and my wife work long hour's, so the cat's are often left all day in the house. When we arrive home we are often greeted with hair everywhere. If you were to pick it all up and hold it in your hand you would think you'd just grown a kitten! But anyway!
A quick run round the house with the Dyson and it is soon shifted.
I much prefer the bagless cleaner's, easy to empty, straight into the dustbin. The attachment's that the DC25 comes with, all built in, are excellent. Getting into those nooks and crannies is a doddle.
I also find the ball makes manoeuvring around things really good.
By far the best cleaner we have ever had.
Mark Smith's book and website, The Man in Seat 61, is a work of dedicated love for his passion of travel.
I found it extremely inspiring and informative for my journey last year to Greece, by rail and ferry.
Maybe flying is not for you and you're thinking going abroad is impossible without a plane? Think again. This book will tell you in great detail how to get to where ever you want, without the need to fly. It explains what you may encounter and how to buy tickets and the way to explore Europe with railcards.
Recommended routes, avoiding some of the many pitfalls around Europe.
For example : On my journey to Greece I really wanted to go all the way by train, from Manchester. Through reading the book and website I learned that this is extremely difficult. To quote a line from the website, "Greece cut off! Due to its dire economic situation, Greece cancelled all its international trains from 13 February 2011 until further notice, cutting itself off from the rest of Europe. "
So undaunted, I then read up about my alternatives, which were to go by train, to London, Paris, Bologna and Bari, taking the ferry to Patras in Greece. Advised train times, journey lengths and advised ferry times and the best way to get to the port in Bari were all there in the book and on the website.
Even the best way to cross Paris is explained. I caught the RER on line D from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon.
There is an alternative to flying, where you will see so much more out of the train window than the plane window.
If you have been thinking of some serious travel, get a copy of this book and read it and be inspired.
I think my wife summed The Ionia up perfectly. "It's just like being in someone's home".
We went in May 2010 for the first time to The Ionia, we returned last September. Just the same, the welcoming staff, the quiet pool area and the brilliant bar.
Breakfast is fine for us, ham, cheese, boiled eggs, bread, wonderful, wonderful Greek yoghurt with Skopelos honey, plenty of fresh fruit, biscuits and cake. I know it's not everyone's idea of a fine breakfast, but if you want a full English, stay in England! Or go to Benidorm!
Moving on to the room's. In 2010 the bed seemed too soft with a rock hard pillow, last year it seemed the opposite, which was good.
The pool was very quiet both year's which is great. The pool bar is great, beer served by the wonderful, Ildi. I doubt you will find a nicer person in the whole of Skopelos. I think if the price of the drink's is important then too much in the Ionia bar will cost you. Cheaper drink's are readily available nearby.
I love the setting of the Ionia, just up the old street's from the port, winding your way up, not too steeply. past the shop's about 300-400 yards.
It is next to a school for little children which in term time is a bit noisy at break time, but the sound of little kid's has never bothered me too much.
Ample sized car park if you hire a car. If you do want to hire one, just ask Ildi.
Eating out is great. Perivoli, which is just up from Platanos Square, is an amazing place to eat. Platanos Square itself is a good place to go for your gyros pitta, which you have to do, at least once. Alexander and Codi are also great places to eat and down on the port front, well you have a fine choice. If you can find Anna's up various back streets, you will enjoy good food in a lovely setting.
Further afield, Agnanti in Glossa has the best view on the whole island, with food to die for.
Lunch on Panormos beach is heavenly.
Beaches on Skopelos are mainly pebbled, with not much sand at all around.
I recommend The Ionia and the island of Skopelos, even if we did miss the ferry on our arrival. Very Shirley Valentine type journey to Agnodas instead of the port.
Great holiday, great Island, great hotel. GREAT!!!
My wonderful wife thought she would treat me to a PS3 for my birthday. Knowing that I have spare time to kill.
I transferred a lot of my music collection onto the PS3 and built up a few playlists. I then decided to look around for some good quality speakers for either the PS3 or the TV.
Wandering around Stockport I happened upon these Bose speakers in Comet. They weren't what I was looking for but the sound belting out in the demo' room was pretty amazing. So I splashed the cash and bought them. A lot of money for something that I still wasn't sure about, in the sense that they were really aimed at the computer market, rather than the TV or gaming market's.
I got them home and plugged them into the phono socket on the TV, listened to a couple of programmes and was impressed. I then put the PS3 on and and played a couple of tracks of my music collection, it was superb.
I decided there and then that my ageing Hifi was getting put away in the loft and from now on my music would be only played through my new Bose system.
I mentioned versatility in my headline and that is what I love most about these speakers. I just unplug the lead from the TV phono socket and plug it into my phone, my MP3 or my laptop and play music so clear, with the bass control I can change the sound to suit my mood or the type of music playing.
I am more than happy with these speakers and the size of the speakers is brilliant, so small. It's amazing the sound that you get form such small speakers.
I would definitely recommend these speakers to anyone wanting speakers for computer, gaming or even through the TV.
I went to Tallinn as part of a group of 7 middle aged blokes, who were intent, as we usually are when we have a 'lad's weekend' away, on having a good few beer's and to also take in some of the local scenery and food.
As I say, we are middle aged, varying from mid forties to me, I'm 57. Some of the guy's were pretty much into Depeche Mode during their heyday and so when we found out that Tallinn had it's very own Depeche Mode Bar, it was met with a considerable amount of glee!
The hotel we had booked was The Go Hotel Shnelli, which is situated at the railway station and the nearest bar to it, is? You've guessed it, The DM Bar.
We usually make one bar our 'base', where we start and finish our day's/evening's drinking and the DM Bar was the obvious choice.
Finding it is simple, on a Street named Nunne, near to The St Olaf Hotel.
Finding your way down the few steps and into the bar area you will find plenty of memorabilia around the place, as you would expect, but what I didn't really expect was every single song played was Depeche Mode. I know it's the Depeche Mode Bar, but, every single song?? Anyway, some of the lad's were in their element and on the night we spent over 3 hours in there, we must have heard a hell of a lot of the total back catalogue.
The beer choice is good, with both dark and light European style beer and the general ambiance of the place is good, with a good mix of clientele, in every sense, whether it be in their dress style or Nationality.
All in all, a great place to visit even if you are not a fan, an amazing place if you are and you might just be lucky enough to be there when the band themselves drop by.
I've always enjoyed taking pictures, I mean who doesn't? I bought the Canon D500 a couple of years ago and can recommend it to anyone wanting to start on DSLR trail of photography.
The quality of the picture is ultimately down to you, the photographer but the amount of goodies inside the D500 does make taking that perfect, sharp picture a doddle.
The menu is clear and once you have found your way round it, you will see what i mean about the amount of goodies.
I bought the model that had the 18-55 is lens as part of the kit, but with hindsight (and isn't that amazing?) I think buying the camera body only would have been better. That way you can start with your own choice of lens and the general consensus is that the 50mm f/1.8 II lens is a great and not too expensive piece of kit. If you would prefer a good zoom lens to start with, then the 55-250 f/4-4.6 is another cracking buy.
I've enjoyed buying cheap filters and 'messing about' with them, to try and get varied effects, but each to our their on just how you will get your enjoyment out of your camera.
The life of the battery between charges is superb for when you are out for the day, but again I wish I had a back up battery, my next purchase maybe.
The weight of the camera is certainly not a problem, easily put in a bag and thrown over your shoulder and you're off!
One downside though, I certainly wouldn't take my Canon away with me if I was going with the lad's. A good pocket camera is the one for those occasions.
So, all in all I am exceedingly pleased with my first DSLR, the Canon D500.