A Travellerspoint blog

The Greek economy

The party is over!

IMG_0304.jpgHere I am in Greece where the subject most dear to my heart has its origin. The word economics derives from the Greek word oikonomia, "management of a household, administration" from oikos, "house and from nomos, "custom". So, let me say at the outset, Greece is certainly having trouble doing their household management. As each taxi driver told us: “The Greek economy and country is in trouble”. Once the summer holiday period is over, mid-September, the people will protest their concerns on the streets, again.
In just a short time, we have heard about how most people and firms evade paying taxes, corruption and bribery are common place, government spending is almost non-existant due to lack of funds with no spending on vital collective services. Hence, roads with pot holes, crumbling buildings, facilities in disrepair! There is ageing infrastructure and inefficient bureaucracy and huge government debt. The party is over for Greece!

Posted by MandM Travels 10:53 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Are we there yet?

Tokyo to Santorini

IMG_0324.jpgSunday 21 August: 6am up and organised; 7.30am bus to Narita airport; 12 noon - 12.5 hour flight to Istanbul; 4 hour wait at airport; 1.5 hour flight to Athens; 45 minute car ride to Pireaus; Monday 22 August : 1.15am sleep (finally). Gained 7 hours along the way. Ferry to Santorini delayed 4 hours and late departure by 1 hour. Left port Pireaus at 5.30pm. Tuesday 23 August: arrived in Santorini 2.00am. (Note to others: we’d recommend the 40 minute plane ride to Santorini from Athens. The novelty of the ferry evaporates after a few hours.) However, the sunset was gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by MandM Travels 10:52 Comments (0)

Japan: Faster than a speeding bullet....

Japan: Kyoto to Tokyo

tokyo_006.jpgOur travel between Kyoto and Tokyo on the Bullet train was fast! It was like being on a plane but a smoother and quieter ride with greater comfort and better views! 2.5 hours later, we were in Tokyo, ready to see new sights!

Posted by MandM Travels 01:53 Comments (0)

Cultural Learnings in Japan

kyoto_015.jpgOur Japanese has certainly improved and we have learnt some of the cutural traits in place. Formal greetings, no money given in the hand rather put in a dish, no need for tips, bus entry from the back and exit from the front, elderly people are shown great respect.

Japanese food is so delicious and varied and there are plastic displays of all food in windows, which makes choices simple. Of course, eating local food is cheaper (and much more delicious) than eating western food.

Accommodation is on the small side, compared to what we are used to. Space is at a premium. Nevertheless, comfort is not compromised. Small is cute. Toilets are a novelty as we are not used to toilets that have seat warmers and fancy bidets that clean everything. No matter where the toilet facilities are, they are clean and modern.

Japanese queues are very orderly. With such an efficient transport system a queue for a bus, for example, still moves along well.

Shoes are removed and slippers donned for entry into buildings.

The transport system and infrastructure are first class. The Japanese use public transport as it is fast, cheap, efficient and timely. There are lots of bike parking areas near stations.

First Class Service: Today we went to the GPO in Kyoto to mail a parcel home. The 20 minute experience was one to celebrate. It was quite remarkable. A very lovely, older postal worker went out of his way to carefully hand craft packaging that would protect our irregular sized parcel. Once this was done he found the right type of bag/envelope to send it in and then proceeded to do what Japanese people love doing, and that is use a stamp to ensure that our “FRAGILE” parcel would get home in one piece instead of many pieces. This done, he began to calculate the best way to send it. We had all the time in the world and he certainly was very patient with us and did his job very, very well. On completion of our mission we couldn’t believe how good the service had been. This experience reflected what we already thought of Japanese service, it is first class!

Posted by MandM Travels 15:14 Comments (0)

Japan

Three days in Kyoto

sunny 34 °C

3kyoto3_008.jpgWatching the landscape change as we travelled by train from Osaka to Kyoto was very interesting- MNCs to traditional houses, urban spaces to rice paddies. While we only had a short glimpse of Osaka, Kyoto has endearing qualities and seems a more liveable city. It is smaller and therefore easier to commute around and more a mid-sized city than a super metropolis. Our location near the ultra modern Kyoto Station was fantastic as all transport led back here no matter where we went. We travelled by train, subway and buses and certainly walked our feet off. While August may not be the best time of year to visit due to heat (35 C) and humidity (50%) there are plenty of drink vending machines dotted around everywhere to rehydrate and of course airconditioned shops and transport. The city is surrounded by mountains and the central landmark is Kyoto Tower from where great views of the city and surrounds can be seen. Various temples are seen throughout the city. We visited Sanjuusangendo Hall, reknowned as Japan's longest wooden building. Inside there are 1001 statues of Kannon, the godess of mercy. The Nijo Castle, known as the nightingale castle, is very beautiful and tranquil. The squeeking floors that warned against intruders is unique as well as clever! As you would expect, the gardens in Japan are exquisite, manicured and simply stunning. The visit to Kiyomizu Temple, set in the mountains on the outskirts of Kyoto provided a lovely setting to walk around and explore. The area was vast and one of the key features was the water, which people drink because of the belief that it confers wisdom, health and longevity. (We made sure we did this, too!)

Posted by MandM Travels 04:24 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

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