Athens Arrival

Long flight and stayed at the Sofitel Hotel by the Athens Airport for the night. Nice clean place with comfortable rooms. We found that if we wanted something to eat, or wine perhaps, it was MUCH cheaper to walk across the street to the Airport and buy from the shops there. It seems that many locals also buy at the stores too. It reminded me of the Amsterdam Airport where they also have a major train station combined with the airport. The shops there were like a Mall inside the airport. It isn’t that scale in Athens but the prices at some of the Airport shops in Athens were not at all like what you see in the US.

I purchased a bottle of Greek Wine for 7 Euros and a 1.5 L of water for 85 cents at the Greek store at the Airport and walked back to the hotel. I think the best price for a bottle of Greek wine at the hotel was around 30 euro and we don’t want to talk about the price of the miniature water bottle.
Not much more to say about Athens right now, it was just a rest stop on our way to Santorini. We will be back to Athens in a few days though.

Just remember when you are in Greece, don’t expect things to be followed literally. Most rules are really suggestions; after all, we all aren’t all the same so there is a reason to follow the rules / laws. Let me give you some examples.

When at the airport in Greece, pick any airport they all work the same way, they call that they are loading the plane from the rear forward and to board when your rows are called. They call “no loading rows 15 through 29”, and everyone starts boarding. Oh and they do not have a concept of a line either.
Yet another example, smoking, surprisingly is not as common now as it used to be. Well, at least there are signs saying No Smoking. But that might really be for the table that it is by and the next table will be smoking. Years ago we were taking a small plane from an Island back to Athens and they were giving the usual lecture about no smoking on the plane. But the cockpit door was open and both the Pilot and Co-Pilot were chain smoking with smoke just pouring out the door into the passenger area.
Don’t get us wrong, we just really enjoy Greece, every time we come here we have a wonderful time. Just remember you can’t use what is normal where you live and expect it to be the same in Greece. Every country, and sometimes areas within a country, has their own cultures and subcultures. So just recognize it and adjust.

One other tip, don’t over plan your trip, keep your options open. Don’t expect schedules to be the master here, expect things to change and not fit your plans. Be surprised when everything works to your plans and expect the unexpected and you will have a great time.

There is a lot of talk about strikes right now and protests. I know from friends it is hitting the news a lot. But from here we aren’t seeing much, but we haven’t been to downtown Athens as yet. The locals say everything will be fine in a couple days as that is what the people striking have said it will last. You see from what we are told, strikes are planned and have a planned duration. They are done to make a point and that is it, back to normal after that. In the states we are used to strikes that when started we don’t know how long they will last. But that isn’t the case here. We asked about if the strike will continue on the weekend because we intend to go back to Athens on Saturday. Everyone says don’t worry it will be over before the weekend. Will see – we will keep you posted.


My history with this company isn’t very good. This is the only delivery service that has asked me for directions to their next stop. They are also the only one that chewed me out of not having my address on the house. Then I pointed out that it is on the light pillar in the middle of the front yard. Then he told me that was to hard to see I needed it on the house. I said if you look around, most of the houses here have the address on a pillar in the front yard. Very strange, but that isn’t the point to my post. I can now say they have topped my previous experience with them.

We were leaving for a trip to Canada when we saw some charges we didn’t make appear on one of the Credit Cards. We called the Credit card people and they were going to send us a replacement card in Canada. We called the Hotel and made sure both of our names were on the registration, so there wouldn’t be a question about if we were there or not.

The day they were due to deliver the card I went to the front desk and told them what I was expecting and they made sure everyone knew. They even called the other Hotel of theirs in town in case they tried to deliver it there. Late in the day we still didn’t have the card and I kept checking with the front desk checking on it. We called the company to find out what was going on. DHL told them we were not registered at the hotel. Further they told us it would be delivered that evening. So we stayed in that night and nothing happened.

In the morning we called and all they knew was that the hotel said we were not there. I talked with the front desk and a manager wanting them to tell me why they said we were not there. They all said they didn’t and that everyone was aware of the delivery. There was no one from DHL that had been to either of the hotels it seems. So we had the company redirect the delivery to our home address here in Seattle. It didn’t show up at home.

We called the company again and they said that they would issue us yet another card and would send it regular mail. We received that card just fine but that isn’t the end of the story.

I called DHL and had them check for the package and they had no record. I called DHL Canada and they had no record of it. They looked at every package delivered to that zip-code in Canada – nothing showed. I called the company and said, are you sure you even sent us a package? They assured me they did but couldn’t give me the tracking number for security reasons. I didn’t get that, but that is ok.

After almost 3 weeks from the start of this there was a knock at the door and there was a DHL person with a package for me. You guessed it I am sure, it was the package that should have been delivered in Canada to us at the hotel. It had written on it that we were not registered at the hotel. Now that I had the tracking number I went online to see what this package had been through. I couldn’t believe the results.

There was an entry that showed it leaving for delivery in Canada. The next entry said “address information needed; contact DHL”. It said that same entry for 3 days in a row then it goes back to the Canadian DHL facility. The package sat in that facility for 8 days before it was delivered to me. And it shouldn’t have been delivered to me. They were told by the Company to return it to them 10 days before it was delivered to me.

That poor little package was in DHL’s hands for 17 days and, based on what I saw, they didn’t even try to deliver it to the hotel they just wrote on the package that we weren’t there.

I called the company one more time and told them what I had found out and recommended they get there money back from DHL and never use them again. I know I won’t use them EVER!

Remember even when I called DHL they couldn’t find any record of the package. It is no wonder that they had to pull out of USA and focus on International is it.

Rim Rock Cafe – Whistler


We happened to have a gentleman sitting in between Patrice and I on a flight back to Seattle and he worked at this restaurant. He told us that after we had mentioned we were going to be in Whistler. He highly recommended the place so we made note of it. We did in fact eat dinner there and we have to say it was one of the best dinners we have had anywhere in the world. I am not kidding and I do literally mean anywhere in the world that we have eaten. We have enjoyed great food everywhere we have traveled but this was special. Let me tell you what we had.

Seafood Antipasto for one – chef’s sampler of smoked and marinated seafood
What a marvelous collection of tastes this dish has.

Beef Carpaccio – sliced beef tenderloin, pickled cipollini onion,shaved parmesan, capers and mustard
I must say I make this dish myself and this was even better than my version. We really enjoyed the pickled cipollini onion.

Main Course:
Venison – porcini mushroom crusted, truffle butter, spatzle and porcini cream
This was amazing. I don’t know what more I can say than look at what was served with a beautiful piece of Venison.

The service was perfect, as was the wine selection I might add. We ate more than I mentioned but I am getting hungry writing this and it is a very long drive to go there for dinner 🙂

Pan Pacific Mountainside – Whistler BC

As the name implies, you walk out of the back door and there are ski lifts right there. It is in a beautiful setting and it is very well kept too. The staff couldn’t have been nicer either. We stayed in a Studio and had great kitchen facilities.

We really felt at home and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere during our stay. The only thing that seems out of line was parking was on top of the room and was expensive! At most places you end up paying for parking but usually there is a discount, at least for guests. I know it is a minor thing but it is just annoying to me. Why not just add it to the price of the room and let me think it is free. It always rubs me when you find out there is add ins. Don’t even get me started with paying for Internet at Hotels.

Aside from the price for parking we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We went up on the lifts one day and took what they call “Peak to Peak”. Peak to Peak is the longest unsupported span in the world. The weather was just gorgeous while we were there also.

We look forward to staying there again next time we are in Whistler.

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort – Review

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort

The setting for this place is absolutely stunning. The views are just as good too. It is located on the west side of Vancouver Island in a town named Ucluelet. We stayed in a one bedroom Condo and the view was great there too. After you take everything in though things start going downhill from there. Everyone of the staff that we met seemed very good too but the place just didn’t seem to have its act together like it should. Let me explain our experience and you can be the judge.

We arrived about Noon and were told our place was almost ready. So we figured we would wait so we could check it out before we went into town to get anything we might need. Since it was lunch time we went into the restaurant to have lunch, (the restaurant is covered later). After a long lunch we went to the front desk and asked about our room, again it was almost ready. I should note that we did not receive any information about the resort when we arrived, or any of it’s facilities. We asked about WiFi and sat in the bar waiting for our room. It wasn’t until after we left that we found out that they had a Business Center, that would have been better for us. We arrived at Noon like I said and it was 3:30pm before we were given keys. Every time we checked – and I checked often, it was almost ready. Not a good way to start.

The Room:
The condo was great and had a nice balcony looking out over the water. We brought some movies and tried to use the player in the condo but couldn’t get it to work. We called the front desk and they sent someone down and sure enough it was broken. They would have someone look at it the next day they said. Ok, so much for watching the movie… The next day we got ready to leave and put some items into the safe, but it wouldn’t lock. We called the front desk and they said 20 minutes and someone would be there. An hour later, we called again and were told he was on his way. After a couple more calls and 2 and a half hours later a guy showed up and put new batteries in the safe. While he was there I asked him about the DVD player. He agreed it was broken and said he would take care of it. When we returned He DVD player was replaced and worked just fine. A couple days later we were about ready to go to the front desk and check out when the phone rang and it was someone saying they were going to come over and look at our DVD player. I said that it had been taken care of a couple days prior and we were checking out.

The Restaurant:
Lunch the first day took 45 minutes to get served from the time we ordered. The food was good, not over the top by any means, and was COLD. It seemed that it had been plated and then sat somewhere. Not to impressive and the place wasn’t busy. I had Mussels and Clams at room temperature with some grit. Patrice had Seafood Chowder that was at room temperature with skin on the surface from setting so long.

They had a breakfast item on the menu that I just had to try. It was Eggs Schroeder, now when a place has a dish named after you,(yeah right), you have to try it. So the second day we were there we went to breakfast. I ordered Eggs Schroeder of course and Patrice ordered their signature dish. Yes she ordered “Eggs Black Rock”. My Eggs were great but…the dish Patrice ordered had 5 ingredients total, and one of those was Sausage. There was no Sausage on her plate. We sent the dish back. Meanwhile I ate mine and we still waited for hers to arrive. They did apologize and didn’t charge us for her dish. But it took us exactly twice as long as it should have to complete breakfast. They were now 0 for 2 and we decided we would not eat there again. Besides I enjoy cooking and we have a kitchen in the Condo.


To the credit of the staff, both the restaurant and the Maintenance man, it turns out that they went to the General Manager and told her that they thought we weren’t having a stay like we should. She sent us a bottle of Champagne and a personal note that included her contact information.

Before we checked out I sent an email to the resort Manager explaining what we had been through and even made some recommendations to her. Now it took me some time to write this up and explain things properly in an email, and I didn’t do it just because I am such a nice guy, (although I am). We did it to provide feedback, which is hard to get when you run a business, and…In the past, whether it be good or bad feedback, we have always either got a discount on a future stay, or a discount on our bill. It is always good to know you aren’t wasting your time and that what you said didn’t go into a black hole. We were happy to learn that our email was the topic of her Management meeting. It is good to know you didn’t waste your time and that actions were taken as a result of feedback. We also learned that  that there were some changes in personnel at the restaurant that were underway prior to our email.

There are a number of places to stay in that general area and as beautiful as this place is, by no means is it a 5 star experience by any stretch. That is the downside. On the upside, they responded before we officially complained and took action when we went through official channels too.

For our next trip there we will check this place out for another stay.

4th of July Fireworks

This was put together on the 4th and is our view of the fireworks of the town of Orting below us in the valley. You can see Mt Rainier in the background on some parts of it