08 November, 2008

The End

Well Marty and Mel fans, the time has come that we both have dreaded. This will be the last blog, installment & chapter of the Marty & Mel Chronicles. Our time has come to say our sad goodbyes as we have now landed back in to the best country that the world has to offer, 2 years, 1 month, 9 minutes and 17 seconds to the day that we left.

Marty's Dengue Fever has cleared up nicely, leaving no hideous scars or disfigurement which is always nice. After a few days in Kuala Lumpur, going nothing but 5 star, we have flown home for recovery, comfort and a good ol' curry pie which is just what the doctor ordered. Mel has developed a hacking cough which can only be attributed to the excessively fresh air and sunshine that this part of the world is known for. But don't worry, a few pills and we'll have her right as rain.

The trip has been a mammoth journey across 5 continents, 20 countries and 101 cities. There's been high times, there's been low times. We've met the best of people and the worst. Stayed in everything from 5 star to no star, Bedouin tents to high flying city digs. We've travelled by plane, train, car, motorbike, bus, bike, boat, cyclo, tuk tuk, horse and even camel. We've gone from 45 degrees Celsius to minus 15. We've been amazed, disgusted, mesmerised, touched, saddened and inspired by everything that we have been lucky enough to experience.

It's hard to say what was the best and what was the worst as there are so many memories, but a few do spring to mind....
* Blowing the budget at the blackjack table in Vegas, when I know we were just so close.
* Coming face to face with wild Grizzly Bears in Canada
* Being abused at a Roman laundromat by a little man unhappy with his lot in life.
* Getting plastered at Tropicana in Havana, Cuba.
* Seeing the sunrise from atop a camel in the Sahara Desert, Morocco.
* Walking 7 kilometres to Chimeara with no water and 45 degree heat in Olympos, Turkey.
* Munching on sausage at a gay pride parade in Germany.
* Breathing in the crisp, clean air of the Swiss Alps.
* Gazing upon the only remaining Ancient Wonder of the World in Egypt.
* Getting food poisoning day 1 in India.
* Working up the courage to visit a doctor in Laos.

So you may be wondering what lies ahead for your two favourite explorers. Mel is currently getting a lot of enjoyment from playing domestic goddess and working on her tan. Marty is turning the whole trip into an epic two hour movie and is enjoying life without decisions. They both plan to start work again....eventually....probably in the New Year. There will be future trips, but no additions to this blog.

Thanks to everyone who left comments, visited us, played a part in, or followed our trip. For the last time, take care and so long...

Marty & Mel

31 October, 2008

There's always a twist at the end

We arrived into Vientiane, Laos with our legs running and my head still thumping. We got in at night time and made our way straight to the hotel. After an average night's sleep we decided to seek out some of the very few sites Vientiane has to offer. As we walked down the street I peered down at my arms and noticed that they were becoming red, splotchy and swollen. Putting it down to my very first heat rash experience, we continued on to the oldest Wat in Vientiane. After a few happy snaps and a few quiet moments reflecting upon the golden Buddhas, we decided to call it a day, as my feet were now beginning to hurt.

The next morning, I woke up swollen, sore and with a rash that would impress Jenna Jameson. Feeling less than average we decided to head for the medical centre. Now I'm not talking about any 2 bit, backwater, Laotian Tiger balm medic. I'm talking about the $300 per consultation Australian Embassy Medical Clinic, where they confirmed Mel's Internet diagnosis. I have Dengue Fever. Yes I can hear you now...."Dengue Fever? Is that still around?" Oh yes my friends, it's around and I have a raging case of it. Upon doctors recommendations, the next day we evacuated Laos for Kuala Lumpur to undergo more blood tests. He also suggested a 5 star hotel, as out time here would be made up of cable TV and room service. And who are we to argue with a $300 doctor?

I've had my blood test and have been cleared to fly, so as you are all now probably fearing, the Chronicles are quickly coming to a close. Just like a good novel, every blog has a twist, and I bet you didn't see this one coming!

There will be one more blog before we sign off, so for the last time....stay tuned.....

A golden wat of Vientiane, Laos.

These are as big as the needles I've been having

28 October, 2008

Hanoi Antics

Being back in beautiful grey Hanoi felt different to our last visit 18 months ago. Everyone's wearing helmets, prices have increased and our regular watering holes are now construction zones destined to become cheap guesthouses or DVD shops. We started off on a good wicket. The first few nights the beer was flowing, the company was good, and our quiz answers were even better. But unfortunately this time, what took the Vietnamese 6 months to annoy us had now frustrated us to the very core within 3 days. Because of the incessant honking, beeping and cluttered sidewalks we decided to move from the very touristy Old Quarter, out to quieter digs with our friends Ed & Karen. This made for a very peaceful and relaxing stay filled with beer, Playstation, ten pen bowling and Trailer Park Boys reruns. However, Marty did reach his limit on the beer intake due to a 5 day straight thumping headache. All in all, Hanoi is nice to visit, but I think it's safe to say that our time there is done.

Old School

15 October, 2008

Ahh the joys of budget travel

We always say we'll never do again, but when it comes to the crunch it seems we choose dollars in our pocket over a good nights sleep every time. We had a few options to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, these being flying (super quick but expensive), overnight train (fairly cheap and Vietnamese trains are quite comfortable) or the option we chose to take, the overnight sleeper bus which was an absolute steal at only $10 per person for the 10 hour trip. We saw some photos of the buses and they didn't look too bad. A lot better than the overnight bus we took in Turkey anyway as these had beds set up in them that looked like you were lying pretty much flat. What they didn't show in the pictures however is the 8 other backpackers in our section of the bus who were a mix of Canadian, British, Russian and Nigerian who thought it would be a good idea to turn it into the party bus. Most of the night was spent turning up the I-Pod to drown out their drunken slurs as they swigged from their bottles of cheap Vietnamese wine. This coupled with the fact that this section of the road has not been redone since the war and was decidedly bumpy. At one point we woke up when we were shot about 3 feet in the air as the bus went over a few larger than usual bumps in the road. Not a nice way to be woken up I can tell you! Nevertheless we made it alive and have just booked our overnight bus to Hoi An tomorrow night.........
Before the party started

Some of our backpacker friends....

13 October, 2008

Home away from home

Well we have come home before we get home. We caught the 6 hour bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City and driving back into the city was a very strange feeling, and a little emotional I'll have to admit. It's hard to be believe that the last time we were here was 18 months ago, as we've seen and done so much since then. But at the same time it feels as it was only yesterday that we were here. The people & language are so familiar and we had fun spotting out familiar words on signs as we drove in. Even the local petrol station or bakery brings back memories! The only change we can see so far is that everyone is obeying the new law and are now wearing helmets when they're riding their motorbikes...even the very cool and trendy ones that are shaped like baseball caps!

One thing that hasn't changed is the very open curiousity the Vietnamese still have for westerners. While waiting at the border check coming in from Cambodia, a Vietnamese lady couldn't stop staring at me so Marty gave her a big wave. She proceeded to laugh and turn her nose up at the end with her finger, indicating that I may have slightly upturned nose. I had to laugh back at her and squash my nose down with my finger to show her that yes she was different from me too! She thought that was funny nodded her head vigorously in agreement.

We have about 2 weeks in Vietnam to soak up all that this wonderful country has to offer, as it will probably be the last time in a while that we visit. We're looking forward to lazily making our way up the coast before catching up with friends in Hanoi over a Bia Hoi or two.
The streets come to life in HCMC.

12 October, 2008

The Contradictions of Cambodia

Well we have now seen both sides of Cambodia. The good and the down right terrible. We spent 2 nights in Phnom Penh which is nowhere near as chilled as Siem Reap, but it is the spot to get a good insight into the regime known as the Khmer Rouge.

We took a $8 all day Tuk Tuk from our hotel to our first stop Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This place was formerly a high school which the Khmer Rouge turned into a prison after they took Phnom Penh in April 1975. The museum is pretty basic but that's really what hits home. As you walk into the first room you cross the checkered floor to the centre of the room where there is an old cast iron bed. Above the bed is a photo of one man. He's lying on that exact bed chained down whilst he's beaten, tortured and interrogated. On the floor his blood across the empty room. This is just one of the many rooms that are set up all the same. In the adjacent building there are thousands of black and white photos of some of the people who suffered at the hands of one of the worlds worst regimes.

From here we went out to the Killing Fields. 14 kilometers from the city it's a small green area where 17,000 people were brought for extermination. They piled the bodies in 129 mass graves and as you walk around you can still see some of the clothing and bones on the ground.

The sites of Phnom Penh are definitely not for the squeamish but it does give you a bigger appreciation for todays people of Cambodia. They have suffered such pain so recently and for some it still continues. To my horror we found out that some of the former Khmer Rough regime still exists and even worse they walk the streets amongst the people they committed these callous crimes against. It's truly amazing that Cambodian people can be so friendly, have a great sense of humor and smile so much.
S-21 prison in Phnom Penh

09 October, 2008

The Land We Love (besides Australia)

Well as you know, or should know (if you've been reading your weekly update of The Chronicles) we are in Siem Reap, Cambodia and this is possibly one of our favourite countries in the world. This is the second time for us both and I think we are loving it even more this time around if that's at all possible. It has changed some what though from the last time we we're here (all those years ago). There are far more tourists than before, you can no longer climb over, venture into and visit any or every temple you wish (which is a good thing) and the picture postcard shot is a thing of the past as every temple is under restoration and will be for some time. The good news though is that the people are friendlier than ever before and the food is everything we remembered it being.

We've done some new and old temples this time around but for us it has just been a fantastic place for rest and relaxation after our trip to India. If there is a heaven in Asia then Cambodia be thy name! We are off to Phnom Penh tomorrow before hitting the coastal, beach communities on the south coast.

Look for our next post which will more than likely be after our visit to the stomach churning Killing Fields.

Marty and Mel inside the tree temple known as Ta Phrom

She gambled her postcards on a game of noughts and crosses. (She was good and we now have 10 postcards)

How many faces can you see at the Bayon Temple.

03 October, 2008

Two Years On

Well the 1st of October brought around our two year anniversary. It's now been two years since we set off on this epic adventure, and what an adventure. We've sipped Mojitos in communist Cuba, gazed at the Colosseum in Rome, picnicked under the Matterhorn in Switzerland, and blown the budget in Las Vegas. We feel as though we've seen it all, but alas it's not true. Every country we go to makes us realise how big this damn world is and how much we have left to see.

We are now in Varanasi, the famed holy city of India. This morning we went on a sunrise boat trip down the Ganges to see life in India played out before our very eyes. Pilgrims are bathing, bodies are burning, and colourful saris dot the shoreline. They come to wash away the sins of their lives, and to die in the holy river, thus ensuring an escape from the endless cycle of life, death and rebirth. Varanasi is one of the most interesting places we've been to in India and quite relaxing. That is until our 15 year old oarsmen pumped his Hindi-pop music from his cellphone, filling the air with the tinny twangs of a language unknown.
This is our last blog from India, as tomorrow we return to the land that time forgot, Cambodia.
Don't forget behind your ears!

The Mighty Ganges

Bath time at one of the many ghats in Varanasi

01 October, 2008

A change is as good....

Well we've been in India for 6 days now, and since we've been here there has been 1 bomb attack in Delhi, 2 bomb attacks in outlying cities, a stampede at a Hindu temple which killed 168, a severe case of Delhi belly, a strained back and one of the phlegmiest coughs that would make an Indian look twice.

We both loved the Taj and would recommend it to anyone but for us India isn't exactly floating the overcrowded boat if you know what I mean. We just haven't been in the right state of mind to appreciate where we are and what we're seeing. To us at the moment every Mughal fort looks like the last Mughal fort and every pile of shit looks like the last 10 piles of shit. We may return here one day, perhaps when we can further appreciate it, but for now we are going to pull up stumps and head to Cambodia. We are in Jaipur for one more night and then we have bought flights to Varanasi for two nights. From here it is Singapore Airlines all the way to Siem Reap where we will be sipping on Angkor beer and kicking around Asia for two months in thongs.

This Asian Odyssey will be the last leg of our great epic adventure.

Stay tuned....

This face says it all :(

30 September, 2008

A teardrop on the face of eternity

Well we have now seen our 3rd installment of the 7 New Wonders of the World, The Taj Mahal, and it's every bit as captivating as they say. Without it, Agra wouldn't be much more than a blip on the India map to be quite honest, but the Taj definitely makes it worth visiting. It has to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and interestingly, the local authorities are doing their bit to try and keep it that way with heavy security and no polluting vehicles allowed within 500 metres of it.

We are now in Jaipur, Marty is steadily going downhill health wise and I am struggling to dodge the crap everywhere. By crap I mean rubbish.....and actual crap. Human or animal is the question! So far our evasive skills have been excellent, unlike the unfortunate tourist we saw at the train station this morning. It was clear from the amount of flies swarming around her shoes that she had stood in something questionable. Lucky she wasn't in our cabin on the train!

Bye for now.
M and M
A captivating view...and the Taj isn't too bad either

Sunday best

The Taj

28 September, 2008

Delhi - A Brave Man

Well we have arrived at one of the most anticipated, feared, excited, crazed, thought provoking palaces on our trip. For the past couple of weeks we have not been sure of what it is we want to do or see in India yet we have known we were coming here for quite some time now. We normally travel like to travel with every last detail nutted out so we can just enjoy it more and not have to march from hotel to hotel or try and figure out what sights we want to see. And to get the most from our money on a trip like this it's the only way it could effectively be done. Yet here we are in India with no clue.

We arrived last night after a tiring 8 hour overnight flight from Egypt. A driver from our small, cheap & shitty hotel picked us up taking a little hassle out of our arrival. As we made our way through the streets it kind of resembled a few other 3rd world countries we'd been to on this trip. Vietnam.. Egypt... Morocco...except this time they all looked Indian. From lack of planning we had booked a hotel in the area that Lonely Planet describes as seedy, a reputation for drugs and full of dodgy characters. But this is the place that all the backpackers stay so we figured we're two smart travellers we'll be right.

After reading the endless stories about dodgy dealings, money tricksters, touts and the endless hassle, I am pleased to say we have not encountered any of it. We've come here expecting the worst and looking at everyone like they are out to get us, but so far we haven't had a problem. We haven't been hassled, robbed, ripped off or bothered and we are now going into our third day and leaving Delhi. If Delhi is the worst town in India then we are both looking forward to a fantastic trip. The lack of preparation has made for a more relaxed trip I think. We don't feel the need to run around from sight to sight from sun up to sun down. We've picked a few highlights in each town and the rest is spared for relaxing, shopping or photography.

Our first meal last night was of course Indian which was actually really tasty, but I am a little disappointed to already say that it has made me sick. As a wise man once said "It's a brave man who farts in India" and I can tell you I won't be.

Tomorrow we head for Agra and the Taj. We are on the 8.10am train and we've decided to spend two nights due to our late arrival. After that it's off to Jaipur which is the gateway to Rajasthan. From there we still aren't sure. It's looking like Pushkar, Jodhpur and Udaipur.

We're safe, sound and so far I think we're enjoying it.

Sunset at the Red Fort in Delhi.

In the back of a New Delhi Autorickshaw. O such fun it is to ride...

New Delhi train station.

25 September, 2008

From Pharaohs to Maharajahs

Well Egypt is done. We are currently whiling away the time before we have to get on our 2am flight to Delhi tonight. Should be fun. We're also flying with the well known and trusted Air Arabia so it will be interesting to see how that pans out.

Our time in Egypt has been wonderful. No other country I've been to has stirred the imagination so much as this place. Walking through these enormous ancient temples, with larger than life statues of the ancient pharaohs and their gods is an awesome experience and one that I'll never forget. But in saying that the next person who asks me if I want a Felucca trip on the Nile is going to get a swift kick to the head. Marty said he's enjoyed his visit more the second time round because he's a bit more experienced in the whole travel game, and far more confident in his dealings with foreign food!

We have both seen so many amazing things on this trip already and although it now feels like we are on the homeward stretch, we still have so many things to see and experience. They say that India is one of the most difficult countries in the world to travel in......so fingers crossed......there be some crazy times ahead!

Reading up at Karnak Temple

Hieroglyphs on a pillar at the Ramesseum
Waiting for lunch


Well after taking the convoy up to Luxor stopping at Kom Ombo & Edfu temples, we are now happily traipsing around the ancient capital of Egypt's "Golden Era".

On day one we wandered around the beautiful Luxor temple before hitting Karnak at midday to avoid the crowds. Our plan worked perfectly as there was only a handful of people there (mainly because it was 42*C, but we're in Egypt so what do you expect. It was great that Mel and I could just take our time looking at everything as I was a little rushed on my last visit here.

Yesterday we ventured over to the West Bank to check out some of the biggest attractions Egypt has to offer. First we stopped at the Colossi of Memnon before hitting the Ramesseum with it's huge fallen statue of none other than Ramses the Great. From here we then went into the Valley of the Kings where we check out the stunning tombs of Ramses I, Ramses III, Tutmoses III and Siptah.

It's common knowledge that there is no filming or photo's in any of the tombs. But guess what?...... You can only take photos outside the tombs, no filming! I found this out after getting dragged into the Directors office who demanded to see the last two minutes of my film. He then said "You have to pay 1000 Egyptian Pounds (250 AUD) or leave the tape here!" Well I couldn't leave the tape as it has footage from Karnak, Luxor and the rest of the day and I surely wasn't paying $250. So after some discussion with the men they agreed to let me delete the footage and then we could go.

On the way out Mel did mention that she had seen a sign stating that no video cameras were allowed but it must have slipped her mind.....

Mel next to the head & shoulders of Ramses at the Ramesseum

Martiana Jones

Marty at Edfu Temple

22 September, 2008

From Aswan to Abu Simbel

After a good-ish nights sleep on the overnight train from Cairo, we arrived into Aswan bright and early in the morning. After checking into our hotel which was located in one of the finest bomb sites of Aswan, we headed off to the Temple of Philae. After buying our ticket we made for the dock where the boats are waiting to take you out. But guess what? The boat trip isn't included. That's right, you have your ticket to the island but you can't actually get there unless you pay the crazy prices the boat captain's have agreed upon. Not wanting to pay 7 times more than we should we decided to wait for more people to arrive. After about 15 minutes of standing around we managed to team up with some Japanese backpackers and thus began the bidding war. I'm please to tell you that in the end it was Australia/Japan 1 - Egypt 0. Compared to Europe, these temples are in amazing condition. The Temple of Philae is over 2000 years old and the hieroglyphics are still so finely detailed with colour still to be seen in some places.

The next morning we woke at 3am to go out to Abu Simbel which is a 3 hour drive away. The 3 am start is due to the fact that you have to travel in a tourist convoy which is lead and followed by police the whole way because of some attacks that happened in Luxor in 1997. The trip went all right for the first 2 hours but all of a sudden our van started blowing black smoke everywhere and we had lost the convoy. Great security! Our van breaking down wasn't all bad news though. By the time we got to Abu Simbel all the other tourist buses were getting ready to leave so instead of the regular 1000 people, we were only competing with about 30. Coming home now that's a different story. Our van had finally shit itself. We were unable to get above 45 kilometers an hour and there was now more smoke than after the dinner bell at the end of a Ramadan evening. At this rate the 3 hour trip was looking like a 7 hour crawl. But from between the sand dunes appeared an Egyptian mirage. A 30 seater luxury coach with 26 seats available and the coldest aircon that would make even Ramses proud. Before we knew it we were back in Aswan and sound asleep. Good times, good times.

Felucca's drifting on the Nile in Aswan.

Mel in front of the colossal fallen head of Ramses at Abu Simbel.

Abu Simbel in all it's glory. And amazingly enough only 2 people in the photo.

18 September, 2008


Well it's our last night in Cairo and I must say I'm loving it just as much the second time around maybe even more. There is something about this place that is just so damn exotic. We were in the Cairo museum the other day looking at King Tut's Death Mask (as you do) when mel turned to me and said "this is just going to be great". Seeing her excited for all the same things that I love about Egypt makes the trip even better.

We have been out to the amazing Pyramids of Giza, the step Pyramid of Saqqara and the once great capital of Memphis. Today we saw a bit more of Cairo with a stop at Khan el-Khalili and then a climb to the top of the Cairo tower. We then treated ourselves to one of the best (and expensive) meals we've had this trip. We went five star all the way with a lovely evening at the Birdcage. A Thai restaurant inside the Intercontinental.

Life is good.

PS. I've also been offered 1500 camels for Mel but the good news is she's still with me. There's not enough camels in the world.

Mel taxi's it through the crazy Cairo streets. It may be safer than walking. We're not sure?

Marty shoots the giant Ramses statue.

15 September, 2008

The land of the Pharaohs

Well we touched down in Cairo yesterday and our fears about staying in an Egyptian hostel were quickly dissipated on check in when we got to the King Tut Hostel. Rooms are big, clean and more importantly have got crazy cold air conditioning. We also enjoyed a tasty hibiscus flower welcome beverage in the Bedouin style common room. We are in Egypt.

This of course became more apparent this morning as we made our way out to the Great Pyramid's of Giza with our taxi driver who recently retired from the rally car circuit. I thought the driving in Italy was bad but they are driving Miss Daisy compared to the Egyptians. Nevertheless we made it to the pyramids in one piece and they are amazing. The sheer size and scale that these were built on more than 4500 years ago just blows you away. You've seen them in photos and movies a million times, but as you drive up and see these giant structures loom up out of the sand it takes your breath away.

Can't wait for what's next!

No caption needed.

12 September, 2008


Well it's our last few hours in Cappadocia which we have both found one of the most relaxing places on this whole trip. This region in famous for its natural rock formations that have sheltered the local people for thousands of years.

Cappadocia is a lot different to everywhere else we've been in Turkey. Not only is the scenery completely different but it's been about 15*C with blue skies and has an Australian winter kind of feel about it. We went out to the Open Air Museum which was good but nothing like what we expected. We both thought it would be a natural rock formation kind of place but it was mostly about the churches and houses that the people have built inside these termite like mounds. One of our favourite spots that we found was called Love Valley. Check out the photo below to see how it got it's name.

Today we are flying back to Istanbul for one night and then we are off to the land of the Pharaohs for a few weeks. Turkey for us has been an amazing experience. The people are some of the friendliest in the world and that was not expected considering it's a Muslim country. The sites are breath taking with photo opportunities at every corner. The food has been great, the weather warm and the beer cold. What more can you ask for?

Love Valley, Cappadocia.

Hot Air Ballooning over Cappadocia.

09 September, 2008

Kas & Olympos

We are now in Olympos which I'm please to say is a backpackers paradise. We spent three days in Kas which unfortunately didn't live up to our expectations. I guess we always envisioned ourselves kicking back on the beach and just chilling out but as it turned out Kas is far too hot for any outdoor activities at all. The days were climbing up to a staggering 45*C and that was in the shade. We did do one of our planned day trips which was kayaking over the sunken city and around a few islands. This was fun and a complete full day but just for the future if someone tells you that kayaking 6 kilometers needs no experience and any fitness level can do then they are flat out lying. There wasn't that much time for a swim or a rest and the sunken city was not much more than a two or three house foundations partially submerged. Olympos on the other had is AMAZING! There are no tour groups here and there is a beautiful breeze that blows through the valley at all times of the day. It is also home to one of the best beaches in Turkey which I am pleased to say is not too busy considering. All is all I think we could both easily pull up here for a week or so longer but alas we are off to Goreme tomorrow on the overnight bus which we are super excited about.

So long

Sunset over Kas.

After walking 7 kms up hill in the 40*C heat with no water Mel is more than excited to have her photo taken. 1... 2... 3... say Chimera !

04 September, 2008


A last minute switch brought us to the town of Pamukkale. We had heard that the famous white travertines were not what you see on the postcards but thought we'd check it out ourselves. And it's true, the tarvertines have dried up a bit since the photos were taken in 1970, but the surrounding ancient ruins of Hierapolis more than made up for it. You would think that the best place to find ancient roman ruins would be in Rome, but no, it is here in Turkey funnily enough. They are on such as huge scale and are in such good condition, that it almost puts the Italian ones to shame. You can see everything from the theatre, to where they went to the toilet during the show. It made Pamukkale worth the trip.


Street leading thorugh the agora in Hierapolis

Mel explores the tombs of the hilltop Necropolis

Oh Troy!

Troy, Troy, Troy, Troy, Troy. Where do we start with Troy? No doubt most of you associate Troy with the dashing Brad Pitt and the somewhat questionable performance of Eric Bana, but let me tell you, it is the shit.

As you walk around the foundations of Troy your imagination starts to run wild with the ancient tales by Homer. Around the site there are actually 9 different Troy's, all built on top of each other and I must say this turned out to be an unexpected favourite of mine. The signposts around the area are fantastic. They show you where Achilles slayed Prince Hector and also where he chopped the head off the statue of Athena. I was picturing this all in wide screen Dolby surround sound and found myself chanting, "Hector!!! Hector!!!" more than a few times.

For me, this is an undeniable must see and definitely one of the greatest fact or fiction stories going. Visit yourself and you decide.



Well we didn't expect to feel too much emotion on our recent visit to Gallipoli, but to our surprise we both found it a very sad, touching and sombre affair. We've been to many war memorials and battlefields before, but it never hit home as much as Gallipoli due to the fact that it was here that so many Australians were killed in a pointless battle.

Our day started with a ferry ride across the Dardanelles and then a short 10 minute bus ride to the museum....which was closed due to the fact that we were there at the crack o' dawn to beat the crowds. From here we did a leisurely paced 5km walk which was scenic in it's own right. As the road winds around the coast you know you're getting close as bunkers start to appear under trees, on hills and even on the beach. After reading all the memorials and walking through the cemeteries we began to feel a deep sorrow for those who lost their lives. After 9 months they gained no ground, had over 500,000 deaths and not to mention the other 1,000 that died on the boat trip back home.

All in all we think it's a pilgrimage that every Australian should undertake whether you have any interest in the war or not. It makes you realise how lucky we are and what other Australians have sacrificed for our freedom.

Peace out

Marty & Mel at Anzac Cove

30 August, 2008

Gobble Gobble!

Well it's our last night in Istanbul and we've had an awesome time here. The sights are really beautiful, the food is great and the people are some of the friendliest we've ever met on all our travels. We've seen the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, the Whirling Dervish and the very cosmopolitan shopping areas. And the beauty of this place is that even though they are predominately Muslim, you can still have a beer with them! And in my books...that's tops.

Marty sinks his first Efes in Istanbul

The Blue Mosque....... looking yellow.

Marty whirling after 2 more Efes

27 August, 2008

It's Istanbul, Not Constantinople.

Well after days of anticipation we have finally made it to the land of the sultans. We arrived into Istanbul this morning after one hell of an overnight train ride. We left Thessaloniki at 7.37pm last night in our somewhat cramped but cosy sleeper cabin headed for Istanbul. After 2 hours of watching nothing but open plains pass we decided to call it a night and hit the hay. A few hours later there came a knocking at the door. We had reached the Greek border and they wanted our passports to check everything over. After 45 minutes of just sitting, we were handed our passports back and away we went. After drifting off to sleep, we were woken again 45 minutes down the road, but this time it was the Turkish immigration officer who needed our passport. This time we sat for an hour and a half due to homeless drunken stowaways hiding out under the bunk bed next door. Long story short, we're here in Istanbul now and are loving it.

Today we went into the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya and the Grand Bazaar and all this was on day 1. Stay tuned for day 2, 3 and 4.


P.S. We still can't figure out why it's 45 minutes from the Greek border to the Turkish border. Any help?

Aya Sofya in all her glory

24 August, 2008

We're Coming Home

Yes that's right blog fans, Marty & Mel are coming home. Well soon anyway. We have booked everything in including our flight home. This is the plan.

We leave tomorrow night for Istanbul, Turkey where we will be travelling around until 15 September. We then fly to Cairo, Egypt where we spend 16 days drifting through the sands of time before hitting Dubai in the U.A.E for 2 nights and then taking on the craziness that is India for 3 weeks. We'll then finish off our epic adventure in where it all began, Asia. After a few weeks travelling through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos & Malaysia we will fly out for home on the 3rd of December arriving into the Gold Coast the morning of the 4th. I hear you say "why the hell are they flying into the Gold Coast". Well at just $298 direct from Kuala Lumpur you can't say no.

So long... for a little while anyway.


Well we are now in the small town of Kalambaka which is about a 5 hour train ride north of Athens. We've stopped here for one night to visit the 6 surviving monasteries on the surrounding hill tops.

What an amazing place. They have no idea how they were built but they do know that the were built around the year 1350 AD. They're just not sure how they got the building materials up there.

Only a one night stop but worth it if you have the time.

One of the 6 surviving hill top monasteries

Beats collecting spoons

22 August, 2008

The Road Less Traveled, The Peloponnese

Well we have made it back from the Peloponnese alive. Maybe not well, but alive. After a mammoth effort to make the most of our rail pass & save money we made it to Nafplion in the record time of 7.5 hours. Yes that's right, the trip that should only take 2.5 took us 7.5.

After 2 trains, 1 taxi and a bus we arrived into the beautiful Venetian styled town of Nafplion. Nafplion is a small town on the coast which is just dripping with beauty. The cobblestone streets are lined with shops, cafes, restaurants and charm. The town is overlooked by the fortress of Palamidi which I am happy to say we climbed the 857 steps to check out the breathtaking view.

On our stay in the Peloponnese we ventured up to Mycenae to check out the ancient sights of some of Greece's oldest civilisations. We did a cruise out to two of the islands, Hydra and Spetses to swim and check out the beautiful white washed towns. And of course no trip is complete with out 3 days of food poisoning. Just me though not Mel so I guess it could of been worse. I did however get to catch up on CNN and what has been happening in the world since we last looked.

All in all it was a very relaxing time. We are now back in Athens for one night. Tomorrow we leave for the small town of Kalambaka for one night and then on to Thessaloniki for one night. Then we are off to the lands of the Turks on an overnight train.

Take Care for now

M&M xx

Mel in the Aegean. It's a hard luck life!

Marty is just so happy at the ancient sights of Mycenae

The picture postcard town of Nafplion

16 August, 2008

Acropolis Now. It's all Greek to me!

Well we're finished with pizza and pasta and we've moved on to the souvlaki and gyros. And it's a tasty change! We've been in Athens for 3 days now and so far we're loving the food (we'll let you know in a week how we feel).

Athens is a really cool city. It's our first time here and so far we love it. On the way to getting some souvlaki you walk past some discarded columns along the side of the road that are about 2500 years old. Pretty crazy stuff. We went up to the Acropolis and checked out the Parthenon which is under some reconstruction but it's still awesome. There's also a lot of other temples and theatres around the Acropolis to explore but I think my favourite would have been the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The thing was apparently the size of a football field and there's only 15 of the 100 or so columns left but they are just soooo huge. It's pretty mind blowing to think that they could have erected something of this scale so many years ago without all our modern day technology.

Tomorrow we're off to Nafplio in the Peloponnese which is meant to be one of the prettiest towns in all of Greece. It's on the water so I'm hanging out for a swim as it's still a balmy 38*C here. Sizzle sizzle souvlaki.

The Parthenon on the Acropolis
The Temple of Olympian Zeus