Ivan's travels experiences... London to Crete

Wednesday 22
Fine most of the day wet however tonight, went out to see a old photography friend, was one of the premier studios, possibly still is, this morning, two of his kids now live in a overseas country and they have a holiday home there.
His wife was much the same a little older.

He was telling me on my first visit I told him his business card was no good (I tell almost everyone that) and his pricelist was no good as if I wanted to spend £1000 I could not. Since then he of course put his` prices up many times and has a Royal appointment to do the group photos at the palace of all of the functions that the queen has, he said it is like doing school photos.

He has a new COLOUR business card with an OLD email address he did not realize it was old till I asked him about it, now he will have to get them reprinted!!!!

They travel quite a lot but are waiting till the retire before they do any big travel

Told them what Stuart was doing and of course his wife said that would not work here after he had said it earlier!

He is drifting downwards slowly which surprises me perhaps me telling him that may make him do something about it, there is one thing to know that it happening and another thing to have someone tell you

Evidently I told another London photographer that with that pokey little studio he had, he would never get big, after I said that he got a big studio.

Interesting the shit I stir up as I wander around, I often think these successful studios should get me to come in and tell them what I see wrong with them once a year, of course that may be to much of a shock to their nervous system and it is probably better to drift on unaware of things. It was interesting that they have the same problems as I see everywhere, and why not, the world is now a village, so the problems are the same everywhere.

They have people complaining about price, and whose fault is that the photographers and their Assn's who have not educated the public as to what they are paying for when they buy photography.

With his Royal photography he needs a public handout that is given to the people telling them what to expect, and what it will cost and why, OK he will still get complaints but not as many.

If you are ever thinking of working in London go down to the underground at 6pm, which I did, see to full train pull in with a equal number waiting on the platform and stand back and see what it is like as it leaves the station it makes the traffic jams of Auckland look good, spoke to a person who went on a bus tour yesterday and they counted the light change to green five times before the got thro the first set of lights, and that is after the £5 a day toll to take your car into London City.

No to get me to live in and around London, first they would have to change the weather and reduce the congestion, and as neither of those things will happen I am safe making that offer.

Thursday 22
Spoke to a taxi driver who was telling me that there are over 25,000 taxi's in the city of London, which of course explains why almost every vehicle you see is a taxi. People cross on the don't cross signs at the trucks and buses all speed up when the see this and enter the crossing with all horns blasting, it is a wonder more are not killed, I have seen some trucks moving VERY fast thro a crossing and the people JUST make it.

Today I was crossing, on a green cross signal, and I noticed a truck heading directly for me, stepping back the truck hurled past at too high a speed and the driver shouted "F##k off", guess this is a type of frustration with the high density of traffic in London, glad I do not have to handle this on a daily basis.

Visited with Wayne Platt this afternoon, last year I met him in Paris where he told me he was discovering himself, well illness drove him back to England and he is getting ready to start work again when he gets off the 13 pills he has to pop every morning. Showed me he sample book and I was pleasantly surprised, he is VERY good, specializes in glamour photography, that is the photos for the adverts for lipstick, eyeliner and all the other things that goes on a woman's face and you have to know how to light the skin, how to features the lips, etc., it is quite a business served in London by about 20 -30 specialist photographers, a much small group than in the fashion end of the business. Looking at his work I would expect him to go far.

Well this youth hostel business I can always say now that I have tried it! I am in a four berth room. Night one, me, night two, a Indian returning to India from Canada, night three, a Kiwi brickie returning to NZ after 22 months in UK, I wondered about his age so asked him, thought he was very close to my age, he was 54, I told him I could give him 14 years, poor guy got a hell of a shock as he thought I was his age, of course I have had a soft job all my life where he has been outside in everything.
Night four, a young professor from Florida in UK during the school break to do research, and a doctor from Iowa, of course there are two types of Americans both talk of money one on how much they have and the other on how much things cost, he of course was the latter, talked how the cost of the flight from Iowa was more expensive that from Chicago to London, how full the plane was, how they should work on London time the minute you get on board and so it went on and on. I thought I would shut him up with the length of the flight from NZ but no he had been on a bus for that long….. and he snores, so I took a sleeping pill.

However to be fair at breakfast the teacher who sat at the same table spoke to some NZers a the next table and the Kiwis were busy discussing where you could get the cheapest meals around to hostel so we can be as bad, or some of us!

London your clothes get damp and this dampness stays with you all the time and a tourist, guess the locals can dry things out a bit every day.

This toll on the cars entering Central London is working very well Wayne & I were walking thro this area and there was very little traffic, before Wayne said you would not be able to cross the street for nose to tail traffic.

Friday 23
Walked over to the Barbican tube station, a good walk that took a couple of hours or so, took my camera with me and got a few images of the women in the street and the way they dress, had a glance at them and there was quite a lot of movement in them which of course is natural with the level of light here yesterday, yes I could have rated the digital at a higher DIN rating but I prefer to work at the one setting.

I met up with Angie, (the 24 yr old Polish lass, keen photographer who is studying to be a interpreter, who I met three years ago in India), her cousin and friend, and William, Asian investment banker, currently looking for work. At the Barbican we spent time at a photo exhibition by Sebastião Salgado a well known international photographer who had presented a series of 350 photos on the refugee situation around the world. It was interesting that the portraits of all the children, while to me looked stifled, none were sharp at the eyes, sharp in other parts of the pictures, I found this disappointing, particularly as he seemed to be using the wide angle end of the range of lenses.

Never the less we spent about two to three hours looking at the range of photos.

Before we went in we saw a mother duck with three little ducklings then all of a sudden another appeared dropping, as it was, out of the sky landing on it back and as we went to turn it over the mother duck attacked us. It appears as if they had a nest three stories up on the building and the way to the ground was to do a bungi jump without the bungi! It is interesting that they are light enough to fall without hurting themselves, the last one down could appeared not to be able to stand or walk, then a shop keeper came with a box picked them up and took them to the water a few steps away, they all swam away and the mother duck lead them all to a small waterfall and over it they all went safely, guess they call that tough love.

Them back to the hostel to get the laptop, stopped at a pub to get a pub dinner, Angie and I had the normal long intense conversation that we always have, then back to Williams apartment to view the images, Wow I do have a lot of images of women and the way they are dressed, may have to edit them down!

Angie was off then to see a boy friend and I wandered back to the full room at the hostel and the snorer!

Saturday 24
10am off out to Gatwick, booked into the hotel attached to the airport, bloody expensive, then looked at the Tie Rack for bow ties, they had one and then I recalled more at Euston Station so went for a ride into there, bought five to add to my collection, back to finish off this newsletter while I have a internet connection, tomorrow I return to Munich in the morning and I will front up to the "last minute travel" and see where I can go that afternoon, so you will have to wait along with me to see where I go!

Sunday 25 May
Well in my last newsletter I had booked into the hotel at Gatwick so I awoke at 6am dressed and walked over the connecting bridge to the Airport, yesterday the woman at BA said today would be busy, busy it was to get to counter E they sent you out onto the footpath to join the queue, it then doubled back in a large U inside in another walkway then went thro the original doorway they send us thro to join the queue and then on in a Disney land Zigzag till the counter was reached about one hour after joining the line.

Then you queued to go thro Xray and after that it was plain sailing. The problem with this weekend is that Monday is a Bank holiday AND mid term break.

So I arrived in Munich at 1 pm and headed straight to the "Last minute tours counters" most could not help me with tours for today as most tours had left this morning before I arrived, one could send me to Turkey and finally I found one that could send me to Crete, that is on my list of places to go, close to Greece, and Santorini is only a few miles away.

So that was easy to buy a ticket, no queue's, good plane and I got a return ticket for a month away, which I can always throw away if things get interesting. It was a 2.5 hour flight, on arrival I went to the booth that seems to always be in the airports and booked a hotel room at  45 (DBB) at Platanias 6tkms from Rethimnon for three nights, Crete is quite a big island with it taking six hours to drive from one end to the other.

A taxi to the hotel was an expensive option at 50E but I did not feel like struggling with buses and suitcases at 8pm. I arrive just before the evening meal was off so dashed in and grabbed a bite to eat, took the bags to the room and went for a walk. This part of Crete was full of Germans and all the signs were in German, it will be interesting to see other parts of the island to see if they cater for other countries.

Rental cars seem like a good option and the best I have found so far is 200E for 10 days. No internet café's that I can find, can not connect to the interned thro the ancient telephone system, and for those of you that would like photos included in this newsletter the two finger typing of these take enough of my time as it is, let alone the cost of sending a large time WHEN I can find a internet connection for my laptop.

Monday 26
Went for a walk into Rethimnon 6 kms away it was quite a easy walk with housing and shops all the way, all of the beach front had tourist accommodation with more being built. Miles and miles of beaches in this part of the island all with tourists being gently (mostly) browned going thro all the stages of red in the process. As usual those going topless should have been the ones covering up.

It is interesting that the hordes descend on these islands for two weeks, lie on the beach for most of this time, eat more that they should and return home convinced they have had a good time, guess when the rest of the world is mad it is time to start to look at yourself!!!

Booked a small rental car for 10 days starting Wednesday and will wander around the island, I think these 10 days will be just a looking visit to see what is here, with a deeper look after this, or some other time.

Most of the Europeans here adhere to the beautiful old custom of dressing for dinner, yes the ladies wear beautiful high heeled shoes, don't ask me what the men are wearing!!!!

Someone emailed me saying they cannot wait to see these beautiful women I have been photographing and why do I not include some photos in my newsletters.

Well dealing with the first point, apart from the fact that the Ukrainian women are very slim and that could be because they work up to a 14 hour day for about $5 a day I would guess they wake up every morning like every woman around the world, but they put on makeup and nice clothes and nice shoes before they go out, given an exposure to the NZ clobbering machine they would probably conform to NZ custom after a while, do not get me wrong I love NZ, I just ignore most of the stupid things that happen and march to MY drummer.

Newsletters, they do take a little of my time, I do them because I enjoy them, what I do not enjoy is trying to find some way of connecting my laptop to a phone line and paying the big bucks for doing so and for the time on line. So sorry there will be no photos because of the extra time they would take putting the whole thing together and the size of the file to be transmitted.

Tuesday 27
The only tour I could get today beside a five hour walk thro a Gorge was a trip on a "Road train" (it looks like a train but is driven on a road, larger than a Kids one that you sometimes see) to a village called Maroulas about 30 minutes into the hills behind this town. It was OK and I made some interesting photos, the main event seemed to be a village shop that made oils and things to cure most things, it did a very good trade and took up most of the time.

Then it was onto the back of a VW truck to go up the hill to a restaurant that had a panorama view, like most of these views the haze spoiled the photo possibilities. Back to the starting point some four hours later and it was time to walk the 6kms to the internet Café to clear 58 messages, 54 Spam 4 for me! What is going to happen to email? They will have to do something about all of this spam.

Back to the hotel to work on this & look at the photos done today. I like the digital camera for this reason.

Wednesday 28 Day one Rental car mileage 201 kms
Collected the rental car for the next ten days and headed west, tonight I am at Kissamos in a studio apartment 25E with the largest king size bed I have ever seen.

The car is the smallest Darwoo made which is just as well as some of the roads I went on today were narrow and some rough. I headed out to as far as I could go on the main network of roads and ended up at a small seaside settlement called Sfinari, had lunch there at one of the six restaurants in the town and one of the three on the beach, I sat at a table almost right on the edge of the sea and picked the bones out of a piece of swordfish, it was rather nice and peaceful with just the noise of the waves breaking, the bay was called Sunset Bay. To get to it was a rather long almost one way road but it was well worth the effort.

It would be a great place at sunset with a glass of champagne and some soft music!!

After lunch I backtracked a bit and went about 5 kms off the main road thro lots of olive trees to a village on the edge of a cliff, it had a sign on a road that disappeared over the edge indicating that a establishment down below at, I would assume was sea level, by the name "Waves on the Rock" so down I went 2 kms then another 1km of rough shingle road to find this two story house on the water front kilometers from the nearest neighbor, a wonderful place if you want to get away from it all, reasonably priced.

Back to the apartment, evening meal in the town then down to the waterfront to the internet café to rid my letter box of all the spam again, then to finish my coke sitting in the café as the sun set over the waves that were gently rolling in.

Thursday 29 mileage total 525Kms from start Day two of rental

Tonight at Mirtos at hotel B&B 25E, checking in she saw the NZ passport and commented "WE love the NZer's" this was from the 1940's over 60 years ago and she could not have been 40 herself…interesting.

Drove back to Platanias but took a wrong turning and ended up going thro the down town of Hania, that took forever to move thro and then it was a matter of finding the correct road to go inland, it was raining very hard, sheets of rain, water piling up everywhere unable to get away, going thro these villages with just a one way broad running thro and large puddles of water, it was interesting to say the least.

These long drives give you plenty of time to thing and examine what you are doing and why, the unfortunate bit is that sometimes you do not like the answer.

The last time I have had a rental I wrote off the front passengers side tire, did that again at about 5pm drove over a sharp rock, and as I heard the bump thought that's done it and I was right, guess I will have to fix that tomorrow.

Got lost three times the problem is that all the road signs look like they are in Greek to me, might as well be double Dutch, but I asked directions once to find out if I was on the right road, the nice young lady told me I was.

By the time of arriving here the rain had stopped so I was able to walk down to the waterfront and have dinner with the roar of the full sea, very peaceful. Tried some Raki that the restaurant make themselves and some questionable red wine that was better left in the cask.