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Les Talk, More Travel

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Leslie

I’m Leslie (Les Talk!): an introvert (Less Talk!) who is also super gay (Lez Talk!), and loves to travel (More Travel)! Les Talk, More Travel is about local and international adventures for intrepid queers, lovers of the Pacific Northwest, and other interested humans!

Victoria BC Day Trip: How to Cycle to Sea Cider

Not every bike ride has to have a boozy reward at the end… but you have to admit, it’s nice when it does! Cycling the Lochside Trail to Sea Cider is probably my favourite bike ride close to Victoria. It’s flat, the changing scenery is interesting, and… you already know it… cider! Delicious, local, organically-grown, refreshing cider.

Start at: the beginning of the Lochside Trail, at the Switch Bridge by Uptown Mall. You can also make your way to Borden and McKenzie, and hop on the trail there (follow the bike path north on Borden, towards Lochside Drive). From the start of the Lochside Trail at the Switch Bridge, this bike ride is about 38 km roundtrip, or just over an hour each way, depending on your speed.

What will you see along the way? The Lochside Trail will quickly have you feeling like you’re far from the city; soon after you cross McKenzie, you’ll start to pass farms! Depending on the time of year, many of them will have stands along the trail, so be sure to bring some cash and leave room in your saddle bags (or belly). You’ll meader along Lochside Drive through the upscale Cordova Bay neighbourhood, where you can check out the plants on landscaped lawns, and where gaps between homes give you glimpses of the ocean and mainland mountains.

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Naxos: One Day in the Traditional Mountain Villages

Naxos is the largest and most fertile island in Greeces Cyclades, and it’s home to dozens of traditional villages. Many of these villages are known for something unique, like olive oil from the surrounding groves, or architecture left over from the Byzantine era.

Partway through our week-long stay on Naxos, we rented an ATV to zoom up into the mountains and visit some of the villages. You could easily spend more time in one or several of the villages; all of the ones we visited would have been charming and relaxing places to stay a few days. Because our time on Naxos was beach-focused (since it came at the end of a month of constantly moving around Iceland, Scotland, Kos, Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini), a day trip worked best for us. If you also have limited time, one day is perfect to get a glimpse of village life. If you don’t want to rent a car/ATV, you can choose one village and take the bus (more rides during high season, grab a copy of the schedule in Naxos Chora).

This was our route:

Read more about the villages

Santorini: How to Stay out of the Crowds in Oia

While we’re on the topic of social distancing… let’s talk about how to stay out of the crowds in Oia, Santorini, one of the most crowded places I’ve ever been to! With all the day trippers coming in from Fira (on the other side of the island) and off cruise ships to check an Oia sunset off their bucket lists, staying on this end of Santorini can feel a little intense. Oia is small, which means that the narrow pedestrian streets fill up quickly. Step out to grab a bite in the middle of the day, or – you brave soul – around sunset time, and you’ll be jostled along in a steady stream of tourists. When you do venture out to watch the sunset, you’ll be competing for space with thousands of other photo-hungry visitors who also want to enjoy the view without a stranger’s head in their romantic pictures.

If you’re daydreaming about a trip and have some flexibility in when you can take a vacation, I would imagine that shoulder season would be the ideal time to go. If, like me, you have to travel during high season, you can absolutely have a good experience!

We managed to stay in Oia in August AND love our time on Santorini. I did find the crowds stressful, but we found ways to either avoid or embrace them. Here are some suggestions for staying out of the stampede in Oia:

Jump to: accommodation, exploring alleyways, Amoudi Bay, a day in Fira, embracing the crowds at sunset, dinner reservations.

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Australian Working Holiday: Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Packing Oranges

Looking for information about picking oranges on a working holiday visa? Click here.

Throwback post! In July 2009, I was living in a tiny, rural town along the Murray River in South Australia, working a citrus-packing job at a large shed. Some of my hostelmates and I were on the arvo shift (arvo = afternoon = 4:30 pm – 1:30 am), working 6 nights a week, so life was weird! After a couple months there, I decided to “update my resume” with some of the skills I picked up at the factory:

Packing

What is it? Packing basically consists of hand-packing fruit into boxes (or occasionally bags for Woolworths). After being sorted, citrus fruits come flying down into bins we pack out of. The way the fruits are arranged in the box depends on the count, displayed on a small screen above the bin. Sometimes we have to weigh the boxes, which usually means lining up in front of the scale holding 14.5-15.1 kilos of fruit. All quite riveting, I know! It can get exciting though, when we switch from oranges to lemons or tangelos! I’ve even been able to take home the occasional bag of limes or grapefruits.

Skills:
* Multitasking: It takes a bit of effort to master the art of packing while imagining you are doing something infinitely more interesting (i.e. anything else). It’s also important to make sure that your hands are moving at the same speed as usual when chatting to the person next to you, in case the supervisor is lurking nearby.
* Time management: If a bin looks like it’s almost empty when I start packing, I work slowly. Otherwise, I’ll have to be creative coming up with ways to look busy when I’m finished packing. On the other hand, if a bin is ridiculously full, I pack quickly to avoid being stuck in the same place all night.
* Space management: It’s tough to squeeze obese oranges into a box, but even harder when the pack is loose and I’m trying to hold onto 14 oranges at once while setting the next layer on top.
*Ability to slow/stop time: Yeah I’m pretty sure time has actually stopped a couple of times!

Best part: Sometimes we pretend to smuggle the fruit out, Mission Impossible-style, even though we can just ask and take it home!

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Mykonos in High Season: For Budget Backpackers, Bougie Babes, or Both?

Bougie, budget, or both? Mykonos has a reputation for being expensive. Not $$ expensive… more like $$$$$ expensive! I’m here to report that it’s… mostly true 😦 Mykonos CAN be very expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are lavish ways to experience it, but there are more frugal ways too! Read on for bougie vs. budget Mykonos: beaches, food and drink, accommodation, gay bars, and getting around!

Beaches:

If you’re going to Mykonos, there’s no doubt you’ll want to hit up some of the beaches! On our two-night stay, we had time for one beach day, and chose to go to Super Paradise because it’s right next to Jackie O’s (gay) Beach Club.

Bougie: Rent a set of beach chairs, order a pitcher of sangria and a plate of food, live the life of luxury! According to the internet, prices can vary wildly for beach chairs, depending on when and where you go. I’ll admit I was super naive: after our time on Kos, I knew Mykonos would be a bit more expensive, but foolishly hoped that we wouldn’t have to pay more than 10€. Bahahah! Our first quote was 55€ for two “front row” chairs, 50€ for the next two rows, or 40€ for the rest! Yikes. We settled on a pair at the other end of the beach (by Jackie O’s) for 35€ – a bargain if you ask me! For this price, you get a guaranteed patch of shade on a golden Medditerranean beach, and comfy chairs to lounge/dry off on for the day. A pitcher of sangria will set you back 35€, a burger 20€, a plate of calamari 17€. Phew – these prices stressed me out!

Budget: Find yourself a patch of sand, set up your towel, BYO shade if you can. BYO beer and snacks! This option works if you’re not planning to be there for long, don’t mind moving around a bit, or if you have a good way to stay shady. You could also try going early morning and snagging a chair before the crowds arrive and you get kicked off.

In between: Get a chair and BYO everything else. We tried this but felt kind of awkward with people aggressively providing service… so we ordered Sangria and then refilled our glasses “subtly” with our backpack beer.

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Sombrio Beach: Day Trip from Victoria

Visiting one (or more) of the beaches along the Juan de Fuca coast on Vancouver Island is the perfect way to spend a day trip from Victoria. While they each have unique draws (e.g. Mystic Beach starts with a great hike through the forest, Botanical is known for its tide pools and rock formations), they’re also similar enough that you could spend the day at any one of them without fear of missing out. Heads up: if you have a rental car, Sombrio may not be the best choice for you! Read on. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to head to Sombrio Beach for the day:

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Athens: 4 Unique Ways to Experience the Acropolis

The Acropolis (the hill)/Parthenon (the main structure) is an obvious must-see on most folks’ trips to Athens, but what’s not immediately obvious is how to experience it. Sure, you could hop off your city tour bus, give it a walk-through, and move on to the next site on your list. If that brings you travel joy, go for it! We loved getting a sense of Athens and the Parthenon from a few different vantage points, so I present to you: Athens’ Acropolis, 4-ways! Zany, up-close, romantic, and historical!

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Stopover on Kos: One Day on the Island

On our journey from Edinburgh to Athens, we found ourselves with the relatively cheaper option of flying through Kos, a Greek Island in the Dodecanese group. Skyscanner was giving us flights arriving into Kos late at night and leaving for Athens early in the morning, but after finding multiple flights per day from Kos to Athens, we decided to buy two separate flights and spend our first day in Greece on an island!

Since we were arriving late, we opted to stay at an Airbnb by the airport in Antimachia, a literal 4 minute drive away (our host picked us up). If you’re staying in Kos town, buses travel from the airport during the day, but after 7 or 8:30 pm you’ll have to take a taxi.

We were staying at a home in the countryside, so our evening plans consisted of watching episodes of UNHhhh and trying to get some sleep (hard because we were now melting after a chilly week in Edinburgh)! Kos Town might be a better choice for you if you’re looking for some nightlife.

We had a 5:30 pm flight the next day so we had almost an entire day to spend at the beach! You have your choice of sandy beaches on Kos, but it was an easy decision for us: lovely and popular Kardemena beach was very close to where we were staying. Our host very nicely dropped us off at the KTEL bus stop at the airport, and €2 and 10 minutes later, we were at beautiful Kardemena!

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How to Enjoy Edinburgh in the Rain

It rained almost the entire week I was in Edinburgh in July. Most days, it poured! A little rain didn’t put a damper on things though. Would it have been better in the sun? I drought it! (Ok… it obviously would have been a little better not having to peel off sopping wet pants every time I got back to the AirBnb, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the city!)

Heads up: this isn’t a list of indoor activities. I’m assuming that if you’ve found your way to Edinburgh, you want to see more than the inside of buildings. These are ideas for places to duck into when it’s really pouring, and things to enjoy no matter the weather, so dress appropriately!

Here we go! 13 ways to enjoy Edinburgh in the rain:

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