On the same day as the London 2012 Olympic Games closing ceremony, we visited the stadium where the first Modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. The Panathinaiko Stadium otherwise known as Kalimarmaro, is a glorious ancient monument in central Athens with the Parthenon as it’s backdrop.
Entrance to the stadium is a very reasonable 3 Euro with children under 6 free! The audio tour is also free and a must do! The audio is clear and the information invaluable.
The stadium itself is the only stadium constructed out of marble. Originally built in 566BC it had wooden seating and then in 329BC it was rebuilt in marble thanks to a very generous benefactor. The stadium eventually fell into disrepair with much of the seating ending up underground. In 1896, it was rebuilt and restored thanks to the funds provided by Evangelis Zappas and George Averoff but we owe the resurrection of the Olympic Games to the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
Walking around the stadium you come across an entrance to a tunnel. Walking up the tunnel, there’s some welcome relief to the heat as you imagine that you are walking in the footsteps of so many athletes entering the stadium to the roar of the crowd. Towards the end of the tunnel we enter an area where flat screen TVs are playing highlights from past Olympic games and on the walls, you can read all about the history of the Olympics in ancient Greece and the stadium itself.
This leads into another room where the walls are lined with the torches of the past Olympiads. It’s so fascinating that we spent quite a bit of time looking at them! Below is the torch of the London Olympiads of 1948 and 2012 and also the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch!
Everyone who visits the stadium seems to want to do a lap on the track and imagine what it would feel like… my kids included!
And the Gold Medal goes to…….
After soaking in the history, it’s time to sit down under the olive trees and soak up some hydration… and there’s heaps on offer including an ouzo if the fancy takes you! We opted for the granita! Yum!
This trip to Greece included a visit to the Ionian island of Kefalonia (Cephalonia). Contrary to the islands of the Aegean which are quite rocky and arid, the islands of the Ionian sea are lush and green. Italian influences can be found in the architecture but the food and beaches are pure Greece.
Kefalonia is a very large island and boasts it’s own international airport and two ports. In order to take our rental car across to the island, we caught a ferry from Kyllini on the mainland and after a 11/2 hour trip, we arrived at the port of Poros. Hotel Leivatho is a good 45 minutes to an hour’s drive from the port and is conveniently located 15 minutes from the town of Argostoli.
Upon our arrival at the hotel, we were greeted with a drink of our choice and ice cream for the kids and were allowed to sit by the pool while we were checked in. Much appreciated as we were quite tired and dusty by this stage! It also allowed us to take in a first glimpse of our new home for the next 6 days and we weren’t disappointed. The view of the Ionian sea is superb, the island air refreshing and the pool very inviting!
Hotel Leivatho boasts contemporary architecture whilst incorporating traditional building techniques like the use of sandstone which is widespread on the island.This fusion of the old and the new is achieved with success and the effect is very unique and aesthetically pleasing.
Facilities include the infinity edge pool, a table tennis table (which we forgot to use… duh!) and a bar open until midnight daily. The buffet breakfast is adequate (although on the days we were there there was one day when the bread and croissants were quite stale) but for a very new hotel this is an area that will surely be improved upon!
Avithos beach is a short stroll from the hotel and boasts an organized beach with two taverns and a bar for coffees, drinks and icecreams. Although you can have a very comfortable and relaxing holiday at Hotel Leivatho, I would recommend hiring a car for your stay in order to explore the island at your leisure. However, if driving in Greece is not your thing, there are plenty of day trips (including a visit to the must see Melissani Cave), cruises and excursions that the team at the hotel would be happy to help you organize too.
All in all, Hotel Leivatho was a beautiful hotel, in a stunning location with great hospitality and I would recommend it to anyone!
Destination weddings can be so much fun when they’re close to home and show off the patriotic beauty of Australia! Megan and Andrew headed to North Stradbroke island for their wedding extravaganza and invited their guests from Australia and Scott to join them!
Megan tells their story. “Andrew and I met through work, a friendship that turned into romance over time… in the end I couldn’t resist his cheeky sense of humour and his fabulous Scottish accent. We are both adventurous and love to travel.
Andrew and I chose North Stradbroke Island because it has special meaning to us both, having lived in the Redlands most of my life ‘Straddie’ was like my second home. And one of the first dates Andrew took me on was to Stradbroke. He wanted to share with me the one place in Australia he found, which he thought was amazing (another thing we both found we had in common).”
David Ferguson Photography captured today’s wedding and if every sunset is as beautiful as David captures it, then I could happily live life through his camera lens!
Andrew and his groomsmen paid homage to Andrew’s Scottish heritage with traditional Scottish attire. Megan explains, “Although we are both beach lovers it was very important to us that Andrew’s ancestry and Scottish background was woven into the wedding. We bought the kilt from Heritage Of Scotland and his jacket I hired from Highland House.
Our love of travel is one of the strongest qualities we have in common and the groom’s shoes were actually picked up at lovely little shop tucked away in Camden Market London. It was during my first trip to the UK and Andrew’s home of Scotland last year. The shoes were a one off and fitted so perfectly that we carried them around for the whole trip so he could wear them a year later.”
Megan and Andrew hired Bespoke Occasions to help them plan their wedding day, Bespoke Occasions also put together the wedding bouquets, Megan remarks “I wanted to keep the flowers simple and pretty with a vintage theme so chose Babies Breath for all elements throughout the wedding. The bouquets, buttonholes and reception flowers were all styled and organised by Bespoke Occasions.”
Megan did her hair herself, explaining “I am constantly updating my own hairstyles and trying new trends and I can often be found on Youtube and Pinterest gathering tips and tricks for new looks. In true ‘DIY bride’ style I decided to do my own hair on the day as well as all the other the girls with the help of a family friend. To make sure the day would be a stress free experience we had a few trial runs beforehand over a bottle of wine.” She wore a gown from Bi Bowden Bridal.
Megan and Andrew chose Point Lookout at North Stradbroke Island for their wedding ceremony, Megan explains “We are BIG fans of the beach and always knew we would hold our wedding ceremony near the water. Point Lookout at North Stradbroke Island has a special place in our heart as we are avid scuba divers and have spent many holidays there. There was never any question that it would be the perfect place for us to exchange our vows.”
The homage to Andrew’s heritage continued with a bagpiper performing during the ceremony. Megan remembers, “Pipers are traditional elements of Scottish celebrations in particular weddings. To acknowledge Andrew’s heritage and all of the Scottish guests we organised a piper through the Redlands Scottish Celtic Society to play at the beginning of the ceremony and again during the signing of the wedding certificate.” As Megan walked down the aisle, the piper played “Amazing Grace”.
Megan’s bridesmaids all wore black gowns of their choice. Megan explains, “I wanted everyone to feel relaxed and comfortable on our special day so the bridesmaids were given a colour to stick with and were allowed to let their imagination run wild! This allowed them to choose a dress that suited their style and personality. The flowers girl’s outfits were lovingly made by my wonderful Aunt.”
Megan remarks “I have to say the people in our lives made the day amazing, having Andrew’s family and friends fly in from Scotland along with everyone here just made it the biggest celebration, we all spent a few days before and after the wedding on Stradbroke so it was almost like a great big holiday that everyone attended.”
Of their photographer, Megan says “David Ferguson was simply amazing! I knew from the first contact with him that he would portray our special day perfectly. As a budding photographer myself it was vital to me that I found a photographer who could capture the magic of the day naturally and in an organic way rather than set up and posed. David was easy going, organised and completely put us all at ease. I would highly recommend him to anyone.”
Megan and Andrew continued celebrations with their guests at La Foccacia. Megan explains, “We kept our guest list to an intimate number of family and friends some of which travelled from Scotland and Europe to be with us on the day. It was very important to us to select a reception venue that would provide a warm welcoming atmosphere that people could mingle in. We selected La Focaccia (restaurant located on Home Beach at Point Look Out) as it provided an amazing venue for our special day. The food was delicious.
La Focaccia is perfectly made for intimate celebrations. It’s a clean and crisp space with hardwood floors and beautiful large bi-fold windows that are sea facing. Jo (the owner) is one amazing lady, she gave us so much freedom with the menu and couldn’t have been more flexible and accommodating. We were able to access the venue from 8am in the morning allowing myself and Hannah from Bespoke Occasions an early set up. The reception was planned to finish at 11pm however Jo was having such a great time with all our guests the party went on until 1am when the final guests left the dance floor.”
Wedding favors were packaged in sleek black boxes explains Megan. Traditional homemade Scottish shortbread was lovingly made by a Scottish friend and shaped into hearts. This was gift boxed with personalised tea bags as a ‘night cap’ for guests to take home.”
The majority of the wedding was DIY! I really wanted the wedding to feel like us, and enjoyed making and putting together special touches such as twine balls, lanterns and the personalised tea bags for the gift boxes. I did a lot of research so I had a clear vision of what I liked. We chose venues that were naturally stunning and fitted our vintage style theme. I discussed the vision I had with Hannah at Bespoke Occasions and we incorporated special touches such as old books from second hand shops on the table and black and white photos of places we’ve visited as part of the table numbers. Family and friends all put their hands up to make the cakes, favours, flower girl dresses etc and it was a true labour of love.
Th guests dined on red velvet cupcakes for dessert. Megan recalls “The cupcakes were made by a talented friend Vanessa Lang who I met backpacking through Vietnam. She made Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese icing as well as vanilla and fresh raspberry cupcakes with vanilla cream icing. The cupcakes were displayed on vintage books and cake stands by Bespoke Occasions as a ‘Love is Sweet, Take a Treat’ dessert buffet.”
Something different for a guest book too! “As I am an avid reader Hannah from Bespoke Occasions came up with the wonderful idea of using an old dictionary as a guest book, having guests choose and circle a word they felt described our day and they then left a personal message. This matched perfectly with the vintage feel and guests had a great time thinking of and finding words to use. This is something I will treasure from the day.”
To ensure a fantastic dance party, Megan says “As part of the wedding invitation guests were asked to choose one song that was guaranteed to get them on the dance floor. Playlists were then compiled for after dinner once the real party started. Some of my fondest memories of the night is watching everyone leap up and dash to the dance floor once their song came on!”
Congratulations on your marriage Megan and Andrew! Thank you for sharing it with us! Thank you also to David Ferguson Photography for sharing today’s images!
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