When it comes to travel, the Badley family have a pretty decent track record. Members of the clan have at one time or another, lived an expat life in Australia, Germany, the USA and Ecuador. One of our own currently resides in France and here we are in Dubai.
Even those that are at home in the UK are either planning the next overseas trip or returning from it. So when Matt and Nicole decided to tie the knot, it was an even bet that it might involve a flight somewhere. The nice surprise was that they invited us along to the festivities – in Santorini.
The island’s west side, with its picturesque white villages built into the cliffs, offers spectacular views and it was against this dramatic backdrop and clear blue skies that our happy couple exchanged their vows on a hotel terrace in Firostefani.
The beauty of the bride, the romance of the location and the touching ceremony, complete with traditional live music, had many of us reaching for the tissues but not for long. Happiness is contagious and after a big fat Greek banquet and some eloquent and heartfelt speeches, the joyful celebrations continued on the dance floor.
We also cleared up the mystery of why the couple placed rings on their right hands during the ceremony. It turns out that this is a legal requirement in Greece and the rings are only positioned on the left hand afterwards.
Santorini is a volcanic island and on the popular and scenic west side many of the hotels have been cunningly built along the steep cliff side with access along narrow footpaths and deep steps that made me grateful I had taken the ‘flat shoes’ advice.
The views from the restaurants and bars on the path to the town centre are stunning and while the shops are definitely geared to attract tourists, the local food products, decorative crafts, clothes, jewellery and ceramics are mostly of a sufficient quality to justify a purchase.
At first sight, getting round the island without a car looks impossible but Santorini has an excellent bus system so we made full use of it to reach the the black sand beach at Kamari, the red lava beach at Akrotiri and the beautiful cliff side town of Oia.
Santorini has an abundance of ancient sites, wineries and museums but on this trip we let the imperative to see it all sail by. Raising a glass or two over some good food and watching the sun go down after a day’s leisurely exploring was satisfying enough.
Another fantastic way to get to know the island is by catamaran. The bride and groom organised a superb cruise for all their guests the day after the wedding. The expert crew ensured we all enjoyed the voyage whether we opted to relax with a drink or dive in for a swim before the barbecue and obligatory Santorini sunset. Catamaran is a mode of transport I could definitely get used to.
Nicole’s heritage and lovely family ensured our Greek island odyssey will long be remembered so while the newlyweds are getting used to married life, back here in Dubai, we are keeping the faith and packing for the next trip!
The long weekend Eid holiday is almost here and it seems everyone goes off somewhere. Just like the school holiday season in the UK, flights to all destinations from Dubai suddenly go up in price and all the clauses excluding Eid from any special offers in Middle East hotels are writ large, much to Tim’s irritation. No matter. In true Badley style we are making the most of the opportunity for travel.
We are nearly, but not quite through the most challenging part of the year in Dubai, when temperatures soar to plus 40°C by day and only drop two or three degrees after sundown. During September high humidity in the evenings still puts comfortable al fresco dining off limits for a few more weeks.
How do you cope with the heat? Easily the most frequently asked question and one I asked myself before I lived here. The answer is you don’t stay out in it for very long. You don’t go for a casual exploratory stroll along the Boulevard during the day or arrange meetings that might involve waiting in full sun for more than a minute or two.
By following sensible advice on sun protection and hydration the body gradually adjusts to the new conditions. I honestly thought I would melt here last summer but this year it’s somehow easier. Summer in this city is the reason that most expats fly away during August but if, like us you opt to stay, having a few trips away is a good coping strategy.
Our next stop is Salalah, a lush, sub-tropical area in southern Oman where it is currently a pleasant 27°C!