Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Greece Part II - Santorini_

We arrived in Santorini and headed straight for Perissa beach after a short bit of hassle at the ferry port. All the travel guides were right - if you don't know exactly where you're going when you arrive at the port, you'll be hassled to no end! We decided on Perissa though, and were in a cab on our way there shortly after. We stumbled about a bit, not having booked any accommodation and decided that - as it was getting later in the afternoon, and the sun was fading - we should waste no further time looking, and just get in the water and have a couple of beers first! We did so, and found ourselves somewhere to sleep not long thereafter. Most of our time on Santorini was spent either on the beach sun baking, eating, drinking Mythos and swimming (not all at once, necessarily) but we also managed to get out on a quad bike for one of my 5 days there which was pretty good fun, and an awesome way to see the island. There were a bunch of other quads out, but I can only imagine the chaos in peak summer season - there would be maniacs everywhere, I am certain! We visited Red Beach too which was pretty amazing - named so because of the colour of the sand and rocks created by a volcano back in the day. Hell of a beach to get to though, but worth it!

Santorini, Greece - 03

Santorini, Greece - 02

Santorini, Greece - 18





One of the highlights of Santorini - for me at least - was the amazing food. And in fact, I had what remains as the Best meal experience of my trip at a restaurant called Ntomatini, which I highly recommend to any visitors to Perissa Beach. So much so that the night after I saw Jamie off at Santorini airport, I went back for a second time and ate much the same thing! So good!! I also met Kristy who waitressed there, an Aussie girl travelling around Europe in a big yellow bus with her crazy Brazilian friend Joyce! I hope to meet them on the road one day and travel together for a bit, looks cool! Check it out:





After much good food, much more relaxing, lots of beers and then a night fuelled by too much red wine, I decided it would be a good idea to spend my last night in Santorini... sleeping on the beach. It all made sense at the time - full moon, gorgeous beach under the stars, warmed from the inside by a litre of red wine... hmmm, not so much. Possibly the worst night of 'sleep' I've had. But an experience all the same. And I met myself yet another friendly stray puppy - this one I named Jasper, and she stayed with me the whole night, and barked at any strangers that came nearby, so cute! Plus, I did watch a crazy lightning storm off in the distance over the water and got to see the best sunrise I have seen all trip so all in all, it was actually worth it in the end! Up early to get my ferry to Crete too, so it all added up to be a brilliant idea... I'm convinced anyway...





Greece Part I - Mainland and Syros_

Wow... OK, as usual I'm a little out of order, and this time I'm taken back quite a number of pages (more than a hundred!) in my trusty Moleskin before I get to the start of my Greek adventure.

And what an adventure! Hold onto your hats, this is a long one... Greece will be released in a four part series so I can post - and you can read - smaller bits at a time!

I crossed the border into Greece on September 16 before 9am after getting an early start on continuing my trek from Croatia, and escape from Albania... a beautiful start to an amazing part of my trip. I loved Greece, which is probably why I ended up staying for just shy of a full month!

Coming in from the north-west the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the roads were - especially compared with Albania(!) - and secondly, how much of mainland Greece is wet! I guess I was just near a big lake (and if I was actually online as I type, I would look it up... feel free to do so and let me know!), but it did take me by surprise. I decided to take the scenic route, and travelled through the mountains, right up to a couple of skiing villages, avoiding the motorway at the same time. They were some fun roads, but it was so cold up that high that I had to put on my winter gear - annoying though, because as I came back down only 20 or so minutes later and arrived in Kalambaka, the temperature was about 35ºC. Off with the winter gear!



After a brief stop in Kalambaka to gawk at the amazing Meteora - which are some truly amazing stone mountains up to 400m tall with monasteries perched atop a handful of them - I circle the town on my trusty Michelin map, and make a note to absolutely come back, then continue on riding through the gorgeous Greek weather, stop for the first of many beautiful Greek meals - the food in Greece has been my favourite of the whole trip - and then get going again toward the days destination on the east coast, where I had planned to meet and travel some more with Jamie.



I met Jamie briefly in Volos where we agreed to head down the coast and stop in a small Greek holiday village called Nea Anchialos - a place where the Greeks come to holiday! We ended up staying here for only one night, but two full days before we headed to Athens - but not before an interesting few hours spent with Vasillis, the owner of the hotel we stayed at, and a lovely guy who actually let me leave my bike out the front of his hotel whilst I travelled as a regular backpacker for a while! Before leaving, we headed to a restaurant Vasillis had recommended where they serve an ouzo style spirit called Tsipouro. The traditional way to experience this drink is to enjoy it whilst being served a different plate of food with each 50ml bottle you get. Similar to Spanish tapas in concept I guess. As we were enjoying our second serving, Vasillis came and joined us for the rest of the night and helped us with ordering - many, many, many bottles of the potent drink! It wasn't long before he felt comfortable with us, and started to express amongst other things, his open sexuality... in just a matter of minutes it seemed, Vasillis had covered everything from life and love, to dick-pumps and masturbation - certainly enough to make both Jamie and I cringe a little with embarrassment (for both us and him I think!)... a great night was had though, and before we knew it, we were on the overnight bus to Athens, with a view to heading straight for the islands. It was quite a pleasant surprise for us to actually be on the bus, as we literally had to flag it down off the main highway at one in the morning and we weren't so sure how successful we would be!

The trip to Athens was pretty quick and painless, and we arrived before we knew it. Unfortunately, the trip from the bus station to the ferry port wasn't quite so painless and we ended up missing the only ferry to Santorini (the first island we planned to visit) until 5pm that day, so spontaneous as we have been able to be (and as the quieter time of year allows for), we decided to head to the destination that the next ferry was going. We ended up in Syros, not one of the well known Greek islands amongst tourists, but well known amongst Greeks apparently - it's one they visit for their holidays to get away from the tourists! It was awesome too. We found some nice accommodation on the quiet side of the island, and spent most of our 3 days there, chilling at the beach, and just generally soaking up the Greek sunshine, hospitality, and food! We hired 50cc scooters for a day too and buzzed around the small island on those - awesome fun! We headed off just a few days later, this time aboard the ferry we wanted initially - off to Santorini!

Syros, Greece - 12

Syros, Greece - 45




Sunday, November 21, 2010

The debate continues_


In rebuttal to Brittany's comment on my Let the debate begin post..

Brittany Ryan said...

While an apple can be enjoyed both lukewarm and chilled, with cheese and with peanut butter and on the go or in your home, it doesn't come without faults.

When tossed into a backpack or a purse, the apple can easily become bruised and dented making that patch less desirable.

While the waste is in fact organic, you still have to be conscious of eating around the core or you bite into that unpleasant seed-filled bark like center thus detracting from the overall experience of enjoying your snack.

Now, clementines on the other hand high in Vitamin C, delicious chilled or lukewarm, have no wrappers and have organic waste. The easily fit in your pocket and are not susceptible to bruising or denting. They are the most easily peeled of the citrus fruits and rarely have seeds to be concerned with. To top it off, they leave your hands smelling fresh and citrusy for hours after you've finished your snack. 



It obviously cannot be disputed that clementines, whilst incomparable to apples when it comes to the ideal snack, truly are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Indeed they can also be tossed into a backpack or purse with little consequence. However, from here is where your argument starts to unravel.. un-peel if you will.

Clementines do indeed have wrappers - thick, orange, acidic, sticky, horribly sour, obstructive skin that you must unwrap before even contemplating consumption. And what a process. I am surprised clementines don't come with a step by step pre-consumption guide. If they did, it would go a little something like this:

  • Step 1: Using your thumbnail, or other similarly angular part of your person or other device (such as a knife), commence peeling of the clementine. If experienced, the skin may be removed in one spiral, otherwise simply pull the skin from the delicate flesh of the edible portion of the clementine piece by piece, until you have removed all of the inedible exterior. Be sure not to squirt the acidic skin juice into your eyes as intense pain will ensue.
  • Step 2: As a matter of personal preference, you may choose to remove all the remaining white rind from the exterior of the edible flesh, though this process can be time consuming.
  • Step 3: Importantly - as you would surely mess yourself should you bite into the whole edible portion of the clementine - you must dismantle the clementine, delicately prising apart each of its segments. Half at first, then segment by segment, being sure not to rush and potentially drop half of your snack.
  • Step 4: As you separate each segment from the larger portion of edible flesh you must carefully inspect its contents ensuring there are no seeds. Failure to do so - in case of seed presence - will result in immediate and unexpected cracking of the seed in your teeth, causing instant flavour contamination of the whole segment.  Whilst not toxic, the flavour of the seed is very bitter and may ruin the snack experience.
  • Step 5: Once you have completed all preceding steps, the clementine is now ready to be consumed.


Now, a requisite characteristic of the ideal snack surely must be that you can pick it up, and with minimal fuss, simply commence consumption. Clearly, a clementine does not have this characteristic. Whilst an apple on the other hand, truly can be picked up, placed in the mouth, and consumed. No further fuss, and no further debate.


The snack of my preference is unequivocally, the superior, the ultimate.


The apple is truly, the ideal snack.



Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's been a little dry lately..._ more ways than one! Just got out of a few days in the Sahara, and have finally made it to the Moroccan coastline which is awesome! And unbeknown to me, one of the more popular surf spots in the world I am told. Staying in a small town 20kms north of Agadir and keen to just chill out for a week or so, and enjoy the warm(er) weather... it's about 20ºC during the day here, but last night on the way from the Sahara, we got down as low as -4ºC, so it's not *all* ice creams and Pina Coladas! In fact, it's no Pina Coladas at all, it's a dry town! Meaning, yep, no alcohol at all - it's actually outlawed here - so not a single drop! Will probably be good for me!

We had a pretty crazy time in the Sahara, and in Fez beforehand, which I'll write up soon.. for now though, apologies for the dry blog, but I'll be back to it this week, I promise!!

Here's a couple of photos to keep you entertained in the interim... in the Sahara...


Sahara, Morocco - 154

Sahara, Morocco - 134

Sahara, Morocco - 166