Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Donkeys of Santorini

When tourists arrive at Santorini they are typically dumped off of their ferry at the island's New Port.  It is then a 15 minute drive up the island's cliffs to reach the heart of the city.  There is also an Old Port located beneath the main town that serves as a landing area for the huge cruise ships that surround the waters of Santorini.  To get down to the Old Port you can walk, take a donkey, or ride a cable car.  Since I don't believe in sacrificing a donkey by having me sit on it, we decided to try walking down the hill and then taking the cable car up.  

As we descended we had donkeys sitting along the steps waiting to be hired.

This meant that sometimes you had to get around the donkeys by walking behind them which is never an exciting prospect.  We tried to talk to them as we went by so we didn't spook them.

As we passed the donkeys it quickly became clear that we might have made a mistake by attempting to go down the cliff on foot.  Nearly everywhere you stepped you either had fresh or ground in donkey droppings to avoid.

As we were walking down further we noticed a cruise ship in the distance that seemed to be ferrying passengers over to the Old Port and so as we were continuing down we had this happen to us a couple of times:

Here's a view of where we walked down.

We met the donkeys one more time at the bottom as they were all lined up and ready for service.

And here is the final destination of the Old Port.

The water of the Aegean Sea were very clear with many fish swimming about.  We will try heading to the beaches tomorrow with the hopes of at least getting a toe wet.

Marvel With A Mango: Olive Oil

Yes, that is five liters of olive oil...right next to the four liter and three liter bottles.  This reminds me of the sunflower seed displays in Ukraine.  The size of the bottle is appropriate however as Greeks consume the most amount of olive oil per capita [23.7 kilograms per person, yes you read that right] which is nearly  double the rate of Italian and Spanish citizens.  

And since being here Laura and I have certainly upped our consumption as we are enjoying Greek salads at nearly every meal.  

The Athens Metro Is Better Than Your Metro

Oh, the metros I have known on this trip...going into the Athens metro I didn't know what to expect beyond stories I remember hearing about the troubles of traveling around Athens during the 2004 Summer Olympics.  ...but should you really judge a metro at a time when you have more tourists than possibly ever before.  

Although parts of the metro system date back to the 1860's most of the underground lines were built in the 1990's.  This recent construction has allowed it to be one of the cleanest and most efficient subways in the world.  Plus, your metro doesn't have these ruined sculptures waiting for you.

Here's a view of the opposite track with some more classical Greek sculptures.

The Parthenon

This way to the Acropolis!  On our first full day in Athens we went straight to the crown jewel of Athenian ruins. 

The Acropolis dominates the Athens' skyline and getting to the top is quite a climb.

The Parthenon was being restored when we were visiting and the whiter parts of the columns are new pieces which have been placed to stabilize and repair older restorations.  Over time the white will blend in with the older stonework.

Its original use was that of a temple to Athena, Athens' patron deity but over time it was used as a Christian church, an Islamic mosque, and an armory.  Its use as an armory led to it's destruction when it was attacked by the Venetians and the munitions the Turks had stored there exploded.  

Here's the view from the Acropolis of Mount Lycabettus, which is the highest point around Athens.  The weather was perfect during our days in Athens with barely a cloud in the sky most days and not one sight of rain.

These columns line the stairway that leads to top of the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

And to conclude, I present a sign I don't believe I've ever seen before in my life.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The View From My Window #17: Santorini

The view from our window in Santorini which is an island in an archipelago that used to be a volcano. On a good clear day from the opposite side of the island you are able to see Crete in the distance.   

Graffiti #14: A Rare Example of Santorini Graffiti

As you might expect, Santorini has next to no graffiti and the few I've seen tend to be written words that are clearly understandable.  We came upon this piece as we were walking towards the center of town to find some lunch.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The View Of Athens From The Rock Of Ares

Next to the Acropolis you'll find a huge rock outgrowth called the Areopagus or the Rock of Ares.  This infamous place was said to be the location of the trial of Ares for killing Poseidon's son.   Consequently, this overlook became the center of Athenian justice as it was the location of trials and government debates.  It also offers an amazing view of Athens and so I tried my hand at a panaramic view of the city.  

You can find a larger version here.

Marvel With A Mango: My Birthday Dinner

For my birthday we decided to take a break from Greek food and headed to a little Thai restaurant that was just down the street from the apartment we are renting.  It was called Tamarind which is the name of a legume tree in Africa.  Thai food as been special to us since our days in Seattle and enjoying The Thaiger Room restaurant in the U-District.  It was the first restaurant we ever ate at in Seattle and we were hoping for something that was just half as good as the dishes we remembered.  

The food turned out to be just as good and it was a great reminder of past journeys our our current journey.  We started with wontons with a great sweet and sour sauce.

Laura went with jasmine chicken fried rice.

And I went with chicken pad thai.  The dish was served with the peanuts, chili powers, and lime separately which I had never seen done before but appreciated.  In our time at the restaurant we were the only people in the entire place and so it was a chance to unwind.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Long Exposure Shots of Athens

I think I'm getting a little better at these long exposure was my first attempt...and with another night of practice shots I was able to take these...this time with the moon making an appearance.

Food Stands

Having lived in Ukraine for the past nine months it is so great to see all the wonderful fresh food stands that can pop up anywhere.This artichoke stand was on the corner about a block from our apartment.  

The most jaw dropping displays are the mounds and mounds of strawberries for sale.

We bought a kilo of strawberries for 1.5 euros which would be $1.96 in the U.S.  They were so delicious and fresh they barely made it through the day before being eaten.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Brief Word About Turkey

Before the deluge of Greece posts begins let me write briefly about out lay over in Istanbul.  We had not originally intended to head that direction but Lufthansa's baggage workers went on strike and so we ended up being re-booked through Turkish Airlines to Istanbul and then onto Athens.


In someways visiting the Istanbul airport was the closest thing to American culture that we've come in our trip.  We found Burger King, Popeye's Chicken [what must non-Americans think when they eat there?], Chinese mall type food, Victoria Secret, etc.

In other ways this was clearly a Muslim country with many many women dressed in full burqas with flights headed all over the Middle East.  As we were sitting at our gate waiting for our flight a guy started yelling about the Turkish government.  He had clearly been wronged some how and his screams were directed at the airport staff.  This went on for quite a while and eventually he took his shirt off as security was closing in on him.  Six security guards came and took him away after a brief scuffle.  It was a moment we won't soon forget.  

The View From My Window #16: Athens Night/Day

We flew into Athens to begin our long delayed honeymoon around midnight and so as we arrived into the city we really couldn't get a sense of what the city looked like.  So from our balcony I tried my hand at some long exposure photography with the traffic below.  Now I just need to get a tripod to make sure the camera doesn't move at all.  

With daylight though, the street and the view transforms into something much more amazing.  A view from the opposite direction gives you a partial view of the Acropolis.

And here's a rare "view of my window" from the park below.  We are the white door on the top floor.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Signing Off From Ukraine

I'm about to turn in my internet modem and so I'll be offline for a few days while we make the move from Ukraine to Latvia and then it will be off to our long-delayed honeymoon in Greece.  Until I'm back online enjoy the many posts I've finally had the time to post.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Celebrating Maslenitsa In Kharkiv

Maslenitsa is a pagan holiday celebrating the end of winter and at the end of the festival Lady Maslenitsa is burned in effigy.  This particular Saturday turned out to be the last really cold day we had in Kharkiv this winter and so it was appropriate to celebrate the beginning of spring.

Anchors Away

Much like the lions of Lviv, you'll find anchors around every turn in Odessa.  Be them on manhole covers, in front of museums, or just strewn about the city.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Overnight Train Success

Returned home from our last long trip around Ukraine this morning and this was on my mind when we got back.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Kiev Train Station Cat Returns!

You may remember the Kiev Train Station Cat from my post in March and when we were back in town I made a little video of him/her.


Lviv Tour Music

The video is a little shaky but what can you expect when driving over cobblestones?


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lviv Lions

The coat of arms of  Lviv features the lion and has been since the mid 1300's.  During Soviet times the symbol was modified slightly but the lion remained constant.  

As you would imagine, you'll find lions all over Lviv be it in signs, statues, or even shrubbery.  Here are some of what I stumbled upon:

This one was my personal favorite.