Tuesday, October 31, 2006

oh and one more thing

Strawberry Fields Forever!!

This entire post is exclusively dedicated to my favourite Strawberry who's celebrating her birthday today!

An extrordinary & unique strawberry who managed to reverse the aging process and keeps getting younger and younger while maintaining ripe and delicious every single year!

Happy Birthday and all the best for this year and years to come Φραουλίτα μου!

Αντε και του χρόνου στις Μαλδίβες (με καραβίδες) οπως είπαμε!!!!

And before I forget, here's one of my favourite recipes :


- 2 tb Strawberry Syrop

- 1 glass of cold water

- 1 cup of red & ripe strawberries

Use your imagination for the preparation process

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The formula

There are times that words can’t be adequate enough to describe our thoughts and feelings exactly like we would like them to.
For this reason, I’ll try to be as quick as possible and all I’ll say is:

K + I + N + P + N + H + ((X) + Y*)

X = present in spirit (and over the phone)
Y* = All those who couldn’t make it in time

No this isn’t some complicated quantum physics formula but the initials of all those responsible for giving me one of the best birthdays of my life.
As I previously said, “thank you” is unfortunately a small word compared to the gratitude and joy that I feel.
I will however, tell you, that although you may have achieved your little surprise with perfect coordination, beware of the consequences and accept the inevitable in the months to come!!!
Once again, thanks to all!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Goodbye Sunday, bloody Sunday

What’s the best way to ruin your Sunday?
What’s an ever better way to ruin your next Sunday?
Elections 2nd round..
While trying to maintain my political point of view as well as expressing my constitutional rights, I did exactly what every legal and conscious citizen would do, voting for the mayoral and prefectural elections. Despite the fact that I was misplaced in another voting station than my regular one, I was dispatched to yet another location where I finally casted my votes. It turns out, my vote, as well as all the others, weren’t sufficient in order to provide a secure and final winning result for our candidate mayor, so they’ve decided to go for yet another round of battling with the ballots.
It goes without saying that until today, there hasn’t been “one” candidate mayor that has convinced me (or even attempt) of being capable of actually investing his time and dedication in my town. So whether my political word will be heard or forever be silenced in these elections, I am certain of only one thing. Much ado about nothing, except for one more Sunday gone in vein.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"The" Cruise

Back to reality after my 4 day adventurous cruise!
Everyday a new adventure, so much to say so little space.. although in Quantum-Space all is possible so here it goes..

Day 1 : Originally set as a party of 3+1 friends (the latter joining us later on in the evening as she couldn’t make it in the morning due to work related issues) plus a couple of independent acquaintances that wanted to join us (gladly they were on their own as throughout the whole trip as we didn’t have anything in common). An infernal traffic situation on our way to the port made the beginning of this journey no less than dramatic as we arrived only a few minutes before departure. Nevertheless we made it through customs and also had a quick (yet thorough) look at the duty free shop before boarding the ship. And so we did, we boarded, settled in, and started exploring the Queen as she smoothly sailed away. A mandatory emergency evacuation exercise followed immediately and had us all wear our beautiful yellow lifejackets reminding us of how it’d feel if we actually experienced a “Titanic” or even a “Poseidon” but no glaciers or tsunamis were to be found in the Aegean. For the record, we were assigned to raft #9.
Coffee and lunch followed (with a bit of sunbathing on the upper deck) right before hitting our first stop. Mykonos.

Mykonos: We disembarked by tender boats and reached the beautiful harbor within a few minutes. An impeccable view of the town right before sunset was surely a feast to the eyes. Being in Mykonos after so many years reminded me how much I actually missed that place. And so our tour begun, exploring the town with its steep allies, white and blue houses with their colorful bougainvillea everywhere, beautiful (and tempting) boutiques, deliciously attractive restaurants and cafes, Pierro’s square with the pelicans, the windmills, Little Venice for the sunset and so on. Mykonos, an island perhaps misunderstood by some, but never underestimated. A natural gem of the Cyclades. I know this might sound a bit like a GNTO (Greek National Tourism Organization) commercial but it’s the best way I can describe it.
Our promenade ended in a nice Ouzo spot on the pier where we were scheduled to meet our other friend who caught a flight from Athens to Mykonos joining us on our journey. And so she arrived, we had ouzo along with several seafood appetizers but as time passed faster than we thought we were obliged to run back to the tender boat for our transfer to our ship.
The last ones to board (mark my words, you’ll see this repeated throughout the rest of the trip) and only a few minutes time to get ready for dinner as the restaurant had a very tight timetable. We sailed off on a full moon lighting a path on the dark blue sea and enjoyed our dinner by the pool. A coffee at the aquarium lounge followed by a few drinks on the ship’s 2 decked disco with the beats of DJ Sasha and Vladimir’s “skilled” cocktail serving (can’t say the same as to the content of the drinks), called the first day a night. Before hitting the beds, a short gathering in our cabin for some after hour party with a few real drinks and music. I forgot to mention that our multitalented cabin hostess, Madalena had done a remarkable job arranging our cabin in the state that we found it once we entered the ship. Clothes folded, sheets and towels changed and even an impressive work of art on some of our beds. Statues made of towels, a different shape every day. A true Artist!! Next stop, Rhodes.

Day 2 : Rhodes
Early wake up call as the ship docked at around 7:30 am. Breakfast on board and then off to the port to begin our day in the medieval city of Rhodes. What to say about Rhodes or where to begin when history unveils before your eyes at the very first glimpse. Also known as “The island of Knights”, Rhodes has a unique blender of history combining, ancient history, medieval history, and recent history all in one place. Off the port, we crossed the ancient harbor where once stood one of the Seven Wonders of the World, none other than The Colossus of Rhodes, now replaced by 2 dear statues on 2 poles at the exact spot where his feet where standing. A walk inside the walls of the medieval fortress makes you feel no less than a knight yourself. Castles, crypts, monuments, temples, museums all aligned. A short stop by the French consulate located inside the castle’s walls offered a very pleasant surprise as we discovered a local artist’s contemporary art exhibition. Original paintings, oil on canvas with the exception of one that combined oil and blood (couldn’t get the artist’s comment on that one), decorated the hall on the upper floor of the embassy. We then headed on the top spot of the fortress where the old town’s majestic ancient “clock tower” stood lavishly as an orientation axe. A coffee was proposed but a beer followed at a nearby bar in order to rest for a while before proceeding with our visit. While trying to arrange a meeting with some dear friends of mine that lived on the island, I also took the opportunity to get some guidance from them as to where to have lunch trying to avoid all the tourist restaurants in the area. My friends proposed a few local restaurants right outside the old city in what was supposed to be a 15 minute walk which ended up being more than an hour of walking under the sun (not to mention extreme heat) but the struggle proved to be more than worth it. And if that wasn’t enough, we also had to bare with one of our friend’s constant whining about how we should have taken our swimsuits with us, and murmured about how the beaches were beautiful and how everyone’s swimming except us and so on… Sweaty, tired and insolated we finally arrived at “metaksi mas” tavern, translation of “between us” where we had an unforgettable time and lots of laughter. Forget the sunstroke as it was once again Ouzo’s turn to take over while the local specialties aroused our taste buds. Mesmerized by the whole moment, landscape, the company of friends being together and the great ambiance, we suddenly were reminded by an intriguing phone call from my local friends asking me where we are. A glimpse at our watch granted us moments of great terror and stress as we only had a very short time to get back to the port and catch our ship. Saved by the bell (or the phone in this case) as my friends came to pick us up therefore avoiding the return by foot, gave us a few more minutes of freedom on the island which were “wisely” spent in the duty free shop. Comments from people attending this specific moment in the shop will not be allowed. All done in split seconds and only 2 minutes before embarkation we then run off to the ship only to notice from the distance that the bridge ladder was being retrieved from the dock. A few horror screams and some Olympic running prevented us from spending the night in Rhodes. “Strangely”, the same officers that embarked us in Mykonos didn’t seem too surprised seeing us once again being the last ones to board.
After dinner, we had the occasion to get a taste of some “Greek” themed evening constituted by a Cypriot singer and a Bulgarian live orchestra at the Stars Lounge. And as the lack of excitement in the hall was more than evident we did what we do best. We decided to cheer things up by getting up and dancing all alone on the dance floor while literally dragging people with us, strangers half asleep by the numb act which at first played difficult but finally indulged into some fun moments on stage. I seriously think that we should have been rewarded for our generous contribution although we did get to meet two wonderful girls who from that moment and on, have joined our company and spend the rest of our holidays together. After turning a morgue into a fiesta we then took off to our regular DJ Sasha meeting point for some calorie burning dancing. Vladi’s bottle joggling was once again the highlight of the night as the “where’s-the-alcohol” margaritas tried desperately to quench our thirst.
As tradition had it, the night ended in our cabin, (tonight's work of art: The Flower by Madalena)all six of us for some real yellow tequila, music and some freshly brewed gossip from our new friends about some guy who tried to murder his wife with dinner knives as he was jealous she was flirting with an officer on board. Apparently the guy then tried to commit suicide by jumping off board but he was prevented by the officers in due time. Now that’s what I call some good storytelling. No time left to rest though as our next stop was only a few hours away. Next stop, Patmos.

Day three: Patmos & Kusadasi

Tough wake up call. Only 2 and a half hours of sleep, several headaches and two sites to visit in only 4 hours. 6:30 am and we’re being transferred to the pier by tender boats. A picturesque surrounding, one of the best I’ve seen so far, reflected in the calm waters of the bay as if looking at a canvas through a mirror. Patmos, another island of great history and mysticism. The island where the most intriguing chapter of the bible, the Apocalypse / end of days, was written by St-John the Divine.
With only a few hours available for sightseeing we immediately looked for the best possible way to get to the cave and the monastery of St-John. Without having too many options we chose the easiest and most practical one which was to hire a taxi for our transfer to the top hill of the town. A Schumacher-like young driver demonstrated his driving skills by surpassing the speed of light on the mountainous, curvy not to mention dangerous road to our first stop, the cave of the apocalypse, the actual place where St-John wrote the famous gospel.
The cave, now a church, was having their Sunday’s Mass when we got there but that didn’t stop us from visiting inside where we also found a copy of the Apocalypse protected by glass. For a few moments, we stood in awe to the mystic book but not much time to think or wonder as we had to rush back up to the entry of the site where we had to meet our personal Schumacher chauffer. Once again, another “fast and furious” ride to the top of the hill, were stood the famous monastery of St-John. Christian monks from various Christian Orders have inhabited this monastery for centuries. A great site with many smaller chapels inside its walls dating back to the beginning of the Christian Era. A lot of stairs, uphill roads and a lot of walking were the most challenging parts of our visit as the early morning factor was not being kind to us, at all. The quick visit ended in about 40 minutes time and once again, running back to the entrance for our speed of light ride back.
Back to port, a quick coffee break of fairly 5 minutes to get some caffeine in our blood (coincidently sitting right across the potential murderer of last night) and then back to the tender boats for our transfer back.
Now only a few hours left before our next stop and an attempt to catch some sleep before our next adventure. Next stop, Kusadasi, Turkey.

Turkey (Kusadasi / Ephesus):

What I thought to be a problem with my mobile phone turned out to be just a mixture of local networks as we were approaching the borders of the Turkish mainland. Greek networks, Turkish networks, Greek again, Turkish again and so on until we finally reached the harbor where Avea/Aria Turkcell prevailed. Kusadasi, a town once belonging to Greece, like most of the western coastal area of Turkey, reminded us of an enormous flea market, which was a fair description considering what was to follow. Our main objective was to visit the Greek Archeological site of Ephesus and the temple of Artemis, yet another one of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World.
And so the adventure begins. Having asked the exchange rate of the Euro to the Turkish Lira at a nearby Tourism Office and not having to look much further we were spotted by a group of taxi drivers who immediately started to propose excursions to Ephesus. An 18 kilometer drive was at first proposed by them at 60 euro per car round trip. Before even trying to bargain the rate, they immediately gathered around us, like vultures around the prey imposing strongly that we choose one of them. As all six of us tried to move further so we can discuss it in private, they abruptly followed not leaving us the list bit of space to breath. The show had begun. Calling us all possible Greek male and female names they can think of (with preference to George for the men), loud like any respectable merchant, these predators were out to hunt. As we found a potential driver with a 7 seat minivan and tried to discuss the rate, another couple of Greek travelers of the Queen approached us and kindly asked us if they can join us as they had no idea of how to get through this situation. A tough bargain between my friend and me, joined together against the taxi driver became the entertaining show of the moment. Reverse psychology, marketing techniques and delicate acting got us a 45 euro ride round trip for a total of 8 passengers in a 7 seat minivan. A good deal if you ask me, especially if compared to the 51 euro per person organized shore excursion of the Queen. Before heading to the van, a thoughtful act from my friend checking if the driver had at least a driver’s license made us feel secure to say the least. And so all 8 of us, fit perfectly (?) in the 7 seat van and the excursion begins. On the way, Rachid tells us about the nearby sites such as the house of Virgin Mary and some local bazaars for which he insisted on taking us implying that we can get better shopping deals, but none of the two were possible as time was very limited. And so we finally arrive at the southern gate of the site while informed by Rachid that he will wait for us on the northern side at the end of our visit.
Ephesus, an ancient Greek city which was once one of the wealthiest of the Mediterranean world. A breathtaking landscape with temples, ruins, houses, ancient markets, libraries, theatres and of course the place where once stood the famous temple of Artemis. The temple dedicated to the Goddess of Hunt, once measured 130 meters long, 68 meters wide and 18 meters high. Unfortunately only the foundation along with one column remains of this temple today. Further down the site, we come across the ancient amphitheatre which can accommodate up to 25000 spectators and where one of our friends takes the stage and pretends she stars in an ancient Greek Tragedy although if you ask me, it seemed more like a catwalk in Milan. Time’s once again our enemy so we proceed quickly to the rest of the site in order to finish our visit as quickly as possible. Dehydrated from the long walk under the partly cloudy sky, we once again had to bargain for a few bottles of water. A bargain which ended up being a feud as we miscalculated the amount of Lira given to the salesman and wrongly insisted we had given him more while he was insisting he was correct. Yelling and probably not calling us friendly names, had we understood what he was saying, he finally let us leave with an extra bottle of water that unfortunately gave him justice once we calculated again on our ride back. But it was too late to go back now, we had falsely accused the poor man, not to mention drive him crazy. If he ever reads this, on behalf of all of us, we are very sorry for this misunderstanding.
Rachid, being as punctual as any dedicated chauffer, takes us back to Kusadasi and drops us in the exact area where he picked us up. In need of a few souvenirs to remind us of Turkey we decide to spend a little time in the nearby market. As you might have guessed, the vultures reappeared from everywhere, not letting us walk through the allies of the town unattended. They were everywhere, in front of every single shop, calling us, struggling to get us inside their store, blocking our way as we walked, insisting, harassing. Only 5 minutes in the market and the first headaches appeared. It was impossible to carry on like this. Finally, we all bought a few sweets, Turkish delights among others, and while trying to keep the women from indulging in their compulsive shopping behavior, we had to rush back to the port to catch our ship.
A few last minute shopping from two of the girls delayed us even more only to be, once again, fashionably late for our embarkation on the Queen. Last ones on board, risky late-comers, as one of the officers called us but at least we prevented the overnight in Kusadasi, which I doubt any of us desired.
Our last night on board was spent traditionally with dinner, clubbing and of course our infamous late night cabin partying which had to be interrupted at early hours as most of us had yet to prepare our luggage. A difficult task considering we had to fit a few more duty free bags into the already stuffed suitcases. Mission accomplished although I do pity all the baggage porters that had to deal with them early in the morning. Piraeus, 6:30am and we all gather for a final nostalgic meeting in the aquarium lounge. Tired as ever, but still joyful, we promise to meet once again as in a pact, for yet another voyage. Thank your Majesty for a wonderful time, thank you to all those who shared the moments!
End of Journey.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Let the journey begin

In only a few hours from now I'm going to be sailing away in the Aegean aboard the Queen so I won't be able to update for a few days.
I will be back though with a full and detailed post about my journey.
May you all have a good one

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Not another manic Monday

Perhaps this song would have been rewritten had The Bangles experienced the explosive evening I’ve had the chance to experience this past Monday.
In what was originally said/planned to be an easy and relaxed evening out with a friend for a couple of drinks, turned out to be an intense joyride. Coincidences, impromptus and many other funny (sometimes flattering) situations were the main elements of the night. Drinks followed by drinks, shots followed by shots, smiles followed by smiles and of course a lot of laughter in the air. Special yet unexpected guest appearances by some so-called celebrities were also included in the evening’s primetime program which to be quite honest have proven to be more charming in person than we would expect. One would have thought that we’ve all know each other for years had they seen us party together, drink and dance but the truth is that most of them were all new acquaintances. (well almost..).
That friendly and very familiar vibe dominating the air together with everyone’s need to have a good time must have been the secret ingredients in that night’s success. And needless to mention that my friend was once again in the spotlight stealing the show as she immediately became everyone’s favorite!!! What can I say, she’s got that rare charm. She would probably want me to mention that it was also a very tiring night for her but I’m sure she’ll agree that it was also a blast! A second bar visit was mentioned, proposed and closely followed as tradition would have it. While the night was no longer a night but early Tuesday morning, an absolutely delicious home-made gourmet breakfast (full meal) was prepared by my “courageous” friend at early dawn. What better way to end such a marvelous evening. And if you think that that’s all there is, be warned dear reader as Monday was only the beginning! The best is yet to come!


I was initially going to dedicate this post to last night but before I do that, I feel the urge to dedicate it to something far more important. Something which in my opinion, is the most important thing not to mention the most vital foundation of someone’s life.
Something that unfortunately some people tend to take for granted and give it importance only when it’s needed. Something that involves minimal effort to acquire but great effort to retain.

A little something called Friends. Yes friends. That carefully selected group of people that complete us, make us whole, content and secure. People whom without we are nothing. People that go much deeper within us rather than being superficial entities floating around. People we can rely upon as they would on us at any given moment, through good or bad times.
An exchange of personal dedication and a mutual and unconditional relationship based on the purest human values. And that’s my definition of friends and friendship not because I speculate it to be so, but because I live it and am fortunate enough to have them around me.
I may know a lot of people or better said, acquaintances, but only a few close ones are those that I truly consider to be friends. And because of them I am who I am. Through them I feel true, I feel free, I feel me.
Last but not least, I feel blessed, overwhelmed and very fortunate to have such people in my life.
To all of you (you all know who you are) I express my greatest gratitude for being in my life and making me feel the way I do.
Hopefully you already know that :-)
Just thought I'd share..