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Monday, July 2nd 2007

11:06 AM

Scotland - December, 2007

My best friend Charmaine Dunns father is 1/2 Scottish and 1/2 Irish.  Shes doing her family tree so we went to the Scottish Borders to do genealogy research.  It was a new adventure for us, and Id always wanted to visit Scotland.

 

The internet was a big help in planning so that we maximized our ten days there.  We flew from Toronto to Glasgow on Air Tran, stopping in Belfast to drop off of the passengers.  We arranged to stay in a wonderful,  top-rated cottage in the countryside surrounding the beautiful village of Kelso, famously known as Sir Walter Scott territory.  And we rented a mid-sized auto but unfortunately it didnt have an automatic transmission so I not only had to contend with the steering wheel on the right but I had to shift gears with my left hand..quite a challenge, especially navigating the round-a-bouts.  But Charmaine dubbed me Sterling Moss, and we managed to visit a lot of the area (including a border crossing into England) without mishap.

 

So now I know what gloaming means, have seen what a moor looks like, have visited abbeys and a lot of very old church  graveyards, and have a much better understanding of Scotland and its history.  The Scottish Borders area is  very beautiful, the people are helpful and friendly, and Id give Scotland a big thumbs up as a vacation destination.

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Tuesday, September 5th 2006

12:46 PM

Hora, Naxos

Today I'm in the port city of Naxos (Hora) doing a little shopping and buying my ferry ticket to Athens for my departure from Naxos next week.  I'm trying to do alot to one of the Zevgolis houses in my father's village (Apiranthos) during the last few days I have left here....I'm having new windows with bars installed and painting them for the winter.  After I leave a plumber later on this month will install the new bathroom and I have a friend who will oversee the work.  I thought skilled laborers in the U. S. were bad but you should try working with Greeks, especially those in the village.  I'm not a worrier by nature but this procedure is giving me an ulcer....but then again, I could write a pretty funny book about it all.

So I will be in Athens for only one and a half days before my flight out in the wee hours of Friday, 9/15.  Luckily I won't be hauling a lot of baggage going out so the sucurity thingy should go okay.  And KLM is pretty good, the airport in Amsterdam is set up for transfers so that you don't have to exit/re-enter like in Frankfort, which is a nightmare.  Last year I had to take off my shoes 4 times....

My next posting will probably be from the U. S.

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Saturday, August 19th 2006

10:23 AM

Athens & Kalamata

Arrived in Athens from Naxos on Thursday afternoon, it was a rough trip as the sea was whipped up by the wind.  The so-called Hi Speed ferry became a low-speed as the voyage took 5-1/4 hours, almost the same time as the regular Blue Star ferry.

Seems that my Athens friends are all away on their August holidays but I hope to find a few maternal cousins to visit while in the city.  We are experiencing a heat wave, it's to get up to around 42C on Sunday, so I'm glad that I'll be traveling to Kalamata on that day.

My nephew Phillip Mitsis is in Kalamata with his wife, MP Sofia Kalantzakos, and her mother Dorothy.  Dorothy and I will be staying at the newly-renovated Filoxenia Resort which is right on the Kalamata beach. and I should finally have my first swim for this trip to Greece.  The Filoxenia has a nice beach setup to include a real boardwalk and cabanas as well as a giant-sized fresh-water pool.

Sunday is Phillip's birthday and I'm bringing him a small gift from Apiranthos, two handmade Raki cups signed by my cousin Tassos Zevgolis (the sculptor/potterymaker).

I'm due back in Athens for a meeting Wednesday afternoon, then on Thursday a.m. I'm catching the Blue Star back to Naxos.

 

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Monday, August 7th 2006

12:00 PM

Apiranthos, Naxos

I'm staying in the Zevgolis house in my father's mountainous village on Naxos, Apiranthos.  The natives refer to the village as "Apirathou", and it's very beautiful.  Tourists refer to it as the "traditional, marble, or white village" (all of it's streets are made of marble).

I've been so busy fixing up the house that I've yet to really relax, go swimming, etc.  During the summer months the villagers spend alot of time in Moutsouna, the nearby seaport where the beaches are nice and sandy and the water cleaner/clearer than anywhere else on the island.  However, all of the beaches on Naxos are wonderful.  Many Apiranthites have houses and or property in Moutsouna and spend weekends there.  For tourists and those folks who don't have their own form of transport (like me) there's a daily bus that departs from the village and returns at 4 pm, perfect timing for a swim and lunch.  Hopefully I'll be trying it out this week.

That's all for now....

 

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Wednesday, July 19th 2006

7:33 AM

Going to Naxos

My last two trips to Greece were in Sep/Oct so I forgot that now (July) things are busier so I should make reservations, etc. ASAP...

Today I went into Omonia Sq. to buy my ferry boat ticket for tomorrow to Naxos and found that the Blue Star (the best and biggest) was completely booked up, as was the Hi-Speed.  So I could only book on another probably milk-run, ragtag ferry which will take at least 6-1/2 hours (or more) to get to Naxos (leaves 8:10 am/arrives 2:45 pm).  The Blue Star is at least 1 hour faster.

So when I find out exactly when I have to be in Athens next week I will get my ferry ticket right away......

Bought a few knickknacks from a street vendor, everything was 1E (their equivalent to our Dollar Store).  Got a pocket knife, outside thermometer that's Farinheit as well as Centrigrade, a magnifier, a padlock (for upper house), and a small alarm clock.  Also bought elsewhere some super glue since my eyeglass frames came apart this a.m.  Seems those kinda things always happen when I'm in Greece, it took me 3 tries to find someone to understand the word Glue (don't remember the Greek for it, didn't have my translator w/me).

Tonite I think I'm gonna have KFC 'cause that's not available on Naxos.  Omonia Square has all kinds of food choices.
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Monday, July 17th 2006

2:00 PM

Greece 2006

Arrived here in Athens yesterday, and will hopefully go to Naxos on Wednesday if all goes well here w/the business I must do.

I'll be in Greece until September 15th and I may have time to post a few new entries.  Most of my time will be spend in the village of Apiranthos on the island of Naxos.  I also plan to visit my mother's Pelopponese village of Vourvoura in early August for a few days.

Check back here in a week or so for a new entry....

 

 

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Saturday, September 24th 2005

10:56 AM

Apiranthos, Naxos

I am in the village where my father was born.  It is the prettiest on Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades.  Known as the white or marble village because it's streets are marble, Apiranthos is one of the few places in Greece that remains traditional.  No cars, hotels, boutiques, discos, etc. are found within the village.   But you have from the tap delicious mountain drinking water, homegrown produce and fruit, "free-range" meats (to include baby goat), homemade wine and raki, and local cheeses such as kefaloteri.  If you want something more familiar, cafes offer crepes, club sandwiches, and other popular foodstuffs.

Yesterday I went to Naxos Town (Hora) to rent a car for my month-long stay.  I love being in Apiranthos but I want the option to visit the many beautiful beachs and other villages on Naxos, as well as attend various events in Hora.  Also, the nearby fishing port of Moutsouna is a popular lunch destination for Apiranthites, and I plan to go there often.

I will not be posting on a regular basis because Apiranthos lacks an Internet cafe and as I have no telephone I can't dial up from my laptop.  I also don't have a television.  All in all, a very nice holiday from communication mania.

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Thursday, September 15th 2005

6:47 AM

Greece

I've been in Greece since August 27th.  Visited Delphi/Arahova, Naxos, Mykonos, Santorini, Aegina, and am currently on Hydra with my friend Charmaine.  Her niece Sara O'Reilly was with us until Sep 12 when she returned to Toronto and we went on to Aegina.

Char hasn't been on Hydra since 1978 when we were here together so we've enjoyed seeing our old stomping grounds. I was here in 2001 with my sister Sophia and in 2004 with my brother Tony.

I will write more about this trip after Char leaves Greece in a few days.

 

 

 

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Thursday, June 9th 2005

8:07 AM

Kissimmee, Florida

I am in Florida with my sister Sophia at her son Wicker’s vacation villa.  It’s located only a mile from one of the entrances to Disney World, which we’re visiting today.  Wicker got us a one-day Park Hopper (which is only available to Disney employees) through a friend of his that used to work with him when he was a tour guide on the Great Movie Ride in MGM Studios at Disney.

 

The weather so far has been superb, in the low nineties, with the usual late afternoon thundershower.  I start my day here with a morning swim in our pool (photo at right), which is a real treat.  Sophia is prepping the villa for some visitors later this month, and we’re doing a little shopping in-between.

 

Don’t know when we’re leaving here, probably sometime over the coming weekend.  We’re driving but since it’s an 11 hour drive we’ll probably duplicate our trip here by making an overnight stop somewhere in route.  Then I’ll stay a few days in Hopewell before returning to Washington.

 

 

 

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Thursday, April 21st 2005

1:54 PM

Ontario, Canada

I’ve been here in the Great White North for about a week visiting my best friend, Charmaine Dunn.  I used to spend a good deal of time here, but in recent years I only manage annual short visits of a week or two.  So far the weather has been exceptionally warm for this time of year.

 

The phone-cam photo shows the view from Char’s deck on the beach side of her Lake Ontario cottage (there's a gorgeous marsh on the other side).  We spend weekdays here, then drive the 45 minutes into Toronto for the weekends where Char runs her mother’s after hours dance club (The Matador) which is in it’s 40th year of operation and is a local landmark.  This Saturday night there’s to be a pre-opening private function for the Tibetan community that will include native food, dance performances, and a video show.  There will probably be media coverage as it’s an important annual cultural event attended not only by Tibetans but a good cross section of the Toronto community. 

 

On Sunday we’ll probably repeat last Sunday and go down to The Danforth for Greek food before heading back to Char’s cottage in Bowmanville.  I plan to return to D.C. on Tuesday as I will be going to Hopewell to celebrate Greek Easter with my family on May 1st.

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