Tag Archives: Travel

This girl can paint!

7 Mar

This young lady from Memphis, TN likes to take her talents on the road!  She rambles around various parts of the USA and world (currently headed to New Zealand with a pit-stop in Australia) with her palette and paints what she likes.  Check out her latest work at betsybrackin.com

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Our Neighbor is a Pig

21 Feb

Mr. Mallios and I have been looking for some new digs for the past month or so.  We found one contender not too far along in our search that was nearly perfect.  Great location, big enough yet cozy, fairly new,  2 bathrooms!  We decided we would take it.  We called the real estate agent that showed us the place and he agreed to drop the price down.  Great!  We dropped off a deposit and were contacted the next day by the owner of the place who wanted to meet his new tenants.  Sure, no problem.  At this meeting we discovered that the owner never agreed to the new price the agent had quoted us. Since the deal had already been done though, he said ok.  About a week later we found out that our friends had happened to rent the exact same house about 3 years ago.  What a coincidence!  They didn’t have too many good things to say about it.   They were especially vocal about the hotel across the street (closed for the winter season, opening in April) and its live Cretan music on Friday and Saturday nights.  No Thank you!  There’s nothing that I, or Mr Mallios for that matter, could want less than blaring lyre and sorrowful crooning at 11 o’clock at night.  I know, we’re getting old!  But try and find me a Cretan song that is uplifting and full of hope and you’ll be looking far and wide my friends.  Needless to say we reneged on our end of the deal and collected our deposit and began our search anew.

We looked at a lot of places outside of the main city.  I guess we are turning into country folk (haha not really).  Most were uninhabitable.  One resembled an old warehouse.  Windows and doors circa 1978-no insulation, frosted glass, iron bars.  Don’t really want to live in a jail thanks.  I’m not sure this was intended to be an apartment or any sort of living qaurters.  Perhaps a re-purposed animal shed?  Upcycling at its most creative!  A wall had been erected to divide the two “bedrooms” from the rest of the living space.  Leaving the rooms depressingly windowless.  The plus side?  The bathroom was gloriously big!  Greek bathrooms tend to be on the smaller (claustrophobic) side.  Well they used to in any case.  Now a days houses seem to be built with more comfortable proportions in mind.  On to the next place!

The real estate agent from the original find informed us that he had a house in a town right next to where we were looking.  2 bedroom, 2 bath, lots of living space!  We agreed we would meet there the following day at 10am.  We arrived at the house looking westward toward the majestic White Mountains and due north to the mesmerizing Aegean sea. Score!  The agent approached the gate with a few BAGS of keys, elevating the whole janitorial keychain to new heights, and proceeded to try out a few before lamenting that he did not have the right set with him.  We decided we would meet again tomorrow at the same time.  We arrived at 10am.  That morning the agent battled with considerably less sets of keys than the day before.  Alas he did not have the keys with him again.   Since we were there Mr Mallios decided to jump the fence to take a quick peek around the property.  The agent suggested he might try going through a window to see the inside of the house too.  Breaking and entering apparently carries no penalty when advised by your realtor here!  He found a window that didn’t have the roll down shutters and climbed on in.  In the meantime the agent’s right hand man (assistant?)  found a large rock and was bashing it against the padlock on the fence in the hopes that he would break it, thus allowing us access to the inside.  Hmmmmm……peculiar real estate practices here.  Mr Mallios successfully entered the house through a window.  I guess this means there’s no alarm system!   The assistant,  still adamant that he can break the lock on the gate, continued to beat it with a rock.  The agent was barking at him to stop and yelling at Mr Mallios to pull the front door open harder.  Shouts from behind the front door revealed that the door was locked from the inside or was it outside? The assistant gave up and tossed the rock aside and decided to focus his attention on me.  He was trying to formulate a plan on how to get the pregnant woman (his words) over the fence to see the inside. “We can hoist her over that part of the fence…or you go over and I’ll catch her.”  I don’t think so buddy.  The pig across the street decided to make an appearance after hearing all the commotion, letting out a few grunts and oinks before retreating back to its sty.  I guess that takes care of meeting the neighbors.  We left again without proper access to the house.  Two days later we got a call from the agent stating that the owner of the house would be there tomorrow (with the RIGHT keys).  Finally!  We went and took a tour of the spacious abode and decided to take it.  Not only was it the right size, price, location-all those important real estate things-but there were other less obvious factors that enticed us.  Namely we already knew how to break in.  Important if you lose your keys once a month.  We knew we had good neighbors.  Quiet and solitary so no loud parties on the weekends over there!  And probably delicious to eat come Easter!  Moving in next week!!

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Crete

28 Jan

We made it to crete! We were up on the boat ALL night…..Amy picked us up with Pantelis (cab driver) so I guess that was our last ride in a normal car for awhile! Haha. Unlike our Athenian cab drivers he did not provide a personal fiscal report nor elaborate on his thoughts about the crisis. Thank god. 5am is just too damn early for all that!

Costas was up and at em at 7:00am waiting for us 😉 with a fire burning in the wood stove. Which is great because it really does a fabulous job of heating the house, only problem is the exhaust pipe thing doesn’t seem to be doing its job very well so it’s pretty smokey inside. I already feel like I’m camping. I smell like I’ve been out in the woods for days and I haven’t even been here an hour. I’m really glad i got that manicure before i left? We slept for a bit in our simply furnished room downstairs. We opted for the tighter quarters instead of the roomier suite upstairs with queen bed and private bath due to the installation of screens a few years back which render the glass part of the window useless in its inability to close. Besides I was worried that the open door policy of that room would signal an invitation to our four legged furry friends to come and join us and I just don’t think I’m ready for that yet. One thing at a time.

We met Amy for lunch at the neighboring taverna which appeared to be THE hot spot for Sunday lunch today. Every table packed with people and all kinds of delicious looking food! We paused to strategize where we would sit and how best to avoid all the cigarette smoke. Luckily we found a table tucked in a cozy corner next to a window I could open and close at my leisure. I couldn’t help but think this is what the great Buddha had in mind when he spoke of karma. “Retired heavyweight champion chain smoker forced to sit in enclosed space with reigning champion chain smokers as penance.” Well at least I have a shot at enlightenment now. Or would it be Nirvana? Anyway wrong country.

We sat at the table for some time before the waiter, who last time I saw him was literally working in his pjs, sweats and slippers walking around in the grass I kid you not! He cleared the table and we waited for what seemed like a really long time before the owner came out with a big beautiful salad! Yay! And then she made a bunch of scribbles on her pad and came back with a shitload of food which was on the house! Finally for dessert she brought out an oval shaped plate piled high with fried potatoes! My favorite! I love a country where dessert is homemade fries! The day we set sail for Crete we had a light lunch of spanakorizo (spinach rice, really trying to get that iron in!) and some bread and cheese. We had an early (by Greek standards) dinner (10pm) on the boat before pretending to get some shuteye during the night. After passing yet another sleepless night in transit there was nothing left for our bodies to do, especially mine, than get some sleep. When I woke, shortly before meeting Amy, I could feel the little nugget kicking away in my belly. Just flopping around like a happy little camper. Wheee!! I was daydreaming about a mini slip and slide in there. Well, I came to realize that what was really going on was little Zeus/Gypsydoodle was saying, and I quote because we already have that mother/child unspoken bond, “hey you asshole give me some food. I’m fucking starving down here!” I think she’s gonna take after me 😉

Well It is absolutely gorgeous here. Gorgeous.  The White Mountains can only be described as lush merengue peaks bursting out of rock and green hills. They are thickly blanketed in snow and so impressively huge. Down here at sea level it is what can only be described as an Irish shade of green! Ahem, mom! Halikouti (the dog) really looks healthier than I’ve seen him in the past. I suppose he’s decided to clean up his act and start eating like a normal dog, only 3 square meals of Eukaneuba for him these days. I guess someone made some New Years resolutions around here.

Our room is super cozy thanks to the space heater the neighbor lent us.  Her and her husband insisted we stay in one of their rooms-free of charge?-until we get settled in.  I don’t know about that, but I will take advantage of the hot water over there until I can get the situation over here figured out.

I have noticed quite a few flys buzzing about. Perhaps due to the warmer weather? Well there happens to be one lone wolf of a fly in our bedroom flying from one side of the room to the next. I feel like I’m watching a tennis game. Back and forth. Back and forth. This sucker ain’t going down without a fight. I think I’ll name it Venus. Maybe Serena. I mean it is a big and black!

Time for bed! Xoxoxo

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And the Beat Goes On…

25 Jan

Today we set out to accomplish two minor tasks.  We were bright eyed and bushy tailed quite early, 8:30 or so, had our morning coffee (not for me).  Took a shit (not for me). And decided we would set off for Hania to check out the private “fancy” hospital where I may bring mine and Dimitris spawn into this cruel lonely world. 😉
Not far down the road, we stopped at the picturesque village of Kavro.  Oh Kavro, bursting with pungent fragrance all summer long.  Oh Kavro, village whose song sings in the hearts of those tourists riding the little train. We needed gas and decided to get our car washed.  The car was looked somewhat abandoned, maybe no one washes their car in the winter?, but after a go around to every storefront we got our guy!  Just a simple inside out job on the old Opel corsa.  We were informed that it would take an hour to clean.  Ok, I guess. While your at it could you give it a wax too then, rotate the tires maybe.  We went and grabbed a beer (not for me) and had a few smokes (not for me).  Our waitress was flashing some heavy duty cleavage (not for me). I debated on asking her to be my wet nurse but decided against it.  She might be Albanian and, oh god what would people say!  Anyhoo about an hour later we went back to the car wash to retrieve our Ferrari from the groomer.  Still not ready.  We milled around in front of a little church that has the honor of being adjacent to the village garbage dump.  Hey I thought this was a nation of devout Christians?!  Well lucky for us it must’ve been pick up day cuz there was nothing in there.  I peeked around the corner to see where we were at at our little pit stop and I saw the guy pressure washing, page by page, a book I had left to mold in the car.  A fellow lover of literature I guess!  I appreciated the gesture but was secretly high fiving myself for not leaving the 800+ page Ken Follet tome  behind.  We would have been there till may!  Finally, after almost two hours, we set out for our intended destination, Hania. Mission: hospital.
Hospital was very nice and clean.  Therefore not terribly fun to write about.  I’ve decided I want to see the maternity ward at the hospital in Rethymno just to compare.  I wouldn’t be surprised if its tucked away somewhere in the basement in between cleaning supplies and bio hazardous waste.  Just kidding!
To be continued……

The land of the Gods

25 Jan

We made it!  I am up with jet lag…aaaarg.  I got into bed at 7:30, that was probably a mistake!  Oh well, I might have slept for a total of 45 mins on the first flight.  Flying coach without Xanax is such a bummer! And I might have slept about a total of 40 mins on the 2nd flight. All 200 lbs of our luggage, that we avoided having to pay extra for by the skin of our teeth, arrived in tact thank hey Zeus!  Golden rule of traveling?  Bring half the stuff and twice the money!
Our descent into Athens provided spectacular views!  The snow dusted mountain tops looming above lush green hills tumbling into the dark blue waters of the Aegean is really a sight to behold!  The sky was so clear and the sun singing its happy song, dancing off the water like thousands of tiny mirrors!  Little boats carved tracks through the oily water and I almost forgot its the middle of winter!
Finally back on solid ground after traveling for approximately 20 hours we exit the Athens airport and step into the thick stench of cigarette smoke.  That’s when you can be certain you’re in Greece!  There is not a soul milling about, except the taxi drivers tucked snugly in their bright yellow benzes, and still the air is permanently blanketed with the haze of the billions (could very well be trillions) of butts smoked in the last hour or two, could even be the last 20 minutes!  America is so clean and pure.  Our cabbie, being true to his trade,didn’t stop talking the whole time.  We learned how many fares he had that day, we were his 3rd so far, how he’s struggling to pay the rent and bills.  How he’d been at the airport since 11am, it was now 5, and had taken 3 naps in his car already.  i suppose one in between every fare. The crisis, the crisis, the crisis….some story about his uncle and an old lady.  There might have been a dog or small child involved in that stream of consciousness too.  I tuned him out as Athens unfolded in a swirl of tail lights and neon signs beside me.  So disorderly and jumbled together are all the buildings here.  There really seems to be no rhyme or reason to the zoning laws.  I have to say I’m quite impressed with the extent and skill of the graffiti in Athens.  Despite what law official have been saying for decades, I think it really adds a nice touch to the decaying and abandoned concrete behemoths that seem to be on every corner.  Besides I always get a kick out of seeing the word skata in extra large letters whirl past me when I’m in the car.  It’s like that guy wanted to contribute too but was having some kind of creative block, or lost the rest of his graffiti palette and was left only with black and the idea that that word might solve his or anyone else’s problems.  Skata. It turns up a lot as a matter of fact.  Think it’s the same guy?
We were deposited at a busy corner near dimitris childhood home.  People on their way home from work doing their best to ignore traffic lights and pedestrians. Bundled up in their winter coats and hats, at one point on the ride to the house a guy walked out of a store with a brand new set of skis, the kind one uses on snow.  Wait, what!  I guess he’s an anomaly because the only sports I’ve ever seen Greeks participate in is smoking and tavli!  Eating whole animals and gulping wine could be in there too I suppose. Wait maybe that’s just the Cretans.  We lugged all our stuff up the stairs and sat down to a simple but delicious meal of fasolakia with potatoes casually floating in a pool of oil.  Hey I forgot those guys could swim!  So now it’s almost 3am here, gonna try and get some more z’s.Image