Evening in Tunis

As it turns out, my friend’s brother and I were on the same flight.  Thanks to technology, we learned this and Wafa (my friend, the bride) said she would pick me up at the airport since she would already be there for her brother.

I landed in Tunis and was hit by heat and humidity as soon as I stepped off the airplane.  However, I was quickly cooled by the airport’s marble and tiled walls and floors.

Cool tile and marble baggage claim area

I tried to exchange money but of course the two change bureaus were closed but the lovely security guards told me I could exchange my money after customs.

Airports make me emotional, the tug on the heartstrings of watching people say goodbye or be reunited is deep for me.  I have spent my life bidding farewell to family with the hope of seeing them again the following year, or the year after, or my current state of unknowing.

As I walked out of customs and searched the crowds awaiting for their own arriving loved ones, I heard, in a California accent none the less, “Sally!” I turned my head to the voice and found Wafa waving and running towards me.  I dropped my suitcase and hugged her and immediately burst into tears.  It’s not that I haven’t seen her in too long, I guess it’s been about a year or two since she moved to Tunisia but now she’s a bride and a lawyer and I had been traveling for over 20 hours.  And I don’t need to justify my emotions, I feel and I’m happy for feeling.  When I pulled it together, I said hello to her mother, her littlest brother, and her cousin.  Now we went to exchange money as we waited for her other brother–the one that was on my flight.

We walked out to the sweltering heat and loaded our bags in her car, then we wove our way around the labyrinth of the airport parking lot.  I was told that the barricades and barriers in the lanes were not there even a year ago but security has increased with the rise of terrorism.

We drove to her flat, piled in the elevator which took us two trips between the 5 people and 4 suitcases.  As soon as we were inside we all got comfortable, shoes off, covers off, air conditioning on, everybody wash your face and drink some water.  Like I said, I haven’t seen Wafa in a year or two so we, needless to say, had a lot to talk about.  We talked and talked and then decided to make coffee and have a sweet, over which we talked some more.

Wafa’s street

Not the best photo but can you please, please admire the light hitting the building on the left? The Mediterranean sun IS different.

Grape vines in the courtyard

Eventually we decided we should take me to my bed and breakfast.  So we drove to the kasbah (city center and place of government), Wafa parked and the two of us dragged my suitcase and my handbag; sometimes we would park the handbag on the side of the walkway and carry, from either side, my behemoth of a suitcase down some stairs or across some particularly unpatched cobblestone.

Tunisian machmoum, cluster of flowers

This now lives on my nightstand and I can think of no better scent to wake up to

We wove through the allies of the old medina stopping where we deemed fit.  We popped into Dar el Jeld, a restaurant and hotel that Wafa really wanted to show me.  It was beautiful, in the style of old Arabic houses, mosaic tiles and an open air courtyard, a gentleman was playing a qanun (lap guitar) in the courtyard and the scene was just perfect.  Wafa stopped me on our way out to spray jasmine perfume on my wrist and we both reveled in the amazing floral scents of the mediterranean.  On our way out, the bell boy who had been watching our bags, handed us each a machmoum, a cluster of flowers  (ward el full, or in English, jasmine of the east) tightly wrapped with red string.  If you like the smell of jasmine, wait until you smell this.

We continued walking and talking, observing on our way the stray cats in the alleys and the children playing.  As we were walking, Wafa suddenly stopped and said “wait, this is where I take book binding classes!” So naturally, we stopped in to say hello to her instructor.  He was so thrilled to see her and she gave him a wedding invitation.  His workshop was amazing, hand bound books everywhere, paper everywhere, a press.  Wow!

Onwards.  Finally we got to the junction that we thought was my street and so we turned under the archway, as the B&B owner had instructed me and there it was, #24.  We rang the bell, heard footsteps and the door opened by a beautiful petite woman, Sondos.  She had a full head of grey and white curls and the body of a dancer, she was wearing a small, flowered summer dress and welcomed us in.  We chatted, she showed me my room, the house, and offered us lemonade.  We drank in one of the open-aired sitting rooms and after all of the logistics had been covered, she invited me to her friend’s house for an aperitif, only if I didn’t already have plans.

I did not and on we went.  The house we had been invited to was also an old house in the medina, not a two minute walk from Sondos’s and had been recently renovated by Salim, an architect and the owner.  We knocked on the door and as soon as he opened the door, a cat greeted our legs.  “Come in, come in!” We were ushered in and then out to the courtyard at the center of the house where a lemon tree took up half of the space.  A jasmine vine was crawling up the stark white of one of the walls.  There was a table in the middle of the courtyard where I joined the already happening discussion: Salim’s wife (I feel terrible for not recalling her name), two Italian researchers: Esther and Emmanuela, and a Colombian researcher, Andreas, on sabbatical at Rutgers but in Tunisia for a month to study Arabic.

I had a celtia, a Tunisian beer and nibbled on super salty black olives with leaves of rosemary stuck to them while we talked and Salim prepared pasta.  We discussed all of our backgrounds and research and the current state of affairs in Tunisia, the United States, Europe, and Colombia.  The languages being spoken were Spanish, French, Arabic–both Levantine and Tunisian, and English.  Salim and his wife’s two little girls paraded in and out of the living room to the courtyard, one dressed in a long blue princess dress and the other in just her underwear.  When the little princess went to sleep, the one parading around half naked brought us all flowers to smell and helped Andreas with his Arabic.

Eventually we were all exhausted and parted ways, Sondos and I walking back to La Chambre Bleue, the B&B. What a day, like I said, travel with an open heart.  Or come to think of it, we ought to live life with an open heart, not only when we are traveling outside of our element.  We should always welcome what life throws our way with open arms and heart.

Travel Day

I am in Paris, waiting for my next flight (to Tunis).  I want to re-emphasize my belief that travel is magical.  Being outside of one’s element is so important and traveling with an open heart is vital.  If you have not yet gathered, I’m not a resort or tour kind of traveler but on the other end of the spectrum, closer to the couch-surfer variety but not all the way there.

On the first plane, I watched a movie I had been meaning to watch for a few months now, the Music of Strangers.  If you get the chance, I highly recommend it.  Renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma brings people together from countries along the Silk Road, combining music of the instruments from those countries.  The passion, the talent, and the tragedy are incredibly touching.  Not to mention the powerful and beautiful music that is created by this group of amazing individuals.

Around Albuquerque

This morning I slept in, I had had a choppy night’s sleep on account of the heavy dinner I had eaten last night at Elaine’s.  Asparagus salad (arugula, shaved zucchini, and asparagus with amazing burrata) and barramundi (Asian sea bass) over pureed Jerusalem artichoke.  Both dishes were exquisite but heavy and would have been much better shared.  Ah well, next time.

I went out for a walk in the crisp morning air, it was about 40˚ here but the cold is more bearable because it’s that dry, desert cold, not like Monterey with the penetrating, wet cold of the coastal fog.

“A Registered Cultural Property” plaque on the house where I’m staying

After getting ready, I walked to the Hyatt Regency where the conference I’m here for is being held.  I registered and went to find a café to work; the first session relevant to me isn’t until the afternoon and I find that I’m tremendously productive in my work when I’m out of town.

A dirty chai as I work at The Brew coffee shop

Albuquerque is quiet and slow.  I thought Monterey was slow but this is a whole new level of slow and quiet.  There is nobody on the streets, cafe’s are empty.  I guess it’s conducive to my productivity.

I worked at The Brew until it was lunch time at which point I walked over to Le Troquet for lunch.  I started with a split of prosecco and some escargot with piping hot bread rolls.  It was divine–melted butter and garlic and thyme chunks running down the side of the crispy, crunchy bread, topped with the chewy escargot, immediately followed by a tiny sip of the magnificently effervescent, chill, prosecco.  Divine, simply divine.

 

Cin cin!

I made friends with Sherry, the waitress.  She was large and in charge, “I stay big so I don’t get kidnapped, honey, Albuquerque is dangerous, you know!” Oh.  I see.

Next course.  French onion soup and a deep cabernet.  Delicious.

In between customers, we made conversation, she was from California and interested in what I was doing in town, if I was single, what I did for a living, etc.  I watched her open a nice bottle of red wine and pour two glasses.  A diner came up and asked if that wine was for her and her husband.  Sherry responded that, yes, it was.  The woman told her they had indeed ordered white wine.  Sherry apologized and went to fetch the wine they had actually wanted.  Moments later, she deposited a glass of red wine (pinot noir, it would turn out) on my table, “my mistake!!”  So I stayed, enjoying my “mistake wine.”

“Dessert?” Sherry asked me, “the chocolate mousse is amazing, it has 3 egg whites in it, it’s super fluffy.”  ha ha ha.  Sherry, you had me at chocolate mousse.

Foreground: (from left to right) pinot noir, chocolate mousse, pretty red rose. Background: couple who granted me two glasses of (said) nice pinot noir 🙂

I had the chocolate mousse and another glass of pinot noir mysteriously appeared at my table.  I leisurely enjoyed my dessert and wine as Sherry cleaned up the place, preparing for the dinner shift.  I figure a nap is due in preparation for the rest of the day.

Cheers, folks!

 

Happy Valentimes Day!!

Happy Valentimes Day! I love saying that to people.  I don’t subscribe to Valentine’s Day being the day to celebrate love, although I do encouraging celebrating love and a day dedicated to love and chocolate will not go uncelebrated in my life.

Today has been great.  I started it off with a run, despite my run not being as long as I would have liked, it was energizing and beautiful nevertheless.  I had champagne brunch with a dear dear friend and I have found that spending time with those we love is the most beautiful gift we have.  I am so thankful to be able to spend that time with people I love.  I’m so thankful to have those people in my life.  I wish that for you, to have people you love and love you back and the quality time to spend with them.

I found myself at the airport and had a lovely nap on my hoppy flight to Phoenix.  I landed and found my way to my connecting flight’s gate, I had to make sure everything was still according to plan before finding the airport watering hole.  Once I had made sure my ducks were in a row, I sauntered into the bar.  Saunter is probably not the right word, bounce is probably more accurate a description for my entry to the bar on this particular day.  The cute bartender called, “Hello, doll.”

“Hi, there!” I replied happily.

“I love your jacket!” she told me.

“Thank you, I think it’s cold where I’m going.”

She laughed at the uncertainty in my voice and we had a lovely conversation.

“Do you have champagne?” I asked, not seeing it on the menu.

“Only prosecco,” she replied.

“Perfect, I’d like a glass.”

She poured me a double in a wine glass and later when she brought me the bill I noticed that she had charged me for the cheapest wine.  Who’s the doll now?

I took a sip and asked her what I was drinking, she went behind the bar and checked the bottle, “La Marca” she called back.

A smile came across my face as I told her that was what I had been drinking in the morning.  How fortuitous.

My mom always says it doesn’t cost anything to have a smile on your face and be nice but what you can do for others with that seamless effort on your part is amazing and unknown.  You don’t know what your kindness brings to the world.  Maybe you’re encountering someone who is going through a rough patch and your kindness makes their situational more bearable.  Maybe the person you’re kind to is already happy and you increase the happiness and positivity in the world.  Maybe you make a new friend.

Reno vacation

I love to travel. Travel days are so exciting to me, I always have my bags packed and by the door the night before. I have unchecked items on my packing list that are for the morning.  And I always budget enough time to make tea.  This travel day was no different. 🙂

The view from our room — this is not a black and white photo!

I am in Reno for Christina and my annual MLK weekend getaway to Tahoe. We got snowed out of Tahoe so here we are. Well, here I am. Christina doesn’t arrive until late tonight.  So I spent the day writing, I took myself to a nice brunch, I napped, went to the gym, picked up groceries, and napped some more before I picked Christina up at the airport.

My groceries: wine, apples, avocados, beef jerky, nutella, popcorn, protein bars, clementines, garbanzo bean puffs, tuna, chocolate, and not pictured, cheese and carrots in the refrigerator. (Good thing I checked a bag, there’s no way we’ll drink 4 bottles of wine!).

Upon her arrival, we caught up over wine and went into a deep sleep, making sure we had closed the black out curtains really well.

Day 2, we sat and admired the snowy mountains outside our window over coffee and tea.  We don’t need to speak when we’re together, we can just be.  Eventually we settled on a plan for the day and headed out to find a cafe before driving to Tahoe for the day.

I think I found where we’re going out tonight!

 

Capuccino at Magpie coffee roasters that the sweet guy beautifully made for me

We drove to “House of Bread” on the other side of town.  We needed bread for our picnic and the lady at the bakery, Susan, immediately opened up to us about the abusive relationship she had escaped.  This is not unusual (that people open up to us).  We had a really nice conversation, bought some sourdough and went on our way.

Unreal trees on our drive from Reno to Tahoe

View from the freeway…AMAZING!!!!

We made it to our destination, Alibi Ale Works in Incline Village.  We have been coming here for as long as we’ve been doing this annual trip (3 years) and the place has only been opened for 3 years…super cool!  One of the ladies behind the bar, Christie, recognized us and said, you come up every year, don’t you?  That was really special.  We had a few beers and talked about life.  We booked some accommodations for future travel together (yay! nothing makes me happier than traveling with Christina).

Alibi Ale Works!!!!

The brewery, Alibi Ale Works

We bid our farewell (Christie called out, “See you next year!”) and we headed on our way to our next destination, the Ritz-Carlton where we park down at Northstar and take the gondola up to the hotel where there is a lovely lobby with a huge vaulted, wooden beamed ceiling and an octagonal center stone pillar with 4 fireplaces, on every other surface.  On the ride up, we sat in a gondola with 3 other people who we learned were from San Diego.  After the door was closed by the attendant, one of them pulled out a flask, took a sip, and offered me a swig of his whiskey.  It was Johnnie Walker double black.  Quite good, a bit smokey.  It made me think of my uncles back in Syria who used to always drink Johnnie Walker and sneak it in my coke as a kid.  I love how taste can trigger memory.

We found a seat in the lobby and ordered wild boar nachos and drinks (I got a pear gin fizz, delicious!) There was a pianist (keyboardist?) playing beautiful covers in front of the fireplace.  Four middle-aged ladies sat across from us and we struck up a conversation.  One of them was planning her trip on the Camino de Santiago and was really excited to hear that I knew about it and had lived near by, we talked and she had lots of questions.  Eventually they asked us what we both did and a bit about our lives.  We shared with them and they were impressed by our desire to and actual travel.  On the gondola ride down I asked Christina, “do you think it’s a generational thing or just us?” She concluded that it was just us, or that people don’t have the means or don’t prioritize travel.  I disagree, I think travelers have existed forever, think of explorers and writers…people have been curious about the other and what’s out there since the dawn of man, I say.

I don’t know, all I know is I love to travel, whether it’s getting on an airplane and changing four flights to get to some far off destination or hopping in my car and driving up to the Russian River.  Exploring, getting out of your routine, breaking your schedule, and seeing new things is vital for growth and expanding one’s horizon.  I say.

Cheers, friends!!

No good deed ever goes unrewarded

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The Dead Sea, Jordan side

I woke up as the car rolled to a stop at the parking lot of Mount Nebo…in my half awake state, I thought I had heard somebody say that the site closed at 5pm.  It was 4:55.  Three police officers sat on plastic chairs near the entryway, “Is it open?” I called out to them. “Yes,” the middle one answered lazily, swinging his crossed leg back and forth.  “Do they close at 5?”  I asked, the tinges of irritation creeping into my head.  “Yes,” he responded in the same monotonic tone.  I chuckled away my irritation…he had answered my first question honestly.

At the front gate, we were told that the entry fee was 1 Jordanian Dinar.  We pulled out our wallets and paid.  “Doesn’t it close at 5?” I asked.  “Yella, 5:30.” (Alright fine, 5:30), the guard responded as if he had just acceded to a pleading toddler.  Still in my sleepy haze, I handed over a 1 JD piece and the guard looked surprised, “Miss, this is no longer used.” “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said and handed him another. “Where did you find this?”  I explained that I had found them in a box of currency at my parents’ house.  “These are no longer in circulation! Can I look at it?” He stared, inspecting every letter, every crease, starry-eyed at the out-dated currency with that juvenile glow of excitement.  After I paid – with effective currency – I told the guard he could keep the out-of-service piece.  He tucked it delicately into his uniform pocket.  I checked my wallet and found 1/2 and 1 JD notes that were no longer in circulation and took them out and handed them to him. “Here,” I said with a smile, “have these, too.”  “Allah yerda3 3allayki” (may God be kind to you) and he went on…wishing God would have favor on me, thanking me for my kindness.  He waved us through, despite our attempts for the last person in our party to pay, he insisted that it was unnecessary.  I felt like his blessings and well-wishes, although welcomed on my part, were a bit much for me giving him the equivalent of $2.50 in worthless currency.  But like they say, one woman’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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Cross sculpture at Mount Nebo (Moses’ serpent cross)

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Beautiful olive tree

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Mount Nebo, Jordan

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Looking out onto the Promised Land (Jericho is in the far distance and the Dead Sea to the far left)

On our way out, the same guard stopped us and handed each of us a Mount Nebo keychain as a token of his appreciation for our kindness.  I walked to the car with a skip in my step thinking that despite what we may hear, kindness and appreciation are not lost in our world.  As my dad says, “life is a mirror, if reflects back out at you who/what you are.”  So if you want to see more kindness in the world, put some kindness out there.

Traveling brings out the…best and worst in people?

Traveling provides me with so much social commentary.  (read, Sally-rant)

First.  The little girl in the seat behind me would on occasion kick my seat.  She was 4ish years old and figuring out life.  At one point, after a particularly hard jolt I got to the seat back, I turned around to say something but the mother intercepted. “Sweetie, you can’t do that.   The lady in front of you paid for that seat, you only paid for your so you can do what you want to your seat but you aren’t allowed to touch hers because she paid for it.”

Little girl: “She bought the seat?”

Mom: “No, she rented it, so to speak.  So during the time we’re on the plane, it’s hers and you can’t kick it because she paid money for it and we didn’t.  You only paid for the seat that you are in so you just stay in that seat and touch it but you don’t touch other ones because we didn’t pay money for them”

Are you serious?  Is that how some parents teach their children to be kind to other people or respectful or considerate?  That other people paid for something and we didn’t so we have to respect their space or them, period?  The approach I had when I was raised was “you don’t do that, that’s rude,” but I’m also familiar with the sympathy/compassion approach, “how would that make you feel if someone spent the entire flight kicking the back of your chair while you are sitting peacefully in it trying to enjoy a book?”

Is money the deterrent to bad behavior?  Is money or ownership what drives us to be kind to one another or considerate? Is that what our society is coming to?  That we teach our children that we paid for something and therefore can do with it what we please but have to respect the things that other people paid for.  Does this mean that one with money is respectable but (s)he who does not have money is not?  Is there not dignity and the respect for the other human?  Do we not feel that we ought to respect others because they deserve it?  Or following the golden rule, because that’s how we want to be treated?  I was dumbfounded.  Appalled and it made me sad.

Then.  We were in queue to board a shuttle in the airport to go to our gate and a woman, the first woman in the queue wheeled up her suitcase and was holding her big coat and her huge over-the-shoulder-bag and stopped at the door of the shuttle.  She started to organize her things and said “well I’m going to hold everyone up here,” she was anxiously jamming the retractable rolly-handle back into the suitcase (which of course, wasn’t cooperating).  I asked “can I help?” She looked at me and rolled her eyes, she laughed and said “never, I’m not one of those.”  I don’t quite know what one of those means but someone that accepts help?  Maybe she thinks one of those is a helpless person who cannot take care of him/herself.  I thought how ugly her response was, coming from a place of utter pride and insecurity.  I thought of something one of my favorite people in the world says “A thank you would suffice.”  You don’t need to prove who you are or aren’t you can just gracefully accept that others want to help you and not just you, want to help people.

**writing this at the airport, so I apologize for any misspellings or grammar erros.  

Islands of Hydra, Poros and Aegina

We took a 1-day cruise through the Saronic Gulf to the islands of Hydra, Poros and Aegina. The day started beautifully, we sat on the deck of a big boat with warm sun, good music and a freddo (Greek iced coffee). A tall, young, beautiful, Greek dancer, Michaelus came and gave us a dance lesson – a little difficult to maintain balance  on a rocking boat, but it made for an interesting experience.  
sailing throuh the Aegean Sea

Our first stop was at the Island of Hydra, a small island with the population of 3000 people and where cars and motorized vehicles are not permitted – people get around by walking or donkey.  We got off the boat and walked along the shorefront and through the white-washed allies. Life here seems really simple, there is no vehicular traffic to cause noise or stress and so it seems to me that people live tranquilly.  As we were leaving a short, older gentleman with the skin the color of tan-leather and a head full of silver hair stopped me and asked if I cared for a ride on the donkey.  I thanked him but said I had no time.  “Ok. Ok. You is beautiful lady,” he said through a toothless smile as he walked away.  “Efharistó!” (thank you), I called after him and hopped along my way to catch the boat.

mama and me 🙂

Island of Hydra

white crooked, perfectly imperfect alley-ways of Hydra

squishy!

precious donkey blocking the road in Hydra

Back on the boat, we had a buffet lunch of Greek food –  dolma, beet salad, tomato salad, a variety of rices, fish, olives, cheese, chicken, pork, and (my favorite) honey-walnut cake.  The cake was a dense yellow-sponge cake speckled with walnuts and soaked in a honey syrup.  Yum! 

We made our way to the Island of Poros – an island with a population of 7000 and here, there are cars. We walked along the dock and watched a little boy, maybe 7 years old learning how to fish with his grandfather.  In between casting the line and catching the fish, grandpa was feeding the little boy bites of his sandwich. The boy ate willingly because if he ate, he got to fish more.

Church as we approach the Island of Poros, maximum capacity 21.5

boats lining the Island of Porous

Next stop, Aegina, the largest of the 3 Saronic Islands which we visited. This island is famous for its pistachio groves, the monastery of St. Nectarios and has a very rich history (of which I will only share with you what I recall). The very first coin minted in the world was from the Island of Aegina in about 700 BC and had a sea turtle on it.

The 20 remaining (of 365) churches built by the Aegeans as protection from pirates

Bougenvillia in front of the Monastery of St. Nectarios

hallway in the Monastery of St. Nectarios

Kalistera…

After touring the Island of Aegina and eating pistachios roasted with lemon, we boarded the cruise ship for the last time and watched a show of Greek folk dancers.  The two men performed traditional dances from various parts of Greece.  Of course there’s the Zorba but my favorite was a dance from Macedonia which depicts the wheat harvest by dance.  It is a one-person show and the dancer dances the first part with a sickle, as if harvesting the wheat; the sickle is spun around and around the dancer’s body.  Next he uses a sifter, a round, tray looking device lined on the bottom with a mesh strain and dances with that.  The last part was incredible, he held the sifter upright and balanced a glass of wine on the rim and did a little number with it, he twisted it left and right and then he began to furiously spin the sifter around and over his head.  The crowd all watched, awe-struck clapping and yelling “oppa!”

Land of milk and honey

We had breakfast on the rooftop of our hotel, with a view of the acropolis and ruins of the Temple of Zeus. The planter boxes that lined the outdoor terrace were filled with rosemary, oregano, geranium, among other fragrant herbs. A small olive tree grew to my right, with black olives hanging ripe on it. It’s incredible how lush the land is and consequently extremely fertile, explains a lot of the richness of the cuisine and the ancient tradition of food production,  preparation, preservation.  

We took a bus to the Cape of Sounion today, about 75 km SE of Greece. We wound along the Aegean Sea passing gorgeous homes, fuchsia bougenvilia, white and purple oleander, olive trees, caper trees, and more oregano than meets the eye. There’s something about the Mediterranean – the sun glistens off the water differently here, it seems shinier than elsewhere, maybe from all the blood spilled in ancient battles or all the passionate love stories that were made here or maybe there’s just something magical about the Mediterranean. There definitely is. We stopped on the side of the road for a view of the temple of Poseidon (Greek God of the Sea), and continued on our way to the topf of the hill where the Temple is located.  The Temple was built by the Greeks in the 5th Century BC. Apparently the temple was destroyed by the Persians in the 4th Century and rebuilt by the Greeks in the 5th.  It is a 4-sided building, with the traditional Greek columns, 42 originally of which 15 stand today. 
 
Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion, Greece

View from the top of Cape Sounion

Remains of the Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion, Greece

Beautiful – I don’t know what tree this is but it wasn’t an olive tree

Partridge!

These flowers were growing up between rocks in seemingly unlivable conditions

Mama and me at the Temple of Poseidon

Enjoying an afternoon freddo cappuccino – a very commmon Greek drink, espresso over ice with really thick foamed milk on top.

The colors at sunset here are incredible. A golden sun set in a clear sky that’s changing colors by he minute, pinks and oranges, soft purples and blues. The closer the sun gets to the horizon, the more yellow it appears and the more pink the sky becomes. Now more purple skies – no wonder people stop what they’re doing at sunset and allow themselves to be mesmorized by the beauty of it.


excuse the quality of the photo, it was taken from the bus but this is the sunset over the Aegean Sea

In the evening, we wound through the old allies of the Plaka to a Tavern recommended to us by the concierge.  It was a bit off the beaten path, nestled in a hill right next to an Orthodox Church. We sat at the top of the hill and let the waiter (who I named Georgous because that seems to be every other man’s name here) choose our meal for us.  We started with a Greek salad, cucumbers, tomatoes, thinly sliced red onions, capers, olives and feta cheese, that Georgous dressed for us with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt.  Georgous was a very animated man, “you must eat Greek salad with a lot of olive oil otherwise it’s not Greek salad,” he proclaimed as he threw his hands up in the air. For the next course, mama and papa b had grouper with spinach and monkfish with mushrooms, respectively.  I had lamb cooked in foil with potatoes and cheese – another waiter removed the contents of the foil onto my plate at the side of the table. The food was delicious, tender and flavourful.  One of the times Georgous came to check on us he insisted I try a caper with a chunk of potato and a piece of meat, which I did.  I ate it and smiled and he said “you see, The Greeks, we know how enjoy the food!”  We had this with a jug of house red wine that was spectacular and believe it or not, we did not have dessert!