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The bug travelling around in Greece (and maybe even further sometimes?)
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04 June 2007

Something to write home about

Travelling to Munich and St.Gallen

Saturday morning I woke up early and took the morning flight to Munich. I slept all through the afternoon, then we went to a student party, where everybody talked about music. I declared Montepucci to be my favourite opera composer (that resulted in a bit of confusion) and met some friends of Elenis I had only heard about. Next morning we took the train to Switzerland.

Over here it's nice and green. It rained a couple of times, all the other times the weather can't quite decide if it should give us clouds or sun, cold or warm. We went to see the library of the convent of St.Gallen (Stiftsbibliothek), where they showed us some books that were about 1200 years old. Tomorrow we will make a trip by train to the mountains.

Posted by betabug at 22:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
07 June 2007

Mountains and a Lake

Grisonia and Lake Constance

Tuesday morning we woke up early and took the train to Grisonia (Graubünden), one of the mountainous cantons of Switzerland. We had thought about getting my fathers car, because the trip would have been a bit shorter. In the end, going by train proved to be a nice idea, much more relaxed and much easier to look out of the window. In Chur (the capital of Grisonia) we changed trains to go to Ilanz, a small city in the mountains with a beautiful old walled city ring. The ride up there through the canyon of the river Rhine is wonderful.

Up there we met with friends and family, enjoyed stories, food and drink. We went on by car to Laax to visit with more family. On the way back we took that ages-old traditional transport, the swiss postal coach (Postauto), then we went back by train down the Rhine's wide valley.

Public transport in Switzerland is very nice - if it weren't for the prices. If you live there, you can buy a pass that is valid for a year and cuts prices in half. But for a visitor, the prices are truly breathtaking.

On Wednesday we did a bit of chocolate shopping in St.Gallen, said good bye to everybody and went on the train back to Munich. We left the train again in Lindau on Lake Constance (Bodensee). Lindau is the bavarian stronghold on the lake. The oldest part of the city is built on an island in the lake (connected with dams and bridges for trains and cars). We had a stroll around and a good look at the lake. The weather was very sticky and warm, even though it was mostly cloudy. After our little excursion we took the train to Munich where we arrived just in time to shop for dinner and for todays food (since today is public holiday where shops are closed).

Posted by betabug at 14:14 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
10 June 2007

Bier im Zug

Alkoholismus oder so?

Einer der Eindrücke, die bei mir während meiner Reise nach Deutschland am stärksten eingeschlagen haben, war die Szene in einem Regionalzug irgendwo zwischen Lindau und München. Der Zug hatte sich an jedem Halt erneut gefüllt und überfüllt. Des öfteren stiegen Leute ein, die Bier mit sich führten. Letzten November als ich in München war, hatte mich schon beeindruckt, wie junge Männer in der Strassenbahn Bier tranken, etwas was man sich zuhause in Athen gar nicht vorstellen könnte. In diesen Regionalzug war jetzt ein junger Mann eingestiegen, der neben seiner Tasche noch drei grosse Bierdosen balancierte. Niemand hatte komisch geschaut. Etwas weiter hatte ein anderer junger Mann vier Bierflaschen in der Tasche, er selber trank zwei, sein Mitfahrer machte nach einer Schluss.

Es war kurz nach vier Uhr Nachmittags. Etwas weiter sah ich dann mit Erstaunen, wie auch ein Grüppchen älterer Zusteiger je eine Bierflasche in den Zug getragen hatte. Der ganze Zug schien zu saufen, ich könnte noch mehr Fahrgäste aufzählen. Ich glaube jeder kennt die Statistiken, die aussagen, dass Deutschland den höchsten Pro-Kopf-Konsum an Bier hat. Da bin ich also im Zug gesessen und sah die Statistik in "real time" aufblinken.

Die Art wie die Leute ihr Bier in den Zug getragen haben beeindruckte mich auch. Es war weder die Aussage von "ich bin ja so ein böser Junge, ich trinke hier Bier", noch "Bier trinken ist ja so cool", für mich hatte es mehr nach einem alltäglichen Alkoholismus ausgesehen. Die Aussage war für mich "mein Leben funktioniert immer nur leicht angetrunken; wenn ich in diesem lauten, ungemütlichen Zug zwei Stunden verbringen muss, muss ich trinken".

Posted by betabug at 14:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
12 June 2007

Smoke Booth

Inject substance here
smokers booth in Munich airport

No, pictured in this mellow photo are no phone booths. What you see here, is the smokers corner in the Munich airport gate area (notice the "cigarette sign" on top?). Each nicotine addicted person is entitled to their own glass cage, probably well separated from each other, as not to raise any mistaken ideas of social behavior.

The cabins must have ventilation or some kind of vacuum cleaner sucking up the fumes. Still I noticed them from the cold smoke smell while walking by. No ventilation can be good enough. Good that I am a non-smoker.

Posted by betabug at 09:28 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
24 July 2007

Clear Water

Easy Island

This morning I started on a surprise daytrip to Hydra. Get out of the hot city, quiet down, and - the real reason - show my father around who is vacationing here now. I'm envious.

Already went for a swim. Saying that "the water is cristal clear" is such a cliche. But its true. I was happy to have brought my swimming glasses: I saw for what seemed 30m under water, small fish, and the rocks dropping down under me to the deep blue. I was tempted to dive all the way down. Instead I took many small dives, to marvel at the sunlight streaming through the surface as I came up.

Posted by betabug at 15:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
06 August 2007

Deep Blue on Hydra

Beach vacation

We have arrived on Hydra island, got our room, then had a long good walk along the coast (beautyful path) and now we are on the beach.

Swimming, laying lazy in the sun. For an hour or so there was a cloudy sky, but now we're back to the regular frying program.

It's not as rocky on this beach. The water is nice, but I like the deeper blue of the rocky swimming place in the main town.

Posted by betabug at 13:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
09 August 2007

Two Island Days, Summer in the City

Never long enough

We spent two days on Hydra. It was wonderful again. Went swimming in that place near the town, where the water is deep and blue, and the children jump in from the rocks 3 or 4 meters up high. With the swimming goggles, I could see the bubbles underwater, as they dove in. We walked around a bit more, and I took a lot of pictures (watch this space).

Now we're back in Athens. We're showing my father and Ruth around. We take good care in dealing with the heat. Even though it's significantly cooler than the heat wave days, the city is a hot place in August. No wonder everybody flees it whenever they can. A lot of restaurants are closed (not in the tourist areas of course). We had good luck that our friend Panos recommended Το Φασόλι (to fasoli, the bean) in Exarheia. A deviation of the traditional Greek foods that our guests had lived on. The "bean" has a fusion of modern and traditional Greek dishes, a very nice ambiente and friendly service. They will be closing for their summer vacation this Friday too (and we'd say "well deserved!", we will come back). For ourselves... we'll be soon out of the city heat for a bit longer too.

Posted by betabug at 17:15 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
14 August 2007

Bridge Tourism

Relaxing at Rio
betabug on the bridge of Rio

Here I am, standing on the foot walk of the big bridge from Rio to Antirio (from the Peloponisos peninsula to the mainland of Greece). Last Saturday I had set out to visit Panos (libero of HelMUG fame) and friends on their family house near Patras. Their place is wonderful. An old stone house, with thick walls, wooden floors, an enchanted garden (in which I had a great afternoon nap). Great company too, we had lots of talks about football and Switzerland.

Saturday evening Panos and me went for a walk on the bridge. We walked to the half point, then turned around. Took lots of great pictures (no time to assemble them yet). Some scary moments, when we had to walk over a metal grille, looking through on the sea a big, big plunge below. Windy too. On Sunday I had to leave, to get Eleni from the airport. Back to Athens again, but soon to leave on further travels.

Posted by betabug at 09:31 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
15 August 2007

The Boat

Water vacation

Here I am, on the next hop of my vacation. I'm on the island of Skopelos, on the Kaïki (a boat shaped like the greek sailingboats) of friends.

There isn't much space, it's most of the time too hot or too cold... but it is just wonderful. We're moored in a little gulf, so to take a swim we just jump overboard.

The boat has been reworked lovingly to be a hobby boat. Unlike most kaïkia it still has a sail.

Posted by betabug at 18:35 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
18 August 2007

Island Hopping

Moving along

After 3 days of staying moored and enjoying to go to swim 3 times a day, we hopped over to a small, almost unhabitated island next to Allonisos.

Travelling with the small boat was nice. At noon we waited close to Skopelos for the wind to calm down.

Over here it's very quiet: No shops, no restaurants, no electricity.

Posted by betabug at 19:35 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
23 August 2007

Home Again

Back in Athens

We're back home. Athens is hot again, especially after having breathed the cool air near the sea so long. Also especially after the f$%# air condition in the bus from Agios Constantinos harbor - the bus driver was determined to deliver his passengers deep frozen. Tonight I won't do anything more.

Posted by betabug at 22:16 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
17 November 2007

The Duets - Brubeck and Desmond

Music at the Airport

So I'm early for my flight to wintery Munich today, wandering around the airport here. Boredom has me and I flip through the CD racks at the airport CD store. My eyes fall on a CD labelled "1975: The Duets - Brubeck & Desmond". It's about 7 Euro only (!) so I grab it. Digitizing it while waiting for my boarding to start... who needs plastic coasters anyway. Though the printed inlet is nice. And the music?

The music is just wonderful. Relaxed and dreamy, Paul Desmond and Dave Brubeck get along very well. I'm a longtime Brubeck fan, even seen the man play life with his band, which is an experience. Desmond describes these duets in the inlet text as

"...kind of mind-blowing. With just the two of us playing, an almost eerie feeling of freedom occured, which seldom happens when there are other instruments to be considered."

This feeling certainly is there to listen to in the recording. It's a record to play when you want to relax and flow away. I'm not yet at the point where I can distinguish the songs really, except maybe for "Koto Song" (which I also have on "Late Night Brubeck") and "You Go To My Head", which was recorded life on the cruise ship where the duet idea was born.

Posted by betabug at 14:56 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 November 2007

The Man Who Went Out To The Cold

Arriving in Munich
pic of wing in flight, evening sky

This picture is for Ovelikios from Athens Daily Photo who likes flying. Myself, I had a good flight to already wintery Munich. A good flight means a lot of space (a row of seats to myself), acceptable food (the airline didn't try to cook up something artistic, tortellini work even in prefab airplane food), no delays, turbulences, etc.

Highlight of the flight was the captain's introduction. He didn't just say hello, he described the flight route in detail, almost like a geography lesson. In the English version he said (paraphrasing from memory):

"...the weather in our destination is the usual misery of autumn in Germany: Overclouded, cold, foggy, with a sprinkling of snow."

All the plane was laughing. In fact when I came out of the airport building in Munich, I almost turned around: The temperature difference for me going from Athens to Munich was about 23º C. Shock! I'm staying indoors a lot. In fact I have much more problems with the dry air (especially in heated rooms), my nose and throat are not liking it and give me a hard time.

Olympia Stadium in Munich, seen from the Olympia Park

This afternoon we enjoyed some sunshine. We went for a walk in the Olympia Park. It looked like most of Munich had the same idea. Families, cyclists, joggers, people with dogs. All the usual suspects for a Sunday walk.

At one point I wanted to draw some of the architecture, so we sat down for a moment. Bad idea. The moment you stop moving, you freeze to death. The picture didn't went well, so here is a photo instead. If you can't draw, you better have a camera.

Posted by betabug at 17:33 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
25 November 2007

Back from Foggy Munich

Much warmer already
Frauenkirche in Munich in the fog

Yesterday we had a stroll through the center of Munich. It wasn't the best idea to do that on a Saturday, with Christmas on the horizon. The city was stuffed with shoppers. Nevermind, we had our Rostbratwurst at the Naschmarkt Viktualienmarkt, shopped for some books, and had a good look at the symbol of Munich, the Frauenkirche. Well, we would have had a good look at that one, but the fog was hiding it. See the Rathaus in the picture, and behind it the towers of the Frauenkirche in the fog.

Woke up early this morning to take the flight back home. In Munich the weather report was having us expect snow, but instead the weather kept on steady with the fog. The flight home was nothing special. I noticed that it's nicer to have a half empty plane, with a row of seats to myself (like on the trip to Germany). But I already knew that sitting in a stuffed plane next to some complicated old ladies isn't so comfortable (like on the trip back to Greece).

The temperature difference upon arriving here was even more impressive. I was tempted to take off my sweatshirt. The buildings in Munich are somehow all so "inside-focussed". Few balconies, a lot of the balconies that are there are going to the inside, small windows, etc. etc. Here it's much different, with all the balconies around the houses. Well, I'm back. Just stowed away all my warm clothes again.

Posted by betabug at 21:25 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
25 December 2007

Kneel before me, for I am the net!

Haha, only serious
Guy kneeling before Internet station at Athens Airport

There are PC stations for free Internet access at Athens International Airport, but you have to go on your knees before the gods of the net to use them.

At the gate where I'm waiting is another station. The user is logged out, the screen showing a password prompt (W2k, duh). But at least this one has something to sit on.

Posted by betabug at 17:06 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
30 December 2007

Going to see some snow

Travelling to Germany and Switzerland

The last post on this blog was about the Internet stations at Athens Airport. I saw them, because I was flying to Munich on the late afternoon of the 25th December. In Munich it was much colder, which was expected. This time the temperature change did not shock me as much as in November. Maybe I got a bit used to it, maybe it was because while it was colder now, back in November the temperature difference between the two places was bigger, with more than 20ºC. First thing in Munich, we went to a bavarian restaurant and I got a nice duck for dinner.

Parting with wildweasel at the train station

A friend comes over for some beers

We had talked with wildweasel about the chance of him coming over from leatherpantz counry (Tirol) for a short visit. As usual, at first it seemed possible, then our schedules wouldn't work out, then again he decided he might hop on a train a day earlier and ping, there he was. The last time I had seen him on Limnos. He had gotten a bit more athletic, all that climbing seems to have had a positive effect on him. Since his train was late, we went straight to dinner, at an ethiopean restaurent. In case you haven't eaten at an ethiopean restaurant, you eat with your fingers there. It's all very spicy and good, so we were well fed when we went further to a bavarian place to get some beers into our guest.

Thanks to the gf's family and some organization, wiwi had a place to crash and we had breakfast before going to the train station. The weasel man sent us off to our train to Switzerland and he left shortly after back to more mountaineous territories.

The lighthouse in Lindau at the Lake of Constance

Where is the snow?

On our side, we had a stop at Lindau, with a break of 45 minutes. We took a stroll down to the lake of constance, enjoyed the view and somehow less enjoyed the cold. On the way through bavaria we had seen quite a bit of snow, so we expected the same to be around in Switzerland. But there was no snow. Cold, wintery, but no snow.

On our first evening, my father had his monthly "stand up comedy news" show at the Restaurant Drahtseilbahn in St.Gallen. He plays a gruffy old news host who reads down the news, mixed in with comments and bonmots about current politics and affairs. A lot of it relates to swiss politics and events, but if you understand German, most of it is still funny even if you don't know all the background stories. Amongst the guests where an uncle of mine and some of his friends, so we had a good family atmosphere.

Snowy landscape in Appenzell / Switzerland

On Saturday we mostly relaxed and went out to eat. Since we were up higher now, there was already more snow around. It hasn't snowed in a while, so what we saw was just what hadn't melted away yet. Today we went out to eat at a restaurant in the Appenzell region (where the famous cheese is coming from) and there is more snow there at the moment. That's where the picture above was taken. Tomorrow, at the 1st of january, that restaurant will remain open from 5:30 in the morning until 5:00 in the morning the next day. They have this tradition of boys and young men going up early in the new year and "driving the old year out" with cowbells, banging, and anything that makes a lot of noise.

Posted by betabug at 15:24 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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