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The bug travelling around in Greece (and maybe even further sometimes?)
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02 February 2009

Freezing Switzerland

On the way back to unfreeze

So, I'm on the way back, sitting in the Zurich airport, waiting as usual. It's been cold in Switzerland. At -3c I like to pack myself in as if I was travelling Antarctica. At the higher points, there was some snow. For the most part it was dry though, dry and cold.

I bought some chocolate, in order to fulfill my "swiss cliche quota". Then I switched on "full tourist mode", pulled out my new camera and took some lame pictures. And as the family events I came for where all successful, I can now board that plane cool and easy.

Posted by betabug at 11:55 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
10 April 2009

Evening in Mykonos

Listening to Barry White

Here I am, for a long weekend on Mykonos. Since the tourist season is only just about to start, there aren't yet that many people. Still the place is much busier than the places I frequent. (...and yes, I have already heard the jokes about "watching my ass" etc.)

Took a lot of pictures already, till the battery on my cam ran out. This one here is taken with the phone cam in low resolution, since I have no program to resize pictures on the mobile. We're sitting in a bar in "little venice", all alone cuz it's much too early really. Looking out on the sea, enjoying a drink and lsitening to Barry White.

Posted by betabug at 20:59 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
11 April 2009

Trauminsel Delos

Eine alte Welt entdecken

Von Mykonos aus kann man morgens um 10 mit einem kleinen Schiff auf die Insel Delos (Δήλος, Dilos) fahren. Delos ist komplett archäologische Stätte, niemand wohnt dort, niemand ausser den Archäologen kann dort übernachten.

Alss archäologische Stätte hat Delos wirklich viel zu bieten, es ist viel erhalten und es gibt viel interessantes zu sehen. Um diese Jahreszeit kommt noch dazu, dass die ganze Insel blüht. Wilde Blumen soweit man sehen kann, bunte Tupfer in allen Farben auf den alten Steinen, inmitten der seit dem 7. Jahrhundert verlassenen Häuser.

Um ein Uhr Mittag fährt das Schiff wieder zurück nach Mykonos. Die Zeit ist viel zu kurz, ich hätte gern noch mehr verweilen mögen.

Posted by betabug at 16:04 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
15 April 2009

Mykonos and Delos Panoramas

Wide view of these totally different islands
Looking sideways at "little venice" on Mykonos

Last weekend's trip resultet in a lot of pictures. Some of them were made to be stitched together to form a panorama.

The first one is a view from the side on the "little venice" area of Mykonos. I find the name "little venice" totally off, as the row of houses that are built onto the shoreline does not remind me of Venice at all, but whatever works for them. It's a nice enough area anyway. Well, it probably is much, much too crowded for my taste in the summer, off-season in spring it was nice and more or less quiet.

You can click on the image for a bigger view or click on "read more" to see the other panoramas.

Public toilets in Mykonos

These on the other hand are some of the public toilets in Mykonos. (That square thing built into the sea. No, not the open thing in the front, the one in the back with the little windows.) I didn't test them for cleanliness and fitness-for-purpose, I admit I'm a bad tourist guide tester. I just liked the graphicality of that wall with the cubic structure.

You might notice there are no partying people on the picture... I was quite content, that it was off-season (in case I haven't mentioned that already).

Sunset in Mykonos

On the other side of town, there was this little beach area, with this little white church (there are lots of little white churches on Mykonos). It happened to be sunset time when I passed by there, so here I stitched two pictures together. It was colder than it appeared on the picture. Still I managed to get a bit of color onto my face.

The famous windmills in Mykonos

Mykonos is quite famous for its windmills. They are photographed over and over by everybody. I did what everybody did and clicked the shutter whenever a windmill came into view, in this example at sunset.

The famous lion statues on Delos

Over from fashionable, partying Mykonos to Delos, an island mostly devoid of people, consisting of the distant memories of the people who once lived there.

This here are the famous lion statues... or I guess some reproductions, as I expect the originals to be in the museum. Where I didn't see them, because we had only 3 hours to see the island and that wasn't enough by far for all the nice spirit to pick up there and all the fantastic archeological stuff in the wonderful springtime flowers to see there.

View halfway up from the hill in Delos

Instead of going to the museum (which is btw an architectural atrocity, I sometimes had to avoid getting it into my photos) we went up the hill to have a nice overview. We didn't go all the way up, because we were running out of time and there was more stuff to see. There is a lot of remaining stuff on Delos, that will really give you an impression of what it was like.

Posted by betabug at 22:17 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
13 May 2009

Working on Naxos

An old dream comes true
betabug looking on the Naxos landscape

Since last Sunday I'm on the island of Naxos. I live in an old two-story stone house, in the middle of the island. The sea is not near, from the terrace I can barely spot a glimmer of it, but I can see the mountain of the neighboring Paros island.

Having the sea nearby isn't so important, I'm here to work. I brough my MacBook, a bit of paper, and a little device to get Internet over a 3G mobile connection. When I'm sketching out plans, I can sit on the terrace in the sun, otherwise I'm inside on the computer, with a view on the trees and the still green landscape. I hear mostly the birds chirping, with a truck or tractor passing in the distance now and then.

It's a nice setting to think things through and to concentrate on writing code. Working on the Zope on my local machine is fast as usual, but when I connect somewhere over the Internet, results vary. Sometimes the connection is speedy and slick, other times I get a lot of lag. Clearly following Murphy's law, the signal is worst on the nice desk little where I like to work, much better in the middle of the house. Sitting in the middle of the house, I can even talk on Skype with clear and non-laggy sound. I always wanted to try and work like this. Modern technology with 3G Internet connections finally made things possible.

There are a lot of cows on Naxos, the place is famous for butter and cheese. It tempts me to cook swiss style, with a lot of butter. I went to run twice in the evenings, greeting cows and farmers alike. I love that: wind up work, then change into shorts and go for a run, right outside the door. I'll stay here this week, then head back to Athens.

Posted by betabug at 10:46 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
15 May 2009

First Swim of the Season

The weekend of the week on Naxos
betabug underwater, upsidedown

After a week of working in an old house on the island of Naxos, I think I was ready for a jolt of true summer feeling. I left work early on Friday afternoon and we went to pick up a rental car. After a little tour of the Χώρα (Hora, the main town) of Naxos (and finding a certain street with a special name, which I will write more about in a later post), we drove to a very good restaurant where they served us the first Moussakas of the season.

The background being that they don't make such in advance cooked foods before guests arrive who will actually eat and appreciate the stuff. The lady who makes this moussakas seems to use half goat milk to make the bechamel sauce used in the preparation. It was a wonderful dish, the place on the top only contested by the κεφτεδάκια (keftedakia, small meat balls), who were soft and spiced with wonderful herbs.

Having eaten a lot of good food, we drove to a sandy beach hidden behind some low cliffs. Since one shouldn't bath right after eating, we just slacked out in the late afternoon sun. When I felt I had digested enough and at the same time heated up enough, I went into the water. Wow, first swim of the season! It's still May, so the water was very cold at first. The feeling was great though, cooling down, floating. A bit more inside, I reached warmer areas of water and the swim became relaxed. Only problem: My waterproof camera ran out of battery soon after, I had forgotten to charge the battery. It was enough for some first experiments.

Posted by betabug at 23:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
17 May 2009

Die Welter-Strasse auf Naxos

Benannt nach dem Archäologen Gabriel Welter
Sascha Welter in der Welter-Strasse auf Naxos

Schon wieder ein Foto von mir. Diesmal in einer Strasse mit einem für Griechenland sehr seltsamen Namen. Vor meiner Anreise nach Naxos hatte ich mir einige digitale Karten angeschaut und dabei zufällig in der Χόρα (Hora, dem Hauptort der Insel) eine Strasse mit dem Namen "ΒΕΛΤΕΡ" (WELTER) entdeckt. Kann ja wohl nicht sein, sowas? Seit wann benennt man eine Strasse nach mir, noch bevor ich dort aufgetaucht bin? Einige kurze Recherchen und etwas kühles Nachdenken später fand ich raus, dass die Strasse (natürlich) nicht nach mir benannt ist, sondern nach dem Archäologen Gabriel Welter (auf Griechisch Γαβριήλ Βέλτερ). Tatsächlich zeigt das Strassenschild im Unterschied zur Karte auch den vollständigen Namen.

Dieser Herr Welter war als deutscher Archäologe in Griechenland, aber zum Teil auch in Palästina tätig. Eine einzige französische Quelle, die ich fand, bezeichnet ihn als "lorrain", also als Lothringer und beansprucht ihn so wohl mehr oder weniger für Frankreich. Seine bekanntesten Ausgrabungen waren auf Ägina und beim Zeus-Tempel im Zentrum von Athen. Es gibt einige Bücher von ihm, zum Teil wohl auch mit Fotos. Leider ist fast gar nichts von ihm im Web direkt zugänglich. Wäre wohl ein Fall für altmodisches, "richtiges" Quellenstudium in Bibliotheken.

Um die Strasse selber zu finden, mussten wir in den kleinen Gässchen von Naxos suchen. Das GPS im Mobiltelephon half etwas, den entscheidenden Hinweis gab dann ein Herr vor der Tür des Museums von Naxos. Das war schon lustig zu hören, dass für einmal jemand in Griechenland meinen Namen schon mal gehört hatte.

Posted by betabug at 13:08 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
20 June 2009

Short Rest in the Shade

Hot up here

We're on an excursion with a few people from the Krystallis (Κρυστάλλης) mountain club. We're on Evia, on the way up the Ohi, highest peak of the island.
The place is nice, the view is wonderful, but some assholes built a huge concrete road up here.
It's pretty hot and for water you get only what you carry yourself.
We took a small rest in the shade of a wild castania tree. Now for one more leg and then up to the peak.

Posted by betabug at 09:58 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 June 2009

From the Mountain to the Beach

On and on the path goes on

Yesterday after our rest we continued upwards. After a few hours we reached the peak. It had fooled me a couple of times, as I was thinking "this is it, just this more steep climb" and another view opened, showing a higher peak.
Finally we had reached it, took some pictures. We enjoyed the panoramic view of the Evian range, the islands around, even Attika.
Finally we descended and clambered down the path that is strewn with loose stones. An hour later we collapsed in the tiny shade under a small rock standing all alone. A few fruits, water and finally some real food put some more power into us.
We needed it. We had a nice shady valley to go down, on a good path following a nice brook. But the path went on and on and our packs and feet were not getting lighter.
The sea, where we were planning to camp didn't seem to get any closer as time passed.
We took another longer rest where there were a few small waterfalls and basins. Some of us even went swimming in the cold water.
We then finally reached our friends at a tavern at 9 in the evening, having walked since 7 in the morning. Food, setting up the tents, sleeping and waking up to a day relaxing at the beach.

Posted by betabug at 10:54 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Traffic Jam in the Village

System failure

These cars are not parked. They're the traffic jam of cars waiting for the ferry boat back to Attika and therefore Athens.
Athens is a nice enough place, but of course people want to go to nicer, fresher places for the weekend. While not everybody leaves town at the same time, most people return Sunday evening to be Monday at work.
Result: lots of traffic jams. Usually at the entrances to the city limits, but sometimes - as here - in some remoter places that are traffic choke points. Like this village with a small ferry connection where we're on our way back from the mountain and the sea.

Posted by betabug at 20:10 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
26 July 2009

Summer is here


Took a boat yesterday night to flee the heat of Athens. Arrived this morning at 7 on Naxos, after only a brief sleep on the crowded ship.
Had a good nap and now am at a nice little beach for the first swim.
The sea is a bit cold and it's windy, But who cares, this is a fair change from the heat of the city.
Won't have so many chances for swimming during the week. Strange as it might sound, I am here to work. Like back in spring I brought the laptop to hack some code in a relaxed environment.

Posted by betabug at 19:16 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 July 2009

Quiet Evenings on Naxos

Way off the tourist centers
Olive grove under early evening moon

I've closed one week of working "out of the office" here on Naxos now. There were spouts of really good productivity, some slumps and some medium productivity times. Overall I'd say it was a week with above average output. I blame the quiet surroundings.

Here on Naxos all the stress of the city, all the running and reaching, worrying and trying seem to be far, far off. I can concentrate on work and on the view outside the window - which is nicer than in the city too, obviously (even though the new office is a huge step forward). On around Thursday some city business had reached me, but appart from that I had it all left behind and no worries.

Another part is that I gain two hours every day: Time that I would spend each day going and coming from work. Now I spend a part of it working longer and a part of it having time for myself. In the evenings I take walks or sometimes manage to get a ride to the beach. The beach is far away, I'm in the center of the island, far off from the tourist places.

The picture is from one of the evening walks. An olive grove, under the moon of the early evening. The heart longs to stay there, linger on, forget everything and let time pass as it does for these ages old trees. Their work is growing food, slowly and quietly since ancient times.

Posted by betabug at 20:10 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
05 August 2009

Essen in der Provinz

Mix aus tiefgekühlt und wirklich frisch
Lokale Produkte in einer traditionellen Kueche auf Naxos

Das Essen in der griechischen Provinz ist ein kurioser Mix: Herzhafte, lokale Produkte wechseln sich mit übelster Tiefkühlware ab. Die Gründe sind ersichtlich: Nicht alles wird lokal produziert oder ist lokal produziert immer verfügbar. Was importiert werden muss, hat häufig weite Wege hinter sich. So kommt es, dass man im Dorfladen neben den lokalen naxiotischen Kartoffeln auch Tiefkühl-Fischstäbchen findet.

Als Besucher kann man sich die Mühe machen und das lokale suchen - oder man ist mit "Ferien machen" beschäftigt und isst was man bekommt. Für die Einheimischen ist es häufiger so, dass man lokal isst, was man aus eigener Produktion oder aus der von Verwandten bekommt. Manchmal wird auch das lokale noch verschmäht, wenn es als rückständig oder nicht fein genug gilt. Lokales Fleisch hat mehr Sehnen, die lokale Wurst ist stärker gewürzt, während Import-Fleisch schön zart ist - aber uns nicht so gut schmeckt.

Hier auf Naxos ist jetzt im Sommer noch ein Faktor aktiv: Mit der Zunahme des Tourismus in den Sommermonaten ist die Nachfrage nach lokalen Produkten kurzfristig grösser als das Angebot. So kommt es, dass die Xynomisithra (ein lokaler Frischkäse) im Mai nicht nur jahreszeitbedingt besser geschmeckt hat, im Mai kam auch einfach die bessere Qualität auf den Tisch.

In der Schweiz kann ich mir solche lokalen Unterschiede nicht vorstellen. Selbst jedes kleinste Dörfchen in den Bergen hat dort die Filiale einer nationalen Supermarktkette als Dorfladen. Selbstverständlich mit den gleichen Produkten wie in Zürich. Was lokal dazukommt ist vielleicht mal eine "Spezialität". Hier ist es eher so, dass der Wein im Laden immer zuerst der lokale Wein ist.

Posted by betabug at 12:18 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
08 August 2009

Rounding up two Naxos workweeks

2 Weeks of work come to an end
Underwater landscape off Naxos

So, this is the last evening of the two weeks I spent working on Naxos. In the end it turned out to be two productive weeks. I'd have liked to stay on, first because of the beautiful surroundings, and then, because my work had just picked up a lot of steam. The last few days I was pumping out code real good. Well, I'll go and try to pick up with the same speed again where I left off!

Connected to the net

The "Internet via mobile phone" plan worked out well during those two weeks. A couple of times I had problems connecting, usually due to some hickup in the bluetooth line of connection. At first I had planned to tether the phone (Nokia e71) to the computer by USB cable. That setup had worked well during testing from home, but for some odd reason it didn't work at all once I arrived here. Contrary, the bluetooth tethering setup worked fine almost all the time.

Besides the occasional lockup I managed to run the phone out of battery a few times too. The battery is big, but running bluetooth and 3G modem full for hours a few days after each other... at some point the battery was empty, big surprise.

Relaxing swims after work

I succeeded to go for swims on the weekends and a few times in the evenings. Didn't work on my tan as much as if I'd been here on vacation, but who cares... being able to work like this is wonderful. Besides, August is a bit of a mixed bag for vacations here. On the one hand, yeah, the weather is nice, it's warm and the sea is just what you need this time of year. On the other hand, everybody else had the same idea, so things tend to be a bit crowded.

Miniature shells on my finger

These two fellows sitting on my finger (I hope you can guess the scale, they are minuscule) and a little, little pile of similar shells we found on a little beach, combing through the sand. They are so small, but their "painting" is so full of detail. If man set out to design something as beautiful, it would not turn out so well.


In general my camera (Pentax Optio W60) took a lot of diving time in the sea. In parallel, on the evenings where I stayed on dry land, it worked equally well in landscape photography. This camera does not have the best optical quality and the chip size is quite small, but nonetheless I managed to get the light of the late afternoon, early evening "into the box" a few times. If I could wish for something in this camera, instead of better optics or "more megapixels" (yeah, big bulls* whatever), I'd wish for a higher dynamic range. It's hard to get the last sunlight spots on a little, white country church and the shade under the olive trees into one exposure.

Posted by betabug at 22:22 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
09 August 2009

August Travels

Take the slow boat

Travelling in the cyclades in August means that it can happen that you don't find tickets to go where you wanted. So if you want to get back to Athens on a Sunday... better book a while in advance. Otherwise it might happen that you are on a slower boat, doing 3 stops and reaching Rafina instead of Piraeus, like I am doing right now.

The good thing about this boat I'm on is, that it's a real boat: you can sit outside on the windy deck and see the aegean pass by. The "Aqua Jewel" even has a top deck open to passengers, something that a lot of greek ferries have stopped having.

Given the time this trip will take, we will likely even see a nice sunset on the sea. Can't have that on a superhighspeed ferry, even if you get home earlier.

Posted by betabug at 14:22 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
15 August 2009

Säntis and Seealpsee

Mountain hiking

Yesterday morning I went up from Schwägalp to the Säntis, a mountain that is with 2503m the tallest of the region. It's also much taller than the surrounding peaks, so there is an excellent view.
Assuming ofcoz that there is no fog or clouds. I went up with mostly sun. On the last part - which sports such niceties as vertical ascends with artificial steps and metal ropes - fog started to come in. The climb was almost too much for me there, but the sound of alphorns from the peak gave me new strength.
At noon up there I went to get lunch at the hotel and tavern, in a few hours of sunshine mixed with clouds. Later the peak got enveloped in fog.
I stayed the evening, hoping for the famous sunset. It didn't look like it and it was cold outside. But right at sunset the fog lifted for 20 minutes as a present for the few wanderers who persisted outside.
The night I crashed on a simple bunk at the peak hotel. I stuffed up with calories at breakfast and set out down on an easier route. The picture I took at the Seealpsee, where the walking got real easy and there was a genuine yodel choir from Appenzell performing at one of the restaurants. In the upper right corner you might be able to spot the huge antenna on the top of the Säntis.

Posted by betabug at 17:44 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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