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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)
16 August 2009

Elvetia, bitte

H Ελβετία έχει τα δίκα της

Αν κάποτε βρεθείτε κατά τύχη στην Ελβετία, σας συστήσω μια εκδρομή σε ένα καλό φούρνο [1].
Τι δουλειά, θα με ρωτήστε, έχω σ'έναν φούρνο όταν μπορώ να παω να αγοράζω ρολόϊα ή σοκολάτες στην Bahnhofstrasse; Ο λόγος είναι απλός: στο φούρνο μπορείτε να παρακολουθείτε κάτι πολύ ελβετικό.

Βέβαιος είναι καλά να καταλαβαίνετε κάτι από τα ελβετικά Γερμανικά. Αλλιώς πατέ απλά με κάποιον που μιλάει και σημειώνετε ότι "merci" και "danke" σημαίνουν "ευχαριστώ", "bitteschön" ή μόνο "bitte" είναι "παρακαλώ" και "gern" είναι "ευχαρίστως".
Από εκεί το παιχνίδι είναι απλό: ο φίλος σας θα διαλέγει διαφορά ψομάκια και γλυκά, εσείς μετράτε πόσες φορές λέει "ευχαριστώ" η πωλήτρια.
Πως μου ήρθε να γράψω κάτι τέτοιο; λείπω μερικά χρόνια από τη Ελβετία τώρα και αυτές τις μέρες που ήρθα για τουρισμό, με "χτύπησε" πολύ το *τι* θέατρο κάνουν.
1: Λέω "καλό" φούρνο, γιατί μπορείτε αλλιώς να πέφτεστε στην εξαίρεση... εγώ όμως το είδα στο "φούρνο" ενός σούπερ μάρκετ.

Posted by betabug at 14:53 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
17 August 2009

Tourism is Hard Work

Early bird to the Bernina-Express

It's 5:55 in the morning and I'm already sitting in a train. After going all the way to Basel yesterday, to see the Giacometti exhibition. Today I'll take the Bernina-Express, a train with panorama windows that passes through the alps in Grisonia.
It starts at 8:30 in the morning in Chur and is quite the spectacle with mountain views.
The problem with me sitting already here is that I could have slept an hour longer, if only SBB (the swiss rail company) had coordinated the trains a bit better: train from St.Gallen arrives at 8:38, Bernina-Express leaves at 8:30. No good, so I have to leave 1 hour earlier. The early bird, and all that.

Posted by betabug at 06:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
19 August 2009

Back from Switzerland

...and Germany and France and Italy

I'm back in Athens for now, arrived yesterday night. In the 7 days in Switzerland, I walked up (and down) one mountain (2509m), took the Bernina-Express where I saw a big bunch of other mountains. On Sunday I had gone to Basel, where I visited the Giacometti-Exhibition at the Beyeler museum. After that I had gone to eat "schwäbisch" in Germany, then for a refreshing drink over to France.

On Monday, the Bernina-Express had taken me to Tirano in Italy. After all that "looking at mountains", I was hungry, so I went to eat some fine italian food at a restaurant behind the cathedral. I left there well fed and satisfied with the quality... and a bit late. I had misremembered the time that the train back leaves, so I had 4 minutes left till the departure. I decided to go for it and ran about 1100m in 4 minutes, with a full belly in 33ºC. As I jumped inside and the train door closed behind me, the train left.

Leaving Switzerland for Greece was much easier: I was early at the train station, early at the airport and in August in the middle of the night, the airport bus didn't encounter any traffic.

Posted by betabug at 19:59 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
22 August 2009

Raising the Garage Flag on Naxos

Once more!
Me, raising the Graphics Garage flag/towel on the beach at Naxos

After scrambling around Switzerland for one week, it's quite the change to be back on the island of Naxos. I've got a few precious days of vacation left, after that it's back to work. Not too bad to be working here though. Since I'm with a bunch of more people this time, we'll probably have a rented car, so I'll be able to hit the beach in the late afternoon after work too.

As can be seen on this pic, I'm raising the flag of the Graphics Garage here on Naxos. Actually it's a towel, since every hitch hiker to the Galaxy should always have a towel with him! Naxos is slightly cooler than at the end of July and start of August (yesterday night I put on a sweater when we sat outside for a drink). But then the water is slightly warmer, which is good enough for an exchange.

So, no matter what's ahead, life is good for the moment. I'll work a bit on my tan, a lot more on my code... and I'll enjoy the good sleep and fresh air of the country side!

Posted by betabug at 12:51 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 August 2009

Hello Octopus

A visit to an interesting sea creature
A little octopus in its nest, next to some colored mussels

Yesterday I went swimming and sunbathing on the beach with a bunch of friends. At one point I went out swimming alone, with my waterproof camera (Pentax Optio W60). I crossed the part of the water that still had sand on its floor and went to a big plate of rock that lies parallel to the beach. There I dived around, taking mostly "seascape" style pictures and harassing some small fish. After a while I followed a small crack in the plate outwards, as there were many small fish. I saw something purple there and thought it would be nice to get some color into my pictures, so I took a dive. I was surprised to notice a pair of eyes looking at me from a little head sticking out of a hole in the crack. Hello octopus!

Continue reading "Hello Octopus"
Posted by betabug at 08:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 August 2009

Winding down

After a working day on the island

The nice thing with working on the island is, that after a day of writing code you can go to the beach and hang out a bit to relax.
The last week's work output has been very productive. Let's see what this week brings. Soon I'll be going back to Athens though and then my rhythm will change again.

Posted by betabug at 19:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)