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The bug travelling around in Greece (and maybe even further sometimes?)
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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)
13 September 2009

Wu in Athens

Cow meeting

Yesterday evening Wu from #bsdcow arrived in Athens. Graffic and me picked him up from the Airport, then we went for food and Ouzo.
Today everybody woke up late. We had relaxed breakfast, then went out to see the area around the Akropolis. Right now we're sitting in a cafe, listening to some indy tunes while Wu waits to try his first greek "frappé" (cold coffee).

Posted by betabug at 15:08 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
20 September 2009

First Swim for Some

Wu goes for a swim

After having Wu around Athens for more than a week and being in town all the time, we finally went for an excursion outside town.
We're on a beach near Cape Sounion. For Wu it's the first swim of the year. The water is nice and not too cold. It's crystal clear.
When there's a light cloud before the sun, it's getting slightly cold, otherwise it's fine. Next stop in the schedule: get some food and then visit the temple of Poseidon.

Posted by betabug at 16:03 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
09 January 2010

Preparing moblog for a little hike

Not expecting snow

Just a little post here to check that moblog (posting to a weblog from a mobile phone) is still working on my updated server.

If things go well, I will be on a day hike tomorrow. Preparing stuff now. It sure will be good to be out of this big city for some fresh air. We don't expect to find any snow though.

Maybe I could post from some mountain village, assuming I have a signal and am not too busy with enjoying nature.

Posted by betabug at 15:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 February 2010

Parnitha, 3 years later

Much has changed

Almost three years after the fire that destroyed a large part of the forest on the parnassos mountains (Πάρνηθα, parnitha), and a bit more than three years after I went hiking at parmitha, I went back.

Today, on a sunday with fine weather, we went for a short hike from the base station of the cable car to the Bafi hut. It took us around 2.5 hours up. Plus some extra time, because I had brought the Arca Swiss with me and I took two pictures on the way up. At the hut we had something to drink and eat.

We were a bit faster on the (same) way down, while I also took a third picture. Over all, we had no reason to hurry and instead enjoyed the fresh air and viewing all those growing things.

Not all was well and nice: we passed through many parts of the forest that had burned. Not a nice view, even though grasses, bushes and other green stuff is sprouting out. We even saw areas where reforestation was underway.

The picture shows some of the burned trees, with the hiking path marker. The hiking path marks have been restored in the parts that had burned, and apart from the reforestation, there were also signs of works to fix the soil against being swept away by erosion. Despite all this we had a great day and we're now back home, tired and refreshed.

Posted by betabug at 20:28 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
25 March 2010

Independence Day in the Countryside

It's all green and smelling good

The 25th of March this year is on a Thursday, so I took Friday off and I'm with friends in a small village near Patras.

So nice to be outside the big city, away from the noise and all the traffic. Here everything is green and full of flowers. Lots of butterflies too. The one in the picture gave me enough time to try and take a good picture, even with the unwieldy phone camera.

Next thing will be to go for food, traditionally Bakaliaro me skordalia. After that the plans for the long weekend show many long walks and taking pictures.

Posted by betabug at 11:40 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
27 March 2010

Rack Trains and Village Internet

Enjoying the long weekend

Yesterday we went on an excursion to Kalavryta, taking the scenic rack railway up there. The railway trip is wonderful, travelling through a narrow gorge. The train moves quite slow and - at least now in spring - you can open the windows to take pictures. Kalavryta itself is nothing to write home about. It was rebuild after being destroyed in the war. I saw many nice scenes around Kalavryta and around the train track, but would have to return on foot to take pictures.

In the late afternoon we returned and stopped by the lighthouse at the northernmost tip of the Peloponnese. Finally as things weren't moving any more, I was able to take two pictures with the Arca. I was a bit disappointed though: I had bought two extra films in Athens and discovered they had given me the wrong films.

In the evening we were enjoying the old fashioned Internet in the village... a 56k modem connection. Due to a broken clip on the cable quite shaky too. We were able to look up things about the rack train though.

Posted by betabug at 11:24 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
05 April 2010

Extraship to Naxos

Easter holiday on the island

Easter holidays is on of the top occasions for all Greeks to return to their villages. Streets and boats are full. The ferry boat line that serves the island of Naxos put on an extra ship on Friday morning for Paros and Naxos. I took that ship and arrived midday of easter friday here.

The island is in full spring mode: Flowers everywhere, everything is green. The sun is shining. When you sit in the sun, it gets warm, but ifyou sit in the shade it gets a bit chilly with the wind.

This long weekend I used to relax and to take pictures. I'm taking little walks with the Arca strapped on my back, then I take pictures of flowery hillsides and paths, of white aegean houses under blue skies. There's the odd byzantine church and some venetian towers too. There are far more things to take nice pictures of, than I have time to take them. This camera is first of all slow.

Posted by betabug at 20:20 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
29 June 2010

Starting the Week on Naxos

Enjoying simple things

On Sunday we arrived on Naxos. The ship left Pireus at 7:25 in the morning, combine that with the taverna behind my place hosting some kind of birthday party and some neighbors down the street having a party too. I was kind of sleepy when we arrived in the house. Lucky for us, we had to do only very little cleanup, since the house hasn't been empty for a full year, only for three months.

In town we had bought some bread, butter, cheese and tomatoes. We had a good, simple lunch of that, then crashed for a well deserved siesta. The point of really arriving.

Sunday and monday had lots of impressive cloud formations all day. The elements were putting on a show. By late afternoon the clouds started to disappear and a blue sky took over.

Monday morning I started work. I'm dividing my time between thinking ahead, planning for some new and revamped projects... and making small changes and cleanups in existing code. I get a bit tired to just "think around" all the time, so after a while I want to do something as simple as finding commented out code, deleting it and committing the changes to the repository. It also makes me read through the code, which is good for planning to make bigger changes.

Sunday evening I took one picture from the veranda of the house. But I was still so sleepy, that I noticed afterwards that I had failed to reset the camera prior to starting. That way, the result will be more a matter of luck. On Monday evening I went and took a picture of a nearby church. I didn't have much time, because we were invited for drinks by friends. Now that is a way to start the week!

Posted by betabug at 09:35 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
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