The View From Here
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Still Down For The Count
So today I went to the doctor to see if there was anything he could do for my back. Other than offer me pain meds, which I don't need, there isn't much except rest.
While I was there though, he insisted on giving me my annual flu shot so now not only does my back hurt, my arm and shoulder are sore too and I'm running a slight fever.
Time to go back to bed until things improve a bit here a Chez Rositta...
Friday, October 24, 2008
Down And Out
I'm trying to think up a catchy title for this post but haven't come up with one yet. I was thinking of "I'm Taking To My Bed" but thought that might attract the kind of traffic I really don't want. But yes, I really am taking to my bed...I awoke this morning unable to stand up on my own two feet. That hasn't happened for about a year so I'd forgotten how really painful that can be.
I suffer from degenerative disc disease among a few other little problems and I suppose that the long plane trip, unpacking four large suitcases, and doing tons of laundry are the contributing factors to this current crisis. And I do mean crisis. Before he left for work this morning my husband brought me the laptop to bed and a large cup of coffee. I'm not sure the coffee was a good idea though, sooner or later I have to make my way to the washroom and I don't relish doing that on hands and knees. Yes, it really is that bad. I've already called my Rheumatologist for needles, but she's not available today, she's out of town but I do have a bunch of Robaxacet pills which may or may not work. Stay tuned.
Now as to my doctor, well she's not on vacation or anything good like that. Because of the huge doctor shortage in this province, especially specialists, she has two offices over 1000 km apart. She spends one week a month at the out of town office and this happens to be the week that she's gone. I admire her dedication to her patients as this is a pretty gruelling schedule. This woman is not only a Rheumatologist, she's also a wife and mother of three. I asked her once why she does this and she told me that without her, her patients would have to do the traveling. There isn't another Rhumatologist for miles. Even though I admire her, I wish she was here to help me today.
That's the sad state of our health care system...meanwhile, I'm confined to bed for a couple of days.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The Road To Nafplio
Those three mountains were weighing heavily on Steve’s mind as we left the village of Iklena behind. Map on my lap we checked every village on the way to make sure we were on the right track, my sweetie was so worried about getting lost. I didn’t really get that, I mean he speaks Greek and lots of tourists make this treck without worrying so much. In fact while we were exploring some excavation, I can’t remember which one now, we met a couple from Valleyfield, Quebec and they’d been driving all over the place with their elderly parents for over a month, and we also met a couple from Karslruhe, Germany who’d been doing the same thing since mid August. Neither of these couples spoke Greek and they got by just fine!! I kept telling Steve to chill out and not worry so much, we’d get were we needed to be eventually.
On the way to Nafplio we stopped in Kalamata to get a little food. Good old bread, butter and cheese worked best and we stopped at a roadside rest place so I could fix myself a honking sandwich. I was seriously hungry by this point. I’m sitting in the car, legs out when suddenly I feel this burning sensation on my butt. “Steve, I yelled, I think I’ve got a cramp” and jumped out of the car. He was just about to mutter something about “you are always complaining about something” when he noticed the car seat smoldering. As he previously tried to extinguish a cigarette in the ashtray the burning end dropped on my seat and eventually got hot enough to burn my b…m, not funny… Good thing I had a big water bottle handy, he he he…
We finally did make it to Nafplio. It is a bit of a drive; Pylos is on the Ionian Sea side and Nafplio is on the western side of the Peloponnese on the Argolic Gulf. My Lonely Planet describes it as one of Greece’s prettiest towns and I absolutely agree.
We drove through town and headed straight for the port and the old town where the Akronafplia fortress looms above the town.
This town has three fortresses with Palamidi being the largest. Since I was only allowed one more castle, I chose Palamidi as the one to explore and I’m glad I did.
Our first order of business was to find a room and that turned out to be no easy feat. Of course I immediately gravitated towards the Hotel Grand Bretagne, which was right on the waterfront but when we were quoted 160e for the night quickly left. Not exactly in our league, something more reasonable was our goal. We found a small hotel in the old quarter that looked really nice. We got a key to check out a room but when I got to the top of the stairs I had a real strange experience. There was a round hallway, something which I’d never seen before with 6 doors each leading to a room. I got a shiver down my spine, it’s as if I’d been there before. I told Steve I needed to get out of there right away and left. I’d had a dream long ago, and saw myself in room just like it. It was the hallway I remembered right away and even though I don’t remember much about the dream, I do remember that it was a not a good one. A most strange experience…
The innkeeper had a room in another building across the street which we then, (in spite of my misgivings) took for the night. I say misgivings because the bed was not big enough for two. What passes as a double here is really a three quarter by North American standards. We spent the evening exploring the old town, having a fabulous dinner.
I was right about the bed though, we had a horrible sleep and ended up almost divorced by five am. Smart man that Steve is though, instead of fighting with me he went in search of coffee and came back with fabulous cappuccino and fresh hot spinach pie. Gotta say that set me straight and happily report that we are still married. By eight am we were at our fortress and enjoying the exploration. I think if he hadn't gotten me the coffee I would have left him here...
My guide book says there are 999 stairs up to the fortress and I have to tell you I did not climb them. The actual number is under a bit of dispute so you’d really have to climb them and count them to know for sure. There is road access to the top so we drove up and I’m glad we did. This fortress is immense, the biggest one of the whole trip with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. There are also numerous bastions with amazing views. There were many stairs within this fortress and by the end of two hours I was pretty tired. The old hips are starting to act up a bit.
The view from the top was breathtaking.
The third fortress is on an island just west of the port and by the time we finished with Palamidi I was pretty tired. It's not really terribly big so I don't think I missed much.
After a quick lunch and packing up our belongings we were on the road again destination Athens. It was a three hour trip back and reasonably uneventful except that we got slightly lost coming into the city. It was good to be back in our quasi home.
Our last few days were spent with family and friends and in spite of really wanting to get home we were sad to leave.
By the time you read this post we will be safely back in Canada. Our flight with Olympic was one of the last to leave Athens. There was a general strike in all of Greece and we weren't sure we were going to make it home. Thankfully we did and now the unpacking and laundry begins.
As always, there are more photos on my Flickr page.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Will We Or Won't We...
Make it home tomorrow...that is the million dollar question.
All day there have been conflicting reports from various news outlets and including information direct from Olympic Airlines. There is to be a general strike (third in 7 weeks) will all forms of transportation grounded. We have heard things like "all Olympic flights grounded tomorrow" to "one flight per destination" to "everything is fine". What does one believe?
Well, we are either going to make it home or not but I am so ready to get out of here and back to a country where things function amazingly well compared to here.
I'll let you know how this turns out, meanwhile ciao...
Methoni - Another Fortress
I awakened Monday morning to a bright and beautiful day. This was the day we were to leave for Napflio but as we already know best laid plans and all that…
There seemed to be a decision made (without me) that we would stay an extra day. There was no food to be had other than my breakfast bars and cookies so Steve went off to look for some sustenance. He did manage to score some tomatoes, yogurt, cheese and bread. He also brought back some Turkish coffee which under the circumstances had to suffice.
It was decided that we would drive to Methoni with Maria and my sister in law Voula while Stavros took poor little Spyros to the doctor. Did I tell you about Spyros; he’s the cutest little four year old but sometimes I think he’s a little devil. He has been thoroughly spoiled and when he wants something he either whines until he gets it or throws himself down on the floor howling. That generally does the trick until the next time and he can really unnerve me. Guess I’m not that good around little kids any more. Anyway, poor Spyros was a little bunged up from the bad diet and needed some assistance in that direction so Stavros took him to the doctor to solve the problem. I’m happy to report that it did, all over the back seat of poor Stavros car, he he he… am I mean or what?
Voula, Yours Truly and Maria
Meanwhile Methoni, another fortress, more history and I soaked it up. Poor Steve has pretty much had it with this kind of thing but goes along anyway. Little does he know I have more castles planned.
This is a vast fortress has a Turkish bath, a cathedral, a house, a cistern, parapets and lots of underground passages. This huge fortification is surrounded by water on three sides and has a moat. The medieval port town was located inside the fortress and was the Venetians’ longest held possession in the Pelopennese. Real eye candy for someone like me who can imagine living in those times, not that I would have wanted to mind you.
This was the part of the fortress where the harmem lived and you can still see the grooves where the floors where. There were about 4 levels of living space.
After Methoni we went visited with a cousin, whom Steve had not seen for 16 years. He and his wife own a waterfront café and we spent a pleasant afternoon with them. The cousin George also took us for a quick drive to a bird and fish sanctuary. Everything within is protected so no fishing allowed even though we could see many jumping around. An abundance of mosquitos made our visit short.
We called Stavros to ask him to join us for dinner at the cousins and at this point everything fell apart. Stavros decided he wanted to go back to Athens right then and there, no explanation just “bring Voula back, gather up Mom and I’m leaving right now, you can stay”. By this time it was already after eight and there was no way in hell Steve was going to drive those mountain roads in the dark. So we stayed another night alone in the big house, and because of all the confusion caused by you know who, we again didn’t get any dinner. I think I’m coming back to Canada five pounds lighter.
The next morning Ilias and Maria, who in all the confusion caused by their son-in-law forgot about us came over full of apologies and food for breakfast. I can’t say enough about how wonderful these people are and how well they treated us, virtual strangers really.
We packed up our belongings and hit the road map in hand to tackle the three mountains and head to Napflio…
As always, more pictures in Flickr.
These posts are catch up posts and we are really back in Athens getting ready for our return trip. Unfortunately that may not happens as we just found out that Olympic Airlines is having a strike and our flight may or may not happen tomorrow. Wish us luck...
Friday, October 17, 2008
Sunday - Pylos Fortress
Sunday morning started bright and early with all of us trying to figure out what to eat for breakfast. Since very little planning went into this trip the lack of real food was palpable. Thank goodness for my stash of breakfast bars (I think ahead).
Today we went to Pylos with more of those mountain roads that I have come to loathe and fear. Every so often you see a shrine at the side of the road and you know that someone has missed the curve and died there. In spite of the tight turns there were still cars passing in what I considered dangerous conditions and by the time we reached Pylos I had a king sized headache from stress. These are not roads for those faint of heart…
Pylos is a pretty town, incredibly picturesque with a tree shaded centre square. The history as quoted from the Lonely Planet is;
20 October 1827, the British, French and Russian fleets, under the command of Admiral Codrington, fired at point-blank range on Ibrahim Pasha’s combined Turkish, Egyptian and Tunisian fleet, sinking 53 ships and killing 6000 men.
There was also the Fortress of Pylos to explore and from there many battles the biggest being the battle of Navarone. Without the shoes I bought to climb my mountain (remember that one)I would have been screwed. These shoes are god awful ugly but comfortable as all get out and with a solid sole there was no slip sliding on the uneven rocks that are all over these excavated castles.
So Steve and me were off to explore leaving the rest of the crew behind in town. After a couple of hours of climbing we met up with the rest of our party at a little seaside café for some fried Calamari and Ouzo. I needed to fortify myself for the trip back to the house and even though I hate Ouzo I had my fair share.
Then back to the house for what was to be a wonderful barbeque, which turned into a near fiasco. In what I have come to understand as typical Greek, or maybe just typical Stavros fashion, things don’t always work out as planned. He had brought what seemed like hundreds’ of pork chops from home to be barbequed, that’s it…just pork chops. We did stop in a market in Kalamata to buy water and when both my SIL and I tried to explain that we needed more than meat he said, “don’t worry, we can get everything we need in the village”. I guess he forgot that village shops as are most shops in Greece, close on Sundays. Remember that song “Never On A Sunday”? I think they meant more than sex…Everything is closed tighter than a drum. Not even a tomato was to be found so no salads or veggies.
The plan to barbeque went somewhat awry as it was too windy to start the fire outside so he thought to cook the chops inside on the fireplace! Bad plan, by the time he had the fire going and some coals happening the entire lower floor of his house was inhabitable from smoke. Not fit for mice or men. Step two was taking all the coals from inside to an outside grill, fire danger having passed.
That being done Steve and me spent the next two hours grilling chops. About an hour in we scored 3 potatoes, which also ended up on the grill, and we had bread. There were also copious quantities of wine naturally. As far as meals go, this one won’t go down as one of our better ones but I’ve learned to go with the flow…
We were rewarded though with an amazing sunset.
As always, there are more photos in Flickr with more to come in the next couple of days. We are gearing up for the return trip next Tuesday and I'll be able to catch up on all my favourite blogs...
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Peleponese Trip - The Adventure Begins
The following few posts are being written in stages but publishing them will have to wait until I have Internet access once more.
We left Glyfada at around 10:30 Saturday morning and headed first for Moschato to convince my MIL to come with us. BIL Stavro also needed to make peace with his sister and convince her to come with us as well. By one o’clock everyone was finally ready and we headed out of town. Our trip took us through Corinth, Tripoli, Kalamata and finally the small village of Iklena, population 200 give or take.
From Tripoli the highway ended and the roads through the mountains began. To say that the were hair raising is probably an understatement. The hairpin curves up the side of the mountains were scary enough but driving down was even worse and after three mountains I was a nervous wreck. By the time we reached our destination I was ready for a triple scotch. Didn’t pack any though so I was out of luck.
My sister-in-law Pigi was unable to make the trip but her parents welcomed us with open arms. Lots and lots of food magically appeared starting with an appetizer that was strange to me but delicious the yellow flower that eventually becomes a squash, stuffed with rice and cooked in the oven with tomato sauce. There was a subtle hint of peppermint that made these little gems irresistible. The main course was rabbit stew again with a tomato sauce and pasta. I ate more than I ever thought I could it was so wonderful. There was also lots of homemade wine, which I consider gut rot, but what the heck…with a lack of scotch what’s a girl to do…
Maria and husband Ilias lead a very simple life in this village; very self sufficient they have their own rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese and also have a huge garden. The grapes they grow make the wine but in my opinion eating them was definitely better.
Most North Americans with their large homes can’t possible imagine living like this, but this couple in their late fifties live in one room. Their house is divided into various segments with upstairs being for their son and family, another section for a brother and family, a third section for a 93 year old mother and finally the one room with kitchen for themselves. Their washroom and shower is outside. I will try to get a picture but I don’t want to be rude or denigrate their lifestyle. They are incredibly content, happy and outgoing people.
After this huge meal we went to a house Stavros owns in the neighborhood that sits empty most of the year. The house sits on a hill surrounded by olive groves with an amazing view of the Mediterranean. Simply wonderful!
I have been given an award from one of my favourite bloggers Traveler One over at Stepping Stones; pay her a visit. I will post this and pick my fellow recipients when I return to Canada next week and have a little more internet time. As always more photos are appearing on my Flickr page...ciao
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Michael Moore Go Home!
The Shawl Has Found A Home
The shawl that appears in my avatar was made this past summer as a birthday gift for my Mother-In-Law. I am happy to report that she was pleased with her gift. I guess since I no longer have it in my possession I'd better change my photo.
For her birthday dinner she wanted to eat something called Pinalie (boat) which is really pizza dough shaped like a boat and filled with cheese, meat, bacon and one egg in the centre. Personally I find this a bit rich and more of a brunch food but since it wasn’t my birthday, I didn’t have a choice.
Steve’s sister was missing from the celebration though, she had a spat with her brother (not Steve) the night before and absolutely refused to come. I asked her to forget the spat, it was her Mom’s birthday after all but she wouldn’t budge. The only person who got hurt in all this was my sweet MIL. I felt sorry for her, she was clearly unhappy. Why do families do this to each other?
Happy Birthday Lela…
Monday, October 06, 2008
Call me spoiled but that's okay. I admit to being homesick, especially when I'm not feeling well. Last week was spent mostly in bed with either a cold or a migraine but when I get like that I really really miss my bed. What can I say, I'm spoiled.
The weather has not been terribly cooperative either so we have thus far spent one day on the beach. We have wheels now and are going on a little trip to Napflia, which was the first capital city of Greece. I suspect that by weekend we will be heading out. Steve scored this cute little car for only 12.50e per day, not bad. Now he just has to get used to driving it without having a panic attack every time he gets behind the wheel. The drivers are really very bad here especially the motorcycles that flit in and out between cars at high speed. Maybe they have a death wish...
We have spent a lot of time with my MIL who is not in the best of health. I have seen a definite decline since last year and it's a worry to both Steve and me.
I've also had more time for knitting this time around so here are my almost finished socks (the second sock at time of writing this blog is just about done)...
I know this is a boring post but hopefully after our excursion I'll have some more interesting pictures and stories...
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Another Day In Paradise!
Greece is stuck in a time warp that according to my Greek husband is about 50 years behind North America. I’m a little kinder since I’m a visitor and think it’s about 20 or so. Who is right doesn’t much matter really since we, as a friend recently pointed out again; get to go home again while the Greeks have to live here.
Just from a practical standpoint getting anything accomplished here becomes a major effort. Yesterday my husband had to go to the bank with his entire family to make some changes to his Mom’s bank account. He was gone from about 9 in the morning until 3:30 and came home frustrated. He also discovered at the same time that a bank account he has and hasn’t used for a couple of years has been frozen! “What the f-ck is wrong with this country” were his exact words. I must say that my very mild mannered husband generally doesn’t use words like that unless he’s hit his thumb with his hammer while working which also doesn’t happen often.
His Mom recently needed to see a doctor and that involved going to the office, taking a number and coming back a few hours later to see if her number had been called yet. This could take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours. North Americans would be outraged but for some reason, which is absolutely beyond my understanding, Greeks take this in stride and just shrug their shoulders. That’s the way it is and they can’t change the system. They don’t even try. My SIL who is a Canadian citizen but lives here comes to Canada anytime she has a serious medical problem and I’m certain she is not the only one who does this.
Before I left for Germany my husband went to the pharmacy to buy some Voltaren for me only to find a note on the door that they were on strike for the day, huh...
The tram going from downtown Glyfada to my MIL house has been on strike two afternoons recently without warning. And grocery prices are about to go through the roof this week. At least there was a warning about that. This is already the most expensive country in the EU and I’m not certain how people can afford to live.
A few weeks ago I met a Greek man who spoke perfect German. He had lived in Germany for 25 years and was now retired and living back in Greece. He told me that he wasn’t certain that he could live here any more after the orderliness of Germany. He told me that in the lottery of Europe the Greeks got the best country but what they were doing with it was “a crime against humanity”, his words. A bit harsh perhaps and I wouldn’t have used those words exactly but coming from a Greek, very telling.
Corruption is rampant here and to get anything done requires bribes yet the inhabitants of this beautiful country seem either unable to unwilling to stop it. They just shrug their shoulders and do what they have always done, vote in the same bunch and just shrug their shoulders and hope for the best.
And for my knitting buddies note that I have one new sock, finished and the second cast on already since I've run out of English reading material. Tomorrow we will rent a car and try to get out a little more...ciao
Labels: travel 2008