Monday, October 04, 2010

Rumba y Fuego Bachata Festival 10-02-10

Monday, February 11, 2008

What a RUSH!

My first performance with Rumba y Fuego. It was like seet and sour sauce. So many good things, one mistake and one slip on the dress to fall on my head? But, I did it! I did it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Roma Farewell

Today we are back in Roma with the Genungs. It is such a welcome break after the wierd manners of the Greeks. We went to Colloseo and had an inside tour which was amazing. We saw all the walls underneath the colloseum where all the animals were held for the gladiators to fight. It is our last day in Rome and possibly the last time in our lives in Rome. We are very nistalgic. We touch the walls and feel 2000 generations of people who have passed this way. Its very moving.

We have pesto pasta with the Genungs and Cristinas aunt and uncle lola and Jose. We drink greek wine from santorini. We tell lots of stories of Cristina flagging Taxis and talking back in defense of her situation. She is famous for this, of course! It is a beautiful evening. M and I look for a cuban cigar but it is closed, and instead have a glass of grappa and talk about being a lay person and still a good catholic! how is this done! When you are drinking grappa, it all seems clear enough!

Tomorrow we fly to London. Our last day in Europe. It has been a great , great vacation. We are ready to go home and see those we love~

That is another grea thing about seeing things far away, they give you perspective and value to those things close to you.


PDS

Beads

We spent a very peaceful day travelling from Santorini to Rome today. We started out the morning on the balcony of our hotel Villa Renos. Observing the last sights of the Chaldera eating a fabulous breakfast of sweet pastries in philllo, yogurt, fruit, cheese, tomatoes and salami.

I got in a whole another round of fights with Creepy rose guy after he wanted to charge another night of hotel charges....

We noticed funny things about Greeks, and here are a few.

1. It is just absolutely funny that Greek men use the Worry beads. These are beads that look like a rosary but actually they are beads that have no meaning. Just out of the blue you will hear beads clicking, and you look around the the average Greek guy has got a hand on these things and he's just swinging them around. It is truly the funniest thing I have seen in a while. No reason. Just fiddling with these beads. Guys in suits, guys smoking a cigarette at the bar, guys everywhere are swinging these worry beads. No women, just men. huh, go figure

2. No toilet paper can be flushed down the drain. Thepipes evidently are too small. Though it sounds gross, it is true. All bathrooms have liittle trash cans with lids that you must put the
tP in. hmmm.

3. The streets have cobblestone streets that are not cobblestones, but rocks that have painstainkingly been placed on their edge to make a street.

4. Wine vines are put down to the ground as baskets.

5. The word for yes, in Greek is "Ne".

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Boutari

Today we hit the Boutari vineyard to see how they make the Santorini wine. They mostly make white. The ground here has a topsoil that is volcanic debris, or rock. It is very arid. They had a display of all the different layers of rocks and the top 3 feet are volcanic gravel, it almost looks like. There is very nearly no rain, and there is not enough water to irrigate.

All of the vines are wrapped around in a basket to preserve the humity that rises up from the sea.

My session in my cafe expiring. More tomorrow !

Good night!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Io

















Today we woke up and headed upstairs to breakfast. Wow! How beautiful! A homemade breaksfast with fresh squeezed orange juice and jams made from apricots and figs from the owners fruit trees. I myself was not enjoying one bit of it because the more I thought about it, the more angry I was that these people were double charging me for having made two reservations when clearly we were only using one room and giving me the runaround. I wore dark glasses so I wouldn'thave to look at them. The young son gave me a rose, and said here is a rose for you since you haven't smiled since yesterday. I took the rose and laid it on the table and didn't smile. Thankyou. I left it on the table when I left. How about 600$ buddy, that would make me smile. You can take your rose and yadda yadda.

Anyhow, by the time we showered and spiffied up the room I walked past rose dude not looking at him or speaking to him on the way out. He pulled mom over and told her that he had refunded our other room. Thank you I told him and My world was indeed rosy again.

We headed south for the Ruins of Akrotiri which are 1000 BC dated, damn we keep getting older and older with these ruins. The island and cycladic architecture and countryside with the Agean sea views was simply as charming as they come. I was having an absolute ball driving the little smart cart up and down the rolling windy country sides. We see wineries and we see littel pottery places.










When we get to the ancient ruins, they are closed for the season for restoration so we walk down to a little snack shop. AND it is on the Aegean with little beach chairs at the edge of the water. We buy some orange juice and pull an umbrella up. We prop up our feet and listen to the waves lapping and take in the awesome sight of the coast. This is the life. Time stands still and you can hear yourself BREATHE!

Happy and content to have spent time with the sun and the black sand beach and the 5 little kittens who lay down with us, we head back to find one of the wineries and when they might have a tour tomorrow. We stop in a pottery shop and have a looky look. In 15 minutes we our back in Fira, our town so we pass it up and head north to Io. It is much higher up on the cliff... whoa... some pretty hairy driving here. There are hairpin clifs with no side guardrails and crazy locals whizzing by and Large Buses? How the hell do they stay on the road? This town has more of the cliff stucco buildings, but is slightly less touristy. Our guidebook says to keep going around back down the cliff to the bottom of the mountain and the marina. There are supposed to be divine and fresh off the boat seafood restaurants there. We pull down to the base of the mountain and eat at Dimitris. It is a little wharf/dock overlooking the little sea fishing boats and there are charcoal stoves that fish and octopus and such are all grilling on. We watch the sunset with some hummus and batter fried tomatoes. We watch the cruise ships pull out of harbor and back out to see. We look up the cliff and see all the little stucco houses twinkling down at us. This is truly one of the most quant spots imaginable to watch the sunset. The red snapper comes out, we share a fish. Heads on or off? Oh, well off please. This fish is amazingly delicious with the smoked grill and herbs.... couldn't get any fresher... there is folk greek music in the background... Feels dreamlike truly... we wonder if we will beleive this all really happened when we get back home!

Ciao friends,,

PDS

PSS Sorry Roo for no pictures. There are no cables for us to upload our gorgeous pictures. Oh there are like hundreds of small little churches with blue dome tops here. Evidently they are teeny tiny and only open once a year when the saint they are named after has a saint day. they only open one day a year. So Cute and Quant. Anyways, we have lots of pictures! Will try to upload some more when back in Rome on Friday with Ms computer!!! We miss you guys!
Ma and PDS

Santorini




We flew into Santorini this afternoon. It's only a half an hour flight! You fly out of Athens and you stay low to the ground so you can see allthe little islands on the way. This takes 10 hours if you take the Ferry, and costs the same as the ferry! No thanks, I'll fly! We hung out in the Athens airport for 2 hours drinking capacinno and purusuing Greek Books because we nearly missed our flight out of Rome on Aegean Airlines due to it taking an hour and a half to check in. We checked in at Athens in 5 minutes. Go figure, you never know the way these things are gonna go.

This morning as we packed in our rooms the wind was whipping outside. Not a soul outside below the balconies in the 5-Star. Mom goes out to retrieve her unmentionables from the balcony that are drying from some laundering and she is missing half of her items. She looks over the balcony? Little pieces of black and pink fabric? No? She searches to the left and the right. She turns around, They're gone! We can't imagine where they went to. Out into the Sarconic Gulf? Mom has made her offering to the Greek Gods in her own way. Tee Hee.


We get into the airport and go to rent a car. We ask if they have the little 2 seater smart cars because mom has been admiring those all over Rome and Athens. Let me check the freindly car lady asks. Usually its more. She has us slated for a Ford Fiesta on the paperwork. Bluck!! She comes back, YES WE HAVE for you, no extra charge! Hee hee. She says, I show you how it works. We have room amazingly in the back for our luggage and our carryons. Its semiautomatic she states. Hmmm.... little shifter but no clutch. You just keep shifting up and up and up to 4th gear. Sometimes it locks, the smart car. It means it is confused. You just turn off and turn on again. You be in N gear and you put foot on brake. It work. You drive to Messyna you take right to Fira. Zoom zoom, we head out of dodge. Its fun to drive the smart car.

We get to Thira and the roads are smalllll and on a very big hill. You drive up a road it dead ends you you have no where toturn around. A Greek just sits in his car and watches me to do a 30 point turnaround to go back down. We find a little parking lot and we are SO glad we're in a smart car because it fits into little little space no other car could fit in. Also, the semi automatic means you don't roll when on a 45 degree incline that is on a very high cliff.

We walk into Fira. There is a little foot path that is on the edge of the Volcanic crater, the Chaldera. We go the edge of the wall, and peer down... there is all these little adobe whitewash buildings down the entire cliff. It looks like a little dollhouse. The view is everything you see in a postcard and more. The cliffs are red and black where the volcano errupted here 1,400 years ago. The Aegean Sea is below you with blue blue waters and 3 little island bits that are left over from the volcanic smashup. It is one of themost beautiful places inall of Europe the guide books tell you and we can't agree more.

We see the rooftop terrace of our hotel with a little wooden sign, Villa Renos. There it is! We hop down the stairs that is a little cobblestone path that winds and weaves all the way down the cliff to the sea where the cruise ship people take their ferrys back and forth from their cruise ship. Donkeys go up and down the path to bring people from the cruise ships. Also there is a cable wire with cars that you can take.

We check in and we have double reserved and double paid. Is there anything to be done I ask? We will see he says. We head down to our rooms that lead out onto a balcony that overlooks the cliffs of the Chaldera. You suck in your breath at the view. The rooms are partly built into the cliff of rock. The bathrooms are compeltely inside the rock so that they are solid and you get in lots of light from the French Doors. These square and rounded top stucco buildings are called Cycladic architecture that all these Greek Islands that are in the middle of the Aegean in the shape of a circle are called. It feels very simple, and quaint and homey.

We head to dinner around the footpath and down the cliff a ways at Selena. Here we have one of the best dinners of all times, seriosly, with local grown herbs and local tomatoes and local capers and caper leaves. Mine is sea bass wrapped in a crepe with capers and caper leaves and fresh herbs. Momma's is lamb chop in the most delightful tenderness and herbs. Appetizer is sea urchins which kind of taste like clams and a grilled artichoke heart on top of a sauce of white fava beans that is delicious. We wash it down with local Santorini wine. MMMM.

We wax slightly silly from the wine and talk about mom's honeymoon across the country to report to Dad's post in California for Graduate studies and about how they only had a sleeping bag in the apartment when they first arrived, because they had no furniture. We think about this because the other diners in front of us look like they are on their honeymoon. We drift back to the little Cycladic villa along the rock cobblestones....... Lovely evening....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Acropoli!











We headed into Athens bright and early this morning. Caught the 9AM hotel shuttle into Syntagma square. That sure was easy, and not to mention free. No tickets or maps or routes to calculate. I was sort of let down, because I had my heart set on figuring out the local bus route #114 by myself, and then posting the directions on Tripadvisor.com- Alas, my competitiveness will have to wait for another opportune moment.



We met a lovely Indian Family from Dubai who had spent some time in states and had very American and excellent English. They were also headed for the Catholic Cathedral downtown as we were. So the father and I headed to the front of the little group and compared our maps and the routes we had carved out with each other like two fellow sailors navigating our way through troubled waters and comparing the routes the other had calculated. We found each other up to par, as we continued to sail side by side each clutching their own map like some ancient family jewel.

Alas, land ho! We found our Cathedral! All aboard! Mass was just lovely, and although half finished, we simply stayed on for the next viewing and stayed for the first half. The choir was heavenly, it was equivalent to a chorale performance. For some reason I was unusually tickeled that the Kyrie Eleison, which I have sung all of my life, was actually Greek and the Greeks were singing it.

We were experts on the Athens metro now, and Mom was in charge of Metro operations, since she was so good at getting the tickets for us and hopping on the Acropolis route.




Tickets in hand, we started up the rock. Rain started drizzling a bit and we were sure it would downpour on us at any moment, so we scurried on up to make sure we could get in a dry view.

Sigh. I really don^t have words for making to the top of the rock and seeing the parthenon for the first time, knowing that this building is 2,500 years old. It is just draw droppingly beautiful. And as you get higher and higher up the rock you can see all of the city of Athens all around you, and strangely, though this is a large tourist area, it is very peaceful. Almost everyone has somewhat of a reverent nature up here. You almost can^t help it. The rock transports you up so that you feel as if you are being picked up into Athena^s hand and then this monumentally large and ancient building peers at you. Not far off to the left is the Temple of Athena, Nike, which i never knew nike meant victory. Celebrating vicotorious Athena. it struck me as joyful, with the corner cutout for 6 or so busts of Athena just on the corner looking triumphant. Truly amazing, considering we have no building in the us that is older than 200 years old. essentially.

We meandered down and poked around the Temple of Zeuss, but since its only from 142AD we weren^t really that impressed with it. plus its roman. hee hee.

We came back to our hotel and partook in a sandwhich and a beer in front of our gorgeous Sardonic Gulf view. i checked out the spa downstairs and momma took a siesta and now we are just kicking it in the 5 star, since the winds have kicked up to a frenzy and we are not that hungry from our large snack. We have CNN in ten languges in our hotel room, and we watched a little Al - Jazeera just because we are cosmopolitan now that we are in Europe. We`re checking out the weather in all of the EU. It started snowing in Moscow, and The World Rugy Semifinals are on at 1900 GMT between Argentina and South Africa┬┤. hee hee.

We feel very awed by this day and full in our souls. We keep pinching ourselves, we can^t beleive we^re in Greece. We can^t beleive we^ve seen so much of Western culture in a week!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Athens




I was sick today. I think i^ve caught the little bug spread around by our little friend in Santa Marinella. Ah well... So got a gallon of orange juice from a little side vendor. I slept all morning and felt a bit better when I got up. Good enough to attempt the tram into Athens from Glyfada.

The day is simply divine. The view from our hotel is simply divine. The doors open all the way up so that your whole hotel room is open to the Sarconic Gulf. It is so heart achingly beautiful that it looks fake. There are sailboats. They look fake. We drink in the view. Its like a painting. We want to remember it. We try to take a picture in our minds. We watch all the people eating below our balcony. There goes a guy paragliding from the dock of our hotel. Its so relaxing who would want to get up? I drink about 10 glasses of orange juice, take an excedrin and a fizzy drink of Airborne vitamins for travelling health. I think I can venture forth.

We ask the front door dudes at this 5 Star Hotel how to take bus 114. They tell us to go down to the old guard gate. Huh... Some things are definitely lost in the Greek to American translation. They are not sure what time the bus comes or if you have to have a ticket before you get on the bus. {I read that you do}. So we shrug and take a taxi to the Tram Station in Glyfada. But it is one hour he tells us I take you in taxi for 25 Euros. No, we want to take the Tram because its only 1 Euro.

We hop on Tram 5 to Syntagma square and figure out where the Bus Tickets are. Well, really we ask someone because mom likes to ask people stuff. Its faster. I tell her I like reading stuff to figure it out. We shrug. The Tram Lady tells us we can^t by from her we have to by from the Bus Lady. Where^s That mom asks. Around the corner. We buy a couple of bus tickets. Where^s the metro we ask the bus lady. Across the street. We figure out how to buy those ones and scoot ourselves with all of our three kinds of tickets into the Metro and head to acropoli.

The evening is just beautiful, warm, cool breeze. We stroll down the street and there are lutes and accordian players serenading us on the road. We touch the old stones from the base of the Acropolis and admiring the night view of the parthenon all lit up from below.

We make reservations for Dinner at Daphnes in half an hour and stoll through the Plaka looking at jewely in the shops. The streets are so quant, with little rambling alleys and beautiful big wooden doors. There are balconies everywhere and little flowers hanging from the balconies. All the shops sell greek beads, and vases with greek images on them. Quite quant. Quite! There are all kinds of people from everywhere. Every culture every language we hear swirling around us.

Dinner is in a beautiful outdoor cafe. We have a funny moment where we help ourselves to the wine left from the last diner at our table. Our waiter comes over and starts ├Żelling at us. NO! That is not the wine left over! That is the wine for everyone! Well it tasted terrible, and they probably didn^t like it and thats why there was half a bottle left. Mom orders greens. We don^t have greens, mr. mean waiter says. We have cold greens. Are they good mom asks? Greens is greens. He barks. Fine! Mom barks back. Well, the greens sucked of course, but my salad of artichockes with stewed carrots and potatoes with dill and lemon sauce was tasty tast. Mom had moussaka? I Think? She loved it. It was light and moussey and light. The courtyard is so lovely and the evening is perfect despite mr mean greens.

We have a slight mishap getting on the wrong tram to the wrong direction before we get back off and figure we better figure out where we are going before we just hop on any train. We wait for the next one, the right one. There are ALL sorts of Greek Teenagers heading out to party on Saturday night on this train, and they are worth the hour long ride to watch them. Everyone wears black. And the HAIR! The hair is the funniest thing of all. It has to be teasted to hell in the crown for the girls, so that it is standing straight up like Marie Antoinette movie, but the bangs are slicked down over the forehead. And the men are just all slicked and gelled up in every direction so that everyone has LArge, large hair. Like at least 4 inches high. But of course they act like the teenagers in rome and teenagers everywhere all giggly and hyper, especally the boys. They have to stand close and they have to be touching each other and hitting each other at all times. They get off at a stop that mom mentions has a sign that announces {Athens number 1 Dance Spot} Ahhhhhhh.... We decide to stay on.

We make it to Glyfada and are ready to use our bus tickets, but alas, our spot does not have the number 114 bus. There evidently seem to be 3 Glyfada stops and the one we got off does not have 114 bus. However, we have managed 2 out of 3 means of public transportation in a town where we know not a soul and can^t read the language so we are MIGHTY proud of ourselves.

We have a celebretory glass of juice and hit the sack! What a beautiful night.