A Rainy Wintery Day

Lots of rain in San Francisco. And snow in the Sierras. Happy New Year. We found a nice spot to sit through a leisurely lunch, even though it took some wet walking. Pelted with rain. But BART works good. Wonderful soul food at Brenda’s, and a great place to enjoy a  stormy day.

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Brenda’s French Soul Food. Nice menu, great food.
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Taking care of business at Brenda’s.
Oakland West
Oakland West. Open air, after the trip under the Bay.
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Greece 2018

Greece 2018 was a very good trip.

For us, all Greece trips start in Athens since we have connections and fond memories of friends and places there. Between arriving and departing from Athens we had a number of days, and enjoyed the Niarchos Cultural Center (SNFCC), the Athens downtown Triangle, a cool spot with new and exciting places to eat, and pedestrianization on the way. We also had dinner in Exarchia with friends, not to mention a quick visit to the Acropolis and lots of fun wandering in Koukaki. I also visited friends out on the Greek Riviera, as it is known, down the coast in Voula and Varkiza.

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SNFCC – Summer Nostos Festival 1

Anyway, more about Greek food and places to eat later on in another post.

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Fresh made hortopita, filled with garden greens. At Hyiati Coffee Bar and Restaurant, Alonissos.

After Athens, our first stop was Mykonos to visit friends. Tourist season is not the time to visit Mykonos, if you can avoid it. The small town becomes overwhelmed, especially on days when the 2-3 cruise ships disgorge 6000+ tourists for the day. Be very careful on the roads. But if you visit a beautiful spot like Fokos Beach for a swim and a leisurely lunch at the exceptional seaside restaurant, you will know why people love Mykonos. And seeing the ruins on nearby Delos should be on everyone’s itinerary! Thanks to Anika and family for a wonderful stay with them in Kalafati…far from the crowds!

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Ikaria was an experience from the minute we got in the taxi from the port of Evdilos over to our hotel in Armenistis. Dashing over the hilly roads along the coast, Fotis told us about the Panagiri in the mountains that night. So off we went after freshening up in our lovely room at the Cavos Bay Hotel. Panagiris happen regularly over the summer and this one included all the wonderful dancing, live music and local foods that is typical. Coming down the mountain later that night, we knew we were in a magical place. And the next 7 days proved it true, with lots to enjoy combined with a slow pace. Think no crowds, safe roads, good food, very nice beaches, and friendly people living in a stress-free way. That is Ikaria!

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With no itinerary in mind after Ikaria, we decided to go to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, and explore places like Naoussa, and Halkidiki. But after a nice couple of days in the city of Thessaloniki, the islands were calling again, when we found a ferry direct to the Sporades Group, including Alonissos.

So off we went to Alonissos without a hotel reservation. This led to us staying at the lovely Pension’ Votsi, as well as a lovely small villa down the coast in Vamvakies’, complete with private swimming dock. Alonissos is a small island that has a great vibe as well as beautiful waters and beaches all around. It looks to be ideal for a sailing vacation. We swam in some beautiful spots, ate great food and stayed with some very nice people who made us feel very welcome.

Leaving Alonissos after too few days, we took a ferry down to Kymi where our driver Vagellis awaited to drive us to Athens. Much better and faster than the bus connection. Resting up in Athens and visiting friends included a trip to Poros for Vicki. As for me, I stayed in Athens.

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As for all the great food and places to eat in Greece…we’ll write more about that later.

Thanks to all our friends, new and old, for your time and friendship during our stay.

Were we ready to leave after 29 days? Yes, we wanted to get back home, but the lure of Greece remains and I can envision more time there in the future.

Horses at the Moraga Library

I have been enjoying the lovely and abstract horse sculptures at Moraga Library. Beautifully created by Amy Evans.

Moraga library is just off the Bike trail and very close to Moraga Commons. Young children frequently enjoy the fun of the playground at the Commons as well as a story at the library.

Support your local Library!

Family 2016
Horse 2; Sculpture by Amy Evans
Family 2016-2
Horse 3; Sculpture by Amy Evans

Athens this Month – June 2016

Hot hot hot!
Hotels fully booked with tourists and conventioneers.
But few signs of refugees.
Glad to see the Posidonia shipping crowd leave town at the end of their biennial bacchanal bash!
The Niarchos Cultural Center in Kallithea is rising! Sure to be a beautiful spot bringing life to Kallithea. Athens needs a new trendy area!
Streets are full of traffic. Especially when protesters take over the Center!
Made it to the kick-off event of the Athens-Epidaurus Festival. Big out-door concert by 10+vocalists and brass and bouzoukia and accordion! And Mr. Cheimerinoi Kolymvites was the highlight of the evening!  O φίλος μου  Γιώργος ξέρει καλή μουσική!
Kukaki, just south of the Acropolis Museum. My new favorite part of town.
Mani Mani is still serving great food. At a great price with great service! Meanwhile, Indian restaurants seem to be on the rise!
People are still smoking like it isn’t 2016 and we don’t know better! Oh the cost…to family friends co-workers and self!
Taxis are still cheap and plentiful. But watch out for the jalopies!
Be sure to strike up a conversation with a local. Greeks love to talk…and you might end up with a friend for life!
And so Athens, my dusty old friend. I will be gone and back again…before you know it!

Refugee Children in Greece

A photo exhibit by GMB Akash at the Benaki Museum of Athens. 21 May 2016

This exhibit brings the refugee crisis to life. My compliments to Mr. GMB Akash for his efforts in documenting the people caught in this struggle. The work is artfully presented, using only the photo roll paper set low to the ground, which is so often our vantage point when looking at children.

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http://www.benaki.gr/index.asp?lang=en&id=202010001&sid=1939

Tulips in Manhattan

 

Tulips in Manhattan – April 2016

I can’t think of a nicer Tulip Garden than this one in the West Side Community Garden on W89th Street in Manhattan. This 40 year old garden is a triumph of community action and is supported solely by volunteers. It is a wonderful spot for relaxation not to mention enjoying the flora.

Visit their website to learn more and find out about upcoming events. http://www.westsidecommunitygarden.org/about/

Enjoy my tulip photos.

 

 

A Walk through 2 Boroughs – 29 August 2015

Photos from a stroll from Manhattan to The Bronx, across the High Bridge at 170th Street.

The Apollo Theater on 125th Street
The Apollo Theater on 125th Street
The High Bridge, seen from Manhattan.
The High Bridge, seen from Manhattan.
Looking North.
Looking North from the High Bridge.
One of many commemorative plaques on the High Bridge.
One of many commemorative plaques on the High Bridge.
Strolling West on the High Bridge, towards Manhattan
Strolling West on the High Bridge, towards Manhattan
Enjoying the morning air - Bronx Style!
Enjoying the morning air – Bronx Style!
Saturday Morning in the Bronx.
Saturday Morning in the Bronx.
Fun on a hot day at Nelson Playground in the Bronx.
Fun on a hot day at Nelson Playground in the Bronx.
Under the El on Jerome Avenue.
Under the El on Jerome Avenue.
Shop Workers - waiting for Yankee Fans.
Shop Workers – waiting for Yankee Fans.
McCombs Dam Park on the edge of Yankee Stadium.
McCombs Dam Park on the edge of Yankee Stadium.

My Island – Poros

Most Greeks have either “My Island” or “My Village”. For us Poros has become ‘My Island”, probably because it is close enough to our family roots in the Peloponnese, but mostly because we have been welcomed there for many years by some very close friends. They have taken us into their family and included us in many events. We are so fortunate!

Poros is a short ferry ride from Piraeus. Close enough for a day-trip. And it is just a stone’s throw from Galatas in the Peloponnese. A day-trip to Epidaurus, or Mycenae is entirely possible.

Like everywhere in Greece, people like to sit for hours over a cup of coffee, or drink ouzo and eat grilled octopus and other mezes at a very leisurely pace! Everything starts later. There is no such thing as 7:00 in the morning, and meeting in the afternoon usually means at 5:00 or 6:00. Ask a friend where you will meet for coffee tomorrow and they will say at the port…or at the corner…and “I will look for you”. Ask them what time and they’ll say “in the morning”. Plans are rarely more firm than that! The summertime routine will include swimming, followed by a nap…then coffee in the afternoon! And a light dinner about when you should really be going to bed!

In Poros one must enjoy the simple routines that are common around Greece. But to enjoy them on Poros…now that is something different indeed!

Early morning ferry to Poros - on a brilliant day!
Early morning ferry to Poros – on a brilliant day!
In town on Easter Sunday - our last night.
In town on Easter Sunday – our last night. Galatas is just opposite…a few hundred meters away.
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Kids at the beach in Askeli.
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High up in the village – Poros.

 

 

Want to visit Amsterdam?

In March 2015 I had a few days in Amsterdam and stayed at the wonderful Andaz Hotel in the Prinzengracht Area. Located in a beautiful area – perfect for walking and bicycling along the canals, and visiting the museums and so many wonderful small shops. Small shops with unique items and many of them handmade!

But the Andaz! It was amazing, with wonderful rooms; art in the rooms and throughout the hotel, great service, and great food. Usually hotels have a fault or two, but none were evident at the Andaz! The room was an open plan with the sink and shower in the room, and only the toilet and walk-in closet were separate from the room.

Too bad it was a weekend of all day meetings and too bad it rains cats’n’dogs in March in Amsterdam! Still lots of fun!

Andaz Lobby with tulip chairs.
Andaz Lobby with tulip chairs.
Andaz Hotel Room - Open Plan
Andaz Hotel Room – Open Plan
Nearby Coffee Shop
Nearby Coffee Shop
Courtyard at the Andaz.
Courtyard at the Andaz.
Andaz courtyard at night - 1
Andaz courtyard at night – 1
Andaz courtyard at night - 2
Andaz courtyard at night – 2
View from the Andaz Hotel entrance.
View from the Andaz Hotel entrance.