January 2013 archive

The ruins of Philippi.

Today’s weather was absolutely perfect for exploring the ancient ruins of Philippi. For only 3 euros we got to walk around the huge excavation site, imagining what Macedonian life might have been like back in 356 BC.

The amphitheater acoustics was tested by the Italian tour group ahead of us, the guide stood centre stage and belted out a beautiful aria for everyone to enjoy. Amazing!

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Our little Greek tragedy.

No matter how you put it, let’s face it, we’re gypsies. Living the nomad life has it’s perks, new scenery every few days, a constant flow of new friends with new perspectives, a fresh language/culture waiting to be learnt around every bend. Last night’s little situation was like a slap in the face. Wake up, you’re seen as gypsies by others and that’s not always a good thing.

Two days ago we arrived in the lovely Greek city of Kavala, we found a discrete parking spot by the sea, walking distance from a 1500 year old aqueduct. Great. The first night we plugged into an extension cord dangling off of an olive tree in the middle of a small park. Peace offering? Greedy Polish/Canadian car, we may or may not of blown a fuse by plugging in every single electronic we own simultaneously. Oops.

Day 2, at the brink of dusk, we sneakily plugged into an outlet found on the outer wall of an abandoned, under construction, first floor of a house or apartment. Take my word, in daylight hours, Matt waited around outside for a life form to appear so he could politely ask if we could use their power. Not a soul, are we parked in a ghost town?
Coming back from the market I notice a glowing tv on on the 3rd floor, are we safe? Should we worry? Not now.

It’s pitch black out, we’re eating great food I just made, drinking super cheap fantastic wine and watching a great show of British Top Gear, I told Matt that things are too good to be true, we’re going to get in trouble.

20 minutes later we hear rustling outside then knock,knock,knock on the door.
Matt opens the door; ” Hi, we’re so sorry, so sorry!”
Starring out at us; a Greek man, other Greek man, a Greek police officer, a Greek wife hanging off the 3rd floor lit balcony and a Greek cat giving us nasty looks from said balcony.
The Greek man starts lamenting: “You, why are you here? Why you stay here? Why you come to my house and what are you doing?”
Us: ” Yes, we are so sorry, we are terrible people, we tried to find you today, we are very wrong, we can pay you for the electricity.”
Cut to an EXACT scene from “My big fat Greek wedding”: Greek lamenting man: “No pay, WHY you don’t ask me, why you don’t talk to me? Nobody talks to me!!”
Us: “We’re soooo sorry, we truly tried to talk to you.”
Sad Greek man: “Where are you from? Why you don’t tell me?”
Us: ” We’re Canadians, Vancouver, so sorry, we are so sorry.”
George (I’m guessing his name here): “I’m from Vancouver.”
Us: “Really? We’re from Victoria!”
George: ” I live there 30 years ago, my cousin owns Romeos, I go back every year.”
Canadian gypsies: “Amalia’s mom lives on Gorge Rd.”
George: “I live in an apartment on Tillicum and Gorge.”
Us, jaw dropped: “That’s 200 meters away, hello neighbor!”
George hesitates then waves off the overly confused police officer.
Finally, just us Canadian neighbors are chatting in the dark.
George: “Ok, please plug back in.”
Us: “It’s ok, we can pay you, would you like some wine? Beer? Anything?”
George: “No, no, no, please plug back in! I want you to plug, you must.  I also lived in Vancouver.”
Matt: “I lived in the West End, Barkley st.”

I shit you not, freakin’ George lived a block away.

All is settled and we are welcomed guest for the next 48 hours.
First thing tomorrow I’m buying George and the Greek wife pretty flowers. 

Kavala, Greece.

We’re parked by the sea again.

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Yellow? Looks healthy.

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View from my kitchen.

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We are parked here.

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Morris.

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Not a bad parking spot.

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We turned the corner to discover this!

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Aqueduct.

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The Greeks love their cats.

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I have weird cat eyes.

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IEEEEE!!! We’re in Greece

I hate driving through borders and our last Turkish border fiasco left a sour taste in my mouth. An hour before entering Greece I realized that Matt’s Polish ID, the one that took 5 complicated steps and a month to arrive, was missing. My blood pressure shot through the roof, will the crossing guards give us a hard time because of Schengen rules, limiting ins and outs to 90 days (to be honest, I don’t really understand how it works)?

All smiles from both the Turkish Police Passport Control and the Turkish Customs officers. Check!

The Greek Police Passport Control officer was very friendly and stamped our passports immediately. Check!

The Greek Customs officer asked us a series of routine questions with a stern look on his face, paused, then wished us a nice vacation. OPA!!!   

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Our first stop was Alexandroupolis, a small coastal town 40 km from the border. It was far too cold and windy to go out and take pictures, sorry. Highlights; parking by the water and a rogue wave crashed over the van soaking poor Matt to the bone, I went a restaurant BY MYSELF and ate octopus while reading my Kindle and replacing one of our propane tanks (believe me, it’s something to celebrate). 

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Next stop, Komotini. We stopped at hardware store to pick up a few supplies to fix the Gypsy dent on the side of the van. The store didn’t quite have what we needed so the sales associate jumped in his car, directed us to another store 7 km away, came into the store with us and ordered the desired piece. Wow. Impatient, we started our repairs in store parking lot causing a curious employee to jump right in and do 80% of the work for us, giving us a special industrial strength glue free of charge AND he brought us hot coffees to keep us warm. Double wow! 

That night we went to a club, I danced and made best friends with absolutely everyone. Next day we woke up to snow.DSC03260

 

Xanthi, a darling ski resort type town with pretty old buildings, jazzy cafes and weird ducks.  

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What do you think they store in here? Motor oil? Wine?

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Buyukada, Turkey.

One morning Carla and I hopped on the tram ($1.50) and made our way to the sea bus terminal to catch the hour long ferry ($2.50) that took us to the Prince’s Island of Buyukada. The Prince’s Islands are 4 small islands off of Istanbul’s coasts, all 4 are car-free and only 2 of them can be visited by tourists. As it is slow season we decided to visit the largest island hoping it would be the liveliest.

The island was really cool, everyone rode bikes or hired horse drawn carriages to explore the hilly streets. By foot, Carla and I took pictures of empty wooden homes and villas while befriending a new street cat every 5 meters. I’d love to come back in the summer when it’s busy, I bet it’s packed with interesting people relaxing, having a fun time, trying to get away from the noisy traffic ridden city. 

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The last few days of Carla.

We made sure to packed in a least 2 quality in-van dance parties the last week Carla was with us. Her and I sing and dancing to 80’s and 90’s hits in our pj’s, drink gross Turkish wine and giggle hysterically while Matt rests in the loft space periodically rolling his eyes.

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Sober!

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You know he’s judging us.

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Food and mosque.

We just spent 2 fabulous weeks with Carla and now that she’s back home I have a backlog of photos and stories to tell.

On this Carla day, her and I ate jumbo shrimp with sumac, garlic and butter on the patio of a cute restaurant (it’s January and it’s still patio season here). The owner fell in love with Carla and offered us fruits and baklava as a token of his affection.

Next, we visited the lovely mosque on the hilltop by the university. Though not as grandioso as the famous Blue Mosque, I preferred it’s sharper colours and exterior views.    

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Mosque puppy.

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Carla time.

Istanbul is a walking town, I think that we ended up walking through all 3 major Bazaars (Spice, Outdoor and Grand) about 12 times throughout the 14 days she stayed with us. It was fun and therapeutic to have a girlfriend to talk to and giggle with, Matt’s wonderful and all but sometimes I really crave silly girl conversations.

Carla and I will be friends forever, she’s the best!

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Sometimes I take pictures with somebody in mind, all the door photos are for my mom.

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Turkish coffee. I can’t even describe the smell coming from this store, every time we walked by it there was a 900 meter lineup of people waiting to buy these café bricks. 

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This WC had 3 doors. Behind door #1, a “modern” toilet and behind doors #2 and #3, Turkish toilets complete with wet floors and lack of toilet paper. As you see here, everyone washes their hands in a “universal” way.

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