[Another reminder that I'm giving away a Flip Mino HD, courtesy of AXE, makers of fine body washes for teenaged men, and those who want to smell like them. I have had a chance to use both now, and can report that they both work surprisingly well. TLO's opinion of the "Shock" flavor have been notably positive. My tasting notes say the nose is good, with aromas of seaweed and menthol, and no bitter aftertaste. Or was that the wine from last night?
I have some interesting video from the Flip in particular that I will upload when bandwidth allows. As for the contest, there aren't many entries, and most of my readership consists of saddos and bicyclists, so your prospects are good. Entries close when I recover from my return-trip jetlag, which will be no sooner than June 8. While I'm nattering on inside these square brackets, please also note that I'm writing these posts offline and uploading them when I can, which is why the pictures are not direct-linked to flickr versions. I doubt anyone cares but me, now that I mention it. Also, why an "editor's note" is necessary when I also wrote everything below, and I don't expect those words to be more coherent or sensible than these, I'm not sure. -RjC.]
Weather is poor, probably on account of the crisis. Wish you were here! In other news, the crisis has indeed affected us: last Thursday there was a National Tantrum–er, General Strike–and that meant the ferries stopped running for the day, and some TV stations (the private ones, oddly, not the state-owned TV stations, because the labor union in question is not allowed to organize the state broadcast employees). The TV we didn't miss much, but TLO and I were planning to go to Tinos, an adjoining island. We moved our tickets to Friday, which turned out to save us about 10 Euros, no problem.
The most entertaining part of the ferry ride was a t-shirt one of our fellow travelers wore (TLO is sure he was Greek). It said, in large, un-Bowdlerized English text, "OEDIPUS - The original mother f---er." Literacy, local colour, and obscenity, all in one convenient wearable garment.
Tinos is interesting. It's an island which can be broadly described as the Orthodox Lourdes. Its fame revolves around Sister Pelagius (I know my theology-student friends are smiling now), who in the 19th century had a vision describing the location of a buried icon. She is now Saint Pelagius in the Orthodox church, and the main church on the island is an annual pilgrimage site.
Sad to say, I think the church is only mildly interesting for the un-Orthodox: it's not particularly remarkable, though it is large. There's a small art gallery on the church grounds that, amazingly, has a Rubens hanging amongst a bunch of other paintings ranging from okay to atrocious.
The rest of the island was entertaining, though. We ate lunch, rented a scooter, and saw the sights. Tinos has its share of pretty villages, a pretty beach, and a pretty green valley. There's a pretty steep stair-climb hike that takes about 15 minutes going up, and that gets you to the highest point on the island: Xombourgo. Most of the museums we might have visited were closed, a consequence of typical siesta-influenced Greek opening hours and the fact it was off-season.
A note about that off-season thing: this is late May. in Greece, that's the low season. I have no idea why: the aforementioned bad weather amounts to three rainy days in the two weeks we've been here, and that's unseasonal. The temperature has been in the 25-32º range most of the time. The beaches are both lovely to swim on, and virtually empty.
August, if you're wondering, is the high season. Except for heat-addled Australians doing their upside-down version of snowbirding in Greece, I can't see any point in low-40º temperatures, crowded beaches, and high-season prices.
Back to Tinos: we ate lunch at Ψησταρια Ο Βλαχοσ (say "psistaria o vlakhos"). Translation: The Idiot's Grill. They served me something that the Greek side of the menu called "pancetta*," which started out bacon-thin and bacon-crisp on one piece and ended up like a pork belly with some riblets in it on the other. Note also the fries, which were good. We'll call that a solid victory for Greek bacon, and for idiots.
Then it was time for our next adventure. But first, a suicidal road-crossing chicken. Really. As we were riding along on the rented scooter, a chicken at the side of the road, against all reason and my short history of avoiding chickens, darted into the roadway as we approached, and then ran in front of the scooter for a bit before finally choosing life, and living to tell the joke about why it crossed the road for another day.
As we scooted about on the rental-agency-suggested itinerary, we kept encountering our fellow scooter renters, a Taiwanese couple that was just a few minutes ahead of us. We leapfrogged around the island, chatting occasionally at the stops. Make of it what you want that the strangers we had the most in common with on the island were Chinese tourists. But we weren't that similar: his SLR was a Canon EOS, while mine was my trusty Pentax.
We didn't stay overnight: we caught the late ship back to Syros, and there we are.
Not much more to say about Tinos, or the trip so far. We're hiking, eating, sleeping, drinking, secret-training, swimming, Cocoa-learning, napping, and generally doing just fine. Even the weather is better since I started writing this.
More stories to tell (preview: R&R discover an obscene message in a bottle), and a few videos to show, but that must wait until the bandwidth gets a tad more reliable.
*Having donated a huge chunk of vocabulary to English and several other languages, modern Greek has no compunctions about borrow-words from many languages. There are some charming Greek-rooted words for modern items, like Κινίτο (Kinito), which is "mobile," as in a cel phone. (Compare to German, which awkwardly uses the English-as-it-is-not-spoken "Handy" for the same item), but if the Greek for "computer" is «κομπυτeρ» (uh, "computer"), who's borrowing what?