Tag Archives: Greece

Dream Dinner Destination: Hydra, Greece

As a young girl, on an international adventure to the far side of the world, I encountered a choice. I was on an idyllic Greek Island in the Mediterranean, wandering the light cobbled back streets, and was approached by a lovely local and after briefly chatting and getting to know one another was asked to stay for dinner. Being 18 and having a boat and head count to catch up to, I was obliged to decline and forever wonder what might have happened if I stayed that night for a once in a lifetime dinner.

Well, today we’re going to investigate the possibilities, and extrapolate in a fun and exciting way, what might have happened that evening if I had decided to stay. First I’m going to lay down some parameters. For the sake of this thought experiment, we’ll say I am 22 years old. Mostly because I wasn’t really into fancy new exciting food at 18. Secondly, it would arguably seem sorta dodgy, staying with strangers in a foreign country, so one may assume I would make better decisions at 22 than 18 (those who know me are laughing right now). Next, we’ll assume I wasn’t on a High School trip and didn’t have a boat to catch or a schedule to keep.

So let’s get crack-a-lacking shall we!

So I’ve been asked to join a local Greek family (very wholesome of course) for a delightful dinner and not having anywhere to be I agree to the generous invitation.

The first thing that crosses my mind is the realization and horror of a complete unfamiliarity of both language and culture; Particularly in a group social setting. Having only just fumbled though conversational Greek as a wandering tourist in town I have no grasp of how to sustain constant communication with another human being for longer than the thirty seconds it takes to buy some olives or a bottle of Ouzo. What in the lowest level of Hades have I got myself into?

I could solely rely on my handy dandy phrase book that has lots of useful phrases such as “efkharisto yia ti filoksenia sas” which essentially means thanks for putting up with me. But upon further investigation, I fear this book isn’t going to be as useful as previously anticipated…

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…So now that the phrasebook option is completely out the window, I’ll just have to get by with my wits about me!  The family decides it’s their weekly night to go to the local cafe for a meal, let’s say their strange uncle runs the place right on the water just to make it a family affair.

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There is a daughter roughly my age and her English is terrible, but way better than my Greek, so I do most of my communicating through her using my well known over dramatic hand gestures and repetition. Being in the same age bracket and living in the same century makes her surprisingly relateable, considering she lives on an Island that still transports goods by way of donkey. It’s a surreal experience, filled with sounds and smells I never would have dreamed of experiencing all at once. The sea waters are salty and I can smell it on the light breeze. There is spice in the air and a constant bustle as both tourists and locals flit by along the water getting to where they are going. Everyone can feel it, and it helps me take in what it must be like to live here.

At our table, the wind flutters the cream tablecloth and a massive Greek salad is brought to share among everyone. It has large chunks of Feta the size of a deck of cards just waiting to be crumbled into and I may or may not have started to salivate noticeably. A long day of climbing the hills around the town centre will do that to a girl. The tomatoes are ripe and flavourful, and the cucumbers are firm and fresh. As plates are shared, laughter ensues as I try to explain a bit more about myself; why I’ve come to this beautiful place, and where I am off to next. Laughter primarily caused by my misuse of phrases if course. Even in England I found that locals get a serious kick out of one using the wrong words according to the social standard. And that’s even in the same language. I feel like I would do my best in this situation to share in my love of Greek food, family and adventure.

After a lovely dinner I sensed my welcome had expired and with kind regards I thanked them all for their company and was on my merry way, with a few new email addresses to add to my book.

I have always felt a common ground with a certain type of person who is free spirited and open minded, and these people who have on a whim invited a total stranger to dinner are a shining example of the kindness there is out in the world. Where language is not a solid barrier; there are windows through it. All you need to do is draw back the shutters, wipe off the dust and you can see very clearly into a whole other world.

-Hailey Jane

NOTE: If you have a website that you want to easily make accessible to travellers like me I would recommend the use of translation software. It’s bloody amazing how far it’s come in the last few years, and literally translates whole foreign language webpages for them before your very eyes!

Also, the phrasebook that was handy on occasion is called The Lonely Planet Phrasebooks: Greek. 3rd Edition. It was gifted to me by my boyfriend and I will always appreciate it, even if it’s advice may lead me to do terrible terrible things.

xx

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Potholes on the Road to Adventure

With any trip, there are always bound to be some things that just bloody well go wrong, no matter what you seem to do to avoid it. Here is a quick log of things that I have had the pleasure of sorting out along my travels throughout the years. If I can come through this mess in one piece I’m confident you can too! I apologize in advance, as this post is heavily laden with photos.

Greece 2006

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Nearly being stranded on the Island of Aegina due to a faulty watch operator and poor timing in general catching the departing boat

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Getting scolded by a little man in a small wooden box for filming in an ancient theatre ruin at Delphi.

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Being chased by a perturbed pack-laden donkey on the Greek Island Hydra.

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Holding the Greek Flag backwards in a group photo. (Photo mirrored to preserve pride and intelligence)

 

England 2010

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Getting lost within the vast network of London’s rail system, waiting at Charring Cross Station for rescue.

 

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Being horribly hungover throughout a day trip through London. (Also see Throwing Up at London Bridge Train Station for further entertainment.)

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Getting lost and choosing wrong entrance to the Natural History Museum while trying to meet someone. Silly me to assume a museum only had one front door.

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Horribly inclement weather, ruining many a train trip.

England Winter 2011

This whole trip started off in the wrong direction with a 12 hour flight delay, in which I was required to wait in the airport, for 12 hours, with nothing to amuse me other than the contents of my carry on. This was difficult.

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This particular incident needs to be read to be fully understood. (The Poo!)

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Running like wild banshees to catch the last train from Shrewsbury to Welshpool, and making it in the nick of time. Exhaustion followed.

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Cows in the road

Cuba 2011

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Dodgy hotel room with a dangerously located television set that was prone to bashing you in the head if you weren’t careful. We relocated the following day. 

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My sisters first experience with fresh guava left more to be desired I feel.

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My other sisters experience with a slightly less than stable cot.

England Summer 2011

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Again a bad start to the trip, with a few hour departure delay, entirely different flights as well as airport terminals than my travel buddy at both ends. Thank goodness for cellular telephone technology.

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More Poo! She was also unknowingly sitting in some at this point.

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Being in London around the same time as the riots in several English cities that year was a small bit unnerving.  I luckily managed to avoid it.

England 2013

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The absolute worst thing that happened on this trip was loosing my Railcard and a pair of return tickets half way through my trip. It was at this point, at this restaurant that I’ve narrowed it down to. I am blissfully sitting there having lunch with a great friend of mine who I hadn’t seen for a few years, and I have unknowingly lost my Railcard.  Oh the humanity.

New York City 2013

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Car troubles. After 5 hours of our 12 hour drive the muffler decided to grow a hole. We taped it up every few hours with fancy sharp metal tape, but it wasn’t quite doing the trick. Not a good way to get things started.

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Traffic in NYC was hellish and once we got there it was decidedly avoided.

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And though the forecasts predicted a beautiful sunny weekend, it rained on us the entire time we were there. The driving on either end was hot and sunny though, so we could enjoy it from the interior of our noisy and unmuffled car.

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So much rain!

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The accidental $100.00 lunch in Greenwich. Whoops!

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Getting lost in the financial district, even with a map and compass.

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Our failed attempt at visiting the American Museum of Natural History, on a Sunday afternoon with only a hour or two to spare. Because that was going to happen. I got to see the lobby at least. 🙂

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So the moral of the story is that no matter what seems to happen to dampen (in some cases quite literally) your spirit, never fear. There is always a great time to be had, you just need to be flexible, open minded and ready at any moment for change. A lot of what helped me through several of these sticky situations was a quick breather and a nice cup of coffee or tea. Whatever suits your fancy will easily do the trick!

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Until next time my friends! Happy travels!

-Miss Hailey Jane

 

 

 

 

 


Omorfos Aghora: Part Two

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As he stood there before her, charming and bedraggled, time was passing one second at a time. No slower than it otherwise would, but with each passing moment the present was approaching an invisible line of uncomfort.  To break the chain of inevitable silence, she put a hand into her bag slowly, and grasped her favourite blue and white lighter, tightly and in secret. Before she knew it the decision staring her in the face was already made without her actively deciding it, and with a bright flash, the quiet sizzle of the first inhale, the wave of satisfaction of its’ release and the sound of small stones crunching underfoot, he was away with little more than a nod of thanks.

She held her ragged paperback up to her face to hide the flush of emotion that felt as if it would foam out of her otherwise. She watched his form shrink down the narrow stone street, confidently striding along, with a power behind each step.  Until finally it turned a corner into a small alleyway and disappeared from sight. She thought at that last moment she could see the soft long muss of hair turn and swish to the side revealing a cheeky grin in her direction, as if he knew something she didn’t, but at this distance she couldn’t be sure. The heat of the day might have been getting to her already parched and famished mind. She gathered herself and went back into her storm beaten, customerless shop and began fussing with the latest project in silence.

After a quarter of an hour she found she could not concentrate enough to manipulate the small strands of metal into something worth looking at, or pick up and string a glass bead without allowing it to slip and bounce along the warped, uneven floor. Productivity seemed futile at this point and she began to tidy up what she had began. She stared at her once beautiful blue walls, at the cracked bubbling paint along the waterline, permanently stained with mud and silt. She felt as if all the beauty she had created in her life was washed away in that flood, and was now unable to restore it to its’ former glory. She mulled over repainting and buying and installing new flooring, but with the frequency of customers lately, she would never be able to pay it off let alone feed herself in the process. There was only one thing to do, and her sudden flush of new found confidence that was the result of the chance meeting earlier in the day gave her the nod in the right direction.

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She began collecting what valuables she had left in the shop into a large cloth bag, her wire cutters, pliers, finest beads and strands of silver and gold were wrapped in a swath of silk as a makeshift kit for the road. With the tourists out of the picture, added to the collective damage that needed repaired, there really seemed to be nothing left for her in that small village on the edge of nowhere. No future, no family, no hope left. It was time to leave. She tied her yellow shawl around her waist, grabbed her bag, donned her wide brimmed hat and cleared the threshold into the street. She said goodbye to her shop on the way out, but to no one else, as she let the Aghora fade into the distance behind her. She did not so much as receive a second glance from the others passing around her. To them nothing was out of the ordinary, but to her it was new and exciting day.

-Miss Hailey Jane.

You can read Part One by clicking here. 


Hilarious Things That Happen in Greece

In 2006, while I was young and very much impressionable, I went on my first international adventure! It was the beginning of a life-long, obsession with world travel and the exhilaration of worldly cultural experiences. And it started in Greece. 

As an introduction, and in no particular order, here is a brief taste of the hilarity I encountered on my first adventure. Enjoy!

1. Our tour guide at the Acropolis in Athens was Edna from Disney’s ‘The Incredibles’. Voice and all! 

2. Wandering around in the shops surrounding The Plaka, or the “Neighbourhood of the Gods”, a jewellery shop owner took too much of a liking to my friend and I as we shopped for Grecian jewellery. So much so, he gave me his business card with a written personal phone number on it, asked me to come back and go on a date, while verbally expressing his admiration for the shape of my friends butt. 

3. Two of my friends decided to have an epic ‘beard-off’.  A challenge of manliness and pure testosterone, to see who could grow the best beard over the course of the trip…We were 17. The results were less than ‘epic’.

4. On the Island of Hydra, my companion and I wandered off like we do…and decided to climb up the side streets of the beautiful, picturesque U-shaped port. We went up, and up and up. Past the squished plaster homes with terracotta roofs and blue painted shutters. I was filming on my handi-cam at the time, through the cobbled paths behind the houses and looking out over the sea. All of a sudden, coming full speed up behind us was a frantic donkey with a load on it’s back  and no owner in sight. The animal was reeling towards us at full bore and with determination and a vendetta in its eyes. We did all we could to escape certain doom on the narrow streets of this not-so-innocent island and leapt into action, turned and ran. We jogged in a frenzy up tiny uneven stairs, fumbled around bricked corners and tripped over tiny white fences until we were sure we had lost this demonic donkey who was clearly out to get us.  Once we were completely sure we were alone, we took a moment to breathe and look around. We found ourselves at the top of the hill, overlooking the port in all of its’ Saronic splendour. Success! I felt an overpowering sense of personal achievement at that moment in time; as well as a stomach cramp. 

4 1/2. On that same island on the way down from our existential precipice, we were asked by a lovely blue man cleaning someone’s pool, if we would do him the honour of to staying for dinner. With a powerful sense of impending regret, we gracefully declined, as we had a boat to catch. The Fates disliked this decision, and decided to punish us later on that same day (see 5.). 

5. Visiting the Island of Aegina, with only a few hours to enjoy the delicious pistachios and olives from the market before we had to make it back to the ship, my friend and I wandered into a church courtyard and parked our appealing butts on a park bench. While getting sideways looks from an old man in religious garb we could hear the bellowing of a boat horn. I check my watch, and firmly believe we have lots of time. We meander along, munching on our snacks and then to our surprise, hear it again. After checking the clock tower we realize in a moment of fierce panic that my watch was, in fact, not at all correct. We leap into action, pistachio shells flying in the air behind us, as everything seems to go by in slow motion.

We run in the direction of the booming noise coming from the awaiting ship, with nothing but the fear of being left on a foreign island in the middle of the Mediterranean with only our filled pockets and  ugly orange and blue tourist backpacks to sustain us. We run through the tiny winding streets until we reach the main drag. We can see the giant boat, we’re yelling, moving as fast as our feet can take us, whizzing past tourists, locals, donkeys, bikes, carts and other things we don’t take time to notice. With little breath left in our lungs, we reach the boat in the nick of time, before it departed. We fly up the ramp and find the rest of our tour group and classmates who were even more afraid for our well being than we were. Lesson learned. I adjusted my watch. In hindsight though, there are much worse places to be abandoned than on a Grecian island in the Mediterranean. 

6. While wandering through the Plaka on a cool breezy afternoon, our group passes the aforementioned jewellery shop, and the man shouts out the front door at the top of his Grecian lungs “I LOVE YOU!!”.

7. One evening in Patras, a town on the Peloponesian border next to Western Greece, we wandered off to explore once again, causing distress to our tour group. On the other hand, the two typical Grecian men in the red sportscar that kept stopping and asking us to join them for the night, didn’t seem to mind at all that we weren’t where we were supposed to be.

8. Throughout the trip, street vendors in Athens constantly approached us with fake Louis Vuitton bags, Gucci sunglasses and shabby roses in the hopes they would make that fabled sale. They are also about the pushiest people I’ve ever met, keeping in mind I deal with North American telemarketers on a regular basis.  One night, while sitting at an outdoor cafe’ having a drink, a rose vendor walked up next to my friend, said nothing (assuming he didn’t speak a word of English) and held the rose up to my friend’s face. After saying no sheepishly several times, we all had to chime in and shoo the persistent vendor to greener pastures. Needless to say, the following nights at dinner were used to poke fun at this rather embarrassing public incident. 

9. At the Theater at Epidavros which had some of the best natural acoustics in the world, we took turns singing in front of a large crowd of tourists. Personal renditions of of The Beastie Boys, Sinatra and ‘I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts’ by four of my friends was a particular treat. As well as the ‘Braveheart’ William Wallace Speech by “Hot Dave” from New Jersey (Who, after a few years of ageing on my part, seems no longer that hot…).  

10. Keeping to the musical theme, on the night of our departure, on the bus ride to the airport at 4 in the morning while everyone else was fast asleep, myself and the two beard-y boys decided it was a good time to practice our vocal talents by singing several Bryan Adams songs. Riddled with drowsiness and sleep deprived inhibition, it was the most enthusiastic and acoustically pleasing performance I’ve ever done! Now that’s a way to make friends! (Not so much…)

11. There was an innocent competition between us girls and a few of the guys on the trip, as to who could “pick-up” the most. It was an overwhelming win for the women.  The score was as follows:

Girls: Jewellery store man with phone number and date proposal and an over-enthusiastic, very public “I LOVE YOU”, Blue man from Hydra asking us to dinner, Sports car men attempting to steal us, and finally a “You have beautiful eyes” from the Greek Christian Bale doppelgänger working at a cafe’ in Athens.

Boys: One less than successful ‘get laid’ attempt by a local man at a night club in Tolon called “The Gorilla” which, much to everyone’s surprise, turned out to be a gay bar. If only we had learned this before my friend climbed up on the scaffolding inside and took his shirt off in an “I’m too sexy for it” sort of way.  Or maybe it was better he didn’t know…

So that was the humourous aspect of my Grecian Adventure, filled with life, learning and unending hilarity. With any luck I’ll be able to go back again to re-live the experience, and with a bit more freedom perhaps say yes to an invitation to dinner…ahh screw it…I’m going to watch Mamma Mia.

-Miss Hailey Jane