Tag Archives: trellis

Aegina

On my last day in Greece I wanted to see another island. K had to work, so I got up early so I could catch a ferry to Aegina. It’s only little more than an hour away from Athens, and it happens to be known for its pistachios (which I love).

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The Acropolis in the morning.

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It took me a while to find the right ferry, but I found it eventually.

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I used to live in the Pacific Northwest, so I’m used to ferries. But not like this. This is pretty nice – the cafe made your food (or in my case, coffee) to order.

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Leaving Athens behind.

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The main town on Aegina.

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Leaving the ferry.

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I guess freedom is closed.

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Look at how clear that water in the harbor is. I was astonished.

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The beach is part of the town.

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Many shades of blue.

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As in the rest of Greece, there were many cats. This one found something tasty in the garbage.

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A quiet street in Aegina.

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A beautiful trellis!

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Motorbikes were everywhere. Not just on the island; in Greece generally. It makes sense given the cost of petrol, and how narrow the streets are.

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They must be wealthy to have so much nice wood on the exterior of their home.

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A pretty street.

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Another street. On one of these I found a shop that sold me 200 ml bottles of wine for a single Euro.

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Lemons!

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Betty? What are you doing here? At a hardware store, no less?\

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Kitties above.

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Another gorgeous trellis.

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A home in disrepair.

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I found a lunch spot and wrote postcards during the afternoon. When I ventured out again, I saw this kitty.

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He climbed down when I called, and we bonded for a long while. He eventually climbed atop my shoulders and curled up for about five minutes. Eventually I lured him off and said goodbye, as I had other places to go.

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One of the high speed ferries coming in.

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I wanted to go for another long island walk, out of town and along the coast. Just to see what I could see.

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It’s not a tree. It’s a grass.

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FYI.

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This abandoned place, just outside of town…

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…has this for a view.

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A front yard of clover. I love it.

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I also saw this from time to time. A solar array and solar hot water heater.

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Pistachio trees. It’s not like there are huge pistachio fields – at least not that I saw. Instead, everyone has their little plot.

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Just a pretty view.

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Canna lilies!

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Orange drops.

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The Aegean.

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I walked south along the coast of Aegina about three and a half miles. When I turned back to catch the last ferry, the sun was setting.

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You can see other islands in the distance.

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The fading of the light.

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Shortly before this shot was taken, I passed a couple with their dog walking down their long driveway. Then they were shouting. It took me a while to figure out they were shouting for their dog to return, because it was chasing me. I brought it back to them (it was friendly) and they politely explained it was a new dog. “It must have seen something good in you,” she kindly said.

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Another island sunset.

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Frond down.

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I love it.

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Aegina town once more.

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That afternoon, some of these boats had makeshift produce racks, and folks along the quay could buy what they wanted.

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The water/electric hook-up.

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The restaurants with a view.

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Folks buying ferry tickets.

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A helpful map that not only identifies attractions, but lets you know what sort of taxi fare you should expect to pay.

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The ferry back to Athens. Halfway there I stepped out on deck. There were seabirds flying right alongside the ship, matching its speed and direction. For how long, I don’t know, but it was strange to watch.

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Santorini

I’ve wanted to visit Santorini since Levar Burton went there on the PBS show Reading Rainbow. It’s not only renowned for its beauty; its history is spectacular. From wikipedia:

Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high, steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The depth of the caldera, at 400m, makes it impossible for any but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; there is also a fisherman’s harbour at Vlychada, on the southwestern coast. The island’s principal port is Athinios. The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon.

The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami.

This is what it looks like now – you can see the caldera, out of which a new island is rising because of volcanic activity.

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The lines through the water are ferry routes.

The first thing we visited was ArtSpace winery. We’d heard amazing things about their wine, but the place was nearly empty when we arrived. It wasn’t just the off-season: the owner just got back from a long vacation the day before. But he was kind enough to open up the place on our behalf, and give us a personalized tour.

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Deep caves carved into the earth.

The wine is entirely organic, and made using natural methods. The owner took great pride in describing many of his innovations and distinctions, like the use of gravitation, temperature control, and aging.

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The space lends itself to climate-controlled aging.

Naturally, we did a tasting, and the wine was spectacular. Santorini is known for its wine – the volcanic rock, dry climate, and native grape varieties all lend themselves to unique and intensely flavorful wines. Yet his were unquestionably the best we had there. We bought several bottles.

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Notice the barrel-vaulted architecture, which is common throughout Santorini.

Instead of calling a taxi, we decided to walk to our next destination, SantoWines. It was up the hill to the lip of the Caldera- a beautiful walk, even if it was raining and kind of icky outdoors.

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Trudging through the rain.

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Prickly pears are surprisingly common as an ornamental planting.

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Vines are everywhere – some planted; others naturally rooted.

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Often they’re formed in order to protect the plant from the fierce winds.

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Despite the winter rain, it’s a dry clime.

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A playpen with a view.

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We ordered a single wine-tasting at SantoWines. Little did we know that the “tastings” would be this full. More than enough to make two people drunk, as it did.

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Nevertheless, it was good wine with a great view.

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After all that drinking, K took a taxi back, but I wanted to walk along the lip of the Caldera. Look at those views!

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The huge ferry looks minuscule from this height.

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Off-season is the season for construction in Santorini – it’s less likely to interfere with the tourist trade. And there was construction everywhere.

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Instructions not followed.

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What is ‘mega’ fashion?

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I walked from one end of the island to the other, and came across several roadside memorials like this one.

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Just in case you’re curious about the price of gas. 3.79 liters to the gallon times 1.86 euros per liter times 1.23 dollars per euro = $8.67/gallon.

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A windswept field littered with attractive plastic bags.

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It wasn’t all drinking. We also ate. I love plants, so I loved this place – a restaurant that’s also a cross between a trellis and a greenhouse.

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If you look carefully, you can see the drying grapes still hanging from the vines.

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I thought this conifer was attractive.

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At a different place – Kokkalo – we received complimentary ouzo and a Santorinian specialty – cherry tomatoes. Given the dry climate, they’re especially flavorful and delicious.

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They even brew beer on Santorini, which is a bit surprising given how water-intensive the process is. The beer was okay. 

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Tomato fritters.

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As usual, K’s dish – seafood risotto – was better than mine.

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The beer menu.

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It’s quite common to see doors that, like these, appear to lead nowhere but a steep drop downward. They often lead to stairs to cliffside restaurants or residences.

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So many of the passageways are just beautiful.

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Even this, I would argue. This is from the next day, when I walked from Fira, in the center of the island, out to Oia, at the uppermost extremity of the crescent.

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As I mentioned, walking through a place is one of the best ways to see what it’s really like.

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The school playground has a view. Because of course it does. What doesn’t?

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A backyard trellis.

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Not much to look at now, but the prospect of living here is tempting.

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The view towards Oia. It so happens that there’s a pedestrian path along the lip of the caldera which I followed all the way there.

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Down, down, down.

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Way down. Don’t trip!

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Some attractive work with stainless steel.

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Looking back towards Fira. You an see how precariously the houses cling to the cliff-face.

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Another pretty passageway.

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People actually live here.

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Sloping away from the caldera, on the other side of the island.

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It’s still a long way down.

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The path along the cliff-face.

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The shadows of clouds on the water.

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Looking back towards Fira. Here, you can see the water on both sides of the island.

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Towards Oia.

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Santorini isn’t small, but it’s small enough to cover by foot, as I did. And it can be very disorienting – as it was for me – to be in a place with such circumscribed limits.

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A resting place along the path.

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Houses in the stone.

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Steps and barrel architecture.

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The long way down.

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Looking out.

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Built from stone.

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Donkey trains were common. And they weren’t for show, or for the tourists (though in season, I suppose they may also carry tourists). The trains I saw were for carrying heavy materials, like cement, over steps and uneven terrain.

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Cats for rent.

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A view of Oia, from within Oia.

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Naturally, this looks out at the sea.

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Water you can reach.

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Oia.

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At the extremity. Beyond this we could not go, because of the risk of landslides.

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Far below, where the boats tie up.

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Like most of Oia, a jumble of construction.

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One of the famed, blue-domed churches.

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I took a taxi back to Fira, and with the remaining daylight decided I’d walk down the 588 steps to the old port, within the caldera. As you can see from the remains, many donkeys had walked this route before me.

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A defense against gravity and erosion.

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An abandoned location on the way.

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More abandonment.

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The old port.

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I wanted to touch the water, so I edged down this embankment. And then slipped and slid into the water. Not entirely, but my pants and shoes were sodden.

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Some abandoned floss.

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It was a bit eerie to wander around without there really being anyone there.

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The fairytale doesn’t extend to the off-season.

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An island sunset.

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It’s not just a name. We were treated like family while we were there.

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On the last day I took a taxi to the other extent of the island, the lighthouse at Akrotiri. I wanted to walk back to Fira along the caldera, and see what that side of the island was like.

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But unlike the sunny weather for the walk to Oia, it was overcast and drizzly again. And the wind was fierce. As it must often be, if these weather-beaten plants are any indication.

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My best guess is that the winds were 40-45 miles per hour. Hard enough to push me off my feet on occasion; to lash raindrops against my face; to whistle over obstacles.

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The goats were used to it.

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The flag was already shredded along the edge. It snapped back and forth with the wind, always taut.

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An interesting architectural choice.

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Underground.

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Fowl.

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I took a detour to walk down to a black beach.

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As with so many things, it was largely abandoned for the off-season. There happened to be another fellow there, with his dog, shoveling grit out of one of the buildings while I was there.

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An example of fierce erosion.

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I wasn’t fond of the wind, but the walk itself was gorgeous.

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Marble stairs and a trellis.

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One of the other memorials.

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The sun broke through the clouds, at times, to shine like spotlights on the sea.

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A last look.

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