Monday, May 30, 2016

Our last day in Amsterdam

I think that we have completed our Amsterdam visits now. 
This morning we met with Baz and Carmen for an introduction 
to Luka, their sweet baby boy.

Considering that he is not quite 4 months old, he had a lot of stories to tell me!

Mum...I am starving!

Dad...I am almost asleep!

Time for a walk!

Dorothea joined us for a coffee and visit. She hadn't seen Baz for many years and had not met Carmen or Luka yet. It was special to share stories about the people that we all know and the adventures that we have had over the years.

Carmen, Baz and Luka joined us for a tour of the Stedelijk Museum which houses modern and contemporary art exhibitions. The Museum was closed for 10 years while a new addition (known colloquially as The Bathtub) was constructed. The old and the new are very different from the outside but blend nicely inside. The most interesting exhibit was "The Beanery", a walk-in and life sized creation by American artist Edward Kienholz in 1965 that represents the interior of a Los Angeles bar, Barney's Beanery.
Modelled at two-thirds the size of the original Beanery, it features the smells and sounds of the bar, and models of customers, all of whom have clocks for faces with the time set at 10:10. Only the model of Barney, the owner, has a real face. Kienholz is quoted as saying "The entire work symbolizes the switch from real time (symbolized by a newspaper) to the surrealist time inside the bar, where people waste time, kill time, forget time, and ignore time".
Around 5:00pm we hugged goodbye to our friends and hopped on the No. 2 Tram to our hotel. It was another great day with special people. The weather has cooperated the entire time!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

An expensive coffee??

This morning we met Bert for coffee near the Van Gogh Museum. It was great to see him again and share stories about our lives since we saw him three years ago. He owns a company that specializes in voices for commercials. His network of "voices" spans the globe...most recently hiring a young voice in Colorado for an advertising campaign.

When the bill arrived we insisted on paying. 
When the server handed me the credit card machine 
I noticed that the amount exceeded my expectations!!!!

She was as shocked as I was by the amount.
We all had a chuckle while she figured out what to do.
I told her not to worry...there was no way that amount would be approved!
Finally, to simplify matters...Bert paid in cash!

After sharing goodbye hugs with Bert we wandered toward FOAM photography gallery.
An interesting exhibition depicted the migrant camp near Calais.

Rock tree near Rjiksmuseum.

Wooden boxes full of used books at a market near the Museum.


Our day ended with dinner in the hotel and heads on the pillow very early.

Revisiting our last day in Athens

I just realized that I didn't mention a couple of fun events in Athens 
so I will do a flashback to our visit with Andronikos and Vasiliki.

Andronikos owns this beautiful jewelry shop in Athens near the Acropoli Museum.

We met both of them on Amorgos where Andronikos graciously
allowed John to win several games of backgammon.

He designed this shop several years ago and creates contemporary fun pieces.
After viewing the eclectic displays we joined them for dinner at a small Italian restaurant.

The next morning they met us at the hotel, with breakfast goodies in a bag.
We walked over to the National Gardens to watch the beginning of the Historic Rally of Greece.

Among the competing vehicles were MG's, Jags, Mercedes, Porsches and many others.

My Karman Ghia was among the competitors!

Birthday dinner

Last night we were treated to a special birthday dinner for John. 
Bart picked us up at the hotel and we met Dorothea and Lilya at a small cafe 
for a glass of wine before walking to the restaurant.

Enroute, Lilya posed with an invisible musician!

The weather continued to be beautiful all day and evening despite dire weather predictions. 
At the restaurant we sat outside and shared Turkish dishes...delicious!

Lilya with her pens!
She is an accomplished artist at the age of ten years!

Instead of a birthday cake, they brought a large plate of fruit
decorated with a wild fireworks display.

It was almost midnight when we boarded the tram for our return to the Hotel. 
The pathway was very well lit and we had no problems finding our way. 
Lights out...heads on our pillows by 1:00am.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Happy Birthday!!

Happy 79th Birthday to my sweet man!

Here we are in Amsterdam! The weather forecast was very gloomy with rain, thunder and storms predicted for our entire visit but today we were thrilled to enjoy a sunny day. The sun warmed us as we shared a birthday breakfast at a canal cafe...delicious ham & cheese croissants with tea & coffee.

For four hours we wandered through streets lined with shops, cafes and thousands of bicycles. Finally we decided that it was time for a rest so we hopped on Tram Line no.2 and rode to the stop nearest our hotel (almost at the airport). When we disembarked we joined a British couple who guided us along a beautiful pathway to the hotel...about a 10 minute walk. It was like a walk in the countryside, lined with natural vegetation, the air scented by wild flowers.

Our hotel is unique, exhibiting artwork by Dutch artists on a rotational basis every 3 months.

These fish were embellished with bottle caps!

It is hard to tell where the mural ends and reality begins!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Athens - a city of contrasts

There are so many contrasts in this city...thousands of tourists roaming through Plaka while thousands of refugees huddle in inadequate shelters. Graffiti echoes the unrest of young Greeks... everywhere, not just in the is everywhere!

Athens is an incubator for protest graffiti.

We are continually meeting and talking with either unemployed youth or under-employed youth. The overall unemployment rate in Greece is 24.2% with the youth unemployment rate hitting an all time high of 51.9% in January 2016. Compare that to Canada's youth unemployment rate of 13%!! The country is losing generations of young people who can't afford to stay. Our taxi driver yesterday (38 years old) explained that he has a Masters degree in Marine Science but there is no funding for his occupation in either the private or public sectors.

We met with a young friend this afternoon who is involved with the Solidarity movement in Athens. She helps at the City Plaza Hotel which, after sitting empty for several years, was taken over as a "squat" to house 400 refugees, mostly families. The inhabitants share with cooking and cleaning in the building. Food and other necessities are donated by citizens who are struggling through their own economic times. Volunteers, usually unemployed youth, help with translations and paperwork. Meanwhile, EU countries have created an immigration bottleneck that Greece has to deal with on a daily basis.

Athens feels like a city under siege with a daily theatrical performance in Plaka for the benefit of tourists and their pockets lined with money.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Back in Athens

Whew! Almost missed the boat. Woke up at 4:00am…visited the bathroom…back to bed (just to rest until 5:00am) with no intention of sleeping. Woke up again to the iPad playing a very soft tune…not loud enough to waken us!!! It was 5:18am!! Pushed John into high gear and made it to the car at 5:35am! Our other passengers were huddled at the car, trying not look panicked! Drove down to the port, dropped John and the other two and the luggage…drove back to the parking lot to leave the car, ran to the boat and boarded at 5:56am for the 6:00am departure!!

Grabbed some sleep in the cabin until 10:00am when it was time to look for coffee. On deck we watched the ferry approach the island of Paros where about 200-300 passengers boarded. Enjoyed a game of cards and some writing before retiring to the cabin again for another short nap.

Last night was emotional but we kept reassuring everyone that they will see us again in four months. John received a “cool” t-shirt as an early birthday gift. Theo cooked an amazing pasta with a fresh, delicious salad. Matta made a Greek version of lemon cheesecake…yummmhhh!

Yorgos arranged for a friend in Athens, who is a taxi driver, to pick us up at the port in Piraeus for the trip to our hotel. This was very reassuring because we have had problems with taxi drivers in Athens on several occasions. Apparently he will recognize us because we met him once…three years ago!! Just in case…we have his licence plate number. Everyone remembers John with the same beanie hat and unchanging appearance.

We have no plans for our first night in Athens…just a walkabout, a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe and a light dinner. Tomorrow we are meeting friends in the afternoon for coffee and joining other friends for dinner later at night. Our flight to Amsterdam on Friday is nicely timed…leaving Athens at 5:00pm so we can wander around for the morning and get to the airport around 3:00pm. 
The taxi finally arrived…25 minutes after we arrived in port and Andreas, the driver, talked non-stop all the way to the hotel! We know everything about all of the Greek football teams now and are settled in our very familiar room, with the Acropolis across the street.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Writing and Seladi

Our writing group met last night. It will be the last time for us until we return at the end of September. The stories and poems were amazingly beautiful! A special thank you to this group of talented writers for sharing their creative words with us.

After the writing session we drove north to Seladi Bar where our friend Theo was acting as DJ for the full moon evening. He has a very eclectic mix of world music. It was great...we even danced!! music DJ.

A beautiful outdoor seating area at Seladi.

The bar is small and intimate.

Outside under the full moon with Kalliroi and Junior!

Elena joined us as well.
We were all jacketed against the north wind!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Baby donkey and Elena's dinner party

This baby donkey decided that he wanted me to be his mother.

He followed me around outside a church at Asfondilitis 
while we were attending a celebration
...until he gave me a little love bite
and I had to shoo him back to his mother.
They have big, strong teeth!!

Tonight is a dinner party for Elena's name day.

Junior offered to help Elena with the veggie chopping
in the tiny underground kitchen.

Bettina & Timo, from Berlin, joined the party.

Elena cutting my apple cinnamon chocolate rum cake!

After dinner we gathered for poetry readings
in English, Greek, German and Italian.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Another gift

I received another birthday gift tonight from two friends.

Kalliroi and Yorgos gave me a beautiful black & white
sarape that I wanted to wear immediately!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Poetry and a bed

Our morning was filled with writings again as the Aegean Writing group met at Jazzmin.
Our stories and poems were prompted by "There is no end to the opening."

Elena and Theodosia...
our gypsy girls...
filled with poetry...
framed by a bed!

The silversmith and the poetess share a quiet moment.

Monday, May 16, 2016


How to celebrate a birthday on Amorgos!

1. Win a morning backgammon competition while sipping on a latte
that is decorated with a heart shaped froth of milk.

2. Receive a gift from our friend.

3. Swim in turquoise waters.

4. Lunch on roasted lamb and Greek salad.

5. Receive flowers from my landlady.

6. Nap.

7. Share a scrumptious dinner with friends
and receive many thoughtful gifts.

Kalliroi cooking my birthday dinner.

George made birthday bread!

The dinner party-18 people around the tables

The dinner party - so many beautiful people!

Michael Anne brought a gorgeous homemade birthday cake
surrounded in bougainvillaea blossoms.

We are truly blessed to have so many generous friends on this island!
I promised to hold my age at 22 years forever!!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Billiards and sunset

Tonight was a billiard competition between the men and the women.
I won't bore you with the final details of this challenge!

Playing with the sun in his eyes!

My partner lining up a shot!

Watching the sunset after a devastating defeat!