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Sunday, October 31, 2021

Italian Cuisine in Greece

Aloha Everyone,

Italian cuisine can be found almost anywhere in the world. It is often described as Mediterranean and, of course, Greece is also in the Mediterranean. The dishes have many similarities such as seafood and lots of olive oil.

J.J. and I found two excellent Italian restaurants:  

Amici’s is located in the island of Naxos along the main restaurant corridor. It is an unassuming place. The owners, Olti and Megi are extremely hardworking. They are originally from Albania which used to be a colony of Italy before WWII. Olti has been in Naxos for 20 years and Magi for 14 years. They have two children. Aside from Albanian, both speak Italian, English and Greek. So far we’ve dined at Amici’s three times and on each occasions, J.J. finished his plate exclaiming, “Ah, that was a great meal!”

On Syros, our Italian restaurant choice is AMVIX located on the waterfront of Syros a few steps from our hotel. Originally a warehouse of the port, it was then converted into a distillery. A very popular restaurant, the place was always packed especially their outdoor sitting where diners ate, drank and smoked with their friends. The food is what you would expect Italian families to serve during Sunday lunch. We enjoyed stews cooked and served in earthen pots and spaghetti.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Great Resignation of 2021

Aloha Everyone,

Living in the era of the Covid Pandemic, lives of people around the globe have been altered.  

In the United States, the term, “Great Resignation“ is used to describe a record number of 4.4 million Americans who quit their jobs in the month of August 2021.

The restrictions imposed by the pandemic gave Americans a chance to reevaluate their work life vs personal life. The search for a more purposeful life, less materialism, more environmental friendly, simple life is repeatedly stated in surveys.

J.J. and I have met several working Americans ages between late 20’s to early 50’s. They negotiated with their respective employers based in the USA to let them work remotely. As long as one has reliable WiFi, Greece, including small Greek islands are providing them an opportunity to work and enjoy life in an amazing settings full of rich history and culture where the daily cost of living is more affordable.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, October 29, 2021

Extremely Turbulent Ferry Ride

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I endured a memorable ferry crossing from Syros to Naxos today. Since the time our tickets were issued, there was a change of departure hour. Bad weather, choppy sea combined with physical fatigue plus a smaller older vessel caused me to suffer violent seasickness. J.J. arranged for one of the crews to give us assistance to disembark.

All I remember was a very large man came over and said, “I help.” I was very grateful they had a wheelchair lift. I sat on a plastic chair as we slowly descended two decks. It was a relief when my feet touched the solid ground.

The two of us are safely back in Naxos for a week.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Syros Public Holiday

Aloha Everyone,

The last two days we came across one of the most important annual local events. The 2 of us witnessed wreath laying ceremonies by school age children. Today there was a parade in the town square. The festive atmosphere was quaint and provincial with students waving Greek flags and proud parents taking their photos.

By historical account, on May 1941, Italian troops left Syros. Then in September 1941, the island was under German control until it was liberated by Greeks and the Allies. This tragic period brought much devastation, starvation and death. Residents of Syros continue to commemorate and remember those who perished between 1941-1944.

J.J. and I walked to check out our regular choices of restaurant. Amazingly nearly all tables and chairs were occupied. In the back streets, we were still too early for local dining crowds. Under the spectacular canopy of bougainvillea, we enjoyed our plates of local specialties: fried baby squids and eggplant with rice. Syros restaurants target local clientele. J/J/ and I noticed  simplicity of presentation with general pricing of 10 to 15% less than restaurants on Naxos or Paros. The proprietor who took our photo proudly explained that it has taken 30 years to grow the flowers to its present size and glory.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Port of Syros

Aloha Everyone,

The Frigate Shtandart was the first frigate of the Russian Baltic fleet. Built by Dutch shipwrights, she was launched in 1703 and decommissioned in 1727. The replica built in 1999 created lots of enthusiasm. As an exhibition vessel, she visits different ports.

There are constant activities within the Port of Syros. At least two ferry route service between Syros and Piraeus (Athens) come in and out out every day. From our hotel room, we can hear distinctive low horn of Blue Star Ferries’ arrivals and departures. Additional traffic include other ferries servicing different islands of Cyclades and Dodecanese.

Onex Neorion Shipyard is located at one end of the port. The shipyard and its dry dock offers maintenance services, and shipbuilding for commercial, military or recreational vessels in the region and the Middle East.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Churches of Syros

Aloha Everyone,

At a glance from the pier, Syros is hilly with two dominant hills. Syros is where nearly half of its religious population is Catholic and the rest are Greek Orthodox. One of the two prominent hills is the site of St. George Cathedral and the other the Greek Orthodox Church of the Resurrection.

The two of us have been enjoying looking up the hills ever since our arrival and today we thought of going up the hill and appreciate the view.

Our taxi driver spoke no English. Once he understood that we want to drive up to the church, he grunted and started driving. The winding roads were narrow and J.J. and I quickly dismissed the initial idea of leisurely walking down the hill. 

Our driver parked the car pointed to a tiny alley, “Here you walk to church.” J.J. decided to stay by the taxi while I walked to check out the church, take photos and return. I am not sure how long I was gone fighting the wind that tried to rip off my hat, heavy jacket, iPhone and nearly pushed me off the stairs. I think that I was also too close to the structure. All I saw was its massive walls. 

Holy Church of the Resurrection of Christ was our second stop. No clergyman, no worshippers, I stepped inside to appreciate its serene interior. After a total of 45 minutes, J.J. told the driver to drop us off at the Miaouli Square and paid him 15 euros for his services. 

There are many other churches on the island, some located in our immediate neighborhood. Weather permitting, I might venture out on a more leisurely church visitation.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, October 25, 2021

My Morning Solo Walk

Aloha Everyone,

The sunrise here is 7:30 am. Church bells tolled to call worshippers to gather. I decided this is a good time for my morning solo walk.

My choice was a simple route of going around the pier. There were hardly any pedestrians or bikers. A few sat by the pier either sipping their coffee or contemplating. An easy, leisurely island life at its best.

Pedestrians walkway and bikers lanes are clearly marked with international symbols. Only caution was sudden change of heights which could differ as much as 2 - 3 feet.  

The morning sun lit the hillside giving me a better appreciation of the topography. Syros is hilly and once away from the port frontage, you have to navigate narrow streets with multiple stairs. It is understandable how the hills were a physical advantage from the constant threat of a pirate raid.

Aloha -- Cathi