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Friday, 29 August 2008

YES HE CAN

Admitedly the USA the last eight years has been a country that not many foreigners would really want to visit. A country that had such a bad publicity world wide and a president that looked like a fool most of the time. A country that seemed small at heart but had faulse ideas of grandeur. A country that was constantly raising its foreign debt deficit and a country that was too dependant on others. A country that hardly reminded the world's superpower it once was, except of course of its ease to send troups and missiles anywhere it so chose.
But yesterday in Denver, history was written. History that I had the blessing to experience from my hotel room. History that 80,000 people witnessed. History that gave to millions across america what they had lost: HOPE. America is changing. Not only one man is responsible for that. But one man is responsible for the enthousiasm and the thrill and the excitement and the pride that americans are regaining. Barack Obama.
Trully, I have never listened to a politician, or any leader, that can really make people smile and cry at the same time. Well, not during the last 25 years or so.

To be fair, Andreas Papandreou was equally magic in front of a crowd in the early 80s, promising change which he delivered, only to let us down later on when 80s change became the status quo of the 90s, when his policies became policies of the past, when he endangered the future of the 21st century by not ensuring that the legacy of change would be followed by a solid reconstruction of the country.

Hence, the word 'change' is the only similarity between the Papandreou and Obama. In my book. Obama is more serious - that's what the country need. Papandreou was a rebel in a time were rebels were worshipped. Yet, Papandreou could afford to be a rebel, being born into a political clan and all. Obama, does not have the pedigree, as he put it in his speech, yet he is the one that dares to challenge the system. If that is not rebellious, then I don't know what it is.

What really impressed me by Obama last night is his seriousness, his firmness and his humbleness. And most importantly his party's agenda. As I have never, not ever, listened to a politician that has described in a speech very clearly his policy. Not that political mambo jambo, but his policy. At least not during my adult lifetime.
Yesterday, in my hotel room, jet-lagged and all, I stayed up until 2am to watch his speech over and over and over again.
The date of his official nomination is also historical: it is the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's 'I have a dream' speech. Obama is here to make that dream true. And he is here to make the dreams of so many americans come to fruition. And he is here to make the rest of the world believe again in America.
Not only he has a vision, he knows the obstacles, he stands tall, but he is a crowd magician. The millions of people that listened to his speech last night can account for that.
His speech and the democratic convention was so successful that has McCain's troups thinking they should postpone their convention. They need to regroup. They are thinking of doing something low-key to differentiate.
It will be hard.
I just hope that americans will listen and will vote.
I only wish that there would be a politician in Greece that would inspire one third of Obama's seriousness and responsibility and trust that he or she would really care about the country and not own agenda. But there isn't - At least not in a major party. Obama talked both to the hearts and minds of america's middle class yesterday. Analysts say that this convention is very hard to beat.
YES WE CAN shouted the crowd of 80,000 last night. Yes, we can change America. Obama whether he gets to become president or not, has already changed america. He has made people pay more attention, caring, voting. Obama is successful even before he was given the nomination.
My prayers and hopes are with him.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Touring Paris




Given that Chiara demanded her mum's attention, I was touring Paris alone. Not that I minded a lot because I love walking and talking pictures and I know that I am not easy to follow. I only stop for a coffee or a snack and the rest of the time I am moving.


The first day I arrived at Chatelet les Halles and walked through le Marais, went down to plage des Vosges, had lunch, then continued toward La Bastille, Port d'arsenal, walked along la Seine, crossed over to l'institut du Monde Arab, went up the roof, took pictures and then walked up to Notre Dame and took the train back from St Michel next to st. Germaine des Pres.







The weather was gloomy which made it perfect as what I described is more or less 10km walking fast - unless stopped for pictures.
My second trip downtown started from Arc de Triomph, I waited about an hour to climb up, then walked down Avenue George V, stopped at Pont D'Alma to pay my respects to the spot that Diana died, walked toward Eiffel Tower, did not dare to wait in line to go up, took about 200 pictures, walked up the small hill to Embarcadero, and then walked down la Seine to the Louvre

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed my picture talking and walking - have too many funny stories to talk about with the people that I met - and with the about 600 pictures I took during these two days.
Once again I am pretty sure that Paris is if not the most beautiful, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Pictures speak for themselves.


My goddaughter




Chiara Zeta is now 10 months old. At this early age she can walk, talk a foreign language (bebe) and she can lead an entire household as at least two people full time and at least one part time, and she can make heads turn wherever she goes. Most importantly, she is one of those persons that love life as she keeps smiling all the time and tranmits to people around her good vibes.
Imagine what she can do at 10 years old!!

Of course I am biased. She is the baby of my best friend and my godchild. She is such a joy to be around, although extremely tiring as she now wants to walk and climb up and down the stairs and has a mind of her own of what she wants to do that keeps changing every five seconds.
But she is absolutely a wonderful kid, she sleeps at 8pm and wakes up at 8am smiling. She loves eating, taking a bath, playing with her toys, with the dog, the cat, even with grown ups. She loves the attention and she gives great caddles.

Definitely the outcome of parents that spend quality - and quantity - time with the baby.
I can not tell you how proud I am of her and how much I miss her already

Visiting my family in Paris







When I go to see Helena and her family in France is like visiting my own family. This time it was not an exception.
Michelle, her mum, has been such a gratious host that gave us her house in la Varenne, an exceptionally beautiful suburb, to enjoy for our self for an entire week.

Each one had our room and bathroom - mine was en suite - and we had a huge garden for Chiara to play wer her new bike and Sierra, the dog to run up and down.
I had been in the house in La Varenne in the past as well, but had not spent time there so much before. Usually we were staying in the Grandma's house in Rue de Reines, or her village house and lately in Helena's flat in Issy les Moulineaux. But La Varenne is a suburb with beautiful houses built on the bank of La Marne, a river that is so peaceful that swans and ducks live there, people train on canooing and there is a whole joggers community that meet on a daily basis during their exercise. Since I was not going to spend time clubbing because of little Chiara, I took advantage and did my jogging, strolling, picture taking and generally enjoying the beautiful serene landscape of La Varenne and Le Marne

The jogging and the walking in downtown Paris gave me a combination of approx 7-10klm milage daily. That helped me loose 2kg despite the endless amounts of fromage de chevre and St. Emilion that I consumed :-)
Most importantly I got to spend time with my sister Helena, my niece Chiara and of course La Michelle and Kerdin. I must not forget to mention Sierra, the dog and Leo, the peroquet that completed the family

Beijing Olympics: Women football final. A beautiful game


Last night I was browsing the olymic channels to see what was worth watching. The women's football final caught my attention and rightfully so. I never thought much of women's football as I thought that such a tough game is a men sport. Last night's final between USA and Brasil (Athens's finalists as well) proved me wrong. I should be so happy to go watch such a beautiful game during the entire Super League season. The game I watched last night was equivalent of a champion's league game (without the hard fouls and the boxing involved).
It was evident that a Brasilian irrespective of the sex with the ball on the feet can do miracles. Especially Marta, the Brasilian midfielder, Brasil's 10 that has been named woman footballer of the year for two years in a row.
Unfortunately for Marta that was an absolute joy to watch playing the game ended 1-0 in favor of USA. Brasil had the undisputable dominance in the offensive initiatives but they either got unlucky or the stress of the final got a bit too heavy
The USA with much less offensive attacks scored a goal and were more substantial. They played extremely good defense. So good that frustrated Brasilians. I couldn't help but thinking that if only Otto's men were playing defense so well and were so effective in the 2-3 attacks they unfold in every game Greece would be much less boring to watch.
Anyways, it is not that the best team won. Both teams were very good. They both played as team. The only player's amazing talent that stood out - in my humble opinion - was that of Marta's that reminded me of another great 10, Rivaldo, in his earlier days. The US team reminded me a bit of Germany to be honnest. Efficient but boring.
Brasilians cried during the medal ceremony. I was a bit upset myself. It was schedule and solidity that beat flair and spectacle. And flair should always be praised. Especially when it is so much in abundance as in the case of Marta. In my mind she is the winner.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Naxos beach life




Not all beach life in Naxos was scary. More like it, we had a grand time. I was usually getting up at 8am, jogging a bit and into the sea at 9am. My mates would usually wake up at 2pm unless someone was arriving with a boat earlier so John would have to go and pick them up from the port. By the time the rest of the company woke up I had already jogged, bathed, sunbathed, and in some cases even had a short siesta.
In the afternoons, I had convinced them all we should really go to the Plaka beach and not that dreadful beach in Agio Prokopio with the million people squeezing in a few square meters.
In Naxos I have read 3 books in one week - only one in Mykonos. The books are coming up later in this blog with a short review
Although I find Naxos not my cup of tea really, at least not in the current mood, I must confess that a whole day at the beach of Naxos goes by really smoothly.
The pictures are the proof.http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.photo.gif

In this picture if you look closely you will see me under water. Unfortunately I did not have a waterproof camera so Danny tried his best to take this shot while I was diving

Monday, 18 August 2008

Naxos holidays and the great scare


Well, I might not have liked Naxos night life, nor the ambience and of course I could not but notice its lack of class - nothing like its neighbor Mykonos (or Paros even). But I must say, the beaches are fantastic with a clear blue emerald color, and the food is amazing.
I thoroughly enjoyed the water and beach life so much that I have decided to do somethign that I feared since I saw Jaws at the age of six. You must know something about me. When I was born we were living in Nafplion (I know, I know...why did we ever leave...). Since the age of six I was swimming and I mean swimming, not just floating with the usual 'bratsakia'. By the age of 4 I was a keen swimmer and the fastest of my age and even older kids-even boys. I would spend at least 6 hours in the sea. One day at the age of six we were staying at a rented house in Mati and I have faked my sleep (put a doll under the covers), sneaked out of the house and climbed the wall to the near open air cinema that we were going every day except that day. Why? Because "Jaws" - the original was on and of course my parents thought that it was not a good idea. But given my rebellious nature, I went. I even organized other rebels my age to do the same and three of us met at the cinema. We climbed the wall - as it was a PG13 we were not allowed in - and we watched the movie. Needless to say I have not been since then in the sea at depths that I could not feel the ground. I can not even swim if there is seaweed even at a meter deep.
Yet one fine day at Naxos, seeing the water so peaceful and feeling envious of everybody enjoying sea sports I've decided to do it.
I arrived to the end of Plaka beach - mainly used by surfers and people looking for quiet time. The moment I parked and walked toward the beach I could not help but have a feeling of elation. The beach had fine white sand - the kind that I am thinking is common in places like the Carribean - and the waters crystal blue and in some areas turquoise. There were some surf boards but nobody using them as there was no wind that day. Instead a couple of kids were getting ready to go on a floated sofa where a speed boat would pull them fast and give them some thrill. Seeing that it was only kids doing that thing, I went to the guy and asked if I could join them. I told him that I am very much afraid of deep waters - did not mention of course that I am afraid that a white shark is waiting for me the moment I go beyond 2 meters deep - and he promised that noone ever falls in on that new toy and that it will be very much fan.
In the pictures that follow it is Nik and Danny who tried it the same afternoon and I was on the speedboat taking the pictures. The bloody thing was flying on the water and at one point guess what: it overturned. And guess where: in the deep sea. Pitch black underneath, over my head was the sofa so I could not immediately emerge and when I did the people on the beach looked like small black dots. Panic?? At red levels. When I realized that there was no white shark coming after me, I saw the little girl that was sitting next to me having difficulty coming toward the sofa. The sofa had to be overturned. It was not easy. Panic levels kept increasing despite my efforts not to look down and not to think about the white shark. I did not scream (!!!) as I was afraid I would scare to death the little girl. Her slightly older brother (about 12) and myself turned the sofa to its normal position. I had two choices: save the girl first or climb as fast as I could up. My natural thought was of course to save the little girl. And then I thought what if she can not climb up fast and I was the last one in the deep pitch black sea? So long emerald waters. Now we were really into the deep. And it was not even blue anymore. So I think I flew up - so fast and so high that even Isibayeva would be jealous. Of course nothing happened to me or the girl or her brother as I pulled them both up once I was in a safe...floating ground. Needless to say that the fall was a climax of panic as at every turn we were on the air and the thing was bumping up and down. We had to hold from some ropes. I was holding so high that my palms had white marks for at least ten minutes after I left them indicating that there was no blood flow.
I must say that it will be ages if I ever try this again, but it was one of the scariest, unpleasant yet exciting experiences that I ever had.




I am extremely happy I did this. Yet, despite the fact that I know for sure that there is no white shark in the greek waters I am not sure if I shall ever do it again. Yet, I recommend it to those looking for 15 minutes of extreme fun.
Zizou was patiently waiting for mommy not sure why she keeps that long and she is out of sight. He made friends with a nice lady close by that gave him her ham sandwitch to keep him from coming to my rescue. Needless to say that once I reached land I could not be happier to hold again Zizoulino in my arms

And so I am back from outer space...

Holidays are over. What a dreadful sentence. To try and lift myself I keep reminding me that august is still far from over and that autumn in Greece is more like summer in most european countries. So, there is still hope. But I feel really bad for being back. Awful to be exact. My absense from this blog meant of course that I am having a swell time. Well, most of the time I kept silent.
Every day there were scenes and people that made me say 'I have to put that in the blog'. But after twenty or so days, the amount of times that I thought that made it forbidding. The blog would have been a holiday book and I thought why not stir it up a bit and I might come out with a book.
So, what I have decided to do is to start scribble notes in case one day I manage to write a book and eventually make my dream come true. What that dream is? Live between Mykonos and anywhere else of course. No office, no suit, no fake smiles, no meetings and so on and so forth. A dream, right? In a dream anyone can wish for whatever.
To get back from... outer space, today is the first day back to the office but by no means the first day back to real life. That was last wednesday.
But let's take it bit by bit.
My first stop was Naxos. I did not like Naxos. To be fair with the island, although I spent one whole week, I barely visited more than a couple of places. That is Naxos town, Plaka and where we were staying Amytis beach. The reason is that the people I was with were not in the mood of driving around to go to nice beaches as they would not want to skip the night's party. I understand. But there is no decent bars or clubs in Naxos. A couple of them, playing their lousy music over and over again painfully repeating it every single night with the same song sequence. But of course there is a good side to everything: Naxos is still very cheap and a couple of the beaches I have been in Plaka were spectacularly beautiful. So, overall my holidays in Naxos where enjoying the sea and the sun and good food. Oh yes, I also did for the first time in my life some sort of sea sport. I will refer to it at a follow up posting. It definitely deserves some mentioning.
Zizou had a swell time. and he was worth it.
We were staying at a rented house in Amytis beach that cost 70 euros a night and housed 6 people!!!! Yes, when I am saying Naxos is cheap, it is that cheap. And this is the first thing I saw when I arrived to the house: The window looking at the sea just five minutes away

After looking at this site, I knew that only good things could happen from now on. And so they did.
The second thing I noticed in the house is Tommy waking up. Tommy is a friend from London, whom I just met in Naxos. God bless him he is a hilarious guy. He just got up as I arrived and someone handed him a frape. Obviously the night before had been heavy - as the nights that followed. 'Hallo' he said introducing himself. 'I am Tommy and I am an alcoholic' Tommy - as expected from his opening line - is, a very intelligent, witty, kind and funny person who spoke english with a marvellous posh accent and greek with an extremely heavy cypriot accent. Just hearing him talk like that makes you laugh. Let alone the things he said. His second adolescence on the Greek islands - which I witnessed - made him even funnier. Tommy and the combination of a group such diverse as the rest of the gang - a description of each member will follow - were of course the key ingredients to such an enjoyable vacation.

Zizou could not believe he had not died and been to heaven as it was his dream case scenario. A house on the beach with a huge garden for him alone. After spending an hour or so sniffing and marking around, he climbed up the stairs to our flat exhausted from the heat, running and ecstasy



After settling down, John, our main host, made sure we all relaxed, shook the city off by playing some great tunes on his laptop equipped by a brilliant set of speakers and a 3G card so we can keep in touch with the world. Not that we spent much time online. Of course the house also had its own stereo system that later on we let playing 24/7 a station from Syros where producers rarely spoke and the music was top

After our coffee, settling down and Tommy waking up, we decided to head to the beach for a swim. The boys wanted to go to the busiest beach in Naxos from which of course I stayed away. Instead Zizou, the Merc and myself took the road down to Plaka to relax and enjoy the swim. Later on we joined the rest of the gang for food, back to the house to watch the sunset and head for an almost all-nighter to Naxos - boring if you ask me - night life.

Pugs are the superior creatures in any planet

Don't you wish you were hot like Frankie (the Pug)???
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Pugs talk!

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