scribbles tagged ‘Greece’

flashbulb memories

Sunday, September 11th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

The sound of the phone ringing gradually woke me.   Nearly 6am (Pacific coast time), only UK friends would call me at this unearthly  time in the morning.   Sleepily I reached for the phone and pulled it to my ear only to hear the dial-tone.   Who-ever called had hung-up.   I never found out who called.   Awake I decided to get up and make myself a cup of tea,   to enjoy the sunny morning before setting out for work.

In my doziness I stubbed my toe on the half-packed suitcase,  preparing for my planned sailing holiday in Greece.   Scheduled to fly out on September 16th I was looking forward to a club holiday with English friends I hadn’t seen for a long time, a reunion vacation.

I put the kettle and  TV on.   The sound of emergency services,  the stressful pitch of the voices, the urgency and drama was clear before I’d even realised what I was seeing.   I watched as flight 175 hit the South Tower.   I cried.

Nearly 3  hours later at work, not much work being done, by anyone.   Many people just didn’t turn up,   those who did were phoning relatives and friends,  trying to reassure themselves that the people they knew who worked in the World Trade centre were ok. Everyone seemed to know someone who worked in the towers or lived nearby. The general sense of anxiety mixed with silence lasted all day and soaked into the future.

All flights in the US airspace were grounded. I never joined my friends in Greece, a small loss in the whole scheme of things. My parents, in Italy, had nowhere to stay because American tourists, unable to get home, were staying in the hotel rooms  my parents had  booked

That day changed my world

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more boxes

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

mausoleumsRecently we’ve considered telephone boxes and police boxes.

These boxes are for another form of communication. Can you see the resemblance?

These boxes house the remains of deceased family members, momentos of the lives of those people. People visit them to talk to their spirits, and their gods

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again please!

Sunday, September 14th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

Hotel breakfast room with volcano view


included multiple boob-topped churches,   deserted dawns  shared with the departed,    livingly sociable sunsets  announced by rather flat church bells,    mules trains,   smiling old people,     sculpted  young people,   versataile windmills,   stylish alleys  often containing sleek kitties,   oodles of  sunshine, beer and clear blues.  

On top of all these standard Greek holiday experiences I learned about the real sailing motoring experience from a chain-smoking German skipper  in the company of a pack of youngsters.   I learned real sailing involved:

  1. being prepared not to sail.
  2. feeling sick.
  3. not doing a  poo in the loo of a boat moored in a Greek harbour.
  4. wearing white to hide the cumulative  sea-salt crystals.
  5. knowing knots.
  6. charging small ‘devices; in Tavernas.
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sleek silhouette

Sunday, September 7th, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Imerovigli,  dawnEven the sleek Greek cats emerge from the  windy  alleys  to occupy favourite perches to supervise the sunset.

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size of an alley!

Saturday, September 6th, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Alley arch castle alley archway alleyway arch and mopedAll the Cyclade islands were mazed with Alleys just the right size for a mule and its handler.   Some towns even advertised themselves as not having cars.    European cars are small but not small enough for these alleys!  

Occassionally buzzy-bee sounding mopeds would swish around these alleys.    Houses were often built over the alleys creating pleasant shade and interesting archways.

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blue boob jobs

Friday, September 5th, 2008 | tags:  |

Blue church and AegeanAs Poodle astutely noted there are a lot of ‘boob jobs’ at the seaside resorts in the Cyclades,   clearly echoing the popular church architecture.

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windmill repurposed

Thursday, September 4th, 2008 | tags:  |

Working WindmillsThe cyclades are not only littered with churches,   they have more than their fair share of windmills.   We experienced the impressively powerful winds during our sailing motoring trip, gale force for most of the vacation.

Tucked-in behind the obligatory church bell tower modern windmills were clearly harnessing the power in Santorini.   Older mills were converted into Tavernas,   modern residences,   and some left  without their sails.  

These renovated old windmills even stood guardrd over familiar modern green plastic rubbish wheely binsmills and bins

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church bells

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

view from a church bell towerThe Islands of the Cyclades are strewn with white churches,   often with blue roofs and all with bell-towers.   The bells would ring between 6pm and 7.20pm a single tone,   often flat, with a basic tune conveyed by a regularly varied pace between the rings.

Graveyards were normally accompanied by a small church,   mainly churches stood alone on island high ground,   often perched on Island mountain tops.

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the departed

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 | tags: ,  |

mausoleums and gravesGreek graveyards were wonderful.   White marble graves are adorned with photographs of the deceased,   lit oil lamps, occassionally lit  incense burners and well maintained live potted plants.   The graves are tended regularly and often have a little cupboard built into the headstone where the carers store basic maintainance equipment.   Some graves contained glass sliding doors behind which the photographs sat and occassionally a couple of glasses implying that the living came here to take a drink with the departed.

The Geeeks recognise their  elderly and departed in a more noticable way than I am used to in either the UK or US cultures I’ve lived within.

Graves through a mausoleum windowThis Imerovigli graveyard contains rows of mausoleum type rooms.   Each mausoleum contained labelled wooden boxes with many different photographs,   places for the living to visit the dead in peace.

I wonder whether the departed are carried to their resting place by mule

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mule haul

Monday, September 1st, 2008 | tags:  |

man on mule  Mules are a current and useful form of transport in the Greek Islands.   The mules are small enough to navigate the windy alleyways of the old towns,   they are sufficiently sturdy to carry tourists and tourist bags up hill-sides,   stairs, down alleyways.  

This enterprising young fellow carried tourists and their bags to a venetian styled hotel near the entrance to Pyrgos Castle.   Inbetween ferrying tourists he sold pedestrians the opportunity to have their photograph taken with him and his mules.   Labrador took this opportunity which came with lots of kisses,   and from the young fellow.

Other fellows used the mules generally as personal transport,   we often passed them on main roads and back streets. Man and mules

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rigged religion

Sunday, August 31st, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

koufounissi church riggingOn the small island of koufounissi they’ve rigged St. Georges church.  

One highlight of my Greek holiday involved sitting on this church wall in the early evening listening to the ceremony songs waft through the open doors,   children wobble in and out of the church,   two old ladies greeting attendees and shepharding the children,  watching the passers-by cross themselves as the sunset gathered on the horizon.

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deserted dawns

Saturday, August 30th, 2008 | tags:  |

converted windmill at dawnPicturesque sunset venues on the Greek Islands were frequently very sociable places.   By contrast,   sunrises were more deserted,   peaceful places,   highly recommended.

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hording to the Oia sunset

Friday, August 29th, 2008 | tags:  |

Hordes awaiting sunsetAccording to wikipedia the sunset at Oia, Santorini, is reputedly one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.   As the evening sets in bus-loads of tourists seek viewpoints in the small hillside town.

Definitely a place for sociable people.

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images of the elderly

Thursday, August 28th, 2008 | tags:  |

Portraits of the elderly Images of elderly people are sold on postcards,   smiling positive images giving me the impression that the elderly are happy and valued members of the Greek community.

localThis portrait was taken by Labrador who is more plucky than I  about asking people if she can take their picture.

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e in the disco

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

t may be in the park,   but e is defintiely in the Greek Island beach disco bar.

In a disco infected bar on Santorini one of the pack commented on the  extensive evidence of  enhancements:

Poodle: I can’t believe all the boob jobs around here,   its increadible!

Wendy: you mean like that girl in the sequinned bikini?

Poodle:   Yes,   and that girl,   and that one, and…

The disco smelt of e-strogen affilitated enhancements and the bar music played ‘…you are just a sexy girl, nothing but a sexy girl…’  

Poodle and my un-enhanced selves looked beautiful in our simple gently curved, gravity aligned,  purity.

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small devices charged behind bars

Friday, August 22nd, 2008 | tags: ,  |

As part of our briefing Afghan told us that we could not charge our small electronic devcies (phone, CAMERA, shaver, other) on jojo, the sailboat.    Evidently six guests with several small devices each could drain the boats motor-charged battery by device recharging.    Instead,   Afghan recommended that when buying use of a loo,   and drinking our free coffee,   we ask the waitstaff to charge our devices,   behind the bar.    

Real sailing experience #6: charge your small devices in Tavernas

Taverna staff were extremely obliging.

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view from a chair

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 | tags:  |

Chairs on tables...The obliging Greeks will often place chairs on tables to ensure you get the best possible view.

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rum breakfast

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

Bakery sales7am on our non-sailing day on Ios while the rest of the crew slept    I found some deliciously  freshly baked pain au chocolate  in the port Bakery.   The merchandising of bakery goods at this early (late?) hour implies some party island requirements.

All day large ferries docked in the harbour and hundreds of young adults with backpacks and wheely-suitcases  rolled on and off.

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crystalised Aegean

Monday, August 18th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

you can have any colous as long as its whiteAfter mooring we grabbed our towels and wash bags and trooped off to the  public showers.   We took turns using the showers for 3 Euros a turn.   It felt sooooooooo luxurious washing the crystalised Aegean salt from skin and hair in a room large enough to be able to wave your arms around,   a classic shower requirement.   No longer did I feel like a walking emery board or look like I suffered from all over body dandruff.

Real sailing experience #4: wearing white hides the cumulative  sea-salt crystals

Over dinner we consulted with our cruise director (weather forcast) and persuaded Afghan to let us stay a second day and night on Ios.   No-one wanted a repeat rinse in the washing machine…..

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no holding tanks

Sunday, August 17th, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Ios harbourWe arrived in Ios exhausted.   The skipper explained we could not use the showers or do ‘number twos’ while in the harbour because Greek boat effluence is ejected directly into the harbour.   The small island harbours would quickly become noticably fowled if all the moored boat-crews used soap-suds and did our poos in it.   Afghan suggested that we could

‘get a free coffee when paying a couple of Euros to use toilets in the local hostelrys’

[seadog laughter]   Ha HA HA HA!’

real sailing experience #3: do not poo in the loo of a boat moored in a Greek harbour

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the washing machine

Saturday, August 16th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

gently rocking to produce a wet deckWe motored North towards the party Island of  Ios, into the meltemi, into the wind,  sails tightly packed-away, avoiding the katabatics.   Wind speeds  were between  40 and  50 knots,   gale force 10, with  what the skipper described as  flying water from the tops of the whitecaps.   Red, Poodle and Spanial donned anti-seasickness wristbands.

Labrador in full sensible waterproofs stayed dry on deck to the left of the skipper.   To the left of  Labrador Red lay back-to-the-bench shivering in full sun and swimwear.   Red was  unable to sit-up lest the action give momentum to Red’s stomach contents.   I  dragged myself along the boat, down the almost-as-dangerous-as-the-wendy-house-stairs  and went below to bring-up Red’s fleece.   It was like navigating a fairground ride without a laughing audience.  

Poodle was buried beneath towels lying on the bench next to me, groaning.      All the colour had drained from Spaniel’s lips laying  back to  the bench opposite facing the sky.     Retriever  was head over the side wretching while  Spanial and I  held a leg each  lest the jerking of the boat lever Retriever ir-retriever-bly  overboard.  

Skipper would smoke a  cigarette every now and then…  

Lighting a cigarette is a tricky manouvre while helming a boat in a gale,   one has to admire the skippers dexterity and skill.   With each puff on the cigarette the pack pulled either hands, towels or jacket collars  over their nose and mouth to filter any trajectile-style impact of the smoke on thier bouncing stomachs.

Skipper put the boat on auto-pilot and went below to brew a coffee.   As soon as he’d left the deck labrador elegently turned,   ejaculated a globule of stomach contents in one smooth action off the stern, then returned to face the wind looking like a true stalwart.   Good timing and action,   10 for technique I’d say.

I sat in my sea-spray-soaked,  warm, neoprene jacket in the blazing  sunshine with regular sea-showers.   Each sea-shower  produced a seemingly choreographed choral groan from the lying-on-thier-back pack.      I waited unimpatiently  for

real sailing  experience #2:  feeling sick

I never did get real sailing experience #2.  

The shere volume of flying water made reading my novel impossible,   the powerful swinging motion made   writing in my journal or sketching impossible,   the pack were clearly not in the mood for good conversation,   the views were rather predicatbly sea and sky, which can induce visual boredum.    Instead of developing seasickness I  worked on fending off the boredum by considering the contents of this post and singing to myself… ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor?…

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girls in control

Friday, August 15th, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

After introductions Afghan told us that the weather forecast was too rough to complete a sail to the next Island, even Ferry’s were being cancelled due to the seasonally characteristic high winds known as the meltemi.    While clearly a good decision given the high waves,   this was a damping suprise to the whole pack.  Afghan explained using  essential information omitted from the promotional material, girls are in control:

‘mother nature is our cruise director’  

 ‘the Aegean is a bitch’

[seadog laughter]   Ha HA HA HA!’

Siesta time at Jojo's  real sailing experience #1:   be prepared not to sail.  

The pack spent the first afternoon on-land bonding at a beach-side disco-Taverna called JoJo’s; drinking beer, dancing, talking, reading books, sunbathing, sketching, meeting other tourists, swimming and making cell-phone calls/texts.    


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forming an Aegean Odyssey pack

Thursday, August 14th, 2008 | tags: ,  |

In   subsequent blog posts my companions on our recent Aegean odyssey are represented by canines to allow your imagination to create scenes potentially more bizarre than the actual events.   Meet the pack arranged in order of sailing experience:

  • JoJo: the 50ft Bavaria50 yaught, chartered by GAP, that housed the pack for 10 days this summer.
  • Afghan Hound (50s):   JoJo’s skipper, German. Single, daughter at college.   Afghan wants to provide a genuine sailing experience, provide each pack member with a good, safe, holiday and manage the Greek based team of GAP skippers.
  • Chocolate Labrador (46):  Rhode Island, US,  married.   Owns a small sail boat.   Labrador is using time when sailing-unenthusastic spouse is working away to indulge passions for sailing and exploring foriegn cultures.   Labrador has attempted to learn Greek conversation with the support of utube.   I met Labrador in 2004 when we shared a room on a GAP tour of Costa Rica.   Labrador doesn’t snore or  produce smelly farts in the night.   Knowing this, we planned to share a cabin on JoJo.
  • Border Collie (44): Reading, UK, steadily single (me, Wendy),    I have an ancient  RYA Dinghy sailing licence, level 2, acquired at a Royal Navy training base.   The training methodology involved a perplexing frequent use of the Anglo-Saxon word for copulation in an apparently unsystematic and technically inaccurate manner.    I joined in with the liberal and unsystematic use of this term which did appear to stump  the Navy trainers.   For a couple of years I owned a Byte that successfully decorated my garage in the US.   I want to explore the current and past Greece at a leisurely pace,  repeatedly dive off  JoJo, avoid the sunshine, drink beers,  read books, practice sketching and bolster my memory with notes and photographs.
  • Golden Retriever (30): Minnesota, US,  has pottered about on boats on the Great lakes,   is married to
  • Springer Spaniel (30): Minnesota, US, has also pottered about on boats on the Great Lakes.   Spanial has known  the Retriever since pre-school,   started dating in high school.   They are interested in Temples,   archeological artefacts, museums, social anthropological history and sunbathing on-deck.
  • Red Setter (30): Seattle, US, recently divorced.   No sailing experience. Red doesn’t tolerate unfairness, and is equipped with the intellect to quickly talk-back when encountering mistreatment and unfairness.   Red wants to dance and explore culture.   This is the first vacation Red has taken alone abroad,   Red arrived early and tried out the Youth Hostel in Thira.
  • Standard Poodle (26): Sidney, Australia, Greek parents, no sailing experience, unmarried and behaving as if in love.   This involved cell phone predominantly attached to ear and conversations like ‘no you hang-up first’ and sleeping with the cell-phone clasped between both hands on their sternum.   Poodle had saved a long time to be able to afford this holiday which started in Spain,   involved visiting family in Athens and ould continue after the sail in Corfu.   Poodles luggage was of a different opinion.   It never arrived in Greece.  As far as I know it is still AWOL.  Poodle arrived with the bare essentials; cell-phone, credit card, swimwear and toothbrush looking forward to meeting the luggage,  sunbathing,   dancing and partying.  

Inside Jojo before setting sail:      Galley             dangerous staircase           Lounge

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power bars

Friday, July 25th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

Not a euphemism for light sabres.  

Also known in the US as ‘Energy bars’.    Not a way of describing the throughput of electricity to an electronic device.  

High sugar-content (energy) biscuits in a bar shape marketed in the US as a lifestyle accessory for highly active  people (Walkers, cyclists, etc).    Similar products in the UK  appear to be marketed as breakfast bars and stocked next to the breakfast cereals in supermarkets.   I suspect they are breakfast replacements for fast-moving executives, children and aspiring anorexics.  

I’m trying a few as possible lifestyle accessories for my GREEK SAILING HOLIDAY.   Huuuuurrrraaaahhhhh!

A  local Holland and Barratt shop lured me in with this ‘Love bar’.   I subsequently discovered that the advertising is naughty  because Gillian McKieth cannot legally call herself a Doctor in the UK.    Her Dr. qualification is reportedly from a correspondence course with a non-acredited US University.   The Guardian reported on her naughty non-truths and misleading product information back in 2007.   In 2008  she’s still using the title Dr. on product packaging and making questionable claims about  their ‘health’ impact…    

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no knickers necessary

Friday, July 18th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

The travel company has provided a trip dossier that includes a very specific pre-holiday check-list on what to pack!   Useful and appealing to my listophilia:      

  • Passport (with photocopies)   ü
  • Travel insurance (with photocopies) ü
  • Airline tickets (with photocopies)
  • Euros and travellers cheques ü
  • Credit or debit card (see personal spending money) ü
  • G.A.P Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and dossier ü
  • Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required ü
  • Camera and film ü
  • Reading/writing material üüüü
  • Cover or plastic bags for backpacks ü
  • Flashlight ü
  • Windproof/waterproof jacket/rain poncho ü
  • Small towel and swim wear ü
  • Warm sweater ü
  • 4 shirts/t-shirts üü
  • Sunhat  Ã¼Ã¼Ã¼Ã¼
  • 2 pair of shorts ü
  • 1 pair of long trousersü
  • 1 pair hiking pants/track pants ü
  • Hiking boots/sturdy walking shoes (for shore excursions) ü
  • Sport shoes with light colored soles/sport sandals (while on board) ü
  • Biking gloves (if you wish to participate in sailing – optional) ü
  • Sunblock ü
  • Sunglasses  Ã¼Ã¼Ã¼Ã¼
  • Toiletries (biodegradable) ü
  • Flashlight ü
  • Watch or alarm clock ü
  • Water bottle ü
  • Pocketknife û
  • Snorkeling gear (optional) û
  • First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, any extra prescription drugs you may be taking). ü

I’m a tad concerned about the lack of underwear and nightwear worn by  my fellow passengers, self,  and the skipper.  Publically displayed  jiggly-bits can  put one off one’s beer or book.    The lack of  ‘dressing’ requirements for evenings in the Taverna, or Temple visiting, is also a tiny disappointment.   Luckily for the male guests there  are no requirements to bring skirts or dresses.  All the listed gear fits into this holdall with space to spare,  for  an unlisted  skirt, underwear, binoculars  and possibly a pretty dress.     I’m still waiting for my promised paper airline ticket to arrive…

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holiday spirit #5: insurance

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

in less than one hour of excited pre-holiday preparation  I called the:

  • credit card company to check on how to deal with a lost or stolen card while out of England and gave them the dates and location of my travel to make sure they didn’t cancel my card when used in GREECE.
  • medical insurance company to verify my coverage and what I should do when I fall over  in GREECE.
  • home insurance company to order a copy of my policy and check on what’s covered if taken out of the country (to GREECE) and find out if I need to replace my locks*.
  • Water authority** to check some billing details.
  • mumzie to let her know that I’m ok,   haven’t fallen over today,   yet and I will be safe when abroad.

* Apparantly,  my contents are insufficiently valuable for them to require that I upgrade the Wendy House stable-door bolts.

** This has nothing to do with my HOLIDAY,   but I was on a roll with the phone-calling and wanted to keep the momentum going.

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excitedness level raised to: Red

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Red excitedness characteristics:

  • falling over.   Think or how the USS enterprise wobbles and throws the crew from side to side when attacked by the klingons or travelling through an asteroid belt.
  • dribbling.   Pouring tea becomes particularly tricky leaving drips all over the place.
  • Perpetual waffling. A striking lack of precision in speach and writing rather like rambing only not in the countryside but in words and really not worthy of reading. Editor skills are desperately needed during a red alert to head-off the waffle effect.
  • tears before bedtime.  Over spilt tea,   bruised knees, being misunderstood  etc

Why now?

Only 4 weeks before my Greek sailing holiday!   I’ve made the lists  & purchased the essentials.   From here-on in its all about getting over-excited.

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the excitedness level has been raised to: Amber

Saturday, June 7th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

Amber excitedness characteristics:

  • unpredictable outbreaks of persistent smiling.
  • mugs of undrunk tea appearing around the house because I’ve forgotten that I have already made myself a cup of tea.
  • frequent brief outbursts of hyper-inactivity.   Sitting-still to enjoy thinking about whatever I’m getting excited about.
  • increased incidences of burbling.

Why now?

This year I’ll be  sailing to half a dozen or so Islands in Greece with 7 strangers and a friend for 10 days on a 50ft yaught.   The trip bochure tells me that   Hemingway ‘Would have’ turned up at the Island of Sifnos,   that we can visit the Kitron Brewery on Naxos.   All over the Islands we can admire ancient architecture,   visit Churches, Temples and many many Tavernas.   Snorkling, dolphins  and beaches are also mentioned.      


the Ray Bans are out!

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