Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wine Making

Yesterday I did something that I thought wasn’t done anymore: I stomped on grapes to make wine from scratch! I heard that Tony’s family did this so I really wanted to try it out.

Here’s how it’s done: Markos collected grapes from the garden and they were put on tarps to dry in the sun for a little while. Then Markos, Linda, and I collected them in crates and brought them to the “grape stomping area”; it’s a walled concrete square with a spout on one side. Attached to the spout is a basket to keep debris out of the juice and below is a big barrel to collect the grape juice.

We stomped on the grapes one crate at a time. It’s a neat feeling, squishing your toes through the grapes! I thought it was a lot of fun despite what I was told by others who have done it year after year and are probably sick of it! It’s a novelty for me though so “fun and good exercise” is how I’d describe it! After we were done with a crate, we’d put the left over pulp to the side to be stepped on a second time later on. By the second time around, there isn’t much juice left, just grape pulp; that leftover pulp is used to make ouzo! All the stomping took about 2 hours. Notice my lovely grape covered feet! It gets soooo sticky when it dries, so we had a bucket of water near to dunk our feel and hands in. And yes, I did have a taste of the grape juice (feet flavor and all! Although it tasted really good!).

The next step is pouring the juice into smaller containers from the barrel so we can transport them into a permanent barrel near the house. Tony’s uncle Pandalis came and helped us move them. Once it’s in the main barrel, it stays in there for 40 days while it ferments and turns itself from purple juice into a clear blond wine. Markos had a bit of a grape juice bath while he was pouring it into the big barrel!


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Before and After

Well, here are a few pics of my little garsoniara (or bachelorette pad). It went from dirty and full of stuff to a cute suite with a Mediterranean feel.
I still have to decorate it and hang up pictures, buy or make more art for the walls, add plants eventually, and buy a few more things like a night stand and lamp. But I think it’s looking really good compared to what it used to be! It’s not quite livable yet since the washroom needs a bit of work and may be redone; but my cat lives down there and loves it!

We started in the middle of July and worked for a few hours a week. I have spent about 775 euro on it including: all the paint, light fixtures, fridge, microwave, stove top, kitchen supplies, bed supplies, cleaning supplies, mirror, towels, outlet covers, etc.….the list goes on!!! So it’s not bad! I have all the necessities. All I really need now are things to make it pretty, which I don’t have to buy right away.

I will post more pics once the bathroom is done and the front patio looks nice (I’m going to buy a little table and chairs so I can eat out there!). There is a bunch of land around the patio that I’m thinking of putting a little garden in and grow herbs, tomatoes, etc…I have no clue how to be a gardener but maybe I can try! I’ll need something to keep me busy when everything shuts down for the winter and I can’t swim as much.


Monday, August 28, 2006

New Job and Army Update

This morning was my first day of work and it went well. My boss wants to start me off slowly so I can get used to how things are done. I’ll be working 4 hours per day for now until later in Sept when it increases to full-time (right now I work 9-1 which is great because I have the rest of the day to do what I want!). I think it’ll be a nice place to work and it seems laid back and easy going; for now anyways! Right now it’s just the two of us but later in Sept others may also work there. (Oh ya! In case you don't know what type of work, I'm doing Graphic Design, so I'll create ads, brochures, business cards, maybe websites....)

Silas and Sofia just got on the ferry to go back to Canada today. It’s just Linda, Markos, and me now. It’ll be strange not having them around! It'll take a while to get used to I think.

I really want to start getting my butt in gear and learn Greek. It gets really annoying when I can’t understand people. Now, that I’ll have a lot of “me time,” I’m going to try to study as much as possible! The operating system at work is in Greek so that’ll help me learn it too.

Tony’s back in the Army today after a night on the ferry. He was quite bored in the Army at the beginning so he tried out for Special Forces and made it through all the tests. He had a choice of what to specialize in: sniper, diving, parachuting, explosion technician, etc…. He chose to be apart of the dive team (they do water rescues, dive to sunken military vessels, that kinda thing); it’s one of the toughest areas you can get into;
not many people end up in it till the end. It’s very respectable if you can finish it and once you’re done, you have the training to be a diving instructor, open a diving shop, become a police officer…etc. There are 3 stages of “boot camp”; Tony is now in the first stage (started last week) and he said over 100 people have dropped out already within the first few days! He moved to a different base closer to Athens. He’ll be there for a little over a month; then, if he’s still in it, he’ll move to an island base (probably Rhodes). It’ll be interesting to see what happens. Already he has to take showers in freezing cold water and do exercises and running all day in the sun with barely any break so it’s tough but it’ll get worse (much worse)! I'm not sure when I'll see him next, probably in 3-4 weeks (hopefully no longer than that!)


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Big Surprise!

On Friday night, we were all in and getting ready to watch a movie. There was a knock at the door so Linda told me to get it since I was the closest. I thought it was one of the neighbors from downstairs but when I opened the door, it was Tony!!! I was soooo surprised! I didn’t know when I was going to see him next and here he was on the doorstep! The first thing I said was “What the heck are you doing here!?” lol. He found out he was able to visit just that morning, so he phoned Linda and told her he’d be coming and not to tell anyone.

I had a fun weekend hanging out with him. We had to do some errands and computer fixing stuff but we got to go to the beach too. Today we had souvlakis for lunch and then headed to Molos (the beach with the mud) with Linda, Sofia, and Silas. On the way there, we drove up a big hill to a monastery to take pics and enjoy the view. You get a view of a bunch of beaches and the whole South/East side of the island. The road getting up there was very steep with sharp turns.

After a hot day it was nice to go to the beach and swim. The best part of this beach though is the mud! Linda, Tony, and I covered ourselves in it. It makes your skin and hair feel so nice! Tony and I decided to dig a big hole to completely cover ourselves in the sand. It was so relaxing, we almost fell asleep!

Tony has to leave on a 1:30am ferry tonight though, so it was short but sweet. I start my job tomorrow and Sofia and Silas leave for Canada tomorrow too. It’ll weird with them gone and starting a new job. I’ll get into more of a routine. I’m kinda looking forward to work seeing as though I haven’t worked full-time since I left Canada in March! Lol!


Thursday, August 24, 2006


Yesterday, all 5 of us headed across the island to Naoussa for one of the yearly celebrations. It celebrates an event that took place hundreds of years ago; Pirates came to the island, burnt ships, and stole the women; but the Paros men fought back and eventually the pirates were beaten and the women returned. They re-create this event in the harbor area complete with boats “on fire” with flares, pirates jumping onto the land and stealing the female dancers from the stage. It was a crazy scene! Women running around with pirates after them! After the whole drama was over, some of the pirates were thrown into the water off the dock. It was pretty funny! It was all topped off with a fireworks display.

We had a good spot right on the edge of the dock. I got a cool shot of the fish near the surface of the water.

Below are some of the boats that the pirates came in and a shot of the stage in the Naoussa harbor.

There are some cute shops and interesting kiosks selling stuff in Naoussa. Here is a kiosk that sells things made out of shells as well as an assortment of stuffed marine life.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bye Tony (again!)

Well, Tony left yesterday morning. I miss him! We had a good few days hanging out (but not long enough). On Sunday we went to a café in the harbor at Naoussa and had a crepe and frappe/milkshake. We also went swimming both days at Parasporos and the water was perfect! The waves weren’t too big, just right and the temperature was perfect too! I felt a little better than I did on Saturday thank goodness and I think for some reason, the salt water helped the stuffiness. Tony wanted me to try octopus, so his dad made it on Monday. It was BBQ’d with a lemon sauce to dip it in. mmm! In restaurants they serve only one leg for about 10euro but if you make it yourself, the whole octopus is about 17euro!

Lately, there has been a heat wave so the temp has been about 39degrees. It’s hard to sleep at night and during the day you can’t do anything. Only swimming makes the heat bearable but getting there is deadly. You’d think riding the motorcycle would be refreshing since the wind can cool you off….not! The wind feels like a blowtorch so it doesn’t help. There are a bunch of huge forest fires on the mainland that we’ve been watching on the news. It reminds me of watching the forest fires in BC a while back.

Yesterday, Tony barely got a ticket for the ferry; they were all booked solid (all 4 of them)! He was told by many people that he gets priority since he has to go back to the Army so he didn’t book a ticket in advance. This was a mistake, they weren’t letting him on. If he didn’t make it back to the Army by 10pm he’d get “prison,” which isn’t actual prison, it just means that they add days onto their Army time. (Tony said one guy wasn’t standing still enough in line while they were doing their drills and the officer gave him 20 extra days!) Tony is nervous about that since next year, he’ll only have about 20 days between getting out of the Army and starting school in Canada! Anyways….Tony’s mom, Linda, went down really early on Tuesday and talked to all the ferry ticket offices and left her phone number incase someone cancelled. She stayed for a while to wait and almost left for home before one of the girls flagged her down and gave her a newly available ticket. LUCKY! Below, we are at the port waiting for the ferry.

Now, he is back at the base and he should find out where he’ll be placed and whether he will be in Special Forces in the next few days. I’m not sure when I’ll see him next; it might be 2 weeks or could be 5 weeks (because I go to London in Sept so there’s a gap).


Monday, August 21, 2006

Swearing In

I haven’t been near the computer much in the past few days but a few things have happened. On Aug 16, there was a grand opening of a public square by the port in Paroikia; there was dancing and music in the evening. Sophia was apart of the dancing too (below, in the pink):

On Saturday, Tony had his swearing in ceremony at the Army base. His parents and sister went over on the ferry to watch. I got quite sick with a cough and cold so I stayed home all day in bed. Below are some picks from the Army base:

They all came home at around 11:00 Saturday night. Tony has some time off until Tuesday morning when he has to take the ferry back. He has been quite bored in the Army so far, so he tried out for Special Forces and made it through all the tests. He will find out within the next few weeks what’ll happen and where he’ll be based.

Oh ya, and I was supposed to start my job today; so I went down there at 9:00 but my boss is cleaning up the place this week and it’s a little slower so I’ll go back there a week from now (next Monday) to start. I’m kinda glad because Tony leaves tomorrow morning so I have today to hang out with him now!


Wednesday, August 16, 2006


On Aug 15 was the celebration of Panagias. It's a big day on Paros and tons of people head to Paroikia for the celebration in the evening. We all went down: Tony's parent's Linda and Markos and Tony's sister Sophia and Silas. It started with a parade of military and people in traditional costume with music playing. And they brought out a big image of Mary (below) from the church and paraded all around Paroikia and back to the main church again.

Here are some shots around the port of Paroikia (this is where most of the ferries come in from other islands and the mainland). The 4th pic is Markos and Linda.

Before the parade was over Sophia, Silas, Linda, and I headed to the fishing boats. We got on one of them so we could have a good view of the fireworks later in the night. The boat was full of people and it headed out into the harbor where we had free wine, watched the fireworks, and some people lit flares. Below: Silas and Sophia, fireworks, and me on the boat.


Sunday, August 13, 2006


The last few days I’ve been buying a few things for my place. The furniture is in, the painting is done and it’s looking really good! The bathroom still needs some work before I can move in but it’s close!

My silly kitty is having fun in there exploring all the new furniture and venturing outside for the first few times. He loves to climb trees and chases everything that moves including hands and feet (he has sharp teeth!). By the way, I named him: Μάιμου (pronounced: My-ee-moo) it means “monkey” in Greek.

I’m making a little list of the things I’ve found different here on Paros and things I’ve had to get used to (pretty general, there are exceptions to some things). It’s interesting to see the differences and compare them to other countries. Bare with me since the bullet points weren't working so I separeted the points with periods - keep in mind this is for a small Greek island and the place I live at, other parts of Greece would be different I'm sure:

There is no cable internet just the slower dial-up kind (at the part of the island I live at).....You cannot flush any toilet paper down the toilet as it will clog, it all goes into the trash instead.....The work and store hours are a lot different: work is usually from 8:00-2:00 and you come back at 6:00 to work in the evenings, except Wednesdays and Saturdays when everything closes at 2:00 for the day. On Sunday’s most things are closed.....We hang stuff to dry instead of using a dryer.....There are no street names or house numbers; everyone just goes to the post office to pick up their mail.....Going to the beach and/or having a nap is a daily thing.....Lunch is around 2:00-3:00 and dinner is at 9:00-10:00.....Everyone has mesh over the windows to keep the bugs out since the windows are open all the time.....No one follows the speed limit, it’s just some number on a sign that you ignore.....Pedestrians have no right of way at all.....The food is delicious!.....Everything shuts down in the winter since all the tourists leave and young adults go to college in Athens or elsewhere.....All buildings have to be white (some aren’t, but if they get a complaint, they have to change it).....All the cinema’s are outdoor on the island.....Paper work takes forever.....No one is in a rush (except when they are driving).....It’s popular to go for “coffee” in the evenings (although it usually comprises of a milkshake, smoothie, or dessert instead of coffee, since it’s in the evenings).....Fries made right from the potato are popular, not the frozen kind that is the usual in North America. In fact it seems that most things are made from scratch, I haven’t had any ready made food yet.....You can swim until November.....I have barely seen any clouds in the past month and a half; it is strange to see them when they do show up.....Cats are everywhere but Greeks don’t seem to like them, they are just around to catch mice.....Island hoping is cheap to do but some islands have a ferry coming once every few days so plan ahead. In the winter they are way less frequent as well. Paros is one of the main port islands, so it’s pretty easy to get there.

I guess those are it for now!


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bye Tony, Stay Safe!!!!

Well last night I had to say my “good-byes” to Tony as he headed off to the Army for a year. He is stationed in Corinth right now but will move to another place (unknown) in about 1-2 months. He will be able to visit every couple weeks for the first few months but it still feels like I won’t see him for a long time. It’s not the same without him here. Now, instead of feeling like a tourist and a guest at Tony’s parent’s house, I’ve got to start becoming localized and eventually move into my suite and start working. Since I’ll be on my own more now, I’m going to take the opportunity to do some major Greek studying and I may start painting once I move into my place.

A few days ago we went back to the caves at Marathi. This time we came prepared with warmer clothes and a flashlight. We went quite far into the cave and it was like a maze! You could really get lost down there! We ended up coming out of a different cave nearby. Some areas of the caves were so small you had to crawl on your hands and knees. I’m definitely going back there to explore!


Monday, August 07, 2006

Cliff Jumping

Yesterday, Tony and I hung out with our friends Alekos and Kostas (who had just come to Paros a few days before) and his cousin Yiorgos. We went to a beach first called Matzelo; it’s one of the closest beaches to home. There was a concrete dock there that we all jumped off of. While I ran off the dock to dive in, I punctured my heel on one of the little stones on the dock! It hurt! Below: Matzelo and the boys: Tony, Kostas, Alekos, and Yiorgos.

After the beach, we decided to go to a nearby cliff at St.Focas and jump it. It was about 8 metres high. It took a little while to build up the nerve but it was fun once you just went for it! We did a little bit of snorkling too.

Lately, it’s been in the high 30’s and humid! Basically all day, you feel sticky and sweaty (you would die in a car, that's why I'm glad I have my bike!). At night it’s more manageable but I think all of August will be like this. We try to do the painting and stuff earlier in the day so we can race to the beach in the afternoon and cool off.

Tony leaves on Wednesday for the Army. : ( He has to do a bunch of errands before he goes so he’s busy! I’m finishing up a website for a local hotel so that’s keeping me busy too. It’ll be done soon though; then I start my fulltime job at a Graphic Design office on Aug 20. Should be interesting!


Friday, August 04, 2006

Silky Smooth

Today was a long but fun day! We did some errands in the morning including opening a bank account. We started painting when we got home and got a lot done; probably a few more days and it’ll be done! Silas came down to help for a while too. Sanding the window below:

After working on the suite for a few hours we all (Tony, Silas, Sophia, Linda, me) headed to a beach near Marmara. This was a great beach! Tony and me went snorkeling and there were such neat rock formations in the water. There was a large rock out in the water right below the surface so when we stood on it, it looked like we were standing on the water.

There is also natural mud there that you can put on your skin. It’s powder that you get from the cliffs and you add water to make a paste and you stick it everywhere; on your face, body, and hair. I thought it was just for fun but when I took the mud off, if left my skin soooo soft and even my hair was silky soft! We had fun playing cavemen and doing all the silly things people drenched in mud would do! Next time I come here, I'm bringing a jar so I can take home some of the mud!