syros. once again…

Back again. For Lainee, another surgery.

This year has just sucked so far – and we all thought 2020 was bad. 2021 has been way worse for me. It started with a visit to the hospital on Syros with Aunt 1 for a week in January. Then back for myself a couple of days later which turned into a month of hospitalization. Then back to Syros for Lainee’s first surgery. Now for another one. This time its hopefully prophylactic surgery – to keep the cancer from returning any time soon. Or ever.

I just spoke to the vet. Lainee was operated on yesterday and she’s doing well, is awake, ate, the wound is looking good and she’s not bothering it, she seems in a good mood. They want to keep her in one more night so I’ll stay till tomorrow.

Lucky there is another ferry tomorrow cause usually there’s only one every couple of days. Miss one and you have to add another two days to your stay most of the time.

I just want my girlie to be ok so that’s all that matters. That she’s well and gets to live a healthy long life from here on, so them keeping her one more night is good.

For now enjoy some photos… Firstly a plant that apparently grows wild on the hills here with huge white blooms. I haven’t seen this on Paros.

I took the bus to Kini Beach, a beach I’d only seen in passing when I was on Syros a few years ago. Unfortunately the day was windy and not hot enough to make me want to swim so I spent time relaxing on the beach till a group of twenty-somethings arrived with loud voices, loud music and cigarettes. Ugh.

Basically this is what I looked at most of the time on the beach:

So while here I’ve had a pedicure, walked around town, ate out and did some shopping. Its great to be ‘on holiday’ alone but it can get a bit boring when you’re just waiting. I’ve already shopped more than I planned to – but I’m cheap so I haven’t spent much. I got some bargain basement shorts and a top plus 3 nose rings cause they’re easy to lose. Those cost a whopping 1.5 euro each. Big spender.

Oh, I also bought some local honey from the lady who did my pedicure. Her father is a bee keeper here on Syros and I can’t resist pure honey. That almost cost more than the shorts and top together.

If I run into an audio shop on my way round town today I’ll look at microphones… see if I can find a good economically priced one for my foray into podcast/radio shows… who knows… Its on my ‘want’ list anyway.

Ok, this post is getting boring. I’ll end it here and go wander around town a bit. I was expecting to pick up Lainee today so I find myself at a bit of a loss now.

z

lockdown free (for now)

This post is a day late, but its to be expected. Greek Easter is a huge thing, bigger than Christmas. It was a big day for me, my first swim for the year, a family get together, lots of food, a nap cause the weather continues to be unseasonally and oppressively hot, then we girls got together again with mom and an aunt to make more goodies. Paximadakia this time. Two different types. One was my aunt’s recipe, one my mom’s.

Who had time for blogging?

My aunt Dora making the dough.
My mom giving instructions.
Lainee, bored of proceedings, takes a nap.

But today we wake up to a country where you can sit at a cafe or restaurant again. Restrictions still in place, but the lockdown is over and tourism opens officially on the 15th of this month.

I remain skeptical about it all as new cases in Greece remain well over 1000 per day, but hey, who am I anyway? Just a cynical blogger, not a government official…

Whatever.

If you’re looking for me I’ll be somewhere along here.

I am so looking forward to having a coffee out with a friend or two over the next week. Its what I missed most – being able to have a coffee seated somewhere that isn’t my house or my car!

z

home again – lockdown 2 day 169

To be honest I may have lost a day or two in my countdown due to not posting every day… but the fact remains that lockdown has gone on for most of a year now. And despite vaccinations being dispensed left right and center, we are still going to face some tough times ahead.

Red Easter Eggs

I’ve been doing mundane household things since getting back from Syros. In a country where summer is summer and winter is winter, the yearly exchange of clothing in the wardrobe is necessary. So this week I spent some time bringing the spring and summer stuff down from storage and putting away the winter stuff.

I haven’t yet put away my rugs, but that will come soon enough.

The flowers are beginning to bloom and the plants to shoot up. A lot of my seeds didn’t make it… thems the breaks I guess. Especially for someone like me who was born with a black thumb and has been trying hard to turn it green. I managed for a while in Australia, though I still manage to lose a high percentage of plants.

I just can’t get any aquilegia seeds to grow and it’s breaking my heart. I love my aquilegias (aka granny’s bonnets or columbines) and I miss them. I still have some seeds and right now I’m considering just tossing them out onto roadsides and see if anything comes up. Given they grow in the Tasmanian hot sun, they should grow in Greece. Sure, we don’t get frosts here, so maybe thats the problem… not cold enough in winter?

Who knows.

Koulourakia

Anyway, being Greek Easter this weekend I’ve been busy with Zefi making sweets. We don’t make the traditional koulourakia, we make our own version which we like better. Plus her daughter loves shortbreads so we made an emergency run to the supermarket last night just before closing to get some butter to make some of those too.

Today we’re dyeing eggs red. In the Orthodox Churches, Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, with further symbolism being found in the hard shell of the egg symbolizing the sealed Tomb of Christ — the cracking of which symbolized his resurrection from the dead.

Normally we gather at church on Saturday night, (good greeks having fasted before Easter) and wait for the priest to announce that Christ has risen at 12am, light our candles from the flame being passed down from the priests and crack eggs then rush home to eat traditional meat dishes. Of course this year the celebrations are subject to both social distancing and curfews. We will still crack eggs though and wish each other good health and happiness.

Anyway, I have eggs to dye.

Happy Easter.

z

st george – exploring syros 7

Soon as we got to the church of St George, guess what we found? You got it! MORE STEPS!

The inside of the church was gorgeous though. Beautiful artwork and colours.

Something you don’t see in greek orthodox churches: statues.

Something else you never see in a greek church: an organ!

I knew the church was old but the plaque surprised me. The first bishop (not sure if that’s the right term…) in the church is listed as having served in 343!!!!!

Since we were there, Zefi took the opportunity to repent for the nasty gesture she made going up the steps… About time too!

We visited another church on the way home cause when in Greece there is always another church to visit. That one is famous for having an icon by El Greco in it. We never actually noticed the icon. We looked around, lit candles and left. I think we were churched out by then. I know I was. Am. For a long time to come!

z

torture of 1000 steps – exploring syros 6

Yesterday afternoon we decided to visit the catholic church of St George up in Ano Syros (the old settlement) and people told us we should take a taxi up cause it was far and hard…

We scoffed and said ‘we ain’t afraid of no steps!’ and set off with Google maps showing us the way.

We started up the steps…

Gentle steps…

And saw the church up on the hill on a rare flat bit of road just before Ano Syros.

Then began the steeper steps.

Brutal steps.

Even steps to nowhere.

The views got better the higher we got.

Still more steps.

I conquered the steps.

Zefi wasn’t quite as polite…

But we made it and lived to tell the tale.

z

colours and textures of ano syros – exploring syros 5

I accidentally hit publish on this post before it was ready so now I’m playing catch-up.

These are some of my door, window and other texture pics from our walks around town. You know me and colours and textures… so enjoy.

And sorry for the pic heavy posts of late!

The table you have when you don’t have room for a table…

We even found a shop we loved the name of. Hard to explain… its a very cycladic way of saying ‘look’ or ‘look here’… my mom and Zefi’ mom both use it a lot and we love it. So ‘parian’.

I love the inscription on the tiny Vamvakaris Square in Ano Syros. Here is a link to explain what it means and the words to the famous song.

And here is the song itself by the man who wrote it. A sort of greek version of the nasally country music of the 40’s… (which I love btw! The nasally country music of the 40’s as well as this particular song.)

The Hasapiko can be danced as a slow dance but also as a fast dance and originated in Constantinople in the middle ages. The dance originated in the Middle Ages as a battle mime with swords performed by the butchers guild, which adopted it from the military.

Here is a Youtube link to a good hasapiko. I used to dance this with the boys when it was fashionable to do dance displays for the tourists way back…

Vamvakaris was a famous writer of rembetika songs from Syros.

Rembetika music is the music of the Greek Underground. It originated in the hashish dens of Pireaus and Thessaloniki around the turn of the 20th century and was influenced by oriental elements that came with the forced immigration of 2 million Greek refugees from Asia Minor.

Rembetika are basically songs for those from the ‘wrong side’ of the tracks, hence the grafitti…

z

loukoumia – exploring syros 4

Syros is famous for a few things, least not of which is their loukoumia (turkish delight) and their nougat. So, with Zefi pushing me to actually do some touristy stuff, we visited a factory to see how they’re made.

A nice man showed us around and explained the steps…. first the mix is boiled in these vats for a certain amount of time (ok, so I wasn’t paying that much attention!.

They still have a row of the old ones there which they rarely use any more, but since I love old things…

Once the goo is ready they pour it into flat trays are lined with flour to stop it from sticking. When it cools down they cut it into four in preparation for chopping into individual pieces.

Once the pieces are cut, a lady tosses them in flour and puts them in boxes.

The nougat is a whole other section but I didn’t get more than this one photo of the boiling mix. They were’t concentrating on making nougat at the time so there weren’t any in production.

It was interesting and smelled pretty nice in there. They gave us a taste of the turkish delight (which I’m not all that fussed about) and nougat (which I adore) before we left. It was a nice visit.

z

ag. nicholaos – exploring syros 3

Ag. Nicholaos (St Nick to his friends) is the biggest orthodox church on the island. In the Balkans too apparently according to a local.

Gotta love the church door with the lion head knocker.

Gorgeous colours in the church and lots of silver ornate icons.

More places to go, more sights to see.

Later.

z

asteria & vaporia – exploring syros 2

This morning after dropping Lainee at the vet, Zefi and I did some more sight seeing. We walked around the Asteria and Vaporia areas of Ermouplis. It is the perfect day to sight-see, not too hot, not cold, not too windy.

Tons of beautiful buildings and picturesque streets. Syros is so different to most of the Cyclades because of its neoclassical and Venetian style.

Lots of narrow streets but I think we found the narrowest…

Good for that drunk walk home – staggering from one wall to another, no room to fall. Although, if you did fall, it might be a challenge getting up again…

Lots of pretty cats.

And a cat feeding station. I saw quite a few of them around town..

Plus more requisite window and door pics.

I just love these crumbling old buildings… though I really wish I had the money to buy and restore one or five.

Different shutters here too. These one hinge in the middle so you can open only part. Pretty handy.

Tons more to come in the explore Syros series.

z

syros & lainee – lockdown 2 day 162

We’re back on Syros again. This time with Zefi for company and its Lainee who’s going to hospital.

Soon as we got to the hotel Lainee made herself comfortable on Zefi’s bed. So much for mom and all the love and care she gets!

Then again, maybe there’s method to her treacherous little ways… after all, its not me who has to sleep with my knees under my chin on half a bed…

If you think a small poodle doesn’t take up a lot of room, just ask Zefi!

First thing we did was walk around town. I love the quiet streets and the old mansions in this non-tourist season. It really is a beautiful town. I’d like to see it in summer, cafes and restaurants open, to see some of the small streets come alive, despite tourists.

Zefi in her usual theatrical pose outside city hall. No cafes to sit at so everyone buys take away coffee and food and sits outside.

No photo collection of mine would be complete without a photo of an old door…

Or an interestingly framed photo. I’m never all about happy snaps.

Then back to the room for a rest and dressing change for Lainee. I love this photo. It really is like changing a baby, pulling on her onesie… and so much less disgusting than changing pooey nappies.

Lainee is so good, I flip her onto her back and she just lays there quietly till I’m done. I’ve even walked off to get something and told her to stay and she remains where I left her. She’s an angel. I can’t resist giving her tons of kisses.

She made a few new friends and left lots of ‘in your face Syrian dogs’ pees around town. She was a hit with people too with her onesie and little bands.

Pizza for dinner then some more napping for Lainee – always on Zefi’s side of the bed! Good girl Lainee.

I’m going to call these my Exploring Syros Series, kind of part of the lockdown series but separate as well.

z