Archive for August, 2010

Trip to Greece: part 3

August 19th, 2010

This is part 3 of 4 of my series about my trip to Greece. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

Days 11-12 Mykonos

The Ferry to Mykonos IMG_0525 Hotel cat Beach Tiny church Restaurant pelican IMG_0515 Nutella

We got on another ferry and headed south to Mykonos, which as anyone who’s skimmed a Greece travel book at Borders for 3 minutes can tell you is the “gay” island. Not to be confused with Lesbos (the lesbian island, obviously) Mykonos has a fair share of gay bars and clubs that would fit right in with the Castro. Hell, there’s even a gay bar called Kastro.

But it’s not all just drunk gay people trying to dance; there’s also some of the nicest beaches in Greece. And our hotel was associated with a surprisingly excellent beachfront restaurant. (A good restaurant — that’s something you won’t find in the Castro! PWND.) If you wanted, you could sit on the beach under an umbrella and order food and drinks… assuming they ever served you (more on this later.)

The old port of Mykonos boasts nightlife and excitement. It’s a town with extremely narrow streets and plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants. We ate a place there that would have been forgettable except we were visited first by a hungry calico cat, and then by a rather large pelican. I really wish I’d gotten a better picture of that pelican.

Mykonos is not a cheap place by any standard. They cater to tourists and will gouge you every way they can. I paid 14 Euros for a bloody mary that may have well been a virgin bloody mary. I’m not joking here — 14 Euros is like $18 USD — and there was less alcohol in it than in a can of PBR.

In spite of the prices, many underage British girls were getting drunk, then puking and passing out. Given how narrow and crowded the streets are, you have to wonder how they would get an ambulance to take care of the wealthy children ODing on booze.

All that said, Mykonos is very laid back and if you’re looking to spend some time hanging out at a warm beach, you couldn’t do better.

Days 13-15: Santorini

IMG_0740 Eric Greek walking Banksy t-shirt Wires Sunset-watching tourists Coca-Cola The Gang Captain Ilias and crew Sleepy cat

Santorini is allegedly the site of Atlantis, before a volcano blew up the island sometime around 1600 BC. Or something like that… unfortunately their museum had some structural problems and closed up (OMG CONSPIRACY) so I didn’t get to see any evidence of this firsthand.

Every tourist on Santorini is basically required to visit the quaint little town of Oia, where you can see a picture-perfect sunset against the water while hanging out on the little blue and white stucco buildings.

The highlight of this island was a yacht cruise around the island. For some reason, the crew let Ilias be captain on the way back. Considering he was significantly more sober than the real captain, this may have been a good choice.

The final day on Santorini, we spent some time at Fira, the old port town. People still ride donkeys here, a good idea since there’s no room for cars, and it’s more than 500 stairs between the port and the city. You’d better believe those donkeys have some buff legs.

Day 16: Monastiraki

OBEY Faert The church Lucifair

No vacation is complete without buying touristy junk for your friends and family. Thankfully, Athens has a “flea market” area just for this: Monastiraki. Overpriced t-shirts with embarrassing slogans, bead stores, kitschy decor, it’s all here! You can also find pretty much any olive-related product ever made. And there was a store called “Faert” which was unfortunately closed at the time.

You don’t have to be a linguistic genius to figure out that “monastiraki” might have something to do with a monastery. And yes, this mecca of shopping happens to have a small church in the middle. And right next to the church was a store called “Lucifair.” Seems appropriate. That reminds me, I’m looking for investors in my plan to build a pork butcher, alcohol, and pornography store next to a mosque. Let me know if you’re interested.

Little sidewalk guy’s Tom Shane-hating friend

August 19th, 2010

The little guy on the sidewalk we saw recently has a friend who has a strong distaste for a certain diamond salesman.



I wonder how he feels about Paul at the Diamond Center?

(Spotted at 2nd and King)


August 19th, 2010


Spotted at Noisebridge.

Trip to Greece: part 2

August 17th, 2010

This is part 2 of 4 of my series about my trip to Greece. Part 1 is here.

Days 6-7: Corfu

Awesome shower/jacuzi Sidari sunset Hotel patioGreek walking Yee-haw! IMG_0267

We drove our car onto a boat and went to the island of Corfu. Ilias had booked us an incredibly nice hotel; great beach, lovely balcony… actually who cares about any of that? The jacuzzi bathtub was all I needed to see to fall in love with the place. I could have lived in that bathtub.

This was the island where I started to notice a phenomenon I’ve nicknamed “Greek walking.” Basically you get two people, sometimes more, onto a little Italian motor scooter and zip around the tiny streets at ridiculous speeds. Safety equipment? Leave it at home, pussy.

Even though it’s a beautiful island, Corfu is touristy as hell. In particular it seems to be a place for British tourists to go, as evidenced by the drunk 13 year old British teens singing along to celebrity impersonator Amy Housewine at a bar down the street from the hotel. But the most touristy part is Sidari, which you should avoid at all costs. It’s like Fisherman’s Wharf, except in Greece. It’s really almost exactly the same.

On the other side of the island, Corfu has an old-school port town with narrow streets, deafeningly loud cicadas, and more Vespas per square inch than I’ve ever seen in my life. I was really glad not to be behind the wheel here; Vespas were zipping around our car on both sides! Chaos on the street.

Day 8: The Cabin in Matsouki

Tunnel FISHIES Boats

After ferrying out of Corfu, we took a long road trip through some more tunnels — did I mention the tunnels yet? No? Well, major roads in Greece tend to fall into one of two categories: 1. Goat paths and 2. Freeway tunnels. Until recently, there weren’t many freeways in Greece it seems. Now they’re building like crazy, replacing their old barely-paved roads with heavy-duty freeways that tunnel right through hills and under bodies of water. It’s like 19th century meets 21st century, and not much in between.

Anyway, we hit up a little town on the way to Ilias’ father’s cabin and had some fresh fish for dinner, then we completely neglected to get gas. Oops. That evening we contemplated siphoning gas from other cars, but ultimately were saved when the bread man came by (you know, like a milkman, but for bread) and told Ilias that a nearby gas station was rumored to have gas. This turned out to be true and saved our asses in a major way, and if I ever run into the bread man I’ll give him a big juicy and total non-homoerotic kiss.

Day 9: Mycenae

IMG_0365 Dogs at Mycenae "Treasury" Switchboard

More old rocks? Yes, but you’ll recognize the Lion’s Gate of Mycenae from your middle school history textbook. Still, not much is left of the place, and crappy archeological work didn’t help preserve what little still stands.

Unlike other historical sites, this was more of a dog place than a cat place. The dogs were running around like crazy and begging for food. Marc fed one of the dogs some chips and made a friend for life.

After a brief visit to the museum and a stop for pizza, we headed down for a traditional Greek play, which the non-Greeks among us could only understand thanks to Wikipedia on Marc’s iPhone. Seeing a play in a traditional stone amphitheater was a refreshingly new and different experience, but my ass still prefers the comfortably padded seats at the IMAX.

That night we stayed at hotel with some strange fire safety rules and an antique phone system that they stole from Lily Tomlin.

Day 10: Acropolis

Greek metro IMG_2433 Acropolis Niki, Eric, Ilias in and the Caryatids Peroni Niki, Marc, Ilias, Yanni Greek Salad

Back in Athens, the four of us took public transit to Greece’s best known historical site, the Acropolis. Before we get into that, their public transit is actually quite nice. Athens is a county about the size of the entire SF peninsula, maybe a bit larger. They have a brand-new Metro system and large buses, all of which you can ride for 1 Euro per 90-minute transfer.

The Acropolis is a beautiful old temple. Currently it’s being restored; the restoration has been underway for 20 years or so and it looks like things are nearing completion.

Down the hill, there’s a new and impressive museum about the history of the Acropolis which I highly recommend. It’s built on top of a bunch of ruins, so they have a glass floor where you can see what’s underneath. A lot of the statues, etc. that were once in the Acropolis are in the museum, and those that aren’t are handily labeled so you can see who stole them: the British Museum and the Vatican are the top two offenders. What a surprise!

After the museum, but unfortunately before having a chance to bathe the sweat off, we headed to an Italian joint and met up with one of Ilias’ friends, Yanni, for the evening.

Oh and in case you were wondering, yes even the Italian places serve Greek salads.

Trip to Greece: part 1

August 17th, 2010

This begins a 4 part series about my trip to Greece; the first two parts will be about the road trip, the third will be on the islands of Mykonos and Santorini, and the final installment will be a wrap-up of thoughts and conclusions about the trip.

Why write about it? It’s a lot easier than answering questions about what I did and saying the same thing each time. Instead I can just say “go look at my blog” and then go hide in a cave where I don’t have to deal with you people.

Day 1: Arrival in Athens

After 14 hours of plane flights/baby screaming sessions, Niki and I met up with Ilias at the airport, picked up our car, and got dinner. Every meal in Greece must have at least one Greek salad, which is basically bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, and feta. I think it’s a law.

This was also the day that we discovered the horrors of Greek plumbing. Their sewage system isn’t capable of handling toilet paper, so every bathroom has a foul-smelling little garbage can next to the toilet. You do NOT want to forget to take this out every night. Feces in a bucket + 100 degree weather don’t mix.

Day 2: Temple of Poseidon

IMG_0035 IMG_1649

Marc flew in from Spain, and our gang of four drove up some crazy highways to the Temple of Poseidon… or what’s left of it. Scumbag vandals like Lord Byron have left the place in poor shape.

Day 3: Delphi

Tuba music upsets the mighty Apollo! Temple of Apollo Apollo's cat

ROAD TRIP! We set out in our Hyundai Accident Accent on the open road for the driving portion of our trip. First stop: Delphi.

The once great city of Delphi is now a mess of rocks overrun by tourists and cats. The stadium and the theater are still pretty much intact, but as luck would have it you’re not allowed to go into either.

The Delphi museum may have had the weirdest photography policy I’ve ever heard: no flash, and no people. That’s right: you can take photos of everything in the museum, but you can’t take a picture of your friends standing next to a statue. Why? The folks who worked there didn’t explain.

It was also on the third day that we started to get worried about the gas crisis. You see, the truck drivers have a program quite similar to the SF taxi medallion program, and the Greek government wanted to float many, many more medallions to help with their budget deficit. This would pretty much wipe out the truck drivers’ retirement, so almost every gas truck driver went on an indefinite strike. We were afraid of getting stranded, but without gas there’s serious consequences to emergency services, medicine, and even food. A bad situation for everyone.

Day 4: Mt. Olympus

Mount Olympus Graffiti IMG_0094 Outlet at our four star hotel

The hike up Mt. Olympus is a grueling all-day hike with steep trails. It’s not for amateurs, which is why we decided not to do it. Instead we just took a hike around the side to a nearby waterfall, which is where the town’s water supply came from. In fact it wasn’t a trail we were walking on so much as an aqueduct.

Our hotel was pretty proud of the fact that they had FOUR STARS. Apparently though, having wiring that’s up to code does not factor into whatever equation gave them FOUR STARS. Luckily, no one suffered electrical burns.

Day 5: Agios Stefanos

Monastery sign Monastery Meowers Garden gate Monastery Restaurant Meteora

The surprising thing about this cliff-side monastery is how peaceful and serene it is, despite being a tourist magnet. The nuns feed the cats who live there and maintain the garden.

The view from the monastery is beautiful, and the little town below is actually kind of charming. We went to a restaurant there where in lieu of a menu, they took us to the kitchen and shows us what was available. I wish more restaurants would do this, it’s adorable. And the food was great.

This was also the worst day of the gas crisis. We had to take time to calculate the gas mileage we got in our Hyundai Accident Accent so far, and confirm that we would be able to make the next day’s drive without filling up the tank. It was a close call. This is also why you should always travel with nerds.

Stolen backpack (with illustration)

August 15th, 2010

Sure, you could just put up a poster that says “stolen backpack: reward.” But that wouldn’t get anyone’s attention, would it?


So they’re a student! Let’s hope for their sake that they’re not in art school.

(Spotted at 9th and Bryant. Note: the strange color stripes were not on the other copies of this poster, not sure what was up with that.)


August 15th, 2010

Rainbow Grocery sells a delicious and reasonably priced halloumi cheese called “Yanni.” Someone in the cheese department couldn’t resist making the obvious joke.


Really, Rainbow? If there are any Yanni fans among the transgendered socialists who shop at Rainbow, a boycott may be in order. Because if there’s any group that can’t take a joke, it’s Yanni fans.

PG&E joke

August 13th, 2010

Bob: “Huh, so the power at my house went out for a few hours while I was at work.”
Pat: “Oh really? How do you know that?”
Bob: “I have PG&E.”

Little guy on the sidewalk

August 12th, 2010



Spotted along 2nd street.


August 10th, 2010

Here’s the fire safety instructions from Hotel Galaxy in Loutraki, Greece:

Fire instructions

$10 says there’s a reason they don’t want you to call the fire department.

P.S. I’m now back in San Francisco, jetlagged and pooping out feta cheese.