Thursday, 28 July 2011

New Beginnings

After the endings (see previous post) new beginnings commence… I started my new job this Monday!!!

I have to admit that I didn’t sleep that well on Sunday night! It’s not like I was stressed about the job itself, I knew that the first day would be uneventful. However, I had a constant worry about being late! I kept on waking up every hour, an hour and half, startled checking the clock. At the end I arrived well in advance and I had a coffee in a nearby coffee shop.

My first days at work were pretty much as expected. Most of my new colleagues are away on holidays and there are many empty desks at the moment. I’m being told everything I need to know about the systems I’ll be handling. The data stored is related to the finances of the company. There are things and procedures I’m not familiar with but I hope I’ll be fine. I’m not worried about the IT stuff, although the responsibility level has increased since the data is related to lots and lots of thousands of pounds.

My new manager is quite a character. He is fairly short and round with long beard. The only thing missing is an axe and he could play a dwarf at Lord of the Rings. He does swear a lot and is so politically incorrect. The first day he mentioned some stuff to me I would never ever say to a person I first met! Thus, I might need to increase my ‘macho’ level. Maybe start frantically following a soccer team, pick my nose in public once or twice, scratch my balls or spit on the floor! OK, that might be a bit too much… At first I was worried but I saw my younger female colleague telling him off so much, it was quite funny. He even accepts it with a loud laughter. So, hopefully he is a dog who barks but doesn’t bite. I’ll be a bit careful though.

You’ll have to excuse me though because I will be blogging less frequent than before. I can’t type anything while being at work now. I’m in probation period anyway and I have to be extra careful. In addition, while being in the office I am generally more tense than before in an unfamiliar new environment with all this new things to learn. That means that when I get home I feel pretty exhausted and I don’t even turn my PC on.
At least I look good in a suit…

Friday, 22 July 2011


Although I had an amazing time on holidays, I’m now back and I have to face reality:

Today is my last day in my (now old) job!
That’s the first job I’ve started after finishing my postgraduate degree in that foreign county I know call home. It was weird cleaning out my desk yesterday. I’ve been in that same job for more than 3.5 years and it’s the very first proper 9 – 5 (approximately) job I ever had. I’ve learnt so much here and I met some wonderful and some not so wonderful people. I believe that I’ll leave with some very good memories.

I remember the first day I arrived at work, in our old building when my company was still a branch of a bigger national. Just before the recession we became independent which was actually perfectly timed. Anyway, I hadn’t asked about the dress code and I arrived in suit and tie. Things here are far less formal and everybody was in jeans. Of course they made fun of me! I had troubles remembering everybody’s names and I mixed a few. I was also too self cautious to do anything like go get a cup of coffee or even go to the toilet. I was such a newbie (understandably). I didn’t know how people in England work.

I was amazed at the way people took their lunch brakes. Everybody simply gets up and leaves, minding their business. At first I found that rude, even if it seems so natural now. The first days I always asked in the open plan office if anybody would like something from outside before getting up to go have my lunch. I was always getting negative replies, so I stopped doing it.

What’s also funny is the day we first went all together to the local pub. I wasn’t still very familiar to the pub culture and I didn’t know the rules. I hadn’t learnt that the most serious work meetings take place in the pub and that you learn so much about your work and colleagues there. I even had my progress meetings there! I didn’t know about the beer rounds and how you never offer money for your drink but instead you offer the next drink round when available! Anyway, during my first visit to the pub with my colleagues I did the moral sin of asking for coffee! Almost everybody was amazed! Being Greek, having a coffee at 5:30 on Friday afternoon seemed normal! I would never do the same mistake…

I am lucky enough that today, my last day, is the day of my company’s ‘Summer Treat’. That means that we’ll all go out and enjoy our day! We’ve planned a visit to the Olympic village to take a tour in the newly built Stadiums and then for dinner. That means that everybody will be there and I don’t have to plan goodbye drinks with possible people not making it.

According to custom, I’ll soon receive a goodbye card, a small gift and a small speech. I hope I don’t get emotional (that will be embarrassing). On Monday morning I have to check in my new job… New rules, new people… How exciting (and stressful)!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Summer Holidays 2011, Part III

The last part of our trip was the island of ‘Santorini’. That island is in the same group of island as Naxos called ‘Cyclades’. What’s amazing and unique about this island is its morphology. The island used to be round, called Stroggili, or ‘στρογγύλι’ (στρογγυλός = round in Greek). Around 1650BC the volcano in the centre of the island erupted. 30 cubic kilometres of magma were released creating one of the most catastrophic volcano explosions recorded.

The force of this eruption and the weight and volume of the magma caused the round island to collapse creating one of the biggest craters, calderas, of the world. Vast volumes of sea water tried to fill the generated gap. The tsunami waves created by this explosion destroyed the vast ancient Minoan civilisation in Crete which is believed to be related to the lost Atlantis myth.

Below is an image of how the island looks today from the sky. Thira is the capital of the island with houses overlooking the caldera. Therasia, Aspronisi and the island of Santorini (Thira) used to form the old island of Stroggili. Kameni island is the volcanic island created in the middle.

Santorini as it is today

The areas overlooking the caldera are very rough. There are steep cliffs and houses are built right on the top providing amazing views of the sea below. The views of the island are exquisite and unique. Everywhere you look it's like a postcard. The island is covered in dark volcanic sand and you cannot find the lovely sandy beaches found in the rest of the islands of the same groups. Santorini is probably the opposite of our previous destination, Naxos.

The busy harbor with cruise ships and the volcanic island in the back

Splendid views

That's the entrance of a local house

The island is quite touristic with lots of cruise ships visiting. Also because of the wonderful sights, the island is a unique destination for honeymoon goers and people wanted to get married there. The prices are a bit high and the facilities provided are of high standards.

The sunset at Fira

The sand is dark coloured, volcanic and very hot. The water is cool and crystal clear though

Visiting the Ancient city of Thira. It was amazing to see and imagine the busy streets, houses and the way people lived at ancient times.

That balcony looks amazing

During our stay there JJ had his birthday. Of course it was planned like that. I was sure he would love the island. For the day I booked a cruise around the caldera on a catamaran. We visited a bay that is not accessible by car or foot to swim. Then we went swimming to the hot sulphur springs next to the volcano. It was a bit weird to swim in hot sea water knowing it was heated by the volcano itself. Next we were taken for an amazing seafood feast onboard overlooking the sunset. It was really nice, romantic and I’m glad he liked it.

The volcanic island looks like a place from Mars

The village of 'Oia'

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Summer Holidays 2011, Part II

We arrived to the island of Naxos without a problem. I have a friend living there permanently and he gave us a lift to the studios we had booked with some tips regarding the island. Generally the island is big, the biggest of the Cyclades. There are lots of things to do including water sports, hiking, visiting archaeological dig sites or simply relaxing on the beach.

'Portara', part of the Apollo's Temple during sunset

The harbor's wave breaker

local shops near the port

The main village where the harbour is has all needed amenities from lovely small restaurants by the sea, shops and a nice sandy beach. However, we do like to explore, so we rented a car to drive around. What we generally did was stay on the beach relaxing till later on the afternoon and then drive around the island.

That's JJ in the back enjoying the water...

a lovely donkey trying to find a shade

The west coast is busy with lots of beach bars and people when the east coast is pretty much isolated. Locals believe that driving for 30 minutes to go to the east coast is too much for them! The centre of the island has picturesque little villages, interesting sites and great views of the sea and we tried to get a glimpse of everything. We stayed on the west coast where we enjoyed drinks and coffees in beach bars and we also tried skinny dipping in an amazing empty bay of the east.


The view from our balcony

store with local products

I even went diving. I left JJ on the beach to enjoy the sun and the sea and I went to a local diving centre. I hadn’t been scuba diving since last year June, so I selected a fairly easy dive, not too deep, to a reef in front of the beach. I wanted to remember the procedures and how to operate the equipment. They provided the gear and the guide. My diving buddy was Rolf, from Norway, who’s been visiting the island for years. Apparently Naxos is a very popular destination to Norwegians. We got along quite well and we had our fun. It was amazing being underwater for 45 minutes in clear blue waters! I simply loved it. I was thinking of organising a second dive on the second island we would visit but I didn’t like to leave JJ all alone on the beach. I also had a disposable underwater camera with me. When I get these photos, I’ll let you know…

That's the beach where we were left alone

Me, enjoying the sun...

We generally loved Naxos. It is not spoiled by excessive tourism and was perfectly combining sandy lovely beaches, good food, friendly locals and reasonable prices. It would definitely loved to go back.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Summer Holidays 2011, Part I

We just got back from our holidays in Greece and I have to say we had an amazing time there! It was exceeding expectations. All went according to plan (airplanes, hotels, ferries) and we had no problems at all! The selected destinations were proven to be perfectly combined as well.

The first part of our trip was Athens! We stayed there for a couple of days, at my brother’s place. I did find it a bit surreal that I was staying with my boyfriend at his place. I know I’ve come a long way since my closeted adolescent days but it felt very good to be all together like that. They also went along quite well. The four of us, including his girlfriend, we spent all evenings together after they finished work for dinner and drinks.

The first day we were in Athens, I took JJ up the ‘Acropolis’. I hadn’t been there in years and it was very nice to see the Parthenon again. It’s amazing to think that it’s a building more than 2500 years old! Of course it changed and was reconstructed through the years but I always feel astounded looking at it. It was very nice to reread about the area and its significance. I was also happy to see that JJ wanted to visit the site and learn about it.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

The Erechtheum

The Temple of Athena Nike (410BC)

The Propylea (entrance to the site) full of tourists

After the Acropolis, we visited the new ‘Acropolis Museum’. I was amazed at the work they’ve done. The museum looks very professional and well designed. The ground floor is transparent and the visitor is able to see the ancient city underneath the museum! There are many items and statues of the site and projections and models reconstructing the site through the years.

The entrance of the museum

The many levels

That's how the lower level was visible from above and yours truly (I am now more tan)

There’s an incident that happened there which still makes me laugh. On the museum ground floor, there are quite a few items like urns, pots and cooking utensils on display. Underneath each item there is the description of their construction date and translation of any inscription displayed. So, I naturally went through them. I was looking at an ancient urn and I read underneath it: ‘3rd century BC, scene of a dedication to the Goddess Athena’ and I heard a comment behind me:
‘Do you see that? They write about Jesus! If the Ancients Greeks knew that Christ was coming, then it means that He must be real!’
It took me a while to understand what that woman meant but when I did, my jaw dropped. Apparently she confused the ‘BC’ on the caption and she thought that Greeks knew about the coming of Christ! I couldn’t but burst into laughter and walk away!

The visit to the museum was impressive. After that though, reality hit us when we went back to the city centre and the ‘Syntagma Square’. There are people now permanently living there, protesting for the current economic situation. Some of the people I talked to agree with the protest and every night join them peacefully to shout their disapproval, strike or march when agreed. Others believe that these people only create problems for those trying to get to work and earn their living.

The second and final day of our visit to Athens, we drove to ‘Sounion’. That’s the tip of the Attica peninsula where an amazing temple dedicated to Poseidon was built around 440 BC. The temple is built right on the top of the hill and the view of the sea surrounding it is amazing. On our way back to Athens we went swimming to a nearby beach.

The next morning we took the ferry to the island of Naxos.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

5 on the Fifth

Welcome to the 25th '5 on the fifth', a posting where you share 5 photographs taken on the days leading to the 5th of the month. It's organised by Stephen from 'The State of the Nation UK'. This month's theme is 'Silver'.

Here are my pictures from the London Pride.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Characters of the London Pride 2011

As I've mentioned I generally loved our day out on Saturday. Following my previous post, these are some pictures of some more 'colorful' people taking part in the parade or the after parties:

I loved this 'Dorothy' outfit. It was really well made.

This master with his slaves are a common site on the parade

I managed to capture this photo of intimacy