Fat Naked Man Beach

It was our 2nd to last day on the island and I needed to go for another long run. This one actually felt a little bit easier the first half than the previous one. That being said, I was devastated when I ran by the small market at the 4 mile mark where I usually purchased water on the way back. I knew that I couldn’t turn around at the halfway point and find water anywhere else. I was faced with a decision: continue to run farther into the town of Massouri or cut my run much shorter. Since I was feeling pretty good so far, I decided to just keep going and in the end not only did I run 14.5 miles, but it was no where near as tough as the week before.

After choking down some protein recovery drink (Hammer – it’s the best!) mixed with electrolytes (Xood – they’re the best!), I joined Suzee, Greg and Bentley over at our standby, the Artistico Cafe. I was feeling a bit nauseous and didn’t particularly feel like eating but some left over pizza, a bit of salad and some coffee kicked me back into normal mode.

The four of us had decided that we wanted to visit another island. While the rest of the crew stayed behind to climb, we took the ferry to Talendos in search of a gorgeous beach. After tromping around quite a bit we ended up on a nude beach and by nude beach I mean beach with 8 fat naked white guys and then, a little ways farther down, other people with swimsuits on. The best part is that you can only see fat naked-man butt from the top of the cliff, discouraging you from going below, but then once you get down, you realize, oooh, no, they just decided to plop themselves down at the bottom of the stairs because they are too lazy to walk farther.

Photo: Greg Brooks

When I do a really long run my hunger pains come instantaneously and with force so about mid-afternoon I suddenly had to eat and had to eat now. I left my three travel companions at the beach and headed into town for food. The man running the restaurant where I chose to eat wasn’t as fluent in English as most Greeks and we had a few “whose on first” moments that included me trying to find out where the bathroom was and him bringing me baked chicken when I ordered lamb kebobs: awesomely confusing moment.

That night at Artistico, Irene and George’s son had gone out harvesting sea urchin and he explained how they were harvested, opened a few up and allowed us to taste them. I wouldn’t go seeking out urchin in the future, but it was a memorable experience.

Photo: Greg Brooks

Vathi!

Our 7th day in Greece was the first day of full sunshine that we’d seen in awhile and we were all SO thankful. We planned a big trip for the day: to Vathi, a port town near Pothia.

The road to Vathi is one of the newest additions to the island; it’s corners were much less fear-inducing than those on the rest of the roads and it’s pavement was super smooth. It included a long descent into the agricultural farmland of the island: orchards filled with citrus fruit, olive groves and a visible lack of goats.

Vathi’s name comes from the Greek word meaning “deep or depth” or “deep harbor,” which is exactly what we found when we arrived: a picturesque harbor filled with small fishing boats and a long deep channel out to sea.

Photo: Greg Brooks

We really wanted to go to Vathi to take advantage of the deep water soloing. It was one of the reasons that Kalymnos was even on our radar. While we had intended to charter a boat to get to the cliffs, it turns out that most of the restaurants in the square will simply take you to the cliffs on boats for free, provided that you eat lunch at their restaurant when you return. We were, to borrow Michelle’s word, dubious to say the least. Despite the fact that people had been overwhelmingly generous in a trustworthy way our entire trip, the American in all of us still said, “but wait, what’s the catch?”

The catch was that the boat doesn’t stay. The captain literally left us on the side of a cliff and pointed to a cluster of rocks in the corner of the small cove and said with a very thick Greek accent, “tiny beach.”

Photo: Erik Moore

So, here we were, on the side of a cliff, with a tiny beach for two, in the sunshine and beautiful water, left to jump and climb to our heart’s contents. I’m not sure if you know this but I LOVE jumping off things.

Photo: Erik Moore

The boys climbed in the cave here and there, but apparently the deep water soloing is lackluster in Greece compared to the amazing crags that have been discovered on Lake Travis. Ellen snorkeled and taught me about sea urchins. Erik took photos. I jumped off the cliff a whole bunch. Greg and Suzee hung out on the tiny beach. Erik commented that he “really wanted to go to the beach but it was already too crowded.”

Photo: Greg Brooks

Our captain returned, as promised, exactly two hours later and we headed back to Vathi to eat lunch at the restaurant as promised. Ellen, Suzee and I also picked up some really amazing scarves. Side note: I was told to take scarves to Europe to blend in and now I, who at first said, “pffffft, me, in scarves! I scoff at that!” am now obsessed.

That evening, our hosts Dimitri and Evie had secured for us a leg of goat that was roasted similar to a pot roast along with pearl onions and potatoes. It was one of the last things on our Greece Bucket List to check off.

The Sikati Cave

You wake up. Slug a bunch of percolator coffee and stuff some Greek yogurt and abs fitness cereal in your face. It’s slathered in the most amazing honey you’ve ever had. You all get on scooters and begin a terrifying ride over a mountain pass littered with goats, one random street sweeper and various scree, rocks and miscellany that could seriously impale itself into your skin if your scooter crashed.

When you arrive, you walk 50 minutes through some goat gates, across some hills and dales and there, in the distance, you see it. The Sikati Cave. And there, just below it, a private beach. Well, private to you and the goats that followed you here.

Photo: Erik Moore

The Sikati cave is located on the northeast rim of the island and although climbers call it Sikati, the locals call it Alatsia. It’s less cave and more gigantic hole in the ground: it has no roof, is as tall as 70 meteres on some sides and 60 meters across. To get there, you descend down a fixed line into the depths of the cave.

Photo: Erik Moore

The walls, when you descend down the fixed line, is filled with tufas and stalactites.

Photo: Erik Moore

The boys started warming up while us ladies sat back and enjoyed the view and explored dead goat bodies. There were a few goats lingering inside the cave, up high on some of the walls above the climbs. I was concerned for their safety, of course. We found two dead and decomposing goats down below.

Photo: Greg Brooks

I finally determined by the proliferation of goat shit on the ground and the lack of dead goats that the goats do frequently come into the cave and are clearly able to get themselves out. Whew.

Photo: Erik Moore

The climbing in the cave was incredible. The boys all took turns on one particularly wild and inspiring 25m route, a 7b+ (5.12c) called Morgan. It was nothing but overhanging power moves all the way to the top.

Climber: Eric Bentley Photo: Erik Moore

Climber: Greg Brooks Photo: Erik Moore

Bentley climbed first and watching him made my heart race a bit. The climbers we had seen on the route before him had a tough time and honestly, watching someone climb on something so long, so enduring and requiring such strength made me very nervous. He managed to send the climb though and we were all really excited for him.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/31875914]

It was less and less nerve-wracking with each boy that went and they all did a great job. Before too long though, Suzee, Ellen and I were itching for our private beach afternoon so we bailed. I wasn’t kidding when I said we had to share.

Photo: Erik Moore

The water was warm, shallow and amazing. The goats, after first checking to see if we had anything to eat, meandered off. It was one of the more memorable places I’ve been.

After a long much more arduous hike back out to the road, we were on our way back to the villa. After warm showers for the first time in a few days, a few of us went over to the Artistico Cafe for happy hour.

Photo: Greg Brooks

That night we feasted at Harry’s like kings again: zuchinni croquettes, meatloaf with hardboiled eggs hidden in the middle, steamed spinach and a really amazing curry chicken. It wouldn’t be a birthday (Greg’s this time!) without Ouzo shots, though I skipped out this time, and some Greek yogurt for desert. Greek Yogurt: it’s not just for breakfast.

Rain Rain Rain

Our fifth full day in Kalymnos we woke up to strong rainstorms for the third time. We sat inside at Harry’s and spoke with the family over a long leisurely breakfast. We sat on our porches and read some more. Erik, Blaine and Ellen holed up in their villa and watched movies on Erik’s ipad. Greg, Suzee, Bentley and I headed over to the Artistico Cafe to try to break out of our cabin fever with a change of scenery, a delicious lunch and a game of spades.

Photo: Erik Moore

Photo: Greg Brroks

Photo: Greg Brooks

By mid afternoon, the sun was finally peeking out, the rest of our crew had emerged from their rooms, and we had been drinking for quite some time. We decided to head into Massouri to break up our day and do some emailing and general interneting at our wifi go-to spot, the Ambiance Cafe. It also gave me a chance to pick up souvenirs for home: really hysterical pompom topped wool house slippers for Buddy, the little girl I babysit for, and myself and some leather Greek sandals for my mom and I.

Photo: Erik Moore

After souvenir shopping, I joined the rest of the group at the cafe and we spent a few hours passing around Suzee’s computer and Erik’s Ipad, drinking beer and watching the sunset.

Photo: Erik Moore

Our hosts, Evie and Dimitri, had been included in a small local guidebook filled with stories of Kalymnos legends. One of the other stories had been of the Aegean Tavern, a restaurant in Massouri that is famous for their dumplings, a fried desert similar to a beignet but smaller and topped with honey. We were eager to try them. Apparently a lot of other folks had similar ideas as we were refused a table since we didn’t have a reservation. When another large party sat down to eat but changed their minds and immediately left, I took the initiative to haggle for their spot and our wishes were granted.

Photo: Erik Moore

Unfortunately, we were all underwhelmed by not only our meal but the dumplings in particular. They were cold and spongy – not at all how we imagined them. My main course was a disappointment: my grilled tuna, which I was able to hand select from a tray of fresh fish, was horribly overcooked. The highlight of the dinner was our appetizer of “little fried fish.”

Photo: Erik Moore

On top of our mild vacation calamities of rain and a bummer of a dinner, Greg and Suzee had the misfortune of a mild scooter crash on their way into town that night and Greg was extremely uncomfortable during most of dinner. It would become a daily ritual for us to force him to pull down his pants and show us his really amazingly bright hematoma.

Ass: Greg Brooks Photo: Erik Moore

Kalymnos Beach Days

The next day, our fourth full day in Kalymnos, we were all hoping to have a grand day filled with sun and surf. Instead, we had another day of clouds, rain and goats. That being said, Ellen, Suzee and I were more than happy to sleep in late while the boys all went climbing and lounge about drinking coffee and eating omelets and yogurt.

I decided to take a short run (4.5 mi) to wake my legs up after my long run a few days before and then ate a fantastic lunch at our little corner restaurant. My meal, the Captain Kostas Salad, was essentially a Greek Salad that was diced a bit finer (similar to a pico de gallo) and topped with prawns and octopus. Yum!

Since it was cold, overcast and rainy, instead of our planned beach day, Ellen, Suzee and I holed up on the porch in a row reading in blankets for hours.

Photo: Erik Moore

That evening it was Erik’s birthday, so we ended up having dinner at Harry’s and as it was a celebration (aka “when in Rome…”) we started our meal with ouzo. Ouzo is an anise-flavored aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece and Cyprus. It is very prominent in Greek culture. You sip it either straight in a glass the size of a shot or diluted with water in a glass the size of a pint. Either way it tastes like licorice meets alcohol and I did not care for it.

What I did love was our dinner. Because they did not expect a lot of guests that night, the menu was full of smaller appetizer sized portions. Dimitri suggested that instead of ordering, he would just bring us a little of this and that to eat family style. It was the first night that we did not order off the menu and it became the standard for how we would order dinner the rest of the trip. Our experience that evening was so fun and surprise filled that it became the most rewarding way not only for us to eat, but for Evie to cook. Our menu that evening consisted of feta cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and fried, Greek salad, drunken meatballs, the “drunk men’s snack,” steamed spinach, and aubergine croquettes with bacon (breaded and fried eggplant). It is still one of my most memorable meals from the trip.

After two days of birthdays, we still had one more left to celebrate but sadly, the birthday decorations wouldn’t last that long.

Photo: Erik Moore

The Grande Grotta

The Grande Grotta is one of the largest, most prominent and beautiful climbing areas in Kalymnos.

But of course, I needed coffee so I didn’t go there right away. Ellen, Suzee and I walked into Massouri and had coffee and breakfast from a wonderful little cafe that baked tiny sandwich pockets filled with delightful things like cheese and ham. We drank loads of coffee and watched men fish while the boys climbed.

Photo: Erik Moore

The climbs there were amazing: 40 meter long over hanging awesomeness. Sadly, I tried to follow one climb and made it about two feet before I realized that my body was so fatigued from the run the day before that it was absolutely futile to even attempt. Instead, I watched and it was worth the view. Mostly for the goats.

Photo: Erik Moore

But also for the climbing.

Photo: Erik Moore

The boys were buzzing with happiness over the routes they were able to get on. I followed Suzee, Greg and Bentley down to Massouri for more coffee and a beer while Blaine, Ellen and Erik stayed behind to climb. We were sitting at our favorite Massouri cafe, Ambience, run by a woman from Miami, for a relatively short time before it started to pour again. At the first break of the storm, we all decided to book it back to our village where more cold showers awaited us to avoid scootering in the rain. Most of us had already learned a valuable lesson three days in: do not bring only swimsuits on your Greek Island Vacation. Fleeces, more pants, and rain jackets would have been nice. In fact, Erik, Blaine and Ellen would get caught in such a downpour that the scooter engines would fail on their way home. I’m really happy I came back early!

You may think I’m exaggerating but this is the day in our vacation when we started doing a lot of this:

Photo: Greg Brooks

It’s also the day that we all started sitting around spending a lot of time doing nothing so we ended up hearing a lot of memorable quotes during stories, like the one where Bentley explained what he “learned from two lesbians on the internet.”

We didn’t quite have cabin fever yet but it would come.

Photo: Greg Brooks

Running in Greece

On our second day in Kalymnos we woke up to a drowning rainstorm. It was so violent in the night that it woke us up and we had to shut all the windows and shutters to keep them from banging too loudly. Needless-to-say, it was not meant to be a climbing day which worked out since quite a few of the boys wanted a rest day.

Breakfast has always been my favorite part of the day and when traveling it does not change. I loved my morning time there – yogurt and fruit or omelets filled with vegetables and feta made by Evie, along with loads of coffee.

Coffee in Greece is either nescafe, filtered (our version), or “Greek” which is actually Turkish coffee which Dimitri pointed out is actually Arabic coffee. In Greek coffee the grounds and sugar boiled down until they become a sludge and it’s almost like a very thick espresso shot. Most of the time we ordered pots of filtered coffee, made in medium sized espresso style percolators on the stove. Much like in Cuba, they must have though we were crazy. It took them the entire trip to figure out that when Blaine, Ellen, Erik and I ordered coffee, we’d need at least 4 percolators full.

While most of the group decided to ride scooters into town, I opted to stay behind since I’m not training for a marathon that I’m signed up for. I decided that it would be a good day to resume training again and reluctantly set out on a 13 mile run.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

I’ll save my moaning and excuses for not training for a different-non-vacation-related post but lets just say that before I arrived in Greece I had managed to make it through two long runs: one 12 miler on August 28th and one 13 miler on Sept 25th. Considering that I ran a total of 8 times in September and ALL of that mileage added up to a mere 47 miles, something that most marathon training plans call for in a week, I was starting to feel as if I were in dire straights and not really looking forward to the grueling task ahead of me.

Running in Greece is hysterical. First of all, when you run on an island in Greece on a day that it has stormed, the street is hot but the air is cool and filled with salty humidity. There is only one road in town, so that’s the road you run on. The only road in town is also littered with goats, so after awhile you start to smell like salt, thyme and goats. The goats, who are very unafraid of the scooters that whiz by them daily, seem particularly skittish and run away quickly as you come towards them. It’s as if they’ve never seen a girl running down the road. There are more hills on your one run than when you run in Tahoe. Although the scenery is amazing, you spend 13 miles looking at gorgeous crystal blue water that you can’t get into until you’re done running so you better run faster my god this is taking FOREVER. The other half of the time you are looking at all the trash on the road because people just leave their trash lying everywhere in Greece since there is a huge tax to collect it. So instead of making trash, which will get taxed by the government, they just dump it. There are bedframes, old bikes, random scrap metal, cars abandoned down the side of the road, about 15 full water bottles underneath an olive tree…the list goes on and on. You take five euros with you so that you can stop on the way back at a market and refill on water and when the man asks you how far you’ve gone and you say that you’re running 20km he makes a sound like a whistle under his breath and says, “Why?” While you are running a carload full of Greeks pulls up alongside you and tries to convince you to get into the car with them because it will be faster. They aren’t making a joke, they’re literally just being nice. And you smell like goats. And it was hard.

Two hours later I arrived back in town to discover a terrible thing about rainy days in Greece: when there is no sun, there is no hot water, because all the hot water is heated by solar panels.

My friends were all still in Massouri, the main tourist town, so I went down to the corner restaurant to eat. They were filming a strange tv show where a band played and some girls and lookers-on sat behind them and waved their hands in the Greek way. I drank a half liter of white wine and ate lamb chops and Greek Salad and watched as make up was applied again and again and again.

That night was Blaine’s birthday so we actually ended up eating together again at the very same restaurant I spent all afternoon at. The agenda that evening was slightly varied though: goat, octopus, stuffed peppers and calamari.

Photo Credit: Greg Brooks

Although we had a rousing and brutally violent post dinner game of spoons, I couldn’t keep my eyes open after my run and bailed out early. Though I was told that Bentley drew blood.

Kalymnos: my first full day

When you sleep in Kalymnos, you sleep with your garden facing patio doors open, with the feral cats meowing incessantly as soon as you wake up, the roosters serenading the town every night at 4 am and the random clinks of goat bells as they pass by the building or stir in the neighbors yard.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

Breakfast is often Greek yogurt: Total Fage, thick and creamy like it’s been whipped to a frenzy, covered in local thyme honey, fruit and cereal we found at the corner store that we referred to as “abs fitness” because of the woman on the box.

The landscape is strange – similar to the high desert at home, filled with mountain brush and sage, but then limestone and just below, the crystal water of the Aegean Sea.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

On my first day there, Bentley and Greg headed to the crag early to get some climbs in before any other climbers showed up. October signifies the start of the busy climbing season for Kalymnos and busy is a bit of an understatement. Not only have I never seen such a proliferation of climbs in one small place, but I’ve never seen so many climbers in one place. By noon every day there would be 10-15 people deep lines for some of the more stellar climbs at EVERY crag. There was no escaping it. Greg’s system was to beat the climbers there with the intent of getting more climbs in before early afternoon, which would allow him to relax at the beach the rest of the afternoon. His planned worked, for the most part.

I, however, having spent an entire day traveling the day before, wasn’t quite so jazzed to wake up at dawn and get started and thankfully a few of the crew were with me so the rest of us slept in a bit, ate breakfast and had coffee and then headed up.

The crag we climbed in the first day was relatively close to our small village. There was a bit of a scramble to get up there and the walk was littered with, yes, goats.

The climbing was nothing short of fantastic. Huge tufas and holds graced the entire wall. I was in climbing heaven. The rock reminded me of why I began climbing in the first place and then, why I no longer do in Tahoe. Dynamic powerful athletic moves await you in Kalymnos (but sadly, don’t even try looking for those in Tahoe).

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

I only got on one climb that day, my endurance sapped by years of not climbing, but it was really fun to watch the boys bolt up impressive routes. We headed back to our village for lunch: swordfish and Greek salads from one of the neighborhood restaurants and then a long leisurely afternoon laying on the beach.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

On the island the stores only stock non-perishable food and things like milk, yogurt, cheese and butter. Every night the “fruit truck” would drive into our village. His truck bed was filled with boxes brimming with fruit and vegetables. No matter how much you tried to refute him, he would insist that you have a bag. For a few euros you could secure a feast of kiwis, bananas, grapes, apples, whatever you fancy.

That night we had happy hour up in Greg and Suzee’s room before heading up to “fancy” restaurant in town. Our hosts, Evie, Dimitri and their family were celebrating their one year old’s first birthday with family and friends at the house and while we thought we were being respectful by giving them their space, they were extremely disappointed we didn’t come join them. Instead, we had a dinner of Greek salads, meatballs and roasted chicken up on the hill overlooking Emporios. It was about a quarter mile walk up there and we capped the evening off with an even longer stroll.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

Greece: the Way to Kalymnos

After two amazing days in Salzburg, it was finally time to get to Greece. Erik and I had to wake up at the crack of dawn to get to the train station and unfortunately, because of the early alarm, neither of us slept very well. I have a tendency to wake up multiple times over the course of nights before events or alarms that I absolutely cannot miss. The other unfortunate contributor to this was the fact that it was raining: while it’s nice to sleep to the sounds of pounding rain outside your window when you can sleep in and enjoy the coziness of a bed, it’s a fairly ominous sound when you know that you have a mile long walk to a train station with no rain jacket before the sun even crests over the mountains.

Of course it was raining still when we awoke. Thankfully, it wasn’t quite the same downpour that we experienced at 2 am and I managed to stay mostly dry.

We took the hour and half train ride back to the Munich airport. What a change of weather we experienced! While it had been 65 and sunny during our days in Munich, when we switched trains it felt to be about 40 degrees out.

We were flying from Munich to Athens and then Athens to Kos. I will say this about the Germans: they have fantastic airports. Erik and I have never been so happy to find eggs and bacon for breakfast! The Munich Airport is a lovely place to be – filled with ridiculously comfortable reclined seats, large windows and even larger bathrooms.

I cannot say the same things about the Greek airports. I’ve never been in an airport where the security stations are located outside each cluster of gates. Although we had been through security in Germany, in Athens the airline gates are broken into clusters of 20 and outside each cluster of gates is a separate security checkpoint. Not only that, but they want you to pull ALL electronics out of your bag – your phone, your camera, your ipod, EVERYTHING. (Insider secret: I denied that I had anything and they didn’t notice). Had Erik and I’s flight from Athens to Kos not been delayed half an hour, we may have missed it. Stressful.

By the time we arrived on the island of Kos it was about 4:30 in the afternoon. We’d had a long day and still had an hour long ferry ride to get to our island.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

Thankfully, our friends who had already arrived arranged for their taxi driver George to pick us up in the main port town, Pothia, and bring us to our residence. As George drove us across the island, he pointed out interesting heritage sites and talked about island life.

Kalymnos is an island in the Aegean Sea and it is actually closer to Turkey than the coastline of mainland Greece. In fact, you can see Turkey from the island. It is one of the wealthiest Greek Islands overall and this fact became apparent to us as we spent time there: the island has been very smart about creating sustainable tourism of many kinds. In fact, it is why we were there. While it is a European vacation destination in the summer, during the slow fall, winter and spring seasons Kalymnos has become a worldwide destination for climbers.

Nothing that any of us read before our arrival really accurately prepared us for what to expect. I had very different visions of what Kalymnos would look like in my head. Kalymnos is very mountainous island. While the island is roughly rectangular in shape, it has a very irregular coastline with essentially only one road. It is about 13 miles long and about 8 miles wide.

Pothia, the port town, is where most of the locals live. Our town, Emporios, was at completely the opposite end of the island. In between the two is the “tourist” town of Massouri, where most of the tourists, beach goers and climbers stay.

It was about a 45 minute drive on the only road around the island which had numerous ascents, descents and hairpin curves. George took us to the scooter rental place in Massouri and the plan was for one of us to pick up the scooter and drive it the rest of the way to our town and the other to ride with the luggage and George. I immediately volunteered Erik for this task, especially since it was dark already and I had no intention of learning to ride a scooter in the dark. The look on his face was priceless when George said, “ooookay, now, beware ouf thee gowts.” “The what?” “You know, gowts, baaaabaaaa, goats!”

Turns out, besides harvesting sponges and tourism, Kalymnos’ other main industry is goats and with little open space, lots of mountains and only one road, the goats just wander free around the island and often are found laying in the middle of the road.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

I was SO happy to finally arrive at our home for the next ten days. Harry’s Paradise is a family run establishment in a quiet village far from the hustle and bustle. Our rooms were sparsely furnished but adequate, the garden was overflowing and the wine even more so.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

Harry’s would become more than a home to us over the next week and a half. The would feed us, house us, accept us into their family and share their lives with us. No wonder Dimitri looked at my like I was crazy when I wanted to pay for the two carafes of wine I needed as soon as I arrived.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

That night we feasted like kings with food made with the proprietress, Evdokia’s (we called her Evie) own hands. I had rabbit, or as Dimitri said when he read us the menu, “Bugs…you know, Bunny.” We had carafes of their house wine, which was light, delightful, as cheap as water and out of a box and for dessert my first taste of something that would become a bit of an obsession for many of us: plain Greek Yogurt, thick like whipped cream, covered in local thyme honey and filled with fresh fruit.

That night we walked to one of the four nearby bars: Cafe Artistico. Run by George and his wife, Irene and some of their children, Artistico would also become a frequent hangout of ours. George, who spends most of the evenings playing guitar and singing for his guests, had already taken a liking to Suzee (of course) while Irene takes care of the kitchen.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

George was quite the character. Since we were from Texas, every time we came he would point to the sky and exclaim, “Houston, we have a problem!” He loved the Beatles and every other song he played was a Beatles tune. He also loved forcing Suzee into singing and playing the guitar.

Irene, who we would also come to know over the course of our trip, was saucy and hysterical. She had quite the mouth on her and we loved it! She was also an excellent cook. By the end of our trip, the only food we wanted to eat was Evie’s or Irene’s.

Just before it was time to go, or perhaps, what made it time to go, was when George brought out the tray of shots. I don’t think we managed to make it in and out of Artistico without doing a shot. It was like an ominous inescapable occurrence: go to Artistico, be forced to do a shot. Celebrate! “Houston!”

Salzburg: a land of wine and bicycles

Salzburg is FILLED with bicycles. There were probably more bicycles than cars. The Salzach river, which runs through the center of the Old Town, is bordered on each side with bike paths. All the suburban neighborhoods (which are as quaint and idyllic as one would imagine) are connected to the city center with their own commuter bike paths. Salzburg features over 170 kilometers of bike paths with 900 signs, 23 scenic bicycle routes through the city, 5,500 parking spaces and self-service stations offering free tools, bike stands, lubricating oil and compressed air for emergencies. Oddly enough, Erik and I failed to find one of these self-service stations when my wheel went completely flat quite a ways from our rental station.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

After biking around picturesque Salzburg (seriously, I want to move here), Erik and I sat down to one of our most favorite meals of the trip at a small outdoor cafe near our hotel. The best part of being on vacation: that it is perfectly normal and fabulous to order wine at lunch in the middle of the afternoon.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

After a not so brief afternoon nap (also to be expected when on vacation), Erik and I ventured over to Mirabell Gardens, built specifically to provide exceptional views of the Hohensalzburg Fortress and the Salzburger Dom cathedral.

Photo Credit: Lauren Lindley (haha!)

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

We spent a few hours wandering around the Gardens before heading over to the bridge so Erik could get some night shots of the Old Town. Although it took awhile to get his shot, it was well worth the wait. This is one of my favorite photos from our trip and the one that will be gracing my wall on a large canvas very soon.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

After returning our rental bikes, Erik and I spent a bit more time wandering through a section of the Old Town that we hadn’t ventured into, down the Getreidegasse, a famously large shopping street.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

While walking down the lane, we ventured upon something that made an unexpectedly wonderful picture. I’m really happy that Erik was able to capture the poshness of what was occurring on the inside of this Louis Vuitton store, along with the understated smile of the bouncer.

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

We took a chance on Indian food for dinner and it was quite good and a welcome change from the fare we’d had before. With only a few hours left to enjoy what would become my most favorite part of the entire trip, we had some wine and played cards at a wine bar near the hotel. Salzburg was a dreamlike place and one that I would love to return to again. Absolutely incredible!

Photo Credit: Erik Moore

If you would like to view the rest of Erik’s photos from our stay in Salzburg, you may do so here.