Charlie Wyman

Dateline: Vienna, Day 3 – The United Nations

Vienna, Austria
17 July 2009

There was really just one thing left to do before leaving, visit the UN and the IAEA1. So we made off for the northeast end of Vienna. On the way we managed to find Puntigamer, an Austrian beer that my friend Marissa suggested we look up.

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Wien, Wien, Österreich


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Wien, Wien, Österreich


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Wien, Wien, Österreich


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This is the logo for the China National Space Agency. Is it just me, or does this look rather similar to the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet emblems put together:

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IAEA Meeting Room

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Can you understand me now? Good.

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Wien, Wien, Österreich


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Wien, Wien, Österreich

Our host was nice, but very optimistic about the United Nations efforts. I wish we still had the League of Nations if only for the reason that it had a cooler name.

We made our way back to the hostel, collected our things, and then raced2 to catch our next rain to Budapest.

It so happened that Charlie was also coming in from Switzerland right around the time we were leaving. I was secretly hoping that we would see Charlie and kidnap him. Unfortunately, we didn’t see him.

We got into Budapest late at night. We stumbled around while trying to find an ATM so I could get some Forint3. We finally managed to find an ATM and withdraw some money. A short subway ride later, we at our hostel.

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  1. International Atomic Energy Agency 

  2. if you haven’t figured out by now, we always race to catch trains. We always caught them, but were usually within 5 minutes of missing them 

  3. yet another unit of money to deal with 

L’Abri and Itinerary v0.5

11/12 June 2009

L’Abri was the shelter for my journey. After traveling for over five weeks, it was time to stop for a moment (although I wish it could have been more). It was great to see Quinn. It was even better to have some great conversations with some amazing people at L’Abri.

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Huêmoz, Canton de Vaud, Schweiz

I was able to finish a book I have literally been try to finish for almost two years and have started, stopped, and restarted several times, The Language of God by Francis Collins. I read over 150 pages in two sittings, morning and afternoon.

The Language of God is a decent book, not great. From an engineer’s (or scientist’s) perspective, I found it lacking in detail. However, I assume such omission was not a matter of ignorance, but rather an attempt to make the book more acceptable to a general audience. I would have liked something more on par with Stephen Hawkins’ A Brief History of Time in terms of science content.

I also began reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and upon finishing the preface, immediately wished I had read this eons ago.

It was nice to be on a schedule, having set times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was nice having a time set aside for me to just ponder. And it was actually nice for me to have my computer locked away for a littler while, and something that I should probably do more1.

As John, the Swiss L’Abri “Director” noted in his email to me about my request for refuge at L’Abri, “A couple of nights is not very long to deal with theological questions, but perhaps it can serve as a beginning.”

The few nights I was there were a good start for me and a reminider of what I need to focus on. It also reminded me why I want to retire to Switzerland, perhaps even Huemoz.

I took some time to meditate on my trip. Where I had been, what I had seen, and what I wanted it to be about. I looked at what my current plans were and decided that they would not do if I wanted to make it with my sanity intact…not to mention, perhaps actually enjoying the trip.

Thus, I also sat down and refigured the rest of my trip. I wrote down the cities I was planning on going to, researched them some more, and then wrote down an even smaller list of cities. Thus leading to Itinerary v0.5, which I now present to you with the applicable changes:

  • July 10-13: L’Abri, Huemoz, Switzerland
  • July 13: Leaving L’Abri in the morning, travel to Arbon, Switzerland via Interlaken and Luzern
  • July 13-14: Arbon, Switzerland
  • July 14: Leave Arbon, Switzerland for Vienna, Austria on the overnight train.
  • July 15-17: Vienna, Austria
  • July 17-21: Budapest, Hungary
  • July 21-25: Prague, Czech Republic
  • July 25: Travel to Krakow, take a bus to Auschwitz and back, then travel to Warsaw
  • July 25-29: Warsaw, Poland
  • July 29 – August 1: Berlin, Germany
  • August 2: Frankfurt, Germany
  • August 3: Leave Frankfurt in the morning for Seattle (via Chicago O’Hare)

Still pretty intense, but nowhere near the pace Charlie and I had going for Turkey and Greece. Most of Austria was gutted, because I didn’t have any real interest in going. Based on my prevoius experience, three nights and four days seems to be a good amount of time to spend in a city; and more importantly, an amount of time that I’m willing to spend and not feel like I missed it or spent too much time there.

In Arbon, we’ll be hanging out with Remo and Gunther, who you may remember from my last trip to Switzerland. They are two brothers who live in Arbon and are super funny.

So, to all the amazing people I met and had the opporunity to talk with at L’Abri, and who managed to find this blog and read this far down, a heartfelt thank you for taking me in. It was pretty much just what I needed, and I shall return.

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Montreux, Canton de Vaud, Schweiz


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Montreux, Canton de Vaud, Schweiz


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  1. I’m also thinking about switching to a system where I only check my email three times a day 

L’Abri, The Shelter

Huemoz, Switzerland
10 July 2009

I’ve made the first real deviation in my Europe plans today. I broke off from Charlie and Andi this morning and took a train (three actually) to the tiny village of Aigle (which is pronounced “Eegg-le). I’m now waiting for a bus to take me up the mountain to Huemoz, which is near Villars. It is there that I will find L’Abri. As in all cases, I have expectations of what L’Abri is. As in most cases, I’m sure my expections will need to be refigured.

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Aigle, Canton de Vaud, Schweiz

I think this break will do me good. I can feel my mind slowly going bonkers. I’ve been exposed to at least 8 languages, Russian, Estonia, Ukrainian, Turkish, Norsk, Greek, Italian, and now French. I’ve also covered countless kilometers, and spent six nights travling and not in a real bed of any sorts…seven if you count the kitchen floor in Rome.

Despite the fact that Rome and Florence were a bit slower than Greece, I need to find some direction. Not only for my trip, but for me. And I’m hoping that L’Abri will help point me in the right direction.

I have no real plans to journal during the trip, which I think is a bit odd since I would suspect most people would use this as a time to journal explicitly.

I’ll see you on the other side.

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Dateline: Florence, Day 1 – Return to the Scene of the Crime

Florence, Italy
9 July 2009

I was in Florence once before, almost three years ago. A lot has changed, not in Florence so much as with me. I graduated, secured a job, and am back in Seattle.

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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia

There’s something to be said for traveling almost a third of the way around the world and seeing good friends.

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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia

Interestingly enough, “grand teton” doesn’t quite translate the way you think it might from French.

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Firenze, Toscana, Italia


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Firenze, Toscana, Italia

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Dateline: Rome, Day 3 – The Colosseum

Rome, Italy
8 July 2009

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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia

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Dateline: Rome, Day 2 – The Vatican

Rome, Italy
7 July 2009

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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano



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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


Swiss Guard
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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano


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Città del Vaticano, , Città del Vaticano

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Dateline: Rome, Day 1

Rome, Italy
6 July 2009

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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia


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Roma, Lazio, Italia

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Dateline: Bari, Day 1 – The Floor

Bari, Italy
5 July 2009

(Trumpet solo, intro)

Saturday
In the park
I think it was the Forth of July

Saturday
In the park
I think it was the Forth of July

People dancing
People laughing
A man selling ice cream
Singing Italian songs

(Random Italian)

Can you dig it?
Yes I can!

And, I’ve been waiting such a long time for Saturday

Saturday in the Park by Chicago

We arrived in Bari, fresh off the boat from Greece. We made our way off the boat and managed to figure out how to get a bus to the train station. The plan was to catch a train to Naples and spend the day there.

Unfortunately, the train to Naples only runs in the mornings on Sunday. So we did the next best thing (after eating lunch) and grabbed our first of bite of many, many bites of gelato.

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We decided the best bet would be to hop a train to Rome, which was our next stop, and just just get there a day early.


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We got to Rome, off the train, and, with some fumbling, found our hostel, Legends Hostel. Now, here is where the fun part starts. We had a reservation for three days, starting the next night. That left us with no reservation for this night (we were supposed to be in Naples, remember). It’s 11:30pm; I explained our situation to the receptionist lady, who was really helpful. There were two beds left and they could be all ours if…she looks at the screen showing closed-circuit security cameras…if the two people coming up the stairs aren’t the people who’s mom called in to hold the last two beds; the last two beds that could have been ours.

I plead with her to let us stay; anywhere; a rollout, a couch, anything. She offers the kitchen floor. We’ll take it.

And that’s how we spent our first night in Italy.

At least it was free.

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Dateline: Santorini, Day 2 – A Long Ferry Ride

Santorini, Greece
3 July 2009

The thing one notices the most about Santorini is all the tourists. The streets are flooded with helmet-clad foreigners on quad-ATVs or scooters. Santorini, more so than Paros or Samos in my opinion, is also a pretty big party island. The kids are out late into the night and wake up groggy, late the following morning. This is probably why Santorini wasn’t my favorite island and is also probably why I wasn’t too sad to be leaving (although our hostel was the best one since Istanbul).

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

In the morning, I checked around for a ride down to the ferry terminal (Youth Hostel Anna is on the back side of the island, about 30 minutes from the ferry terminal by car). Our hostels’ bus was all full up (€3/person), but I checked with the guy we rented the ATV from and he said someone would be able to pick us up from his location at 2:45 for €1…although he actually said €10.

We still had an entire morning and early afternoon left to explore, so we got down to it, driving way out to the far north side of the island all the way to Oia, almost 45 minutes by ATV.

The drive was a winding scenic route on the western rim of the island high above the Aeagean Sea below.

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Fira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Ia, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

We made it to Oia and had just enough time to do some exploring before we needed to start heading back. We purchased some souvoniers, and then were racing back to our hostel so we could catch our ride to the ferry.

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Fira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Emborion, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

We got back with just enough time for Charlie to take a shower and for me to make some last minute checks of things on the Interwebz – I wanted to grab some stuff so I could be productive offline. Our ferry ride would be long almost 8 hours, landing in us Athens around midnight. And we didn’t have any confirmed place to sleep yet; our plan was to basically wing it with a list of hostels…again.

Charlie’s shower took a bit longer than usual1, but we made it to the ATV place in time – although not in time to get groceries. We jumped in the van only to discover that it was really €10, not one. I still stand by the fact the guy said one Euro. But with a boat to catch, he could have said €30 and we would have paid it.

We picked up an American and Brazilian couple before heading to the dock. We got dropped off at the dock with plenty of time to spare, so I ran to get over-priced groceries at the mini-mart while Charlie went to get some Kebab’s to eat for lunch…no surprise there.

The ferry ride was more or less uneventful, which makes for dull and boring ferry rides. Because we weren’t first in line to get on the ferry, we were relegated to the actual deck for the first part of the ride. I suppose this was a good thing as I got to see the insides of Santorini as we headed out.

Side note: Why does this say “Winch Only?”

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

Not our boat

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

Lava rocks

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

After stopping off at a few islands, we were eventually able to find ourselves a nice seat inside, which was a welcome relief from the elements. Per usual, I spent the rest of my time hunkered down on the computer, trying to get as many photos processed. And playing Solitaire.

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  1. killing some more kittens, are we? 

Dateline: Santorini, Day 1 – Another 24 Hours

Santorini, Greece
2 July 2009

We had an entire morning to explore the others parts of Paros before we had to leave for Santorini. We headed to the north part of the island, into what looked like a fishing village.

We walked around for a bit before we booked it back to our hotel to checkout and catch our ferry.

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Naousa, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Naousa, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Paros, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

The plan for getting to the ferry and returning the bike was thus, load up all of our stuff (two large backpacks, two day packs, one camera bag, one bag of food) and both of us onto one 50cc scooter and make our way to the ferry. I would drop Charlie and all the stuff off at the ferry terminal, go return the bike, and then walk back to the ferry on foot. As executed, the plan went really well, and looking something like this:

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Paros, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Paros, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Paros, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

One of the interesting things about riding on the ferry is that while you’re given a ticket for a particular class, no one seems to actually enforce it. This was probably a good thing because knowing where we could sit was no easy task. Our tickets said “Deck,” just like they did for the trip to Paros when we actually sat on the deck, outside, for the entire trip. I was pretty miserable and was determined not to have a repeat, damn the consequences. I found some seats inside in an area marked “Economy” and decided to stake our claim. No one cared or questioned our being there, and so it was: an air conditioned seat for the ride to Santorini. Hooray!

Santorini is much like Paros, except it’s built on a the reminants of a volcano. However, the middle part has sunk back into the ocean, creating a crescent shaped island with a small mountain island in the middle.

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

And just like Paros, we were inundated with people at the dock with signs for hostels, hotels, and camping sites. This time though, we were a bit more prepared, having done more through research. After consulting with several people, we settled on Youth Hostel Anna, a hostel recommended in the Lonely Plant guidebook. Bonus points were awarding by being placed in a room with all girls1.

A couple of girls from Vancouver, BC, who were staying in our dorm recommended a place to grab lunch and rent a quad-ATV. I went over to check out the wheels while Charlie grabbed something to eat.

Then it was off to explore the island of Santorini. We made our way toward the northern part of the island, going to the archeology museum and exploring the various tourist spots.

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

And yes, those are donkey and mules you see. There’s an entire line of them, ready to take you up and down the mountain for a fee so you don’t have to stand in the looooong line for the gondola.

On Charlie’s insistence, we stuck around for the sunset, which also afforded me a change to teach him all I know about two source lighting (in this case, the sun and the flash).

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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


Setting Sun
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Thira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα


Earth to Space
18.0 mm || 0.6 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Fira, South Aegean, Ελλάδα

Then it was a night ride back to the hostel in the cool ocean breeze. For dinner, we had moussaka, a sort of lasagne-type dish with eggplant instead of meat. It’s actually rather good.

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  1. No, nothing scandalous happened, thanks for asking.