Ecuador pic(k)s


Inktober 3

The odd one out. My bike was stolen on Friday and everyone pointed out how much that sucked. It didn’t really suck that much because as much as I loved the bike in the end it is a perfectly replaceable object- and it cost me like 60 pounds. I told my friend I wasn’t really bothered.

That same night I had a dream: I was riding that bicycle on the balcony of my grandparents’ old house. My family and I lived there for about five years as our house was being built. In that house I experienced as a child the first loss in our family. My aunt died because of an aneurysm when she was in her early forties. No one saw it coming.

My aunt and her family occupied the upper floor apartment in the same building.  Some time later there was a fire in their house and a lot of things were lost in the flames.

The last time I saw our family dog was on that balcony; he was ill and suffering and died some time later.

My grandparents are both dead and the house is currently empty. I could visit it if I wanted to but it’s just another building now.

The punchline is, my other cousin and I had two Beretta bikes when we were kids. They were stolen from the garden of that house.

Thank you subconscious for this beautiful image of loss. It is the corniest thing I could ever imagine but as it turns out life sometimes imitates corny fiction.

Oh yeah that cat in the drawing? dead. It got hit by a car.


Gozo and Comino

Gozo and comino are located opposite the northernmost part of Malta and are well worth a visit. That ‘Blue Lagoon’ beach that comes up on every google search about Malta? it’s in Comino.

Getting to Gozo and Comino is ridiculously easy. There are frequent boat services from Cirkewwa to both islands. You can find tickets for both trips for 10 euros (return). At first I thought I could do both trips in one day, as I didn’t want to take the bus all the way to Cirkewwa a second time (it takes about an hour to reach Cirkewwa from Valletta and I had already done that trip more times than I intended)

The day before going to Gozo I had a look at the land tours available on the island and decided to go with the red sightseeing bus. Tickets for the red bus are sold on the ferry; the English gentleman in the booth gave me a discount on the sly-which I assume he gives to everyone and I think I paid 15 euros.

The red bus has two routes, and I am pretty sure I was on the blue one. I stayed on the open top floor for as long as I could, which was up to the Azure window, which I highly recommend for swimming. The terrain is quite interesting and you can easily swim through the rocky arc (I don’t know why but I always feel compelled to pass through these rocky windows in all countries)

Then I hopped on the next bus to Ggantija, a megalithic temple complex, a UNESCO world Heritage site and one of the oldest religious structures in the world. The museum design was simple but modern, and seemed quite recently renovated (or actually built). The megalithic structures, while impressive in size essentially form four rooms and leave a lot to the imagination. It’s worth spending more time reading up on the island’s history in the  museum than actually walking around the megalithic complex.

Upon leaving Ggantija I made a serious mistake: there are no bus stops for the red buses. They drop people off at designated points, like a crossroad or the curve of a road. In this case, I managed to miss the pick up point and ended up waiting for about half an hour under the burning Maltese sun with no shade in sight. As I have already mentioned I am not particularly resilient to extreme temperatures so I decided to ditch the red bus and get the first public bus that passes to experience the relief of an air-conditioned environment.

I have no clear recollection of what I did next. I remember ending up in Rabat and having to wait for another bus for ages. The next bus took me to Ramla, a beach with red sand that came highly recommended. It was very quiet on that day, and to me it was heaven after the wait at Ggantija.


Gozo really did look like a miniature version of Malta to me. I enjoyed the smaller crowds, narrower streets and more beautiful beaches though. Gozo felt more like an actual island to me.


The next day I woke up at 7 am and got to the bus stop to get the bus to Cirkewwa as early as possible. I had been warned that the Blue Lagoon got really crowded by midday. I had to wait almost an hour for the bus as it got stuck in traffic (which by the way is very likely to happen in Malta). Then when it finally arrived it turned out the air-conditioning was out of order so the driver had to go and fetch another bus. Regardless, I was still able to reach the Blue Lagoon at an early time.

Now as a Greek person I have seen a lot of places with swimming pool-like bright blue waters; I still found the Blue Lagoon was worth a visit. It was really hard finding a spot to sit already so I had to climb up the rocks and find a high spot to set up camp (put down my towel)

On this note, I have to say I was able to leave my stuff on the beach while swimming all around Malta and nothing ever happened. I don’t really carry much money around or a camera or anything of any actual value (my phone cost 50 pounds two years ago and the screen is cracked) so there was not much to steal anyway, but I did have a literally empty rucksack stolen from me in London so you never know. I kind of felt bad for the thief.

On the way back, the boat took us to the caves on the other side of the Blue Lagoon, which was a nice detour before heading back to Cirkewwa.

A word of warning for those who like their beaches organised (as in with facilities): what you can see in the pictures is all you will get in the Blue Lagoon. A handful of umbrellas and a few canteens serving soft drinks and hot dogs. I think I saw a toilet somewhere high up as well.

I wish I had more time to see Gozo and Comino; I feel like I got to see quite a bit of Malta (minus the archaeological sites) but not a lot of these two islands. If I was to do the same trip again I would probably try to spend a night or two in Gozo and explore it more thoroughly.


Frankfurt pit stop

This year I finally realized why people are pestering me to book my Christmas flight as early as August.  I had a look at ticket prices in October, expecting to find the prices slightly raised but still quite reasonable. Boy was I wrong. The cheapest direct flights were selling for a modest 350 pounds with return, which is about 150 pounds less than what I could pay to go to Cuba and back.

In the end I decided to book an outgoing flight with a one-hour stopover in Zurich and an outgoing flight with a 5-hour stopover in Frankfurt.

Obviously, all I had the chance to see from Zurich was the airport, which offers ridiculously expensive duty-free chocolates, which are yummy but not 11-euro-yummy.

Frankfurt, on the other hand, is easily accessible via train from the airport. It is after all in Frankfurt as a girl pointed out to me when I asked how to get to the city. From the airport, you can take a train which is part of the S-bahn system, which is insanely complex and seems to go all the way to Heidelberg (a much, much better city). The train will take you to the King’s Cross of Frankfurt, Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof within 12 minutes. Keep in mind that you will need around 5 euros for a single journey; there is also a day ticket for 9 from what I saw. The train carriages are equipped with screens which show what the next stop is, the time you will be arriving at the next stop and how much time is left to the next stop, in case you are mathematically challenged. Like an excel sheet loaded with macros, it was pleasing to my eyes.

At this point I should mention I have been to Frankfurt before when I was a kid; we drove through it with my parents. ‘Do you remember the white watery sausages?’ my sister asked when I got home. I did and they were a big let down. I was looking forward to the pretzels, however- pretzels are great and wonderfully shaped.

When I arrived at the station I went to the information point and explained to a very stylish elderly gentleman that I had 3 hours and was looking for recommendations (because I hadn’t bothered to plan this beforehand). He asked me what I wanted to see, to which I answered ‘uhh..I dunno…buildings?’ Having realised he was dealing with someone not very bright, he circled a location on a map and sent me on my way.

First, I encountered some fancy skyscrapers, which seemed to menacingly guard the entrance to something. After passing the skyscrapers I came across a massive euro sign, which I now realise is there for a reason and not just to scare me: Frankfurt is home to the European Central Bank (as well as a massive financial center). I was in the mouth of the wolf; the big euro sign was casting its shadow on me and frozen rain was trickling down.


I took a picture of the euro sign from behind and went on to find a square with a memorial on it, an old-looking yellowish church, and finally what seemed like the main commercial street-the Oxford street of Frankfurt. Twice I was mistaken for someone who knows where they are going and asked for directions-once in German, language I am familiar with exclusively through Rammstein songs.

That was when the rain picked up and I had to run into a clothes store for shelter. When the rain died down a bit I went walking again and somehow managed to stumble upon the Altstadt- the old city- which is basically a square surrounded by traditional architecture. It sure looks pretty and if you want more of that sort of thing you can take the train to Heidelberg.

From there I could spot an impressive cathedral, which I now know is Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral. I went closer to have a look but didn’t enter. Then I realised I was near the river bank so I walked to that direction and came across an old bridge, which I had definitely seen mentioned on Tripadvisor.

There is an inscription in greek on the bridge, which is apparently a quote of Homer and means ‘Sailing the black sea with people who speak a foreign tongue’, which I am guessing also stands for ‘there are a lot of immigrants in this place, and they are not very happy to be away from home’. The poster on a pillar opposite the road advertising a greek play called ‘Exile’ supported my hunch. People had locked padlocks on it- for the same reason they throw coins in fountains, I am guessing.

It was time for me to go eat my pretzel and head to the airport, back to my own black sea and my own foreign tongue speaking people that I weirdly kind of missed.

Edit- What’s with the knife and gun shops? seriously?