Erik@feK/mo2 January 2001 Update


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Though the recent plan (out of many) was to go to Urgada, Egypt and try to catch a ride with a yacht going south, we decided that Mediterranean Europe is warm enough and took the ferry from Haifa to Athens through Limassol (Cyprus).

Here is Momo as we pack our belongings ( la Gold Rush) :
08_1_momo_packing_for_trip.jpg (163652 bytes) 08_2_momo_packing_for_trip.jpg (77641 bytes)

We paid a total of about $300 for a room with no window but got a free upgrade to a room with a window because the ticket seller liked Momo.. Here are some pictures taken as we go on board:
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Along the way we made a half-day stop in Cyprus and walked around the residential areas of Limassol, just getting a feel for the place.
09_1_cyprus_erika_momo.jpg (372616 bytes)

Not too many passengers were on the ferry, the weather was great and we had a picnic outside:
10_1_ship_erika_momo.jpg (168613 bytes) 10_2_ship_erika_momo.jpg (219875 bytes) 10_3_ship_erika_momo_ofek.jpg (179350 bytes)

Momo really liked sitting in front of the ocean by the window in our room. We put a pillow behind her, and she would occupy herself for quite a long time.
10_4_momo_window.jpg (50186 bytes) 10_5_momo_window.jpg (109289 bytes) 10_6_momo_window.jpg (87451 bytes) 10_8_momo_window.jpg (158904 bytes)

After 3 nights and 3 days we arrived in Pireus, the port town next to Athens. The trip was very relaxing, we could see Turkey and Rhodes on the way, and it gave us a good recharge for the busy city.
11_1_arrival_pireus.jpg (139376 bytes)

Our first day in Athens was like all first days in new cities for us - first we go to the tourist office and get a map and then off to check out the natural food stores, vegetarian restaurants, and internet points to connect. On our way to all these, we see the city. We were happily surprised that not far from our hotel at the Plaka area was a store labeled, "Healthy Food, Vegetarian Fast Food, Books" which was half a natural food store where we could get our organic whole-wheat bread, tahini, and produce and the other half was a cafeteria which served mainly vegan food, there we could fill up on reverse-osmosis water instead of buying new bottles (reduce.. reuse.. recycle). We were surprised that the people who were eating here seemed to be all middle-aged and up working class and not young hippy kids. We were told it might be because of the mad-cow disease scare. We also ate at an all organic, slightly-upscale vegetarian restaurant which we found recommended in a few places which was good but more expensive. (Yes, as you can see I am a little obsessed with the food part of our trip.)

Other than eating in Athens we also went to the usual sites, the Acropolis and it's surrounding areas, the flea markets and food markets, but mainly just walking around. They also had an 8-floor bookstore with mainly English books - bigger than most American bookstores. There we found every travel guide written for everywhere in the world and we picked up a "Let's Go Western Europe" guide. There was even the English translation to Momo which is almost impossible to find in the US, but Athens had it...

Outside the Theater at the Acropolis:12_1_acropolis_momo_ofek.jpg (234299 bytes) 12_3_acropolis_momo_ofek.jpg (253201 bytes)

Panorama of Athens:12_4_acropolis_pano.jpg (202796 bytes)

Elimination Communication (for those who don't know, Momo is diaperless for 3 months already, she naturally communicates with us when she needs to eliminate. This method is called Elimination Communication, and you'll be seeing more photos like this one..) 12_2_acropolis_EC.jpg (226053 bytes)

From the Acropolis, we descended to the ruins of ancient Agora: 
12_5_acropolis_momo_ofek.jpg (316801 bytes) 12_6_momo_ancient_agora.jpg (372943 bytes) 12_7_ancient_agora_erika_momo_ofek.jpg (319730 bytes) 12_8_acropolis.jpg (267481 bytes)

A night walk around Omonia Square:
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Our "ecological" hotel tried to save on heating and provided 5 blankets instead:14_1_hotel_kordou_cold_room.jpg (174304 bytes)

We didn't find any eco-communities or organic farms in Greece doing our research while in Palestine, so after five days of asking around in the natural food stores, we decided to move on to Italy, where we had listings. We caught a 3-hour train that took us to the port where we caught an overnight ferry to Brindisi.

Waiting for the train: 15_1_train_to_patras.jpg (84725 bytes) 15_2_train_to_patras.jpg (208017 bytes)

Sunrise: 16_2_ferry_to_brindisi_sunrise.jpg (175241 bytes)

Not too far from there we found 'Urupia' ('Uru'=gnome and Utopia). It is an eco-commune of 12 permanent members (Germans and Italians) and there were also 13 volunteers from Germany, Portugal, Denmark, and Italy. They produce organic wine, bread, marmalade, and other preserved vegetables. They had a gray-water system, and use only biodegradable cleaning agents. We had a nice dinner with all of them and then sat around the fireplace talking. They were all pleasant people, though too many are smokers. There was also little one and a half years old Emma who was very excited that there was another child there, and she said "Momo" in the most adorable way. The next day OfeK worked with them collecting firewood (downed olive branches) which they needed to make their bread. But because we had contacted them at the last minute, they were unable to put us up for more than one night, but sent us off telling us to come back soon, with a few days notice.
17_1_urupia_main_building.jpg (217026 bytes) 17_2_urupia_garden.jpg (137782 bytes) 17_3_urupia_wine_making_room.jpg (241270 bytes) 17_4_urupia_erika_working.jpg (179887 bytes) 17_5_urupia_momo_emma.jpg (274524 bytes)

From there we headed south to Sicily, where we stayed in the city of Palermo. Of course on our first day we found the three things I mentioned above, had a little trouble at the "vegetarian" restaurant after OfeK's pasta arrived with shrimp. But we did get soy gelato down the street for dessert. The city sponsored electric bike rentals and had methane (natural gas, almost no polution, though not from a renewable resource..) buses. We took the bus to the top of the mountain there and saw the famous Monreale church that all done in gold and glass mosaic and we had a great view of the city and sea.
On the train:
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View from Monreale:19_2_view_from_monreal.jpg (331813 bytes) 19_1_palermo_from_monreal.jpg (276095 bytes)

We got sick of the city soon, though, and headed to the west coast to see an old medieval town called Erice that is on top of a mountain overlooking the sea, where the clouds were so low that we walked through the cobblestone streets and Norman castle in a thick fog. We treated ourselves with traditional sweets made by the monks there - they were excellent, almond marzipan-like balls in all sorts of shapes and sizes. When we left it was getting pretty dark and rainy looking but as our bus went down the mountain the blue sky and sun appeared again.
We walked all the way up with our bags to a hostel that turned out to be closed.. (though the book said open year-round) so then we went back for a hotel in Trapani: 20_2_trapani_uphill_to_closed_hostel_erika_momo.jpg (382193 bytes)
Though OfeK wore his sleepers like always, it was very cold, but Momo sleept comfortably most of the time inside OfeK's coat: 21_1_erice_ofek_momo.jpg (336668 bytes)
Momo gets very excited whenever we meet an animal: 21_2_erice_doves.jpg (212112 bytes) 21_5_erice_momo_erika.jpg (194758 bytes)
The fog and the view from the bus back to Trapani: 21_3_erice_norman_castle_fog.jpg (112476 bytes) 21_4_erice_fog_chasm.jpg (205856 bytes) 21_6_down_from_erice_by_bus_view.jpg (82487 bytes)

So.. from there we went back to Palermo and caught an overnight ferry back to the mainland, to Naples. 22_1_ferry_to_napoli_momo_erika.jpg (227200 bytes)
The boat was 'first-class' only so us cheap people had to splurge on a 'luxury cabin,' which turned out to be absolutely no different than our cabins on the other boats. There were escalators all over the boat though. Whoopee.

 In Napoli, we found a huge natural food store with a vast selection of organic pastas and we even found a new-ageish vegan organic restaurant that had a big selection of progressive books about vaccinations, the myth of AIDS, etc. Momo has recently started to stand up and even with "no hands" for a few seconds..
23_2_hotel_speranza_momo_standing.jpg (218748 bytes) 23_1_hotel_speranza_momo_standing.jpg (150387 bytes)

We went on a day trip to Pompeii, the ancient city that was buried in lava in 97 AD and then uncovered. It was much bigger than we expected and we even got to see a preserved cast of one of the victims.
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Momo had to pee..:25_07_pompeii_EC_momo_ofek.jpg (265766 bytes)
25_08_pompeii_resting_grass_momo_erika.jpg (213922 bytes) 25_09_pompeii_house_of_mysteries.jpg (118874 bytes)
Peeing again in the Metro station..25_10_pompeii_metro_station_EC_erika_momo.jpg (189131 bytes) 25_11_metro_from_pompeii_to_napoli_momo.jpg (51778 bytes)

And finally, we are now in Rome, my favorite place so far. We have happily found a hostel that has a kitchen!! and is totally no-smoking!! We found a couple of natural food stores and I have been joyously cooking away, though I do have to share 3 burners with about 30 people (ALL of whom are eating white spaghetti with plain tomato sauce). Momo is happy here. There are all sorts of people for her to play with and there are common areas where we can put her on the floor and she keeps herself busy looking at people's shoes. She crawls everwhere very fast, but her favorite thing to do now is to pull herself up to a stand on anything she can and she can even do it with one hand. (And another update is that she has her two top teeth coming in).
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A cat getting warm at the Coliseum:27_rome_colosseum_cat.jpg (93566 bytes)

Elimination Communication around Rome (Yes, we clean after ourselves.. not like many roman dog owners):
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Outside a gothic church: 28_5_gothic_church_erika_momo.jpg (177739 bytes) 28_1_erika_momo.jpg (314810 bytes)

The Vatican Museum:
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The Sistine Chapel: 31_5_vatican_museum_sistine_chapel.jpg (87999 bytes)

Saint Peter's Basilica:31_7_st_peters_momo_ofek.jpg (65678 bytes) 31_8_st_peters_momo_ofek.jpg (75438 bytes)

Next we're off  to visit and work at a family-organic-farm.

Till the next update..

Erik@feK/mo2




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