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“Hey Mon, Would you like to see my jewelry?”

A: “No, I’m all set.”

IMG_6663The cottage industry, Roaming Beach Vendors, aka, the band of people who stroll the resort sands past the chaise lounges of relaxing tourists perched under the midday sun, deserves the respect it never gets. Find a country, island, beach cove, or open expanse of seashore and you will experience the creativity of the entrepreneur. Free trade is a curious thing. Put it on the internet and (if legal) it is a normal part of our culture. Put it on the beach during the primetime of your well-deserved vacation, and something changes.

The West Indies Islands are remarkable in creativity from the local merchant, homeopathic herbalist attendant, masseuse, artist, watersports sales agent, food vendor/cook, and brownie salesman.  Oh, did I mention wood-carver?  Not only have I been engaged by one of these energetic trades, but I have searched them out in various lands. Fondly, the strong palms of the Thai masseuse, clad in white linen, head to toe, with that genuine smile, remains in my memory.  On a chaise under an umbrella steps from the lapping waters on the salty shore is the perfect place for the back and shoulder rub down in the fifty or so minutes.  What value, too.  And, there’s more.  Who might pass up the opportunity to listen to the comical stories of the beach comic, as he tries out a string of his latest jokes on the sunning tourists.  Shouldn’t that act be worth a few shekels ?  Many of my beach vendor friends have many jobs.  Take my comic friend, ” the Mighty Bassman”, as his real job is to pace the full several miles of beach promoting with a bullhorn the merits of attending the nightclub /beach bar for that evening.  ” It’s going to be Hot, Hot, Hot!  Come to the Party at Alfred’s Bar. Remember, Ladies are alway free! Hot, Hot, Hot.”

20121028_37 It is hard work, as the Jamaicans call it: Hustlers or Chiselers. I am certain the downturn of the North American/ European  economy has touched the livelihood of many of the vendors. From firsthand experience, I have seen the numbers of unused beads amass in the hands of the hair-braiding ladies. Fewer little corn-rowed children roam the classrooms after vacation week.  Belt-tightening certainly affects all the vendors. Music prevails on the beach, as the creativity of these local artist come through. Put three guys with dreadlocks, Hawaiian shirts, an aged tambourine, Guitar and old bass fiddle in front of you, playing a Bob Marley song.  As the bass fiddle is held together with ducktape, and the songs are in key, I open my wallet.  These artists become my regulars, or I, theirs.  I may be easy, but I like it.  Perhaps, I may be convinced to begin a foundation for the advancement of beach vendors, or to establish the Beach Vendor Senior Citizen Home.  In any case, I have grown with the beach vendors, heard their stories, watched them age, and have seen some leave us, like BanjoMan.

IMG_6656Negril Beach is seven miles long and the best beach in Jamaica. BanjoMan would begin his day on one end and finish the full distance and return at day’s end.  All was under the hot sun. He weighed a mere 140 pounds and wore khaki shirt and pants, a floppy straw hat and carried that ole -timey four string banjo, on bare feet.  I could guest that I first met him at his age seventy.  He lacked several teeth; top and bottom. He could play and he could sing.  BanjoMan wasn’t much of a talker, but I think it was his humility.  He could play:” The Harder they come, the harder they fall” and all the others.  The beach vendors mostly adored him, as I did. One season BanjoMan hung up his instrument for all time.

Who invented Aloe?  Yuck, these beach vendors roam the sands with aloe fronds in hand, looking for hapless idiots to smear a substance of rubber cement on those bodies.  The goop is sticky, yes, can’t wash off and will stain your favorite “T”-shirt. Then, they want you to give them money?  No thank you.  Then I think: ” I just don’t get it”, as the cardboard box on the beach vendors head is full of little reef fish. They are all beautiful in color; sargent majors, parrot fish, tiny grey angel fish. Tourist do not buy fish on the beach. Every week he fishes and offers his catch. He is still in business.

See, the All Inclusive Resort Business on many West Indies Islands has put a dagger in the hearts of these vendors.  Guests do not bring money to the chaise lounges at water’s edge.  One price and then package is sealed. I say, that you need to bring those dollars. Buy that coconut palm hat that you will alway wear.  Go parasailing several times.  Bring home those Flip Flops.  Have them sing out for you: “Three Little Birds”.  And, support your Beach Vendor. You will be glad you did.  Thank you.
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Oia Town Can Stimulate Every Appetite

ACaiqueFloatsAtArmeni-AmmoudiA Must Do, Go down to Amoundi Bay below Oia and have lunch at one of the fish tavernas down there: Ammoudi Fish Tavern . I found this to be so relaxing sitting right next to the sea and watching the fishing boats bringing in the catch of the day (Early Morning) which is then freshly cooked either on a bbq grill or in the kitchen, try Marides, (fried shiners: eat the whole thing, like french fries.)

Now the Amoundi Beach I talk about is to the Left at the bottom of the Mule path steps. Go past the tavernas, up and over a ledge on a gravel path. Continue to the Rock bluffs and pick one ledge to spread towels on the edge of the Caldera.

The Inky Blue sea goes down some hundreds of feet right here. Dive in and swim to the left side of the little island ( 40 yards) and find the steps to climb up to the White Greek Chapel on this little island. Wait for a CruiseLiner to pass and when the wake surge arrives jump into the sea. Nudist may find a spot here also. There is a long utility road down to the Amoundi port and some parking on the side of the road to save the knees on the 300 steps! Mule drivers can get you up the steps to the Oia cliffs above. Find the Oia Cathedral in the middle of the village. Sit down and drink it in.

Oia also has some great eating for dinner (Thalami Taverna) . I also have discovered local Oia tavernas off the beaten path: There are two on the Finikia area down to the right to the plains below Oia: Anemomilos Restaurant, 30 22860 71410, at the bottom of the road down to the sea. Outdoor eating and the smell to the sea is to die for. Another one is just before the entrance to Oia on the Main road, on the Right, called My Santorini. The Owner, Mihalis, sings and plays Bouzouki.  See below.Look for my photo, as a guitar playing musician with Mihalis, among the hundred photos hanging from the grape arbors.

Kamari Beacharea has lots of tavernas and Pizza places along the “boardwalk”.  All are at different price points, you must shop first.  Sit on the boardwalk of a restaurant and people watch in the late afternoon.  At midday, the black sand beach is best used by the farthest end of the stretch.  Get the two chaises and umbrella at water’s edge and park for a bit to swim and sun.  Perissa Beach on the other side of the mountain is very enjoyable and may be reach by ferry boat from Kamari for a few hours. The Caiique  ( ky-eeek-cay) Boats travel back and forth.

 

As for other restaurants/tavernas I have to say that as I stayed in Imerovigli, I just tended to eat there on a night or two. There is a taverna of great food and a value, family run, with my blessing:  Taverna Imerovigli, along the cliff before Firostefani, is a good Greek taverna with decent food if you ever wander into Imerovigli on foot on a night. As for Thera Town, there are dozens of places to eat.  There are some pricey restaurants in Thira on the cliff edge, some not that great. Some good ones are not on the cliff but on the street by the museum up the stairs from the street level “Stani” and Roof Garden and Dionysus is in the same area.  As many cultures, Greeks will dine in the evening fairly late. A sit down dinner in a popular spot might begin at 11:00 PM.  After din-din may end at 4:00 AM.  Santorini is just a bit more laid back and some areas close by 11:00 PM.

Clubs will keep going while guests partake.  Greek coffee helps!

Imerovigli Traditional Tavern, Imerovigli

Owned and run by Maria Tsagari and her husband Dionisis, this is one of my  favorite places to eat on Santorini. Perched on the cliff above the caldera, the restaurant has a matchless view and good to people watch as they walk the cliff.  The service is warm and personal. Try to sit on the outside space: bring a sweater. Try a Greek or Seafood Salad; Spaghetti with Mussels and Pine Nuts; Try the fried squid app.  I eat the Chicken Filet Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese or Stuffed Lamb in Vine Leaves; House Barrel White Wine; stay a while and you may get a special cordial on the house!

Imerovigli, Tel: 22860 24190

 

ANOGI RESTAURANT, Progressive tavern

Imerovigli, 84700 Santorini Tel: 22860 21285

The two owners and fantastic chef have come together to convert a past sleepy area in Imerovigli village into a hopping dynamic place.

Eat in the garden tavern space under the stars.  Have a Raki toast by carafe.  Dig in to Lamb in Parchment or the other casseroles. Dip breads into fine olive paste and oil.  The wine will satisfy here. Make the call and get the reservation early in the week.  Walk-ins will eat at 10:30PM! The chef is real good, oh, I said that! Note: this is not a cliff view. It is a busy little village with much foot traffic. The staff will make you feel special.

Taverna Roza, Vourvoulos,  22860 24378, far below Imerovigli

The ten tables may give a hint. This family run village taverna is potentially overlooked by the passing tour busses. The kitchen is open to the guests.

The menu could be traditional or very seasonal.  All is made to order. Eat on the covered porch. Flowering trees surround the spot. Grilled sardines or skate wings can be followed by plates of lamb chops.  An Ouzo “mini” wets the appetite for more. Go for more. Tour the mini kitchen and you’ll find it. Very affordable here.

Santorinimou: Traditional Taverna & Live Music, Oia Tel: 22860 71730

Aka: My Santorini: In season go to the simple but idyllic roadside taverna-in-a-garden, on the right as you drive into Oia. The food and barrel wine here are plentiful and reasonably priced but, after 10, it’s Mihalis Hionas, singing and playing his own compositions on guitar and bouzouki, which charm utterly. Ask for the songs “Santorinimou,” and “Eleni and Frank,” pick up a CD, and give Mihalis a hug from Ron & Sharon. If you’re lucky enough to hear some of his stories, you’ll feel you’ve caught a glimpse of the real Santorini. Oia,

What not to consider on Santorini: Many go to the live volcano tour in the Caldera by the boat at the bottom of the Thera cliffs.  Note, this is a full half day trip and can be grueling as well and quite smelly (sulfur) and packed with hundreds on the several tours at the same time. Oia does have an evening sunset cruise by sail and that might be most enjoyable. Your call.

What else: Avoid the high noon roaming of the town of Thera when the several Cruise Liners are in port. It is a madhouse.  Also avoid the switchback steps to the Thera Port when the tourists are on the Mules rising from the ships on those steps. Lastly, the Winery Dinner theaters might entertain many groups, but it is kind of contrived, certainly the food served is not to standard.  Stick with the keepers.

The Boston Globe Newspaper’s Travel Show heats up a Chilly Weekend

giveaway-banner-azoresGive away twenty-four vacations and promise untold discounts to vacation hungry and they will come, and they did come.  The winter season provides the inspiration to the masses and the purveyors of varieties of travel near and far produce.  The anchor vendors to the 2014 Boston Globe Travel Show on February 7th, 8th, and 9th on the harbor front bring the warmth of the Caribbean, Europe offbeat retreats, Asia and the Pacific, while New England regions champion the cultures of food, the sea and mountains and day trips away to inns.

The hunger for taste and drink sets the stage.

07_NSTourism_010924Nova Scotia, Canada may be imposing in the dead of  winter but the heart and humor of the province comes through in the culinary specialties of the near neighbor. The taste of the sea and the wealth of the vines combine to give the attendees flavors that excite. Chef Jason Lynch of Le Caveau Restaurant and sommelier Amy Savoury of Tidal Bay Wines take you on a culinary journey featuring Nova Scotia scallops and wine.  Nova Scotia is now recognized as a culinary tourism destination and the trade has stepped up to provide. Local cheddar cheese, seafood and white wine round out the preparations with samples for the many throngs eager to partake.photo4

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Pan seared Atlantic sea scallops served over a wild beet puree, beure blanc sauce and a hint of creme. The  wine was white and crisp.

Your coupon may just be the ticket.

Area 2 bustles with dozens of Travel Booths dedicated to the warmth of the Caribbean Sea.  Salsa  music lilts  in the aisles and the Dominican Republic triple booth has swarms with activity.  Winning drawing gifts of bottles of Brugal Rum and on-site hand-rolled cigars, as well as island vacations under palm trees is good reason for the buzz.  Attendees sign up at the many terminals and the business is brisk.

The Boston Globe Travel Show offered a  successful season to present the best of values and creative ideas for winter weary vacationers.

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Sunkist2 Island Traveler

This page gives you a little insight of my Travels through my lens.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning!

We call it, Indian Summer. The last throws of the waning Summer months transition into Fall. Still warm by day, until a blustery breeze picks up after morning. This is the time to walk the barren morning beaches. South County, Rhode Island State, USA offers this peaceful time. Yes, American Indians were the first settlers of this New England region.

Day break: South County,RI

Day break: South County,RI

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Memories of Seasons past

Memories of Seasons past

The Nikon d7100 DSLR, Nikkor 55-80mm .

Sunkist2 Island Traveler

This page gives you a little insight of my Travels through my lens.

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

The Greek Mountains of the Peloponnese of “southern Greece” is far from tropical in the winter months. This roadside chapel near the famed Olympia is active with tourbuses, except for my vision this winter!IMG_5549

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The Nikon d7100 DSLR, Nikkor 55-80mm captures this Alps-like scene.

Hidden Gem of American History Shines its Lamp Brightly

NL_Light_mosaic     On the waterfront street near the City Pier of historic New London, Connecticut, USA, are the granite columns of the  179-year-old Robert Mills building: The Custom House and Maritime Museum.  Mills is most know for the Washington monument in District of Columbia.  His architecture on the 150 Bank Street location augments the age of seaport towns, such as New London, to regulate and collect the tariffs of sailing ship trade across the seas.  The Granite facade and the red brick vaulted interior rooms, highlighted by massive maple doors and soaring ceilings, evokes a time when government real estate was permanent.  The Custom House and U.S. Treasury Service still maintain office space on the second floor, though it is more of a museum space.  The three levels and a sub-basement contain treasures of the ship building days, mariner memorabilia, Ship Models, ancient sea paintings in oil, collections of sailing art and libraries of books and data.  The groupings are contained in delightfully decorated “captain’s rooms”, replete with mariner furniture.

1839 History that Rocked the World:

First Step To Freedom

amistad4On that infamous night of  July 2 at 4:00am, 53 slaves brought through Havana, and onboard the Amistad  schooner and south of the Bahama Islands revolt and seize control of the vessel.  The “Black Pirates” are discovered and taken into custody off the coast of Long Island, New York, by the U.S. Navy . They seize the schooner and escort it to New London to the U.S. Custom House.  The location serves as the beginnings of the Abolitionist Defense Committee and the US Supreme Court to instigate the Free-State Provisions.  The 35 surviving Africans departed New York for Africa aboard the barque Gentleman, and were returned to their Sierra Leone in 1842.  In 1866, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution defines a citizen as anyone born in the U.S. (except American Indians) or naturalized, thereby extending all rights of citizenship to African-Americans. 

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compliments of Wikipedia

The second floor remains the historical depiction space of the events and contains many displays.  The current Amistad Schooner  docks periodically on the local wharf, up from New Haven, Connecticut mooring.

Preserving the Protectors

The New London Maritime Museum stretches a bit further to preserve history.  The New London Harbor Light, at the mouth of the harbor, was the fourth lighthouse recognized by George Washington when he enacted the 1789 Act for the Establishment and support of Lighthouse. It is one of the earliest  flashing beacons. This and the Race Rock Light, off of nearby Fisher’s Island, New York, are under the management of the U.S. Custom House and Maritime Museum, having been turned over from the Coast Guard.  Tours have become available to these working lighthouses.  The history of the maritime region and the donated collections, the resources of knowledge and the staffing of very competent docents, make for a sea worthy journey.

http://www.nlmaritimesociety.org/

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Trustee/Docent: Harrison Lea Jewitt, on command on Sunday for Visitors

Trustee/Docent: Harrison Lea Jewitt, on command on Sunday for Visitors

PSDWE2013-150x150I love the sea and my surprise to have a special visitor from it across from my home is a treat.

Planet Solar cuts though the ocean on the energy of the sun.

The world trek of the vessel is rich in science and public appeal.  Staffed and crewed by scientists and open ocean seamen, this sleek boat rising on its two pontoons and full of technical equipment, is on a mission.  The destination is to research the sea  and reach far from distant ports to bring the message of solar power.  The track of Planet Solar began at Univerite de Geneve to raise public awareness of the interaction of ocean and climate, the Gulf Stream and atmosphere.  The MS Turanor ” Planet Solar” is the largest solar catamaran built. The crew of several left the Mediterranean Sea via  Spain and headed for the Caribbean.  The port of call in May was Sint Maarten/ St.Martin.  Miami. Florida and then New York followed and now the boat is in Boston, MA, USA.

SYP-0295-170x114The Fan Pier area of Boston Harbor is a perfect mooring for Planet Solar.  The education of the expedition to the public has occurred on the several days in port.  The Next port of call should be Halifax, NS, CAN.  The mission has a delay of departure from the unwelcome Bermuda High weather pattern now gripping the east coast of New England.  The trough of storms and ensuing lightning and the rough seas have them safely in place tied to the pier.  My discussion with Team Scientist, Anh Dao, and her recollection of the journey and the intense work left for the vessel is impressive.

The great opportunity to fulfill the mission and complete Planetsolar Campaign 2013 for the Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva  can bring pride to the crew.  Much thanks to the many sponsors and port hosts.  www.planetsolar.org

anh dao

Crew Scientist Le T Anh Dao, M.Sc. Eng.

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