31 Aug

Waist Goals

I like September a lot. Even though I’m not in school any more, the Tuesday following Labour Day still has that feeling of newness and freshness and to me it feels more like New Year’s than January 1st. Which makes it a great time for a resolution.

Lately I’ve been feeling that my prioritization of healthy habits has fallen aside a bit.

I’ll give myself credit for doing some good things– like keeping up with my weightlifting— and that’s great, because I’m really happy with my strength levels, but I can maintain this habit only because I really, really love to exercise.

I also really, really love eating dessert and I haven’t had a problem doing that either…unfortunately that’s not exactly the healthiest of habits. I’ve noticed more than a little fat has started creepy on belly and honestly, as much as I talk about body love and acceptance, I’m not happy with it.

I don’t feel like a hypocrite here though. My body image has improved so much by blogging about it these past few years. And this extra fat? I’m not obsessed about it. It hasn’t given me feelings of low self worth and it hasn’t impeded my confidence. It doesn’t make me insult myself when I look in the mirror. It doesn’t make me cry.

Things would have been much different 3 years ago.

The extra fat is just something that I want to lose because I know that it’s healthier for me not to be carrying it around, and I know that I can still live comfortably without it.

I don’t care about my weight, which has stayed the same over the last year, give or take a pound (okay, give). I would, however, like to lose some centimetres from my waistline so my clothes fit more comfortably.

In order to give myself some tips on cutting, I consulted some old posts from my Bikini Birthday tone up to see what I was eating and how I was working out.

Goal

Lose 6cm from my waist.

Progress Sept 1 2012Progress Sept 1 2012Progress Sept 1 2012

Taken Aug 31, 2012

Game Plan

Start the Day with Protein
Something like eggs, a green smoothie with protein, or plain yoghurt with fruit. This way I can reduce my overall starchy food intake and restrict most of my starches to dinner time (ie. post workout).

Cut out processed food and white carbs.
I don’t eat a lot of processed food to begin with so eliminating that shouldn’t be a problem. Cutting back on bread and dessert will be a bit more of a challenge but I think I can manage, as long as I have a. . .

Cheat Meal
I will allow myself one cheat meal and one dessert per week (ya know, instead of dessert with every meal).

High Intensity Exercise
I have already started to incorporate sprints into my weekly exercise. I want to make my lifting a bit higher intensity as well, so I’m planning on doing more Crossfit Style” workouts to incorporate circuits, lots of intensity, and minimal rest time between sets.

Plan Night Time Snacks
Often times I’m still hungry in the evening and I grab something sweet and unhealthy to eat. I’m going to try to consider my evening snack a little more thoughtfully before I eat it. Maybe some casein protein and cottage cheese or a fruit and a few almonds or a single square of chocolate. In other words, something satisfying but not sabotaging.

So hopefully this all works out. I’ll post progress every so often along the way to my goal.


Waist goal recaps:

Waist Goals Update 1 – October 2012
Waist Goals Update 2 – November 2012
Waist Goals Update 3 – January 2013
Waist Goals Update 4 – March 2013

30 Aug

Baking for the Harrow Fair

The past few years I’ve been wanting to submit some of my baking in the Harrow Fair, which is like the Olympics for farm folk. It happens to take place on Labour Day weekend and I always seem to be busy or out of town. But this year I was finally available to enter the hundred-some-odd-year-old competition that pits grannys against each other in all things domestic arts (. . .and farming too, but unfortunately my childhood dreams of raising sheep haven’t yet come to fruition, so I’m sticking to baked goods).

To enter something into the fair you have to buy a membership to the agricultural society which costs $7. If you win the prize is $6. Ummm…? I guess it’s about the bragging rights? I don’t know.

Matt insisted I should enter a pie into the competition because I do make a mean pie. But the last time I made one I brought it to my friend’s for dinner and it was a disaster (lucky for me I had enough glasses of wine not to care…all that much). So, yeah, no pie.

I went with bread instead because I love baking bread and I’m pretty good at it. The competition categories for the breads are pretty slim– you mean there isn’t a category for best pain a l’ancienne?— so I decided to enter 3 breads: white bread, crusty rolls, and whole wheat buns (which were a bonus since I used a recipe that I never tested before).

The entries had to be submitted last night by 9 and there is no way that I’d be able to bake 3 different types of bread after work and have them ready by 9 o’clock so I baked the crusty rolls and whole wheat buns on the weekend and froze them and I saved the white bread for baking fresh last night.

As I was preparing the dough I kept looking back at the clock, counting back the time that I would need to get my bread ready on time and it wasn’t adding up. Shit. I performed some baker’s magic tricks to speed up the proofing/rising processes and I managed to get the bread into the oven at exactly 7:25pm.
Somewhere between 7:25 and 8:10 was the end of the world. The loaves started to get way to dark way too quickly. And by dark I mean burnt. I was pissed because I knew the crumb would taste good but I didn’t want to associate my name with a loaf of bread that had burn spots on it.

&^%&^!! @#$S%!!! $#%&#^! @#*&$!!!

I spent about 5 minutes swearing and throwing things around the kitchen in frustration and disappointment. My best bread was ruined. Ruined!

In a huff and a hurry I pulled myself together and grabbed my other breads out of the freezer and sped all the way out to Harrow and made it on time to the fairgrounds. On the drive home Matt said, “Next year you should just take the day off work to do all your baking”.

An entire day off to bake just so I can win $6? Umm yeah, that sounds kinda awesome.

. . . Want to know what happens with my bread? Read all about it here

26 Aug

Date Night: Tigers Game

Tiger's Game Date Night

Technically, we missed out on our July Date of the Month. I had intended for use to go to the Detroit Zoo but I made our date of the month cards at Christmas long before our trip to Greece was planned or our tickets to Next Restaurant were purchased. But given all the dates Matt and I had together in July, I wasn’t disappointed about missing the zoo.

For August, our date night was to a Detroit Tigers baseball game.

Tiger's Game (10)

Matt bought tickets for a Wednesday night when the Tigers were playing the Blue Jays because he’s a bit of a Blue Jay fan. I, on the other hand, don’t follow baseball. But since I’m Canadian and actually lived in Toronto for a while I picked he Jays to root for. Baseball is decidedly more fun when you’re actually cheering for a team.

Our seats were close to right outfield but right behind the foul post.

Tiger's Game (12)

But luckily in the mostly-sold-out park there were empty seats beside us so I was able to move a few seats over so I could actually see the field.

Not that it made much of a difference in my ability to follow the game.

I only have a basic knowledge about how baseball is played so I managed to make an ass out of myself several times throughout the evening by asking dumb questions like “Why is that guy on first base so old?!? He’s geriatric!” (it was the first base coach) or by cheering at inappropriate times.

Me: “Wahoo!”
Matt: “Who are you going for again?”
Me: “The Blue Jays. We just got a run!”
Matt: “No. He was out. You have no idea what’s going on do you?”

Um. Yeah.

Whatever, I was just there for the hot dogs. And nachos.

Tiger's Game (1)Tiger's Game (2)

There were quite a few Toronto fans in the crowd, not surprising for a game played in Detroit. One of them sitting two rows ahead of us didn’t wait until his 8th beer to start embarrassing himself (and Toronto fans in general) by heckling the Tigers players like a true douchebag. I don’t get hecklers, really I don’t. If you know so much about baseball then why aren’t you playing MLB? I’d like to see you try. Or, better yet, how would you like it if came to your job and start yelling at you when you screw up?

“You suck douchebag heckler! How does it feel to have the worst sales conversion in the office?! You couldn’t hand in a report on time if you tried!”

Or something to that effect.

Douchebag heckler was on a double date. I told Matt that if a guy took me to a baseball game then proceeded to shout rude things to the players I would never see him again. I don’t have a lot of ‘non-negotiables’, but the ability to hold youself back from shouting criticisms to people who are better at shit than you are is definitely one of them.

Tiger's Game (4)

Luckily Matt doesn’t heckle. And that’s why we’re happily married (ya know, among other things).

In the end the Jays lost by 1, which disappointed me for 2 milliseconds before I remembered that I don’t follow baseball anyway.

It was a good night.


Date of the Month Club

Check out other posts in the Date of the Month club, where Matt and I go on one special date every month of 2012:

January – Bookstore Scavanger Hunt
February – Board Game Night
March – Bowling
April – Detroit Walking Tour
May – Colasanti’s
June – Picnic
July – Next Restaurant
August – Detroit Tigers Baseball Game
September – Detroit Institute of Arts
October – Wine Tasting 

 

25 Aug

New Computer

As promised, Matt bought Bagigis a new shiny laptop.

Bagigis Laptop

Actually, it’s more matte than shiny. And it’s blue which is one of the few colours dogs can see, so bonus!

I don’t know the specs or anything but I can tell you that it has all the features Bagigis wanted: it loads up insanely fast (she’s an impatient pup) and has a super long battery life so she can take it to, like, the dog park or something, I dunno.

Bagigis Laptop

Anyway, I think she’s enjoying it so far 😉

22 Aug

Shooting

My friend Kyle is making a movie. Like, a real movie. The kind with actors and lighting and make-up artists. It’s totally bonkers. He’s already made one which I saw a few month ago, which was really awesome in the way that only independent films can be, and now he’s doing his second one.

It’s impressive to watch Kyle direct. He’s a bit of a perfectionist, noticing every little detail in a frame, and he takes advantage of every last second of time to make sure it’s all right. Plus, he has this natural ability to connect with all kinds of people (even the kind of people that would drive me up the wall) that I’ve only witnessed in a few individuals in my life. I really don’t know how he does it.

I mentioned to him that I’d be willing to help out with his project because I know it takes a lot of help and because I love helping with absolutely anything (now you know my secret and can take advantage). Since the filming has been during the day he never called on me until this week when a few extras were needed.

So, the last two nights I was given the difficult task of filling in space on camera and pretending to do things. (I say ‘pretending’ because my ‘acting’ is really quite terrible, even if my oddly high secondary school drama class marks suggest otherwise.)

Monday was a night club scene filmed at Mynt bar which basically involved dancing around for a few hours.

Where’s Waldo?

This is my favourite picture of me ever. And it has nothing to do with the movie.

Last night I tried to help as much as I could with setting up the equipment for the shoot, then I got to pretend to be reading a menu at a restaurant.

I’m ready for my close up!

It was all fun, but I can’t imagine how exhausting it must be to spend weeks and weeks filming. Much more taxing than life on the cubicle farm.

Me and the Director Extraordinaire

(All pictures stolen without permission from Beyond the Deep)

20 Aug

Rich Kids.

Shhh. . .

Don’t tell my husband but I’m already started to get annoyed of this whole “no computer” thing. He’s already all too excited to buy me a new one (what is it with men and electronics?) but I would rather just save the money than spend an astronomical sum on something that’s just going to let me down and disappoint me in 4-5 years in the way that electronics always do.

Right now I’m mostly disappointed that I can’t steal the husband’s computer long enough to post to my blog.

Otherwise, though, I’m happy that I have been spending more time practising guitar, baking, and reading than liking random pictures on facebook. Although it’s hard to practice guitar when I can’t use the web to access tabs and instructional youtube videos, and baking is less fun when I can’t peruse all my pinned recipes, and my reading has been reduced to novels and not my favourite blogs and newspaper sites.

I really have nothing of interest to say today so let me distract you with trainwreck of a tumblr:

Rich Kids of Instagram.

Instagram pictures of privileged teenagers having champagne showers in St. Tropez. Since, ya know, I don’t feel inadequate enough for not being able to afford a new computer.


Spray down the party. #nikkybeach #greygoose #sainttropez #party

*sigh* I’m going to go back to my cubicle now.

15 Aug

How to Caramelize Onions

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy
(I or J): Juniper Berry Bechamel
(K or L): Kamut Brioche

This month we look at M, N, or O. My ingredient of choice: Onions.

Onions: Everyone’s favourite vegetable

Onions

People who say they don’t like onions are either liars or ignorami. Maybe they don’t like raw onions, that must be it, because onions are cooked into practically everything. Pasta sauce, curries, stews, soups, cassaroles, hamburgers, and roasts all have onions. When cooked, onion imparts this amazing sweet flavour that you can’t get from other vegetables. It’s worth crying over.

Onions, of course, are very good for you. They’re a great source of vitamin C and a good source of fibre.

I use a range of different types of onions in cooking. I like red onions if I’m using them raw, white onions for Mexican dishes, sweet onions for caramelizing, shallots if I only need a little onion flavour, and yellow onions for everything. But really I use whatever onion I have in the onion basket for whatever I’m making. They’re all good.

Arguably my favourite way to prepare onions is to caramelize them. This is probably due to my rampant sweet tooth.
Onions have lots of natural sugars in them that can be drawn out by cooking them slowly at a low temperature. It’s amazing how pungent, raw onions can take on a candied taste with just some heat and butter.

Caramelized onions are the vegetarian’s answer to bacon. They taste amazing on everything. They add a touch of sweetness and richness and a silky mouthfeel.
The best thing is that making caramelized onions is super easy. It takes just 3 ingredients, a little bit of time, and not all that much attention.

You could add a touch of sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar if you’d like (I’m looking at you, sister) but it’s entirely unecessary to get you a deliciously sweet caramelized onion.

How To Caramelize Onions

Serves 4

Serve them with pretty much anything.

Ingredients

2 large or 4 small onions (sweet onions taste best but any old onion will do)
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Heat a large pan over medium-low heat while you thinly slice the onions into half moons.

Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt and bubble then add the sliced onions. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the onions until they are tender and just starting to brown ~10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove the cover from the pan and add the salt. They’ll look like this:

Continue to cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the onions turn a rich caramel colour (about another 15 minutes or so).

Midway through cooking uncovered they’re look like this:

Pay attention near the end because you want the onions brown but not overcooked. Something like this:

I think I even cooked these slightly longer after taking the picture.

Voila! Caramelized Onions. Easy Peasy.


 

14 Aug

Weightlifting Check-Ins and Computer Issues.

This post, like my stream of consciousness is very random.

Computer Issues

My old hand-me-down laptop died this weekend. At home now I’m computerless until those brief moments when Matt steps away from his computer and I swoop in like a vulture to check my e-mail. He said that he’s going to buy Bagigis a new computer since I am adamant about not buying one right now. We spent an hour last night talking about what exactly our dog would need in a new computer and I suggested something fast with lots of hard drive space and a normal sized monitor (no Matt, Bagigis does not want to have to crane her neck in order to use the 60″ TV screen as her monitor).

So in any case, the dog is probably going to be getting a new computer soon. She’s already on facebook so this is just the next natural step.

Oly Lifts

I’m in my third week of my Olympic Lifting programme and I’m exhausted. Last week my hip flexors were more sore than they’ve ever been, a situation I rectified with a good yoga session on Sunday AM.

But mostly I’m just really tired at the end of the day. In a good way. In an “I worked my ass off and all I want to do is sleep” way. Sleep feels so good.

Yesterday when I got home from the gym Matt took one look at my sweaty self and asked me if I went for a run. No dear, this is weightlifting sweat.

So yeah, Olympic lifts = exhausting.

2012 Beast Mode Goals

And speaking of weightlifting, I was going through my old posts recently and found my 2012 Weight Goals from January. Since we’re 2/3rds through the year I should probably check-in.

Back SquatsGoal: 225lb; Current: 175lb for 5 reps.
My progress has been plateauing here. In September I was squatting 145lb. In February I was up to 165lb. And currently I’m at 175lbs. So in almost a year I increased by 30lbs. What are the odds I can increase it by 50lbs in 4 months? Pretty slim. But then again I only have to do one 225lb squat to hit my goal, not five.

Bench PressGoal: body weight; Current: 135lbs for 3 reps.
I could blow this goal out of the water if I amputated my legs to decrease my body weight. But that would make reaching my squat goal much harder, so I guess I’ll leave my legs where they are.

I’m not at body weight yet, but I can see this happening. . . just probably not by the end of 2012.

Pull UpsGoal: 5 unassisted; Current: A solid 3, plus a really weak 4th one.
I’m super happy with this. When I was marathon training I couldn’t even do a chin-up. Now I’m doing 4ish pull ups? Sah-weet!

Push-UpsGoal: 100 consecutive; Current: 35
I’ve basically stagnanted on this one, but I haven’t really been doing push-ups so I can’t complain.

Olympics

The London Olympics being over is bittersweet. It keeps me from spending hours on my ass in front of the TV, but also I love the Olympics and having nothing to cheer for makes me feel a bit empty inside.

On the bright side there are less than 2 years until the more awesome version of the Olympic games: Winter Olympics.

I was ecstatic when our boys won the bronze in the men’s 4x100m relay. And then I was devastated and on the verge of tears 5 minutes later when they got DQ’d. If you were watching with me you’d think I had lost the medal. I was that worked up.


source

Good show though guys. You still made us proud.

08 Aug

Santorini Travel Tips

Click the images for larger pictures or check out my entire Greece Album on Facebook.

Read about my other Greek adventures in Chania Crete, Loutro Crete, and Heraklion Crete.

Santorini Travel Tips:

Oia Santorini (17)Door to the sea – Oia, Santorini

Getting To Santorini

We came in by ferry from Herklion Crete on a Wednesday morning. We took the Sea Jet’s MegaJet, which had an open deck that I could stand out on when I was feeling motion sickness. The ride from Heraklion to Santorini’s port, Athinios, only took a few hours and was relatively smooth.

As a gateway to arguably the most beautiful island in the Cyclades, Athinios port is a disappointment. It really is just a handful of tavernas for travellers and a place to rent a car. Though the port has beautiful views of the sea and caldera and cliff sides, it’s not particularly striking, so my initial reaction when arriving in Santorini was: “Well, this is not so special.” I felt like my life’s dream of seeing the island was crushed.

We sought out the local buses right away to take us to the main city, Fira, and then another 30 minutes to Oia, the town at the Northern tip of the island where I had booked a villa for Matt and I. As we drove across the island things were starting to look up.

Oia Santorini (37)

Oia, Santorini at Night

Tips for Getting There:

By ferry:

Check out ferry times on www.gtp.gr. The official times for summer aren’t posted until May or even June for some lines, but you won’t have trouble booking a ticket even a couple of days in advance for most ferries.

Greek ferries run on Greek time, i.e. they’re notoriously late.

From the port:

Ferries dock at the port of Athinios unlike cruise ships which dock in Fira.Your best bet is to take the local KTEL bus out of Athinios for less than 2 Euro because a cab will cost you an arm and a leg. Look for the green coach buses with a sign in the front that says “local bus” and pay for tickets on the bus. They run every 20 minutes or so during the day on the 25 minute route from Athinios to Fira.

All Roads Lead to Fira:

From Fira you can take a KTEL bus to virtually anywhere on the island. The bus system is pretty stellar in Santorini. It is cheap, reliable, and comfortable.

By plane:

You can get fast and relatively cheap flights out of Athens throughout the Greek Isles with Olympic Airlines and Aegean Airlines. Aegean doesn’t have as many connecting flights with other major airlines as Olympic does, so be sure to check their website for trips and fares separately.

Where to Stay

Oia Santorini (4)Oia, Santorini

Oia. Hands down, no other choice.

When we arrived I didn’t see anything that I was expecting to see. No cliff packed with white-washed house. No blue-domed Orthodox churches. No donkeys shitting all over the endless stairs to sea level. Nothing.

. . . until we got to Oia, which is the picture perfect idea of Santorini and incomparable in its charm. If you only have enough time to see one thing in Santorini, make it Oia. Walk through the alleys and don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path a bit, you can find some really great photo-ops this way.

We stayed in the studio room at Villa Kallisti, a shoebox-sized bedroom carved out of the pumice cliff in the traditional Santorini style. Matt thought that our little private cave with the grand views was the just coolest thing, and until the power went out and the A/C shut off in the unseasonably hot and humid 40*C weather I was inclined to agree.

I called the manager first thing in the morning to complain about the lack of hydro as well as the terrible mouldy smell that kept me awake all night long. She quickly moved us into the downstairs apartment/cave which was about three times the size of our shoebox and even had its own kitchen, a bonus on an island where dining out is pricey.

We used the kitchen in the apartment to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for ourselves. It was like fine dining on our own private terrace with the best view on the island.

Oia Santorini (78)Homemade Pasta Carbonara for our anniversary on the terrace at Villa Kallisti

Oia Santorini (75)

View from the terrace at Villa Kallisti

Tips:

– If you have to pick between Oia and Fira, stay in Oia. Unless you’re staying at a really nice resort.

– If you want to stay at Villa Kallisti know that it’s not a hotel. It doesn’t have a front desk or a concierge to help you if you need it. You can use the tourist information office in Oia as your concierge but if you need help with your stay you’ll need a cellphone with a sim card that works in Europe to contact the manager. Otherwise you can buy a phone card from the grocery store to use in the pay phones.

– If you have unlimited money to spend, stay at either of these gorgeus resorts- Perivolas or Mystique– for, oh, just 7 times the price of a villa.

What to Do:

Once you’ve wandered and explored Oia you’ll be wondering what else there is to do in Santorini. Here are a few options:

Rent an ATV of Scooter

There are several places to rent ATV and scooters in the major towns on the island. It’s a great way for travellers to get around, to see the sights on their own time, and to avoid worrying about parking (you can park those things anywhere). The island is quite small so you could cover it at a leisurely pace in a day.

Tips:

– keep in mind that the roads in Santorini are narrow, winding, and Greek drivers can be a little crazy. If none of these things scare you then renting an ATV or scooter isn’t such a bad idea. I mean, I saw parents with small children on them so they can’t be that dangerous, right?

Take a Winery Tour

Oia Santorini (60)

Vineyards at Boutari Winery. The vines are woven into basket shapes so the grapes can grow on the ground and be protected from strong winds.

We fully intended to rent an ATV to tour the island and stop at the many wineries along our route. Once we realized that neither of us wanted to drink and drive an unenclosed vehicle in a foreign country on winding roads shared with risk-taking Greek motorists we nixed that plan.

Instead we opted for a trip to Boutari Winery which included transportation, a winery tour, and a tasting of 8 wines that left us more than a little drunk all for just 35 Euro. It was a pretty sweet deal.

Most of the wineries in Santorini are located in Megalachori in the central part of the island. The island only grows assyrtiko grapes, a white variety that is indigenous to the island and grows well in Santorini’s dry environment and lava soil.

Matt was brave enough to ask whether they ever want to try growing other grape varieties and he was met with a scoff and a “Why?? When we have these beeootifool assyrtiko grapes indeeegenoos to the island for THOUSANDS of years?” . . . so, um, yeah. They take the assyrtiko grapes seriously.

Tips:

– Definitely save room to try the VinSanto, a delicious dessert wine.

– Ask at your hotel or visit the tourist information centre in Oia or Fira to book the Boutari tour.

– The tours begin at 4pm and last about 3 hours.

Hike between Fira and Oia

Fira Santorini

The main city: Fira, Santorini

Due to the fact that the weather was unseasonably hot and humid when we were in Santorini we opted to cut this 10km, 2-3 hour hike out of our itinerary. I’ve heard that it is beautiful and I don’t doubt it.

Matt and I only spent about an hour or so exploring Fira, which was plenty. It isn’t nearly as charming as Oia. I would have been content had we only seen the bus terminal.

Tips:

– There is no shade on this hike so bring a hat, sunscreen, and water.

– Fira is nice, but not amazing, unless cruise tour groups crowding narrow streets lined with endless jewellery shops are your thing. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t miss it.

Visit Akrotiri

Akrotiri Santorini (12)

Akrotiri

How lucky were we that the archaeological site of Akrotiri finally re-opened this spring after being closed for 7 years? The answer is incredibly.

Akrotiri is the site of the excavations of an ancient Minoan village that was buried by the Thera Eruption in the 1500s BCE. The town was buried under deep layers of volcanic ash which kept it perfectly preserved; you can see pottery, roads, and three storey buildings all in tact and 3500 years old. It’s incredible.

What you can’t see however is preserved bodies (the way you do in Pompeii) because the Minoans were actually able to flee their villages during the eruption. No one is quite sure where they went. Cool, right?

I loved this site particularly because documented effects of the Thera Eruption can be found worldwide (it was that big!) and it’s effects have even been linked to the plagues of Egypt from the Book of Exodus.

Akrotiri Santorini (15)

Akrotiri

Another very cool thing about this excavation site is that, unlike most archaeological site, it is completely indoors. You can visit the site comfortably any time of the day.

What I didn’t like about Akrotiri was the lack of any sort of plaques describing what you were looking at. I didn’t have a tour book and a podcast to guide me so Matt and I had to glean information by standing within earshot of a tour group, much to the chagrin of the tour guide. I think having a tour guide would have taken this site from very cool to unquestionably epic. …but I’m a huge history nerd.

Tips:

-Like everywhere else on Santorini you can get to Akrotiri by KTEL bus from Fira for a couple of Euro. The ride is about 25 minutes and buses come every 20 minutes.

– If you can, get a tour guide for this site. If not, then a tour book or at the very least some advanced knowledge about what the site is all about would be really helpful. Like I said, there is NOTHING that offers information on it at the site itself.

Go to the Beach

Santorini’s geography as a volcanic island means that it has several remarkable beaches. The most popular are Kamari Beach and Red Beach, but there are many others scattered along the coast.

Kamari Beach is located on the Eastern coast of the island (on the opposite side of the island as the caldera). It’s beautiful black sands make it very popular with beach goers so it is well serviced with bars and restaurants.

Red Beach is located on the Southern part of the island near Akrotiri. Like the name suggests it has red lava rock sands and it is surrounded by red cliffs. It is a beautiful place for a relaxing beach day.

Tips:

– If you have a car/ATV/scooter then you can stop at any number of beaches along your route

– The popular beaches are easily accessed by KTEL bus from Fira

Swim in Amoudi Bay

Since we had our fair share of beaches in Loutro, Crete we decided to head down the 230 steps from Oia down to sea level where Amoudi Bay lies.

Oia Santorini (94)Swimming in Amoudi Bay

Amoudi Bay is a rocky shoreline made up of just a handful of seafood restaurants on the water with beautiful views of the caldera and the sunset.

When you come down the stairs from Oia head left through the patios of two restaurants. Disregard the signs to Stop! Go no further! and the giant boulders which betray the real dangers of rock slides in the area (disclaimer: you probably really should pay attention to these signs, but if you’re like me and all the other tourists then you won’t). You’ll have to scramble over the boulders and a path that has been destroyed by fallen rock until you get to a flat area where you can put down your towel and jump into the cool salty water.

Oia Santorini (87)Path to the swimming spot at Amoudi Bay

Just watch out for sea urchins. Matt accidently kicked one on his way into the water and got the spikes embedded into his toes. After limping up the 230 steps back to Oia, we went to the medical clinic where the practitioner told us to just “put some olive oil on it” which was a comically stereotypical Greek answer that made me think maybe I should spray some windex on it too. The pharmacist set us straight though by telling us to wrap it in medical tape and put an anti-microbial on it so it wouldn’t get infected.

Ride a Donkey

Donkeys are available at the bottom of the steps at Amoudi Bay, below Oia, and the cruise port Skala below Fira to bring travellers and their luggage up the hundreds of steps to the top of the cliff side. It’s an alternative to walking the donkey-poop-covered steps or taking the funicular (in the case of Fira).

For some reason there were never any donkeys available when we needed to go up so we never got to ride one, although I don’t know if I would have if I had the chance. I can’t really tell you much about this aside from a lot of people do it.

Oia Santorini (25)

What to Eat

Santorini is a bit on the pricey side when it comes to food so if you’re like me (read: cheap and love cooking) then having a kitchen in your hotel or apartment is a bonus. Aside from the obvious Greek Frappe coffee, here are a couple of other things you shouldn’t miss.

Fish and Seafood

Your on an island on the sea, it would be silly to miss out on the fresh seafood. If you’re in Oia head down to one of the restaurants down on Amoudi Bay where you can literally see coming from the sea and onto your plate.

We decided to dine on delicious seafood pasta and calamari at Dimitri’s (the second restaurant on the left as you come down the stairs from Oia) which is located in a former captain’s house. Our winery tour guide confirmed that our choice of Dimitri’s is the best on the bay.

Oia Santorini (27)From the ocean to your plate. Fresh as it gets.

Amoudi Bay also has the benefit of having excellent views of the sunset which is supposed to be remarkable. It was a nice sunset to be sure but I’ve seen a lot of nicer sunsets in my life (including one in Chania Crete)

Oia Santorini (34)Sunset over Amoudi Bay

Tips:

– If you’re going to eat in Amoudi Bay it might be a good idea to make reservations. We were able to snag the only unreserved table at Dimitri’s when we went down there and that’s probably because tourism was down this summer.

Cake

Oia Santorini (80)

Coconut Honey Cake

On the main road into Oia next to the grocery store there is a small bakery run by an old Greek woman who barely speaks English. It offers numerous delicious Greek desserts and Matt and I decided to pick this coconut honey cake for our anniversary dinner. It. was. amazing. If you like honey and you like coconut, you’ll be in heaven. I want to know how to recreate this one at home.

03 Aug

Olympic Weightlifting Routine

I don’t like watching sports so I get in about 90% of my sports viewing every 2 years during the Olympics. I’m a huge Winter Olympics fan (along with most other Canadians, I think), but the Summer Olympics still keep my attention. I particularly like watching rowing, swimming, track, and kayaking (which doesn’t get nearly enough coverage as far as I’m concerned).

I also like watching weightlifting, naturally. Especially this year when for the first time ever a Canadian woman actually medalled in weightlifting. 63kg (138lb) Christine Girard got a bronze medal after lifting more than twice her body weight, 133kg (293lb), in the clean and jerk.

THIS is Fitspo.

How amazing is this?

I don’t include a lot of olympic style lifting in my normal weightlifting routines. I should though. These kinds of lifts incorporate full body strength and tonnes of power. They also require a lot of technique; it’s not the type of thing that you can easily pick up on either.

I do have some practice with olympic lifts and I think I have pretty decent form– which I got from practicing with light weights, doing lots of squats, and having a strong lumbar– though I do end my cleans and snatches in a “power position” (1/4 squat) instead of a deep squat the way the olympians do.

So for fun I’ve been working on Olympic lifts at the gym all week. I made an Olympic weightlifting routine for 4 weeks (though I’m not sure I’ll do it for all 4) based on these programmes from the Queensland Weightlifting Association website. It’s composed of lots of snatches and cleans and breaks them down into components. There are also conditioning exercises for chest and back.

Here’s a PDF of the workout:

Click for a PDF of the Workout

It’s been super fun so far this week. This kind of workout is one that I can really only pull off during the summer when the gym is quiet and I can spend 45 minutes hogging one of only three squat racks without impeding on someone else’s workout.

Oh, and in other Olympic awesomeness, check out this super cool Olympic Body Type Matcher from the BBC. Just put in your height and weight and the widget will show you the Olympic athlete whose height and weight are the same. Obviously it doesn’t account for muscle mass, but it’s still kind cool.

I was matched up with a javeliner from Finland to which Matt replied: “Makes sense. You look like a javelin thrower.”

I’ll take his word for it, since he does coach javelin and all.