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In which Greece invades Annapolis Jun 05

Those of you who follow this blog know I have a penchant for community fairs and similar local out-of-the-way events. (I recommend that you plan your road trip so you can take in one or two on the way to wherever your main destination is.)

This week my adopted town, Annapolis, Maryland, got a little taste of Greece. It seems the local Greek Orthodox Church threw its annual Greek Festival. I happened to find out about it on Friday, and word was that it draws folks clear from out of state. That sounded like a pretty good recommendation, so Saturday I bopped over to check the place out.

I arrived an hour before the event was due to start. This got me an excellent parking spot, but at this early hour there was nothing to see. All the displays were covered, and food people were bustling about getting ready, but the food was nowhere in sight. I hate to sit idle, so I swiped a spare garbage bag attached to a trash can and canvassed the area picking up litter. People assumed I was supposed to be there, and gave directions where not to miss, and held out things for me to dispose of. I managed to cover the entire grounds and collect maybe two pounds of things like condiment wrappers and other small stuff. Performing several hundred deep knee bends was pretty good exercise, too.

People began to fill the grounds, and I briefly debated whether to just stay on the grounds or go outside and enter like the rest of the public, and pay whatever the entrance fee was. I’m a good boy, so I went to the entrance. It turned out there was no charge, but at least I had a clean conscience. I also got an unexpected treat. Right at the entrance, creating a nice Greek atmosphere, was a young man playing a traditional if slightly Americanized, stringed instrument. He was good, too! Didn’t look like he was out of high school, but the playing was flawless and interesting. Actually, the instrument was entirely traditional. The electronics provided traditional percussion accompaniment. If he reads this, I hope he submits a comment and introduces himself.

I forgot to ask what the instrument is called

Greeks must like jewelry (my wife says they do), because all but three of the vendors sold at least some jewelry, apparently all handmade in Greece. And they were always busy. I had many hundreds of pieces to choose from. The dining tent had a dance floor set up. Greece is old enough to have traditional dances that are rather more sophisticated then the Watusi, and people learn the dances young.

It's pretty hard to capture the motions of a dance in a still photo

So what good is a festival without food? The dishware was ordinary fast-food-restaurant foam boxes, but the menu was definitely Greek. The only item not described in English was kalamari, which I happen to know is squid. I saw several plates of it being eagerly devoured. It looks like smallish onion rings. Here is my gyro sandwich, salad, and Greek coffee, twelve bucks.

I walked away full

When I left, the parking lot was jammed and the shuttle bus was full of new arrivals. My wife liked her necklace.

Category: General  | Leave a Comment
Serenity news May 27

They’re gone. Skipped town, maybe even. The place never wronged me (except they didn’t pay my last bill), but I did a little research and found a lot of complaints—more than I would expect from a place that did its job. I suspect they overwhelmed their travel agents making promises they couldn’t keep. Dunno.

As it happens, I own this blog and the url; I never transferred it to them so I could keep control, partly in case something like this would happen. So it happened, and now I have a nice travel blog. Which, I admit, has been rather fun to write, and maybe I’ll keep posting for the fun of it. Apparently a lot of folks find this site because they’re doing travel-related research. I doubt too many are coming here (any more) to check out Serenity Travel.

The system is set to notify me when someone comments, so drop me a note if you’d like to see something on a particular place.

Category: General  | 2 Comments
New guy in town Mar 20

I recently began an extended stay in Annapolis, the capitol of Maryland. Annapolis is perhaps best known as the location of the US Naval Academy, but it has lots of other things to recommend it, and since I’m new here, I’ll be exploring the town and I’ll share a few things with you.

First, food! I found a large selection of restaurants in town, and I’ve eaten at several, but I really have to tell you first about the diner where I ate my first meal in town (and I’ve been there several times since).

Diners are about as American as you can get, if you exclude those beastly fast food places. After all, this blog is about real places—and real food.

So anyway, I’m cruising along down the main drag, West Street, and I’m nearly blinded by the reflection off the stainless steel exterior of the Double-T Diner.  It was surrounded by a parking lot full of cars. I had to try the place.

Here's the front, so you'll know what it looks like when you drive by

You can always expect a decent meal, plastic decor, and sassy waitresses at a diner, and the Double-T is all that, in spades. The dessert display, a big case at the front, is to die for—or of. The pastries, cakes, and pies looked pretty good, and the boss said they make them all right there. That must be some busy pastry chef.

This photo doesn't do it justice

One of the items was called baklavah cheesecake. Baklavah, if you don’t know, is a honey-dripping, walnut-laden, flaky, rich Greek pastry. You know what cheesecake is. I can’t tell you what baklavah cheesecake is like because I didn’t try it. I didn’t dare.

My waitress was properly sassy, the coffee wasn’t bad (and it was constantly refilled, just like in Minnesota), and my hamburger was done the way I asked: so with a good vet it would recover, and it was big.

I waddled out a happy newcomer to Annapolis.

Humor Interlude Jan 13

My family's cruise was better than this...

My thanks to Tony Carrillo, writer of F Minus, which I recommend.

Category: Humor  | 3 Comments
Now here’s an interesting reason to travel Dec 16

In the last post I promised to mention nice places, but this concept popped up, so I’ll put off the nice places until next time. Maybe.

You know how people are fascinated with the macabre. Horror movies are popular, we all wish the obituaries told what the person died of, and we slow down to look at traffic accidents. We like to see the grim and gruesome.

A lot of places to visit are not rich countries, and tourist dollars are an important part of their economies. Some of these places also experience natural disasters, sometimes on a large scale. Indonesia, for example is an island nation (tsunamis) on the Pacific ring of fire (volcanoes).

A river swamped by volcanic ash, called lahar. Kind of interesting, isn't it?

A big volcanic ash cloud can cut off air transportation, and with it, tourist dollars. Some enterprising tourist agencies are promoting the idea of disaster tourism. Instead of avoiding the area, come see the collapsed villages, the refugee camps, the devastated forests. I know Indonesia and Haiti have these opportunities, maybe other places, too. You can visit, and you don’t have to get dirty or do volunteer work. Bringing your tourist dollars is all the help they’re asking for. That should give some grim satisfaction.

You might think I’m being ironic, but this is for real. Here’s a link:

Something to think about, eh?