Reaching Aegina

Closed the boot, closed the doors, started the engine. With some relief we were sitting in our Celestona, ready to travel to Greece. Relieved because, finally, we were in our car, having packed and loaded everything after having discussed for so long what to take and what no to, having planned well ahead which days to take off from work, which and how many toys take with us… we made it! We were ready to go!

Already the fact of being ready and loaded made us feel as if we already had achieved something. In the truth we had not left the house yet. Awkward. The way to Aegina, a Greek island, was still long.

We managed to reach the airport on time. Even if more expensive and not that shorter, I decided to use the motorway called Pedemontana. It is expensive and the so called free flow payment system easily induces you to forget the payment: it has the advantage that there are almost no cars, therefore the risk of missing the plane because of traffic or an accident is minimal. Just remember that once used, you have 14 days to pay the toll: link. In my opinion it is very easy to forget to pay as, while you are driving to the airport, you are worried about catching the plane; when you come back, you are worried about starting to work again and get ready for the week ahead. It is true though, that after you get the first tickets for not paying you will make everything in order to remember the payment: it is my personal experience writing here! I really wonder how tourist can manage to pay such a motorway, since indications on how it works are very scarce and not always written in English. So, tourist of the world, if you ever happen to use the Pedemontana, remember that in order to avoid expensive fines being sent home, you have to pay online.

Once at the airport I just a harsh exchange of opinions with one of the employees at the security check, as in my opinion she was not paying attention to what was happening under her watch and I could not keep my mouth shut. This cost me a second passage through the security check but nothing else. I mean… if you make me prepare for a check which involves standing patiently in queue waiting for my turn, then I also want to be checked! Not that you keep talking with your colleagues about yesterday’s game of thrones episode turning your back on me and possibly letting me go without considering me. The security employee reacted at my loud sentence Tanto qui nessuno mi controlla meaning Anyhow, here nobody checks on me, turned back on me, made some acid comments and made me have a second security check. With that I had my daily shot of adrenaline.

The plane was kind of boring for Jacopo. It took about 2.5 hours, which is a duration that with some playing (toys needed), some eating and some patience from the other passengers, can be managed.

Once in Athens we met Fox and Florin, who kindly picked us up. Together with Fox we jumped on the first ferry off to Aegina: it was really nice to see Jacopo play with Fox an experienced paediatrician. Beautiful to see how Jacopo could smile and play with a totally new person.

Weather was quite cold as we got there and being on the ferry it was even more windy. Still I could not refrain from taking Jacopo outside to show him the sea and the ships waiting outside the port of Piraeus. And for once I looked at those ships with different eyes, I looked at them thinking about their role in the whole logistic chain. Suddenly some of the topics I covered during my recent studies were real: by looking at containers with Chinese writing on them I thought… Yeah, this is where your amazon stuff comes from.

I do not like Amazon. Great service, huge inventory. I believe it has grown in something way too big and way too powerful, for us human beings. 🙂 In my opinion we are not capable of managing such huge changes without exaggerating… but I will not deepen this discussion in this post, I will just leave it here more as a note for a future post than anything else.

Finally, I could see through the windows of the ship, the column of Apollo. After a whole day of travelling we were arriving to Aegina. We were both looking forward to getting on the island as already two years had passed since last time.

Quickly enough, after having left the ship as a huge herd of sheep finding our way among cars and mopeds, we were on the pier meeting my father and ready for the last piece of the trip: getting home and start unpacking. 🙂

During this holiday I have been really poor at taking pictures, so I believe this time, you will have to deal with lots of words… and imagine a bit more! Enjoy! 😀

Being pushed while sitting on the trolley is definitely fun! 🙂

La Grande Rastrellata

The idea came to my mind for the first time a few years ago. Although not difficult to realise it took me some courage to make it happen, but then… I decided to do it and soon enough I was getting in touch with Oli, Marco, Ema, Ian, Silvio, Gianmarco as I wanted to know if they where “in” for some work together!

This time, the invite was somewhat different from the standard lunch invitation: although the aim of the event was to spend some time together I asked my friends to take working gloves and a rack as the plan was to clean the near woodland by removing some of the leaves that had fallen during fall.

And this we did! On the 09th of March at 09:00 o’clock Marco was at my door with all the tools, gloves, huge orange plastic bags and with professional gardening clothes ready to start La Grande Rastrellata!

Soon the rest of the group showed up and the rhythmic sound of the racks hitting the ground made good company to the birds announcing the first days of spring. Everyone besides Giammarco, who had an accident the day before and could not stand properly.

We decided that it would be best to start from the most deep part of the woodland and then slowly come back to the entry point while the we removed the leaves.

Marco was ultra determined and soon he was so deep into the forest that we could not see him anymore, even with his orange and yellow professional clothes. We would know that he was around only because of the noise of his furious rack. 🙂

The other working unit was made by Oli and Ema: less aggressive than Marco they preferred to chit chat while working…

Meanwhile I was struggling to keep the pace of Ian who, to my great joy, was leaving all over the place small piles of leaves which I was putting into one of the numerous orange bags. Once finished of transferring one of the piles which Ian had energetically prepared I would look around looking for some satisfaction: every time I would stop I realised that there was still so much more to do that I stopped looking around searching for satisfaction. 😀 Instead I would shout to Ian to help me picking up the leaves, instead of concentrating on the “easy” work of racking them together! 😀

I even tried to develop a personal technique to avoid flexing so much, here some pictures:

Even if all of us try to do some sport during the week, after 01:30 hours we were ready for a coffee break. The first signs of fatigue were there, but in general ,the happiness of being outdoor doing a physical job was prevailing.

Everyone was really thankful to my wife for the coffee, water and biscuits which disappeared, really, really quickly! I guess Ian was the culprit there…

After the short break we started working again. I even involved my father, who luckily was there, by asking him to prepare the grill and start grilling. I knew that everyone was concentrated in getting its own piece of woodland cleared, but I also was aware that as soon as everyone would have finished, they would discover of being hungry as wolves.

Around 13:00 we decided to stop. There still were a lot of leaves on the ground, but we already had filled all the bags we had. This also considering that Renzo had already taken and emptied some of the bags at the ecocenter.

Since we did not have any empty bag to use, we joined the rest of the family for lunch: we started with some grilled bread covered with tomato, oil and oregano (bruschette) which was amazing.

The picture represent multiple orange plastic bags filled with leaves at the end of our gardening work.
Some of the bags we filled with leaves.

After the grilling and the lunch some of us had to leave while Oli had some more time to help me transport the big orange bags to the ecocenter. The Skoda Octavia proved itself once more: by keeping down the back seats we managed to fit four of those bags. Actually there was even more room left, most probably two more bags could have fit. I did not want to soil or scratch the interiors, therefore we decided to stay conservative: a good choice for the car, less for the whole logistic process: the ecocenter closed its doors on our nose when we were ready to drop the last two bags. Damn. Oli will never forget the frustration of not managing to 100% complete the job. 😀

Even with that small hiccup we were all happy about the day. A good change from the daily office routine. It is incredible how such an easy job as collecting leaves can have such a great impact on your mood. Of course with a group of good friends everything makes more fun!

A huge thank you for the effort and for the good mood you brought which made the whole day rock!… and as it was such a success… til next year! 🙂