Manolis' Trips Around the World

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greece: meteorsgreece: lamb Greece (32 pictures)

I lived in Greece for 12 years. March 13 1977 - July 14 1989. I've been going back almost every summer since then, even for 2 weeks! On the left, you can see my sister Maria in the Meteors. The picture was taken in the summer of 93, the last summer we spent in Greece before moving to the US. On the right, you can see Panayiotis, my brother, Maria, and me in a traditional Easter scene in our summer house in Saronida, carrying the lamb to roast in the garden where the fire is awaiting.

santorini: donkeysantorini: village Santorini (16 pictures)

Santorini is one of the most famous Greek islands. Just a boat trip away from Athens, it brings you to magic land of volcanoes, red sand, ancient treasures. Donkeys are still used as a means of transportation in many villages in Greece, especially by tourists climbing steep slopes. I was a tourist that August of 97, visiting my homeland for only two weeks.

Zakinthos (152 pictures)

Zakinthos is one of the most beautiful islands of Greece. Unlike the cycladic islands in the Aegean sea, this Ionian island, situated in the Adriatic sea, between Greece and Italy, is full of luscious green vegetation, olive tree gardens, and cypress-tree covered hills.

I visited Zakinthos (known as Zante by our Italian neighbors) with my sister Maria, in the summer of 2005. We spent a week in beautiful campground Ratarunga in the hills overlooking the bay, with the most calm and beautiful sunrises and evenings under the full moon. Friendly visitors from all over Europe were sharing the peaceful campground, playing tavli, sharing dinners, and enjoying the breathtaking views. Sunsets are best enjoyed from the Kampi side of the island, seeing the sun disappear into the endless sea, as literally hundreds of visitors are scattered on the bushy hills, sharing the spectacle of nature.

The sharp cliffs of the Adriatic side of the island are only approached by boat, or through near-vertical steep hills, since an earthquake sank much of them like cut with a knife. We chose both routes that summer, hiring a boat to go diving, but also driving the windy roads over the hills and staring at the sea from above, occasionally diving into its blue-green waters.

Milos (261 pictures)

Milos is the island where my mother spent her childhood. Her father, Emmanouil, was working in Plaka, and staying in the tallest house on the hill under the castle, overlooking three sides of the island, and surrounded by fig trees.

Milos is also the island of the white rocks, vertical cliffs, and underground holes. You can find a beach entirely made of chalk-like stones, creating an apocalyptic moon-like surface, and shapes reminiscent of the grand canyon in miniature. Ancient commerce was shipping rock from Milos all the way to Egypt and the middle east, and a thriving culture produced such masterpieces as the Aphrodite of Milos, the beautiful Venus housed as a centerpiece in the Louvre.

A boat tour to Kleftiko took us to the hideouts of pirates of the last centuries, sailing through a sea-side meteora with their vertical rocks, and swimming under caverns as long as hundreds of meters under the hills, and as majestic as underwater cathedrals made of white stone covering the transparent blue waters.

Finally, the people of Milos are one more reason for the visit. Extremely welcoming, remembering well my grandfather and his family, and dancing to Greek music till dawn for the end-of-summer festival in Tripiti.

Sporades (253 pictures)

Converging from 3 continents, Shane, Lillian, Eric, Lori, Jessica, Daniel, David and Manolis arrived by plane, train, bus, van, ferry, car, and boat, to meet on a small golden beach on Skiathos for a week long sailing trip in the Sporades.

A group of islands north of Athens, on the Northwestern corner of the Aegean sea, they make an ideal sailing spot for the countless beaches, few tourists, steady winds, and a surprisingly green landscape, rich in sealife, and decorated with unspoiled villages of traditional whitewashed houses.

Sailing with dolphins, swimming in deserted coves, hiking in dense forest, sleeping under the stars, napping on the catamaran's hammock, sharing fresh fish with the locals, diving for shells, climbing in search of ancient tombs, relaxing in mid-sea pulled by the boat, skipping pebbles, exploring caves, dressing up for church, strolling through port towns, and the obligatory pictures, moorings, docking, adjusting the sails and lines, quickly filled up our schedule, and the week passed by like a gentle breeze we wished could have lasted longer.

A short day with my parents in El Passo, our magical summer home near Saronida, and a day trip to Sounion concluded our short journey, and our many guests flew back after a well-deserved lamb roast, good wine, ouzo, and spirited greek dancing for all. Here are some pictures, reviving our many memories for years to come, and keeping the dreamers dreaming. Enjoy, and prepare for Kefalonia next year!

paris: notre-dame Paris (87 pictures)

Some of the pictures are still missing. For the moment though, you can enjoy about 80 of them. Check back mid-september!

strasbourg: strasbourgo Strasbourg (36 pictures)

While working in Paris (in August 99), Eric and I took a weekend off to go to beautiful Strasbourg. On Saturday, it was raining to fill up the rivers so that Sunday can be sunny and shiny. Starting our Sunday well in the afternoon, we spent an hour arguing over a pack of batteries with the local geniuses working at the BP gaz station. Long story but worth it. I'm not tired of saying it yet (typing though is another story). Strasbourg is more than a beautiful French city, one of the centers of the European Union. Check out the pictures of the newly built European Parliament!

france: happy
france: ski
France (7 pictures)

France is the country of Mistral, the fastest and most renowned wind, which you might recognize in the picture. I got to know that wind in the four years my family spent in Aix-en Provence, the prettiest city one could dream of. It's a perfect place for bike rides, hikes, swimming pool parties, and romantic evenings under the trees and the city lights. I made some very good friends in Aix, which made parting from the city even more difficult. If you ever choose to live in France, Aix-en Provence in the city to go to.

eclipse: eclipse3
eclipse: eclipse99-manoli
Eclipse (12 pictures)

One of the reasons I spent August of '99 working in Paris was to see the last total solar eclipse of the Millenium. Sure enough, on August 11, all of Paris, France, Europe and the world was looking at the sun. Some were looking through especially designed eclipse sunglasses, some through home-made tools that reproject the sun, others through satelite retransmissions. I was alternating between my dark glasses and my digital camera. Here are the pictures i took of my first total eclipse of the sun. Enjoy.

london: tulippes London (5 pictures)

More pictures from London should be scanned in soon... (September 99)

england: england England (3 pictures)

The summer of 92, i joined an exchange program between Aix and Bath, and i visited England for the first time of my life. I spent a month perfecting my American accent in the family of Timothy Wilson. I learned that what they say about the English weather is all true, that English cuisine does revolve around boiled potatoes, and that English people make their difference between English accents within England.

rome: colosseo_fullmoon Roma (64 pictures)

After having lived in Greece for 12 years of my life, and then in France for another four, I had to wait until 1997, to fly from Boston to the city of the Romans. My best Italian friend of all times, Daniele De Francesco, invited me to stay with his fantastic family in Piazza Bologna, in the very center of Rome. The experience was unforgettable.

italy: cool
italy: david
Italy (30 pictures)


One of the many trips during that stay in Rome was to Pisa, where the leaning tower lies (leans actually). A team of Australians, Daniele and I jumped on the train at 5am, and discovered the treasure of panetone, which should be the official food of any train rider. Other then that huge chocolate-filled cake, my day's share was a packet of crackers, which i enjoyed one by one in the company of a little cat, while glancing at the tower for about three hours in the Piazza dei Miracoli. Unforgettable Pisa!


Florence is a city that needs at least a week only to visit every landmark. The city of Michelangelo's David, of the Galleria Uffizi, of the Golden Gates of the Heaven, and the heavenly Duomo, also keeps in its Santa Croce the tombs of Michelangelo, Gallileo, Machiaveli, Rossini, Dante, and the list is long. The most beautiful sight is the lights of the night on Ponte Vecchio, where the world's finest jewelry is made.


ny: three_bears
ny: nysky1
New York (14 pictures)

The 14th of July, 1993, my family was leaving Europe to conquer the Americas. Where else to start from? New York! No one paragraph could even start describing half of the quarter of the beginning of the hope of a description of that city of wonders. New York has more sides to it than an ocean has waves. Some sides are appealing and unforgettable, others yet are sad and unfair. I was lucky enough to live on the 25th floor of an apartment in the upper East Side of Manhattan. As good as it gets. Going back to New York feels like home to me now, the anchor we set to the New World. The great city of all dreams smiled at me once, and makes me smile at every glance of it.

sailing: Aloooha!
sailing: DesertBeach
sailing: EdenRockHotel
Sailing in the Carribean (99 pictures)

The best spring break vacation of my life was in the carribean. From March 18 to 25, a group of 10 friends and I rented a sailboat in the virgin islands and escaped from civilization in an earthling paradise. The pictures are not scanned in yet, but it shouldn't take long. Please check back in a week or so.

SanJuan: Sanjuan
sanjuan: Quenticentenial Place
Puerto Rico (33 pictures)

On the way back from the Virgin Islands, our flight stopped in Puerto Rico. Postponing the return by 10 hours, we were able to spend a day in Old San Juan. With a climate and a cuisine very close to Greece, San Juan instantly won our heart.

hawaii: scuba
hawaii: splash
Hawaii (10 pictures)

Greece is the sophisticated lady, and Hawaii is the untamed young girl, said a Greek/Hawaiian friend describing the two most beautiful lands of our planet. The youngest soil on this planet, Hawaii carries whithin the largest of its islands, 22 of the 24 earth's climates, except Arctic and Antarctic. I stayed in the University of Hawaii at Manoa for fourty days the summer after my high school graduation. I saw birds and plants of myriads of species, heard lava flow into the water, touched ground formed after I was born, smelt paradisiac flowers, and tasted fresh-cut pineapple juice. This earthly paradise fills the senses with unforgettable experiences.

siggraph: disney
siggraph: croco
siggraph: graphics
Siggraph '98 (10 pictures)

I was lucky enough to get a paper published in Siggraph, the largest and most renowned computer graphics conference (48 000 people). I was a sophomore at MIT when i was doing the work, and a junior when the paper was published in Siggraph '98. The door was open for me to visit hundreds of company exhibitions, meet the brightest people in the field, learn in those five days of the conference more about graphics than what i learned throughout my MIT education, and get a taste of how the industry relates to university research in such a hot field as computer graphics.


I also got to spend two weekends in the Magic World of Walt Disney, visited the newly opened Animal Kingdom, and live tales as old as time in Magic Kingdom. The Disney Kingdom is an entire city by itself, constructed and planned from the bare ground by the genious of Disney's engineers. The place is huge, tremendously huge (the entire California DisneyLand can fit in the parking lot alone of the Magic Kingdom park of DisneyWorld. Traffic there stops at 1am as the last buses leave and starts again at 3am, as the morning shift comes to get the place ready for the 50,000 visitors of the next day. It's amazing to see how a man-made artificial world can have such life, so many visitors, employees, lights, roads, buildings, trees, benches and cornerstones. It's unconceivable that everything can work around the clock, lacking any history, mistakes, or adaptation. Disney is not another attraction park. It's a brand new world of its own.
walden: bending
walden: boat
Walden Pond (15 pictures)

Walden Pond was Thoreau's resort and inspiration. Only an hour away from Boston and MIT, Walden Pond is the perfect place for a Fall excursion to see the folliage change during what the French call the Indian Summer. A small group of us got together the Fall of 97, and escaped into the Pond's wilderness loaded with our cameras and rental mountain bikes. It is in Walden Pond that Thoreau requested that he be burried. For his funeral, Thoreau's family asked a friend of mine who is also a professor at MIT, to play Thoreau's favorite song in the flute, and the professor replied "But i am an amateur, you could find such better flute players for the tasks." To that the family replied: "But Thoreau was one too."

ski: mountainview
ski: toons
Wachusett (16 pictures)

The Observatory of Massachussetts, as Thoreau called it, Wachusett Mountain is the closest ski resort one could hope for in Massachussetts. That makes it the ideal place to organize a ski outing, as I did in January 98. Fourty of us gathered on a saturday morning, and drove the hour distance that led us to the mountain. There, to our surprise, a Toon Weekend was awaiting!!

salem: piratesalem: italians Salem (11 pictures)

The famous Witch Town is nothing but a regular city with a huge history and a few witch museums to satisfy the common tourist. Of course when a bunch of happy freshmen gets on a train to discover Salem (i was the only sophomore that fall of 96), the city loses most of its mystery, since in every picture one sees the same twelve faces that couldn't stop smiling nor taking pictures of every pebble and cornerstone. We didn't see much of Salem, but when we were all together, who needed more?

seattle: tulipsseattle: conquerors Seattle (11 pictures)

If it wasn't for Bill Gates and Microsoft so many people wouldn't have heard of Seattle. I would have certainly not gone there that weekend of Spring 97, when Daniele and I flew together for our respective Microsoft interviews. After a week full of exams and a Friday full of interviews, I met Daniele who had just arrived from the airport to the hotel at 5am. Two hours later, we were waking up Sleepless in Seattle to discover the wonders of the city, the Space Needle, the Science Museum, the monorail and a fish market, where the fish are literally flying low!

pennsylvania: lakeboat Pennsylvania (5 pictures)

A house by the lake of John and his parents.


sanfrancisco: alcatraz
sanfrancisco: skyscrapers
sanfrancisco: coit
San Francisco (61 pictures)

I first visited San Francisco when Netscape flew me over for an interview the Spring of my freshman year at MIT. My high school friend Athena let me stay in her dorm in Stanford, and i got a chance to visit the area. San Francisco is the city of all wonders. Its 49 hills, the Transamerican Building, the Coit Tower, The Crookedest Street (also known as Lombard), and of course Alcatraz and the Golden Gate have made San Francisco unique in its international fame. Setting foot on the land of so many movies, finally meeting the tram and the almost vertical streets with which so many spectacular scenes have been staged, was something like entering the sacred land of Hollywood. Eddie Murphy was making his latest movie at the time. I was there, in Chiradelli Square, when they were filming the final scene of him walking down a steep street accompanied by a dog. The funniest thing was that Eddie Murphy didn't actually bother walking. A stunt man was walking for him!!

goldengate: sailboat
goldengate: muir
goldengate: bikers
Golden Gate (35 pictures)

Living in San Francisco the summer of 99, I finally managed to actually spend some time north of the golden gate. Here's a section on Marin County, including biking across the golden gate to reach Sausalito. A picnic in Tiburon Beach with Carina, Crista, Jodi, Paul and Yana. A trip to Ocean Beach, Muir Beach and Stinson Beach and Point Reyes with Crista and Eric. A hiking trip to Muir Wood with Corinne, Crista, Maria and Frank, whose pictures still need to be scanned in. Finally, Marin County is the place with the best view on the Golden Gate bridge, and a perfect spot for pictures.

paloalto: xerox
paloalto: docuball
paloalto: stanford
paloalto: rainbow
Palo Alto (48 pictures)

You can imagine my excitement knowing that i would spend the next summer only an hour away from San Francisco, in Palo Alto, working for Xerox in their Palo Alto Research Center, one of the first companies which set foot in Sillicon Valley. PARC is the place of a thousand inventions like Laser Printing, Ethernet, Graphical User Interfaces (hence Macintosh and Windows), or object-oriented programming. I got the opportunity to work with a team of very bright researchers, and hang out with a bunch very fun people. Activities there included basketball games, volleyball meetings, beach volley tournaments, dragonboating, weekly bike rides, and an annual PARC picnic and hiking outing.


Working and Living only at 5 minutes from Stanford University, i biked there every afternoon to join volleyball games with the nicest people. The schedule of every single day was filled with beach volley tournaments, bike rides to see deers in the wilderness just an hour away, especially violent water polo games until midnight, diving exhibitions in random swimming pools, hiking on two wheels, and barbecues, which ended up in salsa and merengue marathons, or in jacouzy nights. When (if) we got tired of outdoor life, we went out to dinner at Chili's, or watched a classic in the Stanford Movie Theater, or cult movies in the Aquarius, the night usually finishing in CD shopping, or an ice-cream by a fountain, listening to street performers.
yosemite: reflection2
yosemite: halfdome
Yosemite (18 pictures)

My roomates and I spent an entire weekend up in Yosemite National Park along with some people from work and other friends. We slept á la belle étoile dragging our sleeping bags out of the tent and by the waterfront, where we counted starts until midnight, when we went for a swim in the warm water of the lake under the full moon. The next morning I waterskied for the first time of my life, with amazingly successful results! For the rest of the time, we were hiking up in the rocks, driving around the mountains and counting from many times we could see the Half Dome, studying different rock formations, and occasionally jumping in a freezing lake and swimming around for 10 minutes to impress the pretty german girls.

california: beer
california: big_sur
california: aquarium
california: sunset
Southern California (8 pictures)

One can't spend a summer in California without visiting Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur. Santa Cruz's beach and boardwalk attracted us on a regular basis, with different friends every times. Monterey and Carmel, a little further south, were the destination of three of our trips, with new sides of the city discovered every time, while reviewing the warming properties of the finest sand one could wish for. More odacious was a long planned bluefish barbecue in Big Sur National Park. The most interesting part of the story is that bluefish only swims in the atlantic, and that Federal Express delivered it the day before the Barbecue. The day ended at the beach, climbing Sand dunes, and dancing Gypsy Kings until the stereo filled with sand. The next expedition included only the bravest five of us, and reached all the way to San Diego, after sleeping one night in the back of our car in a parking lot in Monterey, another night in a one-bed room in a Motel 6 in Los Angeles, and finally in a friend's house in San Diego, after an entire day in Universal Studios, Hollywood ending in a Jurassic Park water ride extravaganza until 10pm. The next day was spent body surfing in the warm waters of San Diego, and the last night was spent melting marshmallows in the fire by the jacouzi. The last day of the trip, after Greek Dancing in a pizzeria downtown San Diego by the shore, we drove back, stopping to visit friends along the way for coffee, friendly dives in their swimming pool, or dancing with their parents. In one of the houses, while finishing my watermelon, i saw a little hummingbird for the first time of my life. Since then, every time Lisa sees me, she points in front of her nose and goes "Hummingbiiird!" Needless to say i had the time of my life!

sb: tandem Santa Barbara (21 pictures)

Pictures from Santa Barbara should be coming soon (September 99)

burning: the_man
burning: indian
Burning Man (27 pictures)

Eight hours west from San Francisco, past Berkeley and Sacramento, past Lake Tahoe and 120 miles North of Reno, deep into Nevada, you'll find Gerlach and Black Rock Desert. This flat, hostile and dry desert is just another desert more than three hundred days a year. In September '98 though, twelve thousand visitors came in motorbikes, cars, vans or RVs, set up their booths, arenas, tents and camps, and transformed this place instantly and massively into Black Rock City, the most uncommon of worlds. In everyone's mind traveled two words: Burning Man. What is it, everyone wonders The answer will vary from one person to the other. The organizers call it an "experiment in temporary community". Some people think it's the truth, others an ideal society, some call it freedom. But most people say that Burning Man is really what you make it. Participating in this general craziness was certainly a new experience for me. Our neighbors call us up to join their face painting.


mit: sailing2phantom: r2d2 Life in MIT (60 pictures)

Life in Hell, as we like to say. (see also the TBP design contest pictures and article). Check out the gallery for the MIT Star Wars hack.

isa: greek Greek Dancing (34 pictures)

International Students' Association (and article on International Fair with a picture of me and my brother)

view: me The View (37 pictures)

Sunsets Sunrises and more of MacGregor View

Ouch! hits -
Manolis Kamvysselis