In between packing for my next trip and preparing for our "1st annual proper American Halloween party", I finally got around to uploading a few shots from our Greece trip. Click on the FLICKR icon on the top-right to see more! Our week-long trip to Greece involved two days in Athens to hit the Acropolis, and five days/four nights on the beautiful island of Santorini.
Santorini is a picture postcard perfect island. Everywhere you turn, there's a photo op, from the iconic blue-dome churches to the narrow and steep cobblestone alleys. The volcanic island is supposedly the site of the mythical lost city of Atlantic. The Two Crabs rarely return to the same holiday destination twice. But Santorini is one of the few places I would definitely go back to again. Oia especially was absolutely gorgeous. Great food, great people, great sights. Go to Santorini, now!!
Unlike most people who island hop by ferry, we flew from Athens to Santorini because it was much quicker (30 minutes flight vs. 5 hour boat trip) and much cheaper, only $100 roundtrip..about the same price as the ferry. Once on Santorini, it's easy to get around by foot but we also rented a car for two days to hit the black-sand beaches of Kamari, a winery and a two trips to Oia, supposedly home of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. It did not disappoint!
Mr. Crab, Blushing Whale and Miss San Fran were lucky enough to score tickets to last night's NFL game at London's Wembley Stadium. The game between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants was the first regular-season game ever held outside North America. Unfortunately we were all rooting for the Dolphins, who got handed a severe whooping, losing 13-10. The sad Dolphins, who could not find their way out of a paper bag, are now 0-8 winless for the season. The six-month-old Wembley Stadium is absolutely amazing, seating about 90,000-plus fans. We had great seats, fourth row goal line! It rained most of the evening but luckily all the seats are under cover; only the players and cheerleaders got soaking wet. The highlight of the evening was a streaker dressed in a referee's uniform who snuck onto the field right in front of our seats, ripping off his clothes and running across the field until he was finally tackled by the keystone cops.
PS: I'm still cleaning up the photos from Greece in between preparing for my next trip (to Mexico). I will try to upload some shots and a quick recap of our trip later today!
Greetings from Oia on the Greek Isle of Santorini, with its iconic white-washed, cliff-hugging villas and blue-domed churches. These shots were taken on my crappy mobile phone. Real photos will be posted when we return to London. And just to rub it in, it was 80 degrees fahrenheit and not a cloud in the sky today!
Hiya! Taking a break from the miserable London weather, the Two Crabs, Mrs. Crab's mum, and Blushing Whale are lounging around on the Greek Isle of Santorini. We began our holiday with two days in Athens, visiting the Acropolis, Parthanon, the Temple of Zeus and exploring the cafes of Platka. Took a quick 30 minute hop to Santorini where, unfortunately, it rained most of the first day and a half we were here. But today has been absolutely gorgeous. Blue skies, temperatures about 75 and sunny! We spent the day taking a kip (Britspeak for nap) on the black sand beaches of Kamari, exploring the cobblestone alleyways of Fira, and ending the day watching the sunset over the Aegean Sea from Oia. More on that village tomorrow!
I haven't blogged about movies in a long time, partly because we rarely go to cinema anymore due to the high ticket prices in London ($18), but mainly because the majority of movies churned out by Hollywood these days are absolutely rubbish, rehashed sequels, or both.
But every now and then, a film comes along that takes my breath away. A film so simple yet beautiful that it fills us with wonder, emotion, tears and joy. This year, that film is "Once."
"Once," opening this Friday in the UK, has already become a sleeper hit in the United States. The Irish indie follows a week in the life of a Dublin street musician (Glen Hansard) and a Czech piano-playing flower vendor (Marketa Irglova). "Once" is part romantic drama, part music video, sprinkled with comedy and
The story behind the story is just as amazing. For startars, neither Hansard nor Irglova have any acting experience; Hansard, 38, is a musician with the Irish band The Frames. Irglova is just 19, a musical prodigy with an amazing voice. (Hansard and Irglova are now dating in real life!) The film, directed by former Frames member John Carney, was shot for $80,000 and has already grossed $8 million from just a handful of U.S. theaters.
"Once" has already won awards at the Sundance Film Festival, Dublin
international Film Festival. Last week, it picked up the Best
International Feature at the UK's Raindance indie film fest. The
film's soundtrack has sold 250,000 copies around the world. It has a 97% positive "fresh" rating on Rottentomatoes.com, a compilation of film reviews from around the globe.
Blushing Whale turned me on to this film. Last Tuesday, he managed to snag tickets to a filming of the BBC Culture Show, a variety music show that featured an interview and performance by Hansard and Irglova (who perform as The Swell Season). Glen even recognized Blushing Whale from their earlier performance in Washington, D.C.!
But the highlight of the week came Friday. Mr. Crab, Mrs. Crab. Blushing Whale and his pal "Miss L.A." managed to score four tickets to see a FREE advance screening of "Once" at the historic Screen on the Green cinema in Angel-Islington, followed by a live Q&A and performance by the stars.
When the credits began rolling, there were a few seconds of stunned silence and tears of joy before the packed house erupted in thunderous applause and contined clapping and whistling for a good five or six minutes straight until Hansard and Irglova appeared from backstage. They answered a few audience questions, including one from Blushing Whale, and performed a few memorable tunes from the film including "Falling Slowly" and "WHEN Your Mind's Made Up." (see video above). The duo stayed and signed autographs and posed for photos.
Outside, the four of us were standing under the neon marquee, digesting the movie and catching our breath when Glen Hansard walked out with his group of pals. We ended up chatting with Hansard privately for a good 15 minutes! He's genuinely a nice, honest, down-to-Earth guy. We wished him well on the road to the Academy Awards, where it will surely be nominated at least for best song.
"Once" is the best film of 2007, bar none. "Once" reminds us that filmmaking is still an art form, and you don't need $100 million budgets or high-maintenance stars to create a masterpiece. Just a good old fashioned story with honest characters and real people.
From Mr. Crab: Whilst on assignment today, I met former President Bill Clinton at a book signing in downtown London today. About 500 people attended the event, mostly star-struck Brits but also a few American expats and curious tourists who happened upon the event. Clinton was there to pitch his new book, "Giving."
Random trivia: I have shaken the hand of the last four U.S. Presidents: Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Well it was bound to happen eventually: Yesterday, I (Mr. Crab) was robbed.
Walking back from the gym yesterday, I stopped by a travel agency near Highbury & Islington Tube station, about 1 mile north of our flat. We're planning a trip to Australia for next year, so I occasionally stop by travel agents for brochures and check airfare prices. The shop was not very busy, so I sat down at the counter and placed my gym bag on the vacant chair next to mine whilst I chatted with the agent. During our conversation, several customers came and went, but it never really phased me. After about 15 minutes or so, I got up to leave, reached out to grab my bag and...nothing. The chair was empty.
I just stood there dumbfounded. The agent apologized profusely and called the police for me. In hindsight, he remembered that somebody had walked into the shop, grabbed some brochures next to my chair and walked out. Looks like he got more than just my brochures.
My ratty old Timberland backpack contained my beloved iPod (a sentimental leaving gift I received from my former colleagues), my mobile phone and my house keys attached to my favorite carabiner keyring (purchased about 15 years ago from Britches Great Outdoors store in Georgetown, Washington D.C, a clothing chain that no longer exists). They also nicked my sweaty stinky gym clothes. It could have been worse.
I was gobsmacked. It's one thing to get robbed in a pub, nightclub, crowded street or metro train, but a travel agency?? In broad daylight!?! The police frankly told me I'll never see the bag again, but they kindly took a report and called me back later that night to go over the details. I wasted the rest of the day canceling my phone and arranging for the locks to be changed, just in case.
I'm guilty of having become complacent. It just goes to show you that you cannot let your guard down for one minute. Mrs. Crab gave several tips on protecting your stuff, like always staying vigilant event in your own neighborhood, keeping physical contact with your bag even in a secure location, placing your bags between your legs, etc.
That's life in the big city.
On a completely different subject, The Two Crabs, Blushing Whale and Miss San Fran spent the weekend in Liverpool. It was mainly a Beatles pilgrimage tour and we hit all the sites including the Beatles Story museum, the Cavern Club, and took the Magical Mystery Bus Tour to Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and the childhood homes of John, Paul, George and Ringo. We also toured the new International Slavery Museum (very emotional and fascinating) and the wonderful Albert Dock, which reminded us of Baltimore's Inner Harbor with its posh restaurants, shops and pubs. Click on the Flickr icon to see more trip photos.