Day 563 OUT OF Beijing: Greece Comes to San Francisco!


Our first drink at Palia Kameni.

Our first drink at Palia Kameni.


Jill and I spent a few nights in little town of Fira on the island of Santorini, Greece after we got engaged.

We had been to Mykonos, Naxos and Paros and were worried Santorini would be too crowded and expensive.

Imagine our surprise when it was actually about the same price as the lesser known islands and not crowded at all.

We walked around Fira and found this amazing bar named Palia Kameni Cocktail Bar.

It was facing towards the caldera and where the sun would set later that night.

We decided to sit down, have a drink and hang out.

One of the waiters, from the UK, talked to us for a bit and seemed like a nice guy.

After our drinks came, the owner, Vassilias came up to talk to us as the waiter told him we had just come from China and were engaged.

We talked for about 1-2 hours and discussed how he came to own this bar at such a young age (he was 28 years old), how to live the life we want to live, and how to achieve financial freedom as soon as possible to be able to travel and see the world.

Vassilias told us that he took the bar over from his dad and he is slowly making changes. One of the changes was to pay his staff enough that he, and they, could shut down for the 6 month winter break, and be able to live without fear of running out of money.  For Vassilias, that also includes going to visit his girlfriend, Soneth, who is a speech therapist in San Francisco and Los Angeles this winter.  We told him that we will be back in SF and wanted to meet up with him.  He agreed and we came back the next night to watch the sunset again.

We just got back to SF on December 15th and Vassilias told us he was leaving on the 20th for LA and we decided to meet up at the Squat and Gobble in the Castro Area.  We had a wonderful time talking and figuring out future plans and how we can support each other as he builds his business and we build ours.

It is everything we love about owning our own business, being able to travel, and living a life that is less structured and more independent.

It is not for everyone, but there is no way we want to live any other way, at least not at this point in our lives.

I’ve include pictures taken from his restaurant in Fira.  If you ever go to Santorini, please say hello to him and enjoy the sunset from there.  It is life changing.


Day 502 In Beijing: The Maiden’s Tower.


The Maiden's Tower.

The Maiden’s Tower.


Jill and I were cruising on the ferry back to Istanbul and enjoying the ride.

One of the joys of riding this ferry is that it passes by the Maiden’s Tower.

The Maiden’s Tower is a beautiful that pops right out of the bay and into the sky.

It isn’t very large, but it is quite impressive, all the same.

The story behind the tower is interesting enough, as it was built long ago and used as a military look out against invaders, and is now a restaurant and tourist destination.

Jill and I didn’t visit it, this trip, but we’ve both been there before and found it quite enjoyable.

The legend behind the Maiden’s Tower is quite intriguing.

Supposedly, an oracle told an emperor that his daughter would die from a poisonous snake on her 18th birthday.

The emperor, thinking he could outsmart fate, built this tower and kept her in it until she turned 18.

However, on her 18th birthday, he brought her a basket of delicious fruits in a beautiful basket.

When she reached in to get one of the fruits, an asp, which had been hiding in the basket, bit her and killed her.

A close up of the Maiden's Tower.

A close up of the Maiden’s Tower.

So, in case you think you can tempt fate, and ignore what an oracle’s prophecy, think again.

Day 501 In Beijing: Leaving The Prince Islands.



A shot of the rainbow over the port.

A shot of the rainbow over the port.


Jill and hopped back on to the ferry to return to Istanbul.

We wish we had decided to spend more than one night on Buyukada because it is so peaceful and quiet.

Our month long vacation to Turkey and Greece was going to be a busy one, seeing lots of friends and also going to many historic sites, and having some down time was essential.

I’d almost say that is the one thing that we didn’t factor in enough on this trip and next time we will do that.

It is funny how quickly a vacation can pass and how quickly you can forget everything you did and what happened.

That is one of the benefits of this daily blog: We can look back and see what we did and how we did it whenever we want.

I’m thinking of writing a book on our travels and documenting all the crazy things that have happened to us in this 1.5 years that we’ve been together.

For now, we just want to enjoy the trip back to Istanbul and let you ride along on the ferry with us.

There is something about floating along on the sea, and just letting the wind blow through your hair, that is magical and special.

The first one is from when we docked at an island before arriving at Buyukada and the second is from when we left Buyukada to go back to Istanbul.



Day 493 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands, Part 2.


A horse drawn carriage in front of one of the beautiful houses.

A horse drawn carriage in front of one of the beautiful houses.

Jill and I arrived at Buyukada and and checked into our room.

It was about a 3 minute walk from the port and we have a wonderful view of the rooftops, the walking street below our balcony, and the Sea of Marmara.

We loved that they had set up the bed with red roses petals and made a very cute heart design on it.

They also had a complimentary bottle of wine and a fruit and cheese plate for us in our room when we arrived.

It was a perfect way to start our island getaway and “vacation” from our vacation.

We love Istanbul but there is so much construction going on that it is quite loud.

There are also lots of cars, and with lots of cars, you get lots of horns honking.

We both grew up in small towns and forget how wonderful peace and quiet is when we don’t have it for so long.

Well, Buyukada is about as peaceful and quiet as they come.

Why?  Because cars are not allowed on the island.

It is all horse drawn carriages and a few electric vehicles.

It is wonderful because it is so quiet other than the click-clacking of hooves on stone roads.

They have paved some of the “main” roads (which are two lanes so still not very big) that circle the island but many of the streets in the town are just cobblestone.

It is truly wonderful.

We walked by the horse drawn carriage station and took a few pictures but decided to wait until tomorrow because we wanted to hang out and just take in this little town.

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Day 492 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands, Part 1.


I love capturing peoples' emotions and personalities.

I love capturing peoples’ emotions and personalities.


After leaving the funicular, Jill and I hopped on the ferry to Princes’ Island.

Buyukada was the specific island we wanted to visit and it was a about a two hour ferry ride.

We were hoping to get a good seat, outside, and be able to enjoy the trip.

For the first few minutes, since it was so hot, we decided to stay inside and watched through the windows.

However, we love the fresh air (something that is desperately missed living in Beijing) and decided to go out in the sunshine and do some real people, and scenery, watching.

We absolutely made the right choice and we are very thankful we did.

Each step in life is a step towards adventure or a step towards complacency.

We choose adventure.


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Day 458 In Beijing: Ferry Ride to Besiktas.


Vacation time!

Vacation time!

Jill and I headed off to the ferry terminal and hopped on one that was just about to take off.

We had to take two different ferries, since we couldn’t figure out how to get a direct one, and we were fine with that.

Jill and I love ferries, trains, buses and any way to travel that doesn’t include us having to drive or do the work of paying attention to where we are going.

The two ferries cost something 3 or 4 Turkish Lira, which comes out to about 1.50 USD.

We sat outside, on the top level, and just took pictures and enjoyed our trip.

Thinking back, as I write these blog posts about 1 month after the trip ended, I’m still stunned as to how much we did in on our first full day in Istanbul and how easy it is to get around, get things done, and not run into problems.

It was such a welcome relief from Beijing, where things are so hectic, changing constantly, and confusing.

I know this sounds repetitive but we will definitely be living in Turkey, and now Greece, in a few years.

There is something so special, about both these countries, and we instantly felt at home.

The joy of being able to ferry all around Istanbul, and other parts of Turkey and Greece, is such a blast and so freeing.

We just sat back, let the wind flow through our hair, and met people that were smiling, happy and probably on vacation too.


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