Greece is the word

Never been to Greece? Think flowing Ouzo, beach parties, seafood, and much, much more.

Having never visited Greece, I didn’t know what to expect, but in the end it proved to be the pinnacle of my entire trip through Europe, and a welcome change of pace. From the minute our plan hit the tarmac, the entire cabin roared with cheers and applause! That confirmed it – we had arrived in the Cyclades, Mykonos, to be exact. Mykonos is one of 227 of the inhabited islands in Aegean Sea. It has a reputation for its nightlife, but the food, scenery and culture is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

Mykonos Town, or Chora, as it’s known to locals, is the heart of Mykonos. Massive cruise liners dock so tourists can explore for the day, and those staying out of town zoom in on their quad bikes and scooters to do the same. People wander through the colourful narrow walkways, popping into little shops for souvenirs, handmade leather sandals and jewellery, or a delicious jam-packed Nutella and strawberry crepe.

Little Venice is a short walk away and is the place to go for the best seafood in Mykonos. We grabbed a table right on the water at Katerina’s Restaurant, where the waves were splashing over our feet. The iconic Mykonos Windmills sat in the background and well-fed pelicans eyeballed us from metres away, out for their next snack!

Hiring a quad bike to get around the island is the best thing you can do. It’ll cost about 20 Euro per day, which will give you the freedom to see different beaches, bars, cafes, and townships. Book in advance if you can but, if not, head to Hercules Car & Bike Rental in Chora – they are cheap and have a huge range. You can book anything from quad bikes to a five-star dune buggy, and they come in all colours of the rainbow.

If it’s parties you’re after, Mykonos is it. The younger crowd heads down to Club Tropicana on Paradise Beach, where you can snooze on a sun bed and swim all day, then dance on tabletops with the masses that flock in at night.

Other beach clubs worth seeing are at Super Paradise Beach and, as the name suggests, it outshines Paradise Beach on every level. These are more luxurious beach clubs with a slightly older crowd and million-dollar yachts anchored off-shore, close enough so the sounds from the DJ pump over the ocean and on to their private party decks. The crowd is friendly and the Greek locals are side-splittingly funny. There’s no shortage of entertainment in Mykonos but what happens there stays there, so you’ll have to go and see for yourself!

Our next stop was Santorini, a three-hour ferry ride from Mykonos. You often see photos of Santorini but it doesn’t prepare you for seeing it yourself. As the ferry pulls into port, Santorini is above you – about 400 metres above you, in fact. The scenery is other-worldly and the ocean simply goes on forever.

Our quaint little hotel was in Fira, the capital of Santorini. We had a cave room, which is a traditional room carved out of volcanic rock that looks out over the Caldera. There was a Jacuzzi on our balcony from which we could enjoy the sunset, and staff served us breakfast there too. There’s something spectacular about having your eggs 300 metres above sea level, with cruise ships sitting quietly on the calm blue water below.

Quad bikes are a must in Santorini too, and there are a lot more road rules than in Mykonos, but if you miss out on seeing the many different beaches, you will regret it. In one day we visited Kamari Beach, where all the sand is pitch black, and Red Beach, which is made up of pebbles as bright as the outback. We made our way down windy roads to little rocky coves that had cafes on the shoreline, and we also stopped in Oia to check out the shops and bars in the village. According to locals, this is the place to catch that famous sunset, but we also had a great view in Fira. A few words of advice on Santorini: stay longer than one day; take advantage of the very cheap authentic Greek gyros; and if the sun sets at 8pm get a table for dinner around 7pm or you’ll miss it!

The final stop on our Greek adventure was Athens. I’d been told Athens wasn’t anything special but was surprised at the amount of culture and history I was standing on. For the few days I was there, people in the street would remember me and ask how I was. There are no other people like the Greeks – happy, friendly and fun.

We visited the Acropolis and the ruins surrounding it and were dumbfounded by its history. Get to the ruins early if you’re visiting Greece from June to August, as it gets extremely crowded and hot after about 10am. The view from the top of the Acropolis was sensational. There were old white buildings and vibrant green trees as far as the eye could see. It’s not hard to see why they built temples for the gods on that hill. The ruined amphitheatres and temples are amazing, as is wandering through the city streets seeing ancient ruins from more than 2000 years ago.

The Plaka is a buzzing shopping hub where you can chat to the locals and, of course, eat. If you don’t mind a drink, you’ll love the free shooters of Ouzo you are offered after a meal in Athens. Apparently they are used to aid digestion after eating, and we weren’t complaining!

AJE xox.

Posted 28th November, 2014 @ 1.06pm

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Silent domination

Social media has us comparing our self-worth, it has us subconsciously looking for validation in places where we shouldn’t, and it creates a disconnect in our reality.

It’s influential, addictive and powerful. And when that’s put in the hands of some of the humans in this race, that’s scary.

Let’s take Prince Ea’s advice and not let technology control us.

AJE. xox

Posted: 8th October, 2014 @ 9.26am

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The code.

As a journalist, I’ve educated myself to work ethically and to preserve and deliver the facts (substantiated by no one other than myself) on any particular issue directly to the public. That will never change no matter who I work for. Watching social media flood with opinions and arguments on ISIS and how the media is inciting fear into Australian’s disturbs me. So before the uninformed rants ensue, I have some suggestions from the other side of the fence.

The first thing the general public should do is reach outside the mainstream spectrum and research all news media projections. There is a multitude of news out there that isn’t just breakfast television or the late night wrap on the radio. There’s also this thing called the internet (potentially your best friend in this), where most people don’t even utilise advanced searching and even more extremely, the deep web.

After you’ve opened your mind to the idea of news as a whole entity, decide whether it’s the media that are systematically ‘brainwashing’ the public on this topic or whether, in fact, it’s the government. You need to remember that journalists have to substantiate their research from an authoritative source in order have an ethically sound story, and in the case of the conflict happening in the Islamic State, that’s the government. After that, decide where you continue to get your news from…

As regular people trying to make a living, there are journalists who conform to heavyweight media corporations and their ‘policies’ which can be backed by wealthy enterprises or political campaigns. But as a consumer of news, they can be avoided or considered contextually if you’ve done the research.

The foundation of study as a journalist in Australia is based on the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the Journalists’ Codes of Ethics. So before you go slandering that journalist who wrote that story which rubbed you the wrong way or challenged your opinions, consider more thoroughly who that information was attributed to, your opinions on their motives, and evidence you can find to support that. Don’t get me wrong, not all journo’s do the right thing, but we don’t all do the wrong thing either.

The code states:

Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists describe society to itself. They convey information, ideas and opinions, a privileged role. They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, suggest and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They give a practical form to freedom of expression. Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have these public responsibilities. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be accountable. Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not fulfil their public responsibilities. Alliance members engaged in journalism commit themselves to

Honesty
Fairness
Independence
Respect for the rights of others

Journalists will educate themselves about ethics and apply the following standards:

1. Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.

2. Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.

3. Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.

4. Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.

5. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.

6. Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.

7. Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.

8. Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.

9. Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate. Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.

10. Do not plagiarise.

11. Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.

12. Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.

Food for thought…

AJE. xox

Posted: 22nd September, 2014 @ 5.47pm

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