Travel

Goal of this page is to laconically detail where I, George Samaras have travelled, since I usually forgot some places…But I always remember this: a flight to my destination lasts a day, or just an hour, however, the memories, last for a lifetime!🙂

I will list (in random order) were I have been to and say some more about the non-Greek places I have been after 2012. It’s also good to write down the memories…🙂

  • Greece (history & beauty), and here is a list, made by mama.

    • Σπήλι Ρεθύμνου 1992 (ήσουν μωρό)
    • Πλακιάς Ρεθύμνου 1993 (ήσουν ενός έτους)
    • Ζάκυνθος 1994 (Ο αδερφός σου μωρό)
    • Λευκάδα 1995
    • Άγιος Νικόλαος 1996
    • Νάξος 1997
    • Σύρος
    • Σκιάθος
    • Κύθηρα
    • Σούγια Χανίων 2001
    • Αγία Φωτιά Ν. Λασιθίου 2002
    • Φολέγανδρος 2003
    • Σκόπελος 2004
    • Σκύρος 2-3 φορές με Μάρα+Μανώλη
    • Θάσος 2005 // we had seen that island as its maximum green forests, before people burned it, as always in Greece!
    • Σίφνος 2006
    • Άγιος Νικόλαος (Πλάκα) 2007
    • Παλαιόχωρα Χανίων 2008
    • Κάλυμνος 2010
    • Σάμος 201..; δεν θυμάμαι … 2011 ή 2012;
    • Τήνος 2013
    • Γιάνενα -Ζαγοροχώρια -Μέτσοβο 2002 Γενάρης
    • Θεσσαλονίκη -Σέρρες- Ξάνθη 2002 Μάρτης, 2009 πενθημερη
    • Χαλκιδική 2002 Πάσχα
    • Κατερίνη-Βεργίνα -Δίον -Καστανιές -Έδεσσα-Λιτόχωρο 12ος 2002
    • Κοζάνη-Φλώρινα- Πρέσπες
    • Γιάννενα -Ζαγοροχώρια- Κόνιτσα 2005
    • Τρίκαλα -Καλαμπάκα- Περτούλι -Ελάτη-Λίμνη Πλαστήρα 2006
    • Λεβίδι 2α λυκείου, 3ήμερη
    • Πάρος 2010 (μετα τις πανελλήνιες)
    • Μύκονος 2011 ή 2 (DIT)
    • Ίος 2014
    • (Πάος Αρκαδίας a.k.a. Σκούπι) Χωριό (κάθε καλοκαίρι+αρκετά Χριστούγεννα+Πάσχα)
    • Ηράκλειο Κρήτης 2015, Χερσόνησος + Ανισσαράς 2016 για το παρουσίαση Κρήτη.
  • Egypt (history, giant Pyramids, when I first show them, it was foggy and they appeared dark in the background, like the movies when a huge monster comes by for the 1st time, that was unique).

    Pyramids
    Sphinx guard Pyramids at Giza
  • Tunisia (two worlds in one country, south a traditional Arabic one and north a European Tunisia. At every country, we would stay in a 5-6 stars hotel, but in Tunisia’s ones, the food was superb. Moreover, one night we stayed at the Presidential Suite. Also the village in the middle of nowhere in the desert, built only for the Star Wars movie was nice (you could see the light swords, etc.) .)

    star_wars
    Star wars movie village
  • Spain: Barcelona – nice architecture & visited the best so far restaurant for me, named 7 Portes, where I had the honor to sit at Maria’s Kalas favorite spot. Paella was also there, but it was ok. Salvadore Dali’s museum was pretty nice. In the aquarium there, I saw the most bizarre fish in my life, despite the several years of underwater fishing and such, the Sunfish, which was in the same area with sharks and I remember myself scared that it was half-eaten by a shark!

    sunfish
    A Sunfish in Barcelona’s aquarium
    La_Sagrada_Familia
    La Sagrada Familia
  • Monaco (the most rich “village” you will ever go. Most unique cars I have ever seen in my life, casinos and the F1 track. Been there thanks to Eirini, who I didn’t even know before our date for travelling to Monaco.)
  • Monaco
    Eirini and me and Monaco
  • Turkey, at Constantinople (aka Instabul) (Hagia Sophia, Topcapi palace, Bosporus (the river) and the biggest diamond in the world, who was at that time in an exhibition there, maybe in Dolmabahçe.)

    Hagia_Sophia
    Hagia Sophia from inside
  • Switzerland : 2012-2013 (my story here, great friend Hugo there and the Chinese couple Hao Hu and Liang Zhou, where the former had eaten all the Melomakarona my mother had sent me (not mines, the ones I gave to them).

    Great Greek guys there too, Kokosioulis (perfect roommate), Vassilis Papapanagiotou and Triglianos(TA at web development), Thodoris Myrilos and Panos Cheilaris (lectured us in Algorithms) were the most important, along with some Greek girls (Vicky Mazzei who was willing to help me when I had a problem with my teeth). Also the Italian teacher was really nice. Moreover, Juxi Leitner was another TA we discussed a lot.)

    A sweet Christmas story was unveiled at that time, when my mother made some Melomakarona and shipped them from Greece to Switzerland. They were really nice and I treated some of them to my friends around.

    The Chinese couple could not be an exception of course, so I gave them some. The next day I asked them how they tasted and Hao laughed…Liang explained that “the biscuits” as they called melokarona were so delicious, that she couldn’t resist in eating them all, leaving Liang without a bite, eventually leaving as all with a big smile!🙂

  • France : 2014 (The dessert cremes were superb. Internship in research centre Inria, where I got great Greek support by Dora, Christos, Alisia (Fr.), Netko, Alex (bf of Dora) and Aiman(Djibouti), Devdeep and Darsh (India) were nice colleagues in the office.

    At CIV, Matias(Chile) and Mohssine(Marocco) were great company, along with Nima(Iran), Liang(China), Marc(Fr.), Osama(Yemen), the Senagal and the Elephant guy (Ivory Coast) and last but not least, Mourjo (India). Romain(Fr.). Also Sara(Tunisia) was the girl in our company!

    Also the people of Mediterranean days were important too, like Costas Ioannou, Alex Sibetheros, John Chronis(Gr.), Meriam and Amal (Tunisia).

    medDays
    Students from all over the Mediterranean visit Inria, 2014

    Film festival at Cannes was nice. Nice people there and a necklace of 167.000 euros, displayed in a store like a normal product.

    The second departure from France was for sure the most unique of all the departures I have ever lived. Firstly, I thought that I was flying from Nice at 18:00, then from Zurich at 20:00 and I land in Athens at 00:40. However, the first departure was at 06:00, which meant that I had to go to the airport from the previous day.

    So three days, three airports and me, going to Greece on Monday to play a Cage match, since it would be the only common day of me and Stathopoulos, before summer. The plan was that I leave CIV at around 7 and taking two buses.

    However, the guys suggested that we go after launch to Nice, to see Mohssine’s new apartment and visit the beach. Finally only me and Mohssine went and instead of the beach we went to see the Champion’s league final (Real Madrid vs Atletico Madid). That meant however that I should take the night bus, which had three scheduled routes and we got the final (at 01:10), since we also went for a kebab (the first one traditional kebab I ever tasted).

    Mohssine insisted to come with me, since the bus would not stop out of the airport and I would have to walk a bit. It turned out the bus was intended to stop out of the airport, so I said Mohssine to disembark and go home, in order him no to have to arrive alone and sleep at 2-3 o’clock at the night.

    The bus however had something different from all the other buses I have travelled with in other countries. Three policemen (or bus security), which stroke my attention. It wasn’t long since I got why. People, explicitly black immigrants, were drunk (and as informed after “had smoked weed”).

    After some time, the people on the back of the bus were screaming and making noise for fun, so the three policemen were scolding them. However, at some point the situation was too bad and the bus stopped. A police car arrived and some policemen jumped in the bus and made -violently, since they were resisting- some guys disembark the bus. These guys were so high, that they had to get slapped twice by the police to actually realize that something was down.

    We continued. However, the situation was becoming again noisy. At at some point, the situation became too noisy, so the bus stopped and many police cars arrived, making the night blue. Many guys were forced to leave the bus. The bus accelerated, but a guy from the back was saying something. I went near the driver, because I wanted to ask about my stop.

    The bus driver was of course really frustrated with all this situation. He stood up and starting yelling to the guy and vice versa, until the driver had too much and took his bag and say that the bus will not continue and I recall him hitting a button in the bus and all the police cars(+some more) were all over the place again(the also had a tog (like Rex), which probably was useful to smell drugs).

    I told the police I had to go to the airport, so they put me and another girl in a police car and started to get going. They drove the girl home and then we headed for the airport. The driver asked me if I was late, I said that I have 4 hours left and he said “ah you are late”, but I think we knew that I wasn’t.

    Suddenly he accelerated, initiated the blue lights of the police car and was going really fast to the airport. We arrived, shook hands and here I am, writing this story, with the Wifi of the airport to be unlimited free I think (without a time limit) and Eirini, despite being drunk, sending me the photograph of Monaco, that one can see above.)

    red carpet, FIlmFestivalCannes
    Matias, Mohssine and I in front of the Red Carpet in the Film Festival of Cannes
    officeInria
    Aiman, Darsh, me and Deevdep in our office in Inria
    CIV
    From left, Marc, Nima, Sara, me, Mohsinne and Matias in our first breakfast in the balkony of CIV


     

    Paris is the new destination, visited at mid January 2015, just after the week of the Charlie Hebdo incident, in order to participate in the Winter school “Combinatorial and algorithmic aspects of convexity”, where the two main lecturers were Mr. Vempala and Mr. Bárány. Institut Henri Poincaré (I.H.P.) fully supported (financially) my trip. I was able to have a discussion with Mr. Vempala about my project which aims to search for Nearest Neighbors in a high dimensional space.

    fr
    Before a talk.


    Eiffel
    Above: Vangelis, Silouanos, me and below: Chasapis, Psarros and the only Greek girl around, Lambrini!
    Vissarion was somewhere else in Paris at that moment.


    We tried to see as many places as possible, but Paris was too big. A beautiful city and I felt sometimes why it is called the City of Light. Except Eiffel tower, Notre-Dame de Paris was spectacular for me, especially because I could see the “monsters” that I had seen in the movie (a Gargoyle for example). The bridges over the river Seine (Sikouanas for Greeks), combined with the medieval buildings and the light emitted by the Eiffel tower was something nice too. And many more..

    An interesting night was when Psarros and Vangelis had to accompany Nemparis to the metro station, but we should get going too, but I was hungry, so I stepped into a Kebab shop which was about to close (thus it was empty). I figured out that the guys were Turkish people, so I asked them if I was correct and they said yes and they asked me back.

    Then we were laughing and mentioning how many things the two nations share, such as soutzoukakia, raki, tsifteteli and more. The point is that we had such a good time and I am thinking about the hate that lies in the minds of some people, that is cultivated. The more I travel, the more I admire this quote: “Fascism is treated reading and racism is treated traveling. (Miguel de Unamuno)”.

    I met Benjamin (Austria) who had visited Greece and Cyprus and Joe (Ohio, US). Last but not least comes Marjorie, who was my financial secretary for that trip. Her step father is Algerian, who decided to go back home when he had exams for the Math uni, in order to focus on studying. However, when he tried to return to France, Algeria did not allow him to do so, because his military service was still pending. He was really good in Mathematics and managed to become an officer. When he was done with the army, he went back to Paris.

    When she saw my surname she knew already I was Greek and asked why. One of the reasons was that her family has a home in Mani, which they visit every Summer. Then she was telling me that she bought online two watch straps from Greece, but they send her one and they didn’t reply to her e-mail. So I decided to offer my help and go to the store in Athens if needed.😉

    For the first time in my life I was the major photographer of the trip, so here are some selected pics. Moreover, another unique event took place in Paris. I watched (via webcasting) my last lecture as an undergraduate student in DIT. The lecture was the OS course with A. Delis.

    Eiffelnight0
    Eiffel tower by night
    Eiffelnight1
    Eiffel tower by night, as seen from the river
    notre-Dame
    Notre-Dame de Paris. If you look closely, you *may* see Quasimodo.🙂
  • USA, California, Silicon Valley + San Francisco: Summer 2016. Yahoo! gives me the chance to come here, both as a tourist (funded by Yahoo!, in The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square hotel; Union Square has events every weekend, open to the public and free, really cool, like music, dance, karate, movies, etc.) and later as a Software Engineer Intern, in big data, image processing, deep-learning and distributed computing.

    San Francisco (SF) being foggy most of the time, is a port that brags about its geological location. San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto’s 2nd city must have been San Francisco, since I can see many places in common (however GTA really beautified the bad neighborhoods of SF, which are very dirty and with many homeless people lying on the streets). The Russian hill, Pier 69, the Tram, the steep slopes in the roads, Bay Bridge is the bridge that is near the garage of CJ, and Golden Gate is the bridge above a club (the building also exists), that CJ did some missions there. The city has many companies, most of them doing cutting-edge technology improvements, especially in the Bay area, where I live. There are many skyscrapers, which hide the sun that comes out usually around the middle of the day, such a catastrophe…On the other side, it’s expected to see building like these here, it’s a relative small space for the people that want to be here, so skyscrapers might help in squeezing more people in this city.

    SF is a multi-cultural city, without question. The most bizarre people, are the Chinese, so tiny..Some females also do some weird moves with their hands, it must be something related to religion, like a pray. Notice that a century ago, massive Chinese moves were a thing, causing an uproar against them from the workers in the port, similar to what we see today with the immigrants. As a result, the Chinese element is very vivid here, and a part of the city is named Chinatown (that’s where I go and eat fried rice with shrimps), where 10k people are literally zipped in it, living probably in tiny places. It appears that some Chinese are the corresponding Gypsies of Greece, searching the trash, probably for bottles. However, Chinese seem to be respectful, they won’t steal from you…

    Streets can be unpleasant here, with homeless people lurking around, and they are the more violent ones I have ever seen, most of them are black, or white crazy people, that scream at their own, for no obvious reason- really frightening. They will ask you for money and/or try to sell you something they just stole. For example, the place in Market St., where the tourist trolley starts gathers many tourists, thus many homeless people and street “artists”.

    One of them tried to sell me a liquid detergent (!?) and I ignored him, but he wouldn’t give up that easily, he followed me and literally shouted to my ear, until I turned and looked him, telling him that I am not interested! Surprisingly enough, they are allowed to walk into clothing stores-the other day one stole something, but I was asking the security guard for directions, so when the beep sound and the guard talked to him, he stormed out of the place, risking a car crash!

    Yahoo’s headquarters are in Sunnyvale (part of Silicon Valley), which is hotter than SF, but the Vision Team is here, so I work in SF. Sunnyvale, has superior food than the office here, it also has baristas, something that’s expected, since the campus there is huge, and far, far more people work there than here in SF. In general, many popular and strong companies are here, and their funders too. For example, in the San Francisco Marathon, Marc Zuckerberg was running along.

    A very important achievement for me was the fact that I was the one behind the main Greek Yogurt supplier for Yahoo!, with Chobani (it said to be Greek Yogurt, but it’s Turkish) being all over the place when I came in, now FAGE replaced them. The Business Manager of FAGE in New York answered back to me, after I contacted FAGE and I set up a communication bridge between him and the food department here in Yahoo!, the Vision Team also supported this shift from Chobani to FAGE!🙂

    This trip had its unpleasant surprise, not as big as the one in France with the wasted black guys, the police and the airport, but still, something remarkable. I was with Yannis Kalantidis, colleague in Yahoo, outside of the Falafel place at 5th and Market. A homeless guy was messing with the store owner and on their vocal fight, he called him Nigga. A black pedestrian interrupting him- lecturing him on that, I guess.

    All this, got us distracted, but as soon as it got over, we were standing, while Yannis wanted to show me something at his brand new corporate phone (he dropped his previous corporate phone in the sea the previous weekend). Out of a sudden, a hand grabbed his phone, Yannis screamed “hey, that’s my phone” and started chasing them.

    Despite the fact that I know that chasing the thieves is always wrong, due to the instinct that we have, I stormed behind the thieves-group, two black males and one black female, which I targeted, since it seemed to be the easiest target. It didn’t take me long to come into a position of taking her down. However, just as I made the final stretch to smack her down, my body refused me this action, since it understood that I didn’t have support from my shoes (turns out my shoes cords were not tight), which resulted in my body simulating a controlled fall, and 6 years of Cage football, has teach me how to fall in hard terrains, so I wasn’t hurt.

    However, my favorite Billabong jacket, mama and brother had bought me, was torn apart during my fall. Yanks (which had two black males in the case), fortunately, stopped when he saw me falling, I stood up right away, we wondered just a bit, to see them gone, and since we knew that what we did was wrong, we stopped chasing them. What is important to remember, is that my favorite jacket won’t be returning home with me. Fortunately, that was the only loss (including the phone), but who cares? We were safe and healthy after that, and that (and only that) is what matters. What would be the situation if we caught them? I am pretty sure these punks would have some kind of weapon, and we could have been severely injured!

    During this trip I learned that giving a gentle slap to the back of the neck to the person that’s just got a new haircut and telling him “Me Yia” is something Greek (or maybe Turkish? Since we share a lot…). Americans, Germans, Chinese, Ghanaians and Netherlanders don’t do it. I do not remember to who I did it first, probably Dylan, but it was obvious he wasn’t aware of the concept..Another nice incident was on a Friday, when Clayton, Blake and me were having desert and I got my hands dirty (too much vanilla cream!), and said: “I eat like a gypsy!”. Lot of laughing that afternoon, with the narration of several stereotypes..

    I told them that in my village, we were threatened to be given to the gypsies if we didn’t eat all our food, then they told me about the “White people can’t dance”, and so on. We also discussed about the chicken game and how amusing did Clayton find that we would be able to park his car wherever it could fit, when he was in Greece. He also found Athens cheap, but not Santorini. Blake is going to Mykonos and Santorini this Thursday (on my last week here).

    The last Sunday in San Francisco was also the best one for me, the weather was so sweet, it almost felt like Greece! I went to the Coit tower, where I had to walk through several steps, surrounded by beautiful flowers and much green. That tower was built from a rich lady, which after her death left enough money to build that beauty, just like leaving her jewelry for the neighborhood. I also visited the Aquarium, just across Alcatraz. Children would be amazed by the fish that are like Nemo and Dory, saying there names loud, since they have obviously see the cartoons. It was fun, there was one fish to stand up, as pictured below, the California sheephead (all sheepheads are born as females, but eventually transform into males…). However, the amazement was not as much as the one I had in Barcelona’s Aquarium with the Sunfish! Moreover, the videos displayed here were of lower quality than the ones displayed in Crete’s Aquarium. A unique feature of that Aquarium for me though, was the fact that we were able to touch baby sharks and stingrays. The skin of the sharks was so rough.

    An important fact is while in San Francisco, you can sense that large companies that are active in the Computer Science area are located around, such as Google, Yahoo, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and many more. Moreover many smaller companies exist here and there is much Tech going on in the Bay Area.

    Nice people during my trip were the guy from Nestle as I first took the BART to go to my hotel, the Chinese guy that I helped reach the airport the day I was leaving (he was about to take the wrong train!), le petit Ivan in the airplane, and last but not least, Pedro, the researcher from Portugal, which was an Intern in MemSQL at the same period as me, but hadn’t a paid vacation as me, that’s why he came a week later in SF.

    “A little less conversation, a little more action”, thus I am listing some images below, and you can see all my 1205 images in Flickr.

    hotelUSA
    My hotel (Westin St. Francis) and the lovely Union Square.
    localedition2016
    Harry Mavroforakis, Antonia Saravanou, Orestis Polychroniou, Stratis Karatzas, me and Anna Persis, in my first night out (of course, I had forgotten my ID and was denied access, went back home to get it – I learnt nothing in Switzerland!)
    waterfall
    A church, view behind the waterfall of that park near my home, often closed for private parties.
    visionteam
    Vision Team, Yahoo! San Francisco office. (Jack Culpepper was missing) Spencer Cappallo, Saurabh Kumar, Rob Hess, Kofi (name given to males born on a Friday, in Ghana) Boakye, Blake Carpenter, Tobias Baumgartner, Bart Thomee, Gerry Pesavento, Stacey Svetlichnaya, Yannis Kalantidis, Samaras, Stevie Chancellor, Marissa Connor, Clayton Mellina, Pierre Garrigues, Dylan Paiton, Huy Nguyen and Frank Liu.
    sheephead
    California sheephead, San Francisco Aquarium, last Sunday of my trip, 2016.
    nikepic
    Nike (νάικι, από το νίκη), just do it!
    Cathedral
    Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption
    yahoo2016
    My office at Yahoo, SF. On the left my Turbo-X, on the right my MacBook Pro, on top the Mac of Yahoo and its monitor. Notice my favorite cranberry juice and choco-cookies, as well as the Fage yogurt, which I accomplished to get it to Yahoo’s fridge! The Stack Overflow swag is also something notable.
    PalaceFineArts
    Palace of Fine Arts, a nice lake, Greek-like architecture and many birds!
    GoldenGate
    The Golden Gate
    TranPyramid
    Transamerica Pyramid — a bank!
    380sunrise
    Sunrise from the tail of the A380, I was on its 2nd floor when going to Paris!

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