Saturday, January 22, 2005

A great day at the office

Firstly I will get the poker chat out of the way as I know it is not everybodys cup of tea!
It was a great day, I played in four low limit SNG tournaments (honest it was low limit Mum!). Started off with two No Limit hold ems and got a first and second place, then moved onto to Limit Omaha H/L and won it and finally Limit Stud H/L and won that as well! I have very little experience of stud Poker but thought I would give it a go today. I was delighted with my performance and took an early lead and never gave it up. With five players left I had 7,500 chips, second place a mere 1,500. My Omaha game is developing in a big way and I am actually enjoying it more than NLHE. Tonight I am in a competition with the winner taking a place in the Eurpean Poker Tour at Deauville in France. Over 115 entrants so low chances but, we will see.
Poker chat over.
It has been really cold here the last week or so (yesterday aside when I was outside topless, not a pleasant site) I can see Kefalonia in the distance from our house and the mountain (pictured above) is snow capped. On Sunday, we took a drive to the North part of our island and had a good look at mountains over the water. Kefalonia really is a beautful part of the world and if you visit this year, I would certainly suggest a visit if you are here for two weeks. Unfortuantely you need 2 days to look around it so I think a weeks visit would mean you miss a lot of Zakynthos.
Most of my Open University stuff is hre now, it really is quite daunting starting study again, it has been nearly 20 years since I did anything like it (football qualifications aside) but, I am actually quite looking forward to it now. I had a flick through my course books. At best they can be described as "dull" but, I guess that is study for you. The biggest problem is I am reading two other very good books at the minute (Dan Browns "Deception Point" and Dan Harringtons "Advanced No Limit Hold Em Tournament Play") and want to read them, not "Accidental Empires" or whatever.
Anyway, another Blog on its way over the weekend.
Keep Safe
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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

So you are thinking of visiting?

OK, so many people have asked about a visit to Zakynthos (or sometimes called Zante) that I thought it would probably be a good idea to put the details on here.
Visiting can be done either on the cheap (package holidays start from around £140 although some travel agents offered specials from only £89 including flight and accommodation last year) or by booking into a luxury stone villa. But, first things first, Flights: Many Airports service Zakynthos including Bristol, Cardiff, London (Gatwick, Stansted and Luton), Birmingham, East Midlands, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. I feel sure they may be more. You can book "flight only" at various places including, MyTravel, Thomas Cook, Cosmos Holidays or Monarch Airlines (Charter Flights section). That said, depending on the time of year, you often find it is actually cheaper to book a complete package, even if you plan to book a villa separately. Have a look at both options.
You will find most flight times are very user friendly as we do not allow take off or landings between the hours of 10pm and 6am due to the Caretta Caretta mating season (see more below).
Villas and accommodation: There are many options but one place I would certainly recommend are The Castello Bellos Villas. Don't pay too much attention to the prices on the web site which I think in peak season are in the region of 200 euros a night. I have negotiated a special deal with them and depending upon the time of year, prices are as little as 400 euro for the week. Take a look at the site, the villas really are stunning. They are about 15 minutes away from where I live and about a minute from the sea. Another option, which is further away and in land, but very nice are the Aresti Villas. I believe they have their own pools and great views.
Slightly more "touristy" is the Louis Zante complex, about 5 minutes away from us and perfect spot for a great beaches. It is very close to Laganas, the liveliest place on the island although it is still quite family orientated.
If you choose to pick a resort in a brochure, the closest to us are Kalamaki and Laganas. I would not particularly recommend Laganas as a place to stay as it is full of half naked 18 year old girls in clubs. Second thoughts.......
In all seriousness, Laganas can get very noisy in the evening so bear that in mind.
Argassi, Alikes, Alikanas and Tsilivi are about 25 minutes away. If you are unsure on anything just ask me and i will do my best to help.
Whilst you are here there are plenty of options for renting cars, you may get a better deal doing it through me but if you want to have a look online, most of the major rental companies are here. I purchased a car from Budget so I trust the guys there. Avis, Hertz and Europcar are all at the airport, if you use these, book in advance, you get a better deal and often full insurance for the price of third party. I have used Hertz a few times and had no problems.
You will find the beaches on the island are amongst the best in the world. In a recent edition of FHM, they had a feature on the best 10 beaches in the world, we were at number 2. (For your information, Vilamendhoo in the Maldives was number 1, the same resort I visited last year!)
The beaches are very family friendly as the seas are calm and in some instances you can go almost 30 metres out and still not even be up to your waist. Almost all are very sandy.
Apart from hospitality, Zakynthos is also famous for the Caretta Caretta (Giant loggerhead turtles). From July to September you will almost be guaranteed a sighting of them and it is very easy to swim out a short distance and swim with them. Underwater goggles and snorkel are certainly a must. They are about the size of a dustbin lid.
Anyway, I think there is plenty here to be going on with, if you have any questions, just let me know and I will help where I can. I hope to see you in the summer!
Keep SafePosted by Hello

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Year That Was 2004........

As it is January, it seems only fitting to have a quick look back at a few of last year's highlights. Obviously the major point was leaving work to move to Greece, not a small step under any circumstances, but one that has so far had been a complete success.
Travelling again was a large part of the year, visits to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Iceland, Venice, The Maldives, Paris, Athens and America etc were brilliant fun.
The Olympics were way beyond expectations and we got very lucky with our selction of events. When we attended the athletics, Great Britain were in top form. We were fortunate enough to see Kelly Holmes and the relay team collect gold, possibly Steve Backleys goodbye and Amir Khan secure the silver medal. Wheeling and dealing in a huge market square called Monistaraki was quite a thrill as we secured tickets valuable to others, which meant we could swap them for more important events to us. We also saw Basketball and the final of the football amongst others.
Continuing along this theme, one of the funniest moments of the year had to be our pursuit of tickets for the closing ceremony. We did originally have them but sold them as we got a very good offer which meant we made a profit and got tickets for the final of the boxing. This was three or four days before the ceremony. Anyway, we had no joy finding any more throughout the actual day so we went to the Olympic Stadium to see what we could do. The going rate appeared to be in the region of 500 euros at best....that is until I stumbled upon a small guy, well built, trying to sell one ticket. After MUCH debate on price, I finally got him to sell it for 100 euros. I was ecstatic. I saw Tony about 100 yards away and approached him as he was trying to buy two tickets for us, at 300 each. I said I had just got one, worth 750 euro for only 100. Well, it turns out matey boy, who just sold me the ticket, saw this. Tony was actually talking to his "council". The guy I got the ticket from was the coach of the Azerbijan Wrestling team, recently awarded the Gold Medal. I have to say, a huge row ensued as he tried to get the ticket back from me. It actually got pretty scary at one point. Anyway, I gave him a bit extra money and he went on his merry way. Tony also managed to get a 100 euro ticket at face value.
Tony was kind enough to provide me with another highlight of the year. I mean, who could possibly forget the sight of him rolling down the inside of a dormant volcano in Iceland as he tried to beat me to the bottom. The frozen lake at the bottom beckoned but unfortuantely his somewhat rotund frame did not reach the bottom. The comedy value involved in that was unrivalled.
I know I have a photo of the clean up process, I will try and publish it soon.
Keep Safe. Posted by Hello

Friday, January 14, 2005

Viva Las Vegas

I made reference to my recent trip to Las Vegas, well, whilst there i played in two satellites (poker competitions with the winner advancing to a more expensive competition!) to try and win a place in...another Super win a place in the prestigious main event of the World Poker Tour (WPT)(Confusing or what?!?). The normal entrance fee for this was $15,000 (£1.8 million first prize) so a £185 satellite seemed a better option! I won one of them but failed in the final Super Satellite after over 4 hours play. So near, yet so far.
The picture above is the host hotel for the event, the rather fabulous Bellagio Hotel. To my mind, the finest hotel in Las Vegas. Other than poker, the hotel is also famed for a big part in the movie "Ocean's Eleven" and its incredible water fountain display, all to music.
Whilst I was unsuccessful in the WPT event, a nice win at Binions Hotel & Casino (also famed for holding the World Series of Poker) on the final Sunday of my trip, made the holiday even more memorable.
Whilst there, I got a chance to see one of my favourite bands, Journey and also a Prince tribute band called Purple Reign.
The hotel we stayed at very kindly gave us two free tickets to an event called the "Billboard Music Awards Ceremony". As the name suggest, it is the music industry acknowledging achievements throughout the year and also a "lifetime achievement award".
Many of the worlds top artists played including Usher, Nelly, Alicia Keys, Destiny's Child, Green Day, Evanescence, Gwen Stefani, Sheryl Crow, Diana Ross and the final award going to Stevie Wonder. There were also appearanecs by Britney Spears, Duran Duran, Paris Hilton ;-) Maroon 5 and many more.
I suspect Justine enjoyed the show more than I did but still a lot of fun.
Keep Safe
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It all starts here.....

A Big Welcome and thank you for visiting the Blog of Simon Cook.
This venture ties in nicely with my 36th birthday although the jury is still out whether it will reach my 37th!
At this point in time I am not 100% sure of how the site will progress. The main objective is to keep my friends and family updated on how my new life is progressing in Greece but we will see what other developments occur.
Nothing hugely exciting to report since Xmas although I think that this is typically a quiet time of year. Usually getting over the festive season. Not that we experienced a huge amount of that here as we were in Las Vegas for most of the lead up.
Looking forward, in a couple of weeks I begin an Open University course, entitled "You, Your Computer and the Net". The plan is that this will lead on to me studying web design. The internet is still very much in it's infancy in Greece, certainly in Zakynthos, so any progress I can make in this field should benefit me in the future.
Anyway, again, thanks for visiting and please come back soon, I intend to update this at least every other day but again, time will tell! Feel free to make comments on the site, all you need to do is let me know the first time you want to and I will ensure that you have suitable access rights
Keep Safe.