Friday, January 30, 2009

Old Corinth and the Corinth Canal

The ancient city of Corinth (NE in the Peloponessus on the Gulf of Corinth) was a rich , influential city. Ancient ruins at Old Corinth include: the temple of Apollo, a roman amphitheater, the marketplace, fountains.

Temple of Apollo at Old Corinth

Between pillars of the Temple of Apollo

Most of ancient Corinth
Has either dissappeared
Or by earthquaqes destroyed
And over the years rebuilt

And in spite of it all, there are still
Temple of Apollo ,5th century built
And remnants of an once rich town
With shops that made her renown

Shop at ancient Corinth

The Corinth Canal built in the late 19th century at the very end of the Gulf of Corinth was considered a great technical achievement , a great engineering masterpiece at the time intended to short sea voyage of ships.. It connects mainland Greece (North} with the Peloponnese peninsula (South), the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf. Two large bridges one for railway, one for national Road are the land connection while below ships sail slowly from one sea to another, from the Adriatic to the Aegaen.

The canal appears as a blue strip and measures are: length - 6.3 km, width- 21 m, depth- 8m, height of the cliffs flanking it - 63m.
The attractions : one can take an organized cruise on a ship along the canal, or while on the bridge watch the bungy jump or look down and watch the passing ships. All three possibilities are exciting.

People looking down in wonder at the canal

The Corinth narrow ship Canal
Is something far from banal
Cut through solid rock and designed
By greatest of minds at the time
It links two seas and two pieces of land
While sailing, one can touch the cliffs by hand

Corinth Canal and the bridges

On the bridge

Corinth Canal - video

Monday, January 26, 2009

Delphi and the Oracle

Delphi is a very dramatic place. The drama is provided by the domineering Mt. Parnassos (today a famous ski center) and by the ancient archeological site with its sanctuary of Apollo, an ancient theater, a museum, etc.. In the classical Greek world, the sanctuary of Apollo was house to the Oracle delivered by the 'Phytea', the priestess ( an old speckless woman). The Oracle spoken in riddles, was interpreted by the priests of the temple and directed by them to the people who came from all over Greece to hear the prophesies of the Oracle and consult it before major undertakings.

Mt. Parnassos towering over Delphi

Delphi, the town and ancient site
At the foot of Mt. Parnassos' Might
Historical, dramatic, and sacred spot
Where people listened to and obeyed God

Here's the temple of Apollo, God of Light
Who foretold the future and was Guide
To people from all over the land of Greece
Who came to hear the Oracle through his priests.

The sanctuary dedicated to Apollo

Point of departure to and from the archeological site

View from above of the port of Itea

Narrow souvenir shop area

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cape Sounio

Sounio - what a lovely name, sounds romantic too. The place is famous for its sunsets .People gather at the temple on top of it to watch the sun go down in changing colors of yellow, red, and orange. It also offers , on a clear day, a panoramic view of surrounding islands in the Aegaen Sea such as the nearby greek islets of Makronisi and Patroklou

Cape Sounio is the name of the majestic spot
Really worth stopping at it for a camera shot
Up the hill and below it, there are things to see
Such as temple of Poseidon, the God of Sea

Under the marble temple a small harbour
And the Aegaen Sea with its blue crystal water
It is southernmost point of Europe mainland
One can see from above some aegaen islands

Climbing up the hill

Temple of Poseidon, the God of Sea in mythology

Boats on the sea

Bellow the hill, the Sea and a restaurant

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lycabettus Hill- - Athens

I like hills. They were the main attraction in my childhood town in Roumania. I liked the excitement of climbing up to the top, the panoramic view of the town bellow, the feeling of being close to the sky and God.

In ancient Greece there's the concept of "sacred hill" - the acropolis, with its superbly designed temples and stone air-open amphitheaters. I like that too.

Lycabettus Hill is the highest point in Athens and offers a good view of this densely populated city. It is cone shaped , and pine trees cover its base. One can walk via stairs ot take the funicular to the top.

Telescope deck on the Lycabettus

Lycabetus Hill in the middle of the capital
Offering a city sight which is spectacular
All of Athens as viewed from the top
Is like a huge, giant workshop.

The Hill is also place of worship
With small church and chapel of Ai Georgis
It has a restaurant/cafe on the top
And a theater which is a concerts host.

View of Athens from the Lycabettus

Monday, January 12, 2009

ATHENS - The Acropolis..and more

Athina - the greek word for Athens - reminds me of the famous greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassiss.
His first wife and his only grandaughter were both named Athina.

I have a little theory (supposedly, not original) : I think everyone is born with a certain Luck which goes with him/her from the cradle to the grave. In-between there are ups and downs, but a person's life usually ends more or less within the same kind of Luck it started with.

The "Rise and Fall" of Aristotle (Ari) Onassiss seems to be a fairly good example. Son of greek refugees, he worked as a liftboy, as telephone operator, and then his Luck gradually changed. He became rich, successful and famous through commerce with tobacco and ships. He married Athina (Tina), the daughter of a greek shipping magnate, whom he later divorced, had a long love affair with the world's greatest opera singer, Maria Callas, married late USA president John Kennedy's widow ,Jacky Kennedy, bought an island, had connections with Heads of States, Kings, etc.. and then, when in the third phase of his life, his Luck changed again.

His decline (personal , not financial), reached its bottom with the death of his son Alexander (25) in a plane crash. Onassiss never recovered from the tragedy of his son's death. He didn't live long enough (died three years later) to face another tragedy, that of his daughter Christina's death (37) .

And what became of the two Athina-s ? Athina (Tina), Onassis' divorcee ,died a year after her son's death.
Athina ,the grandaughter, is the sole survivor of the shipping tycoon 's immediate family, and she doesn't live in Greece.

The Acropolis (upper city)

In the center of Athens there are two hills : the Acropolis and the Lycabetus , both offering a splendid view of the city capital Athens.

The Acropolis is viewed as the highlight of ancient Greek civilization. It is believed that this is where democracy was born and where art and life became almost inseparable.
On the top of the acropolis is the Parthenon erected in honour of Athena , goddess protective of Athens. It is considered a marvel of architecture.

The Parthenon

The Acropolis, the upper city
Watching over Athen's beauty
Symbol of ancient civilization
The Greek's pride as a nation

A place of major temples
In honor of Athena Goddess
The most famous on the site
Is Parthenon standing upright

From the Acropolis one can get a superb view of the city with its outstanding landmarks: the Olympic Stadium, the Zappion , the National Gardens , etc.. Below the Acropolis is the ancient theater of Dionysos and the well-preserved temple of Thissio.

The ancient theater of Dionysos

On a stone chair in the theater of Dionysos

Behind, is the temple of Thissio

Monument in front of the Olympic Stadium

The Zappion Exhibition Hall

In the city square, pigeons everywhere

Guard- the Presidential Residence

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rhodes Rhodos Rodos - island of the Sun

I'm ashamed to admit it, but the first thought that comes to my mind when someone mentions Rhodos, is a big omelette with mushrooms I ate at the hotel "Blue Bay"on the day of our arrival in Rhodes. It was unforgettably tasty, or ..perhaps I was very hungry.

And then, I noticed the woven bed cover in the hotel room and liked it ,not knowing of course, that the next day , in one of the old city shops ,I'll find a poncho made of the same blue wool fabric as the bed cover, and I'll buy it on the spot. Another acquisition during the old city tour was that of a silver pendant representing the Colossos of Rhodes (statue considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), and a wooden matchbox with a metal deer on it - the Deer- the emblem of Rhodes guarding Mandraki harbour at the entrance to the city.

Bed cover that 'got' me a poncho

resting by the hotel's pool

Rhodos -the island's main town

My first real vacation trip abroad

Was to the greek island of Rhodes
I liked everything, including the flight
For me it was "love at first sight"

The city of Rhodos is divided in two
The old part and the modern, the new
Tourists are much attracted to the old
Which is medieval and walled

The entrance to the old city's made
Through the in-walls eleven gates
The busy narrow cobbled lanes
Are crossed by old archways

The modern city has broad streets
Lots of shops, beautiful things
Nice buildings ,hotels, green parks
Intensive nightlife with many bars

And in the area outside
Fine beaches, blue sea and sky
The famous 'valley of butterflies'
Archeological and historical sites

sculpture at the Archeological Museum

stone balls in the city park

in the old city

panoramic view of Rhodes - on a cloudy day
Outside the city of Rhodes ,I recall two outstanding attractions: the valley of the butterflies and the acropolis of Lindos.


Above the modern village of Lindos
On the east coast of the island of Rodos
Rises the Acropolis - citadel and ancient spot
Offering views of the coastline and Rhodin port

One can climb up to the Acropolis on foot
Or on a monkey's back , sturdy and cute
Either way it's a rewarding experience
Providing pleasure, in the first instance

The Acropolis of Lindos

view from the Acropolis

Valley of the Butterflies

Between June and September, thousands of butterflies flock to the valley which is about 12 Km distant from the city and has many wooden bridges, streams, and waterfalls. It's a fascinating sight attracting lots of tourists eager to watch the butterflies phenomenon

Valley of the Butterflies ( by oldboy96)

Friday, January 2, 2009

SYMI - island, town, harbour

Acording to greek mythology, Symi ( name of a nymph) is the birth place of the three Graces (goddesses): 'Beauty', 'Mirth', 'Good Cheer'.

In the 19th century Symi grew wealthy (one can judge by the mansions on the hill surrounding the town) from...sponge trade .
It seems
that tourists (attracted to the beauty of the place as well as to the open air festivals) , and pilgrims (coming to Panormitis monastery in hope for miracles) - are the main sources of Symi's economy of today.

The town of Symi is considered the most beautiful among the Greek island ports and is protected as national treasure.

The port of Symi

The island of Symi, small and hilly
Is reached easily by sea ferry
It's a real heaven for tourists
A proud host of summer festivals

Birthplace of the three Graces
Has neo-classical tiled-roof houses
And some sites worth visiting
Within the town and ouside it

The horse shoe shaped port
With bars and shops of every sort
A monastery bult for St. Michael
Panormitis ,the protective archangel
The monastery of Panormitis is located on the south end of Symi, on the sea front of the tiny village of Panormitis. Inside it , in the church devoted to Archangel Michailis (considered the patron saint and the guardian of the sailors in the whole region) , there's a 2-meter high silver leafy wall icon of the Panormiti, believed to perform miracles.

The main entrance to the monastery


The islet of Agia Marina

Some twenty minutes boat ride from Symi harbour is the islet of Agia Marina which houses the chapel of Holly Marina. The sea water here has shades of blue which ,according to some tourists , is hardly seen in other places .

A small port on a slight windy day
It's cold, wet, and yet, the bay
And the hilly pineclad village
Are worth the time and the voyage

( by olesw, background music - Zorba The Greek theme)