greece Tag

Greece-2012-149_web
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Under the blue sky of Athens

Photos in Athens I had forgotten about that sky. So blue, so clear. Day after day the clouds stayed away, perhaps finding somewhere cooler. For the neverending azure blanket that lit up the city but also brought an oppressive heat. I was reminded of summer in Athens when I was looking through some photos of a trip there last summer. Around every corner was another ruin, usually an ancient one. And sadly, because of current economic conditions, quite often a modern one too. But each is rich with stories of history and culture. A self-guided walking tour through Athens need only take a few hours (everything is so close to each other) but it can take you through millennia of human civilization. It seems like a good time to share some of the photos I took there which I haven't done anything with. I have no other plans for them and it would...

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09 January
daphni monastery, athens, greece, byzantine church in greece, restoration, opening hours (2)
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Restoring the faith

Monastery at Daphni, Athens Piece by piece, tiny tile by tiny tile, the monastery at Daphni is being restored. It's taken years and it's bound to take years more - perhaps even longer than it took to build in the first place. Such is the art of making something old look old again. And it's not the first time it's had to be done. About ten kilometres from the centre of Athens, this Byzantine-style monastery was first built in its current form almost a thousand years ago. It had risen from the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo Daphneios. Over the millennium between then and now, both men and nature have taken turns trying to destroy it. In the 1200s, Frankish crusaders sacked it - but a religious order faithful to the then Duke of Athens began to restore it two years later. In 1821 it was deconsecrated and used as...

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02 September
cool, trendy, popular bars and restaurants in Athens, Greece, young, hipster culture (7)
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Greek tavernas come of age

Trendy bars in Athens, Greece In the heart of Athens, heritage and history are making way for the modern. Tradition is morphing into a new cosmopolitan era, championed by the young of the ancient city. The Greek tavernas are coming of age. The nightspots of Athens have never really been considered 'trendy' before but all that is changing. There's a hipster culture that seems to be taking over the bars and cafes. It's not hard, looking for somewhere to stop for a drink, to find somewhere that is merging the traditional taverna with the fashions of the new generation. Have a look at these photos from some of the bars I visited in the suburb of Kolonaki. Tell me they wouldn't look out of place in the bohemian suburbs of New York, London or Berlin. (And, yes, that room really is that pink!) The ruins may bring the tourists to Athens in the first...

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28 August
Mycenae, mycenaean empire civilisation, visiting from mikinos, unesco sites in greece (5)
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The empire that launched a thousand ships

Archaeological Site of Mycenae While it's the Acropolis in Athens which gets all the attention when people think of Ancient Greece, another one, further south in the Peloponnese, has a much more romantic history. On the site known as Mycenae, the Mycenaean culture built their citadel. For about four hundred years between the 16th and 12th century BC, their civilisation spread to all known areas in the Mediterranean basin. And all of it was controlled from this hill. It was the royal house, the centre of communication routes, and the most fiercely defended community of the Mycenaeans. But, as far as legend is concerned, it is best known as the heart of the empire which launched the attack and siege on Troy. Ancient poets such as Homer told stories of the Mycenaean era and its role in the tale of a face that launched a thousand ships. More than three thousand years have passed...

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27 August
jackie onassis naked, skorpios, greek islands, aristotle onassis (4)
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Jackie’s island

Jackie Onassis naked She thought she was safe, far away from the creatures that chased her, armed with their notebooks and cameras. She thought she had found a sanctuary where she could be free from constant fear of an invasion. So it was here, on the island of Skorpios in the Ionian Sea, that Jackie Onassis slipped out of her clothes and prepared to lay down naked in the Greek sun. Click. A local paparazzo had found her...

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20 August
greek food, taverna, kefallinia, ionian islands, sailing, good food, traditional (1)
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A secret family taverna

Traditional taverna on Kefallinia Twelve years ago the Gonata family opened their restaurant on the Greek island of Kefallinia. Back then, in the town of Ay Eufimia, there were only a few other businesses. The port had once been the main stopping point for ferries to the island but that all changed after the facilities were destroyed in an earthquake in 1953. For decades, the place had been off the radar. But as life slowly started to come back to Ay Eufimia and the yachts began to use the port for refuge of the evening, commerce returned. The Gonata family, who had long been residents of Kefallinia, opened shop. This was not so strange back then… but today their story is a rarity. The restaurant is called ‘Amalia’ and it’s a short walk from the marina where we’ve moored our yacht. Although it’s not far, it seems like we’re leaving the bright lights...

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08 August
sailing, ionian sea, yacht trip, greece, intrepid (6)
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Sailing the Greek islands

A yacht trip in the Ionian Sea We tune the boat’s radio to channel 72. “Vathi harbour, this is Gypsy Love,” we say into the handset. There’s a bit of static then a crackle. “Gypsy Love, we have a space for you,” comes the reply. “You can pull in in front of the restaurant with the white awning.” The voice on the other end is British, a woman’s. It’s no surprise to hear the accent, though. Although we’re in Greece, these islands in the Ionian Sea are the summer playground of visitors from across Europe. Greek flags on the boats mix with those from Italy, Germany, England and Norway, among others. We guide our boat into the space in front of the restaurant and put our gangplank onto shore. It lands less than a metre from one of the tables. That’s the way with these local ports on the smaller islands. The boats, the restaurants, the...

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06 August
ancient olympia, greece, where were original olympic games, ancient olympics site (4)
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Visiting the origin of the Olympics

The first olympics The Olympic Games have not changed all that much since ancient days. Thousands of years ago, the games were designed to please the Greek gods of Mount Olympus. These days, they're designed to please the gods of modern capitalism - sponsors, television networks and tourism boards. It has, and always will be, about worshipping what humans believe makes the world what it is. At about this time every four years, we hear a lot about Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympics. In 776 BC, the first games were held here and - as a tribute - the Olympic flame is still lit on the site before every torch relay. What is Olympia like, though? And how much of a sense can you get of how the ancient games would have been? I decided to go there and find out for myself. Ancient Olympia, Greece The first thing you notice is the noise...

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26 July