Tag Archives: Greece

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone But Not Forgotten – Holiday Sandals and a Final Quiz

Gladiator Sandals Naxos Greece

I had what I called my gladiator sandals since 1999 when I went to Rhodes and they  accompanied me abroad on every single subsequent holiday. By 2006 they were showing signs of wear and were not expected to see through a Greek island hopping adventure. I  made it my mission to see how long I could keep make them last.

The Gladiators made it through the island travels and surprisingly lasted another two years when an important part of the shoe infrastructure failed (one of the straps snapped).

After Rhodes, they had been to the Greek islands of Skiathos, Cephalonia (twice), Santorini (twice), Crete, Thassos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Ios (twice), Sikinos, Amorgos, Milos and Sifnos.  I finally had to accept that they were irreparable whilst on the island of Folegandros so I thought that this was a suitable place to say goodbye and I  left them there to become part of the Greek earth in whatever landfill site they ended up in.

I really loved those sandals!

Quiz Time:

Identify these Greek holiday islands…

Greek Islands

Elgin Marbles Quiz Answers

Disputed Museum Exhibits

Just to close things off:

One correct answer…

1. Winged Victory, in possession of the French and claimed by the Greeks
2. Rosetta Sonte, in possession of the British and claimed by the Egyptians
3. Samsat Stele, in possession of the British and claimed by the Turks
4. Bust of Nefertiti, in possession of the Germans and claimed by the Egyptians
5. Venus de Milo, in posession of the French and claimed by the Germans

It is a good site, pop across and have a look…

One final piece of trivia; the Samsat Stele is claimed by Turkey, the hole in the middle of it is because sometime in the past someone made alterations to use it as a vine press.  No wonder the British Museum thinks they should continue to look after it!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone But Not Forgotten – The Elgin Marbles (1) and a Quiz

 Parthenon Acropolis Athens Greece

‘Dull is the eye that will not weep to see                                                                             Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed                                                     By British hands, which it had best behoved                                                                      To guard those relics ne’er to be restored.                                                                     Curst be the hour when from their isle they roved,                                                       And once again thy hapless bosom gored,                                                                         And snatch’d thy shrinking gods to northern climes abhorred!‘                            Lord Byron

The Elgin Marbles debate/controversy reared its ugly head again when it was reported that the British Museum is going to loan a piece to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in Russia.  Howls of anguish and cries of foul have broken out in Athens who say this action is the equivalent of poking  the Greeks in the eye with a very sharp stick!

In 1817 the British Museum took possession of the Elgin Marbles but the Greeks have built a museum especially for them.  Unlike any other museum in the world the Acropolis Museum in Athens is one has been designed to exhibit something it does not own and cannot yet exhibit but hopes that it will be the catalyst for the permanent return of the disputed artefacts.  The top floor is designed to provide a full 360º panoramic of the building and how the sculptures would have looked when they were originally commissioned and sculptured in the fifth century BC.

The gloves are off and the battle is now on between the new state-of-the-art Acropolis Museum and the more traditional British Museum for the right to exhibit them.

The Museum was originally planned to be completed in 2004 to accompany the return of the Olympic Games to their spiritual Athenian home but construction setbacks and various outbreaks of controversy along the way have meant that it did not finally open to the expectant public until June 2009.

After four years of visiting Athens on the way to the Greek islands I finally managed to see the new Acropolis Museum in September 2009.  I purchased tickets on line a week or so before for just €1 (prices rose to €5 in 2010, so it was a bargain) and arrived at my allotted time of ten o’clock.  I had feared that the place would be crowded and uncomfortable but this was not the case at all and without the lines of visitors that I had anticipated it was easy to cruise effortlessly past the ticket desks and into the museum.

I had a gigantic sense of anticipation because I have visited the old inadequate museum at the top of the Acropolis a couple of times before in 2000 and 2006 and I have been genuinely looking forward to seeing this magnificent replacement.  I have to say that anticipation was mixed with trepidation because having followed the saga of the open wound debate about the Elgin Marbles (or the Parthenon Sculptures, depending on your point of view) I genuinely wondered how I was going to feel.

The British Museum argues that London is a better place to make them available to the public because with 6.7 million visitors in 2013 it is the second most visited museum in the World after the Louvre in Paris.  This is a powerful argument and one they can probably rely on for many years to come because in the same year the Acropolis Museum attracted only 1.4 million visitors which puts it way down the most visited list at about sixtieth.

Outside the museum and also in the cavernous entrance hall there are glass floors with sub-level views of the excavations that were discovered during the construction of the building and contributed to the delays and then there is a steady incline through a timeline of seven centuries of  ancient history and impressive well set out displays along a generously wide gallery that provides sufficient space for everyone to stop and enjoy the exhibits without feeling hurried or under pressure to rush.

Moving on to the second floor there are two galleries that I have to say I did not find so well set out and involved a rambling walk through a succession of exhibits that was not helped by the absence of a simple floor plan to help guide the visitor through and having finished with the second floor I then had to double back to get to the third and the Parthenon Gallery having skilfully avoided the café terrace and the inevitable shop on the way.

Parthenon Sculptures

After an hour passing through centuries of ancient Greece I finally arrived at the top floor Gallery, which is designed to eventually hold and display all of the Parthenon sculptures (or the Elgin Marbles, depending on your point of view) but for the time being has only about half of the originals and the rest are plaster casts made from the remaining treasures currently remaining in London.

It is truly impressive and with the Acropolis Hill and the Parthenon looming up dramatically outside I can only explain it rather inadequately as a very memorable experience.

Today, not only the Greek Government but most of the Greek people as well would rather like the sculptures back but have consistently turned down a British Museum offer to give the Marbles to the Acropolis Museum on a loan basis for just three months on a similar basis as the arrangement with the Hermitage.

The Culture Minister explained that: “The Government, as any other Greek Government would have done in its place, is obliged to turn down the offer.  This is because accepting it would legalise the snatching of the Marbles and the monument’s carving-up two hundred years ago.”

After due consideration I am inclined to agree with this and believe that the place for the sculptures are in Athens and not London but this is a very complex debate for archaeological scholars to resolve that cannot be rushed for the sake of wounded national pride and a few more years sorting it out is hardly going to matter.

To be continued…

Quiz Time:

Similar Elgin Marbles disputes over ownership of museum exhibits…

Disputed Museum Exhibits

In each case, What are they, Where are they and Who wants them back?

Have a go, it’s just a bit of armless fun!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist

Dubrovnik Croatia

Avila Spain

Greek Pots

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

Naxos Terror Vehicle

Terror Drive in Naxos

This morning we had to come to terms with our rash decision of the previous evening and after breakfast on the terrace we set out for a planned full day drive in our hire vehicle.  This wasn’t a regular car or a jeep or even a quad bike but rather a sort of easy-rider roadster dune buggy.

It looked cool and it looked fun but this was to be a full day of terror.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

Acropolis Parthenon Athens

“We climbed up the hill to the theatre whence we overlooked the splintered treasures of the gods, the ruined temples, the fallen columns, trying vainly to recreate the splendour of this ancient site.”                                                                Henry Miller

Read the full story…

Postcards from Skiathos

Skiathos Greece Postcard 2000

After the shock redundancy and temporarily in between jobs I went to this little island in the Sporades in the summer of 2000 for a two week holiday with my brother Richard and his family… 

Skiathos Postcard Night Time 2000

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Detail

Renewing the Nets

Fishing Nets…

The harbour was in a mid afternoon stupor, the metal fish stalls were empty, the fishing nets were repaired and neatly stacked and the men who would go out in the boats later were resting in their boats, some sleeping, some drinking coffee and some just idly chatting with fellow sailors.  I imagine this is a treadmill sort of life where every day follows the same pattern as the one before and the one that will follow.

The next morning we took a stroll along the harbour to watch the last of the fishing fleet return one by one where family were waiting to take the catch, clean and gut, grade and sort and put out on iced beds under the shade of umbrellas for sale whilst keeping vigil and waiting for customers.

Out all night but there was no immediate rest for the fishermen because whilst this was going on there was more work yet to be done untangling, repairing and storing the nets, cleaning the pots and clearing down the decks.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close

Priest with mobile phone Milos Greece

Priest with a Mobile Phone

There must have been some sort of priest’s convention in town today because there were dozens of black robed ministers everywhere, in the bakery having morning coffee and later in the taverna having lunch and what we thought was really strange was that they were almost constantly on their mobile phones so I concluded that this is the way they stay close to God!

Read the full story…

My Personal Greek A to Ω – Γ (Gamma) is for Γεώργιος or George

George George's Boat 1984

Towards the end of a two week holiday to Corfu in 1984 we went on a day trip which turned out to be one of the highlights of the stay, a full day on a Greek boat, with a Greek skipper and plenty of alcohol.

This was George’s boat and at mid morning we joined about thirty other holiday makers when we arrived at the concrete quayside opposite the hotel and were welcomed on board by George himself, a man with a big flashing smile and a flamboyant sense of humour who worked hard to get us all to enjoy ourselves before casting off and steering the brightly coloured boat with the steady rhythm of its chugging diesel engine away from Corfu, out into the Ionian Sea and along the eastern shoreline of the island.  As soon as George had completed the tricky technical bits and negotiated his way out of the harbour the fun began when the wine was opened and passed around and drunk from plastic cups and he began an amusing narrative and a stream of jokes, which were corny to begin with but got ruder and increasingly suggestive and inappropriate as the day progressed.

George's Boat Corfu 1984

Eventually someone had to be the first to use the on deck toilet which was located within a sort of canvas modesty tube and this was the moment George was waiting for because as soon as they were inside he pounced, scooped up a bucket of sea water and then to everyone’s amusement (except the young girl in the loo) he poured it through the open top and drenched her.  Her shrieks could probably be heard on the mainland and the whole boat was in fits of laughter.

After this there was no stopping George and his next party trick was to scoop up more water and then discharge this over unsuspecting people minding their own business and sunbathing on pedalos bobbing gently on the water.  HELLOOO! he shouted just as he emptied the bucket load all over them.  Some thought it was funny but others didn’t completely share the joke.  Everyone on board found this hilarious and encouraged George to repeat it over and again at every opportunity.

George's Boat

George took us first to a remote beach which he called ‘hanky-panky island’ that was inaccessible from the land and he dropped anchor and invited us to jump from the prow of the boat into the warm crystal clear water below and we stayed there for a while swimming and diving and then sitting on deck in the sunshine drinking more wine.  After the swimming break we set off again for a stop at a small village for a barbeque lunch of fish and salad and yet more local wine.  It wasn’t the best wine I’ve ever tasted but sitting by the water with a cool breeze rippling the sea and the table cloths it was delightful and we could easily have stayed much longer than the time allocated and before we were really ready we had to set off on the journey back with more wine, more japes and a thoroughly good time.

Eventually the fortnight and an idyllic holiday came to an inevitable end and we had to reluctantly leave Corfu.  It had been an excellent holiday, perfect weather, Greek beer called Fix, Ouzo, Retsina, Moussaka and Greek salads.  Lovely people, good sightseeing and the best boat trip I have ever been on even now.  I have never been back to Corfu, I have been twice to Cephalonia which is similar but my favourite Greek islands are really the Cyclades and I have generally chosen to travel there instead.

George's boat 1984

I’ve googled and checked and 25 years later George’s boat is still running:

George’s-boat-corfu

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