Greece

Milos, Greece: The Island of Colors and Venus de Milo

Kleftikos

Kleftikos

Due to its volcanic origin, this horseshoe-shaped island in the Western part of the Cyclades has over 70 beaches with white and black sand that sit alongside white, pink, and red rocks. Most of these beaches — with clear waters of blue, azure, emerald, green, red and violet colors — are accessible by roads and dirt paths.

However, some of the most beautiful features of the island can only be reached by boat. One such gem is the famous cove of Kleftiko (Bandit’s Lair), which is said to have been an old pirates’ hideout. With its imposing rock formations and crystal-clear water, swimming and snorkeling through the natural caves are popular activities.

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Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

One of the most famous marble sculptures in the world, the Aphrodite of Milos, better known as the Venus de Milo, was discovered within Milos’ ancient city ruins by a Greek farmer in 1820. The statue, which dates from ~100 BC, was purchased from the farmer by a French Consul. It was then presented to King Louis XVIII of France, who later donated it to the Louvre Museum in Paris where it still stands today.

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The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus

Imagine standing center-stage in a theatre, dropping a coin, and someone sitting 55 rows up clearly hearing the clinking of the coin on the stage’s floor, all without the aid of a microphone or speakers. This must be a multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art building in a major city, right? Wrong. This is the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus.

The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus

The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus

Designed by the architect Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th Century BC, this outdoor theatre is located in the Peloponnese on the side of a mountain. It is renowned for its unparalleled and perfect acoustics, architectural symmetry, lush landscape, and unobstructed views for the ~14,000 spectators it can seat for performances.

For centuries the theatre had been covered in trees and soil, which helped to keep it nearly intact. In 1881, based on writings from an ancient Greek geographer that mentioned a theatre at this location, a prominent Greek archaeologist was confident he would unearth it among the hills. After six years of excavations, the theatre was revealed. And since 1938, it has been in use hosting plays, yearly summer festivals, and thousands of tourists.

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Aesop and His Fables

Little is known regarding Aesop’s place of origin or his life in general for that matter. It’s believed he was a Greek slave, and may have been born around 620 BCE.

However, what we do know about Aesop are his over 2000-year-old fables, with their long-enduring moral lessons. Mostly told through animal main characters, some of these famous stories include, “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”, “The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”, “The Tortoise and the Hare”, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, and “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs.” Many phrases and idioms can also be attributed to Aesop, such as “sour grapes”, “crying wolf”, and “lion’s share”.

Scroll with Fable

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Pausanias: The Original Travel Writer

Pausanias

Pausanias

Born in ~110 CE, Pausanias was a Greek author, traveler, and geographer known for his 10-volume book, Description of Greece. The oldest cultural travel guide in existence, the book describes ancient Greece’s important sites and historic places from his own first-hand observations.

Based on the details of what he saw, archaeologists have retraced Pausanias’ footsteps, leading to great discoveries and excavations of ancient sites. Historians have used his invaluable book as a resource to reconstruct what life was like in antiquity, as Pausanias’ writings took place while cities were still active.

 

Athena Parthenos Replica

Athena Parthenos Replica

One of Pausanias’ best-known descriptions is that of the virgin goddess Athena’s statue that once stood inside the Parthenon. He said:

The statue itself is made of ivory and gold. On the middle of her helmet is placed a likeness of the Sphinx . . . and on either side of the helmet are griffins in relief. . . . The statue of Athena is upright, with a tunic reaching to the feet, and on her breast the head of Medusa is worked in ivory. She holds a statue of Victory about four cubits high, and in the other hand a spear; at her feet lies a shield and near the spear is a serpent.

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Aegina, Greece: The Island of Artists

According to myth, this island’s name comes from a nymph who was one of the river god Asopos’ 20 daughters. Zeus fell in love with her and brought her to this island.

The Monastery of Saint Nektarios

The Monastery of Saint Nektarios

Aegina has attracted the likes of photographers, scholars, painters, sculptors, poets, potters, and musicians. Internationally acclaimed writer Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek, The Last Temptation of Christ) was drawn to the peace and quiet of this Saronic Gulf location that is ~16 nautical miles from Athens’ main port of Piraeus.

Built between 1904-1910 by Bishop Pentapoleos Nektarios, The Monastery of Saint Nektarios draws a large number of visitors every year. A Greek Orthodox saint, Agios Nektarios, was recognized as a saint in 1961. Many people visit his tomb to pray and ask for blessings, as he is known to perform miracles for those seeking help.

The Monastery of Saint Nektarios

The Monastery of Saint Nektarios

Since 2008 the island has hosted its annual Aegina Fistiki Festival, which promotes the cultivation of the “Aegina pistachio” as it is known internationally. The first organized commercial pistachio nursery was created on this island, and residents were encouraged to plant this tree in their gardens, around their houses, and in the fields. Because it was easy to grow and yielded high prices from buyers, the pistachio tree eventually replaced grape vines as the major crop, and Aegina became the leading location for pistachio production in Greece.

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Cretan Herbal Remedies

Common remedies the people of Crete use for aches, pains and more, as well as remedies from the past.

  • Rosemary assists in stomach ache and earache relief.
  • Lemon juice and lemon leaf tea aid the digestive system, and also soothe sore throats.
  • Spearmint (in tea, compress, or oil form) helps with stomach ache and bleeding gums. It can also be used as an antiseptic for wounds.
  • Artichokes are good for the nervous system and asthma.
  • Sage infusion helps with colds and high blood pressure.
  • Garlic relieves tooth pain when crushed and applied to tooth.
  • Blackberries assist with gastrointestinal problems.
  • Vinegar reduces swelling from insect bites.
  • Mountain marjoram calms nerves and combats insomnia.

In the old days…

  • … Cretans warmed dry mallow in a frying pan, and then tied it over the throat with a handkerchief to soothe soreness.
  • … raki, a local clear alcoholic beverage, was used as a compress against fever, and was rubbed on the back to relieve pain.
  • … sore eyes were comforted by boiling an egg, cutting it in half, and placing the warm egg on the eye.
  • … burns were treated with milk curd.
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Hydra Island, Greece

The Island of Hydra

The Island of Hydra

Meaning “water”, the name Hydra refers to the ancient springs that served as this island’s water source at one time. Today, most of the water is imported or consumed from bottles.

In the 1950s, well-known Greek and foreign artists of all kinds (musician Leonard Cohen, poet George Seferis, painter Marc Chagall) began frequenting or residing in this tranquil location.

With ~2,000 year-round inhabitants, the law prohibits anyone from using cars, mopeds, and bicycles; only donkeys and boats are allowed as acceptable means of transportation. There are also strict building laws in place for development to protect the traditional architectural style.

Cypress, olive, eucalyptus, fig, lemon and orange trees abound in addition to plumbago, cyclamen, irises, thistles, red poppies, hibiscus, cacti, and prickly pears.

Admiral Andreas Miaoulis

Admiral Andreas Miaoulis

Every year near the end of June the Miaoulia Festival commemorates Admiral Andreas Miaoulis, an heroic naval commander during the Greek Revolution of 1821. The multi-day celebrations include folk dancing and exhibitions. The last day closes with “The Happening”, a reenactment of Miaoulis’ men sinking the Turkish flagship, a siege and burning of a real boat in the harbor, and then culminating with fireworks.

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Dreaming in Poros, Greece

“Coming into Poros gives the illusion of the deep dream.”
– The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller

Poros Town - Clock Tower

Poros Town – Clock Tower

Meaning “a small sea passage” or “narrow straight” in ancient Greek, Poros originally consisted of two islands – Sphairia and Kalavria. It’s believed that the Methana volcano exploded in 273 BC, and cut off Sphairia from Methana, creating the Poros of today.

With a population of ~4,000, Poros boasts numerous sand and pebble beaches, traditional foods, unique shops, and a clock tower visible from almost everywhere on the island. The location makes Poros a perfect home base for day trips to Athens or other nearby islands.

Historic Poros

* The Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi site is built on the slope of a pine forest. Founded in AD 1720 by Archbishop Iakovos the 2nd of Athens, it’s said that he was miraculously cured of lithiasis (stony concretions in the body) after drinking the holy water near the monastery.

* Built in the 6th century BC, only ruins are left of The Temple of Poseidon, where religious and civic issues were dealt with for city states. Demosthenes, one of the greatest ancient Greek orators, killed himself here in 322 BC by drinking poison hemlock.

* Because of its strategic geographical position, Poros was important during the Greek Revolution of 1821. It was considered the safest harbor, and the ideal place to hold committee meetings away from massive crowds.

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