Posts from the ‘Travels’ Category

Greece: Good news for a change

On Sunday, 2 November, 18 small Athenian Museums will be open to the public free of charge. The museums are situated in central Athens and will be open from 11 to 16.00.

The initiative is called Open Walk Athens 4 and is organized by the Atenistas group (you can find them at …


The Popular art Museum

I have to admit that I was unaware of at least half of these museums and have visited only one!!  They cover a wide variety of subjects but are within easy reach of each other making visiting more than one easy and comfortable. A map of all the participating museums can be collected either in the Athens Jewish Museum (Nikis 39, Syntagma Square area) or the Popular art Museum in the Monastiraki area.

In addition to the two mentioned above you can visit a Museum that houses a collection of the characters of the Greek shadow theater as used by Haridimos, one of the most famous players, painter Vassiliou’s studio under the Acropolis,  the History of the Athens University Museum, a Museum dedicated to  children and my favourite: the folk music instruments Museum. This last one is situated in the Plaka region, the old Athens, and has a minute garden, often used for performances during summer.

Culture cannot cure everything but it opens a window to hope…

Earthquake shakes western Crete

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake took place at 16.00 today in the sea region of western Crete. It was so strong that it was felt in Athens as well. It actually felt like two earthquakes because it lasted quite long, or at least it seemed too long. Apparently it took place in 35 kilometres depth. There are no reports of damages so far but it is too early.


After shakes are expected so I’ll keep you posted.


Kala Koulouma or Clean Monday

It’s been a long time – again. It’s been a difficult time – once more.

In spite of the above observations the sun is coming out more often, the spring showers are a blessing, the almond trees are blossoming, the bitter orange trees that line miles of Greek streets present their first scented blooms and “Clean Monday” is round the corner (March 18).

I am not very keen on anniversaries and Saints’days as such but this particular feast, combining the ancient with the modern traditions, is to say the least, intriguing.

Clean Monday is the day Greeks have picnics, fly kites, renew their contact with nature. According to the Greek Orthodox Church it is also the first day of the Easter 40 day lent period and has its own “menu”. The consumerism prevalent in the last two decades has intruded here as well but in a subdued way. We eat dolmadakia – vine leaves stuffed with rice and aromatic herbs, spinach pie (no cheese please) where the spinach is “reenforced” with all types of other greens, from leeks and spring onions to myronia and kafkalithres, gathered on the mountains if you are lucky enough to find them. There is no main course really but it is the day for prawns, calamari, octapus, ink fish etc cooked in innumerable ways ( stuffed calamari, octapus with wine or small onions, inkfish with spinach, prawn risotto, and so on) according to your plans for the day.

Glorious fava from the blog "Syntages tis pareas" - "my crowd's recipes"

Glorious fava from the blog “Syntages tis pareas” – “my crowd’s recipes”

My favorite is fava – a creamy dip of mashed chickpeas served with onions, parsley sprigs and capers.

I will add some recipes tomorrow just in case you want to celebrate Spring the Greek way

Greek subway workers still on strike

Athens subway

Greek metro employees are on a 24 hour strike today. The tram and the trolley busses will operate from 8 to 16 hours. Tomorrow Tuesday all the above mass transport systems will not operate from 12 to 16.

The Union has called for an assembly tomorrow Tuesday at 11 o’clock to coordinate future actions. According to the Union’s statements the employees of Metro, Tram and trolley buses have seen their wages reduced five times in the last 2,5 years. They claim that the main problem at this particular moment is the abolition of the collective labour agreement practice.

Heraklion Archaelogical Museum news

Good news from Heraklion Crete:

Heraklion Archaeological Museum

According to the Athens News Agency two of the first exhibition halls of the Heraklion Archaeological Museum are back in operation. They contain a collection of sculptures.

The new permanent exhibition of the sculptures collection, in the basement of the central building will open for the public on Tuesday August 14 2012, free of charge. At the same time the extension building hosts the temporary exhibition of the most significant findings (4 Euros entry fee).
Both exhibitions are open Tuesday to Saturday 8am to 8pm. On Mondays, Sundays and holidays the halls will be open from 9 am to 4pm.

And then they went to the seashore

Greece has had a busy agenda this year: we had elections – twice, we have had two different governments and going for the third, right before the elections fires ate up part of the Attica forests, pharmacists refuse to provide medicine for the social security patients claiming that they have not been paid for months, the new Prime Minister goes to hospital together with the new Financial Minister, pensioners do not know how much pension they are going to get!

How can one react to such a situation? Pretend to be Zorbas and start dancing or, with temperatures around and over 35 degrees, hit the seaside. This is in accordance with Melina Merkouri’s interpretation of Medea: no tragedy, no killing of children, a happy family which, after the father’s minor lapse, get together again and head to the seaside. How can a woman, even a barbarian, kill her children?
With these thoughts in mind I have started looking for the perfect island for this year.

Seychelles Ikaria style

Ikaria, Nikaria according to the locals, is very popular with the Greeks but not so much with foreign tourists. According to friends coming from the island Ikaria is a well-kept secret.

I was invited to the 100 year anniversary of the Ikarian revolution, a revolution whose existence I ignored but it says something for this tiny island’s inhabitants. During the 1912 Turkish – Italian war the Ikariotes took advantage of the conflict and rebelled against the Turkish guard (a very small guard to be honest) and declared the island an independent state with its own national anthem and flag. They were incorporated to the Greek state five or six months later but they still threaten with independence when ignored by the central government and always vote left. “The red island” among its friends, Ikaria boasts archaeological sites, lovely beaches, geological wonders, villages that wake up and start work after 10 o’clock at night (!) and endless fairs: Saint this and saint that are reason enough to have a celebration that includes eating, drinking the famous Ikarian wine and a lot of dancing. Ikariotikos is a very popular island dance performed on every occasion and often without any occasion.

Maganitis: village and beach with interesting geological phenomena. Reminded me of Meteora.

Well, Ikaria is not an easy destination but definitely a different, interesting, vibrant, colourful small island.

G3 -Greek Government gaffes: new episodes

After accusing taxi drivers of harming the tourist season and defaming Greece as an international destination the Greek government decided to give them a helping hand by making things worse!
As from September 1 the VAT for foodstuff served in restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, fast food shops etc will go up from 13% to 23%!! The Small Entrepreneurs Association has issued a statement claiming that this move constitutes a “suicidal choice”, will lead to further loss of jobs and many small enterprises to bankruptcy.
This law proposal applies to about 14.000 catering enterprises employing more than half a million people. Greece will thus become one of the most expensive tourist destinations, according to the Association.
I would like to point out that the VAT for hotel rooms has been lowered in an effort to balance the situation but what actually happens is that the local population will bear the bigger burden, once more.