30 November 2016

Does it ever snow in Greece? Yes, it does! Pictures of a different Greece.


MGG (My Greek God) Kalavryta
MGG (My Greek God) Kalavryta


Friends from England often ask me; 

“Does it ever get cold in Greece?

My answer is; 

“Yes, it does!”



Ski resort Kalavryta Greece
Ski resort
Kalavryta
Greece



Snow in Athens Photo Eleni Vardoulakis
Snow in Athens
Photo Eleni Vardoulakis



 The conversation about winter in Greece usually continues something like this;

“Not cold like in England though?”

“Well, yes, cold like in England” I answer.



Epidaurus in winter
Epidaurus in winter


I’m not quite sure if they believe me about winter in Greece.

Here is proof!



Snow on the Acropolis Athens Greece
Snow on the Acropolis
Athens
Greece



This is how cold it gets in Greece, look at the icicles on this tree (Stymphalia, Korinthias).

A burst water pipe caused this.




Stymphalia, Korinthias
 Stymphalia, Korinthias






Loutraki sea front photo volta sto Loutraki
Loutraki sea front
Photo Volta sto Loutraki



For Northern Greece, snow is quite the norm in the winter months.



Sun and snow in Volos Photo Konstantina
Sun and snow in Volos
Photo Konstantina




Florina
Florina




Snow in Grevana
Snow in Grevana



Down here, in the South, the Peloponnese, where we live, except for in the mountainous regions, snow is rather a rare phenomenon.

It does look very pretty, children love it, but it’s just not my scene!


Even the Greek islands don't escape the snow!


Santorini under snow
Santorini under snow



I want the summer, I want the warm sea!

 While walking along Loutraki sea front, I cannot conceive that this is the same sea that, only a few 

months ago, was warm, calm and bathed in sunlight.




Loutraki in winter. Photo Volta sto Loutraki
Loutraki in winter.
Photo Volta sto Loutraki



Is this the same beach, where I spent endless idyllic hours, soaking up the sun, where I 

was lulled to sleep by the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore?

The same waves that now crash and pound the pebbles?




Loutraki beach Photo Volta sto Loutraki
Loutraki beach
Photo Volta sto Loutraki



Just look at this wonderful photo, snow on the Gerania Mountains of Loutraki, taken by my friend Hilary in 2011.



Snow on Gerania Mountains 2011 Loutraki Photo Hilary Anastadiadis
Snow on Gerania Mountains 2011
Loutraki
Photo Hilary Anastadiadis



 “This too shall pass”

But please, please do be quick about it!




Agiaso Lesvos Photo Agaiasoslesvos.blogspot.gr
Agiaso Lesvos
Photo Agaiasoslesvos.blogspot.gr



Meanwhile, my crazy son, Johnny, is out there, fighting with the waves.

 Rather you than me Johnny!





At one with the sea.Loutraki
At one with the sea.Loutraki




“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
Albert Camus



See more Greek winter wonderland here;




17 November 2016

Kalamata, Messinia. Second largest city of the Peloponnese, Greece.



Kalamata Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece
Kalamata
Messinia, Peloponnese,
Greece


Living in the Peloponnese, we’re never stuck for somewhere to go, we have ancient ruins on

 our doorstep, and we’re no more than a few hours’ drive, from some of the most visited

 ancient and archaeological sites of Greece.

I’ve visited just about all the “Must see” places and towns of the Peloponnese, and yet, 

incredibly, I had never been to Kalamata.



Kalamata Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece
Kalamata
Messinia, Peloponnese,
Greece


When MGG (My Greek God), informed me he had business to tend to in Kalamata, I 

enthusiastically said I would join him.

Kalamata, capital of the Messinia region, is the second largest city of the Peloponnese, 

after Patra, and lies at the foot of Mount Kalathi.

 Kalamata was first mentioned by Homer (Greece’s first epic poet, and author of “The Illiad 

and “Odyssey”) as Phara, an ancient city, built where Kalamata Castle stands today.



Castle of the Villehardouins in Kalamata

"The castle of Kalamata  dates back to the Byzantine period, but its current form is based on great reconstruction by the franc prince and founder of the principality of Achaia , Geoffrey Villehardouin, in the early 13th century.
 Modifications on the castle of Kalamata were made ​​by the Venetians who occupied the city since 1685 until 1715.
At the steepest point of the top of the hill, there is a tower, with vaulted water reservoir, where they have found ruins of a temple.
 An inner fortification wall surrounds the top of the hill. 
Because of the earthquake of 1986, ​​many parts of the castle of Kalamata were characterized as dangerous, so the center is no longer visited, visitors can wander only around the interior of the castle and the enjoy lovely view over the historic center of Kalamata." 



The Phara mentioned by Homer was of no importance, rather a one horse town, and

 Kalamata wasn’t mentioned again until the tenth century, when, after the fourth crusade, in

 1205, it was conquered by the Franks, and remained under Frankish rule.

From 1481 to 1685, Kalamata, and the rest of Greece, was occupied by the Ottomans.

In 1659, during the war between the Ottomans and the Venetians, the Venetians took 

Kalamata, and The Venetian Republic ruled Kalamata from 1685 as part of the

 "Kingdom of the Morea".



Looking out over Morea Kalamata Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece
Looking out over Morea
Kalamata
Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece



Under the Venetians, Kalamata, was fortified, developed and thrived economically.

In 1821, Kalamata, was the first city in Greece to be liberated from the Ottomans, in the 

Greek War of Independence, and taken over by the Greeks, under the command of 

generals Theodoros Kolokotronis, Petros Mavromichalis and Papaflessas.




Petros Mavromichalis raises Messinia in revolt,  by Peter von Hess.
Petros Mavromichalis raises Messinia in revolt,
 by Peter von Hess.



However, in 1825, the invading Ibrahim Pasha, destroyed the city.

  


Ibrahim Pasha
Ibrahim Pasha



After the invasion of  Ibrahim Pasha, Kalamata was rebuilt and became one of the most

 important ports in the Mediterranean, 

 the second-oldest Chamber of Commerce in the Mediterranean, after that of Marseille,

 exists in Kalamata.




The port of Kalamata today
The port of Kalamata today



After WWII, Kalamata was more or less neglected, as was most of the Peloponnese, the 

emphasis being given to the development of Northern Greece.

This resulted in the decline, of the once rich port, and there was no development 

whatsoever, during the 70s and 80s.

After a severe earthquake destroyed Kalamata in 1986, local authorities took a no-holds-

barred stance, rebuilding, and doing all they could to bring the forsaken city of Kalamata, 

capitol of Messinia, back to its former glory.




Kalamata Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece
Kalamata
Messinia, Peloponnese,
Greece


There's plenty to do and see in Kalamata, the views from the Castle of the Villehardouins 

(Mentioned above) are breath-taking.




Kalamata Marina Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece
Kalamata Marina
Messinia, Peloponnese,
Greece


Take a walk around the scenic marina,or, visit one of the numerous, important churches.




The Church of the Holy Apostles,  is where Mavromichalis declared the revolt against Ottoman rule in 1821.
The Church of the Holy Apostles,
 is where Mavromichalis declared the revolt against Ottoman rule in 1821. 




The Church of Ypapanti. Kalamata. Greece
The Church of Ypapanti

The Cathedral of Kalamata is called "Ypapanti tou Sotiros" or "Presentation of the Savior".

 The cathedral is one of the largest of Messinia, built in 1839 and consecrated in 1873.
 The layout is  traditional Byzantine style and it houses the ancient and miraculous icon of the Panagia.
Annually on 2nd February, it celebrates the Presentation of the Lord into the Temple. It also celebrates on the Apodosis of Pascha, 
which is a moveable feast day celebrated the day prior to the Holy Ascension.
 It was on the Apodosis of Pascha that the wonder working icon  of the Panagia was discovered.
The Panagia Ypapanti is the Protectress of the City of Kalamata.



At the  Kalograion Monastery, of Saints Constantine and Helen, nuns weave the famous, 

hand-printed, silk, Kalamata scarves, from silk, produced from silk worms raised there.




Kalograion Monestary Kalamata
Kalograion Monestary Kalamata





Silk workshop at the Kalograion Monastery, Kalamata
Silk workshop at the Kalograion Monastery,
Kalamata




The famous, hand-printed Kalamata silk scarves
The famous, hand-printed Kalamata silk scarves



Kalamata boasts a one-of-a-kind railway museum.

Train engines and carriages are exhibited outdoors, among the lush, green, Kalamata 

scenery.



Railway Park Kalamata
Railway Park
Kalamata


The day for our Kalamata trip, didn’t dawn well, the wind was howling and the rain was pouring.


It was the kind of day to spend indoors, reading a good book, or, generally just potter around.


MGG had an appointment in Kalamata at ten in the morning, so, at eight thirty, we were on the road

The weather was becoming progressively worse, at one point I thought we would have to stop, we could hardly see through the rain.



On a wet road to Kalamata Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece.
On a wet road to Kalamata
Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece.


Despite the filthy weather conditions, we arrived safely in Kalamata and dashed from the

 car, to the nearest coffee shop, the rain was torrential, an umbrella was of no use at all, and

 would have been whipped away in seconds by the gale force wind.  

My plan yesterday had been to walk around Kalamata, snap a few pictures, and visit the 

interesting sites and landmarks, and of course, stock up on the famous Kalamata olives, 

said by some, to be the best in Greece.



Kalamata Olives
Kalamata Olives



 Kalamata olives have been awarded the status of PDO (Protected designation of origin, a 

European Union law passed in 1992 to protect the names of regional foods.)


If grown elsewhere, this variety of olive is called Kalamon


The roads and pavements were awash with rain water, it was thundering and lightning, it 

was impossible to go anywhere.




A wet and windy Kalamata Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece.
A wet and windy Kalamata
Messinia, Peloponnese, Greece.



I suggested that, after MGG, had seen to his business, we return to the square where we

 had coffee, find a good restaurant, have lunch, and do a bit of people watching.

We couldn’t let the day be a complete wash out!

Do you know? I’ve since been back to Kalamata, twice, both times, again, it poured

with rain.

My three visits to Kalamata, were all in the winter months, and, apparently, Kalamata is 
known for its wet winters.


I will get to see Kalamata in all her glory,

 my next trip, will be in the height of summer!




11 November 2016

The origins of "The Unknown Soldier" a moving story, honouring the dead of WWI 1914-1918. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month; we remember.

The coffin of "The Unknown Soldier" Westminster Abbey, London 11.11.1918
The coffin of "The Unknown Soldier"
Westminster Abbey, London
11.11.1918


We all know what Armistice Day is all about (The end of WWI. 11.11. 1918), the significance

 of the poppy, and what The 

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents (To remember soldiers slain in war, all over the 

world), but the origins of this tomb, one of the most 

honoured in the world, are less known, as is a name seldom, if ever mentioned, that of 

Reverend David Railton.


What a beautiful story it is, a story of compassion, a story of empathy, a story never to be

 forgotten.


When Reverend David Railton, serving as army Chaplin, on the Western Front, during WWI,

 came across the grave of a fallen soldier, marked only with a humble wooden cross, 

bearing the words; “A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914–1918 for King and 

Country', scribbled in pencil, it broke his heart.



Reverend David Railton MC MA, (13 November 1884 – 13 June 1955) was a Church of England clergyman, a Military chaplain and the originator of the idea of the tomb of The Unknown Warrior
Reverend David Railton MC MA, (13 November 1884 – 13 June 1955).
 Church of England clergyman, a Military chaplain and the originator of the idea of the tomb of The Unknown Warrior



The scene played on Reverend Railton’s mind, “There must be some way, in which the

 thousands of brave soldiers, who have died fighting for their country, can be honored and

 remembered forever” he thought.



Carnage: Amid the appalling devastation and bodies of dead soldiers, a crucifix stands tall
 Amid the appalling devastation and bodies of dead soldiers, a crucifix stands tall



In 1920 Reverend Railton, wrote to the Dean of Westminster, suggesting, “The Unknown

 Soldier”, be buried, amongst the kings, in Westminster Abbey, to honour the thousands 

killed in WWI (1914-1918).


The Dean of Westminster took the advice of Reverend Railton, and plans were put into

 action, to bring the fallen of WWI home.



Remains of The Unknown Soldier. Exhumed in France, to be brought home to England.
Remains of The Unknown Soldier.
Exhumed in France, to be brought home to England.


The remains of  "The Unknown Soldier"  were exhumed from separate battlefields of WWI,

 and taken to the chapel of Saint-Pol-Sur-Ternoise, near Arras, in France.



First monument, in Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise, In honour of the dead of WWI
First monument, in Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise,
In honour of the dead of WWI


On the evening of the seventh of November 1920, in the presence of Reverend George

 Kendall, Brigadier L.J. Wyatt and Lieutenant E.A.S. Gell, the remains were placed in six 

plain coffins, and, covered with the Union Jack.


Brigadier Wyatt closed his eyes, passed his hand over the six coffins, and then, touched

 one of the coffins.


The coffin Brigadier Wyatt chose, stayed in the chapel overnight, the five other coffins, were

 taken away, to be buried by Reverend Kendall.


On the eighth of November, the remains of “The Unknown Soldier” were transported to a

 medieval castle in Boulogne, where undertakers, placed the coffin into a casket made from

 the wood of oak trees from Hampton Court, England.



The medieval Castle of Boulogne France
The medieval Castle of Boulogne
France


The casket was banded with iron, and a medieval crusader’s sword, from the royal 

collection, chosen by King George V himself, was placed on top of the coffin, together with

 an iron shield, inscribed with the words;


“A British Warrior who fell in the Great War”


The casket was placed on a military wagon, and, drawn by six black horses, made its way to

 the harbour; the mile-long procession, led by over a thousand French school children and 

French troops, accompanied by the sound of the tolling bells of Boulogne.



On 10 November 1920, the coffin holding the body of the Unknown Warrior was taken to Boulogne where HMS 'Verdun' lay waiting to bring him home to Britain.
On 10 November 1920, the coffin holding the body of the Unknown Warrior was taken to Boulogne where HMS 'Verdun' lay waiting to bring him home to Britain.


Once the cortege reached the harbor, it was put aboard HMS Verdun, which, escorted by six

 battle ships, made its way home to England, on reaching Dover, it received a nineteen Field

 Marshal’s salute.


The coffin containing the remains of the Unknown Warrior on the Quay Chanzy alongside HMS Verdun.   Boulogne Harbour.
The coffin containing the remains of the Unknown Warrior on the Quay Chanzy alongside HMS Verdun.
 Boulogne Harbour.



 The remains of “The Unknown Soldier” touched English soil at ten thirty on the morning of 

the tenth of November, at Dover Marine Railway Station, and were carried, aboard  "South 

Eastern and Chatham Railway General Utility Van No.132", to Victoria Station, London.




The Unknown Warrior being removed from HMS Verdun by soldiers, a sailor and an airman.
The Unknown Warrior being removed from HMS Verdun by soldiers, a sailor and an airman. 


The van in which the body of the Unknown Warrior was carried, before restoration in 2010.
The van in which the body of the Unknown Warrior was carried, before restoration in 2010.



 
The remains of this brave warrior arrived at Victoria Station, platform eight, at eight thirty 

two in the evening, and remained there overnight.


On the morning of November the eleventh 1920, the casket was placed on an open gun 

carriage, of the Royal Horse Artillery, and drawn by six horses, along the route; Hyde Park

 Corner, The Mall, and on to Whitehall, to the cenotaph, which was unveiled by George V,

 the cortege then started the last leg of its journey, to Westminster Abbey.



 The coffin of the unknown warrior is carried to Westminster Abbey
 The coffin of the unknown warrior is carried to Westminster Abbey



'Unveiling of the Cenotaph London and funeral of the Unknown Soldier,Armistice Day 1920
'Unveiling of the Cenotaph London and funeral of the Unknown Soldier,Armistice Day 1920




The casket of “The Unknown Soldier” entered the Abbey, surrounded by a guard of honour,

 consisting of one hundred recipients of The Victoria Cross.




The Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, November 1920
The Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, November 1920 



About one hundred women, who had lost their husbands and all of their sons in the war,

 were the guests of honour.


The brave lad was finally laid to rest, at the far western end of the Abbey, near the

 entrance, 

in soil brought from the main battle fields of the war.


He was home



The ceremony to seal the grave of the unknown warrior in Westminster Abbey
The ceremony to seal the grave of the unknown warrior in Westminster Abbey



The grave of "The Unknown Soldier" is covered with black Belgian marble, with the

 inscription, by Herbert Edward Ryle, Dean of Westminster, engraved with brass, made from

 metal, melted down from war-time ammunition.

(The grave of "The Unknown Soldier" is the only one, in Westminster Abbey, not allowed to be walked over.)


Beneath this stone rests the body
Of a British warrior
Unknown by name or rank
Brought from France to lie among
The most illustrious of the land
And buried here on Armistice Day
11 Nov: 1920, in the presence of
His Majesty King George V
His Ministers of State
The Chiefs of his forces
And a vast concourse of the nation

Thus are commemorated the many
Multitudes who during the Great
War of 1914 – 1918 gave the most that
Man can give life itself
For God
For King and country
For loved ones home and empire
For the sacred cause of justice and
The freedom of the world

They buried him among the kings because he
had done good toward God and toward
His house



Around the main inscription are four texts:


The Lord knoweth them that are his (top)

Unknown and yet well known, dying and behold we live (side)

Greater love hath no man than this (side)

In Christ shall all be made alive (base).



Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, laid her wedding bouquet at the tomb, when she married the future

 King of England, George VI, twenty sixth April 1923, in memory of her brother, Fergus, who

 died at the battle of Loos in 1915.


Since then, bouquets of all royal brides, married in Westminster Abbey, are placed on the 

tomb, the day after the wedding.


The latest bouquet placed there, belonged to Catherine Middleton, who married, William, 

Duke of Cambridge, on the twenty ninth of April 2011.



Catherine's bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in London.
Catherine's bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in London.

The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields” written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. After reading the poem, Moina Michael, a professor at the University of Georgia, wrote the poem, "We Shall Remember," and swore to wear a red poppy on the anniversary. The custom spread to Europe and the countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth within three years. 


“The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” has been a place of mourning, for the dead of WWI,

 ever since, each Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day, services are held and wreaths of

 poppies are laid at the feet of those who served in the war to end all wars.

Sadly, The Great War, happened all over again, just a little over twenty years later.

What a truly moving story, and what a great shame, that the name of the compassionate 

Reverend Railton, has all but been forgotten.




 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Arc de Triomphe Paris
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Arc de Triumph
Paris



Presidential Guard (Evzones) with the traditional winter uniform at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Hellenic Parliament. Constitution Square Platia Sintagmatos of Athens.
Presidential Guard (Evzones) with the traditional winter uniform at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Hellenic Parliament. Constitution Square Platia Sintagmatos of Athens.


On June 30.  Greece officially entered World War I with the recall of the Greek  diplomatic  representatives.   The  Greek  government of Venizelos declared that it considered the country to be in a state of war on the side of the Allies as of November 1916 (when the original such declaration had been made by the revolutionary gov­ernment in Thessalonica). The 60,000 soldiers recruited by Venizelos in Crete, provided the core of the new army. Eventually 250,000 Greek soldiers saw action in the war, including the highly successful Vardar Offensive. During the war, the Greek Army had around 15,000 men killed and another 85,000 wounded.

 We will remember them




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