Wednesday, May 23, 2018

2018 Eastern Mediterranean Trip - Day 29, de-I And The Temple of Apollo Epicurius!

Of course, you say, OF COURSE!

Why wouldn't our intrepid gastronome, the inimitable de-Intimidator find the only ancient Greek temple dedication to gastronomy?

Well the reality is that the word Epicurius in this sense did not refer to the joys of eating other than avoiding starvation. But we will get to that later.

Today we are driving in a Northwesterly direction into the heart of the mountainous Peloponnese Peninsula, the region in the Ancient Greek days called Arcadia. This is the area where Olympia is located. However, we have given our guide instructions that we don't want to see a single tour bus today. So he has selected the Temple of Apollo Epicurius as a site worthy of great hype yet relatively ever visited by the tourist hordes.

As we drove north we passed a lake that is known for its scenic attraction (and photo ops). Unfortunately for some unknown reason, the gates to it our locked. Our guide has figured out Wife and I need our photo op time, so we stopped numerous times along the way. I AM TRYING OUT A NEW LENS! Shocker. This is the first time since I started using the Olympus camera that I've used a lens other than the one it had on it. It does not have the zoom capability the lens I started with has but it goes to a much lower f stop which means a wider field of vision and more detail (hopefully). It took a little getting used to but I started to warm up to it fast.

Our guide Ioannis, has two history degrees and is without doubt the most informed and communicative guide we've ever had. As a confirmed history geek, this has been heaven for me. I just need to remember to bring a pillow for Wife to sleep with when she gets bored by all the history babble.

The short story of the temple is it was originally dedicated to Apollo in the form of a war god in around the 7th century BC. Then there was great famine all through the Peloponnese but this area was spared. They attributed this to intervention on the part of the God Apollo. Hence the change in the name.

Photos

It was a couple of hours out to where we were going so we stopped for some coffee
I put my new lens to work on some very attractive snacks and sandwiches I saw


That in fact got me hungry so I bought what I thought was a bread but turned out to be a cheese filled bread
Wife got something too
Then on to the lake that was not open
Still got some interesting shots



On our way to the Temple there was lovely, photogenic town that we would return to for lunch
Unfortunately the best places for taking pictures had no places where we could pull off the road
And the air quality has been horrible
According to our guide there has been a long term pattern of dust and sand blowing over the Mediterranean making the sky far from clear



Then on to the Temple
An artist rendition of what it looks like in its partially restored state
One of the fascinating things about this site is they have the entire structure covered!

It's high up in the mountains and subject to high winds and moisture
It is kind of an engineering feat unto itself the covering which has been in place for decades

Let's go in and explore the Temple itself







Then it was back to the town for lunch
We are back on our preferred late lunch/major meal of the day
This version of Greek Salad was 80% tomato, 10% feta cheese and the balance everything else
Wife's souvlaki
My mass 'o' lamb chops
And yes wine is de riguer at lunch since I don't have to drive LOL
This is the restaurant dog
I wasn't even sure it was alive...until our guide threw a small piece of meat to one of the cats around
Then the dog leapt to action with a growl and intercepted it!
Clearly the restaurant was its territory

We tried some landscape shots but the air quality was terrible even trying to use our Vassilis dark, brooding technique...so I just Photoshopped the hell out of it :)

A few scenes from the town where we had lunch
A library that has 40,000 books according to our guide
And a house where it was rug cleaning day





And for those who have been suffering withdrawal from its absence...
...SIGNS OF THE WORLD

No disposal of cigarettes even if done daintily

Please dispose of your rubbish with a jaunty air

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

2018 Eastern Mediterranean Trip - Day 28, Mycenae and Nafplio

Mycenae...

Legendary city of Agamemnon, one of the leaders of the Greeks in the Trojan War. Coming to Mycenae, we are traveling back a thousand, fifteen hundred years earlier than the time of Roman greatness and the Nabateans that we saw in Jordan - 1600 to 1200 BC. But like all great civilizations, the Mycenaean met its doom. Their place was swept aside by people who did not even have writing.  Let us see if we can put ourselves in their shoes at the time of judgment. 

Imagine you are the last King of Mycenae
You live in one of the great fortress/palaces of your world
You look out over the lands you control to the very Aegean Sea
But the moment has come
The feared Tour Bus Tribe who revere no one and no place have arrived
Relentlessly they make their way up to assault you
They mass before the very Lion Gates you set up to mark you greatness


Sadly you have become weak as a people
Your place is now ruins
All there is left is to take your body
And deposit it in the vast tomb you've created



Alas, now there is nothing but the remnants for those to ponder your greatness thousands of years in the future
Your death mask
The weapons buried with you
They will excavate and find
Jewelry
Figurines

Pottery

Examples that show that you surrounded yourself with bright, painted interiors

They will look at this figure from 1200 BC 
And notice the uncanny resemblance to a scene from a Church in Citta di Castello Italy, 2400 years later!
 
Let us leave this ancient world and go to the modern city of Nafplio
We encounter the day-to-day of Greek living



We enjoy a good meal
Saganaki - Fried Cheese
Stewed Green Beans
Lamb braised in lemon
Grilled Fish
Then back into the town


The spirit of the photographer is with us
As are the echos of Ottomans and Venetians who both once ruled over this coast




And finishing with a burst of color