Monday, August 31, 2009

Greece: Sea Sun & Culture

Greece was the first area in Europe where advanced early civilizations emerged, beginning with the Minoan civilization in Crete and then the Mycenean civilization on the mainland.

Later, city-states emerged across the Greek peninsula and spread to the shores of Black Sea, South Italy and Asia Minor reaching great levels of prosperity that resulted in an unprecedented cultural boom, expressed in architecture, drama, science and philosophy, and nurtured in Athens under a democratic environment.

Athens and Sparta led the way in repelling the Persian Empire in a series of battles.

Both were later overshadowed by Thebes and eventually Macedon, with the latter under the guidance of Alexander the Great uniting and leading the Greek world to victory over the Persians, to presage the Hellenistic era, itself brought only partially to a close two centuries later with the establishment of Roman rule over Greek lands in 146 BC.

Many Greeks migrated to Alexandria, Antioch, Seleucia and the many other new Hellenistic cities in Asia and Africa founded in Alexander's wake.

The subsequent mixture of Roman and Hellenic cultures took form in the establishment of the Byzantine Empire in 330 AD around Constantinople, which remained a major cultural and military power for the next 1,123 years, until its fall at the hands of Ottomans in 1453.

On the eve of the Ottoman era much of the Greek intelligentsia migrated to the Italian territories and much of non-Ottoman occupied Europe, playing a significant role in the Western European Renaissance through the transferring of works of Ancient Greeks to Western Europe.
Nevertheless, the Ottoman millet system contributed to the cohesion of the Orthodox Greeks by segregating the various peoples within the Ottoman Empire based on religion, as the latter played an integral role in the formation of modern Greek identity.
After the Greek War of Independence, successfully fought against the Ottoman Empire from 1821 to 1829, the nascent Greek state was finally recognized under the London Protocol. In 1827, Ioannis Kapodistrias, from Ionian Islands, was chosen as the first governor of the new Republic.

However, following his assassination, the Great Powers installed a monarchy under Otto, of the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach. In 1843, an uprising forced the King to grant a constitution and a representative assembly.

Due to his unimpaired authoritarian rule, he was eventually dethroned in 1863 and replaced by Prince Vilhelm (William) of Denmark, who took the name George I and brought with him the Ionian Islands as a coronation gift from Britain. In 1877, Charilaos Trikoupis, who is attributed with the significant improvement of the country's infrastructure, curbed the power of the monarchy to interfere in the assembly by issuing the rule of vote of confidence to any potential prime minister.

As a result of the Balkan Wars, Greece successfully increased the extent of her territory and population, a challenging context both socially and economically. In the following years, the struggle between King Constantine I and charismatic Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos over the country's foreign policy on the eve of World War I dominated the country's political scene, and divided the country into two opposed groups.

In the aftermath of WWI, Greece fought against Turkish nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal, a war which resulted in a massive population exchange between the two countries under the Treaty of Lausanne.

According to various sources, several hundred thousand Pontic Greeks died during this period.
Instability and successive coups d'état marked the following era, which was overshadowed by the massive task of incorporating 1.5 million Greek refugees from Asia Minor into Greek society.
The Greek population in Istanbul had shrunk from 300,000 at the turn of the century to around 3,000 in the city today.

On 28 October 1940 Fascist Italy demanded the surrender of Greece, but Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas refused and in the following Greco-Italian War, Greece repelled Italian forces into Albania, giving the Allies their first victory over Axis forces on land. The country would eventually fall to urgently dispatched German forces during the Battle of Greece.

The German occupiers nevertheless met serious challenges from the Greek Resistance. Over 100,000 civilians died from starvation during the winter of 1941–42. In 1943 virtually the entire Jewish population was deported to Nazi extermination camps.

After liberation, Greece experienced a bitter civil war between Royalist and Communist forces, which led to economic devastation and severe social tensions between its Rightists and largely Communist Leftists for the next 30 years.

The next 20 years were characterized by marginalisation of the left in the political and social spheres but also by a significant economic growth, propelled in part by the Marshall Plan.

In 1965, a period of political turbulence led to a coup d’etat on 21 April 1967 by the US-backed Regime of the Colonels. On November 1973 the Athens Polytechnic Uprising sent shock waves across the regime, and a counter-coup established Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannides as dictator.

On 20 July 1974, as Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus, the regime collapsed.
Former premier Constantine Karamanlis was invited back from Paris where he had lived in self-exile since 1963, marking the beginning of the Metapolitefsi era. On the 14 August 1974 Greek forces withdrew from the integrated military structure of NATO in protest at the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus.

In 1975 a democratic republican constitution was activated and the monarchy abolished by a referendum held that same year.

Meanwhile, Andreas Papandreou founded the Panhellenic Socialist Party, or PASOK, in response to Constantine Karamanlis' New Democracy party, with the two political formations dominating Greek political affairs in the ensuing decades. Greece rejoined NATO in 1980.

Relations with neighbouring Turkey have improved substantially over the last decade, since successive earthquakes hit both nations in the summer of 1999 (see Greece-Turkey earthquake diplomacy), and today Athens is an active supporter of Turkey's bid for EU membership.

Greece became the tenth member of the European Union on 1 January 1981, and ever since the nation has experienced a remarkable and sustained economic growth. Widespread investments in industrial enterprises and heavy infrastructure, as well as funds from the European Union and growing revenues from tourism, shipping and a fast growing service sector have raised the country's standard of living to unprecedented levels.

The country adopted the Euro in 2001 and successfully organised the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler

Sunday, August 30, 2009

cultural Cuba

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


fly me to the moon ....STS 128 Launch replays

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


City Of Cranes - London, UK

August 2009 A city symphony revealing the invisible life of a city, through the eyes of crane drivers working above. London's secret routines and relentless development is captured in stunning HD

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


Tennessee Culinary

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle, originally uploaded by John the Neath.

It is the largest castle in Wales and the second largest in Britain after Windsor Castle. Built mainly between 1268 and 1271, it is an early example of a concentric castle.

The castle is being renovated, hence the scaffolding and you can see how one of the towers has been cleaned up

The pic was shot in RAW and processed in Photoshop Camera Raw to produce two files, one for the sky and one for the castle. Layers and masking were then used in CS3 with various tweaks using adjustment layers

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


Friday, August 28, 2009

Capitol Reflections--Summer

Although not as well known as the reflecting pool at the foot of the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, this pool on the north side of the Capitol has the added beauty of a fountain in summer. The fountain has the unromantic name, "The Senate Garage Fountain," because it sits on top of the underground garage for the Senate. The fountain lights change from rose to blue to green. I took this photo during the "blue hour" on a recent perfect summer evening. It forms a nice contrast to the picture of the Capitol and its reflection in the frozen West Front reflecting pool that I took the weekend before inauguration day this past January.

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Paris Trocadero, The Lady and the Tower

The Lady and the Tower, originally uploaded by Kurlylox1 (very busy!).

The Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot, is an area of ParisFrance, in the 16th arrondissement, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. The hill of the Trocadéro is the hill of Chaillot, a former village.

Trocadero is an island inside the Bay of Cadiz, in the South of Spain, bordering the Spanish mainland. Nowadays, it is conected to Cadiz by the bridge that goes across the bay. Originally, the name trocadero refers to an emporium or place of trade.
In the Battle of Trocadero, the fortified position on the Cádiz was captured on August 311823, by French forces led by the Duc d'Angoulême, son of the future king, Charles X, in a battle against the Spanish army that took place in the island of Trocadero. The goal of the French invasion of Spain limited to intervening against the Spanish liberals who were rebelling against the autocracy of Ferdinand VII. Trocadero,unfortunately, restored the autocratic Spanish Bourbon Ferdinand VII to the throne of Spain, in an action that defined the Restoration.
Today that square is officially named Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, although it is usually simply called the Place du Trocadéro.
Five avenues come from the Trocadéro: the avenue Henri-Martin which goes to the porte de la Muette and passes in front of the lycée Janson de Sailly (Janson de Sailly secondary school); the avenue Paul Doumer which goes to the Muette; the avenue d'Eylau which goes to the place of Mexico; the avenue Kléber which goes to the place de l'Etoile; and the avenue d'Iéna which goes to the musée Guimet. There is a big municipal library near the Trocadéro's square. The high retaining walls of the Trocadero cemetery were constructed by the French industrialist François Coignet.
useful links:

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


tourists a fine video, a piece of art

The Tourists (2007) from Animalcolm on Vimeo.
Another transient day at the beach......

In this animated short Malcolm Sutherland lovingly pokes fun at the transient yet timeless life of the beach tourist. Animated ink on paper, made in 2007.

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


Monday, August 24, 2009

Delhi,Qûtb Minâr

The Qutab Minar (also spelled Qutb or Qutub, Urdu: قطب منار), a tower in Delhi, India, is the world's tallest brick minaret. It is situated in the Qutb complex, amidst the ruins of ancient Jain temples which were destroyed and their stones used to build the Qutb complex and minar. Construction commenced in 1193 under the orders of India's first Muslim ruler Qutb-ud-din Aibak, and the topmost storey of the minaret was completed in 1386 by Firuz Shah Tughluq. The Qutb Minar is notable for being one of the earliest and most prominent examples of Indo-Islamic architecture.
It is surrounded by several other ancient and medieval structures and ruins, collectively known as Qutb complex. The complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Delhi, and was also India's most visited monument in 2006, as it attracted 38.95 lakh visitors, even more than the Taj Mahal, which drew about 25.4 lakh visitors.
The Qutab Minar is 72.5 metres (238 ft) tall with 379 steps leading to the top. The diameter of the base is 14.3 meters wide while the top floor measures 2.75 meters in diameter. Surrounding the building are many fine examples of Indian artwork from the time it was built in 1193. A second tower was in construction and planned to be taller than the Qutb Minar itself. Its construction ended abruptly when it was about 12 meters tall.The name of this tower is given as Alau Minar and construction of recent studies shows that this structure has been tilted in one direction. It is made of red sandstone all the way except for two stories at the top. This part is of white marble and was made by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. He had decided to put a more prominent finish to the magnificent minar.
Inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan and wishing to surpass it, Qutbuddin Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced construction of the Qutb Minar in 1193, but could only complete its base. His successor, Iltutmish, added three more stories and, in 1386, Firuz Shah Tughluq constructed the fifth and the last story. The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tughluq are quite evident in the minaret. Like earlier towers erected by the Ghaznavids and Ghurids in Afghanistan, the Qutb Minar comprises several superposed flanged and cylindrical shafts, separated by balconies carried onMuqarnas corbels. The minaret is made of fluted red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an. The Qutb Minar is itself built on the ruins of the Lal Kot, the Red Citadel in the city of Dhillika, the capital of the Tomars and the Chauhans, the last Hindu rulers of Delhi. The complex initially housed 27 ancient Jain temples which were destroyed and their debris used to build the Qutb minar. One engraving on the Qutb Minar reads, "Shri Vishwakarma prasade rachita" (Conceived with the grace of Vishwakarma), this is thought to have been engraved by the enslaved Hindu craftsmen who built the minar.
The purpose for building this monument has been variously speculated upon. It could take the usual role of a minaret, calling people for prayer in the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, the earliest extant mosque built by the Delhi Sultans. Other possibilities are a tower of victory, a monument signifying the might of Islam, or a watch tower for defense. Controversy also surrounds the origins for the name of the tower. Many historians believe that the Qutb Minar was named after the first Turkish sultan, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, but others contend that it was named in honour of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, a saint fromTransoxiana who came to live in India and was greatly venerated by Iltutmish.
The nearby Iron Pillar is one of the world's foremost metallurgical curiosities, standing in the famous Qutb complex. According to the traditional belief, anyone who can encircle the entire column with their arms, with their back towards the pillar, can have their wish granted. Because of the corrosive qualities of sweat the government has built a fence around it for safety.

Athens, Greece wildfires

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


Sunday, August 9, 2009

3 Friends Beautiful Parga, Greece

Parga is a picturesque small town on the north-western coast of Greece, in the area called Epirus. Parga town is situated in a sheltered bay and its houses climb the mountainside from seaside to the top. It's got a castle, one large beach on the other side of the mountain called Valtos Beach, two smaller beaches in town, an island across the bay with a chapel on, a pier for the tourboats and fishingboats in the middle of town and another beach a couple of kilometers south of town in the next village called Lichnos beach.
Parga is surrounded by mountains covered with olive groves. The olive groves are actually more like olive-woods, than groves. The trees are quite large. The only other place where I've seen olivetrees this big is at Corfu. Apart from Parga, and some smaller villages nearby, this area, called the Epirus, is mountaneous and rather empty. It is far between the villages.
Parga was a positive surprise. It is sometimes advertised as a small town on the mainland with an island-feeling to it. And that is exactly what it is. It is also still a very genuine greek small town. You get the real greek food at most places (if not all), not the tourist version, and people are just very nice. There are as many greek tourists as people from elsewhere in the world. Wintertime Parga has about 2.500 inhabitants. During tourist-season, many more.
With the nice town, the harbour and its restaurants, the nearby beaches and the good food, Parga is worth a visit. It is a quiet and relaxing place. Not for those who want a lot to do and having a party but for those who want to relax and take it easy and to make trips into the mainland and some of the nearby islands like Paxos and Antipaxos. The big island of Corfu is also not all that far away.
You reach Parga by flying to Preveza Airport and than travel north for about an hour.
The nearest large town is Ioannina in the north, which like Parga, suffered under the rule and occupation of Ali Pasha. During that time the people of Parga were evacuated to Corfu. (More about Ali Pasha here). They eventually came back.

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


Saturday, August 8, 2009

I Am sterdam, Amsterdam the Netherlands

DSCF1730, originally uploaded by wim66.

Red Light District

This is the oldest and most historic part of the city, and it’s also arguably the most beautiful part, not even counting the infamous prostitutes in the windows. It’s a large area right across from the main train station and during the day it’s packed with tourists of all kinds who are roaming the area seeing what it’s all about. It may be wise to visit without children, but aside from that you may be shocked that the area is popular with young and old, male and female, and tourist groups of all kinds from around the world.
There are around 150 windows in the area, behind which you’ll usually find flirtatious girls who are trying to make a living under those flattering red lights. Along the main canals you’ll only find a few here and there, but if you turn down one of the narrow alleys you’ll be face to face with a dozen or more of them lined up in a row. With this in mind, it’s quite easy to get as big or small of a dose of this phenomenon as you want.
rldsunsetAfter around 8pm the ratio of male visitors to female visitors goes up noticeably, so it’s probably best to keep that in mind depending on your group and your goals. Prices for an unromantic 15-minute encounter with the girl of your dreams are generally €50, but you can pay more to get more time or even more unusual things thrown in. Negotiate everything first.
The city is following through on its initiative to get rid of some businesses that appear to have ties to organized crime, and they’ve bought back buildings that housed even more windows – recently leasing some of them to young fashion designers and stores. But the city has also insisted that they have no intention of plowing the prostitution thing under for good, as they recognize that it’s an important and famous part of their tourism draw.

Coffeeshops (cannabis coffee shops)

amsterdamcoffeshopsWhile it’s technically true that possession of cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands, it’s been “tolerated” for customers for more than 30 years now. In other words, there is zero risk to those who patronize the 150 or so coffee shops in Amsterdam, even if a police officer were to walk in while you were smoking.
Interestingly, there are a few laws the city and the shops themselves do enforce strictly. You must be at least 18 years old and you can only buy 5 grams per day (at any one shop). If you don’t know how much pot or hash 5 grams is, it’s a LOT, and far more than any human this side of Snoop Dogg could ever smoke in one day.

more you will find in a "fine" post By: Roger Wade

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


Friday, August 7, 2009

Plaza del Socorro, Ronda, Andalucia, Spain

During Franco’s rule of Spain the plaza was known as Plaza del General Franco, but in 1981 after the transition to democracy the mayor of Ronda, Juan Ordoñez Harillo signed an order dated 21st April 1981 officially renaming the plaza Plaza del Socorro, and also ordering the removal of plaques on walls that honoured Franco.

For more info on Ronda (which is an amazing place) see here.

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Frankfurt am Main, Downtown

Frankfurt am Main (German: [ˈfʁaŋkfʊɐtʰ], English: [ˈfɹæŋkfɜːt]) is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2008 population of 670,000. The urban area had an estimated population of 2.26 million in 2001. The city is at the centre of the larger Frankfurt/Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region which has a population of 5.3 million and is Germany's second largest metropolitan area.
In English, this city's name translates into "Frankfurt on the Main" (pronounced like "mine"). A part of early Franconia, the inhabitants were the early Franks. The city is located on an ancient ford on the river Main, which is a shallow crossing. The German word is "Furt". Thus the city's name receives its legacy as being the "ford of the Franks".
Situated on the Main River, Frankfurt is the financial and transportation centre of Germany and the largest financial centre in continental Europe. It is seat of the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Trade Fair, as well as several large commercial banks. Frankfurt Airport is one of the world's busiest international airports, Frankfurt Central Station is one of the largest terminal stations in Europe, and the Frankfurter Kreuz (Autobahn interchange) is the most heavily used interchange incontinental Europe. Frankfurt is the only German city listed as one of ten Alpha world cities. Frankfurt lies in the former American Occupation Zone of Germany, and it was formerly the headquarters city of the U.S. Army in Germany.
Among English speakers the city is commonly known simply as "Frankfurt", though Germans occasionally call it by its full name when it is necessary to distinguish it from the other (significantly smaller) "Frankfurt" in the state of BrandenburgFrankfurt (Oder).

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler


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