Affichage des articles du juin, 2011

Goodbye Greece, Adieu Athènes


Coffee Frappé

I have no idea how or when the Frappé became a staple of Greek lifestyle and cuisine, but here it is, in all its ubiquitous splendour.
Wherever you go in Greece, prepare to see people in the bars sipping their frappé in a glass or walking in the street clutching to a transparent plastic cup with a thick frother layer at the top from which emerges a straw : 

Usually, you are asked how much sugar you want in it γλυκός, μέτριος,σκέτος) and if you want milk (με γάλα) added.
So if you like your frappé with medium sugar, say:
ένα φραπέ μέτριος με γάλα  (ena frappé metrios me gala)
And it's true it's good in summer.


Final stage of my trip to Crete. By bus, Rethymno-Chania : 6,20 euros.

Agrandir le plan

Iraklion Archeological Museum

The Archeological Museum of Iraklion is probably the second largest in Greece. This is where most of the treasures discovered in Minoan ruins have been gathered, so it’s a mandatory step after Knossos. However, it is likely you will only enjoy, like me, the temporary exhibition, the museum being renovated. Here are some of the treasures on display.And finally the Disc of Phaistos, a disc of clay, printed with symbols, whose meaning remains a mystery :


The main advantage, when you take the ferry to Crete, compared to the plane, is that you arrive in Iraklion  center, a hundred meters away from the main bus station, which can take you to any city in Crete AND to the ruins of Knossos. You can jump off the ferry, leave your backpack at the bus station for 2 euros, and jump into the bus for Knossos for 1,5 euros. Simple as that.
Agrandir le plan
Knossos is only 20 minutes from the city center. My advice is to go as early as possible, because after 10am, the buses arrive regularly to unload hundreds and hundreds of tourists groups on the site and there is a good chance that you might see nothing more than a crowd after that.

Knossos is quite controversial because Sir Arthur Evans, who purchased the site and made his mission to bring it back to life, chose to reconstruct some parts on his own assumptions. So, there must be today almost as much concrete in Knossos as original stones from the Minoan dynasty. It gives a good glimpse of what …


Last month in Greece, and last visit of a Greek landmark : the island of Crete. From Piraeus, for 36 euros, a normal ferry will bring you in 8h30 to the largest city of Crete : Iraklion.
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Thessaloniki : Heptapyrgion and Alexander the Great

Thessaloniki has the most impressive fortifications remains I have seen, after the ones in Istanbul.

Of course, you’ll need to climb up the slopes of the city, to reach the Trigonion tower (right), and the Heptapyrgion (Seven towers) fort, on top of the city.

The Heptapyrgion was the main fort, and in more recent history it has been used as a prison :

The main entrance is decorated with several stone carvings :

As well as with an Arab engraving :

Last but not least, let’s get back to the sea front for the statue of Alexander O Megas, ALEXANDER THE GREAT himself :

Thessaloniki : Rotunda, White Tower and Aristotle Square

From Meteora, you can go to Thessaloniki by train, for 16,10 euros. It will take a bit more than 4 hours, depending the delay you will get at Paleo Farsalos, a station in the middle of nowhere, where you’ll have to catch another train.
Agrandir le planThessaloniki owes its name to the half-sister of Alexander the Great, who was married to one of his General Cassandros, and the reason why I’m copying this from Wikipedia is to try to express how old this city is and how much it has seen during its long history, but the best way is to quote this excellent article from the GUARDIAN : But then there is Salonica, Selanik, Solun and Salonika, the New Jerusalem, the city that was once a candidate to be the capital of a Jewish Promised Land, the second city of the Byzantine empire and later of the vast Ottoman emirate when it was up there with the Ming as the most dominant, dynamic dynasty on earth. This is the city that is the real capital of the Balkans, its missing heart, the lodestar of a …