Defragging my brain

During lockdown I engaged in a lot of self reflection and analysis through spiritual means. As you may know I painted extensively, took photos to document the changing landscape around me and watched a lot of informative documentaries on Netflix. In addition to this I also mediated, wrote a lot of diary entries and read self help books to assist me in my journey. I studied buddism, sufism (a type of Islam) and I got back to my roots with Christianity. This allowed me to process a lot of events and in the process removing a lot of deep seated anxieties that had been lurking in my brain for almost 30 years!

When reading up on attachment style on Wikipedia a lot of things started to make sense. I could see why I had done certain things and why certain things had happened as well as why certain things had persisted for so long. When you get the clarity that you so desperately needed it makes life a lot easier. You can see why socialisation was so difficult along with the eye contact and everything else that everyone takes for granted. I understood the reasons for not connecting with the people around me is because they are not my people. There is nothing wrong with either them or me but that magic just isn’t present.

Lockdown has made me realise how I had quarantined myself into a deep, dark hole whose only end was eventual suicide. It was my insecurities from my attachment style had caused a lot of problems in my life. I have only once before read an article that explained my life so well and that was the second language acquisition article which I also wrote about at length on here. This is why I have been so interested in sociology, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience and languages throughout my life so far for autism is not just a social communication problem but a developmental one too. This is not pleasant to admit that while you may have a good IQ score your other values are so far below what they should be you cannot function as a human being on your own without hurting yourself or others. This is why I couldn’t get a job of any description and volunteering was tough for me.

My life now makes me recall a lot of potent things from my Deepak Chopra 21 day abundance meditation course that I engaged in with a friend. It helped me enormously with the fact that my attitude to money was out of control which is why I never had any. My emotions also were running riot. They were controlling me so my life was happening to me instead of being run by me. This is why I was unpleasant at times to people for no reason cutting myself off from the world.

Also, it identified the relationship I had with my mother was not the best it could be. It helped me to realise that she had tried her best without any guidance on how to raise an undiagnosed autistic child just like I have tried my best to live my best life without help. She had issues that she hadn’t healed from just like I had. So it was good to connect with her and realise that our lives are not that different living with men who also have issues which may never be resolved due to their own stubborn unawareness.

I have now got quite adept at socialising and have learnt tact. I can also see that other people are just as flawed as I was before I started working so intensely on myself. The difference is they have gone back to their pre lockdown selves where I have had the opportunity to grow like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. I feel sorry for those that have had to work all through lockdown but I appreciate their sacrifice. Without them we couldn’t have got through this pandemic. It’s not over yet but it never will be by the looks of things at the moment. People are still catching it in outbreaks all over the country left, right and centre. It’s just up to the rest of us to be vigilant and live our best lives while social distancing which is the best idea in the world.

Social distancing is awesome as you now have the perfect excuse to refuse hugs and kisses from those that you don’t like. All unwanted physical contact comes under Covid awareness. So does small talk with shopkeepers etc. I feel that I’m now more motivated to live life as places as not so noisy or filled with people so no one will bump into you. Going to the pub is strange but it makes you realise that meeting unknown people doesn’t have to always be bad. It can be quite enjoyable learning new things and that has been missing from my life for a long time. It had become stagnant so now hopefully I can refresh it with new friends and hobbies since I’m now able to communicate with others. I have a lot more energy now even though I still drink a lot as I have a high tolerance level now due to quarantine and a few extra pounds. Here’s to a new healthy lifestyle with less alcohol, more exercise in the good weather we have been having and more social events to attend.

Meditation types

Not all meditation is created equal. I have tried the most popular commercial apps that are around at the moment – Headspace and Calm but to no avail. To me they feel like you are just going through the motions since they are only utilising a calming voice, tranquil music and visualisation; nothing else. This is why the American self help programs, positive affirmations and mindfulness I have previously tried to get behind haven’t worked. They feel lacking in authenticity to me. It’s like having an artificial structure imposed onto your life but there is no content to sustain it. If you just have the bare bones of something it’s not going to be very useful. Very much like in languages if you can say hello, my name is, how are you and I’m good this does not make a conversation or a friendship. It’s just politeness that feels like progress as its relaxing you, but stops short of actually achieving anything.

Meditation is being commercialized in a big way right now but when that happens the very essence of what you are trying to accomplish is lost. This happens continuously because when you introduce money into these concepts they stop being about self actualisation and start becoming about income and nothing else. They lose their potency which is the very reason why you want to do them in the first place!

Religion is a bit like this too. As I’m learning more about the origins of the big religions and how they have changed over the years I seeing why people are losing faith in them. There becoming corrupted from there original goals. No wonder Americans study the bible in Greek. The King James Bible is so altered from the Greek or the Russian Orthodox version. I wouldn’t say I was religious at all but there are truths in these books. It’s why they have persisted for so long. It’s control but it’s also an understanding of human nature. We have not changed as a species so the same stories still help us through the centuries. The father, the son and the Holy Ghost is a recognition of the fact that we grow throughout our lives but there are still elements of the past within us while we anticipate and plan for the future. Our personality or soul, what makes us unique, can be carried on to future generations through our actions, words and tasks. Our legacy can live on even though we do not.

I really liked the Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation course I’ve just done. This is available for free on YouTube if you want to take part in it yourself and I highly recommend that you do this. There are other resources to go with these videos which I was provided with as part of a group exercise I took part in. I’m not sure just the meditation works on its own even though he uses chanting, mantras and visualisation techniques. This is where the difference comes in with competing regimes. Deepak Chopra is a world renown doctor of endocrinology and has researched what happens with the body/mind connection. Not many other people are that steeped in the knowledge required to do this properly and it certainly shows with the outcomes of these programs. I’ve got his latest book Meta Human to continue the progress I have started.

I’m deep thinking and highly empathetic which is slightly problematic when I want to talk to someone about this. Most people are not able to understand this in the way that I need them too. Most of the people that do however have much higher levels of emotional intelligence than I do so trigger me. While this is good to a certain extent being triggered by them all of the time means they are not for you.

So once again I have the dilemma of where do I fit in and will I ever find my tribe? Being an optimist is only good for so long. That’s why occasionally I do have a healthy dose of scepticism and pessimism. If I was accepting of everything and everyone all of the time; my brain would be so open it would fall out. You have to stand for something otherwise you will fall for anything. Principles and a moral code are extremely important here as standards do need to be respected and kept.

Life is a game of balancing the 2 sides of everything. You can’t truly experience anything if your only seeing one side whether this is through your own myopic view or that which has been created in your own country.

The Perils of Self Help Advice

Self help advice is all over the place. It comes in many forms and is freely available on many platforms. However, without knowing how to utilise any of it, it’s absolutely useless.

To explain this think of your questions being keys flying about in your brain. Then think of the answers which are within your body being keyholes. The trouble is they are both unlabelled so you have no chance of discovering which belongs where.

This is where we need to find a program that will allow us to identify and match the keys with their keyholes. This is where meditation comes in as it relaxes you enough to open up your mind. You already have a mapping system to enable you to do that but you need to dust it off to make use of it again.

For many centuries prayer was used as a means of figuring out our intentions. When we had voiced what we wanted to achieve then the universe could direct us to where we could find the knowledge, materials and people to complete such a task. This is the law of intention and desire as I’m learning about in my Buddhist meditation program.

I’m learning how to attract abundance into my life be it financial or otherwise. For while we become the qualities of those 5 people we spend the most time with; if you spend time with no-one this is what you are likely to become.

We are all capable of much more than we know but we restrict ourselves. We hang on to a lot of emotional baggage not only through our own lives and choices but absorbed from all those around us that have ever entered our lives. If we ask ourselves the right questions when meditating and journaling; then the answers will be delivered in a steady stream.

Just be aware the answers may come at awkward times where you struggle to process them and subsequently are not able to record them properly. However, you do have to trust the process. You can’t cheat by skipping out parts that make you feel uncomfortable as that means it’s doing its job. This is however a private process. Do not share your insights immediately if at all as you will be less honest. This needs complete transparency to work to the best of its ability.

Also, it may take the best part of a day to reveal its magic. If you haven’t engaged in it wholeheartedly, then it may not work at all. You have to decide for yourself whether you are willing to commit to this series of reprogramming techniques. It’s for your own benefit but you may not yet be ready to heal and grow.

When the student is ready the teacher will appear. Your circumstances may change though so that although the lessons are still equally valid; your perception of them changes radically. Growth is a rollercoaster so there will be steep drops into what seems like the abyss and there will also be times when you come to a complete standstill. This is normal as you are preparing for your next rise into a higher level of consciousness.

Infinite Monkey podcast, Primates and Pokemon

Today I was listening to Brian Cox on the BBC Sounds App and the title of the episode was called Fire. There was a lot of interesting information like the practical information about fire in this universe and whether it could exist elsewhere but the thing that was most interesting was the “Did fire or life come first debate?” Life came first as it created the oxygen required for fire. This lead onto the fact that creatures other than humans (birds) can deliberately create and use fire as a tool just like some primates do. I think it’s amazing that the Aboriginal Australians knew that the fire bird was capable of doing this thousands of years ago as it’s in there traditional dream festivities. It’s also possibly the origin of the Phoenix and almost certainly connected to the legendary fire bird Pokemon Moltres. It does however mean that the story from Greek Mythology about Prometheus stealing fire from the Gods is almost certainly wrong. It’s an eye opening discussion to have with a Buddhist which I did a while ago now. Sometimes things are so strange that they have to be true or at least based on an established fact that has now been forgotten to have lasted for so long. My memory is a strange thing with what it forget and then later on pulls out of its memory bank.

Later on I was watching Primates on BBC narrated by Chris Packham who is a famous autistic naturalist and it showed that in 2017 they discovered a new type of Orangutan. It’s simply stunning that we are still finding new animals in our world but also extremely worrying that they immediately go to the top of the endangered animals list since there are so few. Yes there is also a Pokemon – Orangu and the librarian in the Discworld is a wizard who refused to become human again as life was much simpler as an Orangutan. These are some of the strange thoughts that flit across my brain while watching tv or painting but wait in a holding bay until I decide to write them out on here later on. If I don’t let them out to play they cause trouble by withering in potency after they have prevented other thoughts from emerging. Then I become blank and boring to be around since I’m lifeless having nothing to comment on or communicate to others. This is a state to be avoided at all costs.

India – Udaipur

When we got here we stayed in the same place that Octopussy was filmed at. The interesting thing is that the Palace of the movie is in fact 2 different palaces that are very close to each other. They have patched it together so well that unless you have visited the 2 locations you wouldn’t know that they had done that. Roger Moore named the pond the Lily Pond when he was doing the filming.Pool with fountain

Pool with fountain
Hotel grounds
Hotel grounds
Hotel shrine
Hotel shrine
Sunset panorama
Sunset panorama
Local dancers and musicians
Local dancers and musicians

While we were staying in the Lake Palace we would get the boat over to the shore to visit another City Palace Study

Study
Inner courtyard
Inner Courtyard
Courtyard
Courtyard
View over Udaipur
View over Udaipur
Inner Courtyard decoration
Inner Courtyard decoration
Courtyard gate
Courtyard gate

and to attend a Hindu temple Hindu temple carvings

Hindu temple carvings
Hindu temple architecture
Hindu temple architecture
Hindu temple statues
Hindu temple statues

which had a service going on. We also visited the gardens that were very beautiful, shady and calming. Udaipur had a lot of construction work going on to build roads but it was still cleaner and quieter than Delhi. People didn’t tend to blow there horns anywhere near as much. Holi is celebrated over several days because there is the initial holiday then the policemen and so on so all members of society participate in all regions eventually.

There are always so many sellers of everything on the streets everywhere you go so its rather overwhelming trying to get anywhere or do anything. By being in a private tour you don’t get to see the real India but its close enough for my liking. I don’t like being hassled so India is not a place to go if your rather sensitive like I am. Which is why my parents had always told me not to go but my in-laws convinced my husband so we went.

This particular City Palace is all about coloured glass as its very vibrant. Its filled with many panels and designs through. Blue stained glass window over Udaipur

Blue stained glass window over Udaipur
Multicolored stained glass window
Multicolored stained glass window
Mosaic multicolored stained glass window
Mosaic multicolored stained glass window
Flower stained glass window
Flower stained glass window
Peacock stained glass window
Peacock stained glass window
Mirror stained glass window
Mirror stained glass window

There are lots of temples, palaces and tombs through India all created with marble and inlaid with precious stones which are magnificent to behold but the input gets too much. I was quite ill the day we arrived here.

There are also many fabric and clothes shops as well as those selling tourist souvenirs. There was a tour that we could have gone on to see the local women and the crafts that they make but we were getting rather tired after our extremely long bus journeys around India. The early mornings and the flights were getting to us.

As was the fact that despite staying in 5 star hotels you still get Delhi belly. We started to avoid milk in all forms, dairy, meat even fruit because you most certainly can’t drink the water. We were wary about ice in our drinks too as it was starting to get hot on the west coast of India. Curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner does take its toll.

Its better than the international options when they were around but you just want some plain food occasionally. You do however realise how unsatisfying pastries are for breakfast as its just carbs. Also nobody ever eats the cereal in hotels abroad regardless of whether its India, Prague, Berlin, Tenerife, Mexico or Morocco.

Time for a beach break in Goa which is the next stop.

To check out all of the adventures see here

India – Delhi (part 1)

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

Parsis and Zoroastrians

India – Jaipur

India – Goa

India – Mumbai

Mumbai airport

India – Delhi (part 1)

I have just been to the Indian subcontinent on a 2 week trip to take in many of the world renown cultural and historical sites that are spread around. I was extraordinarily lucky in that Covid 19 only affected the later part of my trip in Goa and Mumbai. I am now home having got what was perhaps one of the last planes out of India before they started to shut everything down.

I flew into Delhi to start my exploration. Our hotel was a heritage hotel (there called Haveli’s like ours was) in the centre of Old Delhi. Inside there was many pictures of the renovations that had taken place to turn the building from a wreck to the stunning place that it now was. Your greeted by refreshments, the red dot is applied to your forehead as a welcome and as a precaution due to Covid 19 you have your temperature taken. Then you have the forms and after being handed your key left to your own devices as the restaurant timings have already been explained to you. For yours and there entertainment in the evenings they fly kites which you can see being demonstrated on the roof at sunset. They also do pigeon racing which is explained to you. From the roof I got an excellent view of the city sprawl.

Later in the evening they have traditional music Life in Delhi is loud as you soon learn. The often repeated phrase, “In India you need 3 things, Good horn, good brakes and good luck.” is understood pretty quickly. On the back of every vehicle it says Horn Please! or Horn not OK to indicate the drivers preference. The streets of Delhi are narrow so walking is an art form as you have to dodge all many of transportation and people selling to you on the street. The roads are congested and there is no such thing as a bus stop or bus station. You just get on or off the bus at a traffic intersection. Pedestrians have little fear of death here as at every junction you will get children miming they want food for there younger siblings, people trying to sell you trinkets or most surprisingly lady boys trying to advertise there services. I didn’t think you would get groups of men dressed in Saris walking the streets. The guide told us that frequently European men who have had too much to drink can’t tell the difference until much later and then they have to pay to quickly get rid of them so it most be a thriving trade.

I visited a Sikh temple (there are approx 10 across Delhi), while I was there and you have to keep your elbows and knees covered as well as your head. This applies to men as well as women so they sell coverings just for this purpose. Alternatively bring a scarf like I did. You have to be barefoot as well but there is water later on to clean the dust away. You can’t take pictures of the insides of the temple but its marvellous.

I found the kitchens amazing in that they cook for hundreds of thousands of on daily basis. The poor of the region get there 3 daily meals for free as well as being able to spend as much time there in quiet contemplation as they liked since there were no set services. You can volunteer to cook there as my mum did and its open to all regardless of colour, creed, race, heritage, religion, age, wealth. The rich sit with the poor cross legged on the floor eating the same food but its funded only by those that can afford to contribute. They feed you until you are full and Indian food is surprisingly filling, allowing you to take your leftovers home with you as its like the Indian Welfare State they are providing here. There were several sittings a day and it was never empty. They never ran out of food and only rested for a couple of hours at night to make sure that they could complete there never ending duty once again the next day. We didn’t eat there as we didn’t have time to wait but the goodness of these people is astonishing.

Talking of kindness we visited the Mohandas Gandhi memorial gardens and they have a flame there that is tended so that it never comes out. Mahatma is a title that is given to Gandhi to show reverence to all that he achieved for India peacefully. Its lovely and peaceful which is a complete contrast to the bustling metropolis that is New Delhi. They are side by side with Old Delhi also being referred to as Shahjahanabad. This is because the city was found by Shah Jahan. He was a Muslim so the city has abad appended onto the end to indicate that its not only his city but an Islamic one too. If it was Hindi it would be pur on the end like Jaipur which I will talk about later.

We also visited Humanyun’s tomb which is a magnificent building in the Taj Mahal (Crown palace) style. This is a striking contrast to the rest of the buildings that people live in on a daily basis. The mughuls that lived there are descended from the Mongolians and its where we get the phrase media mogul from to indicate how much wealth someone has accumulated. The palaces are full of marble and inlaid with precious stones. They have gardens and fountains to replicate the heavens as the word paradise comes from a walled garden. They had more wealth than the average person could gain in a thousand lifetimes as the average life time income after 50 years was £2.

Chandri Chowk is a street that you will pass by often if you are exploring the historical district and it means Moonlight street. This is connected with the daughter of the ruler at the time. There were 5 Shahs that you will hear about when you are driving between the different attractions and if your guide is anything like mine was, it will be information overload. I loved hearing all the history and the word origins as I’m a bit of a word nut as you may know.

There are many temples (Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist etc) in Delhi as you might have guessed and as we were walking about we came across a Jain temple. These are strict vegetarians and have rather odd rituals for their priests during celebrations. They are in fact not allowed to wear a stitch of clothing and therefore the family surround them so that nobody is embarrassed by this. This parade happens from the temple to the family home so it can go on for quite a while. Luckily I didn’t see this but I was reliably informed by my guide who was turning out to be extremely well informed on everything to do with Delhi’s monuments and history.

We passed by the India Gate which was built by Edward Lutyens (who also designed the gardens in Sandwich, UK amongst many other things). He also designed many buildings in Delhi which were beloved by William Dalrymple but sadly are gone now. I read some pages of an amazing book by him (A City of Djinns) provided by the hotel but I didn’t get very far and it didn’t seem right to take it with me. I wouldn’t have had time to read it much anyway as the time was so packed with places to see. I got to read more about the East India Company later in a hotel magazine in an article written by him.

The Red Fort that acted as barracks for the soldiers in Delhi has apparently been hollowed out by previous occupants so we saw the one in Agra which is amazing. More on that later as the next stop is Agra which is home of the Taj Mahal!

Best wishes

Angela

 

Parsis and Zoroastrians

This is a book I started reading in my hotel in Mumbai as there is a big population of them there and I was curious to find out more about them. As far as I know they don’t exists anywhere else in the world.

Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Balsara) was the most famous one as far as I can tell but I didn’t even know that myself until I had watched Bohemian Rhapsody which is an awesome movie. Zoroastrianism also turns up in Nietzsche as he wrote Thus spoke Zarathustra which is the name of their God. Although it’s a much changed version according to the book’s author which I’m afraid I don’t recall.

I had a spare day since Covid 19 had cancelled my city tour so I settled down to read through a photographic journey of the life of the author so far. The writer grew up in the Parsi culture in Bombay but was educated elsewhere so that is why they were able to explain in English so well a religion that is not well known in the rest of the world.

Parsis is the cultural name given to Zoroastrians to separate them from anyone else that was living in India. The Parsis are originally from Persia but left due to persecution from Islamic forces long ago. However, they were followed much later on so became very insular. Where as before they were at the forefront of business and became very rich a bit like the Jews of Europe .This fear and persecution has contributed to their downfall in the eyes of the author since they will soon no longer be numerous enough to be considered a community (30,000+). At this point (25,000) they will now be labelled a tribe. There is a very big emphasis on staying within your community and they will provide for you that’s why this downgrading of their status is such a big deal to them.

I was unable to get more than half way through the book as I had to leave the next day but the information about the lives of the children who were becoming priests was fascinating. It is part of the culture for at least one boy in the family to learn how to be a priest even if they subsequently decide that is not the field that they want to go into.

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

India – Delhi (part 1)

Best wishes

Angela

Byzantines

This was a race of people who lived in Byzantium. This is the city that the Romans founded called Constantinople and later become Istanbul . This was the subject of a BBC 4 program last winter called A city of 3 names – Constantinople, Byzantium and Istanbul.

The Byzantines were famous for their religious beliefs. They created a style of art that is unique and there many museums dedicated to it. There is an exhibition on Byzantine art in Lefkás town on top of the library that I have written about previously and I have seen an exhibit in London at a Hellenic centre too. There is also one in Berlin on Museum Island.

There is however only so much information that you can take in over the course of a holiday. This is why I haven’t been in that one yet but I hope to return to Berlin to check it out. I also want to go to Istanbul to see Hagia Sophia and all of the other treasures that are inside the city as I have previously mentioned when talking about the Ottoman Empire.

Best wishes

Angela

Cathedral of the Sea on Netflix

This is a show that came out in 2018 based on the 2006 novel of the same name by the Spanish author and lawyer Ildelfonso Falcones.

He wrote about the building of a very famous cathedral Santa Maria del Mar that was built by the guild of stonemasons in Barcelona. They built it for the Virgin Mary hence the name Saint Mary of the Sea. This took place in the Middle Ages (14th century precisely) so it was a feudal society with no mechanisation. Most of the population were slaves and they lived in dire poverty as they had no property or money of there own. They were simply uneducated and illiterate labourers with no prospects of advancement. This also meant that women had no rights as they were property of first their father and then there husband. They were educated in the art of bringing up children and running a household as that’s all they were expected to do.

It’s originally in European Spanish but you can watch it with subtitles or dubbed into English. I prefer to watch shows in the original language with subtitles as I believe I get a more authentic experience then. I previously mentioned this as part of a much earlier post talking about using bilingual programs on Netflix to help further my progress in learning languages Netflix.

I love history, travel, culture as well as being overly enthusiastic about words. I also like architecture which is as much mathematics and design as well as art and I love reading!

The article on Wikipedia provides a little more insight if you wish to get to know the author, his work or the era better –The Cathedral of the Sea.

This is Greece on PBS with Michael Scott

I have been to Northern and Central Greece on a road trip and I have seen some of the magnificent treasures that are contained within. It’s fabulous that we can still look at all of this architectural, natural and archaeological evidence starting from the influential reign of Philip II. It was one of many crucial milestones in the formation of Greece which will be covered in this series of 5 programs. It’s power still resonates for all to see and will continue to echo through the ages for all to witness for eons to come I hope.

He first of all mentions the tomb of Philip II of Macedon as it is certainly a sight to behold. The museum contains the results of the excavations done on the site and the artefacts are astonishing in their brilliance. It is not much to look at from the outside but it is certainly worth taking your time to visit.

During the course of the shows he is visiting the historic sites of Northern Greece starting with Thesonlaniki and its White Tower. While it may seem odd to start a program with reference to a Tomb that isn’t actually in the second city; it is the man himself and that of his son Alexander the Great that exerts such a great influence on the development of Greek history that they have to be addressed first.

I have wanted to visit the city for a while due to its historical and cultural pedigree but I haven’t quite been able to manage it yet. It’s a considerable distance from where I usually am in Greece so it’s still on the waiting list. When I will be able to cross it off is still up for debate.

Phillipi is his next stop on his grand tour. This is a place I don’t recall ever hearing about and it’s a set of ruins. It has a Roman amphitheater and many buildings congregated in the shape of a town. As you may have guessed by its name, it was founded by Philip II. It was on the great Roman Road, the Villa Egnatia. As the program explains it was the first Christian colony due to the time the apostle Paul spent incarcerated there. This was because he disagreed with aspects of the Roman way of life as detailed in the Bible in Philippians.

Kavala (Neopolis or new city as it was known) is the port of Philippi and where we must journey next in our odyssey. We are using the Villa Egnatia here as our guide and here you can walk upon it like many others have done before you. Sights to check out are the Acropolis, 10th century castle and 16th century Turkish aqueduct. This was built in the Roman style by Sulliman the Byzantine ruler of the time and was in operation until 1911. The rest of the old town is worth your attention too since there has been a settlement on this site since the 7th century. Sounds like I’m gaining a lot more places to visit in Greece.

He next has a whistle-stop tour of places that were staging posts on the the villa Egnatia that were also used by St Paul.

This being an American program means it has a religious slant to it in addition to the historical context. Another guy annotates all of the religious parts leaving Michael, (who I believe to be English), free to present the historical parts.

You can’t really study the history of Greece without becoming well versed in the religious significance as well. This means the history of the Byzantine empire and Istanbul/Constantinople as well as that of Rome. Hence this can be a tad distracting trying to focus on so many disparate yet connected ideas and areas.

I have stayed in Rome and visited the Vatican but Istanbul remains to be explored.

His path down the east coast of Greece now incorporates Mount Olympus home of the Greek gods and adds in a visit to Meteora. Meteroa (the middle of the sky) and origin of the science that is meteorology(weather); is another famous destination containing a well known Christian monastery. This should be on all travellers bucket lists but I haven’t got there yet. It is another place that may take quite some time before I finally get round to visiting. Too many places and not enough time 😉

Although I have been to his final destination Delphi. Delphi was the home of the world renown Oracle. I have visited the temple to learn more about the history of the place as it is not too far away from the tomb I mentioned at the beginning of this article. The Nekromantium is also in the vicinity of these attractions and should be checked out to complete any excursion to this area.

Best wishes

Angela

Linguistic insights into the shared Greek and Russian cultures

Since I love both history and language I thought this video was both amazing in giving new insights and intriguing as it makes you want to learn more.

What a love for the Russian language can do for you.

Netflix

This is a brilliant platform to watch foreign language films on subjects that you are interested in. I have already posted about watching The First Line which is English but with plenty of Greek to keep me happy. I have also been watching Cathedral of the Sea which is Spanish (English subtitled) history, The Medici which is Italian history, Bolivar which is Spanish (English subtitled) Latin American history and the Last Csars which is Russian history. That last one is part dramatisation, part historical program. For pure drama in Russian with English subtitles watch Trotsky. This is not for the faint hearted as it’s quite raunchy from the start.

If you need to practice your English I recommend watching Peaky Blinders. This is on BBC IPlayer as well as on Netflix. You have 4 seasons so far to sink your teeth into. This is set in Birmingham just after World War One and the language is quite raw but it’s highly enjoyable. Not one for children but then neither are any of the above programmes either.

Do you have programs to recommend that I should watch as you don’t tend to hear about any of the ones above when asking people for viewing suggestions?

Best wishes

Angela

Festivals held in Lefkás

There is a long history of art festivals in Lefkás dating back to the 1st and 2nd Delphic festivals in Lefkás in the 1920’s.

We then got the Speech and Art festival in 1955. After this the organiser Antonis Tzevelekis came up with the International Folklore Festival. This started in 1962 and is now held every August. Initially it had only 3 countries but has now blossomed to hundreds of thousands of participants each and every year.

Cultural festival rundown
Cultural festival rundown

In the above picture it notes that Maria Callas turned up in 1964 to help kick the celebrations off.

It also mentions that in 1995 the then president of the Greek parliament Apostolis Kaklamanis who was himself a Lefkádian was attending.

The organiser Antonis Tzevelekis was himself commemorated when he died in 1989 after 30 years of dedicated to the cause. He also has a street and a square dedicated to himself in Lefkás town but I’m yet to come across a statue of his.

In the Cultural centre in Lefkás town there is a floor that contains all sorts of information about the yearly folklore festival. It costs a € to enter but you won’t know this until you open the door and someone comes rushing forward to tell you.

It’s worth it though as you get to see musical instruments from past participating countries as well as national costumes and dolls.

A traditional ladies festive costume
A traditional ladies festive costume
A traditional ladies bridal costume
A traditional ladies bridal costume

You can even try them on (not the above ones but a special selection provided for you.) But I didn’t get the feeling that was a good idea despite the empty changing room and available full length mirror. You get the idea your trespassing during the whole cultural centre not just the upper floor as it’s so empty. It feels abandoned despite it being open, staffed and well maintained.

There is also a room full of objects belonging to Antonis Tzevelekis and these phrases which are not translated but tell you about his life. An excerpt from 60 years worth of Lefkádian Art

An excerpt from 60 years of Lefkádian art
Another excerpt from 60 years of Lefkádian art
Another excerpt from 60 years of Lefkádian art

There is of course the Mardi Gras festival they have every year to celebrate the beginning of Lent. The costumes always look fantastic from the pictures friends put online and compare to festivals I have been to like Pirates Week and Batabano in the Cayman Islands as well as Notting Hill carnival in London.

The celebrations in New Orleans, the Canary Islands and Rio de Janeiro are similar I believe as there all for the same reason.

Since I’m never here that early in the season (February) I can’t tell you or show what it’s really like. If you like Museums though check out these articles

If your interest lies elsewhere have a look here to see if anything grabs your attention Series links.

Are there any specific arts festivals where you are?

Best wishes

Angela

Nikopolis

Nicopolis means Victory City in Greek and it is what Octavian built after taking part in battles in the nearby area. It is now in ruins but they are extensive. It must have been a fabulous city in its heyday. It housed a significant portion of the population of Lefkás as well as being the major city for trade, administration and religion in the surrounding vicinity. You can find details about the building of the city in the Archeological museum In Lefkás Town.

The city dominated until the middle age when the current city of Preveza starts to become prominent. Nikopolis then becomes known as Old Preveza. There is museum on the site dedicated to the finds found in previous archeological excavations.

This is the most well known historical site in the region as its power was immense and stretched out for approximately a thousand years. The Wikipedia article on Nikopolis is quite lengthy and you get articles in travel magazines from as far afield as Crete documenting the importance of this to the locality.

I will write again about this once I have actually visited as I plan to do soon with hopefully lots of pictures. I just thought this was important enough to write about twice.

Best wishes

Angela

Archeological museum In Lefkás Town

This is a very interesting place to visit if your interested in the prehistory of Lefkás. It also covers the findings of the excavations of Wilhelm Dörpfeld even better than the Fagotto book that I mentioned previously Wilhelm Dörpfeld.

In this museum it goes into detail about the ancient and goddesses (Apollo etc) that were worshipped on the island and how Lefkás became associated with Sappho and unrequited love. It explains the temple that was once there and how the inhabitants worshipped female deities.

In another room it details the lengths that they went to in order to honour their dead. It contains grave goods and headstones along with descriptions of the different styles of graves.

In the main room it contains information about the basics of Greek life like bread, wine, oil, fishing, weaving, music, houses and coinage (trade). It also includes interesting language facts and all sorts of other things that you can’t find out anywhere else.

In the last room it houses all the finds from the Dörpfeld excavations along with an examination of the time period that they relate too.

It takes the average person less than an hour but I spent an hr and a half because I read everything in sight. It also costs €2, is closed on Tuesdays and you can’t take the leaflet away.

I know I’m making this sound so dull but I was fascinated by the content. It gave me a lot of insight into why Lefkás had a lot of settlements and activity for a vast period up until the Roman period. After the building of Nikopolis which I will talk more on after I have been, the decline was evident especially when the battle of Actium happened. This was a famous sea battle between Cleopatra and the Roman Empire.

After that Lefkás disappears from history for approx 800 years. It’s only when the Venetians turn up that things start happening again but that’s beyond the scope of the museum.

Best wishes

Angela