Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sizzle in the garden

It was intended to be a post dedicated to the Netherlands
featuring photos among the 1500 I took during our summer
 holidays. My last visit to our garden in the village, however, 
had me thinking twice; a travel post could be uploaded 
whenever throughout the year but the golden garden light 
is emerging right now and the oranges are turning orange 
right now .And this is a chance not to be missed! 

So, I’m bringing you once again into the backyard where bushes,
trees and flowers seem to me like smiling faces as the dusk softly 
falls. This little slice of paradise, the small utopia we call our yard,
 is what adds sizzle to the mundane.  

Drive fifteen kilometres back and forth three times a week to 
water a sun shocked garden. Bring the lawn mower to and from
 the country house because there are two gardens to tend to. 
And autumn comes and you hope for wetness which would mean 
less running around, but...   
the autumn rains never came and alas, we are still watering! 

It’s a miracle how we managed to keep this garden alive 
and compose little bouquets from zinnia and daisies.

Four months of light and warmth, many would envy this!;
the oranges shining lavishly in the November sundown...
 A true wonder and a sight for sore eyes especially after the
 last contagious infections from which our citrus grove 
has greatly suffered.  

At last, autumn is upon us with all the sensations that fall flavors
 evoke flowing around. To usher in this sweet season, I get 
inspiration from all ingredients identifying it ; not only cinnamon, 
apples and pumpkins. Living among citrus trees, I cannot but connect 
them to the season. So, I baked a tangy and bittersweet 
pasta frola using the jam of our own orange harvest.

It’s not with melancholy I greet autumn. Rather the opposite
so beautiful as it is! Hope you are enjoying revitalising autumn walks
 in the embrace of nature and cozy moments with your loved ones. 
Until next time! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grape harvest

Τhe 14th century Byzantine Monastery ‘Virgin Mary of the Rocks’, 
 built on the breathtaking hills in Nemea Valley

September is the month of the grape harvest, synonymous
 for us Corinthians to Nemea. For those who may not know, 
Nemea boasts over 3000 years of wine making tradition,
 making it the oldest continuous wine making region in the world. 
 The Nemea Valley lies on the northeast side of the Peloponnese. 

The wine harvesting has always been a time of celebrations of
 the local communities since the ancient times (Nemean Games
 organised to honour Dionysus-Bacchus, the God of wine). 
Nemea is home to St.George’s grape (Agiorgitiko) the most 
versatile indigenous red variety in Greece. This great blend
 of wine is also nicknamed ‘the blood of Hercules” because of
 the legend that after the Greek hero slayed the Nemean Lion, 
he consumed this local wine.

 In recent years, as well, an annual festival called
 ‘Great days of Nemea’
 showcases a series of events ; almost all wineries open their
 doors, allowing tours to the vineyards and visits to the cellars,
 offering wine tasting experiences and releasing all secrets
 regarding the wine making, from the stripping of the grapes
 to the fermentation of the juice in the vats. 

So, on a sun kissed Saturday in early September, in the beginning
 of the grape harvest period, we were offered the chance to walk
 along the wine roads of Nemea Valley and trod in the footsteps
 of several wine growers taking part in the grape harvesting. 
The thought of the sun blessed land of Nemea, always floods my 
mind with images of fresh cut grapes, golden vineyards
 and the aroma of wine.

All of us, young and old, equipped with pruner shears and harvest
 bins poured into the vineyards delighted to have been assigned
 the duty to cut the grapes and then stomp them with bare feet.
 What an unforgettable workout for the kids especially! 

However, the winemakers with whom we had some friendly talks
 after that, explained to us that smashing grapes is now an 
obsolete practice as  some efficient alternative methods are
 widely used in order to maintain the best possible quality 
of the product. 

Wine tasting 

Vassiliou Domaine

Drying of currants to make raisins

So, pour yourselves a glass of good wine to welcome the chilly
autumn nights and accompagny it with a bit of Beethoven!

'Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes 
and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind
 and makes them spiritually drunken’
 Ludwig Van Beethoven 

Typical local landscape  

I bid you farewell with this sweet girl of mine eager to taste
 her harvest.

Wishing you a mellow yellow autumn full of 
sweetness and happiness. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

From Rotterdam to America

Rotterdam doesn’t really fit the image someone has when 
it comes to Holland. Away from the canal house gables, bustling
 bike paths, I was so happy to discover this modern city
 “arousing emotions by having established relationships between 
shapes” (this is not mine but this is the meaning of architecture
 according to Le Corbusier).

My first impression of Rotterdam was confusion about where
 I was. Frankfurt, New-York? An impressive amount of 
modern architecture
 and a patchwork of outstanding buildings give the city a 
dynamic character and I thought that if I were young it
 would be perfect to begin my life in the city of Erasmus. 
In an urban space like this, reconstructed from the ground, 
innovative, open to the ocean and its opportunities,
 a space which never stops reinventing itself. 

The Market Hall! (below)

 A landmark of the city struck me the most; Hotel New York. 
Not a modern construction, just a place with a story to tell. 

The Hotel New York, also called “Grand Old Lady” is 
surrounded by immense towers and skyscrapers. 

Hotel N.Y. is situated at the Wilhelminapier 
which is being redesigned into a large ship’s deck.

The building that nowadays houses the Hotel New York and 
its beautiful cafe-restaurant was formerly the HAL;
 Holland America Line, the shipping company founded in the late
 19th century. It was originally the head office and the location
where in earlier times, many Europeans stepped over their
 threshold and boarded boats to travel halfway across an 
unknown world armed with nothing. Nothing, except their
 hope for a life, a better one.... who knows……
 Brave souls excited but also fearful in front of their new 
adventures and perspectives. For many of them, this red-brick 
Jugendstil structure was the last European building they ever 
saw. Their transatlantic trip brought them to the promise land;
America. How deeply touching this unromantic
 yet desperately romantic history was for me!

We took the gamble and dropped in without having booked a room. 
I was impressed by the charm, potential and style that the
 building oozes. Once inside and walking into the casual and 
spacious lobby, you can almost hear the voices of those people
 awaiting their long journey. Although that era is long gone, 
the building has not lost its character. 

The seafood bar looks splendidly impressive!
Oh, I know this man!

I loved the historic atmosphere with its cruise-ship inspired deco
 and appreciated the fact that the architects kept the period
 departure hall structure intact with so many items to discover like
 the old spiral staircase, a beautiful relic of the past. 
The building honors its history, celebrates nostalgia and tradition 
without being stuck there though.
 The hotel rooms upstairs obey the same logic. 

We had a lovely time there and were also lucky to enjoy 
the gorgeous sunshine and sit out for an alfresco refreshment.

 I wonder whether those immigrants achieved their dreams then...
 What about today's flow of masses?
As they pursue their personal Odyssey, let us
p r a y
they will be able to keep their dreams alive.

Wishing you all a great start into the new season and 
I’m looking forward to seeing your holiday photos
 and hearing your own stories.
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