Monday, 26 December 2022

ฮบฮฑฮปฮนฮบฮฌฮฝฯ„ฮถฮฑฯฮฟฮน (10. 365)

A figure of Greek, Balkan and Anatolian folklore, the malevolent goblins called kallikantzaros (previously, literally beguiling centaur in Greek but possibly etymologically sources to the Turkish word for werewolf or vampire) are summoned from the underworld during Twelvetide to turn their mischief on humans, there being a reprieve from their infernal, eternal task during this fortnight when it is believed the Earth’s journey through the calendar year is suspended. Consigned to hack away at the trunk of the World Tree and bring about its doom, one Christmas dawns and the Sun stops moving, they are called to the surface, distracted and forgetting about their job, nearly complete, until Epiphany resumes Ordinary Time—and the sawed bough has had the chance to regenerate. In order to save the world, most humans would endure this period of bedevilment but there were additional (see above) ways to keep the kallikantazaroi away, including keeping the Yule Log burning for the duration of the holidays so they could not creep down one’s chimney and through one’s hearth, avoid venturing out late at night and, particularly in Serbia, to refrain from adulterous liaisons since that activity attracts them and will ensure that the affair gets found out.

Friday, 11 November 2022

menas of egypt (10. 293)

Early third century wonder-worker and Coptic soldier in the Roman army martyred for refusing to recant his Christian faith, Menas (โฒ€โฒƒโฒƒโฒ โฒ˜โฒโฒ›โฒ—Amen), is commemorated on this day, corresponding to 15 Hathor on the Egyptian calendar. Garnering a posthumous reputation for intercession on any number on ailments, Abu Mina, the site where his body was buried (according to legend, the camels bearing his corpse stopped twice in this exact location and refused to move further) after being dismembered by fellow soldiers became a popular pilgrimage—following Constantine I (previously) sending his ill daughter, Flavia Valeria Constantina—later known as Saint Constance, destination with terracotta flasks with the saint’s iconography taken as souvenirs and found from Heidelberg to Cheshire and all points in between. Protector of the falsely accused, peddlers and travelling salespersons, Menas is the patron of the city of Heraklion, Koblenz and many Swiss villages in the north Alps.

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

6x6 (10. 288)

elektrisk kjรธretรธy: a retrospective look at how A-ha inspired and informed Norway’s early adoption of electric vehicles—via Things Magazine  

taposiris magna: archaeologists discover a nearly mile long tunnel deep under a temple near Alexandria on the search for Cleopatra’s lost tomb—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

market cap: major online retailer first company to lose one trillion dollars in stock value—see also

stenography: more on shorthand (see previously) in ancient Greek and Roman texts  

nit-picking: oldest inscription bearing a full sentence found on a Canaanite comb 

terrain de stationnement: France to require all existing and new parking lots to be covered with solar panels

Saturday, 29 October 2022

arrivals and departures lounge (10. 256)

On our final day in Crete after checkout and waiting for our flight, we returned to the beach at Stavros that we explored on our first day and took the hike up the rocky hill to Lera Cave, the cavern opening where the cliff-face went from steep to vertical, affording amazing views of the village below and the rougher sea beyond, a comprehensive look back at where we stayed.

We made the climb unscathed but it was a bit more demanding, like the descent to Seitan Limania, and well worth the concluding adventure.

Friday, 28 October 2022

unblogged crete (10. 254)

A few bits of miscellaneous reflections on traveling in Crete that didn’t quite fit elsewhere: Like the German practise of erecting crosses at the roadside to memorialise a tragic death in an auto accident, in Greece, they use these miniature concrete churches, often with a small shrine inside to those lost and are mass-produced.

There are cats everywhere that belong to no one and will congregate around one at a restaurant, and generally have very good table manners and will not beg or harass but will sit quietly and mildly look at you.
Far more intense and immersive than a cat cafe, only once when we were the sole guests at a criminally under-partonized establishment did they bother us, until an older woman riding a motorbike arrived and with distinct Ernest Hemingway Martha Gellhorn energy produced a bag of cat food and proceeded to portion it out on the railing and announcing that she wanted to eat in peace and requested the waiter bring her “fish and white wine.”
There is also seemingly a preponderance of distressed and half-finished property developments, single-family homes ready for a second storey but with stairwells to nowhere, skeletal foundations, uncompleted resorts and obviously orphaned restaurants. Such commercial ruins make a strange landscape.

ฮฌฯ€ฯ„ฮตฯฮฑ (10. 253)

On the south shore looking back over Souda Bay, there is an ancient settlement that enjoyed strategic importance from Minoan through Hellenistic times and to the modern day given the nearby Greek and NATO military bases, called Aptera—without feathers—owing to the legend that Hera, Queen of the Gods, convinced the Muses and the Sirens to a song contest, with the former sister-act handily beating the latter, the Sirens being so upset by losing that they rent their feathers a wings, dusting the ฮ›ฮตฯ…ฮบฮฌ ฮŒฯฮท (White Mountains) with them and plunged into the sea.

The archaeological remains of site mostly date to the Roman occupation and include a cistern and baths and an impressive amphitheater. Visiting on Oxi Day (ฮ•ฯ€ฮญฯ„ฮตฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฯ„ฮฟฯ… ฮŒฯ‡ฮน, the Anniversary of the ‘No’)—marking the date that Greece refused the ultimatum issued by Benito Mussolini and resistance to fascism during World War II, entry was free as well as the bit of history and the more contemporary couching. On same high plateau of Paliokastri, there was also the Kule (Castle) of Subashi with a view of the Ottoman Izzedin Fortress below.
In the area we also toured the monastery of St George (ฮœฮฟฮฝฮฑฯƒฯ„ฮฎฯฮน ฮ†ฮณฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฮ“ฮตฯŽฯฮณฮนฮฟฯ‚) outside of ฮ’ฮฌฮผฮฟฯ…ฯ‚ (Vamos) with tranquil small church and old olive presses that highlight pre-industrial extraction with millstones and frails, the round bags used for squeezing the pulp.
We got to sample some of their bread and olives afterwards.

Thursday, 27 October 2022

ฮฑฮบฯฯ‰ฯ„ฮฎฯฮน (10. 252)

Staying on the Akrotiri peninsula and not far from the Holy Trinity monastery we visited earlier, we embarked on a long trek down to the sea and back from the grounds of fourteen century Gouverneto Monastery (Our Lady of the Angels, ฮœฮฟฮฝฮฎ ฮ“ฮฟฯ…ฮฒฮตฯฮฝฮญฯ„ฮฟฯ…)—among the oldest and most extensive religious communities on the island.

A paved pilgrims’ path leads to a cave called Arkouditissa (cave of the She Bear, owing to the appearance of the stalagmite pulpit) that was once a place dedicated to the worship of Artemis but is now a retreat for the monks to pray in solitude.
Though not expecting the trail down the gorge to be this much of a challenge, we made it passed the ruins of a pre-Schism church and cloister called Katholiko and down the craggy cliffs to a cove with turquoise waters that channels out to the open sea.

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

vale and valley (10. 250)

Making an excuursion to points west, we went beyond Chania and toured the Monastery of our Lady of Gonia (Panagia Hodegetria, ฮœฮฟฮฝฮฎ ฮ“ฯ‰ฮฝฮนฮฌฯ‚), the host of a 2016 synod of the Greek Orthodox Church and a museum with a collection of vestments, papal seals and sigils and some of the most iconic icons to peruse. The blue of the sea blended in to sky on the battle-hardened balcony and further atop the promontory.

Our route followed the length of Topolia gorge from the port of Kissimos down to the beach at Elaphonisi, renowned for its pink sands and circular lagoon that one can wade across to a nearby rocky cliff.
The drive through the gorge and back was quite breathtaking—in reference to our last trip, I told H I’m calling this place „hot Scotland“ but with on coming traffic on this narrow lane with hairpin turns and serpentine bends, there was not many opportunities for picture taking (credit to the tourism board)—plus I didn’t want to distract the driver.

Monday, 24 October 2022

๐€’๐€œ๐€ฐ (10. 248)

With evidence of human occupation for the past one hundred and fifty thousand years and settled some five millennia past in the early neolithic period, we visited the archaeological site and partial, creative reconstruction of King Minos’ palace compound at Knossos, considered the oldest city in Europe and with the Minoan culture the origin of the first intelligible writing system with Linear B. 





We drove through Souda Bay along the Northern Cretan highway to the central coastal city of Heraklion. Abandoned for unknown reasons during the late Bronze Age, the site was unearthed in the early 1890s by one Sir John Arthur Evens, whose father excavated Hallstadt, and whose career included prior turns as war correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, a spy in the Balkans and the caretaker of the Ashmolean Museum, who secured digging  rights from the Ottomans around the same time the up-until-then legendary Troy was rediscovered by Heinrich Schliemann (the pair somewhat in correspondence and competition with another) in another part of the Empire.









The term palace turned out to be possibly misleading, rather than interpreting the over thousand connected chambers of workshops of this administrative centre the maze that held the dread Minotaur. Moreover labyrs (๐€›)—whence ultimately labyrinth was Cretan for a double-biting axe head, a glyph inscribed at corners, sort of like an evil eye, to protect what’s inside the walls, and could be interpreted as guide marks to find one’s way back out. 

We found parking in an olive grove near a traditional tavern near the entrance to the site. The host said we were welcome to park in the shade at his establishment, and just might consider dining there afterwards—not a bad business model.