A Colour Explosion from the Heart

Subtitle

Inspire Me, Inspire You

"INSPIRE ME, INSPIRE YOU" is the name I decided to give this page of the website, because I felt it needed a section dedicated to a slightly more extensive description of what lies behind the inspiration, and that is, life itself... the ups and the downs, the beauty, the adventure, the reality (whether happy or harsh) and most importantly the effect other people have on us. You can expect a reasonable variety in topics that I hope will "enrich" your life in some way, or at least amuse you ;-)

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Culti Art in your Heart!

Posted by Alexandra S on November 21, 2018 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (1)

"Η Καλή μερα απο το πρωί φαίνεται!" as we say in Greece...!  Which basically means you can tell a good day by how the morning starts....! Pretty true, isn't it...?! 

My visit to the Heraklion Archaelogical Museum last year may have been a brief one, but it was most definitely an enriching and inspiring experience... and from that I embarked upon my next project. 


The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of the oldest and most important museums in Greece, and among the most famous museums in Europe. It houses representative artefacts from all periods of Cretan prehistory and history, covering a chronological span of over 5,500 years from the Neolithic period to Roman times. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum prides itself for its unique Minoan collection, which includes the masterpieces of Minoan art. It is rightly considered as the Museum of Minoan Culture par excellence. 



Creativity breeds more creativity, so being freshly inspired I decided to add a collection of mugs to the full range of art creations. Bringing a special touch of Greek culture and history to everyone's morning habits... and connecting them to their memories of Greece... I felt they could be the ideal gift for any occasion... ;-) The current collection is Crete-inspired, but the idea is to expand the collection with other details from other regions of Greece. Additionally, although the existing designs are in black, I am working on other colours too (monochrome mainly).


 










For the full range of mugs and in detail, head over to the GALLERY page and select the CULTI ART Mugs Collection, or click https://www.alexandrasdesign.net/apps/photos/album?albumid=16128005" target="_blank">here 

Should you wish to order an item, feel free to contact me at alexandrasdesign.art@gmail.com.

Well, now you know you don't need to think too heard about those upcoming Christmas presents... ;-) 

In my ELEMENT...

Posted by Alexandra S on November 18, 2018 at 3:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Hello there!

It's been a while since I last updated the blog... well, actually since I moved back to Greece from Sweden. On that note, I have been asked numerous times how I feel about this "big" change and how different things are for me now. Truthfully, there is a mixture of feelings, but what certainly prevails is happiness and a refreshed and more vivid appetite to take on new challenges and embark on new adventures in all of life's domains. After all, 10 years in Sweden has been a huge chapter in my life and most certainly one I will forever be grateful for. It was time for a change... so I decided to act on it.




Working for the Greek National Tourism Organisation (www.visitgreece.gr) as part of its locally employed staff in its Scandinavia Office (based in Stockholm Sweden: promoting Greece as a tourist destination in the Nordic and Baltic Markets) for 10 years, opened the doors to the wonderful world of tourism, and even more specifically, witnessing - first hand - the amazing potential Greece has to offer every visitor who wishes to experience the country. It was more than a job the way I looked at it and I took it much more personally as it had to do with promoting all the richness of the homeland I love... so getting creative came pretty much naturally. 



Therefore, I knew that my next move would still be in the tourism industry. The road was not particularly easy and it certainly took some time before I came across what I intuitively felt would be the Best decision for this new change... but I will cut a long story short and come to today's new reality :-)

As of 1st October 2018, I started working for ALDEMAR RESORTS www.aldemar-resorts.gr in their headquarters in Athens. Aldemar Resorts is one of Greece's leading hotel chains with 30 years of presence in the tourism market as it continuously invests in innovative products and ideas by demonstrating a high level of responsibility toward people, society and the natural environment. Dr. Nikolaos S. Angelopoulos is the founder, President and CEO, and Mr. Alexandros Angelopoulos is the Vice President of this family-owned company which currently employs 1,400 people. 

A portfolio of 8 Deluxe Resorts and 2 world-renowned Thalassotherapy Centres in 3 strategic destinations: Crete, Rhodes and the west Peloponnese is what I would like to call only an introduction to this Hotel Group's highlights. 

In all honesty, what sets this Hotel Group apart from all the rest, is not just the brilliant portfolio of resorts they have in their acquisition and the unique services they provide... but the philosophy prevailing in all initiatives they undertake and that involves supporting sustainability, the local community, nature and valuing people in the best possible way.

What is most remarkable is that this vision has been put to practice and there is more to come, so stay tuned for what is to be an amazing journey... 

ALDEMAR is MORE than just booking a holiday... it's a way of life. :-)   



Entrance of Heavenly ROYAL MARE, in Crete. Only 20 minutes from Heraklio town and airport. One of the two resorts where one can book their Exclusive "ELEMENTS ALL IN" holiday; the other being in the Peloponnese near Olympia, ROYAL OLYMPIAN.





KNOSSOS Platform right next to KNOSSOS VILLAS if it is a touch of private luxury and fine dining that you seek. 



THALASSO & SPA, Aldemar's world-renowned and awarded Thalassotherapy Center. 


Back soon with more interesting info!!! :-) 


  




THE RETURN

Posted by Alexandra S on September 29, 2018 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)


It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step - it was Lao Tzu, for the record - it is that step I decided to take several months ago when I decided to leave Sweden after 10 years and return to Greece. It was by no means a decision I took light-heartedly. Very careful consideration was taken of actual circumstances and what would lie ahead of me should I decide to stay. Thoughts I had mulled over for the last couple of years, over and over again... until there was no doubt in my mind that I was on the right track.

Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy, but I was more than optimistic and certain that this need for radical change came at the right time. Having been here in Athens a little over a month, I can say I am happy I went through with it.

Probably the hardest part of this decision was knowing I would not get to see my beloved friends and colleaugues as much as I used to... but knowing that we are a 3.5hour flight away from each other makes things a bit more tolerable. Quality time spent less often is much more essential than frequent interactions lacking substance and good vibes from both sides. Truth be told, I have already started missing my friends and it won't be long before I make new plans to visit Stockholm again.

Now, on to the next step. Having returned to Athens, I gave myself some much needed valuable quality-time to re-charge my batteries as much as possible before embarking on the next adventure... which I proudly and gladly intend to share within a few days... ;-)

For now, here is a small taste of central Athens... and there is more to come :-)






... Every new start, requires a Fresh change... starting from the top, THE HAIR ;-) (Thank you GIEL, brilliant work as always! Check them out! https://giel.business.site/" target="_blank">http://https://giel.business.site/


IERAPETRA - The Unexplored (Crete)

Posted by Alexandra S on June 28, 2018 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)


From West to East. From Chania, Rethymno, the Samaria Gorge and Herakleion... to a hidden bit of charm in the southeastern part of Crete lies IERAPETRA. Possibly not the first place that would spring to mind if you were to visit Crete... but I can assure you it is a place you would not want to miss next time you go!!! :-) 

Chilled, off the beaten track, hospitable and one of the loveliest locations to unwind. Ierapetra was my final stop last year during my Crete road-trip that lasted one full week. Had I sufficient time, I would have loved to stay a bit more, but I was due to head home. 

Truthfully, the eastern part of Crete is a region I long to return till as I have yet to explore so much more!!! Until then...here is just a small taste...

Thank you Maria for making those days so incredibly memomarable! I will be back! ;-) 















No summer is complete without the perfect bikini(s) ;-) www.panos.com




















...and finally, only a few hours before departure time, spontaneity struck! Maria suggested we go for one last coctail to a special place I was sure to like. Needless to say, I did feel a bit anxious since I needed to be back in time to catch the bus for Heraklio and the ferry boat back to Athens that very night. Resisting good company and fun ideas is hard for me to do... so I went along... and did not reget it one little bit! 

Kakkos Bay Hotel www.kakkosbay.com was our destination and a marvelous one for sure!!! Actually, had I not been pressed for time I would have loved to stay there for a couple of days. Just by taking a glimpse of these photos, wouldn't you feel the same way...? 



At 10km away from Ierapetra, lies Kakkos Bay Hotel with a beautiful and wide pebble beach in front. The beach has also been awarded with a BLUE FLAG for its clear waters. 










My only regret was not having enough time to enjoy these delicous coctails and a breath-taking breeze that put me at ease right away... Till next time, then! 






This was it for now... but I certainly plan to return to that amazing region and explore the rest of it...

And of course, do not forget to check out The Region of Crete's Official Website www.incrediblecrete.gr 

SEE YOU AGAIN SOON, CRETE!!!


"Chrissi Island" - Eastern Crete's Little Paradise

Posted by Alexandra S on June 10, 2018 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Last summer I spent an amazing week exploring the island of Crete where every single day and every hour has been imprinted on my mind in the best way. The last couple of days were spent at Ierapetra, the southeastern side of the island; a beautiful location that deserves its own post. It goes without saying that what makes a place truly magical is its people, and Crete is definitely no exception. What made this trip even more magical was experiencing a visit on the little island of Chrissi, across Ierapetra.


www.daily-cruises.gr 

We were due to take off at 12.00 noon. Excitement was bubbling and I could not wait to get started.By about 12.15 about 15 more tourists hopped on board and we were all set to go.


Within about 40 minutes of crossing the deep blue clear waters, with the most amazing refreshing breeze brushing against my face, we reached Chrissi Island, about 8 nautical miles from Ierapetra. Initially, we all got off the boat and I was told to meet them in about 45 minutes at the exact point at which we were dropped off... 


I took this as an opportunity to explore the island. I followed the wooden pathway carefully planted in the fine sand for about 10 minutes and reached another side of the island where I found another beach crowded with people and a beach bar... My first thought was to take a dip but it was too windy on that side so I made my way back and relaxed on the small beach closer to the pick-up point.  

Chrissi is protected by the Natura 2000 Networking Programme, as an "area of intense natural beauty", and has also been designated as a wildlife refuge. The island hosts the largest naturally formed Lebanon cedar forest in Europe. The majority of trees have an average age of 200 years and average height of up to 7 metres, some of the trees are up to 300 years old and 10 metres tall. The density is approximately 28 trees per hectare. (source: www.chrissi.gr) 

The next stop was the ULTIMATE SUPRISE and the perfect ending to my Crete expedition!!!

Actually, I think I will just let the images do the talking...! 







...as for the dress-code... the one and only fresh, colorful and breezy bikini from Panos Emporio (www.panos.com)  



So, next time you plan to visit Crete, Ierapetra and Chrissi Island are not to be missed!!! ;-) 



POROS - A beautiful "outsider"

Posted by Alexandra S on May 25, 2018 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I admit that when it comes to the islands of the Saronic Gulf, I have always had a weakness for two of them - Spetses and Hydra - but after last year's visit on the occasion of a press trip with the Estonian state TV channel and the travel documentary "Travel with me", I got to know the island of Poros a little bit better.

Having spent most of the day shooting at Delphi and Arachova, we left the port of Pireaus around 19.30 and arrived at Poros at around 21.00. After a good night's sleep, I woke up at dawn and took the opportunity to have a power-walk before it was time for breakfast. I was indeed pleasantly surprised at what was laid out in front of me. 

Our team was divided in two hotels. Manfred, the cameraman and I were booked in the hotel near the harbour with a beautiful panoramic view, whereas the rest of the crew were booked in New Aegli Resort Hotel www.newaegli.gr, only about a 5 minute drive away. 

The first shooting spot of the day was scheduled to take place at the Municipality of Poros where the Head of the tourism committee, Ms. Eleni Kanatsidi would be interviewed. She offered quite an insightful introduction to the island of Poros and also her goal of boosting the island's image in the best way possible.

 

"Daglis Amygdalota" (Δαγκλής Αμυγδαλωτά;) was our next spot for filming, and dare I say the most delicious part of ourvisit...! Daglis is what we would say "a classic value" for Poros when it comes to local delicacies. It has been family-run since 1976 and specialises in the all too well known traditional greek sweet "amygdalota". 




As its name suggests (amygdalo = αμύγδαλο, which means almond in Greek) this traditional sweet, which is similar in consistency to a cookie, is prepared with finely shreaded almonds (in some cases bitter almonds are also used) and sugar, and flavored with scented flower water (usually rose or orange blossom) or an essential oil like tangerine, vanilla or mastic. As a final touch, many are sprinkled over with powdered sugar. One could say it is the Greek version of marzipan, although amygdalota differs both in flavor and texture.

As for the nutritional value...? Let's just say each one is about 116calories!                       

Like many desserts in Greece, there are seemingly endless variations of amygdalota: The exact recipe, which determines their shape, texture and flavor, depends on the region from which they originate. The amygdalota made on the islands are particularly famous, especially those made on the Cycladic islands (Tinos, Mykonos, Sifnos, etc.) as well as on Lesvos, Chios, Hydra, Poros, Spetses and Skyros. 

1.Love Bay  




2. The Old Russian Naval Base


THE MONASTERY OF POROS



The old historical Holy Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi of Poros is located 4km east of the main city of Poros island and is built on the slope of a pine forest. It was founded in 1720 A.D. by the Archbishop of Athens Iakovos (Jacob) the 2nd, who, suffering from lithiasis, was miraculously cured, after drinking from the holy water springing near the Holy Monastery.

The Monastery's offer (financial, social and spiritual) to the Greek Liberation War in 1821 was exceptionally valuable. The first Governor of the liberated Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias as well as the great warriors in land and sea Miaoulis, Tompazis, Apostolis, Boudouris, Drosinos, got strenght from their beloved monastery, praying in front of the holy icon of the Mother of God of Zoodochos Pigi monastery.

In 1828, in the establishments of the Holy Monastery, Ioannis Kapodistrias founded the first orphanage of the liberated Greek nation for the orphans of the warriors of the war for freedom. 180 orphans were sheltered in the monastery, which took full care of them.

In 1830, the first Eclesiastical School, in the eastern wing of the Monastery, was founded by I. Kapodistrias, with 15 students. The Governor's vision was to provide the new born state with educated clergymen, willing to work for its spiritual support. The Holy Monastery became a source of spiritual comfort for many believers and other religious people.


Upon leaving the Monastery, our Guide and driver wonderful Konstantinos wanted to share what he believed would make for a wonderful 360degree panoramic scenery, so he took us to Sirene Blue Resort and Boy, was he right! Above, is just a small taste... and the crystal blue waters  would just extend before us offering the most breathtaking vision. 

Poros would definitely be classified as an "outsider" for tourists and Athenians alike... however, after that visit I would certainly incorporate it in an "Athens City Break" excursion at some point. 


ATHENS - The SNFCC Project: Not your ordinary City Break!

Posted by Alexandra S on May 3, 2018 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Time and time again I get asked one question I never get tired of answering: "What should I not miss on my upcoming trip to Athens?"

Year after year, Athens has been transforming into one of the most desirable, not to mention remarkable, city break destinations. Being an Athenian myself, I could not be more proud! Be it award-winning titles of european or global recognition or words of praise and gratitude, Athens always has a place in people's hearts. Nowadays, Athens has taken the "City Break" experience to a whole different level in terms of culture, music and the arts, lifestyle, hospitality, gastronomy... and the list goes on!

One particular highlight I never neglect to mention is the amazing Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center housing the Greek National Opera and the Greek National Library.  


(Interviewing Dimitris Protopsaltou, Chief Executive Officer. A special Thank you to Ms. Elli Gardiki who helped arrange our visit).


On the occasion of the Estonian State TV channel's press visit to the SNFCC last September in Athens in order to gather footage for the travel documentary "Travel with me", I was intrigued by every single architectural aspect of this amazing building. That being said, I would love to share some informative material that will hopefully spark your curiosity enough to add this to your "bucket list" when you visit Athens next time.

For purposes of accuracy and to avoid missing out on some essential information, some text is drawn directly from the www.snfcc.org website

 

 Who is Stavros Niarchos?

Stavros Spyros Niarchos was born July 3, 1909 in Athens, studied law and began working in his family's grain business in 1929. Although he was known predominantly for his shipping business, Niarchos’ diversified financial activities were at the core of the global economy from the time he formed the Niarchos Group in 1939 until his death in 1996. He was considered one of the most innovative and successful businessmen of the twentieth century.

Niarchos’s legacy continues into the twenty-first century with the establishment of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Working in Greece and internationally, the Foundation began its grantmaking efforts in 1996, and it derives its mission from Niarchos´s commitment to Greece and Hellenism, as well as his keen instincts and interests in support of causes in the fields of education, social welfare, health, and arts and culture.

In 2006, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation announced its plans to fund the development of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), a project that includes the construction and complete outfitting of new facilities for the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera , as well as the creation of the 210,000 m² Stavros Niarchos Park.



In February 2008, following a closed international design competition, the Foundation’s Board of Directors unanimously selected the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. In selecting renowned architect Renzo Piano, the Foundation chose an architect at the forefront of the architectural profession, who possesses vision, intellectual curiosity and a historical and geographical understanding of the project’s location and significance. 

The project site is located 4.5 km south of the center of Athens, on the edge of Faliro Bay, and the SNFCC is designed as a multifunctional arts, education and entertainment complex.


Below are glimpses of the National Library in its early stages (can't wait to visit it again soon and see how it has developed).

Within its new premises, at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, the entrance to the Library leads into a large open lobby that provides an immediate visual orientation to all the organization’s functions.



The nearly 24,000 m2 (235,000 sq. ft.) state-of-the-art building combines traditional with technological innovation, conservation with information and communication.

The flexibility of its design, informed by consultations with the prominent British Library (www.bl.uk), ensures that the National Library can respond effectively to ever-changing needs and the challenges of the digital age.

A nationwide digitization project will help make heritage materials available to the public and will offer access to the Library’s various collections.



Incredible space-saving mechanism for all registered archives!

Connectivity with other libraries both nationally and globally will allow the Library’s users access to material abroad that is relevant to Greece or Hellenism.

Holdings include over 4,500 manuscript codices from the 9th to the 19th century and a rich variety of important historical documents and archives.

Modernized climate control and preservation and digitization facilities will ensure that the Library’s significant rare manuscript collection is available for future generations of scholars.



The digital tour continues to the  GREEK NATIONAL OPERA. To be honest, coming from someone who has been passionate about ballet (and dancing) her entire life, this part of the SNFCC left me even more breathless. 


The new 28,000 m2 (301,000 sq. ft.) auditorium with a 1,400 seating capacity is an architectural jewel, designed to enhance the opera experience for patrons and artists alike. Its world-class acoustics, mechanical capabilities, flexible staging, and innate beauty position it for immediate entry into the world opera circuit, ready to play host to the most technically demanding operas, international multimedia art productions, and formidable solo vocalists.

The auditorium is in par with the best European opera houses, and its multiple stages configuration allows for efficient scene changes and the staging of complicated productions.

A smaller alternative stage with a capacity of 400 people will host more intimate productions, including GNO’s experimental performances, contemporary Greek music, dance, dramatic readings, and theater productions in a venue with technical capabilities on par with the main performance space. The small theater has a flexible layout with no fixed seating, making it ideal for experimental productions. A school of dance also resides at the SNFCC.



... and of course I just had to conclude with a photo to capture a joyful moment after having rounded up a wonderful tour of the SNFCC by its delightful staff.



Useful Info!

Address: Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, 364 Syggrou Avenue, 176 74 Kallithea

Website: https://www.snfcc.org/?lang=el" target="_blank">www.snfcc.org 

Group Tours: If you are interested in booking a group tour, contact tours@snfcc.org, or at (+30) 216-8091004 daily from 09.30 to 22.00.





CRETE - HERAKLEION ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM

Posted by Alexandra S on March 14, 2018 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

A visit to Crete www.incrediblecrete.gr would not be complete without experiencing a day at the Herakleion Archaeological Museum. Last summer I had the good luck to be staying at a beautiful hotel right next to the Museum, so immediately after breakfast, I made my way over. I knew I only had a couple of hours available till I'd leave for Ierapetra. 

If I could honestly describe, in one word, that penetrating feeling I got while admiring every single artefact in that building, that would be "overwhelmed". No, one word would certainly not be enough to cover it. "Powerful", yes... that's it... powerful. Everything from the actual architecture of the building, the way the exhibitions were placed, the artefacts themselves... seriously breathtaking. One more museum I could easily spend hours upon hours getting lost in the history. As for the inspiration from the Minoan Art, a whole new world of ideas opened up to me and I can hardly wait to get started with the next collection in mind...

The Herakleion Archaeological Museum heraklionmuseum.gr is one of the largest and most important museums in Greece, and among the most important museums in Europe. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum was founded in 1908 to house the first collections of Cretan antiquities, which were rapidly enhanced. Its cultural riches cover seven millennia, from the Neolithic period (7000 BC) to Roman times (3rd cent. AD). 

Located in the town center, it was designed by the architect Patroklos Karantinos and was built between 1935 and 1958 on a site previously occupied by the Venetian monastery of Saint-Francis which was destroyed by earthquake in 1856. The ruins of the monastery are visible in the museum’s garden.

Following the restoration work of the past few years, completed in May 2014, the exhibition is housed in 27 rooms.

The collections are now displayed according to modern museological practices and design, in chronological and thematic units accompanied by audiovisual material and introductory texts.

The Museum building is an important example of the Greek Modernist style of architecture. The colours and building materials used, along with the multicoloured veined marble, are reminiscent of the painted imitation marble revetments of the Minoan palaces. The two-storey building includes extensive exhibition rooms, an audiovisual media room and laboratories. The Museum also has a vestibule, a gift shop leased from the Archaeological Receipts Fund, and a cafeteria in the garden.

The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a Special Regional Service of the Ministry of Culture. Along with the permanent exhibition, the museum organizes temporary exhibitions in Greece and abroad, creates and implements educational programs, collaborates with scientific and scholarly institutions, and houses a variety of cultural events.

In the 12 rooms on the ground floor, the exhibits of the glorious Minoan civilisation, the first urban-palatial culture on European soil, are presented in thematic units highlighting the formation of the first communities, the rise of the ruling classes and the consolidation of palatial power and hierarchy, as well as the Minoan scripts which formed the basis of the administrative system.

The outward-looking spirit of the Cretan centres and the construction of seagoing ships favoured participation in exchange networks, importing goods and transferring ideas from the late 3rd millennium BC onwards, and securing Crete a dominant position in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean during the 16th and early 15th cent. BC.

The rule of the seafaring Minoans in the Aegean, linked to the ancient legends of the demigod King Minos, lord of the labyrinthine Palace of Knossos, is the main focus of the exhibition. Finds associated with religious rituals, sports, public festivals, aspects of private life and burial customs are showcased in dedicated rooms.

The celebrated Minoan art is featured through thousands of objects. Among the most spectacular are the famous faience Snake Goddesses, the stone bull's-head rhyton, the Prince of the Lilies and Bull-Leaping Frescoes, the gold Bee Pendant, the Hagia Triada Sarcophagus, the polychrome Kamares Ware vases, the Linear B tablets from Knossos and the enigmatic Phaistos Disc.

THE PHAISTOS DISC

This most famous example of Minoan pictographic script, unique in its kind, was discovered inside a small room of the Phaistos palace. It dates to the early Neopalatial period and is preserved intact. Both sides of the disc have signs impressed in a single spiraling line beginning at the edge and ending in the centre. The inscription uses forty-five different signs, which are repeated and grouped together to form words separated by vertical incisions. The signs were impressed on the unbaked clay using seals and for this reason the disc is considered as the earliest known example of typography. Until now several different interpretations of the text have been suggested, none of which is entirely convincing. Modern scholars believe it to be a religious text or hymn. It is noteworthy that several signs of this inscription appear on an axe from Arkalochori.

For more official information on Ancient Scripts: 

http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/4/eh430.jsp?obj_id=7881

http://https://www.incrediblecrete.gr/ancient-scripts 


STONE BULL'S HEAD RHYTON

Stone bull’s head rhyton, left side of head and horns restored. It’s a masterpiece of Minoan art, worked with great precision to render the natural features of the real animal. The snout is outlined with an inlay of white seashell, while the preserved right eye is inlaid with rock crystal, with rim and iris of red jasper. This vessel would have been used for libations, as indicated by the hole in the neck for filling and the corresponding hole in the snout for pouring out the liquid.

Knossos – Little Palace, 1600-1450 BC

THE “LADIES IN BLUE” FRESCO

Part of a composition of richly dressed and lavishly bejeweled female figures depicted against a blue ground. Despite its fragmentary condition, the wall painting transmits the sense of opulence and prosperity of the royal court while reflecting the coquetry of the ladies, who gesture displaying the richness of their jewelry.

Knossos, Palace, 1600-1450 BC







THE “PRINCE OF THE LILIES”

The “Prince of the Lilies”, an emblematic image of Minoan Crete, was part of a large mural composition in high relief. The figure, composed of three non-joining parts, is portrayed life-size, wearing a richly colored kilt with a codpiece and belt and a majestic crown on his head with papyrus-lilies and peacock feathers. According to the excavator of Knossos, Arthur Evans, he was the “Ruler of Knossos” the “Priest-King”, a personification of religious and secular authority. However, other scholars suggest different reconstructions and interpretations, according to which the “Prince” may be an athlete, a boxer, or a commanding ruler, while the crown is attributed to a priestess or a sphinx.

Knossos, Palace, Neopalatial period (1600-1450 BC).


THE BULL-LEAPING FRESCO

A bull-leaping scene, vividly depicting how the spectacular sport was performed. There are three participants, two white-skinned women and a brown-skinned man. One of the female athletes is restraining the bull by the horns to reduce its speed so that the leaper, performing the dangerous backwards somersault, will not be gored. The second female athlete, behind the bull, is waiting with outstretched arms to catch the leaper as he lands. The fresco was found on the east side of the palace of Knossos, together with fragments of others depicting different stages of the same sport.




Finds from settlements, sanctuaries and cemeteries of the post-palatial period. The "Kamares Ware" exhibit (Gallery III)

More Official information about the Exhibitions of the Herakleion Archaeological Museum.

Municipality of Herakleion http://https://www.heraklion.gr/en/



HYDRA - Athens City Break

Posted by Alexandra S on March 3, 2018 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

ATHENS is a beautiful and vibrant city to visit, and a 3-day city break would be perfect to get a first feel of the Athens vibe. The history, the culture, the arts, the music, the food... the seaside possibilities you have all around...  Surely, one visit is not enough, but it's a start. Athens is also an amazing place for business travelers too as it provides many possibilities within convetion tourism, meetings and incentives. 

What is even MORE amazing about this city is that any traveler who has a couple of days more to spare, has various "escape" options. There is Delphi and Arachova, Nafplio, Tolo, Porto Heli and of course the islands of the Saronic Gulf easily accessible by catamaran. The Saronic Gulf islands are Aigina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra and Spetses.

SPETSES: www.alexandrasdesign.net/apps/blog/show/45219590-spetses-island-of-the-aromas-isola-di-spezzie-part-1-

WELCOME TO HYDRA!!!




Hydra, as mentioned already, is accessible by a highspeed boat (catamaran or flying dolphin) from the port of Piraeus and also from Porto Heli and takes about 2 hours.There are about 3-5 connections daily depending on the season. Check http://www.openseas.gr/ for updated schedules and booking online. 

When it comes to accommodation, one can find all sorts when looking through the usual search engines, but word of mouth also helps. If you know someone who has stayed at a place and found it very convenient, clean, pleasant and affordable, you could look into that as well. For example, I had stayed in a lovely hotel called SIDRA HOTEL only 3 minutes' walk from the harbour (been there quite a few times). It's all a matter of preference, but there are various choices on the island. However, there are some studio apartments that may require a bit of a walk inland, but that also guarantees a more special view from the veranda where you will be enjoying your morning coffee... or a sunset dinner, possibly... :-) 

As for the beaches, in front of Hydra's harbour, one finds numerous small boats that can take approximately 20 people (sometimes more, depending on its size) that can take you to the beaches around the island. As Hydra is quite a popular island within close proximity to Athens, it does receive a constant flow of visitors, therefore there are frequent daily excursions.

For those lucky enough to be reaching the island on a private sailing boat, the magic is endless...

The excursion boats take you to each beach and drop you off where you prefer, as well as inform you about the times they return to pick people up. The final pick-up time is usually 18.00 or 18.30, and the boats come and go rather frequently in case someone wishes to return earlier. Agios Nikolaos or Bisti beach are the two most popular ones. There is also the choice of making a deal with one of the sea taxis docked at the harbour too (that might cost you a bit more, but get to see more of the island). Make sure you cut a deal before getting on board. :-) 


When it comes to travelling with company on holiday, my advice would be to go with those who you feel are on the same wave-length as yourself and whose mentality clicks with yours naturally. I honestly believe that going on holiday with other people is a guaranteed test of your friendship and relationship on so many levels.

People who may be the best of friends in their regular everyday lives where each one has their own space and their own routines (in their own private space) may not do so well with sharing that time and space with others.

Before extending an invitation, think what kind of holiday it is you need: a 100% chilled out one where you wish to spend all day on the beach reading a book? A holiday where you wish to really explore the location you are visiting and not so much laying around on the beach? Or a bit of both maybe? Personally, I love a good balance and that is where the mutual mentality comes in. Best go with someone who will most likely want a good combination of both and will also be respectful and flexible too. Should there be a day where you wake up and decide you would prefer to relax with a book on the beach whereas the other person wishes to hike mountains, both can do exactly as they please and simply meet up after a few hours or at the end of the day for a lovely dinner and whatever the mood calls for. Alternatively, if one of the two feels forced to give in to the other person's desires, I can guarantee you it won't go down that well in the long run either. 

Personally, I feel lucky to have discovered who my best travel-partners are, and I am sure life will introduce me to more in future. 

YES, I am lucky to say that one of my favorite travel buddies is my amazing mum! :-) We've gone to so many places together and we've enjoyed ourselves incredibly every time :-) 


These moments where you are seated at the bow of the boat with the water splashing in, while at the same time the summer sun and sea salt caress your skin...Priceless!




There is no doubt that everyone who returns from a day at sea is ready to devour almost anything... yes, sea air and salt do that to a person :-) And of course, this is where the perfect choice of food ties in! SO MANY OPTIONS!!! From grabbing a delicious souvlaki on the go and having a seat by the sea, or sitting at a cosy and traditional taverna for a scrumptious meal... the choice is yours.  


However, there is another more side to Hydra, and it is called "Hydronetta". A place even more magical at sunset...





...this has been just a small taste of what lies within two hours of Athens, so don't forget to add Hydra to your bucket list, if only for a one-day excursion when in Athens :-) Although... I doubt one day will be enough... 


TURQUOISE WONDERS - KOUFONISSIA

Posted by Alexandra S on February 26, 2018 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Each journey I take, each memory I add to my mind and heart... and every scent that stays with me, is a piece of inspiration I enjoy conveying to curious and like-minded adventurers ready to embark on their own journey.

In my mind's eye...nothing is more "contagious" than good energy, genuine excitement and a real story... and it is for this reason that all posts in the "Inspire Me, Inspire You" segment of the website derive entirely from personal experiences and are aimed at doing just that... inspiring ;-)

One of these truly memorable experiences are linked to a place I should probably be keeping to myself... but then again that would be too selfish...

So, here it is:

Next to the bigger islands of Paros and Naxos is a smaller cluster of islands: Koufonissia, Schinoussa, Donousa and Iraklia. This small island complex is known as the Small Cyclades.

Koufonissia, lying east of Naxos and west of Amorgos, is a set of two islets separated by a narrow strait of sea about 200m wide. Among those two, Kato Koufonissi is the uninhabited one and Ano Koufonissi is inhabited by about 200 locals. From there, one can also see the island of Keros at a distance. 


They were named Koufonisia [meaning Hollow islands] because of the existing huge caves which gave the impression to pirates who viewed them from a distance that the islands were hollow! At a short distance you will see the deserted Keros island. It has been designated as an archaeological site under protection, as major Cycladic Art finds have been unearthed there many a time.

fonissi is accessible by either the high speed boats - catamarans, as they are called - or the bigger conventional ferries; the former take about 5 hours to reach the island from the port of Pireas in Athens, whereas the latter takes about 7 hours (and is slightly less costly). Additionally, travelling on the larger boats gives you the chance to walk around on the deck and get a real feel of the sea breeze (whereas the catamarans do not offer the same freedom of movement on board). The schedules can be found in www.openseas.gr and one can also book online, as well.

If you ask me, the real magic begins the moment the ship reachest the island and prepares to dock. A picture speaks a thousand words... don't you think...? 

 My first time in the Small Cyclades was far too long ago for me to even remember... but what I do remember was a place that was out of this world, in the most beautiful and serene way.

Only a couple of years ago, two of my best friends and I felt the need to get away for 4 days and we decided on Koufonissi. Unfortunately, our plan was slightly altered when Evi was called to stay back for professional reasons. Sad as we were, Sophie and I embarked on that ship and made our way to that small yet heavenly island.

"Anemomylos House and Rooms" (www.koufonisia-rooms.com) where we reserved our studio, was only metres away from the sea and only about a 15-minute walk from Chora. "Chora" is the greek term we give to all the main towns of the islands.The Anemomylos property housed 5 different apartments of varying sizes that were allocated according to the number of guests it needed to accommodate. It was clean, furnished, linen was provided and there was a well-equiped kitchenette for those who were planning on staying for a longer period.

Evi had booked a beautiful small apartment at "Anemomylos House and Rooms" (www.koufonisia-rooms.com) only metres away from the sea and only about a 15-minute walk from Chora. "Chora" is the greek term we give to all the main towns of the islands.The Anemomylos property housed 5 different apartments of varying sizes that were allocated according to the number of guests it needed to accommodate. It was clean, furnished, linen was provided and there was a well-equiped kitchenette for those who were planning on staying for a longer period.


The following days were all about spending time wandering around the island, from beach to beach and simply enjoying the ultimately relaxing vibe. 

The best part of being on this island is that no car is required and one can simply walk from beach to beach. On average, it takes about one hour to walk from the east to the west side of the island... but when you stop and take a dip to cool off or go photo-crazy, it can take much longer... but these are opportunities you just can't miss.


(Photo: Fanos Beach)

The island's population is about 250 inhabitants. The coastline extends to about 14,4km and the most popular beaches are Foinikas, Fanos, Megali Ammos, Nero and Pori which is the one farthest away from Chora. 


(Bikini: Panos Emporio www.panos.com) 


(Photo location: The Devi's Eye)


Truth be told, some beaches were way too crowded to find some space or even peace... so we would simply move on to the next bay only several metres away... 

Travel Tip: Island-hopping during the period mid-July to mid-August ought best be avoided if there is a possibility to travel either before or after the high season.

However, in our case, the morning wake-up calls worked best. Luckily, neither myself nor Anne-Sofie would sleep long hours into the day... so we would set off not long after we would wake up.

Early mornings was the perfect time to locate a tree with some relatively good shade that could cover both of us. Not long after we had found it... the artistic tools would come into full view. :-) Sofie would write, I would draw. The surroundings could not have been more perfect!







(Photo location: Pori Beach)

Beautiful and large as Pori Beach was... the winds can really be a challenge for anyone aiming to pin their carry-on umbrella in the sand. I would simply recommend finding some shelter and shade under a tree.

When it comes nightlife and dining, the island may not have the huge variety of tavernas, restaurants and bars that its neigbours have, but it has a decent number of choices for its size. I vividly recall this one hotspot, "Sti Strofi" (in greek this means around the corner) where the queue would always be a mile long. It was a simple souvlaki take-away place and according to Tripadvisor, it rocks!

 

(Photo source: TRIPADVISOR)


We may have not tried the famous souvlaki or gyros because the queue was way too long for two starving girls to handle... By the time we reached Chora, after a full day of walking and swimming in the sun, waiting in line just didn't seem that appealing no matter how mouth-watering the take-away menu looked as we strolled by the mile-long queue of sun-burnt customers.

There were tavernas waiting, and that is where we were going... :-) 

One thing is for sure, that small island had the world's most delightful and colorful chora (main town) and I could hardly resist clicking away at my camera and capturing the beauty...

 



So, this was a taste of the ever inspiring island of Koufonissi which I would be more than happy to return to. An island that I would strongly recommend to those who desire an escape from the loud world and who feel comfortable in the serenity and special silence that the Small Cyclades have to offer...





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