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Posts tagged ‘Greece’

Travel, Timing, and Reconstruction: Why You Can’t See What You Came to See

Washington DC had a very unusual earthquake in 2011.  It destroyed some of the statuary at the National Cathedral and cracked the Washington Monument, an iconic obelisk-shaped landmark in the center of the city.  This summer a massive scaffold has gone up over the tower to continue the repairs.  Reconstruction and restoration are common sights for travelers where long-term improvement projects often leave facades covered and historic interiors obstructed.  You can still enjoy these sites with in most cases with minimal impact on your visit!

washington monument restoration

Restoration of the Washington Monument takes place behind an artistic scaffold.

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The God of Mozia, Sicily

coastline of Mozia, Sicily, Italy

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing great sculpture!  You can find links below for the group’s posts this month.  The summer heat has got me thinking about Sicily and so I’m going to introduce you to a phenomenal, ancient piece that I happened to stumbled across on a secluded island (really!).

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Van Gogh and the Olive Tree

olive tree in Greece

It wasn’t until I visited Greece a few years ago that I really got a good look at live olive trees.  Despite being an agricultural powerhouse, the trunk of the olive tree is twisted and deeply etched.  The foliage is expansive but not dense.  In the shade, the bark and leaves appear to have grey-blue undertones.  These are visually interesting, complex and very hardy looking trees.  With a new found appreciation for these Mediterranean wonders, a huge light-bulb went off at the (abridged) Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.  The olive tree was possibly the best subject in the natural world for Vincent van Gogh and has resulted in some of my new favorite paintings in this catalog.

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Pastitsio – A Tasty Souvenir from Greece

Some people buy clothes, crafts or nicknacks as souvenirs when they travel.  I like to buy food!

While driving in the Peloponnese, I stopped in a small town grocery store to get car snacks and water.  Since I think its fun to browse foreign food items, I wandered up and down the short aisles.  I happened upon a shelf of these boxes:

Pastitsio bechamel mix by Jotis

I recognized the casserole on the front as Pastitsio – the Greek equivalent of lasagna made with thin tube pasta, meaty sauce and a fluffy topping.  So I bought a box. Read more

Byzantine Fort City of Mystras, Greece

Monestary of Pantanassa, Mystras

Looking up from the ruined domestic buildings of the lower city, you can see the active Monastery of Pantanassa further up the mountain in the the Upper City of Mystras, Greece.

So many European cities are jumbles of art and architecture, a testament to the evolving history of the urban area.  Beneath these modern cities are fractured layers of a Renaissance, Gothic and Ancient past, but you have to try hard to imagine how things looked during any one period.  It’s truly amazing to find a city that retains its character from one specific age.  The abandoned Byzantine city of Mystras in the mountains just above Sparta in the Southern Peloponnese, is one such frozen city.  You can walk through the ruined streets and largely intact religious buildings of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and be right back in 1350 AD.

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