The Byzantine Tower at the beach. was built by Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos during the 13th century, who placed it under the jurisdiction of Vatopedi Monastery.

The Virgin Mary & St. Nicholas Church

The village of Ouranopolis (sky city), is located in the Chalkidiki peninsula in central Macedonia. It is 120 km away from the airport of Thessaloniki. It is a very long drive from Athens-over 8 hours. But, it is not very tiring, as it is a straight ride to the north there are no winding, and dizzying mountain roads.

Ouranoupolis is the gate to Mt. Athos (the monastic holy mountain), it is the last stop before entering Mt. Athos. Only males are allowed to enter Mt. Athos, but, they have to first obtain a ‘diamonitirion‘ from the Mount Athos Pilgrims’ Bureau. So, even if one is a male, it is not that easy to just enter the area.

It is a beautiful town with some nice beaches. I arrived with a group of ladies from a local church. They had a lot of complaints about not being able to visit the monasteries due their gender. To appease them, the priest told them that there are cruises that allow women to see the monasteries from a distance. And this is why we all ventured up north.

To be continued…

Το χωριό Ουρανούπολη βρίσκεται στη χερσόνησο της Χαλκιδικής. Απέχει 120 χλμ από το αεροδρόμιο της Θεσσαλονίκης. Είναι πολύ μακριά με το αυτοκίνητο από την Αθήνα – πάνω από 8 ώρες. Αλλά, δεν είναι πολύ κουραστικό, καθώς είναι μια ευθεία βόλτα προς τα βόρεια, δεν υπάρχουν δρόμοι με στροφές και ιλιγγιώδεις ορεινούς δρόμους.

Η Ουρανούπολη είναι η πύλη προς το Άγιο Όρος (το μοναστικό ιερό όρος), είναι η τελευταία στάση πριν την είσοδο στο Άγιο Όρος. Μόνο άνδρες επιτρέπεται η είσοδος στο Άγιο Όρος, αλλά πρέπει πρώτα να προμηθευτούν «διαμονητήριο» από το Γραφείο Προσκυνητών του Αγίου Όρους. Έτσι, ακόμα κι αν ένα άτομο είναι αρσενικό, δεν είναι τόσο εύκολο να μπει απλά στην περιοχή.

Είναι μια όμορφη πόλη με μερικές ωραίες παραλίες. Έφτασα με μια ομάδα γυναικών από μια τοπική εκκλησία. Είχαν πολλά παράπονα που δεν μπορούσαν να επισκεφθούν τα μοναστήρια λόγω του φύλου τους. Για να τους κατευνάσει ο ιερέας τους είπε ότι υπάρχουν κρουαζιέρες που επιτρέπουν στις γυναίκες να δουν τα μοναστήρια από απόσταση. Και αυτός είναι ο λόγος που όλοι αποτολμήσαμε να πάμε βόρεια.


Poseidon Laughs/Γελάει ο Ποσειδώνας

‘Poseidon Laughs’, Illustration by Angela Zafiris

The Greek God Poseidon is on of the twelve gods of Olympus in ancient Greek religion and mythology. He is the King/God of the sea, earthquakes, storms and horses.

While earthquakes and storms may be no laughing matter for us mortals, for a god like Poseidon they sure are!

The gods are crazy!

Ο Έλληνας Θεός Ποσειδώνας είναι ένας από τους δώδεκα θεούς του Ολύμπου στην αρχαία ελληνική θρησκεία και μυθολογία. Είναι ο Βασιλιάς/Θεός της θάλασσας, των σεισμών, των καταιγίδων και των αλόγων.

Ενώ οι σεισμοί και οι καταιγίδες μπορεί να είναι αστεία για εμάς τους θνητούς, για έναν θεό σαν τον Ποσειδώνα σίγουρα είναι!

Οι θεοί είναι τρελοί!

Stalking Sheep

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” – Alexander The Great

“Money and corruption are ruining the land, crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits and treating us like sheep, and we’re tired of hearing promises that we know they’ll never keep.” – Ray Davies

“If I lived my life over again, I would stay in the countryside. I prefer the countryside—the milking of the cows and the sheep.” – Alfred Di Stefano

Η Βυτίνα/Vitina

The colourful and cozy interior of a coffee shop.
The church of Agios Trifonas, built in 1846.

A shop with different flavours of honey.

H dwelling from 1864.

A sign that says’Love Road’.
‘Love Road’
The abandoned agricutural university.
The elementary school.

The mountain village of Vitina attracts the most tourists in the county of Arcadia, in the Peloponnese. It is a beautiful village with medieval-looking buildings, and nicely decorated shops. It is at a height of 1.033 meters, on the Mainalo mountain. and it has almost 700 inhabitants.

The village of Vitina played a big role in the Greek Revolution in 1821. It was the central supply point for the revolutionaires, and as a result was burnt down seven times by the Ottomans.

The pine, fir and chestnut trees surround the mountainous area. It is a great place to visit anytime of year for the fresh air and nature.

Το ορεινό χωριό Βυτίνα προσελκύει τους περισσότερους τουρίστες στον νομό Αρκαδίας, στην Πελοπόννησο. Είναι ένα όμορφο χωριό με μεσαιωνικά κτίρια και όμορφα διακοσμημένα καταστήματα. Βρίσκεται σε υψόμετρο 1.033 μέτρων, στο όρος Μαίναλο. και έχει σχεδόν 700 κατοίκους.

Το χωριό Βυτίνα έπαιξε μεγάλο ρόλο στην Ελληνική Επανάσταση του 1821. Ήταν το κεντρικό σημείο ανεφοδιασμού των επαναστατών, με αποτέλεσμα να καεί επτά φορές από τους Οθωμανούς.

Τα πεύκα, έλατα και καστανιές περιβάλλουν την ορεινή περιοχή. Είναι ένα εξαιρετικό μέρος για να επισκεφθείτε οποιαδήποτε στιγμή του χρόνου για τον καθαρό αέρα και τη φύση.

Model Dogs/Μοντέλα Σκύλων

I was taking some photos at a place called Planetero in the Pelponnesse, when a very friendly dog demanded I take a profile shot of him. Judging by the photographs he is a a natural model. Then his friend came along and asked for a photograph too. 🙂

Έβγαζα μερικές φωτογραφίες σε ένα μέρος που λέγεται Πλανητέρο στην Πελοπόννησο, όταν ένας πολύ φιλικός σκύλος απαίτησε να του τραβήξω μια φωτογραφία με το προφίλ του. Αν κρίνουμε από τις φωτογραφίες είναι φυσικό μοντέλο. Έπειτα ήρθε ο φίλος του και ζήτησε επίσης μια φωτογραφία. 🙂

Queen Cleopatra.. From the Beyond

‘Queen Cleopatra..from the Beyond’ Illustration by Angela Zafiris

Servant: “My Queen have you heard the latest that is being said about you?”

Queen Cleopatra: “Uggh. What are they saying again?”

Queen Cleopatra. Queen of Egypt as well as the Queen of Divisiveness.

For over a hundred years Hollywood has made countless films about Queen Cleopatra. All of them were played by a caucasian actress. They were light-skinned and dark-haired women. Everyone had grown accustomed to that. Then, recently the streaming service, Netflix in their historical docu-series ‘African Queens’ cast a black woman to play the Queen. This has created a lot of controversy, and uproar from a lot of people of different ethnicities..

I think that it is well-established that Queen Cleopatra was a Greek woman who was descendant of the Ptolomies. She was a product of the Hellenistic Empire, built by Alexander the Great. Cleopatra’s ancestor Ptolomy I Soter was Alexander’s classmate in Macedonia, as well as one of his generals. Egypt was placed in Ptolomies’ hands after the death of Alexander the Great. Also, it is well documented that Macedonians were very particular about their bloodline, even in Greece. Alexander was half-Macedonian and half-Epirote. Both were/are Greek states, yet he was insulted for not being ‘pure- blooded’ by people in his father’s court. The Ptolomies would have carried this mentality with their bloodline and as a result were very inbred. Hec, Queen Cleopatra even married her teenage brother!

The casting of Queen Cleopatra was never controversial in the past, so why is it now? In recent years if the actress is causcasian it’s ‘white washing’ if she is black it is ‘black-washing’ or Afrocentrism.

In my opinion Queen Cleopatra has reached near mythological proportions, and that is one of the problems Many people want her as part of their culture. People have their own fantasies and ideas about her. They have their fantasies of how she may have looked and behaved. However, with so many depictions of her in statues and coins and commentary about her by ancient sources, she should not be a such a great mystery, nor should their be doubts about how she looked or what her ethnicity was.

To solve the casting issue, it seems that the best, and most logical solution would be to cast a Greek actress. But, I have heard very few people even admit to this-if any! Which begs the question as to why Hollywood and many western journalists are so dismissive of modern Greeks, as well as Egyptians? Why do they have this cultural bias? Who and what is to blame for this? Is it their arrogance? Jealousy? Is it a result of the brainwashing from ‘Anglophilic Hollywood?? What is it?? Why are people -both black and white- trying to erase our rich culture and history?

For a long time I have been all too aware of this erasure, bigotry and dismissiveness of my people. Take a look at any channel with the subject of Greeks and Greece and then read the comment section. Or go on reddit-even worse.. There is so much slander and hatred towards my people by certain people from certain countries. We all know who they are. They believe that we have been ‘breeded out’ due to the many invaders that reached the shores of Greece. These are the type of people who don’t believe that neither modern Greeks or modern Egyptians are the genetic continuation of their ancestors. These claims are erroneous as well as racist, and downright dangerous! There have been many DNA tests done, and the results are conclusive, and unanimous.

These are our ancestors! Deal with it!

There have been many films made about Greek history and mythology, but there has never been a strong and loud debate about why Greeks don’t get cast in these roles. Unfortunately, the Greek lobby abroard isn’t strong. There are no famous Greeks. The few that have some sort of notoriety are too ‘white-washed’, or ‘Anglicized’ that even non-Greeks make fun and them. This is extremely problematic. We are not a large group so every voice counts. I feel that a person without passion for their culture, and person who is far removed from their cultural identiy is a very tragic person. As you are empty and souless without a culturaly identiy.

So, the problem is both the white-washing as well as the black-washing of these two mediterranean peoples. Both the Egyptians and Greeks have a rich and extensive history. Their is a mutual respect and admiration for each other. I am grateful that people are finally having this discussion all over social media platforms like YouTube, The ‘documentary’ was bad as it erases Greek culture and history, but it was good because more people have become aware of the problem and more people have learned the truth about Queen Cleopatra. That she was indeed an intelligent, crafty, strong, strategic Greek-Macedonian woman who was much, much more than her romances. She built armies, defied Rome and went to war against Rome. She made Egypt more independent by trading with regions outside of the Roman empire. And for those reasons she deserves all the admiration and the respect of a true Queen. 🙂

Goldfish Guru

Illustration using black ink by Angela Zafiris
Watercolour painting by Angela Zafiris

The Goldfish Guru is a happy fish. Due to his bad memory he forgets that his daily routine consists of swimming in a tiny glass bowl day after day.

If there was a technology that could erase people’s bad memories would that make people happier?

Is it the bad memories or their current difficult situation that are making people unhappy? Or both?

If it is the bad memories that caused the person to be unhappy in their present situation, can the erasure of the bad memories improve the present situation?

So many question, and so few answers…

One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.”-Rita Mae Brown

Magical Planetero/Μαγικός Πλανητερός

Planetero is a village with tavernas and enchanting sycamore trees. It is located 25 km from the town of Kalavrita in the Peloponnese. There are many bodies of water. Little waterfalls and crystal-clear streams, cascade through the forest. The trees-the most unusual I’ve ever seen-are oddly shaped. It is a great place to visit anytime of the year for the day.

The area is know for its fishfarming. The tavernas are popular for their fresh trout. Ancient Greek traveller Pausanias travelled here in 160 B.C to listen to the “toothless fish”; the local trout were reputed to chirp! I didn’t hear any trouts chirping, but I did come across a lot of plant life and animals as you will see from my photographs in the next posts.

Το Πλανητέρο είναι ένα χωριό με ταβέρνες και μαγευτικές πλατάνια. Βρίσκεται 25 χλμ από την πόλη των Καλαβρύτων της Πελοποννήσου. Υπάρχουν πολλά υδάτινα σώματα. Μικροί καταρράκτες και πεντακάθαρα ρυάκια, διασχίζουν το δάσος. Τα δέντρα – τα πιο ασυνήθιστα που έχω δει ποτέ – έχουν παράξενα σχήματα. Είναι ένα εξαιρετικό μέρος για να επισκεφθείτε οποιαδήποτε στιγμή του χρόνου για την ημέρα

Η περιοχή είναι γνωστή για την ιχθυοκαλλιέργεια. Οι ταβέρνες είναι δημοφιλείς για τη φρέσκια πέστροφα. Ο αρχαίος Έλληνας περιηγητής Παυσανίας ταξίδεψε εδώ το 160 π.Χ. για να ακούσει τα “άδοντια ψάρια”· οι ντόπιες πέστροφες φημολογούνταν ότι κελαηδούν! Δεν άκουσα καμία πέστροφα να κελαηδάει, αλλά είδα πολλά φυτά και ζώα όπως θα δείτε από τις φωτογραφίες μου στις επόμενες αναρτήσεις.