Monday, May 23, 2016

100 Places in Greece Every Woman Should Go: Greek Shadow Puppetry

Chapter 66: Greek Shadow Puppetry and Karaghiozis

Ever since I saw The Year of Living Dangerously, a movie starring Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver which features Javanese shadow puppets, I've been mesmerized by these storytelling figures. Java has characters known as Gareng and Semar, but Greece has one of the most famous puppet character of all: Karaghiozis, which means "dark-eyed." Portrayed as a poor hunchback, Karaghiozis's right hand is always depicted as longer than his left. 

With bare feet and scruffy clothes, he lives with his wife and three sons in a shack across from the Ottoman Palace. His character represents the common everyman with his human faults, and his escapades depict the social and political struggles of life in 19th century Greece. Shadow puppetry is prevalent all over Greece, and Karaghiozis appears in village squares across the country in summer months, but tourists can see this ancient art form at the quaint theater known as Figoures and Koukles, located at 30 Tripondon Street in the trendy Plaka neighborhood of Athens.

Monday, May 16, 2016

100 Places in Greece Every Woman Should Go: Brettos Ouzo Bar

Chapter 73: Brettos Ouzo Bar - The Most Colorful Bar in Athens

Located just a stone's throw from the first Greek university in Athens is Brettos Ouzo Bar. This oldest distillery in Greece and second oldest in Europe, Brettos was established in 1909 when its founder, Michael Brettos, began distilling ouzos, brandies and other liqueurs. Situated on the first floor of an old Athenian mansion in the city's main shopping district known as the Plaka, this is what Athens looked like before developers tore down the neoclassical buildings in favor of cement apartment buildings. Even for those who don't favor the taste of this licorice flavored classic Greek beverage, a stop at Brettos is a must just to check out the floor to ceiling walls of colorful bottles of pomegranate, apple and mint flavored ouzos and catch a respite from the penetrating rays of the Athenian sun.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

100 Places in Greece Every Woman Should Go: The Snakes of Kefalonia

To celebrate the publication of my book, 100 Places in Greece Every Woman Should Go, (thank you to all who have ordered it!) I will be featuring images of each chapter.  This week is Chapter 42: Of Healing Serpents and Mummified Saints.

Every August 15th, the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, thousands of snakes miraculously appear in a church located in the remote mountain village of Markopoulo on the Ionian island of Kefalonia. The legend of the mysterious serpents dates to 1705, when pirates attacked a monastery in the area. To avoid being captured, the nuns prayed to the Virgin Mary and were changed into snakes. Today, thousands of people, such as the little girl pictured above, flock to the village in order to handle the snakes, which the locals believe bring healing, and the region is thought of as Greece's Lourdes.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Le Manoir de Herouville

Deep in the Normandy countryside lies a farmhouse called Le Manoir de Herouville, which has been lovingly converted into a guesthouse.
 We admired the gorgeous grounds both in the morning,
and evening
and relaxed in the luxurious surroundings
including this claw-footed tub, which I adored.
We spent equal amounts of time besides the blazing fireplace sipping wine in the evenings,
 and eating our breakfast,
and enjoyed a tour of the grounds, courtesy of Charlotte
and her parents, our amazing hosts - thank you Michael and Catherine!