I'm at a quiet corner on a tropical island. Out of the blue, a surrealist
scene emerges right in front of my eyes in the darkness of the night. Two men
are chatting by the bar that illuminates itself alone in the middle of
nothingness. I found myself watching this scene, remaining in the darkness. A
warm atmosphere, the roof of the bar is decorated with colorful lights.
Nevertheless, an unspoken sadness looms in the air. The
men look as if they are exchanging grievances, tranquile, as if they are the
only ones left in the whole world.
After a while I came to my senses and took
the following photograph.
15mm, f:2.8, 1/13 sec, ISO 800
They say that a photograph is worth a thousand words. To me, this shot is
one of those pictures. I, for one wouldn't be able to describe this scene with words.
Handheld as always, without a tripod. Then I postprocessed to jpg using Rawtherapee.
The title may mislead you to think that I set foot in Greenland, I just flew over it.
This huge island next to the North Pole naturally has no seasons
other than winter. This is a mostly uninhabited frozen country, as it cannot provide a hospitable environment for people to live in comfort. It had pertained to Denmark at the
end of an interesting historical chain of events.
I photographed the big mass of glacier which joins the sea within a narrow inlet on the southern part of Greenland. This is the best
image I could capture from behind the many layers of the small window of a
plane flying at an altitude of 10 km.
When we go into more detail, we can clearly see the glacier slowly flowing
to the sea. The picture below reflects the view formed by the fluid mass
making its way towards the sea.
Even from such a distance, it is very exciting to be able to see this magnificent
formation. I could take these shots, thanks to a clear weather.
Right after taking the above pictures, I photographed the map on the video screen of my seat. Thus, I can give an idea about the location of these scenes.
These photos were the reward of sitting on a window seat on the flight from Istanbul to New
York. I hadn't the slightest idea at the start of my journey that I would be able to capture such shots.
I had the opportunity of visiting the wine route and the village of Deidesheim during a business trip to Germany. It was a short stay but because of perfect timing - I was there right during vintage season - I had the privilege of enjoying the authentic ambiance of the area.
This part of Germany is within the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. It enjoys a mild climate, quite untypical for Germany. Being close to France and Luxembourg, wine production is the main economic activity of the area. I was surprised to see the vast vineyards stretching for kilometres along the Weinstrasse, that is "route of wine"
Beautiful historical villages come one after another while driving on the Weinstrasse. Deidesheim is such a town resting peacefully on the countryside by the river Rhine.
Here's a typical street view of the town, reflecting the end of a beautiful September day.
Dating back to 13th century, Deidesheim today shines proudly with an historical background.
After strolling the streets of the town, I had the opportunity to dine at the nice restaurant of hotel Deidesheim Hof. Once the favourite place of former chancellor Helmut Kohl, this restaurant enjoyed the presence of World leaders visiting Germany.
A shot of the restaurant before going inside for dinner.
We had a significant fine-dining experience at Deidesheimer Hof. A nice surprise was the well balanced Pinot noir wine of the area that accompanied our dinner. That was the best German wine I ever tasted.
Let me present a picture of the Pinot Noir grape from the vineyard I visited during the daytime I spent at Weinstrasse. The taste is great even as a grape fresh from the branch.
Grape, once the fruit for the Gods, is a marvel of nature for us to enjoy.
Let's talk about Athens, the city that has developed under the wings of Athena, the
Goddess and lived its golden age about 2500 years before the present
day. This is the city which hosted the Academia of Plato as well the
Lyceum of Aristotle.
Athens has shone through during the
Antiquity with its opulence and culture, as well as being the cradle
of democracy. However, as time went by, the city has gradually come
to pine for its long bygone affluent days. Today, Athens houses one
third of the population of Greece, with approximately 4
million inhabitants. Now, this is one city that is humming with the
cacophony of the crowds, with concrete buildings forming its
silhouette; quite a transformation from being the headquarters of
Gods to being a living space completely earthly for the mortals.
A quick glance at the map, we see an almost plane
settlement which has expanded around the hill at its centre. This
hill at the centre is The Acropolis. On this rocky outcrop, stands
one of the most well known temples of the world, The Parthenon. On the
skirts of the hill facing north, lie two ancient quarters: Plaka and
Monastiraki. Right behind them, as far as the eye can see, spreads
modern Athens with its roofless buildings.
Looking from a distance, it's not easy to label Athens
as a beautiful city. Nevertheless, the historical richness stretching
from the Acropolis towards the ancient quarters at its skirts, a very
delicious Greek cuisine and rich entertainment possibilities form
an interesting attractiveness.
I suggest that we continue with a view from Athens, after so much
talk about it.
This is a view of the Acropolis from Monastiraki quarter. One can
see the Parthenon right en face, situated on the Acropolis. Just below are the picturesque houses of the historical quarters Plaka
and Monastiraki. Monastiraki is the centre of the
neighbourhood bearing the same name. Once, there really
was a monastery here, now only its name survives. The church whose
little dome appears at the left bottom corner is thought to have been
once a part of the monastery. The edifice at the centre of the
picture is the Tzistarakis mosque. The minaret of this mosque, today
converted into a museum, has tumbled down long time ago. The
building across the mosque is a subway station.
When we take
a closer look at the Acropolis, both the grandeur of the hill and the
colourfulness of the houses in the quarters at its skirts become more
manifest. If you look at the photo below more carefully,
the tower-like stone building with a canopy might catch your eye. This building, called
the Tower of the Winds, has been built by the astronomer Kyrestes in
the first or second century BC. There are bas-relieves on each façade
of this octagonal construction depicting the wind blowing from that
side symbolically. The building has been designed to function as a
water clock as well.
Now that we are this close to the
Acropolis, come, let's visit it. The main entrance is to the west of
the hill. The temples of Propylaia and Athens built in the fifth
century BC make up the two sides of this entrance. By the way, it would
be amiss of us not to mention the Herodes Atticus Odeon, situated at
the southwest of the hill, which we shall pass before arriving here.
This beautiful theatre constructed in the second century BC has been
restored in the 1950’s and stands proud in the present day.
As we climb up from Herodes Atticus
Odeon, and pass by Propylaia mentioned above, we reach a plateau on
the hill. Here, the Parthenon welcomes you with all its glory. This
temple erected in the fifth century BC, is the creation of the
architects Kallikrates and Iktinos. In order to get a better idea of
its age, we can put it this way: when Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was
built, it has been there for about 850 years...when Istanbul was
conquered by Mehmed the Conqueror, Parthenon had been standing erect
for the past 1900 years! The temple dedicated to the goddess Athena,
the guardian of the city still watches over Athens from the
Acropolis as the symbol of the city.
This building has functioned as a
mosque under the Ottoman rule, and later, as a gunpowder storage
during the siege by the Venetians in the 17th century. The Venetians,
upon realizing this, have cannoned the temple, exploding the stored
ammunition and causing great damage to this construction which has
endured the wear and tear of centuries. Today, restoration work
started many years ago still continue, Sadly, it's not
possible to efface the traces of the destruction of war: the
interiors and the roof of the building have been destroyed
I present you the Parthenon of today,
approximately 2500 years after its construction.
After visiting the Parthenon and the
other beautiful edifices accompanying it, the view of modern Athens
that surrounds you down the hill inevitably catches your eye. It's
right here that you encounter the non-esthetic side of Athens. When
you look past Plaka and Monastiraki situated at the skirts of the
hill, all you see is a concrete jungle. You can observe the
demarcation line where the historical part ends by the vanishing of the
red roofs and start of the white concrete buildings with terraces.
The rest consists of this white concrete.
This division is
quite clear in the picture above. Right in the centre of the photo is the beforementioned Tzistarakis
Mosque. The green belt right below the mosque is Hadrian’s
Library, with only a couple of its walls standing today. Below the
library, one can see the Fethiye Mosque and again, the Tower of
Let's take a closer look at Fethiye
Mosque. This mosque, built in honour of Mehmet the Conqueror’s visit
to Athens has been constructed using natural materials. It has a
distinctive appearance, keeping its respect to its environs. The
tiles covering the main dome and rest of the roof create a beautiful
harmony with the walls of the building made up of natural stones.
Despite its modest size and structure, it keeps up with the
historical small churches scattered around the city.
Continuing on to the east of Fethiye
mosque, you start getting lost in the narrow streets of Plaka.
Beautiful buildings, intertwining streets, cafes, restaurants welcome
you here. The main square of the neighborhood is (Plateia)
Walking to the
streets of Plaka from the Lysikratous square seen above, do not hesitate to enter any restaurant that catches your
eye if you feel hungry. All the delicacies of the Aegean cuisine shall be awaiting you.
I have to tell you that the standards of the Greek cuisine, which is
very similar to Turkish mezes and seafood served at the Aegean coast,
are very high. Sitting at a table adorned with delicous food is an important part of social life here. Being able to eat such elaborate
dishes for quite reasonable prices makes me a little jealous. You have to spend more on the other side of the Aegean and sometimes settle for lesser taste.
Let's return to our tour of the city. Wandering
around the narrow streets of Plaka is a very pleasant experience. The only problem
is the chaos in areas where there is heavy traffic. I give as an
example, Kapnikarea street leading to the shopping area. In this
narrow street, heavy pedestrian traffic is interlocked with cars on the road. Fortunately not all streets are like this, some are
even closed to traffic.
In spite of the chaos of the street,
once you raise your head up the view of the Acropolis instantly
Ermou street, which we can designate as
the border of Plaka and the new city, is one of the most lively
shopping centres of Athens. Being quite long, Ermou becomes a
pedestrian street as it approaches the main square of the city,
Syntagma. Don’t get surprised if you encounter a historical church
right in the middle of the street while you are walking. Panaghia
church, built upon an ancient temple, is one of the oldest churches
in the city.
The pedestrian part of Ermou includes a small square and the tiny
Panaghia, built in the 11th century. Photography enthusiasts will
readily tell you that it's challenging to take photos when there are
dark shadows and overly lit areas, just like in the photo above. The shadows turn out very
dark or the lit areas very bright if you can't perform good adjustment and post processing. This is the best I could do.
When you keep on walking through Ermou, you end up in
the famous Syntagma square. The heart of Athens, maybe even of Greece
beats here, because the Greek parliament is located at the square. Among the
buildings surrounding Syntagma, which is a grand square, are famous hotels of
Athens. One side is occupied with the colossal parliament building.
After seeing so many examples of aesthetic and
traditional architecture, the building didn't impress me much. In the
main entrance, columns have been utilised as if just for the sake of it.
When you look at the building as a whole, something is not easy on
the eye. Talking about placing the columns, there’s much to
learn even from the only wall left standing of Hadrian’s Library
built in the second century BC.
Now that we have returned to historical buildings, let's keep
going that way and arrive at the antique Agora. Agora is the name given to the quarter that serves as the
centre for political, social and commercial gatherings in antique
Greek city states. The Agora is a buildings complex, completed in the
600’s BC, sort of a campus. In the interior part, we encounter the
stoa of Attalos (stoa=portico, cloister), a very impressive building
reconstructed faithfully to the historical, partly using the
original materials. This long and narrow building was once designed
as a portico housing commercial shops, but today it's been
converted into an imposing museum.
At a different corner of the Agora, stands one of the best
preserved buildings from antiquity: the Hephaisteion Temple. 2500
years old columns still hold the construction bold upright. Look closer and you can see that some of the stones forming the columns
have become slightly loose. I suppose this is a result of the many
earthquakes shaking the region in times past. Nevertheless, the
temple is still proudly erect.
Agora, located at the skirts of the Acropolis covers quite a
large area. Right across, the active social life in Monastiraki keeps
on at all hours. When you complete your journey to the past, you only
need to take a few steps to have a nice cup of coffee or a delicious
meal. Adrianou street welcomes you upon departing the Agora.
Aside from these areas, the
most popular parts the city are Gazi and Psyri. Until recently
both were considered suburbia, however now these serve as the most
important spots for the nightlife of Athenian youngsters.
important place that can be reached by an half-hour drive, or
preferably by the subway, from the city centre is Piraeus. I did not
have a chance to visit Piraeus which can be considered the coast of
Athens. This harbour is at the top of my list for
the next visit, and of course followed by the islands easily reached
I conclude my impressions of Athens
with a night view of Monastiraki quarter which we have seen in the
first picture. After the sunset, the Acropolis alight stands proud, being the residence of Athena watching over the mortals crowding the city. On the other end, the streets are filled with people
oblivious to this vigilance, busy with their own affairs.