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Greek Series: Acrocorinth and Mycenae

This post is part of the so called “Greek Series”, consisting of photographies shot during my backpacking adventure in September 2013. You’ll find a basic introduction to the series here. The following pictures are from our first respectively second day of traveling the Peloponnes. We went from Corinth to Acrocorinth and then via the highway in direction Nafplio to Mycenae. I’ll include a map at the end of the post. So the first batch of pictures was taken on Acrocorinth, consisting of panorama shots mostly. The last three pictures are from the archeological sight of ancient Mycanae.

Acrocorinth (meaning High Corinth) is the hill you saw in the background of the pictures from Archea Corinthia, itself close to the modern city (picture 4). It’s a giant stone basically with the remains of a large medieval fortress on top. Having a perfect view on the narrow Isthmus of Corinth (picture 2), the only land way to Athens, you understand the strategic importance of the place. The fortress itself is huge and it has almost fantasy book like dimensions. It consists of a three wall defense system (!) and remains of a town within the walls. Also up there are the remains of an older Aphrodite Temple. Here we met a group of females praying to the goddess. As respectful as I am I didn’t take pictures unfortunately, though it was really interesting and visually striking. We also talked with them and they were really nice giving us some advice for the further journey.

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Mycenae was already ancient and a place of myths it the times of Sokrates and Platon. Homer wrote about it in his Odysseus. Other Greeks in the Classic periods were fascinated by the huge walls Mycenaen were able to build. Nobody could quite understand how they transported the stone blocks up there and so the popular belief emerged that giants had build them and they were renamed Cyclopean walls. So until today the walls remain impressive and a mystery somewhat. They were build more or less in the same time as Stonehenge and it seems like there could be some far fletched connection. The most famous part of the complex is the Lions Gate, portrayed on the last picture of the post. The imperial lions are greeting the visitors since 3300 years. The lion is a symbol of strength but also an animal which lived in this area a few thousand years ago. Truly fascinating stuff and worth a Wikipedia reading session.

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The route via Google Maps:

Portugal Part II

This post is a continuation of the one I published some days ago about my Portugal journey in mid of February. It was a good choice to travel there in February by the way. There aren’t many tourists and you meet a lot of locals. The temperature (around 15 to 20 degress Celsius) is perfect for walking around, but there is a good chance for rain though. So that’s a bit of a risk. Although I was in the sea for a couple of minutes (I promised it to a friend) in general I can’t recommend going for a swim in winter 😉 Unless maybe you are Russian and practice one of these crazy winter swims being shown on TV. Anyway the water was darn freezing.

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View out of the Torre

So maybe it is a better idea just to look at the sea, for example from the Tower of Belém. You get a great view and the architecture of the tower, build in the 16th century, is fascinating by itself. Actually this isn’t the Atlantic but the Tejo River. Unfortunately it was quite foggy this particular morning and you can’t really see Almada, the city lying on the other side of the river bank.

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I liked these small grocery stores very much. You don’t see them very often in Vienna anymore sadly. We had a funny experience in a small shop selling handcrafted ceramics. The old lady spoke Portuguese with me even after I signalized that I didn’t understand it. But she realized that I didn’t get the price so the old lady showed it to me with her hands hereby teaching me how to count in Portuguese. Then the charming woman said something like “Good Schoolboy” and we had a laugh. And in case you wonder about the odd sign of the above shop. I wonder too 😉

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The “waterfront” of Porto is definitely the most AWE-inspiring part of the city. In this town we joined a free walking tour due to our short stay (just one day). A young teacher showed us her city with much dedication. There was an old women monastery out of pure gold. Replying to my question about protection measures she just said “These kind of things don’t happen here”. Her love for Porto was insipring and uplifting. But she also talked about the hard times Portugal is facing due to the finance crisis these days. There are many young people without jobs and it looks grim unfortunately.

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A narrow street in Porto. The Portuguese are fond of cute dogs (I think I didn’t see any big ones). They are everywhere! This particular one followed me a while but lost interest in me after seeing a cat and chasing the poor little thing.

Red Rooftops of Lisboa

In the background you see the Cathedral of Lisboa in a similar style as Notre Dam  (I guess at this point architecture lovers will shout uncontrollably). The picture was taken from one of many viewing points, so called miradouros. You see the Baixa (downtown) and parts of Alfama, the higher part on the eastern side of the old town. Needless to say the red rooftops are magnificent.

Portugal Art

Portuguese are definitely keen on urban art. I didn’t like everything, but this piece was cool. Maybe you would think the tiles are unusual and quite modern here. But in fact Portuguese use tiles a lot. They are called Azulejos and have a centuries old tradition in Portugal. Wanna know more about them? Well I guess then you have to tune in for Part III in a couple of days ;)*

* or you read the wikipedia article, but ppppssss.. don’t tell anyone.