Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A New Sailing Blog Begins

What comprised Le Grand Voyage was a journey into the unknown. The voyage through the Mediterranean is over, but the journey into the unknown continues.

And thus, a new blog begins.

You will find it here or by clicking on the icon to the right.

But if you are arrving here at this blog and webpage for the first time, then I encourage you to go back through this blog and browse through it. We had a fantastic voyage and wrote about many more than just seven wonders of the world.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Voyaging Through The Puzzle of Civilization

Cruising is sort of like being in a life-size puzzle. You sail from piece to piece and the game is to figure out each one and how it fits in a larger context.

Histories of one place are related to another. One region’s dialect originates from a nearby or long-gone neighbor’s language. Monuments are erected and stand longer than memories of those to whom they were dedicated.

I enjoy voyaging for this very aspect: the learning, the exploring. Often, however, I am left with more pieces I can’t place than those which fit neatly.

Here is a sample of my collection of unplaced pieces. I know there are answers to each one. It’s just that, while cruising, you don’t have time (or inclination) to follow up on every last piece.

How did the Knidos sundial work? We came upon it among the ancient Greek ruins on the Turkish peninsula of Datca.

The sundial of ancient Knidos.
How were the rock-cut tombs of Lycia in Turkey created? With scaffolding? By guys hanging from ropes?

Rock-cut tombs of Lycia just outside Dalyan, Turkey.
What is the story behind this lone bell, rescued apparently from the rubble in Monemvasia and unceremoniously hung in a tree in a corner of the town? The nearby plaque which details the history of that particular part of town makes no mention of the bell.

The unexplained bell of Monemvasia, Greece.
What story is being told by this relief we saw on a house inside Kastro, the fortified village on Sifnos?

A relief found in Kastro on the island of Sifnos, Greece.
Is the story of the lamp in Melissani Cave true? We visited this underground lake on the island of Cephalonia. It was exposed in 1953 when its "roof" collapsed during an earthquake. A boatman giving us a tour of it said an ancient lamp was found in the cave, but gave no further explanation. Is this a myth? If true, how did it get there?

Melissani Cave on Cephalonia, Greece.
Why are the Turkish markets sprawling with nuts, beans, and spices (just to name a sampling) while the Greek markets have none of these for sale in bulk?

The weekly market in Bodrum, Turkey.
What does this stone say? It was set into a wall in Rethymno. There are lots of these Ottoman (Turkish?) reliefs in Greek cities.


Here's another from Rethymno:

Why didn’t the Christians eliminate Muslim devotional manifestations when they took over the mosques? Instead, they installed Christian icons right next to the Muslim ones. Was it out of respect? If so, respect for what? The beauty or the meaning. If because of beauty, can it really be separated from meaning? And if they left it standing because of the meaning, then what does that say about any differences between the god of the Muslim and the god of the Christians?

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul: Note the two images of saints toward the rim of the top rotunda and, barely visible, the Mother Mary in the center all the way back. In Alhambra, Spain, a relief says: "God is great" right next to one saying, "Allah is great."  
How did the dovecotes come into being? And why just on a few Cycladian islands? I saw a book about them on one of the islands. Now I regret I didn’t buy it. A Greek told us they were barns with built-in pigeon roosts, and that later this became a style for homes.

A dovecote barn on Sifnos.
Puzzle pieces.

Or maybe, another way of looking at it is that voyaging is a bit like standing in the middle of a huge museum. You see a grand collection of artifacts. Each one is fascinating in itself. But each also is an element within a context we are unable to perceive standing in halls that echo only our own wild guesses. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

What Zoe Means

Zoe, my daughter, stayed with us on Phoenix for about a week.

It was a delightful visit. She is such a charming young woman.

It was a trip of many firsts. It was her first time in Greece and Corfu is such a scenic town for that kind of trip.

Our first venture into town brought us by a Greek sandal shop and Zoe, well, as you can see:

What surprised us most is how adventurous Zoe has become in tasting new things. Here is evidence of how well she liked a frappe.

A frappe is a classic Greek coffee drink that is served at all times of day and is more frequently served than anything else. (Well, up until about ten o'clock at night at which point it holds its own with alcohol.) A frappe is comprised of Nescafe, water, condensed milk, a pinch of sugar (if you so choose) and the whole thing is blended into a frothy smooth drink and served on the rocks.

Zoe also tried vinegar-marinated octopus. And taramosalata pictured below.

Taramosalata is a fish roe dip, often made with a base of potato and a bit of blended onions and lemon or vinegar. Verdict: "Not bad." But there were no repeat dips.

She also ate saganaki. Saganaki, I think, means simply fried, but on many menus it refers to a slice of cheese that is lightly breaded and flash-fried. The cheese is a type of harder, aged mozzarella. Verdict: Do you have to ask? What teenager doesn't like fried cheese?

Consolation for enduring the afternoon heat (in the 90s) was pistachio gelato.

On her last evening, we were treated to a stunning, blood-orange moon rising across the bay over the hills of Albania.

Full (ish) moon over Albania. (Disclaimer: I used modern technology to make this photo a more real representation of the reality.)
Having spent until two or three o'clock in the morning skyping and texting with friends, Zoe usually slept till noonish.

In the mornings, we would find her asleep in her bunk. Arm wrapped around the teddy her boyfriend gave her and fingers finally allowed to rest from the incessant texting with friends. Note Oreo cookies on her shelf.

"I've never actually walked to an airport," Zoe said on our 20-minute walk from dinghy to airport in the incapacitating heat.

Come to think of it, neither had we.

"It's funny when I tell Greek people my name," she told me while we walked. "Some people look at me and say, 'You know that's a word in Greek, right?' Yeah, I tell them, I know."

I will miss the "life" of my life.