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Thursday, 27 November 2008


Siracusa was a Greek colony. Aeschylus premiered here and Archimedes ran down the street shouting 'Eureka'.One picture is on his reputed tomb. Clever and arty people lived here a very long time ago.
This is where Arethusa was turned into a spring in order to escape some demanding god's attentions. The spring has papyrus growing in it.
Carravaggio escaped here from prison on Malta. He apparently named this cave as the 'Ear of Dionysus'. Certainly the acoustics are great in it. I think you could hear a whisper.
There is a Carravaggio in the Basillica of St Lucy. It is of her internment after her beheading but Carravaggio has kindly given her only a nick on her neck. The pillar in the Basillica is supposed to be the actual one she died next to. The Siracusa cathedral has a relic of her arm. Most of the other bits of her were stolen and ended up in Venice


We arrived in Sicily in the rain and the dark and got lost. In fact we found ourselves in a cul de sac in Giardini Naxos where someone was just getting a drug hit. Another quick reverse was used to escape.
Sicily we liked. Giardini Naxos has a great camp site and is a pleasant small place. Greek ruins and lava flows from Etna. We woke in the morning to see Etna over the camp site - its peaks covered with snow and smoke coming from its crater. One night we watched a lava flow from the same place.
John insisted I take photos of Etna from the moving van - I think I have a couple of good road signs.
We also took a photo of typical Sicilian parking for D! Right on the Zebra crossing!
They also have a saint in Sicily called Pancrazio!


I have always wanted to visit Calabria ever since I read 'the Dilemma of Love' which describes the olive harvest there in the 1930's. John found this wonderful place to stay - the Carabineri took us some of the way because we did get lost. Salvatore and Maria and their daughter Rosa made us welcome and cooked us a wonderful Calabrian meal made entirely from their own farm produce. They ar self-sufficient. The pictures are of the farm, wild fruits used for making liqueurs, their animals their views of Cerchiara and of me trying to learn about harvesting olives. They keep pigs, chickens, bees, rabbits, a horse, and goats and a small nervous dog called Magister.
There is a grotto with a natural swimming pool in it and thermal springs extradordinary pine trees in the Pollina National Park nearby. Go there if you can!


Any idea what Trulli at Alberobello are?
First we are now - or were in Italy having taken the overnight ferry from Igoumenitsa to Bari. We were able to sleep in the camper on deck which worked fine.
The Trulli however are a 200 year old building form rather like a rondavel thatched with stone. They are cute and are owned by trolli who entice you into them in order to make you buy very expensive cinamon biscuits. We didn't so have now been cursed by the Trolli - our supermarket trolleys don't run straight. They are actually attractive buildings and propbably nice to live in if they weren't trendy.


These are truly amazing buildings in an amazing landscape. It is a privilege to have see them!
Greeece was a strange place. They practice an archaic ash culture of stubble burning and the whole of northern Greece was under smog. Above the smog were winter clouds so there was nothing to see of this beautiful place. When we got to Meteora the cloud lifted a bit though it was grey and drizzly there was no smoke from fires so we did see these incredible places by driving the camper up some amazing hairpin bends. There is a lot to be said for being out of season - we didn't compete with too many tour buses.
We did go and see the biggest monastery and that was interesting in every way.
I got very cross there. The orthodox church is zenophobic and nationalistic. They spelt out that Jews and Muslims were typical betrayers of the saints and claimed that they had led the Greek people to freedom. Yes I was cross and disgusted!
Actually this was also an aspect that angered me about the Roumanian monasteries - they were wonderful but most of the images are of saints being tortured or having their heads cut off. In the end you get quite sick of the ghoulishness of it all - is this the basis for Christianity? However there was Goreme and there the monasteries had a lightness and seemed to be more about lovingness - or thats what I felt.


John and I had to free park here on the quay as there are no campsites. Ioannina is a pleasant place beautifully situated on the shores of a lake surrounded by mountains and Greek passes famous for brigands. It is also famous for Aslan Pasha and Ali Pasha who built the mosques and palaces here. We really enjoyed our stay here and also found a good internet cafe where we spent many useful hours and had supper on the extras provided with coffee.
I wish we had had more time to understand both Greek and Turkish history and culture.
My current internet access is so weak that I am only uploading one image for each blog but will keep trying.


These are places I have always wanted to see and they do not disappoint at all. The mosaics in Hagia Sophia are very beautiful but actually the Blue Mosque as a space that feels sacred and set aside for worship of God is not to be beaten.
There are far too many images to upload. No matter how carefully I label them there are always some that are just numbers because I was too busy and internet access is a problem. Writing up ther blog helps us remember and evaluate our experiences.