Thursday, 20 February 2014

Athens Day 5 - Wandering about... & my Birthday dinner

Wandering about Athens on the way to Syntagma and the Benaki Museum I came across a few dogs. Dogs wandering around Athens are a common sight. Most of them are not feral or stray, they are collared and tagged but just left to wander during the day. They are fed by Athenians and they seem quite road-savvy.

This would probably explain the Greek riot dogs.

This handsome fellow looks like he has some golden retriever or labrador in him. He looks in great condition and the blue tag means he has had all his vaccinations.

And this one had decided he was going to lay down on the pedestrian crossing. Athenians seem very fond of the dogs and nobody made the dog move, all the cars drove around him, even the taxis.

This is the Greek Parliament on Syntagma Square. In a former life is was the Royal Palace built for King Otto and completed in 1843. You can watch the changing of the guard here, but more about that in a different post.

Another cuddly mutt, I thought this one might be Labrador & German Shepherd, what do you think?

And this handsome boy (Beagle & German Shepherd?) was wandering around Syntagma Square with his collar in his mouth as he had managed to take it off. A passerby put it back on for him. This dog seemed to spend a lot of his time with the dog above, we saw them together several times.

This is one of the busy roads near Syntagma, Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, named after Queen Sofia (1870 - 1932) the consort of King Constantine 1

There are small protests on a daily basis in Greece, especially in the area around the Parliament. This one was by the gate to the National Garden. There was some shouting and speakers seemed to be taking turns with a megaphone. The average young person only earns about 300 Euros a month. With 28% unemployment across the population, 62% for those under 25, house prices and wages have halved since 2008 it is no surprise that people are making lots of noise and are very angry with the politicians who destroyed the Greek economy. For 20 years or more they told the people that they had balanced the books with their budget and all the time the national debt was growing until the position was unsustainable. For the 2004 Olympics in Athens, a new airport was built, a road network to the airport and extended and refurbished the metro. All large and expensive infrastructure projects that Greece could not afford. It is estimated that it will take 20 years for the Greek economy to recover.

The police were quite relaxed, they were just wandering back and forth and directing pedestrians on to the road to walk around them.

After the museum I had a Cappuccino "Freddo" with vanilla ice cream on top - delicious - Starbucks in Athens also do these, wonder if I can get the Starbucks in Basingstoke to make one?

Traffic in Athens is a problem. There are lots of taxis and motorbikes. Driving is a little crazy and haphazard. Speed limit signs and road markings seem to be just decorations! Also like some states in the US, you can turn right on a red. However unlike the US there are no signs warning you of this so when I first arrived I was caught out by a car turning as I was crossing!

After the museum and on the way back to the hotel I passed Riot Dog #2, he had moved about 8ft to the pavement and was fast asleep right next to the crossing. People were giving him plenty of room so he would not be disturbed.

More street art this one seemed to be a protest piece. The colours were fabulous.

And in a square on the way back to the hotel I came across these wool wrapped trees. 

As it was my birthday that day we dressed up later and went to dinner in the restaurant on the top of Lycabettus Hill. Alan wore his top hat of course.

I had grilled sea bream, quite adventurous for me as I do not usually eat seafood.

Dessert was a delicious tart with icecream and a lemon-y sauce.

We climbed up to the viewing point on the to of the hill, this is the view to the East.

Athens Day 5 - Benaki Museum textiles, costumes and more...

Textiles and embroidery are a very important part of Greek culture. The Benaki Museum has an impressive collection of textiles and costumes.

 Fragment of a linen tunic band decorated with a grid pattern of lozenges and medallions with symmetrical motifs. Egypt, 8th Century BC.

 Linen and woollen screen curtain using the loop-weave technique, with the representation of a praying couple. Antinoe, Egypt, 5th - 6th Century BC.

 Tapestry medallion of linen and wool from a wall hanging, representing Pegasus. Although the subject is borrowed from Greek mythology, the decorative details reveal a Sassanian influence, 6th Century BC.

 Parchment lectionary of the Gospels bearing the name of the scribe, the monk Theodosius. The full page depiction of St. Luke and the ornamental headpiece with the impressive initial capital are contemporary with the manuscript. 

White embroidered linen cloth, a covering for the Holy Altar, with a representation of Christ as the Judge of the Apocalypse, framed by the Virgin, St. John the Baptist and angels. Dalmatian or German workshop, 15th Century. 

 Female costume, a rare survivor of a type of costume that had its origin in a Western Renaissance style and was to be in the Aegean Islands during their occupation by the Franks. Crete, 17th Century.

 Parts from embroidered hems of female costumes from Crete with double-headed eagles, flower vases, birds, mermaids and vegetal motifs, 18th - 19th Century.


Red monochrome embroideries for bedecking the bridal bed. From Cyprus, 18th Century.

On the left with an orange skirt and black jacket is a female urban costume of Cyprus.
In the middle is a chemise with raised embroidery, from Karpathos, Dodecanese, 18th Century.
On the right is a bridal costume from Astypalaia, Dodecanese.

Female festive costume from Kalymnos, Dodecanese.


  Borders of embroideries from Pholegandros, Cyclades

 Borders of polychrome embroideries from Siphnos, Cyclades, 18th - 19th Century.

 Embroidered bed valances, examples of Cycladic needlework from Anaphi. They are distinguished by the pronounced stylization of their decorative motifs. The bed valance that bears a frieze with repetitive female figures between trees with birds and deer is one of the earliest examples, 17th - 18th Century.

Embroideries from the Cyclades, 18th - 19th Century. Two white embroideries from a valance and a sheet. Represented on the top white embroidery are female figures on horseback, led by other females holding flags. On the other white embroidery female figures alternate with winged griffins, ships with sails and eagles. The polychrome valance is from Ios, embroidered with peacocks, deer and flowers.

Bedspread from the Cyclades, 17th - 18th Century. Embroidered all over with a geometric design.

 Bedspread from Crete, late 17th  - early 18th Century. Embroidered all over with vegetal and flower motifs, birds and heraldic animals. This bedspread is a rare, if not unique, example of what formerly adorned the bridal bed in Crete.

Central panel of a sperveri, from Patmos, Dodecanese, 17th - 18th Century.
The central opening of a gold thread embroidered tent from the bridal bed. Small stylized human figures appear amidst a host of decorative motifs, while at the top is depicted the age-old subject of the woman at the window of her home.

Woven sheets from Crete, 19th Century. Dense loom-woven embroidery with geometric motifs in vivid colours. Outstanding among them is the example with a representation of dance.

Wooden carved loom from Crete, early 19th Century.

Sperveri from Rhodes, 17th - 18th Century.
A rare kind of tent that isolated the sleeping platform from the lower sitting area and hid the bridal bed from prying eyes. This is the best preserved and most spectacular of the few comparable surviving examples from the Dodecanese. The polychrome vegetal motifs, flower vases and peacocks are worked in the Dodecanesian raised stitch. Its workmanship combines sumptuousness of style with excellence of execution, austere compilation of an overall pattern with echoes of Byzantine splendour and Neo-Hellenic aesthetic orientations.

Edge of an embroidery from Asia Minor, with a pattern of cypress trees, tulips and facing birds, 18th Century.

Bridal sheet and cushion from Ioannina, Epirus, 18th Century. The borders are embroidered in a continuous frieze with a repeating motif of a flower vase flanked by two male figures. The same motif is embroidered on the cushion.

 Bridal bed valance from Ioannina, Epirus, 18th Century.
The five ieces of the valance are densely embroidered with towers, human figures, boats, flower vases, peacocks and other birds, double headed eagles, flowers and plants. The composition of the has undoubtedly a narrative, though indistinct, content.

Bridal cushions from Ioannina, Epirus, 18th Century.
One represents the bride on horseback between her parents and two horsemen. Another depicts the  mounted procession of the groom and the bride and her parents in the centre. The two embroideries are framed by six smaller ones with flowers and human figures. The narrative and painterly qualities of the compositions are characteristic of Epirote embroiderly.


Embroideries with heraldics peacocks, double headed eagles, birds, deer and small animals. They are characterized by the stylish decoration and the variety of motifs. From Lefkada, 18th Century.

Bridal costume of Ayia Anna, Euboea

 Female festive costume from Atalanti, Eastern Central Greece.

Centre, bridal costume from Arachova in Phokis in Central Greece, constituted from various costumes.

Bridal costume from Tanagra in Boeotia, Central Greece, reconstituted from various garments.

Centre, Bridal costume from Attica.

Rare bride costume known as "golden attire", which was worn in the villages of Attica after the liberation of Greece from the Turks.

Gold embroidered stoles with full-figured representations of saints and prelates garbed in their formal hieratic vestments. The two stoles embroidered on red silk are inscribed and dated to the end of the 16th Century. The stole with the gold thread embroidered background, bearing the date 1666, comes from Epirus in Northern Greece.

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