New York – a visit home

A visit to New York is a visit to my childhood. The food and sounds are almost the same at the market and on the streets where I spent my first seven years. The great thing about living in NY was access to the Bronx Zoo, The Botanical Gardens and museums. There are an amazing amount of museums in New York City and this trip we visited two.

 

The American Gallery The Metropolitan Museum
The American Gallery
The Metropolitan Museum

We met cousins Marian and Jessica at the Metropolitan Museum and chose three exhibits to view. The first exhibit was an ethereal series of Whaling pictures by the English romantic James.M.W. Turner. Where a realist’s images might have been gruesome, Turner’s froth and cloud hide the gore. Out of the waves’ foam, there struggles a ship or a whale. Our imagination takes us to sounds of sailors yelling orders and encouragement. Original manuscripts of Melville’s Moby Dick are displayed, which opens the discussion did Melville see these paintings before writing Moby Dick?

From Turner, we went to the Temple of Dendur, a temple moved from Egypt to the Metropolitan, when it was going to be flooded under the Aswan High Dam. Isis and Osiris now have a home in the middle of NYC. The emperor Augustus of Rome commissioned the temple which gives you a clear point in time of its age (15BC). It is remarkable that it was able to be re-situated from one metropolis to another. Egypt was very generous in deeding this gift to the United States, at that time represented by Jacqueline Kennedy.

Temple of Dendur
Temple of Dendur

 

The last stop for the day was the Manus x Machina, Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibit. It is more about the techniques and processes the 20th and 21rst centuries have brought to couture fashion. Exquisite, revealing in that the humble sewing machine began journey, made this possible and wrought incredible changes to how Couture was fashioned over the years.

The highlight of this visit was a young girl, visibly worshiping the dress that was designed by Karl Lagerfield for Chanel with a 20 foot train. She ran from perspective to perspective and had her phone camera going non stop and she peered into the detail of the embroidery, which had been crafted using such artful processes, so closely that the guard had to intervene. Such passion at such an early age. For me, it was this passion that was the highlight of the exhibit, you understand this passion is where the design comes from no matter the machines or materials.  These dresses come from someones mind and passion.

Passion
Passion

Another morning was in the Upper Eastside, spent at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Housed in the stately mansion of steel magnate of Andrew Carnegie, the building is a work of art itself. Building was begun in 1899, but this house featured a Otis Elevator, the first private elevator. Carnegie is one of my patron saints, because he gave huge amounts of his wealth to the creation of public libraries.

Two of the many exhibits that we loved were Beauty/Triennial with its emergent technologies, 3 D printings of ceramic and glass and the PolyThread knitted textile pavillion.

Pavillion by Shima Seiki
Pavillion by Shima Seiki

The other favorites is the story of the Haas Brothers and Haas Sisters and their whimsical figures brought together with technology, algorithms and hand sewing. Look this MonkeyBiz up, it is a wonderful partnership story.

 

Haas Monkey Biz
Haas Monkey Biz

Cooper Hewitt has a wonderful online presence. Check it out.

 

 

 

 

A Washington DC Soujourn

We arrived in DC and Marian took us to Cherrydale, a suburb of Arlington, VA so that Kay could host us in their condo.  We walked up the hill to see Clarendon where we had lunch and explored the two neighborhoods. Trendy inner city neighborhoods that make it so easy to bike to work.

Cherrydale Hardware
Cherrydale Hardware

 

We met Charlene and Carolyn over the next couple of days, including a visit in the venerable building Constitution Hall, which houses the Daughters of the American Revolution and acted as a set for Alan Sorkin’s The West Wing.

James and I had a day of sight-seeing in Washington, which is quite a movable feast. We took the Metro to a stop very close to the White House and watched as two policemen questioned a very suspicious character. Seriously, he spent several minutes talking to the two policeman and was still there when we left ten minutes later. DC is not the best place to wear a costume.

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We meandered around the White House and noticed increased security in the area since our last visit, which was pre-September 11th.

The White House is still beautiful and serene, even with the barricades in front.

The White House
The White House

The day was blue skies with fluffy clouds and none of the humidity that DC is famous for. We walked all around the Washington Monument, really a monument to General George Washington, as it was being considered before he became president. It is a monument you can see for quite a distance and it often peeks out at you as you travel in Arlington and nearby areas.

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

We walked past several other monuments on the Mall and then went to the new Indian Museum at the Smithsonian. We had a great Native American luncheon and looked at the interesting displays. We covered lots of territory around the Washington on the Circulator Red Line bus, which does a loop around the National Mall at a very reasonable price. Other Circulator buses are also available and a bargain with a Metro card.  DC is not a place for cars, so my tip is to purchase or borrow a Metro card, load it up and then use public transport.

Cherry trees and magnolias are so evocative and reminiscent of the South generally. Indigenous to the Southeastern United States, they can grow as tall as 90 feet high and the blooms are magnificent. Their fragrance brings to mind evenings spent on porch swings.  Now we head North to the land of Yankees.

Magnolia Grandiflora
Magnolia Grandiflora

 

Favourite Sons – Portoferraio, Elba

There are some remarkable places in Italy, the island of Elba is quite interesting, historic and gorgeous.

First of all, this island is so full of iron that one can not rely on a compass for a true reading. Climbing up to Fort Falcone, one of three fortresses protecting this city, you can see the earth is rusty with iron. The Etruscans mined here, the Romans vacationed here and Cosimo built forts hereto protect his iron mines.

Iron in Fort Falcone
Iron in Fort Falcone

The two favourite sons of Portoferraio are Cosimo l de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, founder of Portoferraio and Napoleon who was a prisoner here and spent every moment on Elba trying to escape.

Napoleon's Villa dei Mulini
Napoleon’s Villa dei Mulini

I am not sure I would spend my time trying to escape from this paradise, but Napoleon certainly did. He is said to have written on one wall: “Napoleon can be happy anywhere.” Seriously?  Most of us would be very happy to spend a few years here.

Watch Tower from Cosimo's fort
Watch Tower from Cosimo’s fort

Like Sydney, Portoferraio has a Martello tower, built by Cosimo, to protect the entrance to the small harbour.  A fleet of pirates came and terrorised the populace and may have been the impetus behind all of these forts being built. Heikell said it was a fleet of 42 sail. This is more than my mind’s eye conjures up when talking about a pirate raid of about three ships.

Bay of Portoferraio with Martello tower, Tower della Linguella at the entrance
Bay of Portoferraio with Tower della Linguella at the entrance

Most visitors come for the beautiful beaches in and around Portferraio, others go fishing. We walked up to the Tower Falcone and the museum, watched the very fast three man soccer set up in nets, in the piazza, while we ate our gelato. We would be happy to come and visit again in a few years.

Saracen Towers and beautiful vistas

We have sailed into Salerno this morning, a quick easy motor.  James and Frosty polished the stainless, just in case Swanny did a surprise inspection. Mercier looks pretty good now. Just a bit of cleaning, laundry and TLC before the DeAngelo clan of New York meets the D’Angelo clan of Giffoni. Blame the slight name change on Ellis Island, but it is very minor.

So on the way up the coast, we have seen some lovely vistas and also a surfeit of watchtowers – mainly Saracen towers to alert the communities when the Saracen slave traders were coming, so they could escape up to a fortress.

Saracen Tower
Saracen Tower, volcanic earth

Allora, the Italian coast is beautiful, maybe greener than we have seen before and the water is azure blue. The soil seems to be volcanic or limestone and so stone buildings and stairs are everywhere.

In Agropoli, we asked for directions for happy hour and Aperol Spritz and we were directed to a wide street at the bottom of a long wide staircase, with a bridal limousine at the bottom. The bride and groom were radiant in the setting sun.

The bride and groom in Agropoli
The bride and groom in Agropoli
Agropoli Hill top town
Agropoli Hill top over the harbour

Afterwards we went out for pizza near the Porto Turistico, where Mercier was moored and watched the incredible sunset.

hmm. nice pizza but Frosty's expresso came in a small blue plastic cup?
hmm. nice pizza but Frosty’s expresso came in a small blue plastic cup. That’s the Amalfi coast in the distance.

The sunset was sensational. Ever since I said sunset photos were boring, I have seen a few good ones.

Agropoli Sunset
Agropoli Sunset – Amalfi Coast in the distance

 

Taormina, a jewel of Sicily

On occasion, James and I think, “Wouldn’t it be nice?” and the next thing you know instead of sticking with our plan, we abandon it.  In this case, we turned left 90 degrees south and headed for Taormina.  There are moorings run by George Risso ‘en vicino’ to the Taormina railway stop. This meant we could leave Mercier on a mooring and be ferried to land by the very friendly Branko and take a bus up the hill to Taormina. Perfetto!

Mount Etna is our backdrop. Today she was shrouded in mist and clouds.
Mount Etna is our backdrop. Today she was shrouded in mist and clouds.

As we are on a mooring, there is no electricity, hence no coffee.  As soon as we walk through the Porto Messina arch, we head for the sumptuous Hotel Timeo and their perfect coffee. We gaze over the Botanical gardens of Taormina with the stunning Mount Etna as the back drop.

View from the Hotel Timeo
View from the Hotel Timeo

We walk through Taormina after the coffee and call into churches and shops. Then we jump in a cab and ride up the tortuous road to Castelmola for a visit to the castle village and lunch. Etna was completely ensconced by cloud and wispy clouds seem to be floating up to us too.

View from Castelmola
View from Castelmola

The bus down the hill deposits us at the Arch again and we wait for Frosty to arrive.  After Frosty arrives we arrange a quick tour of Taormina, which includes a short visit to the Greek Theatre, which is hosting a film festival but not tonight.

Then we head down to Mercier, move to a quiet anchorage and row ashore for dinner.  Frosty’s celebratory birthday dinner was the main event. Today we have motored over to Reggio di Calabria and we found a berth in the Legale Navale.

Bronzes of Riace, circa 450 BC
Bronzes of Riace, circa 450 BC

This meant we were able to visit the Riace bronzes (circa 450 BC) at the Reggio Calabria National  Museum. The Riace Bronzes were found by a scuba diver, vacationing in Riace, lying on the seabed and they had been there for thousands of years. There was no evidence of a ship wreck, although they may have been thrown overboard in a stormy sea. Their restoration is wonderful. It is close to miraculous.

Bronze
Bronze of Riace

In this part of Italy, you can not be non-plussed by the beauty, the grittiness or the surprising. You can only enjoy it.

Note the skull and cross bones over the church door.
Church in Taormina, Note the skull and cross bones over the church door.

Kalamata, Mystra and the Mani

We sailed from Porto Kayio to Kalamata on Friday to Kalamata Marina, the first marina we had seen since Agio Nikolas in Crete.  It is wonderful, with a wonderful taverna and the best AB supermarket we have seen.

Kalamata is in the Mani, a ‘state or province’ in the Peloponnesse. The Mani is abundantly beautiful, with Mountains creating a ridge down the spine. Mount Taygetos is about 7800 feet, so comparable with Aspen and the drive from Kalamata to Mystra brings to my imagination what the Leadville Road out of Aspen circa 1950, would be like. Hairpin turns, sheer cliffs, boulders fallen onto the road the size of bowling balls.

Road to Mystra
Road to Mystra

So yes, I am turning into my Mother, James’ Mother and mothers everywhere, when I tell you there was a dent in the floor where my brakes would be. Sheer fright! No photos because I was too busy holding on and there was no where to pull over.

I am not familiar with this area of Greece, but I am enchanted with it. So you can learn along with me.  Visit http://www.maniguide.info/  and read about this incredible hidden peninsula. Google: Mani.

Mystra
Mystra

We drove to Mystra to visit its Byzantine fortress and monasteries. This is the Sparta you may not have heard about. Medieval intrigue and the Crusades meant a fortress was needed but in this case, it wasn’t the Venetians but the Franks. There still seems to be some nuns here in one of the Monasteries and the buildings were beautiful.

Mystra
Mystra

We left after hours of walking. Even with tour buses full of people, the site is so vast that you are virtually walking by yourself only occasionally passing another person.

Fresco
Fresco

We decided to drive back to Kalamata by way of Gythion, a lovely harbour, where they are building a much larger breakwater and then to Diros.  This followed the same route we had sailed up so we could visit Aghia Nikolas, Stoupa and many other small villages.  The views from the escarpments were superb.

View of Mani Coastline
View of Mani Coastline

 

 

Rethymnon and the Venetian Fortress

In his book, Crete – A Notebook, Richard Clark, talks about Rethymnon being the Serene City.  Certainly, after the busyness of Irakleion, it is delightful.

Here is a city where the Venetian and Turkish heritage and architecture are still standing. You can see the old buildings and the narrow streets and walk thru Il Fortezza.  You can see the wooden balconies of Turkish and imagine the women of the harem, looking down on city streets through the shutters and feeling part of the life of the city.

Fortezza Venetian fortress c1573, architect Pallavicini
Fortezza Venetian fortress c1573, architect Pallavicini

The town began in the Mycenanean era and went into a decline. In the early 13th century, The Venetians, in their usual style, found a harbour and built a town around it. They had an uncanny sense of good harbours that could be protected and defended. Their colonies seemed to be bring prosperity to the locals and Venetians alike. The Fortezza was built as a fortress against pirates, like Barbarossa.

The city finally fell to the Turks in 1646 and they built a wonderful mosque on the site of the church Ayios Nikolas.

Barbara in the Sultan Ibrahim Han
Barbara in the Sultan Ibrahim Han mosque
James in the Complex of Magazines, which was a large storage area at the Fortezza
James in the Complex of Magazines, which was a large storage area at the Fortezza

In the tiny streets we came across a wonderful bakery Michalis Spanoudakis’s offered a fairy land of baked bread in the shape of animals.  The dolphins is my favourite.

 Michalis Spanoudakis's bakery
Michalis Spanoudakis’s bakery

Our verdict: Rethymno is a charming town.

Our journey so far:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zkkfRzDGj2mE.kO4m-3hTL-cs

Magical Day in Kastellorizo

Kas is a lovely place, with the shopkeepers and restaurateurs keeping their invitations low key. History just inserts itself into daily life seamlessly. It was Lesley’s last day with us yesterday, she is travelling to Rhodes via Kastellorizo. We have not used up our 90 day Euro allotment for times like these and we decide to take the ferry trip with her.

Lesley buying green almonds, which are packed with ice.
Lesley buying green almonds, which are packed with ice in Kas

In less time than a ferry trip would take from the Quay to Manly, we are back in Greece and on a picture postcard island of about 5 square miles. The island, also called Meis in Turkish and the older Greek name of Megristi, has a beautiful natural harbour facing Kas. The houses around the harbour and up the hill are either completely renovated, beautiful and colourful or in various states of ruin.

Queen of Ro Square
Queen of Ro Square

Many residents of Kastellorizo migrated to Australia, mainly Melbourne and Perth with only 500 residents on the island full time. Their descendants are coming back to enjoy the island and to renovate the family homes.

Megristi, Kastellorizo
Megristi, Kastellorizo

One of the joys of travelling is friends’ sharing their experiences so that we are sure to visit, because they have enjoyed the magic too. Dave and Leigh visited and really enjoyed their time on the island. Leigh mentioned the Aussie connection. Sharron and Graeme celebrated their 25th anniversary here, danced to a bit of Greek music and broke a few plates.

Everything happens on the water front, with the restaurant tables so close the edge of the harbour, you see everything in the water and it is very tempting to throw bread in for the fish. We saw at least three big turtles in the harbour and they would push each other around. We couldn’t tell if it was territorial or amorous in intent.

Loggerhead Turtle, asking how our lunch was.
Loggerhead Turtle, asking how our lunch was.

When our ferry arrived, within minutes we were walking round the waterfront. The chefs are clever, they fillet their fresh fish and throw the bones and bits to the Loggerheads, which keeps the turtles interested in the foreshore. You will also see how sleek and glossy the cats are, well behaved to ensure they get their share of the fish scraps.

tourist looking at the turtles, cats in elegant attention waiting politely for their morning tea.
Tourista looking at the turtles, cats in elegant attention waiting politely for their morning tea.

Before lunch we climbed up to the fortress castle, then around the back to other squares and churches, before our long and lovely lunch at Alexander’s. Finally a goodbye to Lesley, which brings to mind another joy of travel, travelling with friends so you can enjoy the experience and create memories.

Colourful houses
Colourful houses

We still have home firmly in our thoughts and it has been busy at the RSYS.  We send our warmest congratulations to Richard Chapman, who is now Commodore of the Squadron; we wish you smooth sailing. The same wishes go to Dave Edwards, our new club captain; David Ward, our new Vice Commodore; Christian Brook, our new rear Commodore.  Good luck to you all in the coming year.

James and I would like to thank Commodore Malcolm Levy for including us in Squadron life for the past four years. Great job, now you will have more time for leisurely lunches in McMahons Point.

Lyn and Rene, I hope they thanked both of you for all the work you have done too.

 

Kas pronounced Cash

First we will begin with a the beautiful night lights in Kalkan, we enjoyed the Olive Garden’s roof terrace and wonderful food. Rene, we think of you when ever lights come into play. Back at the boat, the whole lovely town of Kalkan was lit like a Christmas tree.

Rene, look at the lights
Rene, look at the lights

We woke up and the boats that had been tied to gulets, were gone by 7am. We thought we would get moving soon after breakfast, no hurry, it was only a short motor to Kas. Then we realised the small harbour of Kalkan was whipped into a frenzy at about 9:30AM, with gulets exiting and entering at speed. With laid lines this would have been easy but the sport is to collect your anchor before you go, while dodging at least three gulets that are aiming for you as you try to retrieve said anchor. Blood sport then escape.

We were able to take a breath and before we knew it we were at the glamorous Kas Marina. A splendid pool, showers, restaurants but we certainly wanted to see the charming city of Kas. After a quick swim, we went in to wander the hilly streets and we were beguiled with all the wonderful shops.

First a few photos of Kas and then the shopping.

James and Lesley at Republic Square, with mountains rising in the background
James and Lesley at Republic Square, with mountains rising in the background

We walked up the hill overlooking harbour beaches, with plenty of excitement with cliff jumpers,

Kas Harbour beach
Kas Harbour beach

Just above this point and all through Kas, there are Lycian sarcophagi.  Unlike the way we place cemeteries on the outskirts of our towns, the Lycians opted for up on a mountain or along the coast.  According to a very interesting and helpful website, www.lycianturkey.com, the Lycians integrated their dead into their life.

Tomb with a view
Tomb with a view

On our way to dinner, we were overwhelmed by the wonderful, captivating shops selling so many great products, found in the streets of Kas. My favourite art gallery, pottery shop, Tugra Art Gallery, belongs to Ali Yigit. He had my Hammam bowl but also beautiful pottery and much more besides.

Tugra Art Gallery
Tugra Art Gallery,Kas

Another favourite purchase, has been peshtemals and this store had lovely towels both for beach and home.

Hamam, Peshtemal shop, Kas
Hamam, Peshtemal shop, Kas

 

Kas is known for its rugs and we enjoyed seeing these after a wonderful meze dinner at Ikbal. Tomorrow, we are on our way to Kekova but we will be back to Kas in a few days.

Kas carpets
Kas carpets

 

A trip to Rhodes

James and I decided to take a side trip to Rhodes. The islands of Kos, Symi and Rhodes are just off the south-western Turkish coast and they are close, a just short ferry trip away.

Rhodes was a completely different Greek island, even though the ancient Greeks and Romans had preceded us there and left ruins to be be seen.  What was different is that Rhodes is the oldest medieval city in western Europe. The medieval architecture and history of Rhodes Town and its citadel dominate the landscape and our imaginations.

Rhodes Town Bastion and Turrets
Rhodes Town Bastion and Turrets

We visited the Palace of the Grand Masters and learned that the exhibitions contained within were put together in 1993 as the 2,400th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Rhodes in 408 BC. Many Roman mosaics were collected from Kos and other Greek islands and built into the palace, looking like Turkish Rugs on the marble floors.

Courtyard of Palace of the Grand Master
Courtyard of Palace of the Grand Master –  the final point of defense

The Knights of Rhodes were founded in the 11th Century by merchants from Amalfi. As a group knights were made of Roman Catholic men usually of noble birth from Italy, France, England, Provence, Spain, Auvergne (France) and Germany.  The Knights were also famous for their hospitals, so if you were ill or wounded you would be brought to the nearby hospital for care.

Turrets
Turrets

There is also a street called the Street of the Knights, where the knights lived and met. Each country had their own building on the street.

Turks lived in Rhodes during the reign of the Knights and after Suleiman finally conquered Rhodes . Minarets, fountains and gardens imprinted the Turkish presence on Rhodes Town.

Turkish Garden in the Street of the Knights
Turkish Garden in the Street of the Knights

The hospital of the Knights of St. John was a very evocative building, It was all too easy to imagine the injured and ill, so far from home and looking up at the stone ceilings, listening to screams and moans, wondering if you would ever see your home again. To add to the sinister feeling of this old colonnade, the area contains tombstones of the knights, confirming that many never did see their homes again.

Ceiling of the Knights' hospital
Ceiling of the Knights’ hospital

The Colossus of Rhodes was not to be seen but Mandraki Harbour is still beautiful and you can almost imagine sailing underneath the Colossus into Mandraki Harbour.

Mandraki harbour
Mandraki harbour