Tinos: Exombourgo

One of Tinos’ most memorable features is its rockiness, demonstrated very clearly by the giant boulder/mountain outcropping that dominates its southeastern side. It’s called Exomvourgo, and also gives the island’s municipality its name.

The strategic spot overlooking the island was chosen by the Venetians for fortification, and is also the site of a Catholic and an Orthodox monastery, reflecting the island’s mixed history. On days with any clouds in the sky, they all seem to migrate around the rock, so every time I’ve been there at least, it is very moody.

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Tinos in September

The Cycladic island of Tinos is probably one of my favourite places in the world. Objectively, it’s not the most beautiful place in the world, but it’s one of the few places I have been coming back to for my entire life. Also because it’s primary attraction is a church, it has managed (at least until now) to escape massive development and tourism.

When I was a kid we only visited Tinos in the summer, but since I’ve lived in Greece I’ve had a chance to visit in the spring and in the autumn, when the island has a different appeal. Last year I went only for a few days in September – didn’t even manage to swim, but did do a lot of exploring. Perhaps one of the best parts about visiting that time of year – pomegranates!

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Signs of Spring

It is hard for me to believe that we are already well into April. Spring is definitely on its way in Athens, and it is visible everywhere. This is my favourite time of year – the weather is perfect, and people are out and about again.

While I wrap up my coursework before Easter holidays, when I hope to process and share photos from recent travels, here are some promises of what is soon to come!

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After the Rain

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Like I said yesterday, I knew the sun would come out! Possibly one of my favourite things about living here – it never takes too long for the clouds to clear.

Agnountos Monastery

Last spring, on the way to Ancient Epidavros, we stopped for probably no more than half an hour at this oasis on the side of the road. I had arrived in Greece from Edinburgh a few days earlier, in preparation for a month of dissertation research. Sun-deprived and stressed, this excursion brightened my spirits. From the rainy grey of April in Scotland, this little monastery with its colourful signs of spring seemed like a magical apparition. Today it’s raining in Athens, so I thought this was an appropriate reminder of what is to come when the clouds clear. (Also, don’t miss the nun in the final photo!)

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Athens by iPhone

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Just a few snapshots for now!

2014

I may have missed the 1st of January to announce a resolution to revive my blog, but I’ll pretend like I was purposefully waiting for Chinese New Year.

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Whenever we say the year starts, I’m choosing now to get back to the blog. I’ve been using perfectionism as an excuse for a lapse in creativity, but not anymore! One post a week, minimum, so prepare yourselves. :)

Athens 2.0

It’s mid-September, and I find myself again on the porch at my aunt’s house in an Athens suburb.

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One year in Edinburgh, and a Masters degree under my belt, and I am back in Greece for more. Here for at least another year to do (another), one-year Masters programme at the University of Athens.

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So far, I’ve spent my time eating (as usual), tackling bureaucracy and logistics, and looking for a place to live. As a result, I haven’t spent much time really thinking about the year ahead of me, and what I hope to achieve while I’m here. Mostly I’m enjoying the family, the food, and the life of this city, while wandering the neighbourhoods and continuing to explore.

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There is something about the unpredictability of every block and turn of a corner that is irresistible to me, and I am so excited by the possibility of continued explorations. I’m not sure what this year will bring, but I am determined to make the most of my time here, as well as to use my blog as a more medium for documenting and processing my experiences. Travel, food, photography and musings – nothing new or terribly exciting – but I hope you’ll join on this next piece of my Poseidon Adventure. :)

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On the Ephemeral

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Yesterday I was listening to an NPR interview with a former filmmaker who is currently writing a novel via Twitter. He’s been publishing a crime story in 140 word instalments since the 29th of April. I’m not sure I can reasonably comment on the artistic integrity of his work, but something he said in the interview stayed with me.

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The interviewer says to him: ‘My question is – why? Why are you doing that? It seems like such an oxymoron because Twitter is all about this short little burst that’s ephemeral and, you know, a novel is really like for those times when you actually have time to commit and you want something rich.’

And the response includes this piece: ‘The idea of Twitter and tweets, I’ve never viewed it as something that I would ever use for topical issues, or as you say, sort of ephemeral. I would hope that the things that are on there are true today and are true 10 years from now or 15 years from now. I don’t want to use it as, you know, what I ate or what I went to go see that night.

You know, I’d like it to be somewhat more permanent than that.’

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I’m not a dedicated Twitter-er, Tweeter, Twitter user, whatever, but I disagree with his insistence on lasting truth. To me, the everyday, the ephemeral, the transitory, the details, are what really matter, but I don’t know why those things can’t be permanent too. I’ve felt this way long before I understood why, carrying a camera around with me long before it was either cool or ubiquitous, pre-camera phones.

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The photos I took in high school of an evening spent trying to cook with my best friend, or backstage at a school play, or out to lunch with my dad, perhaps mean more to me than the photos of my high school graduation. The big events, the days when anyone with a camera would make sure to bring it along, usually stand out in the memory, even without a record. The little things though.. I’m not sure I would remember the evening Lauren and I made fettuccine alfredo, played the piano, and watched Lord of the Rings for the 271st time if I hadn’t obsessively snapped photos as we went along.

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Perhaps now that everyone with even a basic smartphone has undertaken to chronicle their lives via Instagram, maybe this makes the ephemeral, the everyday, less interesting as we are bombarded with people sharing photos of their dinner. But what’s wrong with someone taking a photo of their dinner, really? Why not take a snapshot of a pretty plate on a day out with friends? Chances are good that those photos will become memories.

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Some can argue that the ease of recording so much information all the time is making our memories worsen or discourages people from really appreciating life moment by moment, and this may be true, but I think of it in another way. For me, capturing small pieces of the everyday helps remind me how lucky I am. It helps me remember to notice the beauty around me. And best of all, it allows me to share it.

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I’m currently at the beginning of writing my Masters’ dissertation, and I am trying not to go a bit crazy. I love my topic and I love working on it, but there have been days in the last two weeks I’ve been back in Edinburgh that I haven’t done anything except read and eat. I’ve now implemented a rule that I have to at least get up and go for a walk every day.

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Even if I only get outside for half an hour, I notice the details, and I capture them. I know I’m not going to forget endless hours spent at my desk over the next few months, but I don’t want to forget the small diversions either, or how lucky I am to be here.

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Chios – Preservation

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