Friday, February 27, 2015

Mycenae

Wednesday, I again braved the sheer lunacy that is Athens traffic to go south, to the Peloponnese peninsula; to ancient Mycenae to be more precise. Once there, I could not muster the strength to climb all the way to the top, so my photographic loot is less than complete. Still, the surroundings are beautiful, as is most of Greece.

The citadel. Once, this city held 30,000 people.
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Looks a lot like California, right?
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There be purdy mountains.
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Lots of 'em in fact.
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The sea.
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The Cyclopean wall from around 1,350 BC. So called because legend had it, the builders of the city had employed cyclopes to make it.
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The famous Lion Gate. Built around 1,250 BC if I'm not mistaken. The two lions on top have long since lost their heads.
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Just inside the gate is the granary.
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The road not taken.
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Women had a much more active position in old Mycenae than in later day classic Athens, where they were largely confined to their homes. Also, the art itself is clearly influenced by the Minoan culture, with whom they traded.
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There be gold in dem dar hills. The first civilization at Mycenae collapsed sometime in the 12th century BC; the reason why is not known; possibly an invasion by the "Sea Peoples".
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Solid handcraft.
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Quote of the Day

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.
- William H. Borah

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quote of the Day

Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you.
- Cyril Connolly

Delphi

Tuesday morning, I went down to the AVIS office to pick up a rental car and do some sightseeing. This was complicated by the fact that I had slept for about 2 hours that night. Still, I bit my teeth and resisted the urge to nap during the afternoon and had a good night before going to Mycenae on Wednesday.

I had ordered a GPS gadget and managed to not get lost more than a couple of times. Traffic out of and in to Athens was insane and it took me the better part of an hour to get out of town Tuesday morning. The speed limits on the motorways are a pleasant 100-130 km/h (appx. 65-80 mph), and most of the vehicles will happily cruise along at speeds upward of 30 km/h (20mph) faster than that. On the other hand, once you get off the motorways, the rural routes can be slow and will take you through villages with very narrow streets, sometimes even with two-way traffic and big tourist buses doing their best not to drag whole buildings to the ground in their wake.

My destination for Tuesday was Delphi, where there was an oracle in ancient times, and where they would hold games every four years. The oracle was an elderly woman chosen from local peasant stock who would go into a trance; her ravings were then "interpreted" into ambiguous statements (in verse) by the priests. There has been speculation that the trance was due to toxic fumes coming out of the ground, but nothing has been proven for certain.

Thousands of "prophecies" of varying historical accuracy are known from Delphi; perhaps the most famous is the answer supposed to have been given to emperor Julian the Apostate when he tried to reawaken the cult as part of his (sadly unsuccessful) attempt to crush Christianity - here in a translation by English poet A. C. Swinburne:
Tell the king, on earth has fallen the glorious dwelling,
And the watersprings that spake are quenched and dead.
Not a cell is left the God, no roof, no cover;
In his hand the prophet laurel flowers no more
.

The site is located on a hillside with majestic views over the Pleistos valley.
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Just lovely.
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The mountain above is known as Mount Parnassus, and is heavy with mythological significance.
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The Sibyl rock, where another medium (not related to the cult of Apollo) is said to have given her prophecies.
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The stadium.
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The temple of Apollon, which was the center for the whole building complex. The Delphi area was said to have been decreed "the navel of the earth" by Zeus himself.
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The views towards the west and the port city of Kirrha. Not so shabby.
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That's the Mediterranean sea down there.
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Nice.
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The area just above the Castalian spring.
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There is a museum just west of the ancient site. It has separate ticket sales from the archaeological digs, but you get a discount iffin you buy access to both.
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Lots of loot has been found and put behind glass.
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This is the most famous item found; the Charioteer of Delphi was buried by an earthquake around 373 BC if I remember correctly, and thus preserved till modern times. Most bronze items of any size in ancient Greece were blatantly stolen by the Romans and brought to Italy for the perusal and enjoyment of the filthy rich.
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Kitteh! Naturally, the area is teeming with homeless cats. This little angel was so trusting, she remained still while I manuvered my fat ass onto the chair to the right.
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At first, I thought these were spider nests, and shuddered. But the bartender at the sports bar in Athens said they were made by butterflies.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Quote of the Day

Vae victis.
[Woe to the vanquished.]
- Livy

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Quote of the Day

Tell the king, on earth has fallen the glorious dwelling,
and the watersprings that spake are quenched and dead.
Not a cell is left the God, no roof, no cover;
in his hand the prophet laurel flowers no more.
- Algernon Charles Swinburne "The Last Oracle"

Monday, February 23, 2015

Quote of the Day

The fools in this world make about as much trouble as the wicked do.
- Henry Wheeler Shaw

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quote of the Day

Heaven, n.: A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound your own.
- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil’s Dictionary"

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Quote of the Day

Before borrowing money from a friend it's best to decide which you need most.
- Joe Moore

Friday, February 20, 2015

Quote of the Day

The only way a woman can ever reform a man is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interest in life.
- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Quote of the Day

Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.
- Mark Twain

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Quote of the Day

I love good, creditable acquaintance; I love to be the worst of the company.
- Jonathan Swift

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Quote of the Day

Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.
- George Carlin

Monday, February 16, 2015

Quote of the Day

Instead of loving your enemies, treat your friends a little better.
- Edgar Watson Howe

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Quote of the Day

Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?
- James Madison

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Quote of the Day

Love is merely a madness.
- Shakespeare

Friday, February 13, 2015

Quote of the Day

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.
- Henry L. Mencken

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Quote of the Day

No man has ever ruled other men for their own good.
- George D. Herron

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Quote of the Day

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
- Redd Foxx

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Quote of the Day

The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
- W. R. Wallace

Monday, February 9, 2015

Quote of the Day

The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.
- Fredric Bastiat

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Quote of the Day

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
- James Madison

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Quote of the Day

When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of many men for the inattention of one.
- Helen Rowland

Friday, February 6, 2015

Quote of the Day

In the carriages of the past you can't go anywhere.
- Maxim Gorky

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Quote of the Day

Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right.
- Isaac Asimov

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Quote of the Day

All living souls welcome whatsoever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible.
- George Santayana

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Quote of the Day

A minute's success pays the failure of years.
- Robert Browning

Monday, February 2, 2015

Itinerary for the US

So, I'm off to the US again this summer. I had initially thought about driving up the west coast and spend some time crisscrossing Oregon and Washington, but decided instead to go east for a few days.

I'm flying out to LA in the wee hours of Monday, June 22. Tuesday I'm off to pick up some friends in Apple Valley, then it's several days of sightseeing in Death Valley, Mt Whitney, Yosemite etc, before spending Friday evening and Saturday with other friends in San Diego.

Sunday 28th I set off to Phoenix, then on to Albuquerque for two days and Santa Fe for two days. I'm probably going to drive up into the mountains east of Albuquerque to get some pics and see some purdy nature. Up in Santa Fe I'm definitely driving north to see the Bandelier National Monument, which is an ancient Pueblo site. Santa Fe is in all likelyhood as far east as I'm going to get on this trip.

Then it's west again to Farmington, through some purdy national and state forest areas. I may take a quick detour to Taos, but I haven't made up my mind yet. On my second day in Farmington, imma drive up to see Durango, Colorado and then the Pueblo archaeological sites at Mesa Verde and Canyon of the Ancients. For those who've kept track, that's the 4th of July.

On the 5th, I'll drive through some very purdy mountain scenery in Utah, probably just about the opposite route of where I drove in late 2011. I'm staying the night in St George, then it's onwards to Carson City, Nevada for two days.

After Carson I'm heading north to Yreka. A little uncertain which route I'll take from there, but I'm heading over the hills and through some nice forest areas to Eureka, then back again farther south to Red Bluff. Then it's on to Sacramento for two days of sightseeing.

That week I will begin by driving to San Francisco, where I've been offered lodgings for a couple of days, then it's on to my friends in Fresno. Friday, I'll hand in my car there, then we'll all drive down to lodgings just outside Sequoia National Park. Here, I'll meet up with my San Diego crew and we're going to continue up Sequoia, Kings Canyon NP, Yosemite NP, Lake Tahoe and all the way to Crater Lake in Oregon.

Then it's on to beautiful Twin Falls, Idaho and then the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Yes, it takes a Norwegian lardass to drag my 'merican friends off to see the good stuff in their own country. After Yellowstone we're doing the Beartooth Highway, then all the way up to Glacier NP. Then it's down again to Utah, including a quick trip to see Zion and Bryce National Parks, cuz when we were there in December 2013, my friends were very eager to see it again in summer.

Anyways, the journey ends in Los Angeles, whence I fly out on August 3, landing in Oslo on Tuesday, August 4. Sounds like a good trip, yeah?

Quote of the Day


When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.
-Charles Evans Hughes

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Quote of the Day

Church: A place in which gentlemen who have never been to Heaven brag about it to people who will never get there.
- H.L. Mencken

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Quote of the Day

The honeymoon is over when he phones that he’ll be late for supper - and she has already left a note that it’s in the refrigerator.
- Bill Lawrence

Friday, January 30, 2015

Quote of the Day

History teaches us that when a barbarian race confronts a sleeping culture, the barbarian always wins.
- Arnold Joseph Toynbee

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Returning to Greece

I've booked flights and eight nights in the same hotel where I was for Christmas. Athens, here I come, whooooo hooooo. Hoping a combination of good weather and no public holidays will give me the flexibility to rent a car and drive out to see some sights, either up at Thermopylae and Delphi, or down on the Pelopponesian peninsula, with Mycene and Olympia. Either way I am bouncing with excitement!

Quote of the Day

Hypocrisy is a tribute that vice renders to virtue.
- De La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Quote of the Day

You can't hold a man down without staying down with him.
- Booker T. Washington