Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Athens Town Hall

This is the Town Hall of the City of Athens, situated on Kotzia Square. It's not as magnificent as the Paris Hotel de Ville, but I like it because it's understated and elegant. It's surrounded by some pretty ugly buildings, but the open space in front of it offers some respite from the abundance of cement all around.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Souvlaki man

The other day, while waiting in the queue for my souvlaki-pita to be prepared, I started taking pictures of the gyros stands (pork or chicken meat on a vertical stick). I explained what I was doing to the man behind the counter, and he said: "I've been making souvlakis for 10 years and no one has taken *my* picture yet". Of course I offered to put this right there and then.

I also took a photo of the souvlaki-pita he made for me. Here it is: pork meat, tomatoes, onion, chips and tzatziki wrapped in warm pitta bread. Yummilicious!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Brave men

This is a member of the Presidential Guard standing in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens, Greece. The writing on the wall consists of a list of placenames where Greek soldiers have fallen in battle, as well as a quote by Ancient Greek historian Thucydides, which translates as "Every place is (worthy) burial ground for brave men".

The Presidential Guard is an elite ceremonial unit that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Greek Parliament and the Presidential Mansion. Its members are drawn from the Army's Infantry, Artillery and Armoured Corps. There is a minimum height requirement of 1.86 meters (6'1") to join the Guard.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Watching the parade

Today is the anniversary of the start of the war for Greek independence, which was fought between 1821 and 1829. The day is traditionally celebrated with student and army parades, and everyone goes out to watch and applaud those marching.

The military parade through the centre of Athens was short and unpretentious this year, as befits a country in serious finacial trouble, but the spectators enjoyed themselves nonetheless.

The sunny weather and gloriously warm temperatures (21-23°C) certainly helped lift the mood. For someone who comes from the cold and wet north, it felt just like summer!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A satisfied customer

Greetings from Greece! This morning was my first back in the homeland so I went to my local bakery for a much craved cheese pie. There I discovered something interesting for my Wordless Wednesday post and returned with my camera to take photos. While I was snapping away, a customer came in and told me I should take a photo of the pretty lady behind the counter. I said why don't I take a picture of them both. He said fine, if I promised not to let his wife see it. I duly promised and snapped away. Don't they look happy?

Most Greeks buy their bread fresh in the morning or on their way home for their afternoon siesta. The cabinet on the left would have displayed various types of pie (cheese, cheese and ham, sausage) as well as piroshki and traditional spanakopita. I took this photo after midday, so all the good stuff's gone.

P.S. I hope you're not the wife!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rush hour London

I took this photo while standing on a railway platform situated over New Cross Road in south east London.

It is a true snapshot, in the sense that I took it very quickly, using my pocket camera. I had to hold it as steady as possible and stretch my arms over the bridge wall to get a clear shot. I pressed the magic button and ran to board my train. You can't get snappier than that!

I thought it'd be interesting to show you what traffic looks like during the evening rush hour.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Paris by night

This is a side view of the Hotel de Ville in Paris. Somehow the word "City Hall" doesn't do this magnificent building justice.

I took this photo in December 2008. I'm pretty sure Christmas was the reason for the sparkly roof.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dreaming of blue sea and golden beaches

The sun's shining, the temperature has risen to double figures (yayyyy!), the air smells of spring -- and hubby is planning a skiing holiday for us. I love snow as much as the next person (maybe more), but given the choice of a week in the mountains or a week by the sea, I'd opt for the sea without hesitation.

This is Porthminster beach in Cornwall on a grey autumn morning. The sea is the Atlantic. I can't help thinking it must look gorgeous in springtime.