Ammoudia – Epirus, Greece

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Ammoudia is a quiet tourist town by a small bay South of Parga in Epirus, Greece. There is almost no night life, and only a small selection of restaurants, but if you want to chill out on a sandy Beach or go on excursions Ammoudia is a good choice.

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The river mouth of the Acheron River is the heart of Ammoudia. That is where you find the majority of the restaurants. All restaurants serve fresh seafood. My personal favorite Ammoudia dish is grilled calamari.

Acheron means “no joy”. According to myths, Charon, the ferryman of Hades, carried the souls of the deceased to Acheron, which was perceived as the gateway to Hades, the underworld.21247659_10155819590244880_702643915_o

Another myth goes like this: Hades was in love with Persephone. One day, when her mother had left her by herself, he kidnapped her and took her to the Underworld. Persephone’s mother is Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. When she couldn’t find her daughter, Demeter spent her time searching for her daughter rather than taking care of the plants. As time passed all plants died and people began to starve. Zeus had to take action, so he sent Hermes to Hades. Hades freed Persephone, but as she was about to leave, he offered her a pomegranate. She ate half of it. All food from the underworld is cursed, therefore, Persephone had to return to Hades for 6 months every half a year. This is why we have seasons.

See the story as a small movie

 

Nekromanteion

If you walk about 5 km along the road towards South you will reach the archeological sites of Nekromanteion (8 Euro) and Ephyra. Archeological findings reveal that human beings have been present in the area in the late Bronze Ages (16th-11th BC), the Hellenistic Period, Post-byzantine Peiod and the Ottoman Period. Both places have been fortified.

Nekromanteion “the Oracle of the Dead” was a temple devoted to Hades and Persephone, and it was believed to be the entrance to Hades. People came there to talk with their deceased loved ones. Communication with the dead happened in Group ceremonies. Today you can enter a underground room which is quite impressive architectonically and which has an almost magical atmosphere.

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Ephyra

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Oracle of the Dead

 

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Figs from the roadside trees

 

From the river mouth you can buy boat trips to Parga (15 Euro) and to Paxos and Antipaxos (25 Euro for a day trip).

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Paxos

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Day trips

Meteora: Greek Orthodox monasteries suspended in air

Wow what a landscape!!!, and wow!!! … How is that possible?

This area truely earn to be on UNECO‘s list

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Butrint, Albania

Yet a UNESCO site

Occupation dating from 50 000 BC

According to mythology, the place is founded by exiles from Troy. It has been a fortress, a Greek polis with a Theater, a Roman spa town, an Episcopal residence; it has been under Greek, Roman; Venetian, Ottoman and Albanian rule.

Here you find the remains of ancient civilizations combined with beautiful nature.

 

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Costa Blanca – Calpe

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map.png The public bus from Torrevieja to Alicante cost 4,5 Euro and from Alicante to Calpe 7,25 Euro. Do not expect the drivers to speak English:)

Calpe is a very beautiful small town surrounded by water.

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You can swim in the Mediterranean, watch flamencos in the salt lake or hike up Penyal d’lfach.

 

The hike

I recommend that you leave town no later than 8 am to avoid the strongest heat. It takes about 1½ hour to reach the top, and you should not do it if you are scared of hights or if you have bad balance.

As you leave town watch how the sunrise reflects in the salt lake.

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You will pass the remains of Medieaval Calpe

Penyal d'lfach medieval

Though I saw children on the top, this hike is not for all

Penyal d'lfach hikePenyal d'lfach tunnelPenyal d'lfach viewPenyal d'lfach people approaching the topAs you might notice, the road is quit invisible (if you look well you see hikers on the photo)

Penyal d'lfach view from topPenyal d'lfach seagul

 

 

 

 

 

Costa Blanca – Torrevieja

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A public bus from Alicante airport to Torrevieja costs about 7 euro.

I was surprised by the silence of Torrevieja. Besides from the coastline North of the marina to Playa de los Locos, it was easy to find uncrowed spots.

The first place I visited, was Laguna de Torrevieja. The salt lake becomes red when the sun is shining, and fascinating pictures of that was what had lead me to Torrevieja. Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy when I was there, but the lake was still beautiful. A lot of people were floating in the lake – it you want to do that, you have to bring water to rinse the salt of your body.

 

At night, as a woman walking alone, I found it safest to stay on the tourist strip from the marina to Playa del Cura. when I entered side roads, strange guys called out !hola! and !guapa!.

I spent my first day walking from the center of Torrevieja towards south. After three hours, I reached Punta Prima, a nice and quiet beach with good views. I took my time and enjoyed the views – it took only 1½ hour to walk back

I spent my second day walking towards North. North of Playa de los Locos the coastline is very beautiful. This is not the place to go, if you are looking for white sand beaches; but if you are into panoramic vistas and rocks, it’s your spot.

After two hours I reached, what became my favorite place: the clefts in-between Cala de la Higuera and Cala de la Zorra. I arrived at noon, and enjoyed a fresh breeze and an amazing view from the top of the cleft. Then I continued to Torre del moro just around the corner.

Walking back, I stoped once again at Cala de la Zorra, where I walked down the walkways and stairs that lead down the cleft towards a small beach.

Finally I enjoyed a sangria at Playa de los Locos

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I can strongly recommend melaconones amarillos (yellow peaches)!!!!

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Glimpses of Maya Ways of Life in Tulum 2: Cancha Maya

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This is part two of a series of glipses from my ethnographic eye. I choose to give you small unanalysed stories from my fieldwork that I find have something interesting about them. Remark that I write Maya Ways (plural). I want to underline that there are many ways to to be, feel or act Maya. Unlike what many believe, there is a flourishing culture of people who define themselves as Maya, and I find it important that we recognize their own explanations of Maya identity rather that putting them into a box of what we believe Mayas are supposed to be like. Feel free to comment below

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When I arrived in Tulum with the purpose of doing ethnographic fieldwork about how tourism is percieved by locals, preferably Mayas, I had no clue about where to look for the Mayan population, but as I walked and biked about town and introduced my project and myself, I was advised to find the Cancha Maya. I had no idea about what or where the Cancha Maya was, but it turned out to be the square where the Mayan church is located.

Three men were relaxing in hammocks by the entrance to the church. One of them got up, and gave me and a friend of mine a guided tour of the church. I asked the guard if I could come to mass one day. He told me that the church was open for everyone, and then he gave me the schedule and told me to bring food and a candle. He asked me to come early to have the process of the service explained. When I told him about my project, the guard warned me that the Mayan community is a closed one.

The following day, I woke up at 5am to go to mass. I cut half a melon into peaces, and arranged them on a plate. Then I put a white candle in my purse. Outside the gekkoes sang in the darkness. The heat and humidity quickly made me sweat. A few people were already on the street, but it was quit besides from the a few barks from dogs. Close to the church two big busses with Mexican looking people passed me, and by the market several men seemed as if they were waiting on another buss. On the plaza where the church is located, a woman and a man were sweeping leaves away from the ground. the church looked closed. Two men sat on a bench in front of the church as I approached them I heard that they were speaking Maya. The clouds on the sky looked like they had been painted. Part of them were dark blue, part of them were white. They were beautiful. A woman In her late teens or start twenties passed by. She wore short that only covered part of a thighs, a T-shirt and a backpack. Another young woman who wore the same passed by few minutes later, and then a young man with a backpack, cap, cell phone in his hands.
At 6.10 a police officer came out of the gate to the church. Shortly after, the guard I talked to the day before came out. He commed his hair as he crossed the plaza. When he came back, I asked him if there would be a mass, and he told me that would in a little time, when el señor would arive. A few raindops fell on my skin, and the birds became noisy. People had talked about how a tornado forming in the Atlantic. The by 6.20 it wasalmost light. The rain stopped.

I asked the guard what he though about tourism in Tulum. He told me that the tourists bring a bit of money. According to the guard the ancestors have predicted that a time of change would come, and that the children would live in a time of wealth with cars and stuff. He told me that more changes will come.
He asked me what I had brought. I showed him the melon.I asked if it was good, and he extended his sí. Maybe that means no.

A man with a big nude belly came out to the gate of the church. He told me that I could enter, but that I was not allowed to take photos. He seemed very serious. I was the only one there besides from two guards. Apparently, I had misunderstood the schedule. I tried to tell them that they did not have to do the mass just for me, but they insisted. I placed my shoes by the entrance, and walked through a room only illuminated by the early rays of sun and some candles the guards had put on the alter at the 4am mass. The leading guard placed the melon I had brought on the alter. I lit my candle and placed it next to the others, as I was told to do, and sat down on a small wooden chair in front of the alter. The room was peaceful, almost magic. The leading guard did the prayers; the other stood in the doorway and showed me what to do. The one who did the prayers rang a small golden bell from time to time. He repeated the same verse over and over again while he touched a rosary. The sweat ran down my legs, and my back hurt from sitting on the stool. With time, I found it hard to concentrate. My eyes flickered, and I fought to not fall asleep due to the heat. A few times, I was given signs to stand up and to kneel, and so I did. The guard called on Jesus, Mother Mary and the Santa Cruzes in Spanish. The Santa Cruzes are worshiped in the Mayan religion la Cruz Parlante [The Talking Cross]. I thought to myself, “This is an excellent example of syncretism”. The last part of the service was in Maya language.

After mass, the guards asked for my opinion, and I told them that it had been beautiful, but a bit hot. They told me that it was hot for them as well. Caressed by the breeze in the entrance, we enjoyed chicha, a drink made of maize, served in a jicara, and some of the melon I had brought. Those were the two offerings of the morning. The guards asked if I would come back. I told them I would, and then I told them that I was an anthropologist interested in the changes that tourism had caused in Tulum. At first, they were quiet, but then they started to teach me a few words in Maya and to tell me about how another “nice Gringa” had married a Mayan man. “Gringa” is an emic term for a fair-skinned person.

Try Ya’ax’s new menu when you are in Tulum

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My lovely friends at Ya’ax has made a new and mouth-watering menu!
(Avenida Principal, near ADO)
As something new they now offer juices and sandwiches to go. Forget oxxo and make your bustrip healthy;-)

If you are in Tulum, please eat for me as well;-)

I can highly recommend juice nr. 7!!! I have asked for it so many times that it has now made the official menu:-)

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