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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Istanbul ~ Wow!

I arrived yesterday afternoon to Istanbul, Turkey. Wow was my first impression!

View from Hagia Sophia museum

Why here you ask? It has been on my "bucket list" for years now. Any pictures I've seen of this city have captured my imagination and I knew one day I would have to explore this part of the world. The beautiful mosques, ancient history and varied culture has interested me for some time and I am so glad I have found my way here.

Today I visited Hagia Sophia, a former Greek Orthodox Church, later an Imperial Mosque and now a museum.  From 1204 to 1261 it was also a Roman Catholic Cathedral under the Latin Empire.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

The interior was impressive with vaulted ceilings and bejewelled mosaics now restored to their former beauty but what captivated me the most were the marble floors. Ancient doorways worn from many feet treading on them for centuries. Incredible!

Worn entry to Hagia Sophia

Marble slab floor

My tour guide pointed out the floor. The marble slabs were sliced and perfectly matched from the same piece. Amazing to think this was built before modern equipment and is still being enjoyed today.

I can't help but wonder about the many thousands of people who have passed by these doors. What was their story? Did they travel far like I have or live just around the corner?

People from all walks of life have come to see this beautiful space and now too, a Canadian named Connie. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Time Passages ~ Poem

I know I only posted yesterday but now that I have fairly reliable wifi here in Prague (and a few rain drops outside) I thought I'd try to catch up with stories, poems and paintings. The following poem I wrote on the Greek island of Chios when I was travelling with the artist group. 

Time Passages

Close your eyes, what do you see?
Potted plants and olive trees
Winding ancient narrow streets 
leading where we do not know
Women in black move slowly, slowly

Time stands still yet pushes on

Early morning Chania, Crete

Open your mind, what can we learn?
To understand all that was and could be
War torn walls of stone still stand
Stairs connect and lead us onward
Buried truths of long ago

Treasures now beyond the glass

Pottery artifacts from the Greek island of Koufonisi

Open your heart and feel this place
The light so pure, serene surrounds us
Ancient lands locked in the past
Line distant misty blue horizon
No victories could e'er be won

When battled with body and not the mind

Distant shores of Turkey

Open your spirit then you will know
These ancient doors and windows are pathways
To move beyond, to learn and grow
Let not past troubles bind you there 
Live in measure of this moment only

~ The choice is only up to you ~

Ruins at Itonos, Crete

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lydia Story Continues...

I mentioned in a previous post that I became friends with two Greek women named Lydia and Stella. I did return a third time to paint the ruin stairs near to their home and I also wanted to say goodbye to my new friends.

I set up my paints, sat down and began. The street was very quiet and I thought they may be resting but about 10 minutes later Stella came out and offered me a cold drink. When she returned she also carried a small wrapped gift. How thoughtful! I am now the proud owner of a mug with the map of Chios and a tasty treat made from the Mastica tree which only grows there on the island. She then asked if I wanted to see Lydia. Yes!

She went to her home across the narrow street and out Lydia came with a big smile.

As soon as she saw me she motioned for me to come into her home so I left my paints and followed her in.

Her house was small and very clean. She seated me at the table and went into her kitchen to get refreshments.

As she was busy there I looked around the room. 

On the wall above the sofa hung a huge tapestry of an elk and countryside. The dining chairs had embroidered tapestry seats which were covered in plastic....and then I saw it. On top of a beautiful wooden cabinet she had 3 framed pictures. One of her when she was young, one of her mother and also of a young couple who I think were Stella's children. In front of that picture was the one of us together. How nice!

When she returned she sat down and I said to her how nice it was that she had the photo of the two of us on the mantle. She smiled and put her hand to her heart. She was so kind. I then asked about the other photos and she pointed to the small one of her mama and the other was of her in her younger days. Beautiful!

She then quickly got up and went into the other room soon returning with a stack of fabric.

One by one she unfolded each piece. The first three were two small squares with a matching table runner cross stitched with burgundy and rose coloured flowers. Beautiful! The next a large white square of intricately crocheted thread. Such detail! I know the hours that went into making these as I remember watching my grandmother when I was a child.

The last piece was a delicate fabric so shear I could see right through it. Around the edge and throughout the centre were small embroidered cream coloured flowers. It was stunning. She told me her mama made it when she was a young woman. Knowing Lydia is now 93 meant this was over 100 years old. Incredible!

She then carefully folded and placed each one into a paper bag, sealed the top with tape and gave it all to me. I was stunned! Oh, no I said. These were her family treasures! I thanked her placing my hand on my heart but she insisted. Pulling the parcel to her chest looking directly at me she shook her head no, then placed it in front of me she nodded sternly. It was clear that I was now the proud keeper of her family heirlooms.

We both shed a few tears as we hugged. I knew we connected but to have her give me such treasures...I was speechless.

She then called for Stella to return so we could have a visit together but way too soon it was time to say good bye. I took this picture just before I left.

Stella and Lydia

During this entire conversation the only English word spoken was mama. Stella and Lydia knew no English and I nothing in Greek. It's amazing to me how we can make ourselves known.

Walking back to the hotel I was thinking, what if I hadn't returned? They were both ready to see me again to give me such special gifts.

It was meant to be.

This is what life is all about. Not only to be open to the moment, but to search for it. Your life will be enriched beyond anything you could imagine. I will always hold memories of Stella and Lydia close to my heart.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Greece and People, a great combination!

Everywhere I look I see something more beautiful and interesting than the last. Not only the scenery but the people of Greece are beautiful and interesting too! I have enjoyed so many conversations with the local people. They are curious, generous and very kind. A great combination.

Here are a few pictures for you to see this special part of Greece through my eyes.....

Ancient Window

Aegean Shores
Mary and her brothers

I met Mary and her brothers in a remote hilltop village on the island of Lesbos. Right away she started talking to me in English. She wanted to practice I think. More about her and her family in my next post.

Now off to view the museum here on Chios. 

This painting/exploring life of mine is quite the adventure!! 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lydia ~ New Friends ~ Chios, Greece

Today was our first full day on the Greek island of Chios. We walked en masse from our hotel to the old town. After exploring together we separated until lunch to find something to sketch. 

Chios Stairs

I was floating through the narrow streets enjoying the light, sights and sounds that surrounded me. I found the perfect location. A quiet area protected with a little shade and a small step to sit on while I sketched a ruin staircase that was a wonder to behold.

After working for about 30 minutes, an old Greek woman came out of her home next door and visited a lady across the street. We smiled acknowledging each other. I liked her immediately. Her sparkling eyes and smile could light up the world. I found out her name was Lydia.


Her friend Stella came out to see what I was sketching then she offered me a cold drink. Yes! Lydia then left for a few minutes returning with a pastry box filled with chocolate dipped cookies and insisted I take a couple. They were so very kind.

Me with my new friend Lydia

Lydia is 93 years young. Wonderful! We really was magical.

They left me to my drawing and then both returned a bit later. It was time for me to meet the group so I began to pack up. We hugged and I left.

When I returned to the hotel, I printed out her pictures and wrote a card to Lydia in English and had my guide translate it in Greek for me. I then walked back to give it to her. It was 8:30 and dark by the time I got there and was wondering if she would still be awake. I turned up the narrow street and found Lydia, Stella and her husband and another friend sitting outside visiting in the warm night air. I walked over to Lydia and gave her the card.

She didn’t recognize me at first then her eyes flew open wide and she gave me a big hug. When she opened the card and saw the pictures, she had tears in her eyes. She told me she would put them in her album and was so happy.

They invited me to join them for a visit so we sat outside for an hour laughing and smiling, really enjoying getting to know each other. I am hoping to have time for another visit before our group leaves for Athens. 

read here to see what happened on our next visit...

We hugged and kissed like grandmother and granddaughter. 

I feel as though I have returned home here to Greece yet again….

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lesvos, Greece Adventure

Here I am in sunny Greece on the beautiful island of Lesvos. The scenery is very inspiring and the people are so friendly. Each day we are transported back in time to various ancient villages to explore and paint. I do love to combine history with art and it's a bonus to be making this journey with a bunch of like minded artsy people...and they're lots of fun too!

Ancient window with a view

Around every corner there are stone walls and stairs just begging to be explored. To see these old buildings and know many have been here for centuries is a wonder to behold....and they're still being used today! I love how they take pride preserving their culture and celebrate their history. 

First sunset ~ Lesvos, Greece

It's truly a gift to be here to experience this great adventure. I'm enjoying every single second I've been given and enjoy making the most of my time here. It's the only way to go through this life!!!

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