Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cats of Kontakeika

Four out of nine cats which I met in Kontakeika in October 2009 while staying with friends on the sunny platia for a couple of hours in the afternoon!
They were strolling around and under the tables of the restaurant we were sitting in, awaiting/expecting some share of our delicious dishes!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Greece from a distance: Michalis Tzouganakis in Mainz/Germany

(Der Bericht in deutscher Sprache ist hier zu finden!)

On Sunday, November 15th, the phantastic lute player Michalis Tzouganakis from Crete came to my hometown Mainz to give a concert during his "The Spirit of Crete" tour through Germany and the Netherlands. On his tour, he had been to Duesseldorf and Munich before this gig in Mainz.

I never had heard of him before, didn't know his music, but - after some research in the internet - decided to go to his concert. Tickets were 24 Euro in Mainz. Maybe about 200-250 people showed up for the concert, but quite a few seats remained empty. And, not too many greek people around. Nevertheless, it was a phantastic night!

Michalis is an incredibly fast lute player and an extraordinary singer. He was accompanied by four superb fellow musician.
Kostas Sindridis (keyboards), Theodoros Kouelis (bass) und Grigoris Sindridis (drums/percussion). The lyra- and mandoline player Giorgos Skordalos is a class on its own.

I really was surprised by the very pleasant volume in which he delivered his soulful and expressive songs. I have experienced ear-smashing concerts on Samos when local bands were playing.

In the first half of the concert, Michalis sang more slow and emotional songs. After the break, he opened with one of his most famous songs, "Pali, Pali". And the audience went crazy immediately.

Incredibly fast runs on the fingerboard of the lute will end abruptly, then unexpectedly are continued starting in higher
or the highest layers. In between, over and over again, he throws in some syncopated or offbeat attacks on the lute. His music is very rhythm oriented and often abruptly changing.

Michalis sings and handles his instrument with full body use on stage and very often shakes his black lion's mane (yes, he's a lion, born on the 31st of July!) That he has to work hard and persevering on his lute and himself could well be a life issue.

After the concert I came to know four dedicated fans of him, who travel to follow him and try to participate in most of his concerts.

And whom did I meet - mediated by a really big fan from Leverkusen - very late at night in front of the City Hilton hotel in Mainz? Sitting there with two of his tour companions smoking cigarettes? That was a good opportunity to talk with Michalis in a small group.

Michalis Tsouganakis will appear in one more concert in Germany: on Saturday, November 21st, in Berlin, Jazz-Club Quasimodo, 10:00 pm

I asked him if he had played on Samos already, but he denied. He has been to many islands, but not to Samos. Maybe a good idea to invite him in the summer season to Samos, e.g. during the Samos Wine Festival in Samos-town.

Well, how does his music sounds like? On the internet video platforms (e.g. YouTube or Vimeo) videos from his concerts have already been published by fans.

Here are some examples:

From a Greek TV show:

Michalis Tzouganakis live in Greece:

Concert in Frankfurt in the "Fabrik" in May 2009

Concert in Düsseldorf during his tour through Germany in November 2009

Concert in Mainz during his tour through Germany in November 2009

Michalis Tzouganakis live in Germany 2009 on Vimeo.

Michalis Tzouganakis live in Germany 2009 on Vimeo.

Michalis Tzouganakis live in Germany 2009 on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stories of Ireon at night (part 2)

Part 2: the good and delicious food

Over the years I came to know a couple of taverns on Samos I really like to go to and spend some time there with friends. The musician Dimos first took me to this place in Ireon two or three years ago. Since then I like to go there again everytime I'm on Samos: the fish tavern "Captain Miltos"! Fresh grilled fish at its best!
And I especially like the sword fish fillet and the calamari, together with the rosé wine!

Imho it's not a spectacular tavern, rather a place at a dark corner which many tourists won't even take notice of when passing by.

This year I was lucky to be there twice, here are some of my photographic memories of the visits to this tavern:

"Our" swordfish fillets on the grill. "Lecker" as we germans say!

Well this here is our table, my "farewell to Samos table" on that evening on October 12th, filled with many delicious things.
Dimos ordered all of these via cellular phone when we were on our "race" from Balos beach to Ireon:

Swordfish fillet

Squid (Calamari, Kalamares)

Greek Salad (χωριάτικη σαλάτα)

Fried Eggplants (Melitzanes, Aubergines)

Swordfish portion for two people (on that other visit):

Captain Miltos showing what he fished out of the sea, e.g. a big tuna fish, weighing approx. 20 kg.
Not so easy for him to hold this big fish up for a while to allow me to take a good photo! (Maybe that's why he doesn't smile here anymore! ;-))

So it's time to say goodbye: The "Blue(s) Brothers" ;-) Captain Miltos together with Dimos.

I get the blues, bye till next year!

We enter the car and hurry back to Pythagorio. Dimos has only little time left to be in time for starting his music show in a hotel. And I walk slowly - and a bit tipsy I must confess - down the main street of Pythagorio and then up a side street to my studio to take a rest to get rid of some alcohol.
2 hours relaxing time and a warm shower before I will head down to the harbour. At 10:30 p.m. I will meet with Mike in the harbour in another nice place, Manolis' ouzeri called "Karafaki". For some special photographers conversation enhanced by greek "Mythos"! :-)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stories of Ireon at night (part 1)

Part 1: the drinkable ingredients

Well, more bottles of samian wine ..... , Dryoussa, Psilés Korfés, Golden Samena, Samaina sec, Fokianos, ....
..... and some hard drinks. Don't forget to try the local Souma and Ouzo! ;-)
And more stories to be told ....

You ask, where is this place? The full story will be revealed in part 2 together with photos of the delicious food there! :-)
You wanna guess? Here is some hint!

Curious about the wines of Samos? If you are interested in these wines, either dry or sweet, red, rosé or white, and where you can get them in your country, please pay a visit to the website of the Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Samos (EOSS).
Of course, in many taverns, you will find that local wines are served too as house wines.

Here a short excursion to the history of samian wines can be found .

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Samos by night... lol

04:54 am at my friends bar ... my aproach of creative art Photography... well, at least we were artistic that night...

04:54 am Morgen in der Bar eines Freundes... mein Versuch der kreativen kuenstlerischen Fotografie... na zumindest waren wir kuenstlerisch in der Nacht...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No, No! This one! ;-)

Old and rusty too: in August 2007, Mike already posted here in our blog a more detailed photo of this old veteran (on the side of the road from Pythagorio towards Samos-town) .

(these two photos taken three years ago end of June 2006)

Well, we could say, this is maybe the most famous Samos car wreck and it is well represented on photo databases worldwide!
David Bratley has published two photos of this car here.
Mike has contributed quite a few here!
Photos documenting the later stages of this vehicle after a new colour had been applied: look here (HDR) and here and here.
A shot in b&w from 2009 is depicted here!
And here is the link to a series of photos Bastiaan Wesseling took of this car!

Do you mean THIS one ?... ;-) was a Opel Truck on the road from Mitillini to Agiades...

Monday, November 2, 2009

New friends for old cars!

Holidays on Samos? Looking for a photo of a car wreck? Well, no problem, Samos is rich in old car wrecks!
A wealth of these rotten and forgotten vehicles can be found along the roads, partially hidden in forests or stuck in fields, and in the gardens around the houses. Since many many years!

The photo above is from the year 2006, this was my favorite car wreck. But it had been removed already the next year I came back to this place.

Lately, Rainer Kastl has started a Samos vehicle wreck collection using latest technology. He has taken a lot of photos in October 2009 and positioned the vehicle wrecks he found according to their GPS data on a map of Samos! Now they are so easy to find, nobody can miss them anymore!

He collected 44 wrecks within his two weeks stay on Samos. And, in time, more and more examples will be added as points of interest to this map of car wrecks on Samos. Isn't it astonishing, what you can do with modern technologies? ;-)

Here is the link to the Samos vehicle wreck map.

Me and Mike could contribute quite a few more, but we don't have the respective GPS data.

Btw., already in 2008 Matthias Hänsch from Germany published a gallery on his website called "The old cars of Samos"

More photos of rusty vehicles on Samos can be found here and here

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A visit to the area of the big forest fire

In July 2000, a several day lasting big forest fire eliminated at least 30 percent of the forests on Samos. The area around the village of Pirgos and north of Pirgos up to the top of Karvounis suffered especially. That was a big tragedy for the natural beauty of Samos and a life threatening experience for some owners of land and house properties.

After that fire at lot of initiatives were started to fight future forest fires on Samos. But sadly enough, this large area with beautiful forests in the center and south of Samos was gone. And everyone knew that it would take about 50 - 100 years before there will be real forests again.

During a Jeep tour through the Ambelos mountains in the center of Samos, from Pandroso up to the white chapel Profitis Ilias on top of Karvounis, I was interested to see how things might have changed in the meantime.

In many places, lots of fresh and incredibly green young trees can be seen, most of the newly grown trees (bushes) are approx. 1 to 1,5 meters high.

Here are some photos that show the situation in October 2009.

Some other areas still look devastated, like nothing has changed at all since July/August 2000.

Somewhere on the dirt road leading up to Profitis Ilias: The view to the west towards Kerkis mountain and the bare islands of Fourni

On top of Karvounis mountain (1153 meter high)

View to the northeast from top of Karvounis

The chapel Profitis Ilias on top of Karvounis :

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Balos and Pefkos beaches in autumn

Below the village of Koumeika in the south of the island of Samos, a road leads down to Balos beach. Since last winter, the upper half of this road has been completely renewed, an asphalt road (feels almost like a highway now) leads very comfortably down to lovely Balos bay in a couple of minutes. On the second photo (taken already in 2007) the old road can be seen on the left hand side, the lower part of the new road - which had been finished already then - on the right hand side .

I have visited Balos beach many times during the last years, but only in 2008 I discovered the special light of October in Balos. So I wanted to go back to Balos beach this year again.
Together with the singer/guitarist Dimos, I visited this beach three times between October 7th and 12th, 2009, more or less almost at the end of the season 2009. And we were fortunate to enjoy the almost empty beaches whilst having the most beautiful warm autumn weather on Samos!

"Arriving in Balos was like entering a secret, peaceful world - far from the madding crowds!" somebody wrote in "tripadvisor" about his stay there. That is exactly how it has been there until now.
I am not quite sure what effect this new road will have on this remote place, since it seems that sort of "highway" was build to enable busses full of tourists to go down to Balos beach now .

Well, before this remote and calm paradise might get lost too, let me take you on a journey to a magic place on Samos, here are some of my impressions from October 2009, just a couple of days ago: Fantastic views to Mount Kerkis, a long beach with a mixture of sand and pebbles, cristal clear waters, lots of sunshine almost all day long till the sun sets dramatically behind Mount Kerkis or Ikaria island (depending on season) with glowing evening horizons (view to the west!).

Several houses, a few apartment buildings, 2 hotels and 4 (small) taverns are located on the road leading along the long beach (view to the east!).

And, even further to the east, at the very end of the main bay, some small rocky bays/coves can be explored by a little climbing over rocks.

In October, a perfect place for those who seek the calm and want to stay away from the hectic world. On Sunday, October 11th 2009, there was almost no wind, a perfect day for relaxing, swimming in the warm sea, sunbathing, playing music and recording some music video.

"Caveman" Dimos with his guitar, as depicted above, "live from Balos beach": you can listen to him singing the song: "If I needed you" with the waves rolling on Balos beach in the background. The second song we were singing together, it is the famous "California Dreaming". We recorded these songs in that sort of cave shown in the first photo of this photostory.

The tavern "Esperos" at the eastern end of the beach, where I have been several times over the recent years, already was closed when I came to Balos beach this year. The space, where tables and chairs usually are standing to invite the hungry & thirsty beach visitors, from now on during the winter season is used for apparently other purposes!

If you want to get an idea of how the view is from inside of "Esperos" out on the beach, e.g. in September, please look here !

The tavern "Akrogiali" on the corner, where the road down from Koumeika meets the seafront, was still open, over noon and in the late afternoon after 6:30 pm (both photos are from October 2008).

And the tavern in the middle of the beach "I Paralia" (photo from 2008) was still open too, but they only served drinks: there I got my greek coffee with the glas of water this year again, as you can clearly see in a photo further above!

Stella's cypriot restaurant we didn't visit, so I can't say if this place was still open (photo is from October 2008).

An almost magic atmosphere can be encountered, when the sun sets slowly and floods Balos beach with golden light.

The little chapel next to the taverna "Esperos"

Scenes along the road parallel to the beach

Last minutes of sunlight on the beach

Balos beach already is in the shade, but high up on the slopes of the mountain Spatharei glows in the light of the setting sun.

And, for those who like to eat fresh seafood, it might be a good idea to move on a bit further southeast to the next bay, Pefkos, to pay a visit to the Ouzeri "Bella Vista" on Pefkos beach. For me, there is no other comparable place on Samos to watch the sunset and the glowing horizon behind the huge dark Kerkis mountain while enjoying some excellent seafood and wine in good company.
This place closed down in 2009 on Sunday, October 11th. They told us they will be open again next year from May 1st on. We were lucky enough to be there on this last night with this fantastic evening sky. And, by chance, met there some locals coming from Pythagorio too.

Additional information (October 23rd, 2009):
I would like to direct your attention to websites relating to that area in the south of Samos:

An initiative by Patrick Humphreys called "Amfilissos, River Area of Cultural Inheritance and Ecology" that proposes a plan for a possible development and revitalisation of the area between Neochori, Skoureika, Koumeika and Balos.

A blog called "Mpalos (Balos)" in greek language. Giving lots of information on (greek) music, island life and showing beautiful photos of Samos.

Additional information: (November 1st, 2009)
More than 10 years ago, Franz Nahrada from Austria (Globally Integrated Village Environment (GIVE) Lab, Vienna) proposed a project for the same area: Neohori-Project.

Additional information: (November 2nd, 2009)
Rainer Kastl has done a very good job and has posted more than 20 hiking tours on his website "Samos-Wandern" (in german) using a combination of GPS data and his photos.
His latest addition (tour 22) is a tour in the area between Balos beach and Psili Ammos beach/Peri.