Buona Pasqua..

Happy Easter everybody!

In Florence easter is celebrated with the Scoppio del Carro. The Scoppio del Carro (“Explosion of the Cart”) is a folk tradition of Florence, Italy. A cart, packed full of fireworks and other pyrotechnics, is lit and provides a historic spectacle in the civic life of the city.

The actual explosion begins at 11:00, but you’ll have to head down to Piazza del Duomo at least around 10:00 AM, if not sooner, for a good spot! I’ve already watched it 2 times but didn’t manage to be at a privileged position in any of them. Who knows..?Maybe next time!

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On the morning of Easter Sunday, the 30-foot-tall (9.1 m) antique cart (in use for over 500 years), moves from the Porta al Prato to the Piazza del Duomo . Hauled by a team of white oxen festooned with garlands of the first flowers and herbs of spring, the cart is escorted by 150 soldiers, musicians, and people in 15th century dress.
Meanwhile, a fire is struck using the historic flints from Jerusalem at Chiesa degli Santi Apostoli. It is then carried in procession to the cathedral square by members of the Pazzi family, clerics, and city officials.
The cart is loaded with fireworks while a wire, stretching to the high altar inside the cathedral, is fitted with a mechanical dove (the “columbina”). Shortly thereafter, at the singing of the Gloria in excelsis Deo during Easter Mass, the cardinal of Florence lights a fuse in the columbina with the Easter fire. It then speeds through the church to ignite the cart outside.
During all of these stages, the bells of Giotto’s campanile ring out.
The complex fireworks show that follows lasts about 20 minutes. A successful display from the “Explosion of the Cart” is supposed to guarantee a good harvest, stable civic life, and good business.

Below some photos from the Scoppio del Carro, 2 years ago..

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Laughter Yoga

Did you know that when we were younger, we used to laugh 300 times per day for no reason but just for pleasure? However, as we grow up, the demands of every day life prompt us to become more serious and lose the capacity of laughing spontaneously. Laughter is something we do voluntarily and effortlessly and it is contagious. It has nothing to do with the language as we laugh even before we learn to speak.

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Psychologically, laughter decreases stress, makes us feel more relaxed and people with sadness and depression have the same benefits as if they had exercise therapy. At the same time, physiologically, we become more tolerant to pain and it improves the function of our immune and cardiovascular system.

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Thus, in the mid- 1990s, Madan Kataria, an Indian physician, introduced Laughter Yoga. Laughter Yoga requires voluntary and spontaneous laughter, practiced in groups. Laughter for no reason provides us with energy, develops our positive thinking and awakens our inner well-being.

‘Fake it ’til you make it’ they say and it really works!

Laughter Yoga sessions combine laughter with eye contact with others in the group and ‘childlike playfulness’ without needing to be based on jokes or sense of humor. Breathing exercises are part of this method as they prepare the lungs for laughter and provide physiological benefits.

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Laughter, changes our life, arouses the joy of life and boosts our dynamism and confidence.

‘Remember men need laughter sometimes more than food’ – Anna Fellows-Johnston

So, why not laughing?

Neverending rain..

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Valencia – Barcelona ’08..

Hi everyone! Τhis morning, looking for something on my hard drive, I came across these photos from my trip to Spain 5 years ago. I wert first to Valencia for 4 days and then another 4 to Barcelona! I couldn’t find all the photos, let’s hope there is a copy somewhere in my house in Athens and i didn’t lost them 😦

In Valencia most of my time i spent it at Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences), designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. The “city” is made up of the following, usually known by their Valencian names:

* El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía — Opera house and performing arts centre
* L’Hemisfèric — Imax Cinema, Planetarium and Laserium
* L’Umbracle — Walkway / Garden
* El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe — Science museum
* L’Oceanogràfic — Open-air oceanographic park

Then of course we went for a walk at the beach! Αlthough it was March and in Florence was snowing, there the weather was almost summery, 28 degrees Celsius!

Coincidentally those days in Valencia were celebrating Fallas, a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph.  The focus of the fiesta is the creation and destruction of ninots (“puppets” or “dolls”), which are huge cardboard, wood, paper-machè and plaster statues. Lucky us!

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And then Barcelona! I don’t know from where to begin..We’ve seen so many things in 4 days and definitely missed some 😦 Of course we visited the majority of Gaudi’s work, Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Battlo and Casa Mila called also La Pedrera. We also visited MACBA, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and Camp Nou which is the football stadium of Barcelona since 1957 and is the largest stadium in Europe. We were staying at the Barceloneta area which is known for its sandy beach and its many restaurants and nightclubs along the boardwalk.

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Finally 2 photos N took with his analog camera..

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Time machine..

Several years ago, on this day, was taken this adorable photo of my cousins, Vassilis and Thanasis!

In Greece, March 25 is a national holiday, commemorating the start of the Greek war of Independence in 1821..

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Lemon Poppy Seed Birthday Cake ..

A few days ago it was Elena’s birthday.. She came over and we prepared a tasty cake with lemon, poppy seed and lemon cream cheese frosting!

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Ingredients

Cake :

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 + 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 + 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 + 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 5 egg whites

MIx flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in a bowl. Add zest, butter and 1 cup buttermilk. In a separate bowl whisk remaining buttermilk with egg whites and add it gradually to your batter. Pour into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. (we used 2 cake pans and then we cut it in 2!)

Syrup :

  • 1/3 cup water
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Mix water, juice and sugar in a saucepan. Boil it, until it appears thick and reduced in volume. Brush the hot syrup while cakes are still warm and let them cool.

Frosting :

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar

This cake is delicious! If you decide to try it, just know that it takes a while (if you want to make 4 layers like we did!), so be patient! Of course the appearance of our cake isn’t the best,  but we are excused since it’s the first time doing a cake which has more than 2 layers!

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photos © chrysoula papagianni

Friday’s Lunch..

I’m having lunch with my friend Nadia at Mama’s bakery.. A very friendly environment full of bagels and cupcakes!!

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Chocolatopolis..

2 years ago i went to Brussels with Nadia to see our friend Elisabetta who was there in Erasmus..

I don’t know how many of you have already been at this amazing capital, but i had no idea how the city was. So a few days before our departure i was out with some friends and they were telling me that it’s a boring city and that there is nothing to see except from Grand Place and the waffles of course! So i went with minimun expectations and of course i was pleasantly surprised! Not from the waffles, which by the way i didn’t eat as mush as i thought i would, but from everything else!

I really don’t know from where to start, the beers (whick i wasn’t a huge fan), the chocolate (addicted!), the Art Nouveau or the nightlife..

Day 1

Arrived at Brussels around 18:00 so we went directly at Elisabetta’s home to catch up! Then we went for dinner at a district full of little restaurants and bars. And after that we went at a party in an amazing typical belgian house!

Day 2

The weather was cloudy, so we decided to go for a chocolate! After that we visited Horta Museum. And then we were just wondering through the streets os Brussels! A stop to eat and drink something at Zebra, you have to visit this place! Then more walking, a stop for belgian fries and then we visited the famous Grand Place and the Manneken Pis. We had to stop for a beer! So we went at Archiduc, where there was a live performance, and then for dinner we went at a traditional restaurant for moules-frites, which are mussels cooked or steamed with onions and celery served with fries.…. Back at home preparing for a concert which ended at 7 o’clock in the morning!

Day 3

Woke up really late.. The weather was amazing! We went at the Marolles district, there was an enormous flea market that day. Then back to the center to have a waffle and a tea, and more walking. When you visit Brussels you have to go for a beer at Bonnefooi, definitely my favorite place in Brussels!

Day 4

Atomium day! Then we visited the European Quarter and then back at Zebra, for a delicious soup and an amazing atmosphere! Got back home really late so we decided to stay in our final night in Brussels, since we had an early flight.

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Summing up Brussels is an amazing city, full of life and thousands of things to do!

photos © chrysoula papagianni

Seafood risotto..

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Today for lunch my friends Chiara and Sara came over with Nio and Boris! They prepared a tasty seafood risotto..

It’s a really quick and delicious dish, you can find infinite different recipes but essentially you will need a mixture of seafood, garlic, parsley, white wine, and rice of course!

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Thessaloniki #now

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