La Sagrada Familia

As you already know, this blog is a viaggio from Athens to Florence. However, this time let us make a stop to Barcelona. I know you’ll tell me there are so many worth-mentioning spots in that city, but I think I will stick to La Sagrada Familia. Maybe because that was the neighborhood I used to stay in during my visit, maybe because Ι have never seen anything equivalent of a Basilica before…in anyway I believe that it deserves a little of our time.

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Designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, La Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic church in Barcelona. Its construction begun in 1882, and in 1883 Gaudí took charge of the project and transformed it thoroughly, combining Gothic with modernist (Catalan Modernism) elements. After Gaudí’s death in 1926, only the 25% of the project was complete. The construction of La Sagrada Familia advanced gradually, yet it remains incomplete. 


Entering the Basilica, I could not hide my insuperable feeling when I outfaced the imposing Christ on the Cross. The sculptures hanging all over the church indicate its sanctity in combination with the noticeable silence, despite the great number of visitors. Of course, I could not miss the tour on the towers of La Sagrada Familia, from where the view is something more than breathtaking.


From where I stand, La Sagrada Familia is a must-see in someone’s lifetime, independently of whether he prefers exploring the cultural elements of a place or not.

Words cannot always describe the majesty that the eyes witness.


Young people, families, hard workers are so ‘lustfully’ waiting for a moment like this every year. Vacations. They might last for only a weekend, for whole weeks or even months. In anyway, these little breaks, and I say little because no matter their duration they are never enough,  make the difference. Not only because we get away from our routine, but because travels hide deeper senses that sometimes cannot be unveiled if we do not start traveling. As St. Augustine said ”The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page”.


Personally, I wanna travel the whole world but for now I guess Barcelona was a striking idea. So, my upcoming trip there made me think for a while. What is traveling?

Traveling is more than the destination. Cliche. But true. Traveling is the excitement of booking your tickets and the place you are going to stay. It is organizing your trip and making your suitcase. For me, this is such a sacred moment because when I make my suitcase the only thing I do not consider to be necessary is the lamp on my bedside table. Crazy, I know. Haha! But, most importantly, bear in mind that ”wherever you go, go with all your heart” -Confucius because at the end traveling is not where you are going but the discovery of the unknown, the feelings and the memories that you bring with you back home.


Anywhere you are planning to go, I hope you’ll all have a great, great summer.

Sooner or later. It’s coming!

Suspended Coffees

Suspended Coffees, is a great way to make the world a little better. It is a tradition, originated from Naples in Italy and by saying ‘suspended’ we simply mean that people can purchase for coffees in advance that are provided to those who cannot afford buying one. Customers, for example, can purchase two coffees, one for themselves and another one to be held as ‘suspended’ and people who are in need are welcome to come in the participating coffee shops and ask if there are any Suspended Coffees.


This initiative is to help poor and homeless or just those who deal with hardships and brighten their day.I have to say that I’m so glad, that there are still people who care about others, who invent these little ‘tricks’ in order to ‘warm’ some others’ hearts. These actions of care and affection show us that there is hope in the world and even though governments might have abandoned their tries on helping the poor and the homeless, Suspended Coffees is a pure sign of integrating them again into society to come and drink or eat decently.


Of course this is feasible not only with beverages but also with sandwiches, meals or whatever you are willing to pay for. The participant coffee shops carry the logotype (below) so as to let people know that they are supporting this concept. Many countries all over Europe, America and Asia join day by day the project of Suspended Coffees, so what if the time has come for Greece to join it, too? Would you support it?


Everyone can be informed by their official page on facebook: and those who are interested in participating as vendors can e-mail them at

‘ There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up’ -John Holmes


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.


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.


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?

Vincent Van Gogh

I guess that you must have realized my intense love in Art. Hence, I have recently read a book that I bought last summer in a Book Exhibition. It is a book about the so well-known and of course unforgettable painter Vincent Van Gogh.

“To express the love of two lovers by a marriage of two complementary colors, their mingling and their opposition, the mysterious vibrations of kindred tones. To express the thought of a brow by the radiance of a light tone against a sombre background. To express hope by some stars…”


Starry night (1889)

These are the first lines of the book that without a second thought show Van Gogh’s perception of painting and his use of bold colors that characterize most of his eminent works.

Vincent Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in Holland. Being a highly emotional and low confident man, after two incomplete romances and many unsuccessful job choices, he finally decided to become an artist.

The potato eaters (1885)

The potato eaters (1885)

One of his most famous paintings is ” The Potato Eaters” (1885) that was accomplished during his stay in Belgium. When he moved to Paris in 1886 to live with his brother Theo Van Gogh, he had the chance to meet Pissarro, Monet and Gauguin who inevitably inspired him to use more intense colors. Vincent Van Gogh, then decided to go to Arles where his friend Gauguin joined him, too. But, due to Van Gogh’s intense tamperament and the different perception of drawing that both of them had, this cohabitation turned out to be disastrous and in 1888 when Gauguin had to leave Arles, Van Gaugh ended up cutting a portion of his own ear lobe off. After this incident, Van Gogh was sent to the asylum in Saint-Remy for treatment. In May of 1890, feeling much better, Van Gogh goes to live in Auvers-sur-Oise near his doctor Dr. Gachet. However, on July 27, Van Gogh decided to give an end to his life by shooting himself and died on July 28 near to his brother Theo who hastened to visit him.

self portrait

Self-portrait (1887)

Vincent Van Gogh’s finest works were produced in less than two years. His technique was characterized as symbolic with an obvious use of bold colors.

The chair 1888

The chair (1888)

I hope that someday I will have the opportunity to visit one of Van Gogh’s exhibitions but till then I would like to share with you something that Vincent Van Gogh had written to his brother Theo, in one of the so many letters that they used to exchange ” Do you know what I think of quite often? What I was saying to you before…that if I wouldn’t succeed, I nevertheless believed that my work will be continued. Not directly. Differently, maybe because I’m not the only one who believes in things that are true…”

sunflowers 1889

Sunflowers (1889)

New York: Now and Then

If you ask me, I have never been to New York but there is always something magical in this city that excites me even through the photos.


Thus, I decided to share with you an interesting historical flashback of this American city. I will show you some photos that my sister e-mailed me, which depict the same places in the city in different decades. The old ones have been taken in the 20th century, whereas the rest of them are contemporary ones.

What is impressive in these photos is the fact that many buildings remain identical through the time and of course the significance of nature is widely obvious. The green spots have not been uprooted despite its radical development.

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”I’m in love with cities, I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met– Unknown

Edinburgh, the Athens of the North

There is a city in Europe that no one should skip without visiting it and this is the Athens of the North, Edinburgh in Scotland. Due to my recent trip to Edinburgh, I had the chance to meet a city that, I have to admit I didn’t expect, it would be so mind blowing. The uniqueness of Edinburgh with its imposing architecture and its mysterious atmosphere made me fall so badly in love with it.


Edinburgh is a small city of approximately 500.000 people, which makes it so easy and pleasant to wander. You have the opportunity to walk the medieval streets of the city and stop for a coffee or a drink at the beautifully designed cafes and pubs based on the Gothic Architecture. And for those who love Harry Potter, like me, you shouldn’t bypass the Elephant House, the place where everything started.

No one should leave Edinburgh without having visited the grandiose Castle of Edinburgh, which rises approximately 263 ft above the city and was the residence of many Royal Families of Scotland. Apart from the National War Museum of Scotland, the Royal Palace and the Great Hall, the castle also houses St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh dating from the 12th century, and the Honours of Scotland, Scottish regalia and the Scottish Crown Jewels, dating from the 15th and 16th centuries.


Castle of Edinburgh

Going downhill from the castle, you will meet the famous Royal Mile (one of the most haunted as they claim places in the city), the street running between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the Queen of Scotland. The Royal Mile consists of four parts, the Castlehill, the Lawnmarket, the High Street and the Canongate. This street represents the Old Town of Edinburgh where you get a glimpse of the medieval buildings, the Gothic style Cathedral of St. Giles and famous museums such as the Museum of Childhood and the Scotch Whisky Experience Museum. South east of Edinburgh Castle, you will find the historic square of Grassmarket, now overwhelmed with pubs and restaurants, it was a setting for public executions back in the late 15th century.

royal mile

Royal Mile

At the east of the New Town, you will meet the Calton Hill, a hill that is included in the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the most significant monuments up the hill are, the Nelson Monument which was built in the early 19th century due to Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, the National Monument that was modelled upon the Parthenon in Athens and the Dugald Stewart Monument, a memorial to the Scottish philosopher Dugald Stewart and from which you have a panoramic view of the entire city of Edinburgh.

calton hill

Calton Hill

Going down the hill, begins the Princes Street, the main shopping street in Edinburgh. As you walk along this street, dominates the Scott Monument, a Victorian Gothic monument dedicated to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. The Princes Street separates the medieval Old Town from the Georgian style New Town. The New Town is a delightful part of Edinburgh where you can wander in the large streets and squares ( St. Andrew Square).

scott monument

Scott Monument

As you wander in the streets of the city you will certainly see the universities that Edinburgh houses (four in total) and especially the Old University Of Edinburgh that departments of it are found everywhere in the city.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the nightlife of the city. Of course it wasn’t what we, Greeks, are used to. However, it includes a variety of pubs, clubs and bars that make your student life even better.

Edinburgh is a must for everyone and specifically for the travel addicts as it combines the romantic sense with the eerie and unexplained taste. Take my word for it!

“Edinburgh is a mad God’s dream.”, Hugh MacDiarmid, The Complete Poems, 1978.

The Great Painter


Last Saturday, after a two-hour exam at the university, I decided on my way home to stop at the Theocharakis Foundation which presented an exhibition of the works of The Great Painter: Nikolaos Gyzis, one of the most essential representatives of the Munich School. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of his works which among others were paintings, bronze sculptures, charcoal drawings or even drawings on celluloid.

Nikolaos Gyzis, was born in the island of Tinos. When he moved with his family to Athens, he begun attending the Athens School of Fine Arts, which formed his artistic career. In 1863, when Gyzis graduated from the School of Fine Arts, he painted for the first time portraits of his family. Most of his portraits, depict his eldest daughter Penelope and some others his second daughter Margarita. The portraits of his daughters are amongst the most qualitative of his works.


In 1865, he continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In the early 1870’s, he returned to Greece for several years and he painted a series of works with completely Greek themes as the Carnival in Athens. The Children Engagement 1877 and The Secret School 1885-1886 are two of his most recognized pieces of his painting career.

N. Gyzis


The beginning of his involvement with the still lifes was identified by Montandon in the early 1880-1890. In the same decade are recorded chronologically most of the painter’s still lifes. Before the 1880’s, the still lifes were affiliated with Gyzis’s genre formations. Gyzis mainly painted food, flowers and utensils. In his work Brioche, pomegranate and canister, the themes emerge from the deep dark, the warm colors of the dessert and the pomegranate and the cold colors of the container are juxtaposed and then reconciled with the reflections on the surface of the table and on the metal container.



In the 1890’s Nikolaos Gyzis dealt with more religious themes such as the Historia 1892 and the Archangel (from the painting of the Foundation of Faith) 1894-1895.


Towards the end of his life in Munich, Gyzis dealt with the allegorical themes. One of his latest and best known work was The New Century 1899-1900.

The exhibition, as I mentioned before, also included Bronze Sculptures 1898, Drawings charcoal on paper 1884 and Drawings on celluloid 1896-1898.

Nikolaos Gyzis died on 4 January 1901.

“I cannot paint Greece as beautifully as I feel it”, Nikolaos Gyzis (1842-1901).


An Irish taste in Athens

james joyce

Many find it superb, while others think it is a bit overrated. Either way, it is an alternative to spend your afternoons. It is nothing less than the James Joyce Irish Pub. Situated in the heart of Athens, offers a beautiful perception of the Irish culture.

As you enter the pub, you immediately get a glimpse of the moody and dark ambiance but at the same time the warmness of the place becomes noticeable. The cozy sofas and the native speaking staff make you feel comfortable and like you are at home.


The pictures around the walls transfer you to the great old Irish pubs as well the music, food and drinks reveal the contemporary side of Ireland. The menu is a combination of the Greek cuisine and some of the traditional Irish favorites such as the Irish Breakfast and Fish & Chips, in affordable prices.

The wooden long bar that is extended at the right side of the pub gives you the chance to discover a wide selection of Irish and world whiskies and beers. And if you ask me a traditional Guinness beer and the Classic Nachos are a great combination for an evening visit to the pub with your friends or even colleagues. If you’re lucky, you might come across a football match and taste the way Irish and Greeks create an atmosphere similar to that in Britain.

james joyce 2

So, if you’d like to find out more on your own there is nothing else you can do but just visit the James Joyce Irish Pub in Astiggos 12, Thiseio. And always bare in mind their motto At the James Joyce, it’s a place where there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met”.

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