Friday, 28 June 2019

Greece: Butterflies of Mount Chelmos and the Northern Peloponnese

This post illustrates some of the new species we saw on the second part of our wonderful butterfly holiday in Greece with Greenwings.

 Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta)

 Great Banded Grayling (Kanetida circe)

Spotted Fritillary (Meliteae didyma)

Ripart's Anomalous Blue (Agrodiaetus ripartii)

Berger's Clouded Yellow (Colias alphcariensis)

Chelmos Blue (Agrodiaetus iphigenia)

Lesser Fiery Copper (Lycaena thersamon)

Anomalous Blue (Agrodiaetus admetus)

Odd-spot Blue (F) (Turanana endymion)

Mealeager's Blue (Meleageria daphnis)

Lang's Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous)

Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae)

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Greece: Olympia

The Stadium

We are still on our butterfly spotting holiday, but today we have abandoned the rest of the gang to made a side trip to Olympia, the one major site that we haven't yet seen. We got there by a high speed taxi ride over the mountains which took a while to recover from. Olympia is rather different from Delphi as it is much larger and on a flat site. The site plan indicates that the recommended route for exploration is an anti-clockwise loop, starting with the Gymnasium on the right.

Olympia is primarily about the Olympic games and so the Gymnasium, used for practicing races, javelin and discus seems a reasonable place to start. It dates from the 2nd century BC. There is not much left however, so considerable imagination is required.

Further along is the Palaestra (3rd century BC), a square building with a central courtyard surrounded by a colonnade. It was principally a training area for wrestling, boxing and jumping.

Next we passed a rather different style of building, with not a column in sight. This was once the workshop of Pheidias and later an early Christina basilica. The zone at the rear of the site has a number of buildings which have Roman origins.

A little further along was the curiously named SW Building, a complex of baths dating from the 1st-3rd century AD.

This marked the furthest point from the entrance and we now headed across the rear of the site, delighted by these unusually coloured Oleanders.

Now we came to the South portico (4th century BC) which marked the southern boundary of the site. It consisted of a interior Doric colonnade and and an outer Corinthian one. The capitals of the Corinthian columns give some idea of what it might have been like.

Beyond this, in the far corner, is the so-called Octagon, or Nero's House. It was altered in the 3rd century and occupied briefly by the Roman Emperor Nero when he attended the games

Heading now towards the front of the site, we rather ignored the Temple of Zeus on our left and passed the remains of the Echo Stoa (an covered colonade which was 100m long)  which once had two tall Ionic columns topped by statues of Ptoleny and Arsinoe. One of these remains, albeit without its statue

Now we came the passageway which marks the entrance to the Stadium which was laid out in the 5th century BC. The Stadium is said to have been able to accommodate 45,000 spectators (see the photo at the head of this post).

Just along from the Stadium entrance is the Nymphaion, a monumental fountain of a kind found in Renaissance Italy, and in front of it the Altar of Hera.

The Altar has been used to light the Olympic flame ever since the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

Immediately adjacent is the Temple of Hera. Dating from the end of the 7th century BC, it is the oldest temple on the site. There were originally 6 columns across the front and rear and 16 along the sides.

Finally, we come to the circular temple called the Philippeion, restored in 2005. It was started by Philip of Macedon some time after 338 BC to mark his victory over the Greeks at Chaeronia

To complete our visit we had a quick look round the excellent Museum, whose colonaded courtyard offered a nod to Classical antiquity.

Among many interesting exhibits we especially admired this sculpture of Zeus and Ganymede. In Greel mythology Ganymede was a beautufl Trojan boy who Zeus fell in love with his and abducted him in the form of an eagle to serve as cup-bearer to the Gods.

I also found this collection of Greek helmets very striking.

Conditions: sunny and very hot.

Rating: five stars.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Greece: Butterflies of Mount Parnassus and Delphi

This post illustrates some of the new species we saw on the first part of our wonderful butterfly holiday in Greece with Greenwings.

Clouded Apollo (Parnessius mnemosyne)

Balkan Marbled White (Melanargia clarissa)

 Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia)
 Rare at home, but less so in Greece.

Ilex Hairstreak (Satirium ilicis)

Grecian Copper (Lycaena ottomana)

Amanda's Blue (Agrodiaetus amanda)

 Lattice Brown (Kirinia roxelana)

Grass Jewel (Freyeria trochilus)
Europe's smallest butterfly 

Oriental Meadow Brown (Hyponephele lupina)
Note the distinctive scalloped wing edges)

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Greece: Galaxidi and the Rio-Antirrio Bridge

View into the Gulf of Corinth

We are en route from our first base at Delphi to a new location at Kalavtra in the Northern Peloponnese. On the way, we are stopping for lunch at Galaxidi and pretty fishing village on the shore of the Gulf of Corinth, which is an large inlet of the Ionian Sea, closed at the eastern end until the Corinth Canal was opened in the 19th century. We will cross the Gulf at one of its narrowest points over the Rio-Antirrio Bridge.

Galaxidi is effectively located in an inlet off a larger inlet and it is almost surrounded by mountains.

At the end of the harbour there are moorings fro small boats and a pleasing collection of small fish restaurants. After our stroll round we had an excellent lunch at one in the far corner. Swallows nested under the awning and kept us amused when conversation faltered.

We walked along the quayside away from the restaurant and soon passed this fine but dilapidated house with its lovely Corinthian pilasters.

Near the end of the quay we headed up a steep road passing a number of substantial houses.

At the top is the newish church of St Nicholas, built on the site of the Church of Saint John of Jerusalem, built by the Hospitallers in 1404. It is not clear why the old church had to be replaced.

We turned left here and ambled along the high road, parallel to the harbour. Another church presented itself on the right. It had an unusual design and a very plan facade.

The end of the nave presumably had three small chapels.

After this the road gradually descended towards the harbour. I was taken by a ruined house in a very different architectural style from the others. It look like it would make a fine renovation project!

After lunch it was back into the minibuses to head towards the Rio-Antirrio Bridge to cross into the Peloponnese. This large peninsular was known as the Morea in medieval times. I have often wondered if the word "Peloponnese" means anything, but I can find only descriptions.

The Rio-Antirrio Bridge is named for the two localities it connects, but apparently its official name is the Charilaos Trikoupis bridge, after the 19th century Prime Minister who came up with the idea of building a bridge here. At 1.8 miles it is one of the longest cable-stayed bridges. It opened in 2004.

Photography was a challenge as there was nowhere to park, without making a time-consuming detour (the butterflies were waiting!), so the following pictures were taken through the closed windows of the minibus. The first gives a sense, albeit rather hazy, of the style and scale of the bridge with its four great pylons.

As we approached the bridge this rather dramatic image presented itself ...

... and this was the fantastic view once we were actually on it.

Conditions: warm and sunny.

Ratings: Galixidi 3 stars, Bridge 5 stars.

It was overall a very interesting and varied day as we had some good spotting in a disused quarry on the way to Galaxidi and stopped at a marvelous woodland site before we reached Kalavytra.