January in Athens
Most of the tourism in the city happens in summer when the weather warms up. Luckily for us this means access to museums, galleries and interesting places with few or no other visitors.
In January we have managed to get to quite a few museums including the First Cemetery of Athens with its collection of memorials and outdoor excavations of this important entrance to the city. We also have been to the old Parliament Building, now a museum to the independent state of Greece, where we learnt a lot about the history of the country from 1821. There is a fabulous collection of costume here, recently recreated by Toymobile as figurines. The figures are displayed beside each of the costumes they represent with a mirror on the back of the stand so that it is possible to look at the back of the piece too.These photographs on this page are of (part of) two of the life-size models with their accompanying figurines. Aren't they fun?
Our travels took us to the island of Hydra for a few days where we saw more costumes and added this book of photographs to the collection. We loved the island and I will write more about it soon.
In addition we have managed to get to a Byzantine and Christian Museum housed in a building designd by the architect Ernst Ziller (yes, another book was bought) where we were entranced by the painting of draped fabrics and the intricate details on the robes of priests, offset in this beautiful building, and we also visited the Toy Museum and the National Library and Opera House in Piraeus, the latter with its huge rooftop gardens. You can visit the Library and Cultural Centre virtually yourself here.
Our collection has grown with music of all kinds, fabrics, poetry books, books on art and photography, and plenty of new clothes and a few pieces of jewellery - Athenian fashion is very much alive, we have discovered.
Interestingly, for a place with so much traditionally weaving in its blood, it is quite hard to find contemporary handwoven fabrics. We did manage to meet and visit the studio of Alexandra Bissa who was very gracious with her time and generous with information. Alexandra learned to weave from her aunt who had, in turn, learnt from her grandmother, in the northern part of the country. What an amazing family tradition.
There is so much to see and hear that it is quite overwhelming, especially when that richness is combined with a way of life and culture that we are not used to. It is exciting and inspiring to have our perceptions changed and we are loving every minute! If you would like to see what we have been discovering for ourselves, head on over to my Flickr account where you can see a selection that is updated most days.