Tag Archives: greece

Adventure tales of the unexpected – pt. 5: filling Beijing’s Bird-Nest Stadium + Akrotiri Excavations.

Hi folks!

Onward – with more of my extraordinary terrestrial greatest hits…

Bizarre tale of the unique/unusual kind No. 8

Here’s an extraordinary, extraordinarily-large tale from way back in 2009…

The previously-mentioned Harry Cheung (formerly the director of our Chinese office) just so happened to be friends with none other than Jackie Chan! And together the two of them pooled their power-clout and managed to convince the Beijing authorities to sanction a huge pop concert in the Chinese capital’s main stadium – yes: the (Olympic) Bird’s Nest! The undertaking turned out to cost an arm-and-a-leg, but still we managed to recoup costs from ticket sales (the surplus went to charity) – after all, Jackie himself was to appear (and sing – and not a bad singing voice he has either!), as did other top pop artists from both China and Korea. The event turned out to be massive. Chinese style…

Here’s the scene just before the start, with the stands still-only half-full ->

Btw – this truly was “our” event – organized by us, sponsored by us. Look – only our banners are to be seen around the stands (in both English and Chinese) ->

Read on:…

Amazing ancient artifacts of Santorini.

It’s been a while since we’ve had any excavation news from the Minoan Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri. But that doesn’t mean the archaeologists there aren’t still working away diligently. In fact, today I’ll show you how they’ve been continuing to expand our understanding of the ancient world.

You might be asking yourself: why Akrotiri, and not some other ancient city? Here’s a synopsis if you’ve missed my past posts.

In the Aegean Sea, the island of Santorini is probably best known for its Insta-friendly white houses, blue roofs, and breathtaking sunsets. But what a lot of people don’t know is that the island was once the site of one of mankind’s most significant natural disasters. Around 3,600 years ago, the Theran eruption destroyed a flourishing ancient culture. When excavations began here in the mid-20th century, archaeologists discovered an amazingly well-preserved city buried in volcanic ash, including two and three-story buildings. The settlement was incredibly advanced for the time, boasting structures with built-in sewage and water supply lines (I repeat: three thousand six hundred years ago!). Researchers have unearthed frescoes, pottery, furniture and numerous other artifacts attesting to the unbelievable cultural advancement of this ancient seaside society.

But when archaeology budgets were cut in Greece, excavations stopped due to lack of funding. Here and there some minor digging continued, but overall the project went into conversation mode. That’s where my obsession with the excavation begins, in 2006, when I first got acquainted with the settlement’s history. And when I put my mind to making the world a better place in some specific way, I get it done (or in this case, started!). So in 2016, lo and behold, excavations were resumed, after more than a decade, with our financial support! That’s how I ended up getting a chance to do a little digging myself, and dig I did! I even discovered a Cycladic statuette dated ~5,000 years old. Now every year we learn more and more about how the island’s ancient inhabitants lived.

So what were the highlights of 2019? There’s lots of fascinating progress to share in different areas:

Read on…

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What’s in the box? A Cycladic surprise!

Γεια folks!

Once upon a time, there was an ancient civilization that lived on and around the Mediterranean island that is today called Santorini, part of Greece. But then that civilization just disappeared, and no one really knows for sure just where to. And that was before a catastrophic volcanic eruption wiped out all that remained of the civilization. I’ve already written on these here blog pages about this fascinating place (a few times a couple years back, and a bit earlier). Ancient legends, astonishing archeological discoveries, and unbelievable hypotheses and assumptions – that’s what this place is about.

More than 3600 years ago the Minoans lived here in a city made up of houses of three or four stories, with fully working plumbing systems. But ‘Minoans’ is the name given to them thousands of years after their disappearance; who they really were, what they called themselves and their island, what language they spoke and wrote, and so on – all that is still a mystery.

All that’s left of the ‘Minoan’ civilization is the ruins of their ancient city: houses and streets, most of which are still all under a thick layers of volcanic ash.

Well I think the above-mentioned is more than enough reason to carry out archeological digs here. And not just dig, but also restore and preserve all that’s already been excavated. And after nearly a year-and-a-half (not including the winter break) of work, something reeeaaal interesting’s turned up! Namely: earthenware boxes containing… hmmm – probably something very interesting… Here are these boxes:

So, what was inside them?

‘Nothing?’ Nope.

Turns out… – another earthenware box! But inside that… – no, I’ll save that for a bit later in this post…

Read on…

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Skaros: sad story, sensational sunset.

Flying around the world aplenty as I have a habit of doing, I find that – year after year, no matter where, and practically all the time – I come across all sorts of interesting stories about mankind. Sometimes they’re merry stories, but more often than not they’re sad. Why is that? I think it’s simply because throughout the whole history of humanity any upswing ended eventually turned in a downswing (or worse) – sometimes time and time again. But not only do upswings end in downswings; generally, sooner or later, all stories do.

So why all the negativity, you may ask. Well, I’ve just read the story of the ancient settlement-in-rock, Skaros, on the Aegean island of Santorini (where we’re helping out with the archeological digs). This rocky outcrop is part of an ancient ruined volcano – on the edge of the caldera. I’ve seen it many times, taken many a pic of it, and climbed up to its peak. But this here story I’ve only just heard.

Here’s Skaros:

Read on…

Worldwide Swimming – Pt 2.

Oakie-doakie. On we march front-crawl, to the next stop on the worldwide swimming bus – Europe.

6. Hot Sea, Santorini.

Santorini is a volcano-island, or island-volcano. It’s actually a ring of islands, which are the remains of the caldera of a huge volcano of yester-millennia, with a fresh volcano growing up inside the ring in the middle, which every now and then erupts and grows bigger. I was on Santorini not long ago, and wrote plenty of words about it here on this blog.

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The only hot springs in the world that are situated in the sea reside here. At least, the only ones in the world known to me. The hot water spurts up from the seabed through the sea, making said sea the warmest sea you’ll ever know :).

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There are quite a few spots around the islands where you can partake in hot-spring-sea-bathing. The one in the above pic isn’t the best; others are deeper and hotter, I’m told…

Read on: summer holidays on the White Sea islands…

Santorini: Dreams Do Come True Sometimes.

I’ve got some great news! The archaeological digs in Akrotiri have been resumed – thanks to, ah, um… us! (Not that I want to blow the KL trumpet or anything but, well, what am I going to write? The money grew on trees?) And not just the digs, also the reconstruction of the frescoes and reinforcing of the settlement’s walls! Yes, we’ve become the main sponsor of the excavations at Akrotiri! Hurray! That’s why I was on Santorini last week.

So how did the KL-Akrotiri connection come about? Why Greece? Why Santorini? Why Akrotiri? I’ll be telling you all about that in this post. It’s quite a long tale – but not as long as the time it’s been in the making: 13 years!

Read on: It all started in 2003…

Minoan Mystery in Santorini.

The island of Santorini is famous not only for its sensational panoramic views, its stunning sunsets and its multicolored beaches (white, red and black). It’s also – to some primarily – famous for its ancient history. To the south of the island parts of an ancient settlement were dug up that were well preserved under volcanic ash. Three-story homes, drains and sewers (!), and a unique cultural aspect. Oh my Greek gods!

The settlement went the way of Pompeii around 1500 years… not ago, but BC!! Meaning all these walls, streets, windows, pots and pans are more than 3500 years old!

Read on: The excavations have stopped but it gets better…

Scenic, Volcanic, Touristic, Euphoric, Santorinic.

Χαίρετε folks!… From sensationally sunny Santorini, Greece. A spellbinding place…

Santorini is magnificently mind-blowing in all sorts of different ways simultaneously: touristically, climatically, volcanically, archeologically… But wait… I’ve been here before and aptly raptured before too. So I won’t repeat all that here – especially since nothing has really changed since last time – in 2013. The beauty’s all still here (if looking from up above), the sun’s still as bright, the sea’s not receded, and the volcanoes haven’t wiped out their surroundings…

I’ve said it many times before – as have many others – and I’ll say it many times more… pictures are worth a thousand words, so without more of a do…

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Αντίο #Santorini #Greece

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Read on: So, what am I doing here? Working! …

On an Athens Tip on the Greece Trip.

Next up on my Greek travels – Athens. I had one day off between business meetings to have a quick glimpse of the city.

Though I’ve been practically all over Europe down the years, for some odd reason I’d never made it to the ancient center of Athens. What makes that especially odd is the fact that I go mad for historical ancientnesses. And as we all know, Athens has those in Hades spades…

To me there’s something infinitely fascinating about the fact that these temples, houses (rather – their ruins), stone bridges, and the huge stone ‘bricks’ that make up the constructions… all of it was created thousands of years ago by folks just like us. Ok, without the smartphones and reality TV, but very much with eternally human features like having problems and experiencing joy and sadness and birth and death. They walked here, loved here, hated here, envied here, got their thrills here, built here, destroyed here. Thousands of years ago. Here in Athens, at places like the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

Read on: Ancient gems…

Cliff-top Monasteries.

Oh no! I need to turn my Top-100 List of Must-See Places in the World into the Top-101 List! Not exactly a round number is it, but what can I do? Needs must…

So what’s so special that needs adding? It’s the Meteora in Greece – a ‘formation of immense monolithic pillars and hills like huge rounded boulders that dominate the local area’. Sheer cliffs stretching 600 meters up, all in different shades of grey, with monasteries atop some of the peaks of the rocks.

Read on: Oh my Greek! …