Monday, January 23, 2012

feels like home

I was born in Poland, my home city is Lodz. With some surrounding towns, the whole municipality is almost one million citizens. The size comes from the industrial history of Lodz, as it became textile center of Poland in 19th century. Within less then one century, Lodz grew from a small town of 4.000 citizens in 1830, to one of the biggest agglomerations in Europe in 1914 with over half a million people. That fast prosper had also the bad side: lack of infrastructure, lack of city planning, lack of hospitals and schools. The city grew with any control on its own, leading to nowaday's industrial landscape, full of factories and chimneys in the center. This is how Lodz looks like: an industrial city full of chimneys. Today all that industry had bankrupted and all You can see are empty factories with broken windows and collapsing roofs, not more than two blocks away from main streets. The process of renovation had started in 1990s and for sure will still take some years to make Lodz a beautiful city.
To understand better what I am writing about, please visit a photo blog of my friend from high school times from Lodz. He is a brilliant photographer, able to capture the very essence of Lodz! Enjoy!
You may find it strange, but I like this kind of landscapes. I cannot explain it, but that’s the truth. And wherever, in any other city in any other country, I find some old forgotten factories, I get the sentimental feeling like being in my home town. On one weekend in December, during bicycle trip to Vrachneika, somewhere close to the new port, I found such landscape in Patras :-D

The factory from the photo was part of Peiraiki-Patraiki industrial group, one of the biggest companies in Greece in 20th century and the biggest textile producer. This factory was built in 1953, as the most advanced in the country, being part of modernization program, so that company could compete with foreign importers in early years after Second World War. The beginning of the end for Peiraiki-Patraiki came in 1980s, when the company was nationalized and very soon after went bankrupt. Nowadays, the state of the art factory, is in complete ruin, devastated, abandoned, waiting for new investments. There are plans for new IKEA mega store, as the area is becoming attractive again after relocating the nearby new port. New infrastructure is being developed connecting new port with Patras bypass road also making the land more valuable for big investments. But for now, it still remains untouched, scaring tourists away (can You imagine what they think, looking out of the ferry when arriving in Patras :-P). I just wish, the new investments could keep old-factory style architecture, but I know it’s impossible. That’s why I have my photo to remember just in case.

Photo: NIKON D70s, AP, f 1/9, 1/250s, -0.3EV, f=51 mm (for 35mm), GIMP software

Monday, January 16, 2012


I remember when my Greek friends were describing me Hellada for the first time, the mountainous landscape, the beaches, villages, clear waters of the seas and… theirs cities. It was much before my first ever visit to Greece. They were complaining a lot about narrow, dark and polluted streets, and lack of parks, green places, squares with trees. I was a little terrified with the picture they were describing… Fortunately they exaggerated a lot and I could be nicely surprised.

Patras indeed looks like having very few green spots at first. But after better and closer look, it seems only true for the center, and is getting much better just outside of it. The areas between marina and plaza, plaza itself and Dasulio, are the best example how wrong my friends were. All these spots are really nice and offer peaceful escape from crowded city streets full of traffic. Especially Dasulio is a place of choice, small forest area located on the hill northeast from the fortress. It offers lots of cool shadow from tall pine trees, very well prepared wide alleys for walking and jogging, and of course magnificent views in almost all directions, thanks to which, it took its nickname “the balcony of Patras Gulf”. It was exactly from this place, where I took panoramic photo of the city with Agios Andreas church.
The pine trees are a unique asset of the place. They were planted by students of local primary schools, high schools and university in March 1916, under supervision of Austrian forest specialist Steggel. Since then, Dasillio is a one of flagships of Patras, mentioned as a “much see” along with the fortress, amphitheatre and all Ano Poli. It is indeed refreshing walk there during 35C heat in the summer, where there are not many other places in Patras with so much pleasant shadow.

Photo: NIKON D70s, AP, f 1/8, 1/160s, -0.3EV, f=40 mm (for 35mm), GIMP software

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

rio fortress

Under the shadow of today's modern construction of Rion-Antirion bridge, quietly lies the Fortress of Rion. Surrounded by ferry docks, heavy basis and columns of the bridge, huge parking area full of trucks waiting to board the ferry and many kantinas serving souvlakia and coffee, the fortress is almost invisible. To be honest, I do not remember when I saw it myself, but for sure it was not the first time I passed there! And even after “discovering” it, it took me almost half a year to finally visit it. As I found some basic info in internet, mentioning free entrance on Sundays, the choice of the day of visit was simple. It seems, not many tourists visit the fortress, as even the guard was surprised to see me. Anyway, I got a feeling that any day would be free :-P

Together with opposite Fortress of Antirion, The Fortress of Rion was built to control the western entrance to the Corinthian Gulf. Sultan Bayezid II, ordered the construction in 1499 and it was ready within just 3 months. At that time, it was strategic fortification in war between Ottomans and Venetians. After many turmoils and suffered destructions in its history, in 1687 it was taken by the Venetians, and later in 18th century repaired and improved to its current status. Todays shape is a “combination” of Ottomans basis and later Venetians improvements, with complex of three round towers, octagonal building serving as gunpowder magazine, main gate from the land side to the south, two powerful bastions from north and west side together with second gate from the sea. One of the  towers was later adapted as a church, where nowadays young couples are getting married.

It’s an interesting landscape today, an old historic fortress lying just next to huge modern bridge – the contrast of aged stone walls and steel-concrete construction. But somehow it’s not that bad :-P Actually it looks pretty impressive!

Photo1: NIKON D70s, AP, f 1/9, 1/400s, -0.3EV, f=27 mm (for 35mm), GIMP software

Photo2: NIKON D70s, AP, f 1/9, 1/640s, -0.3EV, f=27 mm (for 35mm), GIMP software