Off the Beaten Trail: In Search of St. Nicholas in Russia

photo1 (936x1280) (201x275)
Velikoretsky St. Nicholas icon, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow



Santa Claus is not from the North Pole. He is based on Nicholas, the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Myra, Lycia. This Greek/Byzantine city today is called Demre, in the Antalya province of Turkey.

            I had the unique opportunity of visiting Russia in late September through early October 2015, seeing the Byzantine Orthodox civilization of the North.  I visited sites of  Byzantine civilization in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novgorod, the birthplace of Russian Orthodox Christianity. At Christmas 2015, there is a worldwide travel alert to Russia for a possible risk of travel due to increased terrorist threat (November 23, 2015).1   I managed to get out of Russia in safety.

photo2 (955x1280) (205x275)
The Tretyakov Gallery has a St. Nicholas icon from the 12th-early 13th century.

A whopping 72% of the  Russian adult population identified themselves as Orthodox Christians in 2008.Every Greek family has a member or friend called Nick. Russian iconography that stems back to the 10th century gave me a new perception of this ethnically Greek saint.

My search for St. Nicholas began at St. Basil’s Cathedral (Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat)  Museum in Red Square, Moscow.  St. Nicholas of Velikoretskoye was in an illuminated case. It is a 16th century tempera on wood icon It shows St. Nicholas with scenes of his life.  In 1555 the icon was brought from Vyatka to Moscow. The name Velikoretsky  means “of the big rivers”.  St. Basils Cathedral is divided into ten inner churches. The southern church was consecrated in honor of  the Velikoretsky  St. Nicholas  icon.

St. Nicholas of Zaraisk, Tretyakov Gallery

We did not have the time to visit St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral in St. Petersburg. It is associated with the Russian Navy and has two churches. The lower St. Nicholas church is located on the first floor. The main shrine has a 17th century Greek icon of St. Nicholas with a relic.8  The Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood has an 1890’s St. Nicholas the Wonder worker icon. Our main focus in St. Petersburg was the Hermitage, Peterhof Gardens and Catherine the Great’s Palace.

The Tretyakov Gallery has a St. Nicholas icon from the 12th-early 13th century, Tempera on Wood. This is the earliest surviving Russian icon. This is the Novgorod icon painting style, when Christianity was beginning. St. Nicholas of Zaraisk with scenes of his life is of the Rostov-Suzdal School of the late 13th-early 14th centuries. The only full length fresco of St. Nicholas with an open gospel, 1108-1113 A. D.  is displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery.

photo4 (952x1280) (205x275)
Only full length fresco of St. Nicholas with open gospel, 1108-1113 A. D., Tretyakov Gallery.

On a visit to the “Decorated Icon Exhibit” at Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow, and jeweled St. Nicholas icon was exhibited at the Fine Arts Center. The Cathedral is the largest Orthodox Church in the world. There is a side chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker with a prominent wall icon. “It is located in the south part of the gallery, for the country where St. Nicholas lived. Christianity came to Russia from the south, so the paintings in St. Nicholas’ side chapel illustrate the history of Christianity from the 3rd to the 9th centuries AD, before Russia’s’ conversion to it. It is here that one can see…..the theme of the Seven ecumenical Councils. St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, an ardent defender of Orthodox Christian doctrines, took part in the first Ecumenical council. That’s why these subjects are to be found next to those concerned with his pious life and Christian virtues in his chapel.”3         

photo5 (956x1280) (205x275)
A jeweled St. Nicholas icon, Fine Arts Center, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow.

  The art of the Moscow goldsmiths in the 16th century is displayed in the Armory, Moscow Kremlin Museum. The art of fine enameling with large uncut stones is displayed in icons. “The folding icon of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker…is silver, but its cover is gold decorated with gems and pearls.”4

                We did not have the time to visit St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral in St. Petersburg. It is associated with the Russian Navy and has two churches. The lower St. Nicholas church is located on the first floor. The main shrine has a 17th century Greek icon of St. Nicholas with a relic.5  The Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood has an 1890’s St. Nicholas the Wonder worker icon. Our main focus in St. Petersburg was the Hermitage, Peterho  Gardens and Catherine the Great’s Palace.

photo6 (1280x869) (275x187)
Side chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow.

            An eight hour round trip from St. Petersburg took us to Novgorod, near the Swedish border. “The Novgorod State Museum’s collection of early Russian painting is unquestionably one of the finest in the world…Highlights from the earliest period (11th to 13th centuries) include ..St. Nicolas of Myra in Lycia (St. Nicholas of Lipno). These are prototypical images of the 14th and 15th centuries. ‘St. Nicholas of Lipno’ icon painted by Aleksa Petrov in 1294 is the earliest dated Russian icon. The fact that it bears the artists’s signature gives it unique historical significance.” 6  A circular icon of St. Nicholas that is dated 13th-14th century? possibly 16th century is the first icon that came into view when we entered the icon section.The site shows St. Nicholas icons from the middle 13th to end of 16th century.

photo7 (275x266)
Folding St. Nicholas icon, 16th century, Armory, Moscow

            Early Russian painting was one of the most significant achievement of this civilization. Byzantium with its capital in Constantinople had a unique splendor of artistic Christian art that impressed the Slavic tribes. The early Russians believed that they “knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere on earth. We know not how to describe to you. The only thing we are certain about if that God makes His dwelling among the people there and their service is better than in any other country. We can not forget the beauty.”7 The Russian icon for centuries has been striving to reflect the ideal beauty of the heavenly world. 8

photo9 (941x1280) (202x275)
Circular icon of St. Nicholas that is dated 13th-14th century, possibly 16th century, Novgorod State Museum.

Nicolas, Bishop of Myra, has always been the most admired saint, according to the book, “The Russian Icon” by the editorial Board of the Russian Orthodox Church. He prays for all Christians, helps people in misfortunes, protects travelers and quickly defends those to whom injustice has been made. His veneration in Early Russia was almost as great as that of Christ and Mary. Numerous churches were dedicated to St. Nicholas. A large quantity of icons were created in his memory. Russian proverbs show a deep faith in his power.9 Our roots are in Greece, a country plundered by conquests. My 2015 Russian trip showed me that our Byzantine inheritance lived on after the fall of Constantinople with, as the next generation of my family says, “with the Greeks of the North”.


  3. “Cathedral Of Christ The Savior (Ivan Fiodorov Printing Company: Russia, 2005), pp. 25-9.
  4. S. Goncharenko and V.I. Narozhnaya, “THE ARMORY: A guide” (Red Square Publishers:Moscow, 2012), PP.36-9.
  6. N, Grinev, “NOVGOROD THE GREAT” (Ivan Fiodorov Art Publishers: St. Petersburg,2004), pp. 48-50.
  7. Editorial Board of the Russian Orthodox Church, “Russian Icon” (P-2 Art Publishers: St. Petersburg,, 2011) p. 1,
  8. “Russian Icon”, pp. 2-3.
  9. “Russian Icon” p. 9.

Links: Tretyakov gallery


Off the Beaten Trail: Saranda of Albania

photo (4)
Saranda coast



“Our home in the city of Saranta in Northern Epirus is near the harbor,” said Billy Litos, my electrician and part of my network of confidants. “Our city is beautiful. We spoke only Greek at home, because we are Greek. Our dream was to immigrate to free Greece. Our city has many restaurants.” Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace, which was Greek Orthodox in character 100 years ago, was carved up by global interests into non-Greek Orthodox states. Population exchanges, during the fall of the Ottoman Empire, eliminated the indigenous populations. This process continues in 2018 with the problem over the name “Macedonia” by Greece and FYROM.

photo (2)

One afternoon “Pyrrhic Victory”  was echoed for two hours by a radio talk show over American politics.  A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has also taken a heavy toll that negates any true sense of achievement.1Who was Pyrrhus ? He was the King of Epirus during the 300’s B.C, that is shared b y Greece and Albania. He was the second cousin of Alexander the Great and one of the greatest generals in History.2

Alexandros Goudas and Anna Gouda proprietors of Elite Pastries Cafe at 47-36 Bell Boulevard, Bayside, NY, Eleni Soulioti and staff are from Saranta and neighboring village of Episkopi. They have told me stories of the beauty of their land. “We are 100% Greek and are related to journalist Demetrios Tsakas .” Mr. Tsakas is a former Mathematics educator from Argyrocastro – Gjirokastër, Albany. His writings are read in the United States and internationally. “Write about your travels to Northern Epirus,” he said. “ Northern Epirus is Greek. You must write about our land.”

photo (1)
Rainbow over Saranda

I travelled with a Danish/German group from Corfu by boat to Saranta, Albania. Hara Armeni of Charitos Tours in cooperation with Natasha of Joy Cruises arranged the trip with the assistance of their colleagues Katerina and Chrysa last May.  The 22 miles from Corfu to Saranta was a beautiful, spiritual experience. It was raining, yet we saw a beautiful rainbow at sea. Archaeological excavations of the ancient town were present.

We passed the impressive remains of a 5th or 6th century AD synagogue. “During the 5th Century AD there was a large and wealthy Jewish community that lived in Saranda (Ancient name: Oncheasmos); the only remains of this can be found at the Synagogue Complex in the center of Saranda, just near the city hall. These old ruins represent what was once a community center and old school used for bible studies. During the 6th Century the buildings were converted into a basilica but later destroyed either by an earthquake or by Slavic invasion.

photo (3)
Impressive remains of a 5th or 6th century AD synagogue

Initial excavations to the the site were conducted in 1984 when Albania was under Communist rule. Later, further excavations were made by the Hebrew University Institute of Archaelogy and the Albanian Academy of Sciences.

Many different mosaics and other different Jewish symbols can be found at the site even today, noticeably the seven-branched candelabrum surrounded by citrons (lemons) and a ram’s horn. These can be seen on the two mosaic pavements.

Other mosiacs which can be seen include animals, trees, religious characters and a structure/shrine.3Modern multi floor apartment buildings, Tirana Banks buildings, excellent landscaping,

photo (5)
At Erdame Bar, Saranda

Saranta is from the name of the Byzantine monastery of the Agioi Saranda  meaning the “Forty Saints”, in honor of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. They were a group of Roman soldiers in the Legio XII Fulminata (Armed with Lightning) whose martyrdom in 320 for the Christian faith is recounted in traditional martyrologies. They were killed near the city of

Sebaste (present-day Sivas in Turkey), in Lesser Armenia, victims of the persecutions of Licinius, who after 316, persecuted the Christians of the East. In antiquity the city was known by the ancient Greek name of Onchesmos or Anchiasmos[6][7][8] and was inhabited by the Greek tribe of the Chaonians. In a medieval chronicle of 1191 the settlement appears to be abandoned, while its former medieval name (Anchiasmos) isn’t mentioned any more. From that year, the toponym borrows the name of the nearby Orthodox basilica church of Agioi Saranta, erected in the 6th century, ca. 1 km (0.6 mi) southeast of the modern town

photo (6)
Lunch at Erdame Bar

Geographically, it is situated on an open sea gulf of the Ionian Sea in the central Mediterranean, about 14 km (8.7 mi) east of the north end of the Greek island of Corfu. The city is known for its blue deep waters of the Mediterranean. The city, according to the Albanian Committee of Helsinki, has lost more than half of its ethnic Greeks from 1991 to 2001, because of heavy emigration to Greece.4

Our Corfu tour showed us a modern city with new building, clean streets, without homeless persons. We stopped at the Erdano Bar for lunch. My tour guides Hara and Natasha arranged a salt- free lunch that was delicious. The prices were compatible to Greece. This was a trip from Corfu that everyone should take to see this strategic city.

photo (7)
Lunch at Erdame Bar

Klaudjan Baxhija, my former university student, who was the son of a university professor and military general, wrote in a paper  that “Albania is the ‘Land of the Eagles’ or Shqiperia. Illyria is the historical and cultural roots of Albanians. Illyria’s borders were always living mixed population of Albanians and Greeks. They lived next to each other and sometimes one could not even put a border line between them. There is never enough to tell about Albania.”The Corfu excursion through Saranta to Butrin was in “the footsteps of Byzantium.” Byzantine culture is alive in the countries’ history it touched today in 2018.



Links: – Episkopi, Northern Epirus, Albania. Episkopi, Northern Epirus, Albania. – Hara Armeni of Charitos Tours. – Natasha of Joy Cruises

Guide Matilda Guci on Facebook

Contribution of Grandparents and Parents Supporting Greek Education Held


Honored guests

“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.” ~Rudolph Giuliani

The grandparent-grandchild relationship can have lasting positive effects in promoting the Greek language, culture and Greek Orthodox religion. Efforts to help your kids know grandparents help them learn their Greek heritage that remains with them for the rest of their lives.

Over 200 persons attended.

The Federation of Hellenic-American Educators & Cultural Associations of America and Hellenic PAIDEA of America held an education event to honor grandparents and parents of the Greek Day and Afternoon Schools on  Thursday evening May 31st, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at the Stathakion Cultural Center (22-51 29th Street, Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue in Astoria). Over 200 persons attended. A reception followed. The event was organized by Mrs. Stella  Kokolis, the  President  of  the Federation of  Hellenic-American Educators and Cultural Associations of America, Vasiliki Filiotis, President of Hellenic Paideia of America and Adriana Filiotis, Chairlady organized the event. President Demosthenes Triantafillou, President of the Greek Teachers Association Prometheus, donated $1,000 to The Federation of Hellenic-American Educators & Cultural Associations of America, cementing harmony and cooperation between all Greek Educators Associations. State Senator Giannaris, State Assemblywoman Simotas and City Councilman Constantinides send citations to honorees. Plagues by The Federation of Hellenic-American Educators & Cultural Associations of America and Hellenic PAIDEA of America were presented to all honored persons.

Honoree Chrysoula Douroudakis with family (6 to 9th from left) with Program organizers

The Program included: M.C.: Dimitris Philippides, Reporter HELLAS FM; NATIONAL ANTHEMS: of Greece and USA; INVOCATION; GREETINGS OF HONOR GUESTS, General Consuls of Greece and Cyprus; Mr. Petros Galatoulas, President of the Hellenic Societies of Greater NY; REMARKS, Dr. Ioannis Efthimopoulos, Director of the Hellenic Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. George  Tsioulias, Address keynote: “The role of the Greek-American parents towards the Greek education of children of the second and third generation”; Presentation of a small program by students of our Greek schools; PRESENTATION OF THE AWARDS ΤΟ THE HONOREES BY: Dr. Ioannis Efthimiopoulos, Principals of the schools, Mrs. Stella Kokolis, Mrs. Vasiliki Filiotis and RECEPTION.

The grandparents and parents honored were the following persons: Stella and Lukas Agrapidis; Effie and John Sergentakis; Athina and Leo Giakoumis; Helen and Steve Verveniotis; Priscilla and Nikos Panteleakis; Lenia and Elias Batas; Maria and Dr. Spyros Kokolis; Steve and Sylvia Raptis; John and Michelle Lambrakis; Panagiotis and Aikaterini Papazaharias; Kleoniki and Theodoros Batsilas; Chrysoula Douroudakis Demiris; Kaliroe Diolitsis; Demetrios Diolitsis; Mrs. Marianthi Raptis; Mr. Michael Vitellas & Mrs. Elli Vitellas; Ms. Vasilios Michas; Mrs Alexia Iasonas; Mr. John Pyrovolakis & Mrs Panayiota Pyrovolakis; Mr. Kostis Sophokleous & Mrs. Gretchen Sophokleous; Basil Latousakis and Mrs. Stella Latousakis; Mrs. Nektaria Trikounakis; Dr. and Mrs. George Tsioulias; Dr. and Mrs. Spryo Mezitis; Mr. John and Mrs. Ekaterini Barou; and Mr. Michael and Mrs. Maria Hartofilis.

Keynote speaker Dr. Tsioulis said. “We must teach, reach and motivate Greek American children, one needs to understand their environment, the school systems they attend, their own culture, traditions and habits. Teachers of the Greek language must integrate modern technology, such as the internet in their classroom, as well as use the language of the students for motivation. Grandparents, Parents and families must play a significant role in inspiring the students to learn Greek language and culture. Culture activities such as theater, dance, music and visits to Greece can help curb the dropout rate of Greek students from the Greek schools.”

Mrs. Kleoniki  and Mr. Theodore Batsilas are Greek grandparents from Kastoria who speak Greek to their children and grandchildren. They have instilled a love for Greek civilization in the daughter Joanna Batsilas Kapsalis, PharmD, and Tom Batsilas an accountant who attended the Arete and Stephen Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School of St. Nicholas Church Flushing. They continue instilling the Greek language and tradition in their children who attend Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Hicksville and St. Nicholas Church of Flushing, NY. ”We help in raising our grandchildren, speaking Greek and instilling a love for the Greek culture,” said Mrs. Batsilas.

Kleoniki and Theodoros Batsilas honored (3rd to 6th from left) with grandchildren and program coordinators.

“I was Vice President of the PTA of the Stephen and Areti Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School,” said Chrysoula Douroudakis Demiris, a NYC educational teacher’s assistant. “Greek is spoken to my sons, Vasilis and Nikolaos. They are proud of their Cretan heritage, with a strong relationship with their grandparents. Dina and Nikolaos Douroudakis. We are all proud of the sacrifice of our family who fought in two wars: “the Asia Minor Campaign from 1919 to 1922 and the Battle of Crete, a period of six years. In our home hangs the “Certificate and the National Resistance Hero Medal”  given by Minister Stilianos Koundouros, Department of Defense of the Hellenic Republic on June 2, 1962, to my grandfather Sifis Douroudakis. The proud Cretan ethic of fighting for Greece, Greek language and culture was instilled in us and the grandchildren.”

International Greek-American-Epirotan artist Marianthi Raptis family travelled four hours round trip to see her honored. “We came to honor our Mother,” said Peggy Baurkot, a Greek-American attorney. “Our daughter Juliana minored in Greek at Rutgers University, touring Greece with her program.” Marianthi Raptis of Whitestone, New York international art exhibits have been part of the exhibitions of the Greek Artists Guild at the Stathakion Cultural Center, 22-51 29th St., Queens, NY, 11105. “I have drawn my ancestral home and village church in Epirus,” the artist explained. “I enjoy drawing scenes of nature. I have participated in three Art Exhibitions of   Greek Artists Guild (” Artist Raptis has donated her art work to non-profit organizations such as Prometheus Greek Teachers Association and the Heritage Museum of Epirus in Astoria.

Mrs. Stella Kokolis, an organizer of this exceptional event is a great compromiser, negotiating and settling education disagreements. Her generosity is legendary. When someone needs funding for a project or a scholarship for a student, Mrs. Kokolis gives money from her own pocket. The educator is one of the giants of our time in the field of bilingual education. In 2009, the educator was named “Greek Teacher of the Year 2009” by The National Herald newspaper in New York. The 25th Anniversary Celebration of  the Hellenic News of America honored on October 14th, 2012  at the at the Concordville Inn-Best Western Hotel & Conference Center in Concordville, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Kokolis has united us in keeping our Greek heritage alive in America. . “Let us reflect on the admirable work that the teachers have devoted to their students through the decades,” she said. “With courage and perseverance, let us continue to kindle the light of Hellenic education.”

The Hellenic Paideia of America Organization played an active role through the leadership of President Vasiliki Filiotis, Adriana Filiotis and Georgia Filiotis who works behind the scenes. The Filiotis family is well known in Astoria, New York for their community activist services. “Greek is important to the languages and cultures of the world. Greek recorded ancient philosophy and is the basis of languages. Every language contains Greek words. The language spread Christianity. We support Modern Greek language studies and urge all youth to enroll. The Hellenic Paideia Organization’s goal is to encourage Greek-Americans and their friends to speak Greek. We must leave an inheritance to the next generation. European culture and civilization, of which our own country is a part, are rooted in ancient Greece.IMG_9683

The Program M.C. Dimitris Filipidis and Petro Galatoulas, President of the Federation of Greek Societies are genuine Greek patriots. They are fighting for the name Macedonia to prevent a future Slavic ambition of acquiring Thessaloniki and Greek Macedonia. “The holy soil of Macedonia is Greece and Greece is Macedonia,” they both believe. Both leaders are voicing opposition to Turkish military boats that are cruising illegally in the Greek Aegean. A rich awards program in honor of grandparents and parents reinforced the support of the Greek language and culture.

Emmanuel Moutakos Becomes Eagle Scout

IMG_7918 (3)
Emmanuel Moustakos with Fr. Aristidis Garinis
 Emmanuel Moustakos, of the St. NIcholas Flushing Boy Scout Troop #268, celebrated his Eagle Scout Court of Honor on May 12, 2018, at Laterna Restaurant in Bayside, NY. He was joined by Fr. Aristidis Garinis of St Nicholas, Flushing. Emmanuel and his parents are active members of the St. Nicholas Flushing community.

image1 (1)
Emmanuel Moustakos with boy Scout Troop #268

Emmanuel is a graduate of the St. Nicholas Flushing William Spryropoulos Day School and serves as an altar boy. Emmanuel is a Junior at Archbishop Molloy High School. For his Eagle Scout project, Emmanuel organized a drive to collect slightly used and new clothing for the mission at The Greater Allen Cathedral in Jamaica, NY.

On the Road in Italy: Transportation in Veneto and Emilia Romagna Regions



photo4 (1)
Seats, Ravenna to Florence

Trains, Bicycles were prevalent in Venice in late autumn 2017. Women with 3-4 All our train reservations were made online in the USA.  We avoided validation at train stations.This helped avoid stress in overseas traveling. Women in spiked heels were bicycle riding in Ravenna. Tourists shoving and pushing in Florence and Venice during an off season was unbelievable. Italians were courteous, helpful with our luggage. Train travel from Venice to Florence, Aquilieia (Bologna) and Ravenna was excellent. All the trains rain on time. Clean with modern seats. Even the old trains were comfortable.

Computerized bathroom, Venice to Bologna

The major problem in travelling was luggage. Finding space on trains forluggage was a nightmare, in addition to lifting. The best suggestion offered was “come to Venice with a carryon suticas.” How can you go on a two week trip with one, small suitcase?

Modern train seats from Venice to Bologna

Train travel showed us the beautiful, rolling green hills and fields. Affluent with rich natural resources, Northern Italy is carrying the taxation burden of Rome.

Rolling farm fields, Venice to Bologna

We were vigilant for pick pockets at the Bologna train station. Our vigilance must have scared the pick pockets away because we are New York City street smart. We accidentally travelled from Venice to Bologna second class instead of our first class tickets. The conductor wrote on the ticket that we are entitled to a refund. Seat reservations are mandatory in first class, not second class.  The high speed train on our return trip from Florence to Venice was modern. The newer trains had computerized bathrooms.

Travelling without guides and knowing English is possible in Italy. We created our own customized excursion with free walking tours and internet information. Hospitality was prevalent among the Italian middle class. I felt I was with our own people in Greece.

On the Road in Greece: Memorable Hotels


Amalia Hotel, Athens


Budget wise travelers want a good deal. The Amalia and Parthenon Hotels are in the best area of Athens, the Acropolis. Great service, capable administrators in the Reception desk made out 2017 Greece stay enjoyable. We are reserving rooms in the same hotels for our late Spring 2018 trip.

Parthenon Hotel, Athens

The Amalia Hotel at Leoforos Vasilisis Amalias 10, near  Syntagma Square has a great location to shopping and museums. The staff helped us sightsee and solve cell phone issues. Remarkable in all our requests. The breakfast was great. Thanos, Panagiota, George, Nikos, Chris and Julia spent time to help us. This is unusual in an Athens Hotel. They were courteous to us as Americans and New Yorkers, not making nasty comments as a higher price hotel (Royal Olympic) in in 2016. I was able to shop for items I left in the USA easily. We had a dinner, with quality, made to our order, in an enjoyable hotel restaurant.

The “Parthenon Hotel”, in the heart of the Acropolis. This is an outstanding hotel. I have been trying to get a reservation for two years. Each time it was booked. Mr. Koursaris, Yiota and staff were exceptional. Yiota for two days tried to arrange problems with my return Delta flight. She accomplished it. They have a wonderful breakfast. The location is great to explore the Acropolis and restaurants. We walked to the subway station for touring. No need for taxis. Public transportation right there. We stayed for six weeks in 2007. We returned in 2015, and 2017. Enjoy the hospitality. Ask the reception for help. They are a hidden treasure. Mr. Koursaris’ expertise and professionalism are unique.

View from Cavalieri Hotel, Corfu.

Hara Armeni of Charitos Travel agency of Corfu arranged a stay at the Cavalieri Hotel. A beach was opposite the hotel. The rooms were clean. Great Television and Wi-Fi. The staff courteous. I was able to go swimming for two days, when it wasn’t raining. the location was near all the major sights and shopping area. The coastline could be seen from the front door. I took great photos. The staff was always courteous. The breakfast was exceptional, with Nona’s donuts, homemade bread, yogurt and great pastries. Above all the location near all was great. Enjoyed every minute here. The price was reasonable.

Star of Mestovo Hotel, Metsovo, Epirus

We stayed at Asteri Metsovo at Mihali, Tositsa 58, Metsovo, Greece through Maria of Kapogiannis Tours, Tripoli. I had a balcony, single room overlooking the Pindos mountains. Early dawn from the balcony gave me an incredible impression. Ouranea and Aristotelis are the owners. They were working long hours, with humility and a smile. Metsovo has stone houses with grey slate roofs. My room had a balcony with an incredible view of the Pindos mountains. The city was immaculate, devoid of all graffiti. It looked like Swiss alps skiing center. Epirotes are known for their pites, strudel leave pies with different fillings. The breakfast was unique. Great local pites. All their rooms are comfortable.

Maria of Kapogiannis Tours in Tripoli, Greece arranged a budget stay at the El Greco Hotel,1821 4, Iraklio, Crete.  It is in the heart of Heraklion close to all attractions. The custodial, cafeteria and reception staff gave me great advice. The staff became my family, helping me in all my travelling. A pleasant breakfast was served. This cost me only 35 euros. The air conditioning and television channels were great. The local Cretan staff kept the rooms were very clean. I saved at least 250 to 400 euros on transportation to sites and airport by using public transportation. Situated in the center of the city, it is the best way to visit Heraklion sites. Everything is located around the hotel. My major economical saving was going to the archaeological site of Knossos. The bus #2 stop to Knossos Palace was next to the hotel. I spent only 1.25 euros each way compared to a $56 travel tour.

Staff of Mainalon, Tripolis.

We rented a room in Mainalon Hotel, overlooking Areos Square for 17 days. We are returning for another prolonged stay in 2018. The hospitality was unique. The staff made us feel “this was our home”. Our mornings in Tripoli opened with a country breakfast in Mainalon Hotel, at Areos Square. Arcadian honey, village yogurt, homemade spanakopites, tiropites and bougatsa began our day. Every day, there was room service. The custodial staff cleaned the room well. The reception staff helped us in all our inquiries. The manager had a gracious welcome and farewell for all. We are planning to return in 2017. How does a traveler avoid taxi and tour group expenses? Pick a hotel the locals stay at in the heart of a city. Enjoy Greece in 2018.

Breakfast at Amalia Hotel




Saint Nicholas William Spyropoulos PTA Honors Retiring Principal Athena Tsokou Kromidas



“Always to be the best and to rise above others and not bring shame upon the race of my fathers…”     Homer’s Iliad, 6.208-6.209.IMG_9594

This is the motto of Principal Athena Tsokou Kromidas’ education career that shaped generations in New York City. The Saint Nicholas William Spyropoulos PTA honored the retiring principal, educator Kathy Prokos and last term Executive board Members . on Saturday evening, May 12, 2018 at the 41st Anniversary Dinner Dance at The Chateau Briand, Carle Place, New York. Nearly 400 persons attended. Entertainment was by Yianni Papastefanou and his Orchestra.IMG_9569

Excellent cocktail hour, dinner, rolling bar, décor, raffle prizes and gifts for ever family that attended made this event unforgettable. The 7th and 8th grade dance groups performed. A journal book of over 2014 pages gave he/she a look into the career of Principal Kromidas, the school and her supporters from the education and business community of New York. PTA President Emilianna Siderakis, PTA vice President Thalia Misthos, the Journal committee and Dinner & Raffle Committee created an event remembered by all.

The following congratulations are taken from the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos PTA Journal. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios said “This evening you have most appropriately chosen to honor Mrs. Athena Kromidas, Principal Emeritus, for her exemplary offering to the Spyropoulos School. Mrs. Kromidas demonstrated an emphasis on education that cultivates the soul, lays the foundation for advancement, achievement and creates the cornerstone for excellence in all efforts of human endeavor. I congratulate and thank Mrs. Kromidas for demonstrating to the students that the true fruit of education is virtue.”


Protopresbyter Paul C. Palesty explained that “Athena is not your typical professional educator. For Mrs. Kromidas, the mission of every educator is a ministry. Beyond the fact that she is a scholar and student of history, literature and Greek Civilization, more importantly, is that she lives the simplistic and pure beauty of this civilization in her own life and thereby represents in the possible way the ethos of Greek Orthodox education. Her strong roots in the Hellenic Orthodox Tradition is the power that enables her to inspire everyone toward a genuine love of Hellenism and Orthodoxy.”IMG_9593

Rev. Palesty believes “Athena has been a blessing to the community of saint Nicholas and its school. She would always sacrifice her personal pursuits to give individual time to know every child and to establish meaningful connections with them. Her distinct and humble manner, and her continued effort to acquire knowledge, inspires her colleagues, sensitizes the students and draws the respect of parents. Her dedication exemplifies and provides a catalyst for youth to set goals for their lives and thereby develop healthy families that fortify society and our country.”

Kostantinos Koutras, Consul General of the Consulate General of Greece, New York congratulated “Principal Athena Kromidas for elevating the Greek language education of the United states of America. She worked with a passion to keep Greek educational alive. She nurtured the bonds of all with the Mother Country.” State Senator Michael N. Gianaris said “I join you in honoring an outstanding individual and a personal friend. I commend her as a devoted Principal to the community for decades. I know you are appreciated by the parents and teachers of the school.” In my opinion, Mrs. Kromidas never used her network for political, social or financial advancements. She followed the Iliad motto “not bring shame upon the race of my fathers.”

“For over 32 years, Principal Kromidas worked tirelessly to preserve the Greek language and cultural traditions,” believes Aravella Simotas, NYS Assembly member of the 36th district, Queens. “She enabled each of her students to reach their full potential. Principal Kromidas’ leadership and dedication to students and families have made an immeasurable impact on our community.”

“The constant throughout the years has been Athena Kromidas…She has loved all of the students as if they were her own children,” stated Bill Kakoulis, Parish Council President 2018. “Throughout her career she strove for excellence not only for herself, but for her students,” explained Mrs. Mary Tzallas, the new Principal. “Behind every decision, every action, even every reprimand, the driving force was the love she has in her heart.” Georgia Kakivelis, Assistant Principal confirms “there is no denying that Mrs. Kromidas has left her imprint on the saint Nicholas William Spyropoulos School.” Elaine T. Mallios, President of the School Board of the William Spyropoulos School stated, “we recognize and appreciate all that she has accomplished, and we wish her a lifetime filled with an abundance of health and happiness.”IMG_9599

Dr. Dr. Maria Teresa Sakatis Ioannou, has her three children, the second generation, enrolled at the William Spyropoulos School. “I am an alumnus of the 1990 class. Ten years after we graduated, we had a reunion. I was so surprised that Mrs. Kromidas remembered our names. She was the first person to greet us at the school and the last person to leave. She has two biologic children and thousands of adopted children at William Spyropoulos school. She will be truly missed.”

How do her two sons feel about her education work? “You are the most devoted and loving mother and grandmother our family could ever ask for,” said her older son George and daughter-in-law Anna. ‘I am extremely proud of you and consider myself exceptionally lucky to have been raised by you,” said John, her younger son.

The very spring and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education.”, by Plutarch was quoted by the Panchiaki Korais Society of New York. “You are the pride of Chios.” I know for a fact that Mrs. Kromidas worked behind the scenes to influence many of their philanthropic projects. “The Stephen & Areti Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School PTA recognized that evening her years of dedication to their school.

Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” President Demosthenes Triantafillou, who was the founder and first Principal of St. Demetrios H.S. in Astoria (1973-1982), congratulated “Athena Kromidas for her contribution to the Greek language teaching in the United States. Axia! (Worthy). She is an active member of ‘Prometheus’ who has added to its professionalism.”

Athena Kromidas was born in Mesta, Chios, Greece. She finished elementary school in her village and then moved to Chios, the capital of the island, where she attended high school. She graduated from the all-girls high school of Chios with high honors.

Mrs. Kromidas received her Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Philosophy with honors from the Philosophical School of Ethnic University of Athens. She became a high school teacher of Philosophy and classical studies, and she taught at the Argyroupolis High School of Kardamyla and the all-boys high school of Chios.IMG_9594

In August 1976, she immigrated to the United States where she continued her career. For two years she taught in the Greek Afternoon School of the Transfiguration on, Corona. In 1979, she received her Master’s Degree in Bilingual Education with a scholarship from St. John’s University. Immediately after, she was hired by the same university to teach Greek language and literature until 1987. She began her career at the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos Greek-American Day School in 1985 when she was hired by the school as an Assistant Principal un­ der the principalship of Cathy Zangas. Her duties included supervising the Greek program and writing the Greek curriculum of the school. The following year, Mrs. Kromidas became the principal of the St. Nicholas Greek Afternoon School, a position which she held simultaneously with her position as Assistant Principal of the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos School.

In addition to her work in the William Spyropoulos School and the St. Nicholas Greek Afternoon School, Mrs. Kromidas became a member of the Archdiocesan Board of Education in 1986, a position which she held until 1996, and, in 1986, she also became a member of the Greek Regents Committee-a position which she still holds today. She served as a member of the writing committee of “Paideia Omogenon” of the University y of Crete. She was the president of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” for two terms. She has presented many lectures on the themes of education, literature, culture, and history.

In 1990, Mrs. Kromidas’s responsibilities as Assistant Principal of the William Spyropoulos were expanded to include supervision of both the English and Greek curriculums under the principalship of Mrs. Arlis. During this time, she attended a program in C.W Post, Long Island University through which she earned her Professional Diploma in School Administration and Supervision in 1995. In September 2000, she left her position as principal of the St. Nicholas Stefanos and Areti Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School to become the principal of the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos Greek American Day School-a position which she held until February 15, 2018 and the one which she is best known for.IMG_9618

Over the years, Mrs. Kromidas has repeatedly taken part in radio and television appearances and panel discussions on educational matters. With a keen knowledge of the educational needs of the students, Mrs. Kromidas, along with the Greek Teachers of the parish of Flushing, undertook the task of reorganizing and simplifying the religion and history books for the children to better comprehend them. The book Greek Mythology is a product of her labor. Along with Mr. Chris Stratakis she was a member of the editing committee of the commemorative publication Chians on Parallel Roads published by Panchiaki Korais N.Y Mrs. Kromidas also hosted a weekly radio program from July 2006 until May 2015 on Cosmos FM 91.5 which was designed to take listeners on an educational literary journey. She is actively involved in the charity events of the Ronald McDonald House, particularly the annual Walk-A-Thon.


Mrs. Kromidas’s works have been recognized with numerous awards throughout her career. In April of 1991, the late Archbishop Jakovos of North and South America bestowed upon her the Medal of the Three Hierarchs. In June of 1992, she was honored by the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos School for her outstanding services. In January of 1993, she was named Educator of the Year by the daily newspaper National Herald. In January of 1996, she was honored by the P.TA. of   the   Greek Afternoon School of Saint Nicholas, and her name and her services were recorded on the Congressional Records. She also received a citation from the State Assembly of New York. In May of 1996, the Mesta Association of America recognized her for her contributions to the Greek Letters, and, in November of 1998, the Panchiakos Syllogos Korais honored her for excellence in education. In January of 2001, the Greek Afternoon School acknowledging her services, dedication, and devotion to Hellenic Orthodox educa tion awarded her, and a commemorative journal was published in her name. Citations from political leaders were presented to her as well.IMG_9587


In May of 2004, she was honored by the P.T A. of the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos Greek-American Day School for her outstanding services to the school. A commemorative journal was published in her name. In March of 2005, the honorable Ekaterini Bouras, Consul General of Greece, in collaboration with the Women Consuls General of New York, awarded her with the Community Empowerment Award for outstanding achievements and contributions. In March of 2006, courtesy of Senator Michael Gianaris, a Citation of Honor   was presented to her by the Borough President of Queens, Helen Marshal, on Greek Independence Day. In May of 2007, she received an award for outstanding contributions to the Greek education by the Federation of Hellenic Educators. Simultaneously, she was presented with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition by Carolyn Maloney of the House of Representatives and an honorary diploma for outstanding contributions to the Greek Education by the Ministry of Education of Greece. In November of   2013, she received the “Homeric Award” by  the  Chian  Federation  of N. Y

for her dedication to the Hellenic Orthodox Letters along with a commemorative publication. Recently, she was also acknowledged for her devotion to the Hellenic Ideals by the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus.”

Mrs. Athena Tsokou-Krornidas is the daughter of Joannis and Demetra Tsokou and sister of George and Marika. Her older brother Mihalis passed away when he was 18 years old. She is married to Stefanos Kromidas and has two children: George and John. George is married to Anna Kanterakis, and they have four boys named Stefanos, Nikolas, Michael and Lukas!1

        Kostas Ioannou and Dr. Maria Sakatis Ioannou contributed to the journal book research.IMG_9595



  1. “The Saint Nicholas William Spyropoulos PTA” journal book, May 12, 2018, PP. 14-16.



Off the Beaten Track: Crossing the Albanian Border into Greece

Crossing Albanian border into Ioanina, Greece.

Our 2017 Albanian tour guide guide on our Corfu-Saranda tour was Matilda Guci, with Tomor Tare and Lambi , the bus driver made this excursion unforgettable with their pleasant smiles. An all-day trip of a lifetime for under 80 euros including lunch, transport and port taxes was enjoyable without crowds and pushing. It was a peaceful excursion where he/she could enjoy the natural beauty. Matilda on Monday  May 28,2018, crossed the Albanian border into Ioanina. Greece. She was engaged in transfers of Scandinavian tourists.

Matilda Guci

They are lucky to have her as their guide.





On the Road in Italy: Florence’s Palazzo Castri 1874



I wanted a hotel near the Santa Maria Novella train station to save money on taxis. The Palazzo Castri 1874 is a jewel with excellent service, accommodations, breakfast and strategic location. We lucked out with this new boutique hotel in Florence. Our room, on the first floor, had a private terrace table and chairs overlooking a hidden walled garden called La Limonaia.  At night, lights lit up the garden of palm trees and flower. making it a spectacular view. The rooms had free Wi-Fi, flat-screens, tea and coffeemaking facilities, and designer toiletries. A cat was sleeping on a reclining chair overlooking the pool.

Famed Italian hospitality made it a great experience. It is walking distance to the Fortezza da Basso, Centro Congressi, Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore and Piazza della Signoria. Ponte Vecchio, Basilica di Santa Croce, Palazzo Pitti and Giardini di Boboli. The breakfast was the best we had in Italy. Gourmet pastries, their own breads, meats, cheese and Italian coffee made our stay unforgettable. Mercato Centrale, an indoor restaurant was two blocks away.

Afternoon tea was offered with gourmet cakes and biscuits. I met Maria Bengtsson, as Personal Shopper at the Artisans of Florence. “Florentine Experience Shopping is a personalized way of seeing our city,” she said. It’s a  walk among the Florentine Art & Craft workshops, boutiques and ateliers of fashion and design. We will discover the extraordinary Florentine heritage made of craftsmanship and creativity.1The Palazzo Castri 1874 staff of Anna Lisa, Emma, Alesandro, Marihela and Mirceau were hospitable to the finest degree. Stay here and you will love your Florence experience.


Links: photo album by Dr. Despina Siolas – website – Maria Bengtsson.


Photo 1- hidden walled garden called La Limonaia.  Photo by Dr. Despina Siolas

Photo 2 – La Limonaia.  Photo by Dr. Despina Siolas

Photo 3 – Breakfast – Photo by Dr. Despina Siolas

Photo 4-  Breakfast – Photo by Dr. Despina Siolas





Ivan Aivazovsky Lecture at Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs

3. Battle of Navarino, 1848,

“Ivan Aivazovsky: Remembering Armenia and the Eastern Roman Byzantine Heritage” PowerPoint program was presented by Prof. Catherine Tsounis on Wednesday, April 24th, at 1:15 p.m. to a filled church auditorium of the Women’s Guild of the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs in Bayside, New York. “Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us,” said the leaders of the Women’s Guild to the speaker. “It’s always wonderful to expand one’s horizons. You have enabled us to do that today.” Father Abraham Malhasyan is the pastor. Co-Chairs were Zarmi Megherian and Carol Loshigian. The program co-ordinator was Carol Anastasian.

Speaker. Photo by Mardo Anastasian

“Our speaker has a Master of Arts degree in Byzantine history from Queens College,”
said Carol Anastasian in her introduction of the speaker. “She is a journalist, educator, writer of Greek language and culture. A photojournalist from 1974 in internet, magazine and newspaper mediums, Prof. Tsounis was inducted into “Who’s Who Among America’s teachers in 2002 and 2005. She had outstanding contributions to the New York City and the Greek community. She wrote many books of Greek American Experience and is active at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing, NY. Prof. Tsounis will present an in look of the Armenian-Russian artist who produced 6,000 works.”

Speaker with community

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence- is the key to unlocking our potential -Winston Churchill. This describes Ivan Aivazovsky, a man educated in Byzantine history that combined this knowledge as an Armenian-Russian painter of the Late Russian empire,” explained Prof. Catherine Tsounis. “Two years in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, I saw paintings of the sea and Constantinople of an artist with a name beginning with ai, a Byzantine root. When I came back to the United States, I discovered he was the greatest Russian artist and one of the greatest marine artists in history, who promoted the Greek revolution in his paintings. He was baptized Hovhannes Aivazian of an Armenian family in the Black Sea port of Feodosia in the Crimea. His brother was the Armenian Catholic bishop Gabriel Aivazian.”

Carol Anastasian

The speaker showed 60 slides of his work, ranging from the sea, Constantinople, Greek battle scenes, Greece, Crete and the Crimea. His art is on stamps of Central Africa, Burundi, Moldova, Romania, Russia and European countries. They hang in private collections, Armenia, Russia the USA and Europe.

“Ivan Aivazovsky’s childhood was spent in poverty on the outskirts of the city facing the beautiful Feodosia Bay and the ruins of an ancient Greek fortress,” she explained.  Young Ivan was mesmerized by the grandeur of the view and the heroic stories told about the Greeks and the famous battles of the past. This love of Greece and Constantinople are prevalent in his art.”

The speaker showed his painting of Lord Byron meeting the Armenian monks at San Lazzaro island in Venice. “Lord Byron published the first English/Armenian dictionary, before he left for Greece to fight in their revolution,” she said.

“An oil painting of the Brig Mercury Attacked by Two Turkish Ships, 1892, showed he knew the sea and loved it. He developed a unique way of capturing its changing moods. Instead of copying directly from nature, he limited himself to pencil sketches. Coupled with his most important gift, an amazing visual memory, this enabled him to reproduce states of nature. He was appointed the main painter of the Russian Navy. Aivazovsky had close ties with the military and political elite of the Russian Empire and often attended military maneuvers. He was sponsored by the state and was well-regarded during his lifetime.IMG_9496

‘The Battle of Navarino’ is shown in Greek textbooks, newspapers and websites. Aivazovsky painted the decisive battle that Gave Greece its Independence. Scholars told me this Russian drew paintings showing Greek naval battles. I saw this oil painting in a book by the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle. He was awarded numerous medals by the Greek government.”

Prof. Tsounis displayed a slide of  “A Panorama of Constantinople, 1856 that shows the love of one of the greatest cities of history, coveted by the Russian empire for centuries. The sun shining gave the viewer a positive impression. He died in 1900 as his beloved country was being torn apart. He was buried at the courtyard of St. Sargis Armenian Church. A classical Armenian saying is engraved on his tombstone which translates: “He was born a mortal, left an immortal legacy”.

The speaker continued saying that “Mardo and Carol Anastasian inspired this information on the Armenian contribution to the Byzantine Empire. Dr. Peter Charanis of Rudgers University said the important role played in the history of Byzantium by that talented minority, the Armenians, has been generally unrecognized. Dr. Charanis, Greek-American Byzantine scholar and immigrant from Lemnos, Greece, was associated with the Dumbarton Oaks research library.  He believed these people (Armenians) appear, of course, were thoroughly Hellenized. ..Yet it may be asked whether their Hellenization was not unaffected by their original background, whether in being absorbed they did not modify the culture which absorbed them.IMG_9500

For something like five hundred years, Armenians played an important role in the political, military and administrative life of the Byzantine Empire. They served as soldiers and officers, as administrators and emperors. In the early part of this period during the seventh and eighth centuries, when the empire was fighting for its very existence, they contributed greatly in turning back its enemies. But particularly great was their role in the ninth and tenth centuries when as soldiers and officers, administrators and emperors they dominated the social, military and political life of the empire and were largely responsible for its greatness.

So dominant indeed was their role during this period that one may refer to the Byzantine empire of these two centuries as Graeco-Armenian; ‘Graeco’, because as always, its civilization was Greek, ‘Armenian’, because the element which directed its destinies and provided the greater part of the forces for its defense was largely Armenian or of Armenian origin. It was a role, moreover, of world-wide historical significance for it was during this period that the empire achieved its greatest success, when its armies triumphed everywhere, its missionaries spread the gospel and with-it civilization among the southeastern Slavs, and its scholars resurrected Greek antiquity, thus making possible the preservation of its literature.

Herein lies perhaps the most important part of the legacy of the Armenians to civilization. But while all this may be true, the point should be made and made with emphasis that the Armenians in Byzantium who furnished it with its leadership were thoroughly integrated into its political and military life, identified themselves with its interest and adopted the principal features of its culture. In brief, like many other elements of different racial origins, as, for instance, Saracens, Slavs and Turks, who had a similar experience, they became Byzantines.”1 One face, one race. Ivan Aivazovsky knew this and incorporated themes, looking toward the civilization of Constantinople.

Brig Mercury Attacked by Two Turkish Ships, 1892,

SPECIAL APPRECIATION was expressed: Mardo and Carol Anastasian; Queens Gazette; Kosta Koutsoubis of New York Physical Sports Rehabilitation, 44-02 Francis Lewis Blvd., 2nd Fl., Flushing; Mark of Bayside Hills Shoe Services; Madelene of Creative Cuts; Lara Ciamician for photography; Technical Assistance from Holy Martyrs Armenian Church, to Microsoft – Anant, technician, Adobe, Deepah, technician, Dell Connect engineers and Dr. John G. Siolas and Dr. Despina C. Siolas for their inspiration.

Panorama of Constantinople, 1856,

“The starting date of the Armenian Genocide is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities rounded up, arrested, and deported from Constantinople (now Istanbul) to the region of Ankara 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders, the majority of whom were eventually murdered. The cleansing continued during and after World War I resulting in the massacre of millions of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians of Anatolia.

On April 24, 1919, prominent figures of the Armenian community that had survived held a commemoration ceremony at the St. Trinity Armenian church in Istanbul. Following its initial commemoration in 1919, the date became the annual day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide.

Yet, ever since the horrific events of 1915, Turkey is methodically denying the Armenian genocide. But despite Turkish denials, it is unanimously verified by the International Association of Genocide Scholars and accepted by nations that uphold moral responsibility above political purposes.”2




Links: slide program article – album


  1. Brig Mercury Attacked by Two Turkish Ships, 1892,
  2. Panorama of Constantinople, 1856,
  3. Battle of Navarino, 1848,
  4. Prof Catherine tsounis (2nd from left) with Father Abraham Malhasyan .













On the Road in Greece: KEM Bags Make a Statement


Finding a stylish leather bag in a New York retail store is difficult. The most stylish bags are synthetic. Handbags have been essential to fashion history ever since people have had something precious to carry around with them and only the items have changed over time. I enjoy window shopping in the provincial city of Tripoli. High fashion is prevalent. Tripoli is a European city that takes fashion seriously. Appearances count.IMG_3927IMG_3904

KEM Tripoli has the latest styles in synthetic and leather handbags. I make it a point to buy multi-colored leather bags that are very difficult to find in New York. This past year, KEM Tripoli had pastel colors that caught one’s eye. I bought KEM bags as souvenirs. The online bags do not show the diverse collection that I found in KEM Tripoli. It makes a difference shopping in person at a retail store.IMG_3920 I took photos and emailed them back to the states. I had members of my family select bags for purchase I like romance leather, picking a navy-blue bag.  Shoppers in malls ask me where I bought my bag. The handmade bags in leather and synthetic fabrics stay new, even after a few years. Shop in key cities of Greece. I shop at Tripoli store at Ethnikis Antistaseos 28, tel. 2710 227471IMG_3945