Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Former mining town: Lavrio, Greece

Lavrio (Modern Greek: Λαύριο, classical Greek: Λαύριον) is a seaport on the southeast corner of the Attica peninsula, about two hours drive from Athens. This is the warmest part of mainland Greece, and the palms and tropical plants almost make you think you are in the tropics. In antiquity, Lavrio was famous for its silver mines. The mines, worked by slave labor, provided much of the revenue for the Athenian state. Around 483 BC, the mines provided funds to expand the Athenian fleet to 200 triremes, thus laying the foundation of Athenian naval power. According to the Blue Guide, Greece, some mining was already in progress here in paleolithic times. The mines were eventually exhausted but were reopened in the late 1800s by French and Greek companies to extract manganese, lead, and cadmium.

I think all mining has now ended.  But hills around town still have dilapidated factories, industrial buildings,  and pieces of machinery.
On the shore road is this half bridge, once probably holding a conveyor system or an ore railroad.
This iron pier extended out into the bay from the half bridge.  I noticed the cobble on the beach had a dark red, chunky appearance.  It was probably some sort of slag.
Today the modern town is cheerful, and locals and tourists sit in the plazas and enjoy coffees and meals.  A ferry goes to Kea (Tzia) island,with connections further to the Cyclades, and there are plenty of yachts in the harbor, so the town has a healthy tourist influx.
Lavrion was the terminal of the Athens-Lavrion Railroad, last used in 1957 (see the 2012 post on the rail station in Markoupolou).  The old depot is now a restaurant. Putting restaurants in old depots is a popular use, but many of these eateries in the USA fail rather quickly.
Here is another railroad building also reused as a restaurant and another one being used for storage.

Photographs taken with a Nexus 4 smart phone (operated by dumb user...).

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ladies of Venice

Venice is unique. Truly, there is no other place on earth that has such an astonishing architectural heritage situated on low marshy islands around which you navigate by boat!
Most visitors arrive by train and take the water taxi along the Grand Canal, getting a fantastic tour of the 1500s pallazos and mansions.
We will leave an architectural tour for another blog entry.
But there is another Italian treasure worthy of examination whilst visiting Venice: the plastic and paint ladies of the evening (and day).  First, here is the mysterious secret agent look, wool trench coat and all (in mid-summer).
Then we have the hairy look, like friendly sheepdogs.
Then we proceed to the "I have attitude and have not shampooed in a week to prove it" look.
If you prefer no hair at all, that can be accommodated, too.
Here is "I have long hair but am sad.  Maybe I need some more eyelashes."
Here is hair, but they forgot to paint it.
Every fashionable lady needs red jeweled high heel shoes with fuzzy pompoms from Versace.  Perfect for those high-water days or an evening at the ‎Teatro La Fenice di Venezia (tickets are 200 Euros - wow).
If a sophisticated hat is more your style, here is one being worn by the silent, mysterious type.
Here is attire for the famous carnival season.
Finally, if you like really big ladies but of somewhat wooden personality, Venice can provide.

All photographs taken with a Nexus 4 phone, reprocessed with ACDSee Pro software. The phone is handy because you can place it directly against a glass show window, thereby avoiding glare and reflections.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Steam Railroad Equipment, Fèltre, Italy

I recently took the train from Feltre to Venice.  Feltre (in VenetianFèltre) is a delightful town in the southern foothills of the Dolomites.  It is on the Stizzon River, only a short train ride to the coastal plain and only two hours from Venice.  While waiting at the platform, I was surprised to see that the water tank used to refill steam locomotives was still standing.
This one is unusual in that it is made of concrete panels held together with steel bands.  Other railroad watering tanks or tank ponds I have seen were wood or steel tanks or pre-formed concrete cisterns.  
Even more surprising, the spigot is still standing and in good condition.  In typical Italian fashion, a utilitarian device is decorated with cast-iron patterns.  The upright tube is decorated with the wings, the logo of the FS, or Ferrovie dello Stato, a.k.a. Italian State Railways.  Possibly steam enthusiast trains occasionally run this route. In the lower photograph, you can see the foothills in the distance.  Feltre is a really nice town with excellent cuisine, friendly people, and a distinctive Venetian architectural character.  I highly recommend a visit.

For some other articles on railroads, please click the links:
Fort Belvoir, Virginia
Markópoulo, Greece
Kalávryta Narrow-Gauge Rack Railroad, Greece
The Athens to Peloponnese Railroad Corinth, Greece
Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad Station, Saginaw, Michigan
Piraeus, Athens and Peloponnese Railway, Greece
Deserted train station, Milies, Greece

Photographs taken with a Nexus 4 phone camera (sorry, that is all I had with me).