When books go out of print or are updated, inevitably a lot of worthy and interesting content is lost. High on the list of what saddens authors of such texts is the disappearance from guidebooks of cherished boxed texts- the short pieces that provide background, insight or practical information regarding foreign places and practices.
Since most of the time we writers forget to credit ourselves, these kind of texts are not attributed and when they disappear due to the remorseless exigencies of ‘page reduction,’ there is a sense of loss. To in some way rectify this, I bring back here some of my more interesting boxed texts, ones which have over time slipped out of production or been replaced by new ones. Other kinds of texts no longer extant may be added in the future.
Here are some excerpts, with links to the full texts below them.
An excerpt from Memories of Venizelos (published in Lonely Planet Greece and Crete 2010)
-Despite the partisanship that has chronically marked Greek politics, and other political factions’ voluble opposition to Venizelos, when he died in 1936, at 72, there was a great outpouring of grief. In Hania, people hung black in their balconies.
‘I remember that many men from the villages came in traditional dress, with knives on their belts, and my mother taking us to Agia Magdalini Church, where Venizelos was lying in state,’ recalls Kyria Rena. ‘When it was our turn to look in the coffin, she said to me, “Daughter, I want you to look very carefully, for this was a very great man. Look, and don’t forget him!” That is a moment I have always remembered.’
An excerpt from Cryptical Envelopment (published in Lonely Planet Greece 2008 & 2010):
-Being a Christian in late-Roman Thessaloniki was extremely dangerous. Galerius (AD 250-311) made practising the new religion punishable by death – a stark reality that drove worshippers literally underground. One day in about the year AD 303, a young soldier named Dimitrios was caught preaching in a subterranean portico in the city agora (market). Dragged off to the baths, Dimitrios was speared to death as an example to others.
An excerpt from Wineries of Northern Greece (published in Lonely Planet Greece 2008 & 2010):
-Ever since the wine-inspired writings of Homer, Greece has been famous for its viticulture. Some of Greece’s best wines are produced in the north. Here, conditions are ideal for grape cultivation, with arid yet fertile fields bounded by lakes, mountains and the sea, creating unique microclimates and cultivation zones. In Macedonia, endemic varietals are grown, along with more famous varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The most distinctive include xinomavro, a superlative dry red, rich in tannins and with high alcohol content. It’s grown widely, and especially in Naoussa, Amyntaio, Pella and Velvendos, and in Halkidiki’s vineyards.
An excerpt from The Brod View (published in Lonely Planet Eastern Europe 2012):
-Thickly-forested mountains, deep caves, Communist-era military tunnels and an ammo factory all conspire to make Brod an offbeat and interesting region. Makedonski Brod (population 3,500), officially Macedonia’s smallest town, is a sleepy place but not bereft of character. It is the central hub for a number of smaller villages in the Brod municipality.
An excerpt from Renaissance Men of Venetian Crete (published in Lonely Planet Greece and Crete 2010):
-When the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, many Byzantine scholars took refuge in Venetian-held Crete, bringing with them priceless manuscripts and knowledge. The island became a way-station for intellectuals and ideas – at precisely the moment when a hunger for learning ancient Greek and Latin texts in the original was growing in Italy and other Western European countries. Indeed, wealthy Italian noblemen such as that great Florentine, Cosimo de’ Medici, were funding whole Platonic ‘academies’, where aspiring scholars sat enraptured at the feet of learned Greek emigres.
An excerpt from Epic Adventures in the Cretan Wilds (published in Lonely Planet Greece and Crete 2010):
-If you think Samaria is for wimps, head for the lesser-visited gorges south of Hania. They offer unparallelled opportunities for mountain treks, caving, rock climbing and even skiing in winter – though even seasoned pros will need local information and advice to ensure their safety and get the best from their experience.
An excerpt from Magical Myzithra (published in Lonely Planet Greece and Crete 2010)
-Local specialities use myzithra too. In the southwestern Sfakia area, the thin Sfakiani pita, filled with myzithra and topped with honey, is a dessert; however, travel just a bit further west, to Paleohora, and you will find your myzithropitakia will probably be made of the sour xynomyzithra, according to local custom.