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Croatia – A country of Unexpected Treasures

I recently went on inspection visit for our Love Floris, to ensure our guests travelling there will have a wonderful experience. I was welcomed by a coutry with rich history, wonderful scenery, delicious food and a love for Mythology.

Some of the highlights of my trip included

 

The stunning Galeria Mestrovic in Split, an art museum edicated to the work of the 20th-century sculptor, Ivan Meštrović.

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Our Lady of the Rocks, an artificial island created by bulwark of rocks and by sinking old and seized ships loaded with rocks

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According to legend, the islet was made over the centuries by Croat local seamen who kept an ancient oath after finding the icon of Madonna and Child on the rock in the sea on July 22, 1452. Upon returning from each successful voyage, they laid a rock in the Bay. Over time, the islet gradually emerged from the sea. The custom of throwing rocks into the sea is alive even nowadays.

Staying at the fabulous Meneghetti hotel, with a vineyard one could only dream of

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Having freshly caught and cooked oysters on Peter’s private island. The oysters tasted even better thanks to Peter: He was humble, exciting, genuine  and authentic – a truly incredible man.

I am not a huge fan oysters so I was originaly apprehensive, but it turned out to be the most amazing experience of the trip. We had mussels cooked with onions and garlic and white wine, fresh bread as well as red wine of his region.

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Visiting Trogir, known as the town of Happy Moments

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A Private tour to collect truffles with Nikola in his truffle garden

Nikola is an extraordinary young man who has devoted his life to his dogs and truffle hunting. You can read more about him in the New York times article, which you can find here.

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The beautiful drawings made by children in the port of Split

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Some useful phrases in Croatian

Hello – Bok

Welcome – Dobrodošli

Good morning – Dobro jutro

Good afternoon – Dobar dan

Cheers! Good Health! – Živjeli!

Yellow is the colour of the sun

 

Yellow is the color of the coming of the sun and the warmth it brings. It is the color of the bright days of early summer, and as the sun high in the sky lights up the landscape, its yellow color ray brings us the power of enlightenment, lighting up the landscape of our search for knowledge. It is the color of the summer solstice ushering in the bright time of long days, warm temperatures, and sustained vigor.


In different cultures yellow has different meanings. In some cultures, yellow represents peace. In Egypt yellow was worn to signify the dead. In Japan, yellow stands for courage. In India, yellow is the color of the merchants.

Yellow in Greece

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Pictures are part of a private photoshoot for Modern Brides Magazine, with marzipan pebbles and silver “mati” favours created by the amazing Liana Vourakis.

 

Yellow is the color of the natural birthstones of those born in the beginning of summer (June 21–July 21). It is the color of midday, midyear, and the beginnings of midlife. Yellow is a color of journeys beginning well, full of promise and sunny optimism.

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Yellow Flowers

Yellow flowers burst with happiness. They symbolize the bonds of friendship, the taste of success and pride. Joy is also one of the meanings of this flower, as that is one of the feelings the color is said to evoke.

 

 

Yellow gemstones

Yellow gemstones are believed to aid in clarity for decision-making, boost concentration, increase energy, and offer relief from burnout, panic, nervousness, or exhaustion.

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Yellow is the most luminous of all the colors of the spectrum. It’s the color that captures our attention more than any other color.  In the natural world, yellow is the color of sunflowers and daffodils, egg yolks and lemons, canaries and bees. Go ahead and put some yellow in your life!

 

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Easter in Karyes

In te Greek Orthodox faith, Easter is the most sacred observance. The preparations and customs, including traditional foods and large feasts, remain an important part of modern Greek life.

Toward the end of Holy Week, which is between Palm Sunday and Easter, the preparations for Easter come to a climax. While each region may have its own local customs associated with Easter, there are several traditions that are observed by everyone.

In my beloved village of Karyes in Laconia (famously the sancuary of the goddess Artemis – and the village the caryatids were named after) we have many wonderful traditions.

Traditions

  • Holy Friday is a day of mourning and not one of work (including cooking).  The Epitaph is decorated with fresh field flowers and it is carried through the village.IMG_8654
  • When the Epitaph passes, women lay a tile with lit charcoal and incense next to their doors.IMG_8660
  • On Holy  Saturday, the Eternal Flame is brought to Greece by a military jet and is distributed to waiting priests who carry it to their local churches. The event is always televised and if there’s a threat of bad weather or a delay, the entire country agonizes until the flame arrives safely. The pilot in the photo is our very own Floris Family Pilot, my nephew here Manolis shown here delivering “agio fos”, the holy light to islands all over Greece.IMG_3038

Food

  • On Great Tuesday, traditional Easter cookies are baked in local bakeries Καταγραφή
  • In Karyes, we also eat kourampiedes during Easter  – a cookie that is traditionally eated during Christmas in the rest of GreeceIMG_3695
  • On Holy Thursday, the traditional Easter bread, tsoureki, is baked.
  • Eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. From ancient times, the red eggs have been a symbol of the renewal of life, carrying the message of the victory over death.IMG_8661
  • On Great Saturday, Magiritsa is cooked. The traditional mayiritsa soup—which uses the organs and intestines of the lamb that will be roasted—is prepared. This will be eaten after the midnight service.IMG_3693

Godmother and Godfather Duties

In Greece, godparents are not only tasked with baptizing a child. They are responsible for guiding them in life and in faith – as well as pampering them! In the Greek Orthodox religion, Easter offers several godparent traditions.

  • As part of Greek-Orthodox tradition, every Easter godparents give their godchildren a “lambatha”, a playfully decorated candle.IMG_8668
  • Godparents also buy an Easter outfit for their godchildren, including the Easter shoesIMG_8666
  • A Chocolate egg is always a good idea and will earn the Godparent some extra hugs!
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The etiquette of being Thankful

 

Almost any gift or good deed deserves at least a brief, handwritten thank you note. If in doubt, send one.

As wonderful as paperless post is for a Christmas party or a gathering, there are some special occasions that need something extra special. I’m 63 years old and I love social media and search the web but I think its very important that moving forward that we don’t forget pen and paper.

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Each thank you note should be different and meaningful to the recipient and it’s even more meaningful if “Sent from my iPhone” is not in the signature.

Some tips:

  • If you are an organized person, you might want to keep a stack of cards on hand. Making them personalized makes them even more valuable and important.
  • The tone of your message should match the relationship you have with the person you are addressing it to. For example, a letter to a lifetime friend will be more intimate than one you would send to a prospective employer.

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When in doubt, a simple thank you in any form is the best thing you can do to show your appreciation.

Reasons to say thank you

  • Wedding thank you
  • After a friend hosting delicious dinner
  • Thank you to a wonderful teacher
  • A doctor you are grateful to
  • Your best friend – it is always important for someone to know you are grateful regardless of how close you are to them. Sometimes you take it for granted – especially those times are when it has even more value.
  • neighbour -thank you for understanding
  • After birthday wishes
  • Baby announcement

Ways of saying thank you:

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At its core, giving thanks for something you’ve received, whether it’s an object, an experience or something intangible like forgiveness or support, is something that just needs to be done. The form, timing and details are rarely as important as the simple act of saying thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with Grief

Like all rehabilitation periods, grief is a time of patience and discovery. It provides reflection on the past, acceptance of the moment, and creative thought for the future. It allows family, friends, laughter, memories, and tears to bring us back to strength and steadiness, and it gives us time off from being perfect. At the same time, grief catapults change, forcing us to face pain at its source and find a way to move forward. We will never be the same as before, but we just may be stronger.

One day, we all have to deal with the loss of a loved one and unfortunately I was recently reminded of it with my own experience of losing my father. A beautiful eulogy was written for his passing, shared below

A Driver’s Final Journey…

Today we bid farewell to Sotirios “Sotos” Floris, our adored husband, father, brother,
grandfather, friend and countryman on his final journey.
We reflect on the life of a truly great man and the moments we shared together.
A distinguished man who lived his life with great dignity and infinite strength.
We remember his kind heart and generous spirit – his love of his fellow man, his
laughter and great sense of humor. He was the life of the party.
We celebrate his strength and his passion for life, a better life, one that he preserved to
achieve.
Born 96 years ago in the tiny village of Karyes, which held his heart until today, he was
one of five children that together would survive everything.
A lover of all things – nature, music and discovery lead him to the wheel of a bus –
where his legend would begin…
With laughter, music and storytelling he transported his countrymen and women, family
and friends, from place to place, with a smile on his face and love in his heart. Making
the journey always memorable and perhaps softening one’s reality even for a brief
moment.
His love of his birth place was evident in the many terms that he served as President of
his village, working diligently and tirelessly to improve his beloved community and
bringing joy always to young and old alike.
As many might remember, on one special Christmas he used his battery from his bus to
light up the town square Christmas tree (an anecdote that he very much enjoyed
telling). His love always surpassed his immediate circle and he could always be counted
on in one’s time of need.
His work ethic was unparalleled, a true family man who always put his family first. What
some might not know is that the best part of his trip was always coming home to his
beloved wife of sixty five years, Georgia, and beautiful daughters Litsa and Lena.
His love of community extended far beyond the village starting with the neighboring
village “Geraki” that stole his heart and expanded to the “Big Apple” where he watched
his grandchildren grow up: learning how to speak English and use the subway system
with his eldest and first grandson, Stratos, shopping with Vivia at Bloomingdales and
enjoying lunch at Forty Carrots, joyously applauding at Eirini’s ballet recitals, and
watching airplanes with his youngest grandson Manolis, who would then become a pilot
and follow in his footsteps.

Papou, we want to thank you for your unconditional love and sing softly to you, one of
your favorite choruses, ”Γεια σου μάγκα σ’ αγαπώ”, and to tell you that you will always
be the driver of our hearts and minds, watching us from above and guiding our
footsteps.
αιώνια μνήμη –May your memory be eternal.
Sotirios Floris is survived by his wife Georgia Floris, daughters Litsa Floris and Lena
Maninakis ,his sister, Dimitra Matsoukas, his four grandchildren and two great
grandchildren.

September 4, 1921 – January , 2018
Karyes Laconia

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As it is a difficult time, here are some practical tips on dealing with grief and loss of a loved one

  • Make arrangements ahead of time
  • Invite friends and family of your loved one
  • Share personal stories and give people the chance to say something short and sweet
  • Prepare money holders and thank you cards for the church
  • We the Greeks emphasize celebrating someone’s life, encourage your loved ones to do this
  • Instead of flowers dedicate some time or money to the charity of your loved one

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Friends and family,

We would like to take a moment to thank you all for the overwhelming outreach of sympathy and condolences extended to our family at this time.

In his memory and to honor the life he lived, we have established a fund for a museum dedicated to his hometown, Karyes, that he loved so much.

 

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