Category Archives: Places I Like

Awesome Cities Invented By The Greek That Should Exist

Elysian Fields

Elysium - by Jeffrey K. Bedrick

Ever wondered from where the French got the name for their Champs-Élysées? Well, it was from the mythological Elysian Fields, a resting place for the souls of the heroic and the virtuous.

While most modern-day western religions are binary in their notions of the afterlife, Greek mythology had a wider range of rewards -and punishments- ready to meet you after you left this world. I guess it was good to know that if you were awesome in life, you would be rewarded better in the afterlife than the average Joe.

The Elysian Fields shared the Underworld with the Elysean Islands (resting place for the great heroes of myth), the Land of the Dead (common afterlife destination ruled by Hares) and the great pit of Tartarus (eternal jail for the damned souls).

And those that have three times kept to their oaths,
Keeping their souls clean and pure,
Never letting their hearts be defiled by the taint
Of evil and injustice,
And barbaric venality,
They are led by Zeus to the end:
To the palace of Kronos
Pindar (about the Elysian Islands)

Hyperborea

Utopia - A word that actually means "no place".

A perfect land thought to exist in the northern region of Thrace (that’s where modern-day Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey share borders), where the sun shone twenty-four hours a day and people lived free of worries, sadness and disease (and for a thousand years). A perfect utopia.

It’s name means “beyond the boreas (the north winds)”. They worshipped the god Apollo, who made frequent visits, and gave presents to his temples.

Never the Muse is absent
from their ways: lyres clash and flutes cry
and everywhere maiden choruses whirling.
Neither disease nor bitter old age is mixed
in their sacred blood; far from labor and battle they live.
Pindar, Tenth Pythian Ode.

This place was, Pindar warns, as elusive as El Dorado itself:

Neither by ship nor on foot would you find
the marvellous road to the assembly of the Hyperboreans.

Atlantis

Artist depiction of Atlantis

Probably the most famous. Sometimes said to be a continent, sometimes an island. It was first mentioned in the works of Plato as a naval power that conquered part of Western Europe around 9600 BC (that’d be several millennia before the accounted beginning of civilization) and then sunk in the sea in one night after a failed attempt to invade Athens.

This one is different from the other on the list in that it has been thought to exist by many people, even in modern times. The Nazis led expeditions to the hypothetical locations of Atlantis in search of the origins of the Aryan race, and from time to time someone claims he’s found it’s location (it’s been “found” all around the world). However, most historians agree that Atlantis is a product of Plato’s imagination.

While Atlantis itself appears to be a work of fiction, a sunken city is not too much of an unrealistic notion. Sunken lands are a fact (tectonic plates move, folks), and in 1987 a rock formation speculated to be man-made or at least man-modified dating of 8.000 BC was found in the coasts of Japan (my fellow readers, remember not to jump to conclusions).

Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus - by Andyparkart

There’s a tall mountain in Greece called Olympus, a taller mountain in Mars called Olympus Mons and then there’s Mount Olympus. The top of the first mountain (the tall one) was said by the Greek to be the home of my favourite gods the human mind has created: the gods of Greek mythology.

Personally, if I had to pick a religion, I’d totally worship these guys. I don’t know why we changed them for the boring, monotheistic religions we have now in the western world. The Greek gods are much more balanced and interesting: there’s a god of war, a goddess of wisdom, a goddess of beauty, and so on. I haven’t read the full of the Bible (I quitted religion class when I was 11) but the adventures of the Christian god (creatively named “God”) and his worshippers weren’t as interesting as the ones of Apollo, Athena and the others. I guess it’s what happens when you put all the superpowers in the same hero (with the exception of Dr. Manhattan from the graphic novel Watchmen, who is awesome beyond words).

In Mount Olympus -whose castles at the top were sometimes said to be made of crystal- the Greek gods spent their time eating the most delicious of foods, drinking ambrosia, being amazed by their own awesomeness and planning the future fortunes and misfortunes of mankind. Now that’s an interesting place to visit. It turned out that when mankind decided to climb the mighty mountain, it’s top was unfortunately home to no things other than rocks and snow. Exploration’s got a bitter side sometimes.

That’d be all for today, fellow readers. Take care and say “please” and “thank you”, people will be pleased and will thank your kindness.

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Africa: Or How Over-Generalization Can Undermine Your Cause

This post was inspired by Waikisays’ There’s More to Africa Than Corruption and Poverty.


Indeed, there is more to Africa than corruption and poverty. I have never visited any African country, but I can’t wait to. It’s a very rich and diverse continent, full of magnificent architecture and breathtakingly beautiful natural areas. This may surprise you given that the image of Africa we get from the news in Europe is, from north to south: where illegal immigrants come from (10%), a huge desert (40%), the place where the documentaries are filmed (5%)  blood diamonds, sickness and starving children (40%), some rich white people (5%) .

This is Africa, too. Photo by Dr. Andrew Hill of Yale University.

I understand why the news give so much attention to these issues. It’s because these issues matter and need to be solved. But in their attempt to concern the general public about everything that’s wrong with Africa, they overgeneralise and forget to mention everything that’s right with Africa! And this is very, very bad for all those issues we cared about in the first place.

Why is it so bad? Because it causes detachment. In the first world it is very hard to consider African countries as equals because the media never talks about the things we have in common. You’ll never hear about the African girl who just wrote an outstanding thesis for her Architecture final year, you’ll hear about the one who didn’t go to school because she had to take care of her brothers. You’ll never see the exotic fashion the middle class is designing, you’ll see the rags and patches of the poorest. Judging from the news, Africa hasn’t discovered concrete yet.

This isn’t helped by the fact that most black characters in American media are African-American, born in America, raised in America. A fantastic example of the opposite is Lt. Uhura from Star Trek (1966), whose nation is the fictitious United States of Africa and whose mother tongue is Swahili. She’s also a female. Take that, inequality. Note that this doesn’t happen only with Africa… non-white characters in American TV tend not to be too foreign. Sadly, American media reaches the whole world, thus perpetuating this negative view.

But there’s one reason why it’s even worse: the common belief that Africa is a helpless mess paralyses the potential aider! The failure to show how Africa’s pulling itself out of poverty tricks the viewer into believing that his little aid will only help one child live a little longer, and then everything will be the same. It makes us think it’s a helpless cause, while it is clearly not.

I’ll be honest with you. I have no idea what Africa is really like. I’ve never been there. But I know it’s not a mess of a continent. I know it had a very rich history. I know that not everybody is dying of malaria and starvation.  I know that there are African scientists, doctors, historians and teachers who are just as good at what they do as any European guy. And I know that Africa is definitely worth helping solve the problems it currently has. So take action now.

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Places I Like: The Wood

Bamboo forest, somewhere in the world.

Maybe it is the way the random dispositions of the trees suggest paths to follow. Maybe it’s the uncertainty of not knowing how deep it is, or the excitement of finding out what’s on the other side.  Be it for one reason or another, forests are awesome.

When I go to a forest sometimes I carry a GPS device like my phone to know how to get out of it. Sometimes I don’t, because as I said, the trees suggest paths. When I don’t, I carry pen and paper and make my own map of the forest, using the “weird trees”, rocks or anything non-tree as reference points. It’s great. I did this while growing up on Uruguay with my two best friends. We made a map of a huge forest near to our houses and buried some “treasures” on it. I still keep the map and will go look for what we buried someday, mostly because I can’t remember what it was 🙂

Another great thing to do in a forest is explore and see what you find. You can do that everywhere, to be fair. A wood is just one more awesome place to explore: think of all the fascinating plants and animals! Also, a forest is a great place to hide things, so it’s possible that people have hidden things in there 😉

Above you can see the photo of a bamboo forest: you can’t deny the beauty of the scenery, specially in winter. Check out some of the forests I want to visit around the world:

Mysterious shoot of a forest in Alsace, France.

Can you imagine how many mysteries wait to be solved in this blurry woodland? Awesome!

Oak forest in Wisconsin, USA

What about this winter landscape? Has to be scary at night! I can imagine thousands of stories happening in that place.

Rainforest in Malaysia

So beautiful! I’ve always wanted to cross one of those little waterfalls. Rainforests are a great place to play and get inspired.

Hope you liked, thanks for reading! 🙂

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