Εύβοια III

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 16:58
strangelover: (Evia)
I've been to this island three times before and the particular camping spot twice, but it's a beautiful place, with the added plus of home-away-from-home comforts - a bed, electricity and a constant supply of tea.

At Least This Heart Is Intact


It's no secret that my 2011 was not a kind one, so the idea of starting the new year by getting away from it all seemed a damn fine one. We set out with a car packed full of friends, food and blankets, planning to hunker down for a few days. Unlike most holidays which involve running around and seeing absolutely everything you can think of, it was very relaxed - which was exactly what was needed. For the few days we were there, I spent many, many hours sitting on the beach, walking in the forest or in the kitchen, making endless cups of tea and cooking meals for us all.

Relaxing, solitary bliss. ♥

Snapshots )

The set of photographs from the trip are here on Flickr.

Athens

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 22:27
strangelover: (Αθήνα)
My lovely friend [personal profile] cookwitch recently came to visit me. I do love having friends visit, as I am reminded of the beauty and culture of my adopted home town. We were quite fortunate that the days were wonderfully clear and sunny, so we spent much of our time sitting in the ancient sites, admiring the views and enjoying the sunshine on our faces. This is the life.


Athens Parnorama
Panorama of Athens

More photographs )
strangelover: (Northern Greece)
[Part I]: Tequila is bad, no seafood by the sea and the seemingly endless drive north.

[Part II]: Disrespectful pensioners, ancient sites and frogs legs on the island.

[Part III]: Bridges, orgasmic food and giant cow-belled goats.

[Part IV]: Cheese, showers and sleeping in a clean bed.

~o~O~o~

Meteora is a collection of monasteries built on sandstone rock pillars which loom over the (more recently built) town of Kalambaka. The photograph to the left is walkway to the first place we visited - The Holy Monastery of Varlaam, the second largest in the 'complex'. The history within these walls is amazing, and the museum was fascinating, with illustrated manuscripts and centuries old embroidered robes. We hung around until the group of Russian tourists left, so we could clearly look at the frescos in the chapel, which depicted some pretty horrific things, such as the journey to hell. There was also an immense barrel, which I like to believe was once upon a time filled with wine.

The monasteries are all still in use, as a result, out of respect, people are asked to be "correctly attired", so that means no bare arms or legs and women must wear a skirt. At Varlaam there was a monk who seemed more than happy to chat with the tourists, so long as they spoke Greek (yet another reason I'd like to improve my language skills).

We then drove up to The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, which as the most famous of the monasteries was overcrowded with far too many children so we gave up and moved towards yet another monastery (actually, nunnery in this case, I think it was The Holy Monastery of Saint Stephen), but I was knackered and hungry to the point of being ready to faint, so we opted for food over getting thee to a nunnery.

View towards Kalambaka )

We drove down towards Kalambaka, but due to the season not starting until the following day, there was not much choice, however what we discovered was a diamond in the rough. Run by an old married couple, with a giant cat (seriously, this thing was huge and totally had the "I'm starving, feed me" look going on, despite the fact that he obviously wasn't) roaming from table to table. There was the obligatory Spuds 'n' Salad combo and little else, but the old guy was grilling meats by the roadside, so an order was made. It was pork, but I was hungry and it was delicious. Greece has totally ruined me as a vegetarian. As the lunch run was finishing and there were still a couple of spare (home made) sausages, the 'chef' came over and asked us if we wanted one. Full, we declined, but he laughed, pulled it off the spit and slammed it on the table. Good gods is was tasty!

Our stomachs filled we drove back up and decided to visit The Rousanou Monastery, simply because it had the latest opening times. No longer filled with monks, the monastery is filled with nuns (and young ones at that). I tell you if I were to believe in god and give my life to his greater glory, I'd want to be there. I'm not religious, nor particularly spiritual, but this place has a reverential feel to it that you can't escape. I have some more photographs from here (and the rest of the trip in general) that I'll post over the coming days, because again, while you can't take photographs within the monastery, there's still much beauty to be seen.

Homeward )

Good times. Good times, indeed.
strangelover: (Northern Greece)
[Part I]: Tequila is bad, no seafood by the sea and the seemingly endless drive north.

[Part II]: Disrespectful pensioners, ancient sites and frogs legs on the island.

[Part III]: Bridges, orgasmic food and giant cow-belled goats.

~o~O~o~

Our next destination was Metsovo, where we decided to spring for a hotel as a) it's quite damp and humid in this area which makes camping very difficult and b) we were all in dire need of a shower. As it was still too early for checking in, we found a taverna and had some lunch - local noodles with metsovone cheese = heavenly! After lunch we ambled (not very far, I might add) up the road and checked into Hotel Egnatia for a totally reasonable price considering how posh it looked and how central it was (the photo to the right is the view from our balcony). That said, I would have happily paid through the nose just to be able to shower and use a proper toilet, especially after having nearly done a somersault down the embankment at our campsite with my pants around my ankles while trying to pee and keep an eye out for wildlife. Anyway, we all quickly made use of the shower facilities and then The Boyfriend and I napped while [personal profile] finding_bleu wandered around the town.

We met up mid-afternoon and walked around able to smell the smoked scent that permeates the village now that we weren't smoke scented (care of the campfires) ourselves. We visited the church (just before it shut), filled with beautiful icons and offerings dating back over the years. This was followed by coffee, dessert (vanilla ice-cream with honey and walnuts) and the executive decision was made to drink in the bar that told us to do so, along with smiling. Their measures were... generous, to say the least and the music was well and truly stuck in the Eighties. Two drinks apiece and we were merrily tipsy, so we staggered down to the taverna where I'd cried upon entering last time due to their hole-in-the-floor approach to toilets, but the food was ace, and proved so again. We then made it back to the hotel and collapsed into the sweet, sweet, soft bed and thus, oblivion.

In the morning, we were up bright and early and showered again (simply because we could) enjoyed rather good coffee and the buffet breakfast before wandering back to the town centre and then to spend over €100 on immense phallic cheese and noodles before heading onto the last place on our holiday itinerary - Meteora.

Town square )

[Concludes here]
strangelover: (Northern Greece)
[Part I]: Tequila is bad, no seafood by the sea and the seemingly endless drive north.

[Part II]: Disrespectful pensioners, ancient sites and frogs legs on the island.

~o~O~o~

We left Ioannina and drove north to Zagori, a collection of villages on either side of the Vikos Gorge, not too far from the Albanian border. Many of the villages don't allow cars within them, and even if they did, driving on the steeply inclined cobbles wouldn't be much good for your car, though it's a damn good work out for you!

We planned to stay at Aghios Nikolas, as The Boyfriend and I camped there on our previous visit. It's up a long muddied road, far from traffic (well traffic on four wheels, there's plenty of animal life around there - including the giant cow-belled goat). We checked it was still a viable option and found it had been built up since our visit in May, there was stone work around the tree (thankfully now sans giant spiders). All looking good we went off in search of tea. Our first choice in Dilofo was shut, so we drove around the villages until we found a small café/taverna in Kipi, complete with open fire and a bunch of curious locals. We sipped our coffees and had some rather tasty marrow pie for dinner before heading back to set up camp. The sun had long been set, so our source of light was the Bird Magnet MkII's headlights. Unfortunately we left them on too long and they drained the battery. There was nothing we could do, so we lit a fire and opened a bottle of wine.

The night was really, really f*cking cold. Despite sleeping in good tents, with correctly graded sleeping bags, matts and all that malarky, I spent a good few hours physically shivering from the cold. Brrr. Not nice. When The Boyfriend got up to light a fire in the morning, he wrapped his sleeping bag around me and I nodded off to sleep.

Upon waking we found that the car still wouldn't turn over, so we were stuck. Coffee and breakfast was had before The Boyfriend set off in search of help. Funny how the people who went out of their way to help couldn't (as they didn't have a 4x4, which was needed to get up the steep, winding, muddy slope) and those who could, couldn't be bothered. Finally the car started, but only after The Boyfriend has spent a good few hours running around, poor chap. All the while [personal profile] finding_bleu and I sat watching the world go by cows and drinking tea.

As it was getting late and we weren't in much of a mood for a six hour hike (not to mention, we didn't have enough daylight time), we opted for the touristy approach. We stopped at some of the bridges the area is famed for. That's [personal profile] finding_bleu and I on one in the first photo. Next it was onto Sterna, a lovely café in Kapesovo, where every last little nook and cranny is used to store their wares - dried teas, herbs and mushrooms, local honey, jar upon jar of spoon sweets, handmade jewellery and various handicrafts. It hadn't been open, but a local man saw us walk past and opened it for us, calling the actual shop keeper to come and tend us. As there was no fire inside, we sat basking in the sun, sipping our mountain tea with honey.

Mountain views, food comas and being tourists )
strangelover: (Northern Greece)
[Part I]: Tequila is bad, no seafood by the sea and the seemingly endless drive north.

~o~O~o~

All three of us woke early without the aid of goats (a first for The Boyfriend and I), made coffee and cleaned up our campsite - this chapel was upscale as it even had a tap with running water! Oh such luxury. The view in the morning was stunning, so clear, bright and quiet despite being close to a road, and a paved one at that. First stop was the ancient site of Dodoni, which much like Delphi was once famed for it's oracle (the oldest in Hellenic history).


Theatre of Pyrrhus, Dodoni

Bad timing saw us arrive when the site was filled with a bunch of kids from Thessaloniki and a large bus load of pensioners. Can you guess who was worse behaved? Yep, that'd be the old folks. Can you imagine coming to an ancient site, filled with history (your history, I might add) and think it's a good place to pick mountain greens[1]? That's not all, how about denying it when the tarted up security guard calls you on it? Gah! Seriously f*cked up. Kudos to the guard who gave the guilty a right verbal walloping. The Boyfriend, [personal profile] finding_bleu and I then took our time wandering around, sitting looking at the trees and running away from giant spiders.

Sunset over the Pindus mountain range )

Our next destination was Ioannina, we caught the ferry over to the island within the lake, and walked around for a while before stopping for lunch - frogs legs, shrimps, trout and various other delicious foodstuffs. We then caught the ferry back and made our way north, after stopping to fill up on wine, of course! Next stop - Zagori.

[1] For those not in the know, it's relatively common for Greeks (usually of a certain age) to collect the various greens growing on the road/hill/mountain side and use them in their cooking - horts is a common pie filling or is often be served on its own as a side dish, seasoned with lemon juice.

[Continues here]
strangelover: (Itea)
The arrival of [personal profile] finding_bleu saw the imbibement of two bottles of tequila on the first night, mine on an empty stomach. Remind me to never, ever do that again please. Sunday amazingly saw us get up early (sans hangovers) and make the first leg of our journey - to Itea, stopping for a quiet stroll around a surprisingly empty(ish) Delphi on the way. There is something about that place that words can't describe, a feeling that seeps into your bones for the duration of your stay.

We went onto Itea, where we tried in vain to locate a fish taverna. Even our favourite place wasn't open and a walk along the sea-front failed to locate one with its doors open. So, after all that lusting for some tasty grilled octopus we had a roast chicken with salad. The dessert however made up for it. We bought some tiramisu and sat at Mr. & Mrs. Armadillo's place with tea and cake, then fell asleep listening to the waves crash against the sand.


In the morning we awoke tremendously early (the theme for entire trip) and watched the sunrise from the rooftop. After hazelnut coffee and supply run, we started on our second leg, with the intention of making it to somewhere nearish to Dodoni. We crossed through both Giona and Iti before getting to Karpenisi for a break and a spot of lunch - spuds and salad (as tempting as the boiled goat was... ). Then it was back in the car to traverse Mount Valtou, where at times the roads were little more than dirt tracks, before making it to Arta, where we stopped for coffee and admired the floodlit haunted bridge. We drove along the 'motorway' towards Ioannina, getting about half way before turning off the main road to find ourselves a chapel to camp by. We came upon Aghios Minas, where we set up camp, lit a small fire to keep us warm, then sat around drinking wine, eating cheese and starring at the stars.

[Continues here]

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