Travel Diaries

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A Journey Across Central Greece

I travelled to Central Greece with my brother early in May 2009, to visit some of the lesser known archaeological sites and towns in the area. The concept of the trip was to find a Greece untouched by tourism. With the exception of Delphi, which has been on my 'to do' list for many years, I think we succeeded. The images shown here are just a small sample from hundreds taken with my E-1, 11-22 and 50mm lenses. It was a truly remarkable journey.

  • Central Greece Amfilochia
    After flying into Preveza and picking up a car, our first stop for the night was Amfilochia, a small seaside town east of the airport. I am fairly sure that we were the only foreign visitors in town that evening, and we were certainly the only people staying in the Hotel Oscar.
  • Central Greece Amfilochia
    The first of many purchases of feta cheese, fresh from the churn. This, some tomatoes and fresh bread formed most of our lunches.
  • Central Greece Road to Karpenissi
    After leaving Amfilochia, our road took us south to Agrinio before heading north east toward Karpenissi. This is Episkopi Bridge that spans lake Kremaston. It was at this point that the weather took a turn for the worse, and the mountain road became far more scary. Lots of rocks had fallen onto the road and it has subsided in places.
  • Central Greece Karpenissi Hotel Anessis balcony view
    After three hours of driving though heavy rain and fog, the mountain town of Karpenissi came into view. We overnighted here in the hotel Anessis which had wonderful views from the rooms, although the scene was quite sombre during our stay. This area is known for its skiing, but the season had passed and and the town was fairly quiet. This picture is taken from the room balcony, looking south across the valley.
  • Central Greece Karpenissi
    A close-up picture of a church doorway in the centre of Karpenissi.
  • Central Greece Aghios Georgios
    After leaving Karpenissi, the road took us east down the other side of the mountain range. The weather had improved and visibility was good. This provided spectacular views. We stopped at the small village of Aghios Georgios, because of two monuments on its outskirts. This one of a charioteer, I know little about but suspect it may be Achilles, as he was associated with the Spercheios valley nearby.
  • Central Greece Aghios Georgios
    This Fighter plane was a real surprise to see, located in such a rural place as Aghios Georgos.
  • Central Greece Thermopylae Thermal Springs
    Thermopylae Thermal Springs (Hot Gates)From Aghios Georgios, the road took us to Lamia. Here we turned south and, after a few miles, came to Thermopylae. This area was the battleground where the Persians defeated the Allied force of Spartans, Thespians and Thebans in 480 BC. These thermal springs were known in antiquity and are still used today.
  • Central Greece Thermopylae Battle Field
    Thermopylae Battlefield; This is the place where Spartans, Thebans and Thespians clashed with Persian forces. Heavily outnumbered by the Persians, the Greek allies were annihilated.
  • Central Greece Thermopylae Burial Mound
    It is said that beneath this plaque lie the bodies of the 300 Spartan warriors, led by King Leonidas, who were killed by the Persians. Roughly translated, the inscription reads; Go tell the Spartans stranger passing by, that here, obedient to their laws, we lie.
  • Central Greece Gla
    From Thermopylae, we headed south on the Thessaloniki to Athens road. Near the small town of Kastro is a low hill rising from the plain. In Mycenaean times, it was fortified with huge walls, most of which are now in ruins. However, it remains an impressive site and worthy of a lunchtime stopover. This picture shows my Brother photographing the site from a distance.
  • Central Greece Gla
    Below the tumbled walls of Gla lay carpets of poppies, making a striking sight.
  • Central Greece Aulis
    On a side road near the bridge linking the Boeotian coast to Evia are the remains of a small temple overshadowed by a large cement works. Legend has it that it was here, at the Temple of Artemis, that Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigeneia in return for a fair wind to take the Greek fleet to Troy.
  • Central Greece Aulis
    Near to the Temple of Artemis is a small bay where it is said the Greek fleet lay becalmed until Iphigeneia was sacrificed. As this picture shows, it is difficult to image today how the area must have looked, due to the huge cement works dominating the area.
  • Central Greece Near Aulis
    After leaving Aulis, we picked up a country road that would eventually lead us to Thiva (Thebes). The view from the top of the pass over to Evia was stunning.
  • Central Greece Thiva
    This is a general view of the modern town of Thiva. It is built over the ruins of the ancient town, parts of which can been seen today. A section of the Mycenaean Walls, close to the hotel where we stayed, were being excavated while we were there. Thiva is rich in history, far too much to be taken in in a one night stopover. I was hoping to visit the museum, but it was closed for renovation.
  • Central Greece Thiva
    These two dogs were enjoying the warmth of the morning sun on a side street in Thiva.
  • Central Greece Thisvi
    Thisvi of the many pigeons. After leaving Thiva, one of our tasks for the day was to locate a lesser known archaeological site mentioned in Homer's 'Iliad'. After an hour or so on country roads, we arrived at the small village of Thisvi.
  • Central Greece Thisvi
    It was the Homeric (Mycenaean) ruins we were interested in at Thisvi. These were on a small hill at the back of the main square. No path exists up to it, so we scrambled up the hillside to the top. The entire area is littered with broken pottery, some ornately decorated. We found several jug handles and rims. Homer called the town Polytiron, which means town with many pigeons. Interestingly, the pigeons are still there!
  • Central Greece Thisvi Tornado
    As we were leaving the Mycenaean ruins at Thisvi, the weather changed dramatically. Within twenty minutes of climbing down from the ruins, a severe thunder storm had blown in. A few minutes later, this wind had strengthened and formed this tornado on the hills. Its track was parallel to ours and, although it was about a mile away, we wasted little time increasing the distance.
  • Central Greece Poppies Near Thisvi
    A few miles down the valley, away from the Tornado, we came across an olive grove filled with poppies. It made stunning photography as the darkening skies reduced shadows.
  • Central Greece Thespie
    From Thisvi, we headed for Thespie. On the outskirts of the village is a monument dedicated to the 700 Thespians who died with Leonidas and the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae.
  • Central Greece Karaiskakis Monument
    From Thespie, our journey took us North West, and back into the mountainous region of Parnassus, north of the Gulf of Corinth. We followed the main road from Livadia to Arachova, stopping at the Karaiskakis Monument en route. The monument is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the area in 1944, to the Germans.
  • Central Greece Arachova
    Arachova; a general view of the town from the east. During winter months, it attracts a lot of people who are interested in the Mount Parnassus ski centre. It is also a great place to try out local produce such as honey, cheese and wines. It was quite cool when we visited, no doubt due to Arachovas 1000 meter altitude.
  • Central Greece Arachova
    Due to its hillside location, there are plenty of steps like these leading off the main road.
  • Central Greece Arachova
    The main road through Arachova, looking East.
  • Central Greece Arachova
    A side street in Arachova.
  • Central Greece Delphi
    Delphi; Treasury of the Athenians. An early start from Arachova meant we were at Delphi at least an hour before the first of the tour buses arrived. It was remarkable to have such a famous site to ourselves for a little while. I never thought I would take an image like this, of the Treasury of the Athenians, with no one present.
  • Central Greece Delphi
    Delphi; Temple of Apollo. The ramp marks the way into the temple that people would have trodden to consult one of the most famous oracles in Greece. Sitting here for a while, with just my Brother and songbirds for company, it was easy to imagine Alexander the Great walking here.
  • Central Greece Delphi
    Above the Temple of Apollo is a theatre seating around 5000 people. Here, plays, recitals and music was performed. The views across the valley and down to the Gulf of Corinth are spectacular.
  • Central Greece Delphi
    By the time we were heading down from the ruins at Delphi, people were arriving in their dozens and the solitude was shattered. Stopping for a drink by the Museum, we were soon joined by several cats.
  • Central Greece Delphi
    Delphi; Temple (Tholos) of Athena. Situated a short walk downhill from the main complex, this has to be one of the most photographed subjects in the whole of Greece. Having seen images of it printed in the pages of so many travel brochures, guide books etc, it was great to finally be stood here taking my own pictures.
  • Central Greece Nafpaktos
    From Delphi, we headed west past Itea and Galaxidi, along the northern coast of the Gulf of Corinth. To the south, across the gulf, lay the mountainous Peloponnese. We halted at the historic town of Nafpaktos for the night.
  • Central Greece Nafpaktos
    An early start saw us in Nafpaktos harbour just after the sun rose, looking for coffee. The view of fishing boats returning with their catch was too good to miss.
  • Central Greece Nafpaktos
    Old House; After a slice of pizza from a bakery for breakfast, we headed up to Nafpaktos castle, located on a steep hill at the back of town. We passed this house on the outskirts, just before getting to the outer castle walls.
  • Central Greece Nafpaktos Castle
    A view of Nafpaktos Castle, one of the best preserved in Greece. The hill was fortified in ancient times, but the Venetians and Turks contributed most to what can be seen today. We were the only people up here and photo opportunities were around almost every corner. The path shown here, winding through poppies, eventually leads to the highest part of the foritification, providing spectacular views over the Gulf of Corinth and Bay of Patras.
  • Central Greece Antirrio
    West of Nafpaktos lies Antirrio and a fort overlooking the entrance of the Gulf of Corinth.
  • Central Greece Rio Bridge from Antirrio
    Rio bridge connects Central Greece with the Peloponnese. It was opened in 2004. At 2880 metres, it is the worlds longest cable stayed bridge.
  • Central Greece Etoliko
    Our next stop was at the small island town of Etoliko. It is linked by two bridges (to the east and west) across the lagoon. We stayed long enough for coffee and a look around before picking up a country road that took us past the ancient site of Oiniades, eventually leading to the west coast.
  • Central Greece Astakos
    It was late in the afternoon when we arrived at the sleepy town of Astakos. Apart from the hotelier, it felt like we were the only people in town. The clear waters of the Ionian Sea lapped against the deserted town beach.
  • Central Greece Astakos
    A ferry from Kefalonia caused the town of Astakos to temporarily erupt with life. An hour later, there was no sign of the disembarked passengers, or vehicles.
  • Central Greece Astakos
    Before we left Astakos the following morning, we flagged down this fruit and veg seller for our daily supply of tomatoes. One of the locals approached me and explained that this guy was 84 years old, works seven days a week and probably the wealthiest resident of the town, owning a lot of property and land.
  • Central Greece Mytikas
    And now the road swung north, following the Ionian sea that separated us from Ithaca, Kefalonia and a myriad of smaller islands. After about an hours drive, we arrived at the small, very unspoiled fishing village of Mytikas.
  • Central Greece Mytikas
    After exploring the village, we spent some time photographing the fishing boats coming and going.
  • Central Greece Paleros
    A further hours drive north brought us to the port of Paleros, opposite the island of Levkas. It was here where we succumbed to a late breakfast of bacon and eggs before moving on.
  • Central Greece Vonitsa
    Our final night was spent at the seaside town of Vonitsa, which we passed through briefly on day one, on our journey from Preveza airport to Amphilochia. After walking up to the castle, which was closed for renovation, we walked along the seafront to this island linked to the mainland by a low bridge.
  • Central Greece Vonitsa
    This is a general view of Vonitsas waterfront and the Venetian castle behind. Given the towns close proximity to the airport, there were surprisingly few foreign tourists in town. Typically, once the sun had gone down, the place became busy with locals making it a wonderful place to eat and people watch.
  • Central Greece Vonitsa
    This last image, taken the morning of our departure back to the UK, is of my brother, an excellent travelling companion and friend. Without him, I very much doubt I would have made this trip.