Mainland Greece

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

Author and references

The itinerary that I want to propose to you? what I took on my last trip abroad.
The idea behind it? that of a holiday? on the road? to discover Mainland Greece but above all to discover Northern Greece, often forgotten by Italian tourists, but well frequented by Greek, Lebanese, Russian and Israeli tourists, especially during the ski season. S ?! In Greece you can ski! ?
Rich in naturalistic as well as historical beauties, Greece hosts a series of sites recognized by? Unesco, truly unique in their kind.
Personally, I approached Greece as a tourist destination not so much for its ancient history as for the vicissitudes that have occurred since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. To understand and appreciate regions such as Epirus and Macedonia and also Thrace (which I alas did not have time to visit) we need to retrace some basic steps that I will look for? to include in future articles.
The itinerary thus? as ? state.
Corf? airport, Ioannina, Konitsa, Katoria, Edessa, Thessaloniki, Lithoro, Kalambaka, Arta, Nafpaktos, Delphi and Athens

In hindsight
When renting the car, you must be careful to pick it up at one airport and return it to another because? c ?? an extra share? to pay quite salty (so to speak -.-) about 250 euros. In short, pay attention to the budget and the ceiling!
To organize this trip I used the Lonely Planet? Mainland Greece ?. Now I am a huge fan of Lonely Planet but I must say that I found myself not to agree in the description of some cities. I found the itineraries proposed at the beginning of the guide and the itineraries proposed for the big cities, such as Thessaloniki and Athens, very useful.

HIGHWAY: little used compared to the Italian canons but new new?. I would say just finished. Payment takes place along the routes and the fee depends on the vehicle you drive the bike pays less, the truck pays more? and cars pay an intermediate fee.
We used the motorway in the second part of the holiday in the direction of Athens (very comfortable and beautiful views especially in the Sterea Ellada region).

MOUNTAIN ROADS In Epirus and Macedonia can? happen to get into trouble by car by speaking. The mountain roads are very suggestive and full of encounters with animals in the semi-wild state, however they are subject to bad weather and you must be aware in planning the itinerary that you cannot? go fast, why? ? a moment that you find yourself in front of the huge holes in the middle of the road or you find yourself in front of a piece of dirt road why? ? a ridge collapsed.
I don't want to alarm anyone but caution? recommended. We did very well but did we understand why? car rental gave us a rickety Micra! :)

By booking the ferry trip from? Italy not? difficult to bring your own pet. Ferries are often equipped with fixed carriers so the dog does not have to stay in the car to boil (especially if traveling in summer) !!!
One thing to report? stray dogs. Greece ? full of small packs of stray dogs. I found them very docile and not at all dangerous; often stay close to tourists to get some? give food, but they are not troublesome.
A guide explained to us that they are put on a collar, so as not to be caught by the kennel guards and then they are set free. However, they are quite sedentary herds. In short, the Greeks are a people who live peacefully with the furry strays.
The only thing I asked myself, from the point of view of canine tourism,? how they behave with a visiting dog on a leash. It would have to be investigated! ? To anyone? success?
I was without pets in Greece but I think that depending on the character of the dog this could be an element to evaluate.

1 day

Landed at? Corfu airport? Town we immediately headed to collect the car.
Impossible to get lost! As soon as you exit the gate you will see the stations with the car rental staff. In addition, the car can be reached on foot why? all vehicles are in a parking lot close to the? airport.
Tip: take a picture of the car before leaving and the rental agreement? You never know !!
Are we leaving for the Port of Corfu? Town to take the ferry. When leaving the airport, the direction? well signposted, in the city? you risk a moment of loss without a navigator but nothing that Google Maps cannot solve.
Once we get to the ferry, we buy the ticket and go. The ticket ? the sum of the car share pi? the share for individuals multiplied by the number of people? .A proof of misunderstanding, between 60 and 70 euros are left there for two people + car.
Docked in Igoumenitsa, we leave for Ioannina.
We stayed overnight in a very nice hotel overlooking Lake Pamyotis and the city. of Ioannina. The owner of the? hotel? a very nice character who jokes with politics but manages to create a very relaxed environment. While it takes a while? around Greeks, Germans, Italians and who more? has more? metta, offers you local delicacies. Upon arrival he offered us a typical jelly dessert and a local drink which looked like grappa but which is called Cyprus (siprus).
The hotel is called Mir Boutique and is located in Ligiades, Ioannina. Recommended!

Al's grave? Pasc? A and the mosque in the background
In the city? of Ioannina or Ioannina is Lake Pamvotis, and in the middle of this is an? islet called To Nis? rich in monasteries as well? of historical sites. On this very island, in 1882 the Ottomans killed Al? Pasci ?, also called the? Lion of Ioannina ?, a bloodthirsty leader of Albanian origin who had taken advantage of the weakness of the Ottoman empire to conquer Ioannina and build his personal fiefdom. The lit up on the island? simple just reach the ferry port. We did not visit the island, from the hotel we headed to the area called? Kastro or Its Kale? namely the citadel built in the Byzantine era (in the period called the New Apogee, which also affects the Crusades), then conquered by the Ottomans and finally by Al? Feed ?. In 1912-13 during the Balkan wars Ioannina was freed by the Greeks and with the exchange of populations that took place with neighboring countries, Greece moved away? the Muslim peoples.

The Kastro the physical representation of the entire history of the city? since? contains in s? Byzantine elements, Ottoman elements and the tomb of Al? Feed ?. All around this district there is a swarm of Balkan-style streets that remotely recall those of the cities? Bosnian, where you can refresh yourself or buy some souvenirs.

Left the city? from Ioannina we leave for Konitsa. To get to Konitsa you have to cross the whole area called Zagoroh? Ria and the Vikos Aoos National Park.

Photographers from all over the world unite !!! Seriously, we were able to admire some of the best views. beautiful of our vacation.

Our Lonely Planet says this? one of the most? rich, even in virtue? of the fact that during the Ottoman Empire the population enjoyed greater autonomy in exchange for the control of mountain passes. However, from here on, if you leave the main roads, there will be bad roads due to contingent causes (nothing serious but you have to go slowly and pay attention to how you program the navigator!).

On the way to Konitsa we stopped to visit Monodendri village, Vikos gorge and P? Pingo natural pools.

The village of Monodendri?, Can you? say, mainly a tourist vocation but very nice, allows you to visit the Monastery called Moni Agia Paraskevi, from which you have a taste of what? the majesty? of the Vikos Gorge. IS? from here begins the canyon 12 km long and 900 meters deep.

Papingo's natural pools near the Rogovo River are along the way and it doesn't take long to walk around. We have not visited the two stone villages Megalo Papingo and Mikro Papingo why? we were tight with the times.

2 day

Macedonia? one of the Greek regions more? complete, in my opinion, from the point of view of? tourist offer, even if not? well known. There is ?? truly for all tastes: sea, mountains and big cities. For sure the sea isn't? that of the islands but in short? an alternative. Visiting Macedonia the encounter with history? inevitable, in fact over the centuries many peoples have passed through this territory and have left their mark: Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Turks and Macedonians.

Simplifying all? bone the historical line, Macedonia begins to be talked about during the reign of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, both great leaders who subdued the Greece of Athens but who taking the customs and the language started the? Age Hellenistic and in truth? they made more? the conquered territory is culturally homogeneous. After the Roman empire and the subsequent division of the same into the empire of the West and the East, it became established. in these territories the power of Byzantium. During this period the Slavic invasions also began, mainly Bulgarian and Serbian. In the thirteenth century do I begin? the Turkish rule. Macedonian nationalism was also born in this period.

The epilogue for Greek Macedonia was during the Balkan wars, wars expression of the nationalisms of the Balkan peoples in opposition to the ferocity of the Ottoman empire, which assigned? to Greece the current territories of Greek Macedonia and Thrace.

In 1923 the Greeks? Managed? (always simplifying) the religious question with the movement of populations. During the Second World War, the Monarchy was restored and the persecution of the Jewish people was witnessed. The next story? pi? note and you can read it here.

View of Lake Oresti? From
A beautiful town on Lake Orestiada, where there are several luxury shops selling furs (can you notice when entering the city?).
Did we take a tour of the city? and in the Doltso district to visit the th century mansions.

To report! If you come around lunch time, until 17.00 hours of reopening of the shops, the city? ? almost? empty except for the lakeside restaurants.
The walk along the lake shore is beautiful.

Photography! The dream for those who love landscape photography and birdwathching? in my opinion the Prespa Lake, straddling the border with Macedonia (the State ?) and l? Albania. I couldn't get there, why? it is necessary (as always) to devote time to him not less than 2 days (at least 1 night).

Tourism promotion? greater on the Albanian side. I point out some links that I have read and that I think are interesting! :)
The two Prespa lakes (the Great and the Small) mark the border between Greece, Macedonia and Albania. A mountainous, hard and uncontaminated region, marked by strong emigration and which today hopes for the development of sustainable tourism.

Edessa? one of the cities? in which the historical line, which I have tried to describe for the introduction of this article,? pi? evident. From Roman ruins to Orthodox churches, passing through the influence of the Slavic peoples. Indeed, the city? it was called Voden. Anyone with a smattering of the Slavic language (forgive the generalization) knows that "Voda" means water. Voden means "place of water". In Edessa there are the most waterfalls. high of the Balkans and just these give the city? a? unique atmosphere.
Photography! There is no shortage of opportunities to practice. Photographing the water of the falls? been good exercise! ?

From this country there are a number of beautiful trails that are found in the Vikos Aoos National Park. Protected by UNESCO, the Vikos and Aoos Geopark is part of the Pindus mountain range. At the park entrance? you can admire the Konitsa Bridge, built in 1870.
We stayed at the Gefiry Hotel, beautiful and close to the bridge. can also be reached on foot.
At 20 meters from? hotel, c ?? a restaurant, frequented by people from the village (among the customers only men who smoked like fireplaces and played backgammon? there was also the strictly orthodox priest). A kind lady, who does not utter a word of English but who makes herself understood, will I bring you? to eat? .super! Specialty Greek of course but delicious for quality! To try

3 day


We visited Arta after Kalambaka and didn't go there? seemed the city? romantic that described the guide, perhaps why? the Ponte Vecchio was under renovation. Are the ruins of the? ancient Ambracia founded in 625 BC and the remains of the Temple of Apollo.Personally they struck me more? the surroundings of Arta that I could only see quickly from? car along the new stretch of highway that goes towards Messolongi, where there is the bridge that joins the continent and the Peloponnese. To be precise, the Amvrakiko Wetlands National Park? an unmissable area for all lovers of nature, birdwatching or nature photography.

With hindsight! Pi? time! Visiting Giannina, Zagorohoria and Konitsa, without planning trekking excursions, deserves at least 3/4 days in my opinion. By dedicating this time to it, you can visit everything, even what I have not been able to visit.

For those looking for opportunities to take pictures? Those are not lacking! is? truly a spectacular region.

4 day


Second city? for the size of Greece, it has nothing to envy to other cities? European.
When visiting the city? we followed the itinerary of the Lonely Planet guide and the advice of our hotelier. Beautiful city ?! We had a good time and above all we ate well here too. Our hotelier advised us to go for dinner in the Ladadika neighborhood near the port of Thessaloniki. We followed his advice and I must say that we enjoyed it (do you buy eggplant dishes? You won't regret it ?).

Needless to say, Thessaloniki? full of sites protected by? Unesco, I advise you to follow those in the drafting of your itinerary if you do not have other points of reference.
The districts of the city? that we visited are: Ladadika, Ano Poli, Torre Bianca.
I point out the Orthodox church which in my opinion? unmissable for sympathy and the? Church? s keeper? and for its history, that is: Osios David Monastery of Latomou.
Osios David Monastery of Latomou
Will I try? to briefly explain the beauty of this church; I'm not an expert, I will limit myself? to tell what me? been told on the spot. The mosaic in the dome? was unearthed by the earthquake that shook Thessaloniki in the late 70s. Before it had been covered with dell? plaster?. presumed for religious reasons.

By observing the mosaic carefully you can find all the symbols common to all the Christian faiths: the bull, the fish, the water with a man inside that points to the river and the water with a woman inside that points to the sea. ? another peculiarity? ? what Jesus? ? represented in the years of his youth, which is very rare. All these elements make this church a place to visit and in my opinion really beautiful why? you will have the opportunity? to speak and clarify all your doubts regarding the Orthodox religion, as the? sacristan? (let's call it that?)? very helpful. An? Other thing that me? much liked? that in telling the history of the church has highlighted more? the points of contact between the different religions than those of rupture.

Photography! Opportunities for a while? by? street photography? they are not missing.

5 day

Ancient Dion, Platam? Nas Castle and Mount Olympus

We have reached the archaeological site of? ancient city of Dion after sleeping along the coast south of Thessaloniki, near Katerini. The hotels located in the cities? bathing establishments, in this region they are mainly engaged in tourism so presenting themselves at the end of the season you can? take advantage of attractive prices.
Along the road that goes from Katerini towards Platamonas, you will find the homonymous Castle. It is important to arrive by 15.00 pm if you want to visit it, why? after that time the employees send everyone away, regardless of the number of latecomers present! ?

The Platamonas Castle built by the Byzantines in? eleventh century to protect trade routes from pirates offers a beautiful view of the surrounding area.

Mount Olympus? cross and delight of anyone who passes through Macedonia. Hope on your knees that the sky is not covered on the day you pass by there? not ? enough. -.- If you are not interested in a picnic in the mountains, I would advise you not to include it in your itinerary and to limit yourself to photographing it from afar? .. mode? skyline! ?

Do you want to ski?

Wandering, wandering we arrived in the prefecture of Pella where is the highest peak? high of Central Macedonia (2.480 meters), Mount Voras and the ski resort of the same name.

A good site if you are interested in skiing holidays in Greece? definitely the one called: Punto Grecia

6 day


Meteoros? .. suspended in the air.
Thessaly hosts one of the most popular destinations. interesting from all over Greece: the Meteora site, inscribed in the list of heritage sites of? UNESCO.

Looking at the pictures not? difficult to understand why? the Monasteries of the Meteors are protected by l? UNESCO, but it is worth going into a little bit more. The name Meteore? evocative and derives from the term Meteoros which translates from Greek with the phrase "suspended in the air". With this term the Monasteries are not identified but? the rock formations, which have a particular aspect why? formed by? erosion by the hand of? water from the sea which then covered the present plain of Thessaly!

The first Orthodox monks (or hermits) settled in this territory in? XI century, finding refuge in the cavities? natural caves or caves formed in the sandstone rock, to escape the religious persecutions of the Turkish people during the sunset of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Subsequently, inside these caves, wooden structures were built, including the removable stairs, to facilitate the monks. Who were they built by? From the inhabitants of the neighboring villages; presumably the inhabitants of Kalambaka and Kastraki. It must be borne in mind that these hermits lived in penance so they did not have the capacity? n? to defend n? to build safe shelters.
The monasteries that have come down to the present day were built in the th and th centuries, when some members of important local families decided to devote themselves to the monastic life.

A total of 24 monasteries were built of which today only 6 inhabited areas remain, of which 2 are female monasteries. Does a legend say that the monks found themselves in trouble? because of a fire and it was women who warned them of the danger and then saved them. From that time on, the monasteries were open to women up to the possibility? to practice monastic life there.

The six monasteries are:

Sacred Monastery of the Great Meteoron
Sacred Monastery of Varlaam
Sacred Monastery of Rousanou? Santa Barbara (female monastery)
Sacred Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas
Holy Monastery of Santo Stefano (female monastery)
Monastery of the Holy Trinity?

These monasteries can now be reached on foot or by car along the paved road. Once upon a time it wasn't like that! The monks had built hoist-like systems that lifted monks or food up to the monastery with a net. Is there a funny anecdote, even if a little? ? dark? about this method of transport, or defense if you like. When to a monk? was asked:? How often is the rope that carries you changed ??, he replied:? Whenever the Lord wants it to break!?. Today it makes you smile but it wasn't an easy life!

Some practical information.
Kalambaka and Kastraki are two towns close to these spectacular monasteries. Totally tourist oriented, they offer tourist solutions for all tastes. Prices are more? high than the national average? .but in short, you understand why ?.
Visiting the monasteries with a guided tour? a good thing especially why? cos? you will be sure to see the main attractions, but I advise you to hold on for a while? time to go and see what you have not seen with the organized tour. Remember that at the cost of the tour, what? about 35 euros, you have to add the 3 euros to be paid at the entrance to the monastery. Can I say from personal experience that the Tour organized by Visit Meteora? beautiful. Watch out for the Sunset tour! I? Sunset? they are especially in summer, as a guide explained to us! ? These tours are ideal for #photo photography with or without stunning sunset. Also visiting the Meteors can? happen to run into a gloomy day in the style of those that make Mount Olympus disappear? .attention to the season! There is no shortage of opportunities to take beautiful photos why? the place ? beautiful and the offer? really wide. For example, another service offered by tourist agencies? that of climbing on the rocks of Meteora! WOW!
Another attraction in Kalambaka? the? Natural History Museum of Meteora & Mushroom Museum? which I recommend you visit.
A curiosity ?! During the first days of October, the museum staff organizes a Mushroom Festival in the center of the town during which a portion of mushrooms is offered to all present! ?
Trikala Province
For those who love the mountains I recommend not to underestimate the Province of Trikala which takes its name from the homonymous city, where you can? visit the Byzantine Fortress. Often associated with Meteora in tourism, it offers reasonably priced hotels nestled in the mountains of Thessaly. We spent the night in Elati, the Trikala ski resort. IS? truly relaxing but pay attention to the path you choose to take. If you take the mountain roads it could take a long time and if you are not prepared? For the crossing? it could be tiring but in any case I will varr? worth it!

7 day

Western Greece? the region of Greece which includes a continental part and a part in the Peloponnese peninsula. These? Two parts? are separated by the Rion Strait. The bridge that joins the two banks is called Ponte Rion Antirion, was inaugurated in August 2004 and is part of the? highway connecting Ioannina to Athens. The regional capital is located on the Peloponnese peninsula and? Patras.

Nafpaktos or Lepanto
We arrived in Lepanto as an intermediate stop in the direction of Delphi. A city? unexpectedly beautiful with a story that many know and that saw its peak in 1571, during l? homonymous battle. Venetian and Spanish Christians led by Don Giovanni d? Austria fought against the Turks of? Ottoman Empire, which defeated lost their supremacy over the Mediterranean Sea. The Turks were definitively defeated with the Greek war of independence in the th century. This beautiful town? dominated by the Castle built by the Greeks even before? arrival of the Venetians and the Turks. This castle has five levels of walls built by the conquerors of the city? in different eras and within the walls? including the port. From the port to the castle? a nice walk but you can enjoy the alleys of Lepanto and observe the sea and the horizon which also includes a glimpse of the Peloponnese peninsula.

Ouzo. One of the typical drinks of Lepanto? lo? Ouzo? (they explained to us that it reads? Use?). The Ouzo? a drink very similar to Sambuca. Usually ? colorless but if you take a while? of cold water will take? a white color! ? very good! Try it ?

8 day


After Nafpaktos we left for Delphi, famous for the ruins of? ancient city, today an archaeological site (obviously) protected by l? UNESCO.

As soon as you arrive in Delphi, the city? new, we went to eat something in a restaurant located in the street called Vasileon Pavlou & Friderikis (there are two streets you can't go wrong ?). Apart from what? always the hour of a? Greek salad, if you are a photographer do not let the low sugar make you forget your camera, why? in these rooms you will find one of the most? beautiful throughout the stage. Ideal for taking #photography.

The archaeological site of? Ancient Delphi where are the ruins of the Temple of Apollo? also reachable on foot from the city? new. Unfortunately there is not? pi? ? the Pythia? , that is the priestess of the temple, who reveals the future of the world with cryptic oracles, but? a place that retains its magic, emphasized by its special geographical location.

9 day

The city? pi? expensive than Greece? even more? of Kalambaka! We booked a hotel 10 minutes by subway from the main attractions and anyway? expensive result.
The Parthenon
To visit the city? I followed the advice of the Lonely Planet guide. The parts named? Athens in 2 days? and? Athens in 4 days ?, they were very useful to me together with the? ? Walking route? The center of Athens? which describes a route from Syntagma to Monastiraki Flea Market.

10 day

We dedicated a day to the itinerary of the guide; the following day we went to visit l? Acropolis, a UNESCO site since 1987. If you don't want to push yourself too hard, to visit there? Acropolis and the Ancient Agor? count at least one per day. The information updated in real time on the costs of? Acropolis can be found at the site of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
Athens? a city? so big that you choose what to see besides the main attractions? easy.

As for the possibility? there is no shortage of opportunities to do #photography. Landscapes, monuments, street photography or photography to immortalize murals or street art and nature photography?. in Greece can? happen at any time that a turtle crosses your road, especially in the sites where the main attractions are! ? The Hill of the Lycabettus or of the wolves? ideal for photos with panoramic views. The top can you? reach either on foot or by funicular. I recommend not to put the Lycabettus hill in the program on the same day of? Acropolis or in any case not on the day when you will walk more, especially if you want to walk up.

nb Some guides report that in Athens there is ?? haze from pollution. Indeed? true and especially noticeable when trying to photograph the panorama from above.

Moving away from Athens in the direction of the city? of Sunion, southwards along the so-called Apollo Coast, we arrive at Cape Sounion.

Can the Coast of Apollo be? define how the riviera of Athens and d? well served by the subway. Along this road there are the bathing establishments and, I must say that, even if I was not able to stop there, why? I was on my way to the airport, it wasn't bad. If you will spend many days in Athens you can? be an idea for a trip out of town.
Temple of Apollo
The cost of the ticket includes the visit to both the site and the museum and is the price known? undergo variations; for an exact indication of the cost of the ticket you can consult the website of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport where you will also find a description of the place.

After visiting the Stadium and the Temple, don't forget that when you leave the archaeological site, continuing along the road you will find the Temple of Athena Pronaia for free. A little visit? d? obligation! ?

11 day

Temple of Poseidon

Moving away from Athens in the direction of the city? of Sunion, southwards along the so-called Apollo Coast, we arrive at Cape Sounion.

Can the Coast of Apollo be? define how the riviera of Athens and d? well served by the subway. Along this road there are the bathing establishments and, I must say that, even if I was not able to stop there, why? I was on my way to the airport, it wasn't bad. If you will spend many days in Athens you can? be an idea for a trip out of town.
At Cape Sounion there are the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon which dates back to 440 BC. Is it worth the stop why? Can you visit it in a flash and have a beautiful view of the sea? you can also see the Peloponnese on the horizon. The site ? for a fee and? very popular.
The Temple of Poseidon? ideal for taking #photography, especially if you happen to be there at sunset (or dawn). In general there is no light? for sale! Personally they are not yet so? forward and I was satisfied to make an overview with the phone to make you understand how? the site. ? From the photo I took, can't you see the islets that are close to the coast? ..

12 day

Shrine of Artemis
Continuing in the direction of? Eleftherios Venizelos international airport, can you? visit the Sanctuary of Artemis.

Located near the city? of Vravrona? a small (paid) site, whose history? explained very well on and which I report here verbatim:

? [?] The history of this site? charming. According to the legend evoked by Euripides in the tragedy Iphigenia in Tauris, Agamemnon's daughter, Iphigenia, fled to Tauris (present-day Crimea) to escape the threat of sacrifice by her father and then returned to Brauron with the sacred simulacrum of Artemis , laying the foundations of the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia. The fulcrum of the legend? this mysterious Temple of Artemis, of which today only the foundations remain. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and the twin sister of Apollo, the Greek equivalent of the Roman goddess Diana. She was worshiped here in Vravrona, where the Brauronie were held every four years, great celebrations with mysterious rituals in which young girls dressed up as bears and danced, but like many of the ancient Greek cults, for example the one founded in Eleusis, we don't know exactly that what took place and why? In the sanctuary young priestesses celebrated, the burned, dressed in saffron-colored tunics and consecrated to the divinity. at? age of 7 years. In the fourth century BC, the area? was flooded and the communities? locals have disappeared. The village of Vravrona was rebuilt, but the rediscovery of the ancient site of Vravron did not begin before 1946, to continue until 1963. The excavations have also brought to light a temple of the th century BC [?.]?

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