17
May
14

Europe Trip – Greece – The northeast

NORTHEASTERN GREECE PICASA PHOTO ALBUM (99 pictures)

Our trip further north on the mainland of Greece started off in Athens, where we visited the town for one day to see the most important site: the Akropolis. Together with the Temple of Zeus and a few minor sites in the vicinity, this was enough for us and the kids, as the trip from the campsite involved first taking a bus, then the subway and then walking.

We then saw the finest Byzantine frescoes in Greece during our visit of the monastery in Osios Loukas. The monastery contains two beautiful churches, with Agios Loukas the most impressive one,  and  boasts an idyllic setting with breathtaking vistas over the surrounding valleys.

After an amazing drive following the northern coast of the Corinthian Gulf, we spent the night in the relaxed seaside resort Itea. One of the suburbs was called Kira, quite funny!

The next days, we explored the magnificent site and museum of Delphi.  Built on the slopes of Mount Parnassos, the Unesco site has the most potent ‘spirit of place’ in Greece and was regarded by ancient Greeks as the center of the world.  The ruins were inspiring as the afternoon sun gave everything an orange glow and we could explore the site in peace (all tour groups were gone, and the kids were hunting the omnipresent huge grasshoppers). The museum on the other hand contained some amazing and well-preserved pieces and even the Kyra found it a remarkable place.

Driving north, following the coast, we tried to explore Volos area and the Penion peninsula, but the roads proved to be too narrow, nerve-racking and time consuming to drive.. Next we stopped in Litohoro, a nice relaxed mountain village with great views on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. The beach a few kilometers down the road was awesome, as we had fresh water, showers and a big parking lot all for ourselves, with the double peaks of Mount Olympus unfolding before our eyes as the clouds parted.

Driving through Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, was a harrowing experience, as there are basically no road rules and all kinds of transport move around the double and triple parked cars, busses and trucks.

Our last stop on  our multi-month route following the Mediterranean coast, starting in Gibraltar in the beginning of February, was the ‘three fingered peninsula’ of Halkidiki. We only went to the Sythonian or middle finger (no pun intended) where the beaches were the most pristine, remote and resorts had not sprung up yet.  For the next four days, we followed the coastal road, skirting wide bays, climbing into pine-forested hills and dipping down to beautiful coves and lagoons. With temperatures around 30 degrees, nice fine sands and relative warm waters, no need to say we had a great relaxing time wildcamping on beautiful beaches.

In retrospect, Greece was a very nice place to visit as wildcamping is allowed everywhere, the people are friendly and try to speak English, and the nature with endless mountain ranges and beautiful beaches, is fantastic.

Next we are heading north towards the Eastern European countries, as we need to make our way back to Belgium. We have a flight leaving for California on June 12th, so we have no time to visit Turkey as originally planned.

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