Monthly Archives: July 2014

A brief visit to Pella

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Pella was pretty well on the route between Kastoria and our next stop. It would have been a pity not to have gone (and we needed a break).  So we stopped off and took some photographs.  There is a booth and a small charge to get in.  There is also a museum but we didn’t visit that.

Not sure whether it was the heat (and being a bit worried about stuff we had left on the bike) but it was not the most atmospheric of sites.  Maybe because of the very agricultural surroundings.   Though it has, of course, been an agricultural centre for a very, very long time.

The mosaics, though faded, are impressive.  There was work going on the site when we visited.  It would be interesting to go back for a longer visit.

 

Onward to Kastoria

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On the way to Metsovo we stopped at a service station and picked up a decent map of Greece.  It is now in tatters after being folded into various configurations and crammed into bags, but served its purpose.  It was needed because part of the plan was to get off the highways.

We could have gone from Metsovo to Kastoria, back east along the Egnatia Odos and then north along the connecting highway.  2 hours or so, of high speed, but not very interesting.  So instead, something much more interesting and fun…..  West to Ioannina, where we picked up the old E90 which, as suspected, is now almost empty of traffic.  It is a fabulous road, it winds past Kastoria and through mountains near the Albanian border, not for going fast on, but one to take in the amazing mountain scenery, and to drift along at a far slower pace.  The road was on the whole in really good condition, well maintained despite no longer being a major route, but not with many places to stop for refreshments, but we did manage to find an old truck stop still open and serving frappe.

Ashley found the various road signs amusing, warnings about ice – not in July, it was hot, though nowhere near as hot as the last time we traveled this road.  Warnings about bears, a rather cute sign of an adult and a cub.  Not really on the plan to encounter a bear on the road, bears are far better kept at a distance.

Not attractively named...

Not attractively named…

It meant we got to Kastoria late in the afternoon where we found a hotel easily enough and decided to relax by the lakeside for the evening,  Another frappe, a stroll, watched a pelican or two on the lake, drank some beer, found a teverna.  It was all very pleasant.  Though we did decide not to patronise the bar in this picture…

We did not get into the buying of fur and leather which Kastoria is famous for.  There were many shops in the town and around the lake larger places to handle tour buses which seemed to be aimed at Bulgarian tourists or others who use that particular alphabet.

 

Metsovo

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The ferry from Chios to Thessaloniki takes about 22 hours.  We had a cabin so we slept for some of it, but neither of us can sleep that long.  We played games, Hilary read an entire novel…  There was not much to see except sea and shorelines but, eventually, we arrived in Thessaloniki where there was quite a lot of traffic.

We found a hotel.  It wasn’t cheap, but it was around 9:30 in the evening and we were not in a mood to explore a new city without some food!  We checked in, found a secure parking lot for the bike, unloaded the bike, showered and set off in search of food.

The area around the harbour is very lively at night.  We had an excellent choice of restaurants, all with live music (of varying quality).  We got lucky with ours.  The food was excellent and good value.  Thessaloniki is a city worth exploring.  We intend to go back there, probably without the bike and get to know it.

This trip, however, we had the hotel’s buffet breakfast to sustain us then we hacked up the Egnatia Odos to Metsovo.  Not the most exciting road, though once in the mountains a tribute to Greek engineering and EU money.

Metsovo is a winter sports resort and, when it’s not weekend, very quiet in summer.  It was difficult to find an open restaurant in the evening, even taking into account the Greek habit of not eating till late.   The scenery is spectacular – it’s inside the Mount Pindos National Park.  We did not see any bears though there are at least 500 European Brown bears in the park.  This may be due to  not having got up early enough in the morning.

We strolled around, sat in a bar with dramatic views (and a telescope with which to view them) and ate dinner.  There is some good hiking in the area but we were not staying long enough to take advantage of it.  Apart from which even at altitude it was pretty hot.  Hiking in the mountains would have been a serious effort and require carrying copious quantities of water, i something best not done in the middle of summer.

 

Travel Complications

birthday-61bIt’s been some time since our last post but, in our defence, we have been on a longish roadtrip.  One that very nearly did not happen.

We had a ferry booked from Chios to Kavala and we booked a ferry from Çeşme to Chios, leaving ourselves a few hours for a meal on the harbour side.  As the ferry was scheduled to get into Kavala in the early evening, we booked ourselves a hotel in Kavala.  Everything was in place.

Only it did not work out that way.  The first hitch was when the Greek ferry agent contacted us to say that our ferry to Kavala would be 23 hours later than anticipated.  No major deal.  We unbooked and rebooked the Kavala hotel (for the next night) and unbooked and rebooked the ferry to Chios.  Then we went to the beach.

On our return from the beach the bike decided it had never heard of this thing called electricity.  Well, it did have a spark occasionally, but there was no way it was going to start.  Next morning we phoned the Harley dealership in Izmir.  They came out and picked up the bike.  It turned out to be a fault in the insulation of the negative cable from the battery.  The recovery cost us more than the repair.  Whilst the bike was in the workshop they checked it over thoroughly.

There are worse places to be stuck...

There are worse places to be stuck…

So, the day after that we headed for Çeşme.  It was windy.  Well, it is always windy in Çeşme, but it was notably more windy than usual (though not as windy as it was the time we took the ferry in December).  And our ferry to Chios got cancelled.  Apparently due to weather.

We booked ourselves into a rather nice hotel overnight, then off to the ferry agents who felt that we would be able to recoup some of the money we spent on the Kavala ferry.  Meanwhile our ferry to Kavala sailed off merrily at 11 p.m. from Chios whilst we were enjoying an after dinner beer in Çeşme.

Next morning we finally got the ferry to Chios where we were able to exchange our tickets to Kavala for tickets to Thessaloniki for the extra 18 euro that the trip cost for both of us, a cabin and a bike.

The good thing about the delay was that we got to hang out with the Chopper Riders of Chios.  Drinks on Saturday night and a ride out to a blue flag beach (and amazing, huge lunch which lasted us for days) on the Sunday.  And…. finally we caught the Thessaloniki ferry.

birthday-61c birthday-61a

 

 

 

 

We will have lots to say about the trip itself (though we didn’t get to Bulgaria, again due to weather).  The trip was wonderful and we saw many amazing places in Northern Greece.  We just need to process the photos….

Photo of the month – June 2014

After a dry photographic period, we are finding it impossible to chose for June.  Two very different trips to Greece took place.  How do you compare a picture of a bird with a picture of a ruined temple?

So here is a choice of 7: