Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Honeymoon : Greece, Part II

This particular post is slightly random, I'm trying to get ready to leave in the morning for BC (hurrah!!), make dinner, wrap gifts, and blog. Its not always the most effective way to do things, so multi-tasking. I did want to put the final Greece pictures up though. I thought we had some more interesting ones, but we didn't pull out our cameras as often as we should have!

 On the the little train, on the way up the mountain.

 We liked to think of this as "our" private beach. In reality we shared it with a herd of goats who had a watering trough up the hill. We caused the goats no end of anxiety since we they hadn't expected us, but once the first goat decided we were harmless, the next 200 did as well . . .

 On the map, this road was marked as an "unsurfaced secondary highway". It was little more than a trail cut into the side of the mountain with steep drop offs to the ocean below. We discovered our rental car really wasn't made for off roading.

 A few of the goats that also called the road, home. You had to slow almost to a crawl and beep the horn hoping they would move. Which they did, eventually. Animals on the road were a very common occurrence in Greece. Usually it was dogs or cats though. They will just lie down in the middle of major highways and everyone just drives around them.

 Our first view of the Meteora, about a 2 hour drive from where we were staying. Absolutely worth the drive!
 These Greek Orthodox Monasteries were built during the dark ages because at the time people believed that this area was exceptionally holy, and extremely secluded. Until this century, the monasteries were accessible by ropes, rock climbing, or the odd stair cut into the rock faces. They  are still fully operational as religious places but are now attracting millions of tourists as well. They supplied skirts for all the ladies, and men in shorts to wear when visiting. An odd experience. These places were amazing. Most were still accessible only by long flights of stairs cut into the mountains. We did a lot of walking up and down that day, but saw so much history. They have not only been religious hideaways, but during wars were also refuges for the people because they were nearly impenetrable. 

 At the doorway to one of the monasteries. We climbed all the way up and then found out this one was closed for the day.

 All in all we visited 7 of the monasteries. We are standing at the main one looking to its next door neighbor. These buildings just seem to grown from the rocks! I cannot imagine how they were built hundreds of years ago.

 Looking from the next door neighbor, to the main monastery. 

 Us! Of course :)

 Random photos from inside the buildings.

 One of the many seaside villages we visited.

 The very uncool little black car, that was ours. Didn't really mind driving it around though, because everyone drives ugly little hatchbacks so we fit right in. Byron was very glad to get home and get inside his big black beasty.

 Views from our apartment.

 We had half of the top level. The whole two weeks there was no one else in the other suite. The land lady lives in the basement with her family. Studios Madalana

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Honeymoon : Greece, Part 1

I think that one of the reasons I have taken so long to post the honeymoon photos is that there are 1200 of them to sort through! We spent so much time wandering through Greece and Rome, so many memories are associated with the pictures that I have a hard time sorting through what you all might like to actually see! I was contemplating just having one honeymoon post, but as the Greece post is very clearly going to be two posts, I will not even venture to say how many this could grow to!
Byron surprised me with most of the honeymoon, and as we moved on from one stage to the next it just got that much better. Almost 13 days after the wedding, we took off from Edmonton to Athens, Greece where we stayed two nights before taking our rental car to the little region of Pelion. A not well known, but gorgeous and semi secluded area of Greece. In many ways its a place that time has left partially unchanged. I loved it! We had an apartment for two weeks, the use of the car, and the entire region to explore ...

As a small side note, excuse the photos. Its a miss-mass of iPhone and camera photos.

This was our very first picture in Greece, taken by a street vendor with a Polaroid. He dumps bird feed into your hand and snaps a photo before you realize it is going to cost you 5 euro.

 Our first two days were spent in Athens. Here, we are in the Olympic Gardens, created obviously for the 2004 Summer games. It was a very interesting place to walk through, but had definitely seen better days. Throughout the entire country there certainly was evidences of better days ...

 The gardens bordered the parliament buildings. 

We spent the morning wandering the gardens, parliament buildings, and took the time to watch the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A marching band accompanied the regiment in with the Greek National Anthem.

At the Parthenon. Apparently there are a few of these, but this is the Parthenon. We did go inside the gates too. Its quite something being there. These buildings (or ruins) are thousands of years old. Its amazing how small one feels when you are next to something that has seen the rise and fall of empires.

First view of the Acropolis. All I can say is ... amazing. We hiked from here, to the top (and back down around, and under and ... everywhere that day!). The view is breathtaking, you can see almost the entire city of Athens. It was incredibly cool from way up there as we were able to to see the entire modern city but interspersed quite regularly are ancient ruins or still standing antiquities.

Taking a picture from the top of the amphitheatre below.

The Parthenon in the Acropolis. Its been under major construction for years. I was a little disappointed I have to admit. Seeing such an old building with modern construction materials and scaffolding surrounding it, detracting from the effect a little.

I found him up there all alone, so took him home :)

This was from the back side, we hiked down again.
Why yes, we were a little sun burnt and windblown. Why do you ask?

Finally moving out of Athens and onto Pelion! We really realized just how much of city people we are not on the honeymoon. It was so nice to get out of the hustle and bustle (and worrying that there would be riots and demonstrations while we were there) of Athens and into the almost forgotten region of Pelion. Such a different pace of life. This was the sign on the beach we went to frequently. Still not sure what it says, but I am really hoping it was`t a no trespassing sign :)

The view from our front porch.

One of our little day excursions was taking this cute little train from sea level up into the mountains. It used to be a mining train, but has since been turned into a tourist thing. It was the rattliest little engine, but the views were gorgeous, and the little town it took us to, absolutely spectacular. We had seen quite a few mountain villages by this time, but this one was really quite unique. It almost felt like something out of a fairy tale. The train takes you to the village and then parks for three hours and let you wander about, which of course we did.

The final bridge before the village. For the life of me I cannot remember what it was called.

Views from the train ...

This is the view of Afissos, about 3 km from our place. We walked here a few times for the beach and dinner. I think you might have as well :)

Literally, this is the end of the line. The major highway on Pelion ends at this village, in this parking lot. From here, you have to walk in. The village is so old that cars are either not allowed, or just will not fit in the narrow streets!

I have so many more photos to share and will get to them soon!