In my last blog post from Greece I said of the Muppet Brothers: We’re Still Looking for Quintessential Greece. I think that’s still the case—I suspect most people associate Greece with its many islands, sunny blue skies, and clear blue waters.
So far our experiences have been on the Greek mainland, having entered eastern Greece through Bulgaria. As you may recall we reluctantly decided to give Turkey a temporary pass because of their political situation and views on Syria.
You can read more about the why of our decision if you’re interested: Rethinking Turkey—the Country Not the Bird. After a two-week stay in the big city of Thessaloniki (which wasn’t to our liking) we traveled to the smaller coastal town of Néa Moudhaniá—traveling from a big city of over 1-million residents we escaped to a town of less than 10,000 residents. Much more to our liking but still not the quintessential Greece we were looking for. However, after two weeks in the big city, we did enjoy our restful and relaxing visit to Néa Moudhaniá. We left Néa Moudhaniá Thursday morning for the lakeside community of Ioánnina (113,000).
Here are some housekeeping tidbits for you: the taxi fare from our hotel to the bus terminal in Néa Moudhaniá was €5 and our bus tickets from Néa Moudhaniá back to Thessaloniki were €7 pp; our taxi fare from where we were dropped off in Thessaloniki to the main bus terminal across town (remember Thessaloniki is a big city of over 1-million residents) was an additional €23. Once we arrived at the main bus terminal in Thessaloniki we purchased our tickets for the three-hour bus ride to Ioánnina for €30 pp; €5 more got us from the bus terminal in Ioánnina to our hotel—a convoluted travel day for sure but it turned out okay.
So we’ve been in Ioánnina since late last Thursday afternoon (today is Monday) and we are leaving again after a one-week stay this coming Thursday morning. Our next stop is a one-week stay in Patras before boarding a ferry to the island of Kefalonia and our three-week stay in the town of Argostoli. Finally the island experience is in our future. The three-hour bus trip from Ioánnina to Patras is €25 pp. All of this travel and pricing information might bore the hell out of the average reader but some folks (fellow travelers) who’ve stumbled across this blog have mentioned they find the information useful—just pick and choose what you like.
My preconceived expectations for Greece evolved primarily from the movie Zorba the Greek, USA Greek salads, and Greek gyros sandwiches. My first actual impressions of Greece include the facts that mainland Greece has a lot of mountains (we’ve traveled through and over a number of mountain ranges with snow) with cold winter months, that Greek food tends to be much greasier than expectation (this would be a good place for a well placed pun about Greece versus grease), and that it’s a large and diverse country. I suspect our three-week island experience will be more stereotypical—sunshine, blue skies, warm water.
Field Notes: Please don’t come away with the impression that we’re not enjoying Greece because that’s not the case at all. It just seems to be so different from our expectations that we’re having a hard time reconciling our preconceived expectations with Greece’s actual realities. This is most certainly our problem and should not reflect on Greece at all—again, I suspect our island experience will shift our perceptions yet once again. I captured the B&W images include in this post with my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR and Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM ultra wide-angle zoom—a favorite walkabout combination. SFD