Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Greece - Cafe Loafing Wannabees

Mick and I have had a month in Greece now. There is a lot more to it, but we feel we have had a good look about Northern Greece.

We hung out with more Greek-residing Germans, marvelling the emerald (by Greek standards) isle of Samothraki where there are more goats than people. We wandered ruins of temples more ancient than the Olympian Gods with only some goat herders for company.

Bird watchers we are not, but you have to get excited about a flock of massive black vultures flying just over your head! We perched in a hide spying on three different types of vultures bickering over something dead. They deserve their reputation as looking menacing, but they are fascinating all the same.

The draft wine at dinner is cheaper than coca-cola; only once was it truly vile. We've eaten everything Greek in sight. There is such a thing as too much cheese. We haven't, however, had enough of Greek sweet shops. Service in bars and restaurants is second to none. Travel has been too easy as everyone is so friendly.

We tried to imitate the professional cafe loafers, sitting on one drink for hours. Mick discovered why they sometimes don't even bother finishing their token coffee - he had one and couldn't get to sleep until 3am.

We saw more snakes in one day than in my whole life. The pretty Prespa Lakes were ringed with tall reeds – a cesspit of musical frogs, birds and snakes. Since the mobs of Greek teenagers on a school trip didn't notice them (expect the bus driver stabbing some snakes with a stick), mobile phones still glued to their ears, we assumed they mustn't be poisonous and walked amongst them on the shore - carefully.

We drove around the stunning Zagoria villages for days in drizzle. Blending in with the mountains as they are made from the same stuff - slate, sturdy, proud - these villages cluster together in impossible locations in breathtaking mountain ranges. We brought on vertigo looking into the colossal Vikos Gorge; almost one kilometre deep, and over one kilometre across.

Me looking down into the immense Vikos Gorge

We finished up in Meteora marvelling the monasteries perched on giant rocks and hordes of tourists. Until then we hadn't seen many other foreigners, but here we were lucky to get a bed or not get run over by a tour bus.

A scene of the monastries of Meteora

Now we are in Albania. People are more reserved than the colourful Greeks, but friendly just the same. We were greeted by fields of one-size-fits-all bunkers poking out like mushrooms from crazier days of the mad dictator's, Enver Hoxha, reign.

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