Friday, 24 May 2013

The Greek mainland by car

My small but inexpensive-to-maintain Hyundai Accent- which is always covered in a thin film of dust, reflecting the climatic change noticed among Cretans which is windier than it used to be, with more red rain falling these days than it did in the past - has served me well for nearly 14 years, and continues to get me from A to B, as well as providing lifts to my colleagues whose old BMWs and/or Audis are too costly to drive these days.

When we travel in Greece on holiday, we always take the car - Evritania, 1200m above sea level, Central Greece, 2011.
Needless to say, they are unable to afford another German car themselves. German cars are also getting increasingly more difficult to re-sell - nobody wants to buy used cars that are uneconomical, and owners don't want to accept a low price for something that was overpaid.

Free press Cretavoice, Issue 8, May 2013: Fuel consumption reaches nadir levels - many Hania petrol stations in the red. I used to pass 7 petrol stations in the space of 5km when driving my kids to school - it was only to be expected that some would close down (two did). But they all sell petrol too expensively, so I hardly ever use them, preferring instead one close to my office. We can't really claim that the crisis is to blame - another crisis was brewing before the financial one. The silver lining in the expensive petrol prices is that the roads are quieter as there are fewer joy-riders.  
I may have never owned a German car myself, but at least I can still afford to drive the one I have. Admittedly, the car is getting old and will need to be replaced some time soon. I would like to buy another new one, but it's a buyer's market these days in the used car trade, so I know my next car will not be a new one. However, it will probably be a German model: apparently, used Audis sell for less than new Asian models, according to my husband. He once owned a VW Passat taxi, which came to an untimely end after a decade of dedicated service (someone crashed into him and the car was a write-off). He has since bought two Skodas, which haven't treated him badly, but he remembers the German car with greater affection. Whatever our next cars are, they won't be new. Why spend more when you know you can spend less?

If there is one thing that makes me angry about the crisis, it is that it has made it difficult for my family to take an annual summer road vacation in Greece. Mainland Greece is not as well known as the Greek islands. We rarely visit islands because we live on one. A car trip in Greece is now every expensive for the average Greek. I'm not talking about about the taverna meals or overnight accommodation - they are relatively cheap. But ferry tickets (including the cost of transporting a car), petrol costs and toll station fees make travelling by car around Greece rather expensive. The economic crisis has not stopped us travelling abroad to European destinations - cheap flights are easy to find these days. But absolutely nothing can compare to a Greek summer holiday. The Greek landscape offers much more than just coastline and good beaches. We have snowy mountains, rushing rivers, dramatic waterfalls, picturesque villages, war memorials, ancient sites, religious communities, natural landscape, railroad attractions, lake districts, rugged coastline, culinary delights, and above all, the perfect climate to enjoy it all in.

What follows is the highlights of our Greek summer road trip in September 2011, the last time we travelled through mainland Greece. The end of a summer is a good time to travel in Greece as most of the tourists have gone back home. I hope you all enjoy the photos - they show a very different Greece to the one I present from my hometown.

Milies, Pilio

A non-descript rocky beach, Pilio

Dinner by the seaside at a coastal village in Pilio

Pilio architecture, with Volos and the Pagasitiko Gulf in the horizon

Pilio architecture

Meteora monastery

Meteora monastery

Islamic architecture, Ioannina

Near the home of Ali Pasa, on the Island in the Lake of Ioannina

Souvlaki at Ioannina

Ioannina Lake and the surrounding fields, viewed from the Perama cave exit

The artificial lake of Kremaston

The old bridge in Arta

River in Epirus

Dinner at Karpenisi

Karpenisi forest

Refreshments at Mikro Horio, Evritania

Velouchi mountain, Evritania

Small waterfall in Evritania

Abandoned carts, Evritania

Lunch in a small village in Evritania

Bakery at Karpenisi

Abandoned German machinery, Evritania


A local in the area of Evritania


Lake Plastira

The dam at Lake Plastira

Pistachio trees, Makrakomi

Abandoned taverna on the old national road between Thebes and Athens

Toasted bakery bread

Hope I've whetted your apetite.

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