Campania West Of Naples
If I look to the left my eyes land in Albania, if I look to the front my eyes land in Macedonia, and if I look at my feet my eyes land in Greece.
I am actually in the far north-western nook of Greece on the shore of tri-national Megali (Great) Prespa Lake, staring over the gloriously blue inexperienced waters on the dazzlingly white snow-capped mountains that gird it in early spring in all three international locations.
On the Greek side three tiny hermitages perch on rocky promontories, all reachable by motor boat from the little lake-aspect village of Psarades. The one closest to Albania, Panagia Eleousa, hangs like an eagle’s aerie high up inside the vaulting canopy of a hollowed cliff face, reached by scores of steep stone steps from a pebbled seashore mottled with yellow blooms.
They’re little greater than small stone huts but their interiors are awash with golden-haloed saints in multicoloured garb.
Inside Panagia Eleousa
Outside saggy-sacked pelicans are floating on the waters in search of to fill these yellow dewlaps of theirs with silver fish.
The encircling juniper forests, the southernmost level in Europe for this species, are a favorite haunt of brown bears, who come all the way down to the shore in spring to teach their cubs to swim, fish and climb rocks.
13th century Metamorfosi Hermitage
Psarades, like most villages in the region, is a picturesque assortment of sturdy squat stone homes with pink-tiled rooves. Within the hillside village of Agios Germanos, about seven miles away, there’s an eleventh century byzantine church – tiny, simple exterior, full of golden icons within.
Public transport other than taxi is virtually non-existent, however vacationer buses herald scores of home guests, together with a gent from Rhodes, who spent a 12 months and a half in Canada when he was a youth through the Pleistocene age and who now produces his historic Canadian social security card to prove it.
Scion of a nation of philosophers that produced Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, he feels obligation-certain to bless me along with his personal specific perception which appears to scale back itself to: ‘Everybody should love everybody, but don’t trust the Turks.’
Views from above Psarades
Just to the south of Psarades, amid equally superb scenery, lies Mikri (Little) Prespa Lake, once joined to Megali Prespa until silt built a slender neck. Conversely Agios Ahillios (St. Achilles) Island was once a rocky promontory until the waters eroded its narrow neck, to be replaced by a series of pontoons.
Now it sits like a grassy emerald of meadows and hills in Mikri Prespa’s deep green waters, surrounded by forested mountains and snow-capped peaks, topped by a little bit modern crimson-roofed church and girt with ruins of basilicas from long ago Byzantium.
Agios Ahillios Island
It was from this island that Czar Samuel of Bulgaria ruled his mini-empire in the late 10th century, until Byzantium wrested it back, and essentially the most impressive ruin is the concave shell of St. Achilles basilica which he built.
The others are fairly non-descript – a simple 16th century hut-like stone church by the half wall of the monastery of Panagia Porfira (the virgin in purple), a little bit tower on the fifteenth century Agios Giorgios Church, the ruined shell of 14th century Agios Demetrios.
But it’s fun to let your imagination run riot, especially amid the surrounding vegetation.
Oops, imagination be buggered, watch that cowpat!
They’re all over the place and that i appear to have descended into the domain of the local farmer Giles. A dirty great snorting bull is eyeing me suspiciously, pawing the ground and decreasing his horns. Hey steady on there, Ferdinand! But he does not cost, decreasing additional to munch some flowers. Wow, he actually is Ferdinand. He have to be on Prozac. So I do not must do the waltz of the toreadors.
Or do I A couple of transgender cows have just exited a mud bath, gleaming with mire. They lower their shorter horns and prance in direction of me, clearly feeling their inside bull. I nip behind a rock. They start munching flowers, too. Hi there, Buttercup. You too, Daisy.
After a couple of mile on the four-mile hilly walk back to Psarades, a bit hoot springs me from my Byzantine reverie. It’s a guy from the inn offering me a ride. He has one hand on the steering wheel, imbibing from a bottle of beer in the other.
Two gateways result in the lake region. To the east, the pretty and lively university town of Florina is definitely accessible by bus or train from Thessaloniki.
On a current trip the spring sun glinted off the good snow-capped peaks of Mt. Olympus in the far distance on the left – and smoke billowed up from the driver within the close to distance right in entrance. He was vaping away, nearly actually like a house on fireplace, e-cigarettes apparently escaping the no-smoking ban.
A narrow dashing rivers chatters right by the middle of Florina, tumbling down below a dozen little pedestrian bridges. Already-recent-inexperienced weeping willows and different much less plaintive timber about to bud line its banks, offering a delightful mini stone island wool jumper promenade.
Up on a wooded hillside lie the ruins of a Hellenistic town from the instances of Alexander the good and His Dad, Philip of Macedon. You need to use your imagination a bit to sail again into the previous as you stroll amongst shin-excessive stone-wall remnants of homes and streets, with tiny blue, purple, pink and yellow flowers and sensible yellow-green moss crunching underfoot.
You don’t need to use your imagination at all as you walk along a grassy tree-girt monitor opposite, with multi-colored foil condom packets and torn used condoms crunching underfoot. You have hit upon Florina’s Lovers’ Lane.
From the south you possibly can approach the lakes from Kastoria, an idyllic town that clambers up the hillsides on both sides of a rocky promontory in Lake Orestiada. Statuesque swans progress majestically across its still waters, their large wings hollowing barely upwards. The music you hear within the air above is the twang of pelican wings in flight.
Kastoria is famend for its plethora of small Byzantine churches, centuries-outdated Ottoman fashion mansions, and the fur trade. The stone and crimson brick churches turn up everywhere as you climb the twisting alleys, unpretentious in their simplicity, tiny, squat, with the barest basics of Byzantine design.
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