Rambling through 2012, a year in pictures: Part 2, Greece

The task of selecting a bakers’ dozen of images from the hundreds I took in Greece this summer was more daunting than choosing those for Wales.  This is partly because many of the places I went were new to me and were very photogenic.  Again, the ones I have picked are not necessarily the best photographically but ones which hopefully summarise the experience.

My 1500 kilometre trip at the beginning of the summer began and ended in Athens.  Though born and raised in a city I’m not a city person but the craggy centre of Athens has a lasting appeal and I have not yet tired of climbing up the Areopagus with its views over the  Acropolis and the rest of the city.

My 1500 kilometre trip at the beginning of the summer began and ended in Athens. Though born and raised in a city I’m not a city person but the craggy centre of Athens has a lasting appeal and I have not yet tired of climbing up the Areopagus with its views over the Acropolis and the rest of the city.

First stop was Meteora with its famous once-secluded but now much-visited monasteries set on the top of towering rock pinnacles, rope windlasses replaced by wooden bridges and steps and tunnels hewn out of the rock.

First stop was Meteora with its famous once-secluded but now much-visited monasteries set on the top of towering rock pinnacles, rope windlasses replaced by wooden bridges and steps and tunnels hewn out of the rock.

Famous though the monasteries rightly are, equally impressive are the rocks themselves, 1000 foot weather-gnarled sculptures.

Famous though the monasteries rightly are, equally impressive are the rocks themselves, several hundred foot high weather-gnarled sculptures.

The nest stops were Parga, Paxos and Corfu where between squally thunder showers of early summer the sea was mirror-smooth and Greek-blue.

The next stops were Parga, Paxos and Corfu where between squally thunder showers of early summer the sea was mirror-smooth and Greek-blue.

Then the long journey south to the Mani Peninsula, the principal objective of the trip and a month of fascinating exploration on well-mapped and marked paths into the mountains and a liberal scattering of ancient villages and Byzantine churches in varying states of preservation and decay, the most neglected perhaps Likaki monastery.

Then the long journey south to the Mani Peninsula, the principal objective of the trip and a month of fascinating exploration on well-mapped and marked paths into the mountains and a liberal scattering of ancient villages and Byzantine churches in varying states of preservation and decay, the most neglected perhaps Likaki monastery.

Some tiny kalderimi-side family churches have well preserved frescoes ... and small colonies of horseshoe bats.

Some tiny kalderimi-side family churches have well preserved frescoes … and small colonies of horseshoe bats.

So impressive that I went back again and again was the Viros Gorge with vertical rock crags dropping down more than 1000 feet to the washed-white rock of the dry riverbed.

So impressive that I went back again and again was the Viros Gorge with vertical rock crags dropping down more than 1000 feet to the washed-white rock of the dry riverbed.

Having moved further south to Areopoli I climbed two of the local mountains both with monasteries on top named after the Prophet Elijah, both with surreal views of the world on the coastal plateau far below and the sea beyond leading to the edge of the flat-earth.

Having moved further south to Areopoli I climbed two of the local mountains both with monasteries on top named after the Prophet Elijah, both with surreal views of the world on the coastal plateau far below and the sea beyond leading to the edge of the flat-earth.

The vernacular architecture of the Mani Peninsula is the tower house, not for defending against invading forces but for inter-family blood feuds.  Areopoli was the base of Mavromichalis (Black Michael), a key player in the Greek War of Independence, but nowhere was more typical of ‘tower house’ culture than Vatheia, now largely deserted and derelict.

The vernacular architecture of the Mani Peninsula is the tower house, not for defending against invading forces but for inter-family blood feuds. Areopoli was the base of Mavromichalis (Black Michael), a key player in the Greek War of Independence, but nowhere was more typical of ‘tower house’ culture than Vatheia, now largely deserted and derelict.

A month on the active volcano which is the island of Nisyros for my second visit to Greece towards the end of the summer gave plenty of opportunity to go ‘off-piste’, exploring the ‘backcountry’ on ancient and long- abandoned pathways.  This included some of the rarely visited ‘hot-spots’ on the caldera floor giving new perspectives on one of the most dramatic locations in Europe.

A month on the active volcano which is the island of Nisyros for my second visit to Greece towards the end of the summer gave plenty of opportunity to go ‘off-piste’, exploring the ‘backcountry’ on ancient and long- abandoned pathways. This included some of the rarely visited ‘hot-spots’ on the caldera floor giving new perspectives on one of the most dramatic locations in Europe.

Within the hot spots gases hiss and boiling mud rumbles in fumaroles in the thin crust.  The gases deposit exquisite sculptures of bright yellow sulphur crystals.  Just don’t delay too long over a shot, the soles of your feet will tell you it’s time to move on.

Within the hot spots gases hiss and boiling mud rumbles in fumaroles in the thin crust. The gases deposit exquisite sculptures of bright yellow sulphur crystals. Just don’t delay too long over a shot, the soles of your feet will tell you it’s time to move on.

Everything on this island is volcanic in origin.  Walking along the north-facing shoreline was characterised by rough seas and a huge variety of bits of lava bubble and other volcanic boulders.

Everything on this island is volcanic in origin. Walking along the north-facing shoreline was characterised by rough seas and a huge variety of bits of lava bubble and other volcanic boulders.

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Symi is one of the most photogenic islands in the Dodecanese archipelago but I chose this group photo on one of the many ‘Hochlakos’ pebble-mosaic floors as it was the first time in 4 months that I had been here with family and friends. A real pleasure.

Happy New Year

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