I love skyscapes and whilst night flights and cloud don’t offer stunning views of the ground, they can still be beautiful. On our 2012 flight home from Greece to Charleroi in Belgium we encounter an amazing demonstration of nature’s beauty in an ever changing vista out of the plane window. Words can’t describe my delight… so maybe these photographs that were taken in chronological order as the flight progressed can…
September 20, 2014
September 19, 2014
There’s one thing that is rather different about Volos airport in Greece, and it’s a complication that the flying tourist doesn’t usually have to think about.
There is a military base next to the airport and photographs from the plane are strictly prohibited.
My sister in law said that even flight attendants on the planes coming in and out will insist that passengers to delete photographs and in a worst case scenario, you could even get your camera confiscated.
The area around the airport is also therefore sensitive territory, so when I saw my first ever fields of cotton plants and wanted to stop to take a photograph, Himself was understandably nervous.
When I first spotted the cotton on the way in, we were tired after the flight and we had a long drive ahead of us, so there was no chance to stop, but on the way back I convinced Himself that if we stopped the car for a single minute on the road leading to the airport it would be highly unlikely that the Greek air-force would in that time detect our position, evaluate us as enemy combatants and launch a missile to take us out. Indeed if that were true then woe-betide any unsuspecting tourist who got a flat tire, or any kid desperate for a road-side pee pee in the bushes. …. trousers down… ploof! gone!!!
The silliness of my scenario makes Himself agree to a stop for a photograph on the way back to the airport, but only if I agree not to get out of the car, so I took the photo out of the rolled down window. I get some photos as we drive past, and when we stop one of the watchtowers from the military base is partly visible in the background. My next photographs were taken of the end of the runway as the plane lifts off the ground, and then the plane banks sharply and Volos comes into view below us.
Very soon after that we can make out the outline of the Pelion peninsular, and once we leave that behind, a series of Greek islands as we head south. The cloud then got the better of us and as we climb we get completely surrounded by it. No one shot at us in the car and none of the flight attendants have confiscated my camera so I can sit back and enjoy the flight home.
September 18, 2014
Back in 2012 our family visited Greece with our in-laws during the October school holiday break.
They have a holiday home in Platania on the Pelion peninsular, an area of Greece that is mostly free from high rise tourist apartments, wall to wall nightclubs or bars.
Little villages are just as they have been for decades, there are of course some tourist restaurants and accommodations but it’s all low key, small scale and very local.
Even in the “big”city of Volos where we pass through on our way to the airport there are little surprises that make you smile and realise that no matter how modern parts of it look on the outside, that the heart of the community is still very much “old style” Greece.
One such surprise is that when we are leaving the restaurant on the beach front where we had dinner before our flight, I spy two quirky vehicles for my collection. I’m still laughing at the three wheeled one: What is it with Greeks and their apparent fascination with three wheeled cars? Bulk lot going cheap? Who knows? The truck was a wonder in it’s own right… Can this mountain of branches actually stay on once the truck negotiates the local steep and winding roads? Or are they sort of locked together by their twisted interlocking shapes? Is it a tree pruning clean up or a firewood delivery? Greece is proving charming and quirky right until the end. How excellent is that?
September 17, 2014
This post follows my post of yesterday, where even though it was early autumn the temperature were more than warm enough for a refreshing swim in the sea for my brother in law, his son and our kids.
The place in question was the Greek city of Volos and the date was the last week of October in 2012 so it was rather a surprise that the squeals from the swimmers were of delight rather than of a cold water shock.
Large natural bodies of water heat up very slowly, but they also cool as slowly so there is still the heat of summer “in storage” long after the temperatures have dipped from the sweltering forty degree heat of the hight of summer to the mid twenties centigrade of this time of year.
After those taking a dip are out of the water and changed, they are all ravenous and well and truly ready for an early evening dinner.
Luckily there are a series of restaurants just a few meters away on the beach front, and since the weather is mild we opt for one where we can sit outside under a canopy close to the sand.
Once again I try the fried little fish, once again it’s tasty but nothing like the divine morsels I found on Palio Tikeri Island.
Everyone else finds their own favourite on the menu, well almost everyone: Little Mr and Kiwi Daughter find that there are no toasted sandwiches on the menu so after a little grumble that there’s nothing else on offer that they fancy, polish off bread, fries and cucumber instead.
I’m not too concerned, they don’t know it at the time but they would hit with a mountain of veggies as soon as we are back to make up with the deficiency.
The meal is nice enough and no one had any complaints at all but at the same time no one rated it outstanding either, it certainly filled the right gaps before our flight home.
(Ryan air have little snacks available to buy on the flight but no warm meal) and it would be around 10:30 or 11:00 pm before we landed at Charleroi in Belgium, and well after midnight before we were home in the Netherlands so this was an excellent time and place to have our evening meal. It’s brilliant that our in laws have done this trip so many times before in the last twenty years, they know all about the airport food, the quality or the lack of it, they know how to plan going to the airport so that the day still feels like a holiday day with relaxed local eating and a swim instead of just packing, driving and flying. They also know the best places to go, has we been on our own we would have driven past the side street to get here without even realising that this place was here. Relaxed travelling with a little insider knowledge goes a long long way…
September 16, 2014
Back in Greece in October 2012 the temperatures have been in the high 20’s Centigrade all week and the kids have been enjoying swimming at the beach almost every day.
We can barely imagine that back in the Netherlands temperatures are hovering around freezing and that the days are shorter back home.
Now we are making our ways towards Volos airport, but our in-laws have told us that we will be making a stop first and we should just follow them.
Now the surprise is to be revealed: we turn down a little side street and find ourselves at a quiet stretch of beach.
It’s one that’s a mixture of sand and small stones, deep and not to easy to negotiate on crutches.
I make it as far as a conveniently placed bench whilst the surprise is revealed: our in-laws have allowed enough time not only for us to have dinner before our flight home, but also a final swim. A little further down the beach is little booth, it’s changing room and my nephew and brother in law disappear down there with Little Mr to get changed, whilst Himself and I hold up a large towels and Kiwi Daughter does her lighteningly quick change under cover.
In no time at all four of them are in the sea: and even though we visited in the autumn, the water hadn’t yet lost it’s summer warmth and they had a great time. It was nice to break the winding curves of the car journey with some fresh air, for the kids the chance to burn off some energy was most welcome after being cooped up in the car. In the end the hands of the clock moved all too quickly and we had to get them out and changed, but it was a brilliant idea and much appreciated…
September 15, 2014
The first time we took the road to Volos we did so in rapidly descending darkness and then into the night.
This time, on our way back to the airport we get to see what we missed for most of the journey on the way in.
I’m curious about the many little shrines along the route, they are difficult to get photographs of but I do my best…
…even the bus stops are typically Greek with their tiled roofs, as are the variations of Greek houses, apartments in larger towns, many displaying the Greek flag from their balconies.
Along the way the kids start suffering hunger pangs so we stop at a bakery and pick up a pastry to tide us over until dinner time.
As we pass though Volos itself, a sign on a building tells us that the temperature is still 20 C, even though it’s already early evening.
Our in-laws lead the way in their rental car, we follow in ours, they are leading us to a good place where they say they have a little surprise in store so we are busy wondering what is coming next…
September 14, 2014
Anyone who is a serious foodie will understand my fascination with the beautiful shapes, colours and textures of fresh fruit and veggies.
Back in October 2012 we visited Greece, and on the day we were leaving, our in-laws said that we would be stopping in Argalasti to visit the local market before we left.
It’s a market that sells clothes and household goods under large shade covers, but all around the perimeter are stalls selling fruit, vegetables and locally made goods like soap, jams, chutneys , soups and pickles.
The temperatures are still very warm, around 26 C but it’s a welcome stop along the way as we stretch our legs and get some fresh air and explore the market.
As usual with thing like fresh peppers grown far away from glasshouses, they not only looked beautiful, they also smelled amazing too.
We are flying back with Ryanair, an airline that’s tough on excess baggage so selecting a few things to squish into our suitcases has to be dome with care. Luckily our in-laws have spare baggage space because they bought renovation tools from the Netherlands that they are leaving at their holiday home in Platania, on the Pelion peninsular so we can treat ourselves to some home made preserves and locally grown and dried herbs like oregano. I could of course have browsed for ages but all too soon we are back in our respective cars and winding our way towards Volos.
September 13, 2014
Regular readers will know that I love patterns, and not only that, that I love patterns in the strangest of places: street stones, drain covers and tiles to name just a few.
This post is pure indulgence for myself: it’s also a reference “inspiration” file for my future drawing efforts because I used to be able to draw trees really well and now that I’ve not been drawing for years and years I’m struggling with a subject I once found easy.
Olive trees are amazing, there are so many shapes and so much texture to their trunks, some are truly bent and twisted, contorted with age and they are a pattern lovers dream.
I used to be able to draw leaves better too, so there are a few inspiration photographs of those too.
That the moment the strong morphine based pain relief I’m on for my foot injury affects my concentration levels badly, so of course does pain so I rarely draw now, but I live in hope that better times are ahead in my recovery and when that moment arrives my inspiration files will be ready and waiting here on my blog and all I will have to do is open these posts and pick up my pens. On Greece’s the Pelion peninsular in the village of Platania the oranges and olives are already starting to ripen and some are already for picking. All the colours and textures are recorded … so in the meantime I am building up my inspiration files, need a photograph of gnarled tree bark? Plenty here to choose from…
September 12, 2014
At our dinner at Spiros’s restaurant in Platania Greece, back when we visited in 2012, I mentioned that our party were offered extra Ouzo on the house after our meal and we made a slow walk back to our accommodation so that Himself could partake for once without worrying about driving us back.
I needed to have a few little rests along the way so took my time and attempted a little night-time photography.
I’m certainly no professional photographer and previous attempts have been rather hit and miss to say the least.
It’s not to say that this wasn’t any easier: I took roughly one hundred photos and got only about a quarter of them in focus (the biggest reason digital photography is brilliant).
Tomorrow evening we will be busy packing and getting ready to go to the airport, so tonight is my opportunity to try and catch the lights on the water from the fishing boats and from the built up are around the bay. I like that although the lights look white at first glance, their reflections in the water come out multi-hued. Instant artworks: just add water!
September 11, 2014
We are back again, joining our in-laws for dinner at Spiro’s restaurant in Platania on the Pelion peninsular in Greece.
The usual medley of Greek favourites are there and it’s relaxing sitting in the balmy warmth that has a surreal feeling because you can’t imagine that this is still a part of Europe at the end of October.
But in 201 it was, the kids are getting away with the bare minimum of vegetables as usual, sharing out the only favourite available which was the cucumber (but ha ha …unbeknownst to them all the parents present are vowing to remedy that upon immediate return to the Netherlands)… children, your broccoli, carrots and peas await you yet.
Our holiday is nearing it’s end, just one more full day and then it’s back to the crueler climes of the beginning of a Northern Europe again. Once again Himself scores my dessert, how he and my brother in law can polish off so much of this teeth wrenchingly sweet stuff I’ll never know, but they both love it as much as I detest it. More power to them!
My brother in law takes a break from dessert to help Spiros fix a computer problem and in return Spiros joins us from the kitchen for a Greek chin wag with out in-laws and an impromptu photo shoot with us, some teasing about having to go home and some extra little bottles of Ouzo as an after dinner aperitif. We end up walking slowly back to the holiday accommodation so that Himself can enjoy the gifts without having to step behind the wheel. I’d still prefer the little fish as cooked on Palio Trikeri Island with the pickled walnut dessert from Promiri but this meal is the best we’ve had outside those, and with the added chatter and laughter we enjoy our meal a lot.