A couple of months ago I returned from a trip to Meteora and Holy Mount Athos and it was only a few weeks ago when I finished processing my shots. I came home with over 2.500 photos shot in 9 days, and I estimated I was shooting one shot every 3.5 minutes excluding the time I went to sleep! It's a large amount of data and some of the photos are not good, some of them are going to be merged together for panoramas or exposure blending. Basically I was walking with the camera in my hands and my lens on my backpack almost all the time, except when I was getting really tired and giving up for the day (and even then, I occasionally regretted not going out to shoot some more).
There was a lot of walking involved, even on locations where there was nothing much to see and photograph and even then, I found the courage to walk on steep paths and narrow catwalks to reach a doubtful destination. Meteora was the first stop we made and as soon as we walked into the room I knew I had to unpack my gear and take some shots from the balcony just opposite the great rocks. It was almost blue hour and the sky was lit beautifully against the rocks. There were some lights brightening the beautiful scenery and for me, that was an opportunity that I could not have missed.
|Holy Trinity Monastery at dawn...|
|Holy Trinity Monastery at dawn...|
Next morning we had set the clock for an early rising as there were some clouds in the sky the previous day that promised a beautiful colorful morning. And we had one! The photographs I took were a little dull because of the backlight from the rising sun, but luckily I managed to repair the view afterwards in Photoshop. We had a big day ahead, so we started climbing the road to the monasteries early enough to see the sun casting its light on the rocks. I have to admit, that it was not as impressive as I had imagined it, maybe because we were in the wrong position, or maybe because it was merely not as spectacular as I had expected it to be.
|Kastraki village with hermit caves...|
There were a lot of dark shadows with a yellowish pale light that was difficult to handle and the light distance between them and the beautifully lit monasteries was large enough to trouble me, as I didn't want to shoot bracketed shots because of a medium air breeze at that time. Nevertheless, it was a good time as no tourists had woken up yet and the monasteries were still closed for the public making framing a sheer delight.
|Monastery details in Great Meteoro Monastery...|
The rest of the day was simply a challenge for a polarizing filter with deep blue and cloudy skies everywhere, stopping every now and then to photograph the amazing view of the landscape and making comments about the way we must handle the light. At some point we started noticing buses of tourists coming from every direction and getting in our way for their candid shots and selfies, a lot of tourists! It was high time to enter our first monastery for the day. Visiting was not so much about sightseeing, but climbing the stairs and path to the buildings. Beyond that, there was little to see and photograph in the allowed rooms under strict observation from cameras and "guards".
|Varlaam Monasteryagainst heavy clouds...|
|Aghios Stefanos Monastery at dusk...|
The photographic day was almost ended (as the driver was exhausted!) with lunch in a local restaurant and after that, a last visit at the monastery of Aghios Antonios opposite St. Nikolas Badovas and the old monks cells. Then we headed to our hotel for a rest and as heavy clouds approached the city, the air started to smell like rain was coming and became stronger. Even then, we made a quick photographic attempt with poor luck and a lot of cold wind as the day came to the end.
The next day we headed by train to Thessaloniki where we stayed for 2 nights. The photographs we took were a beautiful sight, testing cameras, lenses and light in the farthest extent possible in afternoon and night. Blending and panoramic views with a small dosage of portraiture and improvisation, good times, good people and beautiful women. Thesssaloniki is a city where you can do anything and you feel good talking to the always smiling people.
|Evening sun at the harbor in the sunset...|
Of course we went to the White Tower and strolled the old city's alleys and streets, but where we stayed long enough to fall in love with this city was the endless seafront with the metal umbrellas (which turn to gold in color when the night falls). The endless walking, with everything new and cared for, not even one burned out light throughout the wterfront made me jealous that I am not living in Thessaloniki. And (I have to say that) the women were all beautiful and smiling with beautiful outfits, shining from top to bottom, I was amazed!
|Thessaloniki is a living city even at night...|
There were a lot of people everywhere! And in general were kind and polite, made jokes not rushing to go to the next customer. The food and sweets were delicious, you could grow fat in a week or so if you are not careful. There was little we could do to keep ourselves from eating so much that we had trouble sleeping (three small 4-piece pizzas in one night was too much even for me, but they were delicious combined with a beer).
|Macedonia Palace Hotel next to the seafront...|
|Architectural details on buildings in Thessaloniki.|
Architecture is also amazing in Thessaloniki. There are numerous buildings that have survived through the wars the city suffered all those previous years. And it is difficult to get lost as every vertical street takes you to the seafront, where you can easily find your way to where you want to go. And if you really get lost, all you have to do is ask one of the polite people around you, even the tourists know how to direct you to your destination!