Sunday, 13 October 2013

Greece - Macedonia

We left Alexandropoulis and the Thraki region of Greece, and headed west to the Macedonia region, avoiding the motorway and crossing over the former Via Egnatia Roman road to Kavala. This was the right move as it was devoid of traffic and quite scenic. See the full story further down.

Sunrise at Alexandropoulis municipal campsite on our last morning

The Macedonia region of northern Greece comes across as somewhat unloved. It seems less developed, it seems somehow uncared for as if the Athens government thinks it to be not quite part of Greece. We did not visit Thessaloniki (Salonica) so cannot give an opinion on Greece's second city which is within Macedonia, perhaps that is where the money goes, it is certainly not going to rural Macedonia.
Macedonia only became part of the Greek state in 1923 after being surrendered by the Turks in 1913 from the then Balkan Wars, so perhaps in a way there lies the answer for its unloved appearance. In some areas it is plain dirty with garbage all over the place, household waste, piles of plastic bags, plastic bottles, cans, overflowing waste containers - and stray dogs.

Stray dogs, mainly large dogs, are a common problem all over the place, cats too although less seen. The stray dogs, sometimes in packs of 5, is certainly a disaster waiting to happen. Where do they come from, have they been turned out of their former homes by owners not wanting them anymore - the costs of caring and feeding? What is clear is that local authorities and inhabitants are doing nothing about the problem of both garbage and stray dogs! Is this a society turning a blind eye to the mess around them?

Via Egnatia - A Roman Road

It is marked by information boards as you go along giving some history and explanation. It was a major trade and military route of the ancient world which connected Rome with its territories further east during the time of the Roman Empire. It remained a major road for some 2,000 years since completion in 120BC.

Fifi eyeballing the information board

The Via Egnatia Roman road from Albania in the west, going all across northern Greece, to Turkey in the east. The boxed area is what goes through Macedonia in Greece, we travelled between the two crosses from Alexandropoulis in the east to Kavala in the west.

We stopped at Lake Vistonida which had abundant aquatic bird life and saw Coots, Flamingo's, Pelicans and Storks in quite large numbers in the water which we presumed to contain sulphur, if smell was anything to go by. A truly grand sight unexpectedly come by, wildlife in their natural surroundings in Macedonia!




A short stint of motorway followed and we decided to overnight just outside Kavala at a free Camperstop next to a motorway service station. A tad noisy it turned out when a refrigerator truck pulled in near us with its generator going all night .... the joys of free stops!

After breakfast we continued west towards Thessaloniki and passed some impressive vineyards near Amfipoli. The vines carried large grapes nearing what must surely be harvest time and because of their size looked like table grapes - as opposed to wine making grapes which are much smaller. The tops of the vines were also covered in plastic sheeting to give protection against the elements and all fields were ringed by sturdy fencing.

Mid afternoon saw us coming across the Lion of Amfipolis standing more than 15ft (5m) tall. It dates back to the 4th century BC and represents what was once a sacred symbol of Macedonia. The story is long and involved and is a right mixture of Greek mythlogy, history and intrigue, power play and influence by the Athenians, the upper class power elite of Athens in ancient times, but for those interested click on the links.
"According to historians and archaeologists, the face of the Lion, which has always been a sacred symbol of Macedonians, was looking towards the city, thus expressing the importance and glory of it". Reference.

A lovely varied day of travelling it was, having no definitive destination, simply travelling and seeing what you see as you go along. If you like it you stop and take a look and if not you carry on. We often travel in this way with no schedule, program or timetable. After all, we don't have to be anywhere at any specific time.


  1. Keep it coming Marius and Joan! We're almost on the road with you guys, unless you're parked up next to a genny all night... ;-) We were always amazed at how, in a big empty parking area, the noisy folks would always seem to com slot themselves in next to us. Ear plugs, or an ABF, must be the answer? You're heading for much, much nicer areas of Greece to the West, enjoy. Cheers, Jay and Ju

    1. Thanks Jay & Ju! Must say we've done better since that noisy truck, with some fab beach stops and fishing harbours. Will update Blog soon, not as hard working as you guys were doing daily postings. Thanks for your interest - cheers!

  2. for some info on the Russian Labour Corps

    1. Thanks Eugene for that info and attached document - most interesting. I had a chuckle at the mention that the Russians resented working for the British, not surprised though!