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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Roadtrip through Greece: From Thessaloniki, via Meteora Monasteries, Delphi & Thiva to Athens.

Taking the car across Greece, i.e. travelling from Thessaloniki to Athens, even caused “my Greek” to raise an eyebrow (or two): “You’re driving all this distance by yourself? You’re not afraid?!” Well, yes. And no, of course not! It has been easy, really easy, if not to say truly fascinating, to drive around Greece – thanks to a myriad of ever changing landscapes and world-renowned historic places, I have to say.

Driving in Greece: A piece of cake, in my personal opinion.

 

 

Past Mount Olympus, whose cloud is likened to the breath of Zeus, and on to the world-famous Meteora Monasteries, as well as the city of Thiva just an hour shy of Athens: I just love my road trip through Greece.

Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece located in the north of the country, only sees me for two days this time: Should you need even more information about this unique town, I can recommend you to read my friend Becki Enright’s “Borders of Adventure” city guide on Thessaloniki here.

As I stroll around town, I discover some really cool hipster cafés, take a walk along the seashore, and visit some rather famous monasteries & churches in town (those being the very reason why I’m here: Read more about my project on building sustainable religious heritage tourism in Greece here). If all you have is one or two days in Thessaloniki, here is some inspiration on how to make the most out of your stay.

Der weiße Turm, eines der vielen historischen Wahrzeichens Thessalonikis ...

The White Tower, one of Thessaloniki’s most famous attractions …

 

... noch älter (1500 Jahre!) und gewaltiger ist dabei die sogenannte Rotonda, welche prächtige goldene Mosaike an der Innenseite der Kuppel zieren ...

… may be dwarfed in age and style only by this monument, the 1.500 year-old “Rotonda” whose interior is covered in magnificent mosaics …

 

... oder dieser Bogen hier, genannt Kamara, welcher noch aus der Zeit der römischen Besiedlung bzw. Einflussnahme in Griechenland stammt ...

… or this ancient city gate here, called Kamara, dating back to Roman times in Thessaloniki …

 

... etwas neuzeitlicher da schon, diese coole Street Art aus Thessaloniki ...

… I do also love the modern Street Art from Thessaloniki …

 

... oder der Blick auf den traumhaften Sonnenuntergang an der Meerespromenade ...

… or going for an evening walk by the city’s seaside promenade…

 

... danke für das nette Treffen mit meinen griechischen Kollegen Flora & Alexandros hier ...

… thank you for your nice introduction to Thessaloniki, and Greece, dear Flora, dear Alexandros …

 

... Flora bringt mich am nächsten Tag noch zum Moni Vlatodon Kloster hoch über den Dächern der Stadt, welches den Besuch schon alleine wegen der Aussicht über Thessaloniki bis hin zum Olymp am Horizont hinter mir lohnt (zu Fuß oder mit dem Auto / Taxi leicht erreichbar)!

… Flora even taking me up to visit the Byzantine Monastery Moni Vlatodon high above downtown Thessaloniki (you can easily reach here by taxi or walking, and the views alone are clearly worth it)!

 

From Thessaloniki, it is about a three-hour drive to the “legendary” Meteora monasteries. Legendary? Well, yes …

… because did you know that James Bond’s movie “The Eagle’s Nest” already helped to make Meteora famous as early as the 1980s? Or that Social Media provided the last bit of (virtual) proliferation, what with thousands of visitors attracted each year because of beautiful pictures on Instagram? “Don’t get me wrong”, our guide at Visit Meteora muses, “but it really is you posting all these pictures that have people travel here from all over the world, making Meteora Monasteries one of the most popular travel sites in the whole of Greece!”

My travel tip for you is this: Do make sure your car’s GPS speaks English before you go, and do not be afraid of driving in Greece. All the roads in or around Meteora are relatively free and easy to access, countless green hills will line your way and the highways are well-maintained, too.

... die Meteora-Klöster, von denen heute nur mehr einige wenige tatsächlich von einer Gemeinschaft an Mönchen bzw. Nonnen bewohnt sind, erscheinen zunächst wie ein wahr gewordenes Landschaftsmärchen ...

Meteora Monasteries: A fairytale of a place come true …

 

... schnell muss ich feststellen, dass auch oder gerade hier, bereits der Massentourismus eingesetzt hat ...

… right at the onset of what can be considered, mass tourism (as many religious communities have already left) …

 

... besser ist es da, Ihr entschließt Euch für eine kleine aber feine Morgenwanderung, wie sie von Visit Meteora angeboten wird ...

… to best experience the surrounding landscape, I recommend you to do a guided (morning) walk …

 

... toll, die Naturlandschaften rund um diese spektakulären Felsformationen ...

… getting access to spectacular natural sights, such as this beautiful tree here …

 

... noch besser die Gesellschaft ...

… and even better company : Love my spontaneous hiking tour lunch with these travellers from Malta & the Philippines …

 

... das gemeinsame Essen im Anschluss im Dorfzentrum von Kalabaka ...

… eating in Greece, you can’t go wrong …

 

... und einfach Landschaften, die keinen so ganz kalt lassen: Hier blicken wir gar auf den ursprünglichen Berg des Äskulap, der Kraft seiner Kräuterlehre als früher Lehrer des berühmten Arztes Hippokrates gilt ...

… nor can you thinking about all the history of this place: The mountain we are looking at, is said to be the home of Aeskulap, himself a teacher to the famous doctor Hippocrates to whom all modern practitioners swear an oath on …

 

... toll, die vielen aromatischen Kräuter, die von den Mönchen und Nonnen hier kultiviert werden ...

… and you can clearly see where the history and traditional knowledge of herbs and plants come from …

 

... am allerschönsten sind die Meteora-Klöster übrigens im Rahmen der „Sunset Tour“ : Nicht verpassen !

… Meteora at perhaps its most beautiful : The spectacular “Sunset Tour”. Don’t miss!

 

From Meteora then, it is about another 300 kilometres to reach the Ionian Sea in the west of the country. Here, come to fall in love with Itéa, Delphi, Arachova, or the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hosios Loukas Monastery.

You may already guess it: Having found out about the latter is again due to my research work about monasteries, churches, and religious heritage sites across Greece. The drive from Meteora to these places of worship is again an easy one, taking us past green mountain passes, lavish seaside roads, as well as cute little towns tucked away in the highlands of Central Western Greece. Come check this out.

Unterwegs mit meiner spontanen Reisebekanntschaft, Kim & Clint, einem charmanten jungen Paar aus Malta ...

Travelling with Kim & Clint, a charming young couple from Malta …

 

... entdecken wir das Kloster Hosios Loukas ...

… we spontaneously decide to visit the Monastery Hosios Loukas together …

 

... Heimat gewaltiger Kulturschätze, wie diesen berühmten Deckenmosaiken hier ...

… home of many a cultural treasure, such as this church ceiling full of ancient mosaics …

 

... und einfach ein zauberhafter Ort voller Licht: Am Montagnachmittag in der Vorsaison im Mai auch ganz ohne Touristenmassen ...

… it’s best to visit here in the afternoon, as the light (as well as the absence of large tour groups) makes it just perfect …

 

... hierher würde ich jederzeit zurückkehren, so gut haben mir Ort und Umgebung gefallen! Das Kloster hat übrigens auch eine attraktive (? Facebook-Seite (!), die Euch über weitere Angebote informiert:

… I would gladly come back here any time, and yes also buy some more of that olive oil that Hosios Loukas Monastery produces. They even have a Facebook page, where you can gather some more information ahead of your visit.

 

Kurz vor dem Besuch von Delphi haben wir noch ein Auge auf diesen Strand hier geworfen: Itéa, am Fuße des Parnassos-Gebirge gelegen, lädt zum ersten Baden im Meer ein ...

Shortly before reaching Delphi, make sure you stop at the seaside town of Itéa, located at the foothills of Mount Parnassos: Here, it is time for a first swim in the ocean …

 

... bevor wir am nächsten Tag endlich hier angelangt sind: Mit dem Besuch des Orakel von Delphi wird ein echter Kindheitstraum wahr ...

… before we are off asking the Oracle of Delphi about our future …

 

... danke für die schöne Zeit und unsere Erlebnisse zusammen, liebe Kim, lieber Clint!

… super nice to be sharing all this time with you, dear Kim, dear Clint!

 

North of Athens, do stop in Thiva and visit their brand-new art & history museum, as well as the adjacent island Euboea north of the city of Chalkida.

All of the above tips from my Greek colleagues and friends, who have really helped me in putting together a rather personalised itinerary. Sagmata Monastery, for instance, is right on its way to opening up for more sustainable, cultural tourism : The young monk I meet here speaks both English and Italian, and really welcomes the opportunity to meet interested travellers such as myself. Driving further out into Prokopi, Limni or the Monastery Hosios David north of Chalkida may appear to be a little more adventurous (less signs, less infrastructure), but I must say I do feel good, safe and welcome everywhere I go. Can’t help but feel for my Greek friends – and that the best support you can give them, is by visiting them and enjoying their wonderful, wonderful hospitality. Check this out.

Die Stadt Theben ...

Modern Thiva …

 

... Ausgangspunkt für landschaftliche Entdeckungen wie diese hier ...

… a starting point for cultural endeavours, and view points, such as this one …

 

... vom Berg des berühmten Sagmata-Klosters aus ...

… visiting ancient Sagmata Monastery …

 

... erst mal Kraft tanken beim echten griechischen Salat in Limni, am Meer ...

… and of course there needs to be time for a true Greek salad in Limni, right by the sea …

 

... ein weiteres entdecke ich bei meiner Fahrt am Meer bzw. durch die frühlingsgrünen Wälder Griechenlands: Das byzantinische Kloster Hosios David ...

… before further road trips across the magnificent, green landscape take me all the way to Hosios David Monastery …

 

... eine wichtige Pilgerstätte für orthodoxe Gläubige aus dem Osten Europas ...

… an important place of pilgrimage for members of the Orthodox church …

 

... vielen Dank, liebe Maria, liebe Dania, liebe Jenny, für diese vielen spannenden Gespräche sowie Eure Freundschaft hier im Herzen Griechenlands! Wer Euch kennt, will Griechenland in schweren Zeiten wie diesen einfach nur unterstützen! Bis bald in Theben!

… thank you so much, dear Maria, dear Nadia, dear Jenny, for all those beautiful talks and acts of friendship! Whoever meets you, only has one goal in mind: To return, again and again, to visit and support beautiful Greece!

 

If you are wondering how we’ve organised our overnight stays in different hotels or B&Bs on our trip, Booking.com is the (rather spontaneous) answer: Thanks to pre-season travel in late May, we could sometimes book our accommodation even only a few hours before arriving! In Athens, I have enjoyed staying at a small but really cosy apartment through the platform “Homz”: The owner, Flavia, arranges for everything via WhatsApp, and I will certainly contact here again for when I am back.

If you want to know even more about the capital city Athens, and like me wish to join a Food Tour through downtown Athens, then do check out my first blog post about Greece here.

 

See you soon in beautiful Greece!

 

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

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