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The Dadia forest and the borders of Turkey and Bulgaria

Home -> Europe -> Greece -> Travelogue Greece -> 04 June 2016

Saturday 04 June, the Dadia forest and the borders of Turkey and Bulgaria

Ruins along the Via EgnatiaWe set off on time because we have a long route ahead, meaning thet Teije has planned a long route through the northeast corner of mainland Greece. We are here only once, he says as an excuse, but I am not so sure about that. First we drive along the Via Egnatia to the east, straight to Turkey. This route follows the old Roman road that was constructed around 146 BC. and led from Albania until Constantinople. A lot of trade caravans and armies have come over this road in the course of history and nowadays a highway runs along a large part. We see these remains of a byzamntine church somewhere along this road.
At Feres we turn into the village because we see a sign with 'Stork village of Europe' on it. And right at the beginning of the village we see a tourist office, at least a kentriko touristiko, written only in Greek. Inside is a room with a slide screen and some chairs and someone walks around in an office. She speaks a little bit of English but not a lot and on our request for a map of the area she says that she unfortunately has none left: she gave them all to the children who occasionally come here from school. We have a very (difficult) conversation about tourism and the lack of information for tourists and she can only agree with us.
Street in Feres Stork nest in Feres, ThraceWe walk through the village looking for a bookstore where we might find a more detailed map of the area and we find one. In the village there is a beautiful church and next to it is a sign with the EU flag and an amount in euros. Would EU money also be used to restore churches? Unfortunately we cannot read it. Behind the village we find a neighborhood where the storks live, high on stilts and they even sit on the electricity pylons. But to proclaim it the stork village of Europe seems a bit exaggerated.
A tractor before the Dimitri church in Peplos Church in the east of GreeceWhen we drive on, on our way to the Dadia forest, we meet some impressive churches. You really have them here in all sizes and shapes, but they are usually beautiful buildings. But we never actually see people in them, only last year in Corfu where the mummy of a saint was exhibited. And on Sundays we seldom see large crowds at the churches, although more than 98% of the population is officially Greek Orthodox.
Walking through the Dadia forest Walking through the Dadia forestThen we drive to Dadia where the Dadia forest is part of a large nature park. There are several walks, and one of them goes to a bird spot where you can see all kinds of vultures and other birds of prey. In the mountains there is a place where farmers can dump their dead cattle and that is where the vultures spend their day, it seems like we can see them in their own habitat. But before we get there, we first have to hike for 3.5 km. But before we can get on our way, we have to write down our name and phone number. Is it such a difficult walk, we ask the employee in the visitor center, but she does not speak any English.
When we walk outside to go on our way, we see a police car. And yes, there are the same police officers that we saw yesterday in the Evros Delta. Are they following us or is it coincidental? Anyhow, they have quite a large area to cover because we are 50 kilometers from where we saw them yesterday..
A crab in the Dadia forest Climbing rocks in the Dadia forestAfter a quarter of an hour I realize: it is not a steep route but a very difficult one because of the loose boulders and sometimes just the lack of a path. Then it is climbing and climbing and making sure you do not slip. I still suffer from my muscles from the climbs of a few days ago and I am very sorry that I have started again, against better judgment. When we see lightning in the sky not too far away from us, I am so happy when we finally see the bird stew after more than an hour.
Vulture spotting in the Dadia forest Vulture spotting in the Dadia forestI am exhausted and while I am still getting my breath, a fresh group of people comes in, with one lady wearing a sweater from the nature park. Do you want to take the bus down with us, with the thunderstorm outside?, she asks. If I had known that there was a bus, I would not have had to walk that long end! Gladly, we say and I am overjoyed that my muscles are saved from a difficult return.
Vulture spotting in the Dadia forest Vulture spotting in the Dadia forestMeanwhile, we have plenty of time to watch the vultures. There are binoculars that are stored here and we have a nice view of the eating vultures. But they are still so far away from us that we can not really take sharp pictures. A relaxing trip in the bus brings us back to the visitor center where we drink coffee. Oh, my muscles regret this walk and I'm glad I can sit for a while!
Old tomb along the Turkish border Old tomb along the Turkish borderThen we set off again, going further north. Along the road we encounter an overgrown prehistoric tomb. A roof has been built above and there is a sign 'old tomb', but otherwise it is left to its fate. There are of course so many historical sites in this country that they probably can not take care of all of them. But this tomb is very unprotected, except for the roof.
At the border between Greece and Turkey At the border between Greece and TurkeyFirst we drive to Soufli where there is an interesting silk museum and then further, more and more to the north and the east. Occasionally we drive close to the Turkish border but we also want to see a real border crossing. Not that we can go over it because you still need a visa for Turkey even though they want to abolish it very quickly for EU-citizens. At Kastanies we stop almost right before customs and refuel at the barrier. Occasionally a car drives across the border and I secretly take a picture through the windshield of the car.
No man's land between Greece and BulgariaThen we head west, first along the border with Turkey, then along the border with Bulgaria. At the border station of Ormenio we want to get to the other site, to Bulgaria, but the customs officer reminds us that we can not take our rental car out of the country. We knew that too, but we could always try. But it is only for a short while, we are still trying. But no, the car has to be parked on the side and we walk across the border. Until halfway no man's land, because to the Bulgarian customs post it is a few kilometers walk and we do not feel like going so far, it is too warm. So, we have not been officially in Bulgaria.
Chapel in the neighborhood of OrmenioAlong the border with Bulgaria we now go south again through all kinds of small villages with centers where the men sit at the tables at the cafes. And on the land we see the women still at work. How unfairly divided it is at times.
On the roads we see dead snakes very often and we also regularly see them crossing the road. Once Teije can not avoid a snake and in his rear-view mirror he sees how the snake is crushed. I'm glad I did not see that.
It is early in the evening when we are back at our hotel where we have something to eat. But then I quickly go inside because the mosquitoes find me too delicious.


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