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From Zacharo via Mesolongi to Ioannina


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Greece, summer 2018, from Zacharo via Mesolongi to Ioannina

Today we leave the Peloponnese, but first we pass Katakolo to collect our olive wood items, a box full. Because we may want to buy more later, we get a big discount but the VAT invoice we get is not quite right. Well, we'll find that out later. The owner of the store tells us that we have to get out of the village quickly because the shopkeepers will close the village as a protest against a monopolist who tries to trap all tourists who come from the cruise boats to sell them trips that will not benefit the local economy. So no terrace here for us and we immediately drive north where we cross the Gulf of Corinth over the modern toll bridge near Patras.
Statue in Mesolongi Steam locomotive in MesolongiWe only decided yesterday that we are going to Ioannina for 2 more nights but on the way we see the sign for Mesolongi and we can not remember ever being there. The city is best known for the heroic resistance against the Turks in the war of independence. It was also the place where many philhellenes went, European supporters of the Greek cause. For example, the famous English poet Lord Byron arrived here in 1824 to fight, but he died of malaria a few months later.
Small chapel in Mesolongi Monument to Lord Byron in MesolongiThe city was besieged for years and when the inhabitants were promised a free retreat in 1826, most of the population was slaughtered. Another part of the defenders blew themselves up with the arsenal where ammunition and weapons were stored to avoid being captured. Especially for the many heroes from this war who died here, the Park of Heroes was founded. There is also a memorial for Lord Byron and it seems that his heart is buried beneath it.
Park of the heroes, Mesolongi Memorial stone in the Park of the Heroes, MesolongiIt is a spacious park with tall palm trees, pine trees and eucalyptus bushes that was already opened in 1830 and is full of memorials and tombs of resistance fighters against the Turks. The war of independence (1821-1827) against the Ottoman Empire may still be more alive in Greece than the world wars of the 20th century and the civil war of 1946-1949. It is as if it was burned in the Greek soul as a symbol for freedom and it is still spoken and sung about a lot.
Monument in the Park of the Heroes, Mesolongi Monument in the Park of the Heroes, MesolongiThe monuments are all very different and also impressive. And they are not only for known resistance fighters but also for anonymous victims.
Every year on Palm Sunday, a parade is held to commemorate the massacre that took place here in 1826.
Even though we are not such advocates of war, this park and the history behind it, does make a big impression on us. It is a pity that freedom is not a natural state of being, but a privilege that often needs to be fought for.
After walking through the park, we drive through the city for a while, but we do not find it very special and we drive into the mountains of the mainland.
Street in Ioannina The streets are wet in IoanninaWe drive to Ioannina where it starts to rain when we enter into the city. We have been here before but we still have to search before we are in the center along the lake. Ioannina was in the 18th century the capital of a large area, Epirus, ruled by Ali Pasha who proclaimed himself sultan until the Turks got enough of him and executed him. After a short break on a terrace, we walk through the wet streets in search of a bookstore so that Teije can buy some Greek books.
And then to the apartment of Zisis Studios that we find effortlessly, close to the Perama caves. We have stayed here twice before and liked it very much. We are again enthusiastically welcomed by the owner who recognizes us immediately but knows almost no English. Chrissi, the owner with whom I have contact via facebook, speaks English fluently (she grew up in Australia) but she has a visitor so she cannot meet us. Luckily Teije is a lot better in Greek than last year.
And our favorite restaurant is still close by, there we go for dinner, although we get way too much. i think we have gained quite a few kilos this holiday because of all that tasty food.

 


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