Having left Papigo behind, soon after the less than an hour drive past Aristi, I was faced with one of the most surprising viewpoints; Aristi village at my feet, nestled against the green hills and, in the distance, the fertile valley of Aoos river could be seen covered in mist. The sky was starting to display early morning colours that can only be found lingering in every landscape photographer's dreams; a surprise view indeed! The location was bookmarked in the sat nav and also added into the itinerary for the tour.
After a fairly short drive I arrived at the village of Kipoi. I really should have stayed in this small village for a couple of nights on my way from Papigo to Meteora, but will undoubtedly do so during my photo tour in the area next year. The reason for this stay was to photograph two extraordinary arched bridges under the soft early morning light. I was extremely thrilled with their location and appearance, but the harsh daylight did not allow for inspiring photography. I regret not having predicted this, but there is always next time.
The scenic route decision
There were two ways to get to Meteora from the village; join the main road and face a boring drive, or take the scenic but slow route and risk driving slowly, arriving late and missing sunset at Meteora. The decision was made and the scenic route was chosen. Oh my world, was I glad to have chosen the scenic route. For most of the way I kept thinking that I must have crossed the borders and be driving through a different country. The Autumn colours were breathtakingly out of this world; yellow, orange, red, purple and green colours that filled the senses with natural instincts and relaxing feelings. I was constantly asking myself why I went all the way to Canada the previous month when I could have witnessed the autumn splendour in my country of birth. I had to keep reminding myself of my location. The term ‘scenic route’ was an understatement if you ask me.
The grand view
At some point I had to join the new motorway that connects the city of Thessaloniki with the northwest coast of Greece, but only for a few miles. After this I was on my way to Meteora. A couple of stops were necessary for stretching the body after this long drive. One of these stops at a lay-by revealed a really good surprise; a handful of small trees by the side of the road had been burnt recently, their black bark against the distant and haze covered hills and the diagonal shafts of sunlight provided plenty to view and photograph. Time was running out though and I soon had to be on the road again.
Within 30 minutes I was leaving the long and winding road behind me. Ahead, the tall figures of the rocky outcrops of Meteora started playing tricks under the hazy horizon. A sudden glimpse on the right side of the road revealed a small chapel sitting proudly on top of a hill with the multi-coloured foliage of Autumn in its side. I am definitely coming back here for a photo shoot, I thought.
Within minutes the next few tarmac bends gave way to a small straight stretch that left me speechless. Here they are, right in front of me, the timeless towers of faith. The next three days would reveal a series of amazing surprises and inspiring photography with no end.