I know it’s been a while since I blogged here, but I’ll fill you in on why another time.
I’m on my travels again and this always inspires me to tell you about these incredible places I get to visit.
I’m in Parga, which you can see from any Greek tourist board photos is incredibly pretty. But those photos never seem real, do they? How can the sea be that colour, the houses that pretty and the hillsides so green. Parga doesn’t disappoint, it delights and the photos don’t do it justice. The sea isn’t just that blue, it’s bluer. In fact, it’s an ever-changing palette of blue-turquoise-green and every spectrum in between.
I love the quaint atmosphere of the picturesque harbourfront and the random collection of stylish cafes, and the ones that haven’t had a facelift or a menu change since the 80’s. There is a beach here in the town and you can swim over to the churches on the little islets opposite, or lazily enjoy watching others do it. There is also a vast stretch of beach called Valtos on the other side which you can easily walk to if you find walking easy, but I’m guessing it’s more fun to take the water taxi.
My absolute favourite bit though has to be the fortress. It has a real magical air about it, quite difficult to put into words. As you sit up there it’s an oasis of calm. As I write this I’m looking down onto the three benches which enjoy a beautiful vantage point. There is a couple on each bench and each person is completely lost in their own thoughts, slightly turning their heads from time to time to take in a different angle. It’s incredibly peaceful with only a distant background of birds chatter and the gentle roll of the sea below. But the absolute best part is freely exploring the fortress itself.
At the entrance, a sign welcomes you to ‘explore the citadel at your own risk’. And that’s it’s joy, the complete freedom to wander the old stone paths or trails, stumbling across parts of ruined buildings and sometimes stumbling into them. The natural wilderness is incredible, foliage and trees provide a habitat for birds and butterflies and that’s about all I came across during my forage into the ruins. I’m not sure if it’s the freedom to explore or the wild beauty, but the place has a really peaceful, and quite wonderful atmosphere. Apart from the stone paths, there is no organized routes, no signage, no roped off areas, just me accompanied by my sense of adventure. I feel like I’ve stumbled across this incredible ruin like I’m the first person to see it after hundreds of years.
The fortress is Venetian, but then fell to the Ottomans, then back into the hands of the Venetians before the British felt they had the right to sell the whole of the Ioannina province to Ali Pasha, who did some pretty terrible things (read my post here about the dancing women) so there must have been a fair amount of bloodshed and violence up here, I’ve been to other places with similar violent histories and sometimes that seems to be so ingrained into the stone that it’s still tangible. But I don’t feel that here, just a soothing sense of peace and tranquillity. And I wonder if all the incredible trees and plants have somehow cleansed the area and made it serene? Who knows. But I can tell you that it’s worth exploring and spending a few minutes sitting on one of those benches and feeling happy to be alive.