19th June 2006
We woke up early yet again and it was a pleasure not to have to pack up hurriedly as I had been doing every other morning. I went and ate a nice breakfast and then got back on the bus. We were off to the Prehistoric settlement of Kastoria.
This settlement is 7000 years old and was found partly in the lake. We visited the small museum of prehistoric artefacts and then made our way to the lake side reconstruction. We walked on wooded poles mashed into the ground which soon became a bridge. We could hear some strange noises which we all started laughing at and then we peered over the side of the bridge to find that it was a frog making this noise. We entered the reconstructed houses and viewed the beds with animal hide used as blankets, the small pots and primitive weapons really brought it home as to how these people must have lived. Some of the original posts had been left in situ and were still poking out of the lake, and we speculated on why the settlement was half in the lake, predators were the leading theory, which again brought home the dangers of prehistoric life.
We got back on the bus and headed for the modern town of Kastoria built around this beautiful lake. As the bus drove there, under the arch of the trees, its wheels were almost in the lake and the trees above it scraped on the roof. Before we entered the town our driver wanted to show us his favourite little church which was built in the 11th Century Byzantine period.
It was indeed a small church but very old and well revered. Even though I did not have to cover my shoulders for this one, I still did out of respect. This church had its icons almost destroyed by the occupying Turks, but was still very beautiful, and again I lit a candle for those at home whom I missed and thought about.
We got back on the bus and thanked our driver Vasilis for taking us to his own church and then drove into the town of Kastoria. When I saw it, no words could describe how beautiful and picturesque this town was. The town, a sea of white houses with red rooves, seemed to hug the sky, built on the slope of the mountains that ran down and ended in a beautiful lake, which reflected the land’s scenery in a crystal-clear mirror image. We were given two hours free time to explore the town, which we all though was too much considering it was siesta time and nearly everything was closed. I charged off the bus, with no fear straight into the town, I was fast getting the reputation of the adventurer of the group.
I went off for a while exploring, I was in desperate need of some more Euros as the hotel at Naossa seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and there was no ATM for miles. I found one and did a little exploring before meeting up with three of my tour mates including Bruce and going for lunch at a nice pizza place by the lake. We ate our rather oily pizza, (I think the Greeks put Olive Oil on everything) and admired the scenery. Bruce told me about Turkey which he had already visited, and I listened intently. Kastoria seemed to be like a holiday place for the Greeks, like a seaside town in England or the Gold Coast in Australia. There were lots of chic restaurants and clubs pumping out loud dance music, this was also one of the centres for fur production and I went and had a look at some of the shops which sold it. It was a very hot and dusty place, despite its outer beauty. We then went back to the bus and headed for Edessa and its grand waterfalls.