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Posts tagged ‘mountains’

A Day Trip to Jiufen, Taiwan

Taipei has plenty to offer travelers but if you need a little change of scenery, it’s easy to get out of the city.  I went on a day trip to the north coast to an area known as the Bitou Cape and the village of Jiufen (or Chiufen).  Here I found gorgeous rock formations, a mining town architecturally planted in another era, a beautiful, hidden temple, and stunning views of the coastline.

Beautiful Northern Taiwan coastline

Beautiful Northern Taiwan coastline

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Byzantine Fort City of Mystras, Greece

Monestary of Pantanassa, Mystras

Looking up from the ruined domestic buildings of the lower city, you can see the active Monastery of Pantanassa further up the mountain in the the Upper City of Mystras, Greece.

So many European cities are jumbles of art and architecture, a testament to the evolving history of the urban area.  Beneath these modern cities are fractured layers of a Renaissance, Gothic and Ancient past, but you have to try hard to imagine how things looked during any one period.  It’s truly amazing to find a city that retains its character from one specific age.  The abandoned Byzantine city of Mystras in the mountains just above Sparta in the Southern Peloponnese, is one such frozen city.  You can walk through the ruined streets and largely intact religious buildings of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and be right back in 1350 AD.

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Best Mountain Drive in Mainland Greece

The Greek mainland is arid and mountainous.   In a matter of minutes you can go from sea level to impressive elevations as we found out driving to Delphi from the coast.  I have always love the view down from the top of a mountain and there which quite a few contenders in Greece.  By far the most scenic stretch of road popped up as we traveled from Corinth to Olympia.

Best road in Greece

Specifically, I am talking about the mountain road from Levidi to Dafni as shown in the map below.  The high point (literally and proverbially) was the beautiful village of and the stunning valley views from around Langadia, or Lagkadia depending on spelling.

Most scenic drive in Greece

From Levidi, the road quickly climbed through slow switch-backs and hairpin turns.  The forest was dense but every so often there would a break to see the incredible drop into the valley and the smoothed, tightly packed range of mountains.  Pull offs to enjoy the view were scarce and small in size so you’ll likely need to back track if you miss one, but it’s worth it.  In tiny villages that clung to the mountain side, local life spilled out somewhat into the road making us slow down and wave as we passed through.

Hazy sunset over Langadia with miles of switch-back roads to go (Photo: DaydreamTourist)

Langadia

Langadia main square (Photo: Wikipedia)

While the mountain pass was beautiful, blind turns can be a little scary for any driver.  We set out late from Corinth and so it was 8pm when we reached Olympia and definitely dark.  I would try to get out of the mountains by dusk for best visibility.  Aside from the main national highway, Greek roads are decorated with memorials shaped like little Orthodox churches.  I presume these are to remember auto deaths; they serve as sad and constant reminders to drive safely. Luckily this stretch of mountain road is so beautiful you’ll want to drive slow just to make sure you can take it all in.

Roadside memorial in Greece

A church-shaped roadside memorials on a particularly tight curve in the road (Photo: DaydreamTourist)

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