Cart 0
If you don’t step one of your feet out of the Earth, you will never stand with both of them on it.
— Odysseas Elitis

Introspection

The last three years we have been roaming around Greece looking (unknowingly) for a more idealistic life. We gave up our 5-9 jobs and started travelling to various hidden Greek sites. During these pilgrimages, we recognized how externally-dependent our happiness was. 

Back in November, 2016 we were driving from Athens to the woods, while listening to an interview with Barack Obama during his trip to Greece. Then it all came to a head. We can’t do this episode justice in a few lines, but our biggest takeaway was the former US President talking about two states of being - beautiful ones and suffering ones - and it's up to us to choose which state we live in right now. We've all probably heard something like this a thousand times and it is true. These words blatantly found us travelling to the final frontier of North Greece – Prespes (Greek: Πρέσπες), the westernmost fringe of the Macedonian empire of Alexander the Great. Home of Eurasian wolves, brown bears and elephant beans; an uncharted territory with stagnant - sometimes murky- waters. As our very own internal exploration till we fulfill our state of being.

Prespes are laid in the heart of the Balkans at the Northwest corner of Greece, but for the Greeks, the very word "Prespes" has a meaning far beyond a geographical location. Endless exiles, unsalted lakes, bitter winter, take your pick. The whole region reminds you of the seductive tranquility of Mount Athos, commonly known as the "Holy Mountain" in our homeland. Every aspect of this state continuously exercises its faith in the simplicity of everyday life. 

However, if you are getting ready for another hobo trip, you are mistaken. Prespian people and animals, history and architecture, mountains and lakes have come to other agreements. In a landscape of preposterous beauty, you are forced to learn further about yourself and to change variously.

www.stemajourneys.com-prespes-greece-498.jpg
www.stemajourneys.com-prespes-greece-59.jpg

All photography provided by SteMajourneys

Redifining reality

 

This was a trip with many loose ends, but there was a desire to tie them up.

Our relation to Prespes has evolved into a relationship by now. We don’t know yet if it chose us or if we chose it. Nonetheless, we understand that when we visit a place we revisit ourselves.

Prespes get under your skin. Inside your nostrils,  behind your ears,  between every fold of your suitcase. No matter how much we shook off our clothes or scrubbed our skin, we found traces of the distinctive smoke for days after we left - a souvenir that reappears when you least expect it, bringing with it a smell of memories. 

We gradually loved everything about the place; its eccentricity and the sense of community it fostered, such a fortuitous match of destination. We loved the bizarreness of our neighbors who stepped into our doorstep randomly, offering us fresh eggs or whistling an entire conversation with each other. Watching fall’s first snow swivel on our long walk home, standing still (and unarmed with our cameras) as the bear and her calf bolted into the tree.  Waking to the barking owls and testing regularly our orientation in the dark.

It isn’t just the Macedonian scenery. Thousand-year-old memories and monuments veiled in myths and legends form the heart of this hinterland. 

Balkans can be an intense place to live. 
 
In travel, there are repetitive patterns. We nowadays often think of the evening sun with a warrior stripe around its middle that sank in the Prespa Lakes. A picture that is something like travel: nothing solid you can hold in your hand. 
 



www.stemajourneys.com-prespes-greece-1051.jpg