In Northern Greece Out of Season
I have been to Kavala a few times before. But every time I was passing by without considering it enough interesting to stay for a while and visit its centre. As some of you probably read in the past, I am not a big fan of Greece. But it looks this is about to change.
The best part of my short trip to Kavala was that it was the off-season. Like that, I could enjoy its provincial atmosphere fully and without the noise of the summer crowds. The sea was still cold to swim but the air was warm almost like in June. The sun was strong and it was necessary to have a hat to protect your face from sunburn.
The reason why I went to Kavala was to do some photo shoots for my travel inspired t-shirt collection. You can see it on Etsy. The weather was more than perfect and the execution of this task easy because of the stunning views around.
Kavala has several faces. One, and most attractive, is the multicultural old town. The streets are narrow and their cobbled pavement makes you stumble and to look constantly at your feet. But there is so much to see! There are houses in different styles – Mediterranean, typically Greek or Ottoman, and many colors. The gardens are small and the orange trees full of fruits. A man wonders how these trees survive among heaped one upon the other buildings and even succeed to give fruit!
People seemed to me, with few exceptions, kind and more cooperative than in other parts of Greece. Young people were lounging quietly on the café terraces, drinking their frappes. Restaurants were full at lunchtime, mostly with tourists from neighboring Bulgaria and Turkey, but not only. The Greeks also had come out with friends or families to enjoy a nice Sunday.
The port looked deserted. And still. A ferryboat, waiting for passengers, stood at the end of the harbor as the sole guardian of the sea. His enormous belly was open, waiting for the arrival of cars that would be transported to some beautiful Greek island. When I saw the boat, I began to dream. Many times I have crossed the sea between Greece and Italy by ferry, and every time the journey seemed more exotic and beautiful. I guess the huge open water makes the human beings wanderers.
Kavala is a white city. When you look at it from above, before you enter its streets, you are amazed how even here, so far from the most famous with their whiteness southern Greek islands, buildings are mostly white. It is far north and you find the same color combination – white and blue; the white of the houses and the blue of the sea. With the exception of the old town, the buildings are white and it is completely understandable why. Imagine what heat hits the town in summer if in March was already 18 C!
The most surprising, however, were the sunsets. From the first evening, as soon as we arrived at our hotel room with sea view, I was amazed by the pink and purple hues of the sunset. I did not expect such an exotic combination on these latitudes, so close to home.
A Brief History of Kavala
Kavala was founded in the time of Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. At that time (7th century BC) the town was known as Neapolis and was the main seaport of the important city of Philippi.
In 1391 Kavala was destroyed and then occupied for a long period (up to 1913) by the Ottomans. Because of that, today some of the main tourist sites are connected with their presence here.
For me, as a Bulgarian, it is interesting also that this region was once Bulgarian. It was a long time ago but I have met people that still speak Bulgarian; an old version of Bulgarian language that we, the ‘modern’ Bulgarians can only read in the old books. The whole region of the Balkans is like a cauldron with different ethnicities and cultures. Sometimes is fun to be part of it, sometimes absolutely not. It depends on which historical moment you live.
Old town: it is called Panagia and inside or around you will find the most interesting tourist sites – the fortress, Imaret Mosque, the old lighthouse, Mohamed Ali house and Hussein Bey Mosque that is also known as the “Music Mosque”.
TIP: From the fortress tower you will have the best panorama for amazing photos of the town.
Near Panagia is the Kamares, the aqueduct. Its body is so connate to the modern town that you will see houses built under its hundreds of years old arches.
Interesting for you could be also the Halil Bey Complex, Monument to St. Paul, Archeological Museum, Tobacco Museum, the neoclassical mansion of Kyprou Street and Kapnergati Square. Not to forget the port, where wanderlust dreams are easily born.
Have you been to Greece out of season?
More from the ‘Out of the Beaten Path’ post series: