Lonely Planet describes Ioannina this way: ” …fast becoming one of Greece’s most happening cities….a bustling commercial and cultural center…set on placid Lake Pamvotis, Ioannina has an idyllic setting and an evocative old quarter…the city is becoming a real treat for epicureans…”
Don’t believe the hype.
I became ill (headache, nausea) on the bus from Metsovo and was forced to make a pit stop in Ioannina. The Lonely planet description sounded pretty good, so…
These photographs represent my lasting impression of Ioannina. The lake in the background–described as placid–seemed more like a stagnant, brackish, green, amoeba-ridden backwater to me.
Discarded Amstel cans add pretty accents to the tableau
Poor Ioannina has been defending itself from attacks since the 6th century, so this is where mine will end.
This reminds me of two different descriptions I read of the Omonia neighborhood in Athens, where I stayed my first few days in Greece:
From Lonely Planet: “…despite efforts to tart it up, (Omonia) is still seedy. The square has become a popular meeting point for the city’s undesirable elements….The area to the northwest of Omonia probably rates as the sleaziest part of Athens…notorious for prostitutes and addicts.”
From National Geographic Traveler: “…there are busy cafes where you can soak up the real Athens atmosphere. And as a landmark for negotiating the city, Omonia can’t be beat….If Syntagma is the European face of Athens, then Omonia is quite definitely the Balkan/Middle Eastern face. It is loud and bustling, full of traders and cheap goods, and emphatically full of life…. At night (Omonia) becomes Athens equivalent of an older Times Square or London’s Soho.”
This fascinates me because I believe that both summaries were a sincere assessment of the reviewers’ experiences of Omonia. How little or how much, I wonder, was needed to sway an opinion this way or that? Did the National Geographic reviewer fall in love in Omonia? Did the Lonely Planet writer get swindled? Was my opinion of Ioannina influenced by my lack of Dramamine, or was it built into my plumbing and wiring?
I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve never understood how anyone couldn’t love Venice, my favorite city. It’s unfathomable to me not to be giddy over the jewel in the crown, the dazzling collection of bounty from countless other empires, the Bellini Madonnas, the Piazza San Marco at midnight, the beautiful floating dream in which you get to walk on water. How? I’ll never understand it, and that’s the crux of it isn’t it?
Thomas Wolfe went on and on about how we can never truly know our brother, and never truly be known by another human being. But today I feel like if we could only understand why Omonia or Ioannina appeal to some and not to others, we might be able to solve all the world’s problems.
Going out for gelato now…
© 2009 – 2011, Ithaka Bound. All rights reserved. Text and images copyright protected.