“A now-iconic image… the MV Panagiotis… blown off course during adverse weather in October 1980… sitting pretty here ever since in the middle of a secluded white-sand beach and surrounded by towering white limestone cliffs… it is beyond dazzling, easily one of the most picture-perfect scenes I’ve ever pointed a (zoom) lens at.”
Image || The rusting MV Panagiotis in Navago/Shipwreck Bay, Zákynthos. May 5, 2017.
The lights were on but Budget Car Rental in Zákynthos Town, who I had a confirmed booking with, weren’t open when I dropped by this afternoon after disembarking the latest Greek ferry, this one from Kyllini, an hour on the ferry across the Ionian Sea on the Greek Peloponnesian Peninsula. I wasn’t late, arriving exactly as scheduled. Inexplicably closed (a Greek siesta, maybe), there wasn’t even a ‘We Couldn’t be Bothered’ or equivalent sign on the window to explain their absence.
dMb Country Overview - Greece
Region – Southeastern Europe/The Balkans (dMb tag: The Balkans). Capital – Athens. Population – 10.8 million. Official Language – Greek. Currency – Euro (€) GDP (nominal) per capita – US$21,000 Political System – Unitary parliamentary republic. EU Member? – Yes (10th member joined January 1981). UN Member? – Yes (founding member joined October 1945). G20 Member? – No. Size – 132,000 km² (Europe’s 15th largest country is approximately half the size of Ecuador, twice the size of Sri Lanka, and roughly the same size as the US southern states of Alabama and Louisiana. Topography – A mountainous interior (80% of Greece is mountainous), a long and convoluted coastline, and hundreds of offshore islands. Independence – 1830 from the Ottoman Empire following 1821 to 1830 Greek War of Independence. Brief History – From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as poleis (singular polis), which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea. Philip of Macedon united most of the Greek mainland in the fourth century BC, with his son Alexander the Great rapidly conquering much of the ancient world, from the eastern Mediterranean to India. Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming an integral part of the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire, which adopted the Greek language and culture. The Greek Orthodox Church, which emerged in the first century AD, helped shape modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox World. After falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, Greece emerged as a modern nation state in 1830 following a war of independence. UNESCO World Heritage sites – 18. Tourism Catchphrase/Slogan – All Time Classic. Famous For – Endless coastline and beaches; shipping; democracy (born here); a classical and hallowed past; ouzo; sun-drenched islands; Alexander the Great; the Olympics; being the cradle of Western civilisation; food (tzatziki, feta, souvlaki, moussakas, yogurt, grapes, olives and olive oil); economic collapse & austerity.
Highlights – Cyclades island-hopping and the remnants of all that ancient history (Greece boasts four millennia of sun-bleached ruins, artefacts, and architecture). Greece Titbits – At nearly 14,000 km (8,500 miles), Greece has the 11th longest coastline in the world; Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilisation, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, Western drama, and the Olympic Games (the country’s rich historical legacy is reflected in part by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as of 2017); the Greek economy is the largest in the region with an economy larger than all other Balkan countries combined, this despite its well-documented economic battering and subsequent austerity measures.
Visits – 2 (May 2008 and April/May 2017). Where I Went/What I Saw – Thessaloniki; The Cyclades (Santoríni, Paros, Mykonos, Delos, Tinos); Zakynthos/Zante; Olympia; Sparta; Mystras; Athens.
Driving 40 kilometres from Zákynthos Town across the interior of the 400 km² mountainous island – from the southeast to the northwest – got me to the lofty heights of the cliffs overlooking now-iconic and picture-perfect Navagio Bay with its inviting teal waters, its powerdy white-sand beach, and its famous resident shipwreck (‘navagio’ in Greek).
A now-iconic image, you’ll invariably find in every Greek tourism brochure, not to mention all over social media, lesser quality depictions as you’ll see here of Navagio Bay and its rusting MV Panagiotis. Rumour has it the Panagiotis, built in Scotland in 1937, was a smuggling vessel being pursued by the Greek Navy when it was blown off course during adverse weather in October 1980 (Navagio Bay is also known as Smugglers Bay/Cove). Sitting pretty here ever since in the middle of a secluded white-sand beach and surrounded by towering white limestone cliffs (it’s the sunlight reflecting off of those same cliffs which helps to give the crystal-clear water of the bay an almost neon glow at certain times of day, or around about when I was here in late afternoon – these images were captured approaching 18:00), the setting really is quite the picture. The scene – a bird’s eye view of which is afforded to all from the precarious clifftop overlooks high, very high, above the cove – lives up to all the hype; it is beyond dazzling, easily one of the most picture-perfect scenes I’ve ever pointed a (zoom) lens at.
Signing Off | The Complete Zákynthos Gallery