Greece 2014


An abandoned hut at Kosmas.

Greece as a great destination was top of my wish list for some time. In what other country can be seen more than sixty orchid species in combination with countless historical archaeological sites in a short time? Thus, I set out for a two-week Greece trip despite the euro crisis and the threat of Grexit. In baggage were the GPS of over 100 locations.

After more than 3,100 km with my rental car within two weeks, there was a sizable balance: 60 species, 3 orchid albinos, 8 Ophrys hybrids and 2 Ophrys lusi. A small selection of 567 orchid photos I have posted on my site.

A perfect start (04/05/2014)

Phrygana near Markopoulo.

With spring-like 23 °C I deplane in Athens and rent me a Hyundai i10, which will not let me down during my trip.

Site at the Lake Stymphalian.

Now I’m on the road for the first orchid location, which is just 8 km south of the airport located near Markopoulo. In the phrygana I find nine species (Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Ophrys leucadica, Ophrys melena, Ophrys oestrifera, Ophrys phrygana, Ophrys speculum, Ophrys sicula, Orchis fragrans and Orchis quadripunctata) – not a bad start.

Then a longer ride is due, I will start my Greece trip in the Peloponnese. In the afternoon I reach there then at Kesari the first location. Idyllically located on the shores of Stymphalian lake I find among hundreds Crown Anemones (Anemone coronaria) seven orchid species (Aceras anthrophorum, Ophrys aesculapii, Ophrys leucophthalma, Ophrys lutea, Ophrys phrygana, Ophrys sicula and Ophrys spruneri), as well as a special titbit a lusus of Ophrys aesculapii. What a start.

Near Galatas I am looking for Ophrys mycenensis. The meadows here are relatively rich in nutrients and the only orchid I find is Ophrys speculum. In Argos I look for a small pension and let end the evening at Greek food and wine, before I exhausted collapse into my bed.

Sites of historical importance (04/06/2014)

The Lion's Gate, the main entrance to the castle of the Upper Town.
Back of the Lion's Gate.

Argos is just a few kilometers away from the World Cultural Heritage Mycenae.

About 3,000 years ago Mycenae controlled, situated on a hill on the northern edge of the plain of Argos, the land route between the Isthmus of Corinth and the southern Peloponnese.

Mycenae achieved to be one of the most important historical cities of Greece and was eponym of the Mycenaean culture.

After visiting the new museum at the foot of the archaeological site, I look around at the opposite phrygana slopes, here are Ophrys argolia and two Ophrys mycenensis to find.

View from the Museum of Mycenae.

I continue my journey to the south. Near Katsimpalis is a spacious terrain located. The forest is interrupted by meadows. Here I find a total of 11 orchid species (Ophrys aesculapii, Ophrys attica, Ophrys lutea, Ophrys phryganae, Ophrys reinholdii, Ophrys sicula, Ophrys spruneri, Orchis italica, Orchis simia, Serapias bergonii, Serapias lingua).

Phrygana at Mykene.

During the day increasingly approaches a low pressure area over the Peloponnese. I hope to reach the next location before starting raining. Unfortunately, my timing is only moderate. Just in the sunshine I reach a distinctive landscape at Manthirea. Here orchid-rich, terraced pasture slopes interspersed with cypress trees extend. After seven species (Ophrys calocaerina, Ophrys cinereophila, Ophrys leucadica, Ophrys lutea, Ophrys sicula, Ophrys speculum and Ophrys spruneri) I have to cancel my search because of a violently on me pelting thunderstorm and save me soaking wet in the car.

Italian gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus).

In the pouring rain I continue. I still want to achieve Kosmas today. This mountain village in Arcadia also has a historical significance for German and plays a role in the current reparations of the Greeks. During the Second World War the village was destroyed by German Wehrmacht troops as part of a reprisal.

But on the way I stop at two other locations. First, in an oak forest at Karies. Here are some yellow specimens of Dactylorhiza romana to find. Unfortunately, for Orchis mascula ssp.pinetorum it is still too early.

In the late afternoon I stop at Agios Christoforos on the east coast in search of Ophrys oestrifera ssp. stavri. But just at the point where a small group should be located, is now a large gravel pile to find at the roadside. Also in the surrounding meadows this new species is not to be found. After all, I find some Anacamptis pyramidalis, hereunder some hypochromic copies.

Surprises in the downy oak forest (04/07/2014)

Slender fritillary (Fritillaria messanensis).

From Kosmas I initially drive a few kilometers to the north to visit there two sites where I drove past at dawn yesterday. First I stop at a right-hand bend. Here grow in sparse pine forest Ophrys hebes, Orchis quadripunctata and Orchis pauciflora.

Grape hyacinth.

Several kilometers later, I turn right in a sprawling valley. The gravel road reaches after a few kilometers a botanically highly interesting area. In addition to dozens of Ophrys mycenensis and Orchis quadripunctata I find here some Ophrys hebes and the wild Orphanides tulip (Tulipa orphanidea), the Messina-Lily (Fritillaria messanensis), as well as thousands of grape hyacinths.

After this little detour I drive south towards Geraki. First I stop at a site at which Ophrys bremifera is expected to grow – a difficult species of uncertain nomenclature and unclear distribution area. Ultimately, I determine the found plants as Ophrys mycenensis.

Near Kremasti I look around in an open, dry phrygana. When whistling wind, I find the following six species: Ophrys cretica, Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Ophrys leucadica, Ophrys ulyssea, Orchis pauciflora and Orchis quadripunctata.

Phrygana near Lambokambos.

Now I go on to Lambokambos. On both sides of the road an open landscape with scattered trees stretches for several kilometers. The meadows are gorgeous. Among thousands of orchids every few dozen meters a new species is to be found. Unfortunately, it’s pouring rain, so I stopp soaking wet the search ultimately after 10 species (Barlia robertina, Ophrys aesculapii, Ophrys attica, Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Ophrys reinholdii, Ophrys sicula, Ophrys ulyssea, Orchis italica, Orchis papilionacea ssp. messenica and Orchis quadripunctata).

Storm clouds over the beach near Monemvasia.

At lunch time I reach the extreme southeastern tip of the Peloponnese. I undertake the trip because of two special types of orchids. 2010 has been reported that in addition to Serapias orientalis ssp. moreana also the more bright- and lax-flowering Serapias orientalis ssp. orientalis is supposed to be found. Both species are south of Monemvasia not that rare and easy to distinguish in the field, of further Serapias species I find at the foot of the phrygana in the olive groves Serapias lingua and Serapias parviflora.

Phrygana near Monemvasia. Here grow 4 Serapias species.

After half an hour search, I’m lucky and find as a very big rarity a copy of Ophrys malvasiana, which is found only here.

The journey continues to the west. On the way I stop at a location near Gramousa. The phrygana at the field border is however totally trashy and nearly destroyed. Overall, I find in this biotope rest only a few Ophrys oestrifera, Ophrys phryganae, Ophrys sicula, Ophrys speculum, Ophrys ulyssea and Orchis italica.

Late in the afternoon I have almost reached Gythion, where I will spend the night. But first I want to visit a downy oak forest near Areopolis, where among others the rare Ophrys lacaena is supposed to happen.

A Greek colleague at 'work'.

The site is easy to find thanks to precise GPS data. Quickly I’m thrilled. In the loose downy oak forests with grassy understory I find huge copies of Ophrys argolica and Ophrys reinholdii, also some Serapias lingua. My joy is not clouded by the hordes mosquitoes that make in the steamy microclimate of the forest hunting for me. Only the desired Ophrys lacaena is pending.

Harborside of Gythion.

About a hundred meters further I meet to my great surprise behind a big downy oak a Greek orchids friend who just photographs a tall Ophrys.

But after a brief small talk I look at the ‚model‘ closer: a Ophrys lacaena! My heart beats faster. In the vicinity are some more copies between relatively classic Ophrys candica, so that I completely forget the mosquitoes.

I say goodbye to my Greek colleague and get like a crumb cake in my car. In Gythion I take a room with panoramic views of the harbor promenade and let finish this successful day with good Greek food with a glass of red wine.

Light and shadow (04/08/2014)

Bay of Mani, location of Ophrys oestrifera ssp. stavri.
Drooping star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans).

From Gythion I first drive a few kilometers to the south. In the bay of Mani I want to search Ophrys oestrifera ssp. stavri. The search ends in semi-disaster. For an hour I cross in bright sunshine thorny scrub and climb over felt two dozen stone walls before I find a little plant of this species. Running with sweat, I fight my way back up the mountain and take near the car pictures of some Anacamptis pyramidalis-albinos. A few days later I will find still dozens of Ophrys oestrifera ssp. stavri directly on the roadside. But fortunately I do not know this at that moment.

Now it’s on to the next adventure. Near Melissa should grow three copies of Limodorum trabutianum. Even during my travel arrangements it became clear to me that the specified coordinates can not vote. However, I am cautiously optimistic to find the location on the basis of the vague description. Admittedly hope dies last, but also this goes up in smoke after an hour of failed search.

Luckily I have another 80 sites on my list. So towards the west.

Spanish marigold (Anemone coronaria).
Tufted grape hyacinth (Muscari comosum).

In Ampelokipi my botanical heart beats faster. Enjoying a picturesque landscape with single cypresses in the hilly landscape, I find next to Ophrys argolica, Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Ophrys mammosa, Ophrys reinholdii, Ophrys sicula, Ophrys spruneri, Orchis fragrans and Serapias parviflora strikingly short-humped Ophrys oestrifera as well as the hybrids Ophrys argolica x ferrum-equinum and Ophrys argolica x ulyssea.

A little further, near Militsa, orchids wealth is equally magnificent. In the wet meadows I find Ophrys argolica, Ophrys attica, Ophrys bombyliflora, Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Ophrys lutea, Ophrys mammosa, Ophrys ulyssea and two hybrids Ophrys attica x bombyliflora. Late in the afternoon I drive to Olympia.

In the footsteps of Olympians (04/09/2014)

Philippeion (4th century BC).

Right after breakfast I visit the World Heritage Site Olympia, the sanctuary of Zeus in Elis, the northwest of the Peloponnese, and former host of the Ancient Olympic Games.


It is a warm and sunny spring morning on which I have this spacious area most widely for myself. Only gradually arrive in dribs and drabs the first school classes and animate the excavation site.

As I watch the students at their spontaneous initiated race in the ancient stadium, thoughts about the historical development of the Olympic Games cross my mind. Who would it even remotely considered at the beginning of the 7th century BC that this sporting event will ever develop into a multi-billion dollar global event.

Entrance to the stadium.

After this wonderful morning routine I go further north. In Kalavryta I want finally find Ophrys delphinensis. On the way I stop briefly on a small group Orchis provincialis.

Countryside south of Kalavryta.

Unfortunately, both sites of my list turn out to be extremely poor. In dense vegetation, I find, despite intensive search, only one Ophrys delphinensis. At the first site I find also some Ophrys lutea, Ophrys spruneri and Orchis italica, at the second each a single copy of Ophrys mammosa and Orchis italica.

I continue my drive to the west and use the in 2004 completed Rio-Antirrio bridge, a nearly 2,900 m long testimony of modern engineering to arrive the region Etoloakarnania.

Shortly before Kalavryta. In the background, the Greek mainland can be seen.

From Nafpaktos I drive to Lake Trichonida. On the way I stop at a slope, which is indeed poor in copies but rich in species. Here I find a small group of Anacamptis pyramidalis -albinos and a Ophrys spruneri-lusus, also Ophrys bombyliflora, Ophrys leucadica, Ophrys reinholdii, Ophrys spruneri, Orchis italica and Orchis provincialis.

A few kilometers further, I explore of hedges interspersed grassy terraces near Lithavounia. Unfortunately, the area is quite low in orchids. Of the here allegedly occurring species I find barely the half (Anacamptis pyramidalis, Ophrys lutea, Ophrys sicula, Ophrys mammosa and Orchis italica).

For now it is enough, I drive to Delphi, where I arrive at night.

A fantastic scenery (04/10/2014)

View on the amphitheater.

In the pouring rain I start the day with a visit of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Delphi, which was and is world famous for its oracle. Situated on about 700 m above sea level, the place has a fantastic location. Ancient Delphi is nestled in a semicircular crest of Parnassus and has a fantastic view over the valley of Pleistos River to the Gulf of Corinth.

The sun comes out.

Gradually clearing up the sky and the sun comes out. As at that moment the sun’s rays smile at the wet marble, small wafts of mist arise in the valley, the ancient Delphi exudes suddenly a mystical flair, that I can not escape me. I am very impressed by this place. Here the ancient Greeks showed a perfect site selection.

My current orchids search leads me in the southern foothills of Agrafa Mountains. Near Filothei I explore the meadows on both sides of a road intersection. Unfortunately, it’s raining again, so that I break after half an hour. Until then, I find Ophrys attica, Ophrys leochroma, Ophrys reinholdii, Ophrys spruneri, Orchis boryi and budding Serapias.

Even species-richer is a phrygana at Lakkomanteka. At sunshine I find in this Ophrys helenae, Ophrys lutea, Ophrys reinholdii, Ophrys sicula, Ophrys spruneri, Orchis italica and Orchis provincialis.

Delphi is at the foot of Parnassus, overlooking the valley of the River Pleistos.

Finally, I drive to Paleopirgos. Just outside the village Ophrys zeusii shall grow. Despite an intensive search, I can unfortunately not find this species. Likewise unsuccessfully runs the search before Perivolia. Again is from Ophrys zeusii no trace.

Treasury of the Athenians.

For the last location today I’m still a little early. Finally, this is more than 1,000 meters above sea level. An orchid meadow with about 250 specimens of the hybrid Orchis boryi x morio is to be located before Krioneri, in the proximity additionally Ophrys zeusii, Orchis pallens and Orchis spitzelii. The meadow is easy to find, but unfortunately confirme my worries. Up here the vegetation is not very far advanced, I see only each one blooming copy of Orchis boryi and Orchis morio, the hybrid is still budding.

Meanwhile, it is late in the afternoon. I decide to perceive the next accommodation option along the way. The GPS directs me through several abandoned mountain villages, once for 8 km on a gravel road through the forest, and then a devastating pass road, which one half has slipped towards the slope and on which other half again and again 1 m large boulders have be driven round. Since certainly two or three hours I saw no people. With each additional Serpentine rising concerns. Hopefully it goes well! Luckily I still have a half-full tank.

But it does not help. I’ll probably find an accommodation option only in Karpenisi. Unfortunately, the city is still 30 km away and the dusk is falling. To make matters worse rain begins now to fall that turns more and more into snow the darker it becomes. Darn it! On snow-covered roads I drive at walking pace on. What I would now give for winter tires and adaptive headlights! Late at night I arrive bathed in sweat at Karpenisi and check in at the first available hotel. I yearn only for something to eat and a bed …

The battle with the snow continues (04/11/2014)

Karpenisi veiled by mist.

After an eternity I wake up and strengthen me with a hearty breakfast. First, I want to drive around the Tymfristos Mountain Stock east. Along the road shall be grow Dactylorhiza sambucina and Orchis pallens, final destination is a site with Ophrys zeusii and the hybrids Orchis morio x papilionacea.

Summit of Tymfristos.

The shortest route leads over the summit of Tymfristos, a well-known Greek ski resort. The look glides over snow-covered slopes down to the valley of Karpenisi, which seems to be packed by rising fog patches in cotton wool. Gorgeous!

On the pass I drive through a tunnel at the other end and make a screeching halt. A 1.5-meter-high snow drifts is blocking my street. Here is no progress. So back into the tunnel. Unfortunately, I realize just now that the sloping street is because of ice as smooth as glass. Laboriously, with smoldering wheels the Hyundai struggles with the pace of a Greek tortoise back uphill in the saving tunnel. I’ve had enough gradually with snow in Greece! A driving round of Tymfristos summit would mean a detour of about 30 km, so that I rise up to the next location on my list.

Kremasta reservoir.

This is a deciduous forest near Agios Nikolaos, where numerous yellow and red Dactylorhiza romana bloom. In addition, I find some budding or sprouting Neotinea maculata, Platanthera chlorantha, Orchis mascula ssp. pinetorum and Orchis provincialis. A few hundred meters further up the road Ophrys grammica and Ophrys hebes. Again, there are budding Orchis provincialis.

Rainbow near Paliouri.

Now I want continue my further tour around Ioannina. That is first of all a few hours car ride. The route leads past on Kremasta as well as on Valanidoussa. In a switchback I find here besides three Ophrys ferrum-equinum x helenae, whose parent plants Ophrys ferrum-equinum and Ophrys helenae. In addition, grow here Ophrys reinholdii and Ophrys sicula.

During the further drive it is raining again. In the afternoon I arrive in Epirus and the sun comes out. A beautiful rainbow stands over a field near Paliouri. Under this, I find admittedly not gold, but Ophrys grammica and Orchis morio. A few kilometers away is an orchid rich, expansive area near Voutsaras. After I have found Ophrys bombyliflora, Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Ophrys grammica, Ophrys helenae, budding Orchis italica, Orchis morio and Orchis papilionacea ssp. heroica I have to cancel my search at the onset of dusk and to look for a hotel in Ioannina.

The Pindos: snowcapped peaks and wild canyons (04/12/2014)

The Pindos at Geroplátanos.

Today I explore the Epirus north of Ioannina. The first stop I make on a slope near Geroplátanos. Here I find Ophrys helenae, Ophrys leucophthalma, the hybrid Ophrys helenae x leucophthalma and some Orchis quadripunctata.

The Pindos at Geroplátanos.

A few kilometers further I stop at an intersection. In addition to some Orchis quadripunctata and Orchis simia, I find a difficult to class ’spider‘ (perhaps Ophrys hansreinhardii or Ophrys epirotica). Before I can deal with this and the Delforge, I am once again chased by a horde of dogs. Too bad.

Now I continue to the northeast. The road winds its way through an attractive landscape: Passing wild gorges and on every occasion with view of snow-capped peaks. Near Trapeza I visit some sites where Ophrys mammosa ssp. ustulata is set to grow. At two locations I make a find. Unfortunately, the plants are already almost finished flowering. As other orchids I find sporadically flowering Orchis simia and budding Orchis purpurea.

The last few days have yet knackered me something so that I break my orchids search early in the afternoon and return to Ioannina.

About castles in the air (04/13/2014)

The Meteora monasteries were built on the sediments of a former lake.
For the monastery every available square meter has been exploited on the rock.

Today I visit one of the geographically and culturally the most impressive regions of Greece: The Meteora monasteries east of the Pindos mountain range near the town of Kalambaka in Thessaly. These include not only the World Heritage Site, you could also conceive them nearly as 8th wonder of the world.

The rugged region with sharp single towering spiers would be an ideal venue for action-packed thrillers. The scene is completed by several monasteries on the crags, which as a custom cap at their disposal area nestle.

This geological formation arose 10 million years ago. At that time, the sediments of a freshwater lake were uplifted by plate tectonics. The same tectonics pushed the surrounding mountain ranges together something that resulted in a significant effect of pressure on the sediments and thus to their compaction. Likewise, it came through the forces acting to fissure and crack formation. The subsequent erosion washed ultimately today’s rock formations, which consist of a harder mineral, out.

Metéora monastery Varlaám.
Skulls of former monks in the monastery Metamorphosis.

Overall, the plant consists of 24 monasteries and hermitages, of which only six are inhabited today. The remaining eighteen are left either in danger of collapsing or difficult to reach there.

The establishment of the first hermitages date back to the 11th century AD, the name Metéora derived as well as the term meteorite from the Greek word ‚meteorizo‘, what means to ‚lift into the air, a reference to the location the monasteries and the impression in hazy conditions, they seem to float in the air.

The rise of the Meteora monasteries began with the arrival of from Athos fled monk Athanasios in 1334. Ten years later he founded the visited by me monastery Metamorphosis, which is also called Megálo Meteoro.

The next subgoal is the Olymp. Southwest of the mountain I’m looking near Tsaritsani for Ophrys olympiotissa, which grow only here and probably should be of hybridogen origin between Ophrys ferrum-equinum and Ophrys argolica. Unfortunately, I am too early and find only Ophrys ferrum-equinum.

Thus I drive south past the Olympus and look out for Ophrys reinhardardiorum. In Kriovrissi I hit pay dirt to my delight. Here I find three starting blooming Ophrys reinhardardiorum, also one Ophrys leucophthalma and some Ophrys mammosa.

Along the east coast (04/14/2014)

Marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata).

In springtime weather I have to drive a few kilometers to the first location. This is a wonderful meadow near Litochoro. After nearly two hours I have photographed nine species. Apart from Ophrys attica, Ophrys helenae, Ophrys mammosa, Ophrys oestrifera, Ophrys speculum , Ophrys spruneri, Serapias bergonii I work relatively long with two plants that I ultimately class as Ophrys attica x oestrifera and Ophrys spruneri x mammosa.

Boll of an Oriental hellebore (Helloborus orientalis).

A few kilometers further shall be a beautiful meadow habitat with several species and four different hybrids. But despite an intensive search, I find here only Ophrys helenae and Ophrys mammosa. I’m going again a few kilometers and reach a very orchid rich area in a spacious, somewhat confusing landscape. At the first stop I see Ophrys attica and Serapias bergonii. When I just bring my camera in position I meet a small horde clamoring yappy dogs. I save me in the car and after the dogs follow the car over one kilometer, I decide to cancel here the search.

Next, I undertake a small detour to the north. In Vrontou shall be another good biotope. The small slope on the street not let me down, on about 100 meters, I find next to Ophrys bicornis, Ophrys grammica, Ophrys helenae, Ophrys spruneri and some Orchis tridentata three plants of the hybrid Ophrys helenae x spruneri.

About the A1 I drive at noon south to the island of Evia. Just before the bridge shall be a small site of Ophrys mycenensis. However, after this is located just at the freeway behind a railway line, I conclude to abondon daring maneuvers and go on Euboea. Near Nea Artaki that species shall also occur. But again, I have no luck, except for a Ophrys iricolor I can not find orchids.

Island-hopping (04/15/2014)

After it has yesterday not work well twice with Ophrys mycenensis, today I try it a third time. But a trip to Neochori runs frustran. Here I find only a few Orchis italica. Thus I leave Euboea relatively unsuccessful and hope for the region of Attica.

Location of Ophrys oestrifera ssp. stavri.

As expected, vegetation is here already well advanced. In a dry valley near Halkoutsi I find Ophrys mammosa, Ophrys phryganae, Ophrys speculum, Orchis fragrans, Orchis italica and Serapias bergonii. Near Grammatico I look in a dry phrygana for Ophrys ariadnae. Unfortunately, I find only three fruiting Ophrys.

Agia Marina beach.

So I continue to Agia Marina. Within a small radius shall Ophrys oestrifera ssp. stavri occur in several places. In an olive grove, I find beautiful specimens of Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Serapias bergonii and Serapias politisii. A little further, I have then luck. Exactly at the specified position I find a Ophrys oestrifera ssp. stavri. At three other locations towards Ramnounta I find it too. However, the plant is never often, at the best location there are only 12 pieces. But among these, are interestingly three copies without relevant humps. Whether these are still Ophrys oestrifera ssp. stavri is, is doubtful. The species is accompanied by Ophrys ferrum-equinum, Orchis papilionacea ssp. heroica and Serapias politisii.

Finally, I visit a valley behind Kato Souli, which is supposed to be very rich in orchids. Although I’m late, I can not confirm this information. I find a few fruiting Ophrys. I find still blooming a nice Gymnadenia conopsea-albino, next to Orchis papilionacea ssp. heroica, Serapias politisii and very short-humped plants from the Ophrys oestrifera-aggregate, that are almost reminiscent of Ophrys bremifera.

Eyewitnesses of old engineering (04/16/2014)

Theater of Epidaurus.

Today I start my tour with a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Epidaurus what I will not regret. Particularly well preserved is the amphitheater, and it has in the truest sense in itself.

Corinth Canal.

I take a seat on one of the upper circles and just enjoy the extensive view of the mountain scenery of Argolis, when a class arrives. The teacher starts a magnificent demonstration of the acoustics of this 2300 years old structure. The clatter of a dropped coin is high up as crystal clear to hear as the crumpling of paper. I am consternatied in the face of this outstanding engineering skills (despite the absence of CAD and Excel).

On the way back to Athens, I stop at the Corinth Canal, which I, though I drove past it twice so far, failed to respect criminally. Although this represented a heroic achievement 120 years ago, he has now – in the face of the oceans dominating super freighters, which does not fit through here – only a small economic benefit. Even so an ingenious project can be overtaken by the zeitgeist.

Thanks to a free highway I arrive relatively early in Athens. What shall I do with the dawned afternoon? True to the motto ‚back to the roots‘ I’m lvisiting the first site of my Greece trip a second time. Today I find at Markopoulo Ophrys attica, Ophrys melena, Ophrys sicula, Serapias bergonii, Serapias politisii and Serapias vomeracea. I also find a variety of plants from the Ophrys oestrifera-complex. Part I find plants with very short humps, almost like a Ophrys bremifera, other specimens have extremely long humps. Despite an intensive study of the Delforge’s I can not bring myself to a nomenclatural assignmen.

On exploration in the center of the euro crisis (04/17/2014)

View to the Akropolis.

The botanical part of my Greece trip, even if you like it hardly thought possible, is completed. Yesterday I packed the books in the trunk.

Ceiling of the Propylaea.

Now, are due two days city trip. I start my exploration of Athens in cloudy and cold weather with the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a 5,000 seats having, ancient theater at the foot of the Acropolis. Then it goes to the Acropolis. Even in April in bad weather pots of tourists bustle here above, I think, in the summer I got probably a claustrophobic mood.

My tour leads me then on the Roman and Ancient Agora. Particularly impressive rises from afar the of Pentelic marble built Temple of Hephaestus, one of probably the best-preserved Greek temples.

Ruins of the Olympieion.

Finally I visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus (or Olympieion). Large parts of this building dating from the 6th century BC were probably destroyed by an earthquake in the Middle Ages. After dinner I let the day finally end in a bar.

Something whacked of the last few days I use the evening to relax and watch the Greek barroom visitors. Once again I see my impressions of the last two weeks confirmed and at the same time deceived me regarding my prejudices before traveling. Each cafe, every restaurant, every bar was always well stocked. An impression, which is thus not concordant with the headlines of a Greek financial and economic crisis.

The weather gods have mercy (04/18/2014)

Church on the Kerameikos site.

On the last day of my Greece trip the weather gods surprisingly show their goodwill. At an easy cloudy sky and early summer temperatures, I continue my exploration of Athens. I start in the most important quarter of the ancient Attic pottery production, the Kerameikos. This is also the most important ancient Athenian cemetery, through which a small stream flows.

The most important ancient cemetery of Athens in the Kerameikos district.

After a trip to one of the largest ancient libraries – the Library of Hadrian, I visit the National Archaeological Museum.

The Greek National Museum is rightly the most visited museum in Athens. Approximately 11,000 exhibits provide a comprehensive and fascinating overview of the history of Greece. In addition, a number of Egyptian relics are exhibited. After hours I leave – in view of the seemingly endless number of well-preserved exhibits – nearly killed the gigantic building.

Unfortunately, weather forecasts for tomorrow night promise frost in Germany, so I surrender myself in the Mediterranean sunshine to culinary joy of living.

Farewell with nostalgia (04/19/2014)

Today ends two fantastic weeks. In just a few European countries you have the opportunity to combine a richest botany with a variety of historical sites in the rank of a World Heritage Site. Although the visit of almost 100 sites means no physical rest on a round trip of more than 3,000 km, so I would like not to miss one kilometer. Rich in impressions and with full memory card I drive back to Athens airport. At first I must return here my totally dirty Hyundai to the rental car company …


date weekday visited locations
05.04.2014 Saturday arrival, Markopoulo, Kesari (Lake Stymphalia), Galatas
06.04.2014 Sunday Mykene, Katsimpalis, Manthirea, Karies
07.04.2014 Monday Kosmas, Geraki, Kremasti, Lambokambos, Monemvasia, Gramousa, Kastella, Areopolis
08.04.2014 Tuesday Mani, Melissa, Ampelokipi, Militsa
09.04.2014 Wednesday Olympia, Kalavryta, Nafpaktos, Lithavounia
10.04.2014 Thursday Delphi, Filothei, Lakkomanteka, Paleopirgos, Krioneri
11.04.2014 Friday Agia Paraskevi, Agios Nikolaos, Valanidoussa, between Ioannina & Kozani, Voutsaras
12.04.2014 Saturday Geroplatanos, between Ioannina & Kozani
13.04.2014 Sunday Meteora monasteries, Tsaritsani, Kriovrissi
14.04.2014 Monday Litochoro, Vrontou, Mikro Vathi, Nea Artaki
15.04.2014 Tuesday Neochori, Halkoutsi, Grammatico, Agia Marina, Ramnounta, Kato Souli
16.04.2014 Wednesday Epidaurus, Corinth Canal, Markopoulo
17.04.2014 Thursday Athens
18.04.2014 Friday Athens
19.04.2014 Saturday departure

Found species

no. genus species notice
1. Aceras anthropophorum
2. Anacamptis pyramidalis
3. pyramidalis albino
4. pyramidalis hypochromic
5. Barlia robertiana
6. Dactylorhiza romana
7. Gymnadenia conopsea albino
8. Ophrys aesculapii
9. aesculapii
10. lusus
11. argolica x ulyssea hybrid
12. argolica x ferrum-equinum hybrid
13. attica
14. attica x bombyliflora hybrid
15. attica x oestrifera hybrid
16. bicornis
17. bombyliflora
18. calocaerina
19. candica
20. cinereophila
21. cretica
22. delphinensis
23. ferrum-equinum
24. gottfriediana
25. grammica
26. hebes
27. helenae
28. helenae x ferrum-equinum hybrid
29. helenae x leucophthalma hybrid
30. helenae x spruneri hybrid
31. iricolor
32. leochroma
33. leochroma
34. leucadica
35. leucophthalma
36. lutea
37. malvasiana
38. mammosa
39. mammosa ssp. ustulata
40. melena
41. mycenensis
42. oestrifera
43. oestrifera ssp. stavri
44. phryganae
45. reinhardiorum
46. reinholdii
47. sicula
48. speculum
49. spruneri
50. spruneri lusus
51. spruneri x mammosa hybrid
52. ulyssea
53. Neotinea maculata
54. Orchis boryi
55. fragrans
56. italica
57. lactea
58. mascula ssp. pinetorum
59. ssp. morio
60. papilionacea ssp. heroica
61. papilionacea ssp. messenica
62. provincialis
63. purpurea
64. quadripunctata
65. simia
66. tridentata
67. Serapias bergonii
68. lingua
69. orientalis ssp. moreana
70. orientalis ssp. orientalis
71. parviflora
72. politisii
73. vomeracea
My rental car after two weeks.
Delphi in rain.
Two Meteora-monasteries.
Meteora-monastery Varlaám.
Interior courtyard of a Meteora-monastery.
Sandstone cliffs, building material of the Meteora-monasteries.
Church Agii Apostoli.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
The Olympieion was probably destroyed by an earthquake in the Middle Ages.
View from the Acropolis on Athens.
Cretan iris (Iris unguicularis).
Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas).
Orphanides tulip (Tulipa orphanidea).
Location of Ophrys mycenensis near Geraki.
Peloponnesian cyclamen (Cyclamen peloponnesiacum).
View of the bay of Monemvasia.
Downy oak forest near Areopolis.
Landscape of hills near Ampelokipi.
Landscape near Ampelokipi.
Stone hut in the north of the Peloponnese.
Lichen in a forest near Agios Nikolaos.
View from Delphi into the valley.
In Pindos canyons like this are not uncommon, often these are spanned by stone arch bridges.
Kremasta reservoir.
Meteora monastery in bizarre landscape.
Herd of goats in the vicinity of the site of Ophrys olympiotissa.
The cloud-covered Mount Olympus.
Temple of Hephaestus.
Erechtheion on the Acropolis.
Statue in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
View on the Acropolis at sunshine.
Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni).