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Pictures of the route Durrës - Thessaloniki (as in guidebook)Gives you an impression of what you can experience when walking between Durrës and Thessaloniki: historical landmarks, beautifull grand landscapes and above all local people.
Remnants of Via EgnatiaVia Egnatia in its early days was probably not everywhere one road, but in some parts a winter and summer track, a road straight over the mountains for soldiers on foot and a wider route for the army impedimenta in wagons. After a period of neglect the Ottoman empire reconstructed parts of the road. When the national borders were created in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century the Via Egnatia lost its function as the main link between East and West. Agricultural areas were extended at the cost of the old road and pavement stones were used for other purposes. Erosion in the mountains washed away parts of the roads, there and in the planes new sediments covered the original surface. But still parts of the road can be seen with the old pavement, and about 40 milestones have been recovered. And research still leads to new discoveries of parts of the original Via Egnatia.
Via Egnatia exhibitionArriving in Istanbul in July 2010 with our caravan walk along Via Egnatia an exhibition was prepared in the Archeological museum of Istanbul. During the opening also parts of the children's painting were spread out.
Tentoonstelling over de Via Egnatia
Via Egnatia paintingThe whole painting is on show - 40 meters long on canvas - painted mainly by children but also by youngsters and grown-ups - covering Via Egnatia from beginning to end, from Durrës in Albania to İstanbul in Turkey!
The painting can be viewed from Durrës to İstanbul (c) and from İstanbul to Durrës (d), i.e. from the other end and other side of the canvas versa.
Making the paintingWalking from Durrës to İstanbul in 2009 and 2010 we carried with us rolls of canvas and painting material. In villages and towns we looked for a central square to spread out the rolls and invite children and youngsters to draw paintings of their place or whatever they wanted. This proved to be an excellent means of getting into contact with local people and gave us a chance to explain what we were doing. Everywhere our invitation was met with great enthousiasm. The total painting ended up being 40 meters long.
Caravan tour May 2011 in Albania: Elbasan - Lin (lake Ohrid) and Lin - ElbasanA group of some VEF members and 10 economy students of the University of Elbasan walked to Lin. We put signs on trees and rocks. People in the small villages welcomed the walkers with great hospitality. Quite a few of these villages have actually been stations along the Via. It has been long since these villages used to welcome foreign travellers to stay overnight.
After one week the students took the bus back to Elbasan and with a few newcomers we walked back to Elbasan again putting signs and gathering information for a reliable guide.
All this time Samir with his horse and Lule with his mule guided and helped us.
Caravan tour July 2010: TurkeyFortunately it wasn't the dry hot summer you can have in these parts. Though we were faced with some tremendous cloudbursts, in general pleasant temperatures suited walking.
It is impossible to walk all the way from Thessaloniki and İstanbul in three weeks. So we skipped some parts taking the bus or other means of transport.
Music played a major role in this journey with our Egnatia ensemble, sometimes joined by local musicians, performing at every possible occasion.
The culmination of our trip was the happening in the Gülhane Park next to Topkapi palace in İstanbul with our completed painting unrolled and Nur Mardin's children showing their paintings and proclaiming "Peace".
Caravan tour May 2010 in Greece: Kristallopigi - Giannitsa and June 2010In May 2010 we walked from Kristallopigi at the Greek-Albanian border to Florina and Edessa, from where we took the bus to Giannitsa. We were 5 Dutch people and 6 Croatian students. The first part we were guided by Theophilos with his 4 donkeys (and one loose pony). Another day we had 4 horses from a horsefarm in Kryoneri.
We later returnd in June to walk from Thessaloniki. We skipped some parts taking the bus or other means of transport. In this oart music played a major role with our Egnatia ensemble, sometimes joined by local musicians, performing at every possible occasion. From Greece we crossed the border to Turkey (see the Turkish part above).
First caravan tour May 2009: Albania - Lake Ohid - Greek borderOur first caravan walk stretched from Peqin - Albania, via Northern Macedonia to the Greek border.
We started of in week one with a large international group - Albanian, Americans, Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch, English, Greek, and Slovanian, 20 in total - through Albania to the Northern Macedonian city Ohid at the lake.
With a much smaller group we tried to cross the mountains to Resen, but got lost and had to return. We started of again from Dihovo/Bitola to end at the Northern Macedonian-Greek border.