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Greece through a lens by Gavriilux

by ElenaSergeeva

Greece is a country blessed with plenty of sunshine making it a paradise destination for travelers and artists alike. We’ve been admiring Gavriil Papadiotis’s photography skills for a while now and are delighted to share his interview with our readers.

For more inspiration make sure to follow Gavriil’s creative outlet Gavriilux on Instagram.

PFG: You are an architectural lighting designer currently working in London. Has Greece inspired your creativity and in what way?

GP: The place(s) that one grows up and the people that surround us play a vital role in shaping who we are. Having spent the first 25 years of my life in Greece has contributed to the way I think, the way I see (life or through a camera lens) and the way I design with use light. Greece’s abundant sunshine has subconsciously led me to seek for the sun wherever I go. The contrast between light and shadow created by strong direct sunlight is the type of drama I add to both a lighting project and an image alike. Combining warm and cooler hues of white  can also be rather powerful.

Calatrava arches in Athens Olympic Park

Greek Parliament building by Syntagma Square

Elafonissi beach in Crete

Downtown Athens rooftop view

Samaria Gorge (Crete) edit to show the change of seasons

PFG: Why do you think people are so magically drawn by Greece? 

GP: Not sure where to start from because for me there has been a domino effect of factors that create a rather spectacular vicious circle… Greece’s geolocation, its unlimited access to the sea and incredible weather (sun should not be taken for granted) are to “blame” for the Greek culture and a vibe that only after you have visited you can truly begin to understand.

Sunrise at Samaria Gorge (Crete)

Being on a continents’ crossroad has been a challenge but has inspired an incredible cuisine which the hospitable locals are so both happy and proud to share with visitors. All of the above amongst other reasons make Greece hard to visit just once – especially when each time you can simply visit a different area or island.

Sunset gazing (Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre)

PFG: If someone is visiting Greece for the first time and they have one week to spend, where should they go? 

GP: It depends on the time of the year but spending the first couple of days in Athens is a must (read next question). Following that escaping to one of the islands by boat or plane would be next on my list. Each island has its own perks ranging from unique beaches and places of historic interest to the local customs and traditional dishes. Every summer I try to visit a couple of islands I have never been to before. So far my personal favourites are:

Lesvos (a bit biased as I have spent my childhood summers there),

Crete (incredible food and beaches)

Skiathos (great vibe)

Lefkada (fantastic beaches – good for water sports)

Santorini (amazing views)

If time is limited I would say Hydra and Andros islands are really good options and close to Piraeus port too.

PFG: You are an Athenian. As a local which places in Athens do you recommend for someone to visit?

GP: There is a walk I love doing every time I find myself in Athens which I would highly recommend. I would take the train and head downtown to Monastiraki Square. Grabbing a quick snack from the local bakeries and wonder around Plaka kai Psyrri areas is the best way to start your day. There are countless quirky little alleys to discover so I enjoy getting lost while taking photos.

Wine store window display

After spending some time in the flea market by the train station I would head to Thissio through Adrianou Street where one could sit for a coffee next to Stoa of Attalos and the Temple of Hephaestus and of course with Acropolis in the background.

Stoa of Attalos as seen from the acropolis (photo edit)

From Thissio I would move uphill following Apostolou Pavlou street all the way to the top of the Acropolis hill. The Parthenon is even more stunning from up close while nothing beats the views from up there. Visiting the Acropolis Museum is the next best thing. This museum is one of a kind and probably one of the most beautiful and well designed spaces I have ever been to. This will help with putting the Parthenon visit into perspective. Enjoying a meal or dessert (or both) at the museum’s restaurant is a must – if the weather is good sitting on the outside terrace is a no brainer.

Parthenon reflection on the Acropolis Museum glass facade

Sunset from within the museum

View from the museum’s terrace

PFG: You mention that you spent two weeks on Crete in the summer of 2016. What were the highlights of your trip?

GP: First time  in Crete and I was amazed by its beauty. Top five places to visit would be:

  1. Seitan Limani. Secluded beach really close to Chania’s port that requires a bit of hiking to get down to. Nowadays it gets rather busy so following a friend’s advice we drove straight there as soon as our ferry docked (6am). Beating the crowds made a difference and it was totally worth it!

    Seitan Limani after sunrise

  2. Balos beach. Another stunning beach which can be accessed either by car and a long hike or by boat.  As I went there just before sunset I knew what kind of photos I was after so I opted for the scenic route. Getting there was easy, coming back was challenging but totally worth it.

    Hiking to Balos Beach

    At Balos beach

  3. Samaria Gorge hiking. Early morning start from Chania town, bus to Xyloskalo (1200m altitude) and 16km hiking through this fantastic national park. At the end of the gorge (Agia Roumeli) one can take a ferry back to Sougia or Loutro towns. Fantastic experience.

    Samaria gorge view from the to

    Dragon spotted

    Sun rising through the Samaria gorge forest

    Feeding the kri-kri (wild Cretan goat)

    Crete’s south coast line as seen from the ferry

  4. Elafonissi beach. Famous for its pink sand it gets quite packed so I would suggest walking further down towards the Church of Agia Irini where the views are amazing.

    Agia Irini church with Elafonissi beach in the background

    Sunset at Elafonissi beach

  5. Chania town and port. Extremely picturesque by day and really lovely at night with great places to eat and drink

PFG: Give three reasons why someone should visit Lesvos.

GP: Having spent most of my childhood summers there it is too tricky to only give three but I would say:

  1. The port of Mytilini. One of the most picturesque first impressions you’ll get from a Greek island.

Mytilini port at night

2. Stunning beaches with crispy cold water. Vatera being my favourite as I have spent most of my childhood summers there.
3. Local food enjoyed at tavernas by the beach (two in one). It is a greek island cliché but it is so true.

PFG: Which Greek island will you be holidaying on in the summer of 2017?

GP: My plan is to spend most of August in Lesvos visiting family and friends. Being such a big island it takes time to fully explore it. I have recently started using a drone so I would like to explore perspectives of the island I have not seen before.

Vine leaves sunset in Lesvos

Stay tuned @gavriilux on Instagram for updates.

All images ©Gavriil Papadiotis

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