In late 1998 I was a young photographer trying to make my way in Athens. My work had already been published in a few magazines, when one day I read a short article in a newspaper about Paleochora in Aegina.
I didn’t have much success in gathering more information (google was still marked “Beta“!) and my curiosity had been irreversibly aroused. I decided to go on a small photographic expedition with my best friend serving as my assistant. So, with my favorite Canon EOS5, my tripod, many Fujichrome Velvia* on my back and with great enthusiasm we started off for the beautiful island of Greece.
We got there the next day at the break of dawn, we carried a rented buggy and drove to the base of the hill of Paleochora. That was the starting point of our tour, among the deserted little chapels as I was mercilessly and speedily going through the wonderful and super-expensive Velvia.
Paleochora literally means “old town”. It is the name of a hill neighbouring the monastery of Agios Nektarios, scattered with the remains of a Byzantine city and old chapels. It is sometimes called the “Island Mystras” because of its resemblance to the fortified town in Peloponnese.
After several hours of hiking, we made it to the top of the hill. The one of its kind double church of St. Georgios and St. Demetrios dominates the surroundings and the beauty of it made the ascend more than worth it.
We made a few more stops on our way down, one of which was at the churchyard of St. Georgios the Catholic (or “Panagia Foritissa”). We noticed a young woman on the rock above us and invited her to join us. We chatted about things long forgotten now, a snake made its crossing behind my friend (!) and after a while we went our separate ways. For both me and my friend the memory has a kind of dream quality, so we can assume it could just be the spirit of a land lost in oblivion for centuries.
When I returned to Athens, I intensified my research, mostly at our National Library, I wrote an accompanying article, and with all the pluck and nerve of my young age, I took it to the memorable late NGM director Nikos Margaris. Two of my photographs along with the article were published, and so one of my photography dreams, seeing my work in the top photography magazine on the planet had come true.
If we were to look for the moral in my little adventure, it would be that if you go after your dreams the time will come when they surrender to you.
* My greatest loss as I transitioned from film to digital reality has been the loss of Velvia.
IN DREAMS AND IN LOVE THERE ARE NO IMPOSSIBILITIES | JANOS ARANY