Almost everywhere you are in Athens and its suburbs, you can see mountains. Looking north, south, east or west, and you realize Athens is situated on a large area surrounded by mountains, and may have been a good choice for those who wanted to be protected from invading armies and have good notice of their possible arrival.
To the north is the mountain range of Parnitha, with an elevation at its highest point of 1,413 metres above sea level. At about 1,000 metres, you’ll find the Regency Casino with amazing views overlooking Athens. We did not go inside the casino (I’ve only been in one casino in my life – when I was about 15 years old, in The Bahamas and really have no desire to check them out).
We did however take a drive up to the area a couple of days ago, to see if we could catch some nice images and views of the almost full moon (actually, waning as it was full the day before) as it rose above the mountains on the south-eastern side of Athens.
We tried to arrive in good time so I could set up the tripod and try to remember all the controls on the Nikon D7000 camera that I am trying to get used to, and made it to get an amazing view of the sun setting in the west. As we climbed the mountain in the car, we also came upon several herds of Greek deer, and a single deer that was obviously being regularly fed at a small park where wood carvings out of some trees had been made.
When we finally arrived at the grounds of the casino, this was the view looking to the west and the first photo I snapped:
It truly was gorgeous! One of those moments when you wish you could lock it in time and ask the earth to stop rotating for a few minutes so you can take in the glorious site!
But the earth does not stop rotating, and it was within a very short time that the sun fully hid itself behind the far mountains. However, our solar giant continued to leave its impact on our atmosphere even after it had fully dropped behind the horizon:
As the sun set to the west, the sky in the east was still quite bright and blue, and a commercial airplane could be seen overhead. I thought I would try to get a shot of it for fun, with the 300 mm zoom lens that I had attached to the camera. For such a quick shot, it was better than expected, although nothing to be excited about:
I turned to the still daylight views of the northern area of Athens that could be seen from where I was standing. There are in fact, better views of Athens from various points along the route up to the Royal Casino, and hopefully soon, we’ll get back there to spend more time at them. But we didn’t really know what exactly we’d be able to see from the casino grounds without actually entering the premises. Likely, the views inside are much better than what we had from outside.
After awhile, the sky darkened and the big orange/red moon began to rise. I was messing around with various ISO settings as well as aperture and shutter speeds to try to get the red colour – and didn’t do a great job, and this one with a shutter speed of 4 seconds has way too much blur, but still shows the amazing colour we were seeing:
This one turned out a little better, but still not great:
After many attempts at trying to get moonshots, I turned my attention to the night lights below us. A bunch more experiments, and came up with this:
The above image was taken with a very long shutter exposure of 25 seconds at f5.6. The streak in the upper right hand corner is an airplane that crossed through that area of the view.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, on our way up the mountain we came across several herd of deer, and this one was very tame, having been fed regularly even though there are warning signs to not feed the deer. Greeks generally ignore signs unless it suits them, including “No Smoking” and “Don’t Feed The Deer.”
While feeding wild deer is probably not the best idea, the fact that Greeks tend to ignore the directions and commands of signs is one of the things I love and adore about them!