“I was fortunate to have Vasilus as my guide for my three days in Athens back in October 2017. The reason it has taken me so long to send in a review is that we covered so much of Athens and the Peloponnese region.
My first tour began only a few hours after landing in Athens and arriving at the hotel in the Plaka district. Vasilus met me in the lobby and we started the afternoon walk through Plaka, making our way to the various areas of the city, hiking up a trail to the Acropolis, and eventually arrived a popular overlook for some night time photography. Throughout the walk, he would point many interesting details and make suggestions on how to capture street photography which is something very new to me. You can be sure you will be well looked after with Vasilus as your guide. Since he is an Athenian, not only can he properly guide you from place to place, he understands how to deal with the locals. In fact, when I was attempting to take some photographs of a scene at a local cafe, the proprietor contested us taking up a spot, but Vasilus was able to convince him albeit very assertively that we have a right as much as anyone. Lesson learned; it is okay to be aggressive. At the Monastiraki station, he showed me where to look for opportunities and we even stopped by a hotel for access to street views up a a popular coffee place. One of the best local experiences I had was enjoying some spinach pie at a small neighborhood cafe. Up at the Acropolis, he provided many suggestions on how to capture the iconic structure and overcome some challenges of scale and size of the object in creating appealing images and avoiding crowds. Finally, with tripod in tow, we walked to a vantage point to observe the Acropolis during sunset.
The next day, my excursion took me out of Athens to the Peloponnese region. First stop was the Corinth Canal which offered amazing views of boats and ships passing through. It is an impressive structure. Next we drove to the ancient theater and from the top row, took in the terrific views. I requested to see the Palamidi fortress and it was a great choice. With very few people, it was easy to make our way through and take pictures with few interruptions. The fortress provides a great vantage point of Napflio and the surrounding area. Napflio was our next stop and it was a great experience to explore on a weekend without the crowds. There are many side streets each displaying a variety of local character and flavor. We took a welcomed break at a waterfront cafe along the promenade. The final surprise was a stop at a lighthouse near the town of Loutraki. Vasilus was determined to arrive there in time for the sunset but our late arrival was serendipitous as we were able to improvise and capture better images than we could have hoped for. In fact, Vasilus was determined to go back to retake those photos for his portfolio. It was long day but a very memorable and fun road trip.
On my last day, I managed to squeeze in a half day tour before heading to Piraeus to embark on my cruise. This time we started very early and Vasilus met me at the hotel at around 6 AM. We drove to Lycabettus Hill and in the dark hiked up a trail to our vantage point. In a clearing marked my uneven surfaces and large rocks, I climbed up, secured my footing, and set my tripod and camera. Vasilus and I setup the camera in manual mode, disabled VR and composed the frame. Then we waited for about an hour or so for the sunrise. Few hours later we descended and had enough time to see the Temple of Zeus and the original Olympic Stadium. He walked me back to the hotel and presented me with a thank you gift and wished me well.
There are some caveats I need to mention. If you carry several lenses, do bring all of them with you. To keep things light, I made a mistake of leaving my telephoto zoom in the hotel after mentioning that I would have it for the day’s tour. It turned out that it was needed for our night photography shoot. We managed with the lens I had though. Keep in mind, he cares about photography and helping his clients create quality images. So be ready to receive some direct and constructive advice to correct any bad habits he may notice.
In summary, I was very happy with what I saw and experienced and, most importantly, photographed during my brief time in Athens. For the reasons previously stated, he is one of the best photographer guides I have had while traveling to different places around the world. I give him a lot of credit for agreeing to my ambitious itinerary over the course of three days. Being personable, funny, and caring about you and what you want to achieve are qualities that come easy to him. Because of them, he deserves a five-star rating.”