Tag Archives: hiking

A short getaway to Mt Pelion

11 Feb
Milies Village, Pelion. Photo Source thepaper.gr

Milies Village, Pelion. Photo Source thepaper.gr

Pelion is a mountain in Thessalia, Greece that in Greek mythology was thought to be the homeland of  Centaurs. Today, the traditional villages of Pelion are an ideal destination for a weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of Athens or Thessaloniki. Keep in mind though that as they are over 20, and the distance between some of them can be long, you either need to choose a couple of them for your weekend or decide to take a longer break to have a better taste of Pelion. Here are the best choices if you decide to stay in the Milies area. Enjoy! Continue reading

7 tips you need to know before heading to Elati

13 Jan
Elati village via http://www.xpatathens.com

Elati village via http://www.xpatathens.com

1. Go by car. If you want to really familiarize yourself with the area and take as much as you can back with you, you should really go by car which will give you the flexibility to explore this mountainous place even more. Elati is an amazing village itself but driving in the surrounding area will really take your breath away! On your way up from Trikala take a few minutes and stop to admire the traditional bridge in the village of Pili.

DSC_0351

2. Don’t miss (1): Plastiras lake. A few kilometres from Elati is the artificial Plastiras lake.

Plastiras Lake via Evangelos Vissariou, Flickr

Plastiras Lake via Evangelos Vissariou, Flickr

The surrounding area, which was radically developed after the creation of the lake, offers many activities for the visitors, apart from the unique landscapes! Many cafes and restaurants give you the opportunity to enjoy the view of the lake and the mountains in the background! Very close to Neochori you will find “To Manitari”, an excellent choice for lunch or dinner and a restaurant that many locals choose to visit! 😉

3. Don’t miss (2): Ski centre of Pertouli.

Ski Center of Pertouli, Photo Source  sdimitris via Flickr

Ski Center of Pertouli, Photo Source sdimitris via Flickr

Continuing on the road after Elati and before reaching the nearby village of Pertouli, you will find the ski centre. Although it is a very small one, it is worth visiting as the view from the top of it is just amazing; you will have the chance to see the surrounding mountains, standing gloriously usually full of snow!

DSC_0445 DSC_0529

4. Continue even further down the road and visit Pertouli and Neraidochori! The magnificence of this area is not captured only in the villages of the area but also in the road connecting them! The views while driving are breathtaking!

DSC_0554

You will find many spots  to stop and enjoy the view! One of them is just after Neraidochori, where you will find a refurbished church and a great place to admire the nature!

DSC_0557

DSC_0594

The back door of the church!

Close to Pertouli you will find a restaurant called “Niavis”; a traditional spacious Greek taverna, with amazing view of the mountains and the surrounding area and excellent food; again a choice of many locals from the area!

5. Explore the area! Don’t just admire the view from the car; let yourself explore on foot or bikes the area especially near the ski centre where you will find many off road roots and paths and enjoy the heavy forest!

DSC_0471

6. A restaurant that you should really visit when you are in this area is called “Ta Kanavia” and it is located in Elati.

Kanavia Restaurant via www.touristorama.com

Kanavia Restaurant via http://www.touristorama.com

Excellent spot overlooking the area and the mountain opposite to Elati, amazing food comprising of well prepared and served firsts and amazing main dishes with many choices on hunting and traditional dishes. The wine is also excellent!

7. Downtown Elati you will also find “To Kechri”, beautiful cafe where you can enjoy relax and enjoy a hot chocolate in a cold winter day!

Café “To Kechri” via elati-pertouli.gr

Café “To Kechri” via elati-pertouli.gr

You should really try the homemade cherry spoon sweet which is absolutely delicious!

Stavros Tsoukatos

7 traditional villages you should visit when travelling in the Greek mainland

2 Dec

1. Nymfaio, Florina

Nimfaio Village via www.ethnos.gr

Nimfaio Village via http://www.ethnos.gr

Nymfaio has been often included in “The ten most beautiful villages of Europe” lists, and has claimed the UNESCO “Melina Mercouri International Prize” for the excellent management of the area’s cultural heritage and the surrounding natural environment.

Nimfaio via danezis.blogspot.com

Nimfaio via danezis.blogspot.com

Arcturos’s (NGO dedicated to the protection of brown bears and wolves) headquarters are situated just 1,5 km from Nymfaio and their sanctuary is open to visitors year round (depending on weather conditions).

Don’t miss the chance to visit the “Goldsmith, Folklore and History Museum”, with exhibits including authentic local furniture, traditional tools for jewellery making, and, of course, jewels. Before leaving the area dine at Thoma’s, a 5-star tavern in Amyntaio, a few kilometres away from Nymfaio.

2. Palaios Panteleimon, Pieria

Located at the foothills of the most famous and mysterious mountain of antiquity, Mount Olympus, the village of Palaios Panteleimon is renowned for its hospitable people. The village, also named “the balcony of Olympus” is an ideal destination for every season. Nature lovers and adrenaline enthusiasts will have the opportunity to choose between hiking, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding and off-road driving. After a day full of exhausting activities, relax in one of the traditional cafes (or kafenia in Greek!) on the main square and enjoy authentic Greek coffee prepared on the coals and served in a copper pot, always accompanied by a locally produced spoon sweet!

3. Palaios Agios Athanasios, Pella

Situated within short distance from the border between Greece and FYROM, Palaios Agios Athanasios has become a trending destination in the last couple of years due to its proximity to the ski centre of Kaimaktsalan. For travellers seeking relaxation, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Palaios Agios Athanasios during the winter season, but if you are in pursuit of cosmopolitan ski holidays rush to book one of the charming guest houses; from traditional cafes and taverns to luxury restaurants and nightclubs, you will find everything you need in this small village.

4. Zagorochoria, Ioannina

I would need more than 20 pages if I wanted to fully describe this corner of Greece. Zagorochoria is a set of 46 villages that meet the needs of every kind of traveller. Here you can find cosmopolitan villages, quiet villages, or even secluded villages, only accessible on foot! Either on the peaks of Pindos mountain range or hidden in the woods, each and every one of them will take you back to older times.

The hiking trail of Vikos gorge, part of the E4 European path, and Drakolimni (or “Dragon Lake”) are two places of incomparable natural beauty totally worth your time.

Beautiful spot in Vikos gorge via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/186829084515616237/

Beautiful spot in Vikos gorge via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/186829084515616237/

The local cuisine is amazing, its cornerstones being the pies (or “pita” in Greek), several traditional recipes with meat and spoon sweets. Pair your meal with a nice red wine made in the area, and spend your evenings drinking tsipouro, a strong spirit made by local producers.

5. Pelion

There are 24 villages on Mount Pelion, some of them hidden in forests of beech and chestnut trees and other on the coastline. During your visit in Portaria village, which is probably the most picturesque one, and after you walk its cobbled alleys, follow the “trail of the Centaurs”, a circular path of 2,7 km (approximately 1 hour), to get inspired by the ancient Greek mythology.

Portaria via pilionterra, Flickr

Portaria via pilionterra, Flickr

Before leaving Portaria, have some coffee and cake at the Cafe “Aeriko” while enjoying the magnificent vista over Pagassitikos bay. The cosmopolitan village of Makrynitsa, known also as the “balcony of Pelion” is located just 4km away from Portaria. Once you get tired by strolling through its picturesque streets with the small shops, head to the restaurant “Gefsokratoras” to treat your sense of taste with a delicious meal.

Makrynitsa; the balcony of Pelion via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/336995984586522246/

Makrynitsa; the balcony of Pelion via http://www.pinterest.com/pin/336995984586522246/

What is more, from horse riding in the woods and skiing to scuba diving in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, the area of Pelion can offer you numerous dreaming experiences!

6. Monemvasia

Perched on a rock thrown in the sea, Monemvasia gives the impression that the rock and the settlement were created together at once. Surrounded by walls and almost cut off from the mainland, the scenery will make you think that you just discovered a time travel machine! The entire old town looks like a museum, with narrow alleys and small squares while some buildings still retain their marble coats of arms, remnants of an era of wealth and glory.

At sunset, relax on the balcony of your hotel room, empty your mind and lose yourself among shades of red you’ve never imagined.

7. Vatheia, Laconia

Resembling an open-air museum of architecture in the heart of Mani, Vatheia remains untouched by time. A settlement positioned on a hilltop, Vatheia looks like an abandoned village since the permanent habitants are no more than a few dozen, living in tower-like mansions. The fairytale 2-3 -floor chateaus made of stone have very small windows, once used as ramparts during the war against the Turks or pirate invasions.

Many mansions have been renovated and are now charming guest houses. Don’t miss the chance to swim in the turquoise waters at the nearby beaches of Kapi and Exo Kapi.

Labros Psomodotis

6 tips for a perfect weekend in Orini Nafpaktia

28 Nov

My tips for Orini Nafpaktia here Continue reading

How to get an authentic taste of Karpenissi in 8 Steps

3 Nov

Karpenissi in Autumn via flickr user Robin Iversen Rönnlund

Karpenisi during Autumn via flickr user Robin Iversen Rönnlund

Karpenissi in winter via trekearth.com

Karpenisi during winter via trekearth.com

Karpenissi by night via nocomments.gr

Karpenisi by night via nocomments.gr

1. Try authentic flavours

A simple walk in the center of Karpenissi and the nearby villages will reveal the local (and gourmet!) cuisine of the region that every visitor has to try! Given the number of different products and recipes, it is worth devoting some time to discover as many as you can!

Don’t miss:

  • The traditional sweet preserves (or Greek spoon sweets) from chestnuts, walnuts or grapes.

Traditional Greek spoon sweet via foodjunkie.eu

Traditional Greek spoon sweet via foodjunkie.eu

  • The traditional dairy products and especially cheese. Among my favourites are feta cheese from Velouchi mountain, the local yellow cheese and “tsalafouti cheese” (a  delicious type of creamy cheese!).

Tsalafouti cheese via forum.beer.gr

Tsalafouti cheese via forum.beer.gr

  • The traditional local pies with cheese, leek or herbs

Traditional pie with herbs via Expat Foodie

Traditional pie with herbs via Expat Foodie

  • The local cured meats. Some of the most famous are the sausages with leek, the prosciutto and the salami

Sausages with leek via mmmeat.gr

Sausages with leek via mmmeat.gr

  • The home cooked, traditional dish of rooster with local noodles and various dishes with wild boar

Traditional rooster with noodles via mygreekdish.com

Traditional rooster with noodles via mygreekdish.com

2. Explore Velouchi Mountain…

Velouchi Mountain via skaikairos.gr

Velouchi Mountain via skaikairos.gr

The town of Karpenissi is situated at the foothills of the 2315-metre high mountain of Velouchi; on the top you will find the famous Velouchi ski resort, only 10km away from Karpenissi. During winter time, if you are a snow lover, you can spend your time doing various ski sports or you can just have a warm drink accompanied by the spectacular vista of the winter sunset.

Velouchi ski resort via https://lh6.googleusercontent.com

Velouchi ski resort via https://lh6.googleusercontent.com

During the rest of the year, cross the mountain through the tunnel located on the top of it and find yourself on the other side surrounded by a moon-like landscape.

3. Enjoy a sport that suits you!

Besides skiing, the area has to offer a great number of alternative activities such as horse-riding in the middle of a platanus forest, rafting in one of the 3 rivers of the area (offering various degrees of difficulty), canyoning and trekking in stunning landscapes.

Horse-riding in Karpenissi via http://www.margit.gr

Horse-riding in Karpenisi via http://www.margit.gr

Rafting in Karpenissi via http://www.valeladi.gr

Rafting in Karpenisi via http://www.valeladi.gr

4. Trek to Pantavrechi and the Black cave (Via Ferrata).

Pantavrechi

Panta Vrehei via canyoning-caving.blogspot.com

Panta Vrehei via canyoning-caving.blogspot.com

The actual translation of Pantavrechi is “always raining”. It owes its name to the fact that the water coming down from the peaks of the Canyon of Krikelioti River doesn’t have a predetermined way out, leading to a continuous flow of small and large drops and creating a continuous artificial rain. Pantavrechi is accessible only from early June to late September as during the rest of the period it is not possible to walk the river upstream. It will take you 1.5h hiking to get there or 2.3h by a 4X4 vehicle followed by 30 minutes of walking.

The Black Cave and Via Ferrata.

The Black cave via http://2.bp.blogspot.com

The Black cave via http://2.bp.blogspot.com

A natural pool with shimmering waters is formed by a waterfall falling from 10 meters above. The path to get there starts at some point of the road between Proussos and Kastania villages and you will reach your destination after 20min walking in the footpath along Proussiotis River.

The path continues uphill in an idyllic landscape of platanus, firs and small streams. At the point where the canyon becomes narrower and the landscape becomes more wild  with little caves and small waterfalls, you will see on your right, an abandoned refugee house and the starting point of the famous “Via Ferrata” (road of steel); the path that allows you to climb to the inaccessible gorge of the Black Cave. It will take you around 2.30h to reach your destination!

5. Take a picture of the amazing vista over Lake Kremasta from Fidakia village.

Fidakia Village via http://content-mcdn.ethnos.gr

Fidakia Village via http://content-mcdn.ethnos.gr

Fidakia village, (the actual translation of the name is “snakes”), is among the most beautiful and traditional villages of Central Greece for me, built in an altitude of 1000 meters. Even though, it is located only 25km away from Karpenissi, due to the curvy road, it will take you around 40 minutes to get there. The route is amazing and the view over Lake Kremasta is spectacular so I strongly recommend visiting it!

Fidakia Village by Thanos Psichalas

Fidakia Village by Thanos Psichalas

View of Lake Kremasta from Fidakia Village by Thanos Psichalas

View of Lake Kremasta from Fidakia Village by Thanos Psichalas

6. Pick a picturesque village to visit!

Apart from the beautiful Fidakia village, visit another village of your choice in the area. All of them are traditional and worth a visit if you have the time! So pick one, wander through the narrow alleys, visit the small stores with the local products and enjoy authentic Greek coffee at the typical coffee place that every village has at its square! In no time you will become friends with the locals, they will buy you a tsipouro and surely they will share their stories with you! The villages I suggest are Koryschades, Klafsio, Kastania, Chelidona and Krikello.

Cental Square of Korischades Village via http://fe-mail.gr

Cental Square of Korischades Village by Thanos Psichalas

7. Drive in an off-road route!

If you are lucky enough to have a 4X4 vehicle, pick one of the many off-road roads and enjoy the wild landscape. Drive through dense forests of pins and chestnuts, cross small streams of water or whole rivers, reach the tops of the mountains and feel free! The best time to drive through these routes is from the end of spring until early autumn. Needless to say that an experienced driver is absolutely necessary.

These are the two routes I recommend:

  • The Easy route.

Starting from Dipotama cross, just a few Kilometers before you reach Proussos from Karpenissi town, turn right, heading towards Chelidona village. Then follow the signs to Agia Vlacherna and end up at Fidakia village. The way back can be much easier since you have the choice to head directly towards Karpenissi using a paved road.

  • The Difficult route.

Starting from Proussos, follow signs towards the villages of Tornos and Kastania. After passing Kastania, continue to the dirt road at its end. There is a good chance that the villages you will see (Prodromos, Roska, Skopia, Domnitsa) have no residents during the year, excluding the summer period.

8. Celebrate the new “Tsipouro & Winemaking”!

Tsipouro via pinterest user Eri Tfg

Tsipouro via pinterest user Eri Tfg

The whole region is well-known for the production of tsipouro (similar to raki) and wine. Special events are being organized in many villages starting at the end of October until the first days of November to celebrate the new production of the year and drink the remaining of the previous year! So be ready to drink a lot! Cheers or “Stin igia mas” as Greeks say!!!

Labros Psomodotis

Discover the 4 seasons of Kastoria (part 1): Autumn

22 Sep

Kastoria in Autumn

The town of Kastoria via  i1.trekearth

Kastoria is a small, well hidden town in the Northwest side of Pindos, the largest Greek mountain range. Amphitheatrically built on a peninsula of Orestiada Lake, it may be its unique location that makes Kastoria so breathtakingly beautiful. While most Greeks have Kastoria in mind as a winter destination (probably due to the fact that it is close to many ski resorts), after visiting the city for the fourth time, each of them during a different season, I came up with the nickname weatherproof town. So, let’s briefly travel in and out of the four seasons in my beloved Kastoria…

Continue reading

Discover Messinia; 5 hidden beauties in the Greek mainland

28 Aug

Discover the best of Messinia in our new website!

messinia

Photo 1, Source: Peloponnesos.gr

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: