A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday 17th May – Monodendri to Meteora


Left Monodendri after having apple pie for breakfast again – very strange but tasted good. Mountains every direction you look. Greece (as in other parts of Europe) seems to be covered in a haze most of the time. While it is frustrating (especially for taking photos) it also creates a very 3D effect with layer upon layer of mountains – all very soft in the haze.

Drove around Ioaninna (which looks both picturesque and fascinating) to another mountain village town, Metsova. Originally we had intended to stay in Metsova but it is a very touristy town with not a lot to do but look at the shops and, of course, eat and drink – unless you are there in winter and go skiing. After Arachova we had had enough of cute and touristy mountain villages so decided to go on to Meteora.

Drive from Metsova to Meteora is over a very steep (again) mountain pass. Again scenery was amazing but hard on Dave as road is very very bendy and not in great condition. Land-slides are obviously common along the road (as they seem to be on many roads) and there were parts of the road that had been washed away (not uncommon) and not carefully repaired. In some spots there were quite large cracks across the road as if the next heavy rain would wash the road away.

Got to Kastraki (one of the towns in the Meteora area) for a late lunch – had in the town square looking up at these huge rock monoliths. Trying to find a hotel Dave tried to do a u-turn, banged into the footpath (raised and covered in blocks of the local stone – quite sharp at the corners) and the front right hand tyre could be heard to deflate – and a nice little tear in the side too. As the man at the place we took it to the next day said – ‘kaput’. Had to put on the silly little spare – not a real spare, just one of those pretend ones. Tried to find a hotel the Lonely Planet suggested but gave up when realized it was some way out of town and just went in to the closest one that looked OK. Have a room on the first floor overlooking some of the big rocks and a stork’s nest.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:29 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Saturday 16th May – Monodendri, Zagoria


After one of Momma’s breakfasts (freshly hard boiled egg, toast, cold cut sausage, cheese slices and freshly made apple pie – the only thing that differed from day to day was the ‘sweet’ part of the breakfast. The first day we had milk pie – very nice – the next rice pudding with orange and nuts – OK but neither of us that keen on rice pudding - nothing at all to do with what we were fed by our mothers) set out to another area of Zagoria to climb another set of stairs (skala) and walk to the lookout from the other side of the stairs. A path led down into a gorge and then the steps led to the top of the gorge on the other side – steep is an understatement. Then out to the viewing point – very dramatic views of course – and back again. It is harder working down the stone ‘stairs’ than up. The uneven surface and the stones sticking out as ‘stairs’ means you have to concentrate on the path and don’t get much of a chance to look about. When you do stop to look you can’t help but be amazed by the steepness of the cliffs AND how green it all is. Oak trees, maples and elms which have just come into leaf contrasted against the deeper green of the fir and pine trees. And the grass is sooo green. This isn’t what we expected. Although it is rugged the colours are like those we saw in the Dordogne a couple of years back – although the green is not so overwhelming because of the rocks and pine trees.

Stopped for dolmades and oranges on the way. Took about 4 ½ hrs.
Came back to find that the rest of the building had been demolished and that the wall of the passage to our room was no more!!
Dinner that night at our hotel. Momma again steered us in our choice of food (not sure we really had a choice). Started with home made feta baked with tomatoes and onions (feta was fantastic), followed by mince meat pattie and roasted eggplant and potatoes. All tasted great but the meat patty was so salty it was hard to eat it. We feel we are being treated almost as “royal” guests by Momma – she fusses over us and is very proud of her food, which if it wasn’t for the salt, would be some of the best we’ve had anywhere. The “barrel” wine here is good too, incl. the white.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:27 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Friday 15th May – Monodendri, Zagoria


A quieter day. Drove up towards one of the lookouts into the gorge, parked and walked. Quite a drop to the bottom of the gorge. You can see the river (or river bed) running along the bottom of the gorge. In summer the river dries up but at this time of the year it flows in places and there are large water holes. It seems strange that the rivers dry up as we are close to snow and the rivers have to be fed by snow. What happens to all the water? There is still snow on a number of the mountains. Perhaps it just seeps into the soil – which may explain why there are so many springs.
Nearly got attacked by dogs – well it seemed like it. As we were walking along the road about 6 large dogs came running down the hill barking loudly and fairly ferociously at us. We made a hasty retreat armed with stones in case they caught up with us. I can see good reasons for the walking sticks that all the Europeans seem to carry. We also saw another snake as we walked back to our car. It was happily soaking up the sun in the middle of the road and seemed quite disinclined to move. It was relatively small – perhaps less than a metre – and had an intricate pattern along its back. Rather pretty for a snake.
Spent the rest of the day trying to find other bridges, sometimes successfully, and short walks. Ended up walking through the town tip in one instance so gave that away.
When we left our hotel in the morning it was obvious they were going to do some work on the place – when we got back half the building at the back of the hotel had been demolished. Partly to escape the noise of the demolition we wandered around the village of Monodendri and down towards the gorge. Highlight was seeing a beautifully marked tortoise happily meandering along eating the grass.

Dinner was also a bit of a highlight. Had dinner (after our first ouzos on the balcony) where we were staying as Momma was there. No menu, just what she has made – 2 sorts of soup, pies - and although we were offered grills it was obvious she was keen for us to sample one of her soups. Went for the lemon and egg soup with lamb (I think it was lamb). Tasted great. Also sampled her tsatziki which was good.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:24 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Thursday 14th May – Monodendri, Zagoria


Did a great walk from the neighboring village down ‘stairs’ to an old stone bridge in the gorge. The ‘stairs’ are part of what was mule tracks that used to criss cross the whole area. They are made of the local stone and this one zig zagged down to the bottom – hard enough to get down on the stone path but even harder getting back up the steep hill (hill isn’t quite the right word).

Many wild flowers – about 5 different types of orchids!!! Walked on following the river to another stone bridge and tried to follow the river to a couple of others but after a few attempts we realized the track had collapsed and was no longer in existence. Walked the road instead and found 2 more stone bridges. Some had one arch, one had 2 and another 3 arches – all very pretty.

Coffee in a village and then the return trip. We ended up being out for well over 5 hours and hadn’t had a proper lunch – although tinned dolmades next to a stream and an old bridge weren’t a bad snack. And the oldies’ fitness levels weren’t as bad as we thought they might have been – all our daily walks and wanders must have made a difference.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:21 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Wednesday 13th May – Lichnos – Zargoria via Dodoni


Another walk on the beach before checking out and heading off to Dodoni. Dodoni is famous for a C 3rd BC theatre and was the site of the oldest oracle in Greece. The oracle was the most important in Greece until superseded by the Delphi oracle. Initially the earth goddess ‘talked’ through the oracle and then Zeus took over – about C13th BC. He spoke through the priests who interpreted the rustling of leaves of an oak tree.

Dave had been to Dodoni on his previous trip to Greece and remembered it as a remote place where he and Barb sat at the top of the theatre and looked down to see a shepherd and his sheep wander in. Now the theatre is closed off as are a number of the other buildings / temples, you pay to get in, and there’s even a (small) café. But it has a lovely feeling about it – peaceful. And in the paddock opposite we watched an old lady herd her sheep – so maybe little has changed.
Went on to Monodendri in the Zagorian area. The Zagorian villages are set in the Pindos Mountains – full of narrow twisting roads and quaint villages that all use the local stone for all the buildings and local slate for the roofs. Some of the roads through the villages and most of the paths are also made from the stone – looks good but not so great to walk on. The area also has bears, lynx, and wild boars as well as snakes (seen more snakes here in a few days than we’d see in Australia in a few years), tortoises and many different types of orchids. Also lizards – that aren’t at all frightened – likely to run up you if you stand still.
Many of the houses are large and enclosed in high stone fences. Evidently at one of the times when the Turks ruled this part of Greece, the area was independent and was quite wealthy and built large houses.

Anyway, arrived in Monodendri where we had booked accommodation. The guy from the hotel was waiting for us and as soon as he had checked us in and given us a cup of coffee (Nescafe), he left and we were the only ones in the hotel for the night. The village is very small – 3 hotels, 2 tavernas and a couple of tourist shops and a handful of houses. No ‘real’ shops like a bakery or butcher – not in any of the towns.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:19 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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