The municipal elections were an opportunity for a short trip in the western Greece and especially in the mountains of Tzoumerka. We started Friday afternoon with destination the village of Varia, located on the banks of the largest lake of Greece, Trichonida. Varia is the origin of Stratos, and so we would spend the night at this place, for the next 2 days.
Because of the expected traffic due to the elections, we decided it would be better to follow the route to Thiva - Livadia - Galaxidi to get to Nafpaktos and then move to Agrinio. Choosing this alternative route, we would avoid both the tragic road Korinthos - Patra, secondly it given us the opportunity to enjoy the trip. Anyway we had no reason to hurry...
Following, then, the highway to Korinthos, at the point of the road of Magoula, we turned right to Thiva - Livadia. The road passes through an incredible wooded area, which becomes even more impressive if someone wants to visit the village of Vilia. In the past I wander in this place-that is part of Mount Kitheron-and yet I remember thinking that i was stuck: "... how close to Athens, it can be a beautiful and lush place ..."
Unfortunately this time we were not so lucky ... Once we left the national road, it began an intense storm that not only did not leave us to enjoy the journey instead forced us to be extremely cautious because of the presence of trucks. Fortunately as we were reaching the city of Thiva, the weather changed, showing improvement, while behind us we could see the heavy rain clouds that had stuck at the mountains, which we had just crossed.
After we passed out of Livadia, we continued west and at the intersection to Arachova or Desfina, we turned left to enjoy our coffee in the cosmopolitan village. Moreover, the route-kilometer-did not have so much difference. Apart from this, through Arachova is more impressive. The village of Arachova had a lot of people, possibly due to the elections. We sat at one of the cafes of the square, the decor of which gave you the impression that you are in respective of an urban center ... of course so are the prices. What to do though??? You are in Arachova...
At 10 we left, and it was dark for good. The cold was felt, despite the fact that we were already one step ahead in the summer! After we descended the spiral path that unites Delphi to Amphissa, then we moved - in most parts of the route - coastal we arrived in Nafpaktos. Unfortunately we could not enjoy the scenery because of the night. However, in the light of the almost "full" moon, it gave a special charm. Late in the evening we arrived at Varia, where the family of Stratos waited. The next day would be dedicated to various jobs, rest and visit the beautiful lake.
We woke up early to get ready and depart to tzoumerka . Previously, we have moved for a neighboring village, the Neromana, where the polling station was located where Stratos belonged. This village may be the prettiest lake area for several reasons: firstly offers spectacular views of Trichonida. It has many springs that create small waterfalls, derived from a large rock at the base of which is built on an old church. The small stone square in front of it, blends with the other houses of the village, which are struggling to retain some elements of traditional stone architecture. We left Neromana and found to ride to the national network of Agrinio - Arta. On the ring road of Arta, we were at the node of Ammotopos - Pramanda.
From the very first kilometers of the route seemed what would follow. The narrow road was going in an area with dense vegetation consisting mainly of trees. After we drove a little less than 10 km. (before the village Platanakia) we were found at an intersection for Makrykampo. We continued towards there and soon we came across a bridge that connected the opposite banks of flushing river Arahthos. We made a short stop to admire the incredible beauty, unable to imagine how it would be next!
For some distance we followed the riverside path, which were once beside the river and sometimes much higher. Just before the village Makrykampos , we had a surprise : the road suddenly became dirt - cement and very narrow( ! ) , Giving you the impression that we have done wrong . Nevertheless, we opened the GPS signal and showed us that we were on the main road! As if that was not enough - and while we were on a dirt road - we were at an intersection unmarked. Luckily, at that moment , we descended to a truck , the driver of which he said in German "This is the right way ," apparently thought we were foreigners!
Following the passable dirt road we arrived at the village Makrykampos and then the road returned to its normal state. At about 10 km we found the impressive waterfall, from which it gets its name the village Kataraktis(waterfall) . Responsible for this is two waterfalls which are located above the village and have a height of over 50 meters. Especially during the months of May - June is more impetuous towards the end of summer and early autumn the water fall. Of course, the wife of the owner of a small tavern located there told us that with so many snows that have fallen this year, it may not stop the waterfall without water! Unsurprisingly we stopped for coffee with a view from the side of the waterfalls and the other mountains of the region, while in distance we could see the Ambrakiko bay!!! We left the Katarakti and follow the signs for Agnanta, we moved north. The landscape continued to be impressive and the altitude at which we drove was growing. After passing the cave of Pramanda (once again we found it closed), we entered the homonymous village.
Pramanda are the big village of the region, which is confirmed by its development. There we met the most people. With not many delays we make a walk and continued for the village of Melisourgous who abstained about 6- 8km. The village is built in a canyon, creating a unique landscape! The stone houses, the narrow streets, the paved, the square with the big plane are some of the features, while the village was named because of the inhabitants that had hives with bees inside the village.
Just before entering the village we made a short stop to enjoy the scenery and eat the pie that had given us the mother of Stratos. Our next destination was the village of Syrrako. As we followed the 30km route within a unique landscape, passing military-style bridges and enjoying the incredible views of the national park of Tzoumerka, we arrived in the traditional village of Syrrako.
The village has several entrances, but the most picturesque is that you walk away from a stone path, crossing the stone bridge. Syrrako is proclaimed traditional settlement. It preserves the traditional Epirus architecture with stone houses with slate roofs. Along with the neighboring Kalarrytes are the only villages that maintain this architecture in the south of the prefecture of Ioannina, which is most common in the north of the county in the Zagoria villages. Many houses are big and rich, which indicates the economic boom of the past of Syrrako. We walked through the narrow paved streets, which had several restaurants and guesthouses, most of which were closed at that time. Certainly, some were open and serving guests. The time had already gone 5pm. when we decided to depart to Kalarrytes. I had visited about a year ago for the first time and I had the best impressions. But I had promised myself that I will repeat it soon ... so i did!
Before Kalarrytes there is an impressive monastery which we wanted to visit, it is called Kipinas. It owes its name to the gardens that grew near the monastery the monks. The paved road reaches the base of the cliff and from there a path carved into the rock and a wooden bridge leading to the monastery. Plus there are no monks and its keys we took from a small tavern of the village before the monastery (relevant sign). Perhaps the most impressive monastery of Epirus, awe-inspiring because of its location, as it is built on a steep cliff. Built in 1212 by the monk Gregory and it is dedicated to the Assumption.
Inside the monastery is a secret door leading to the crypt, where the cave was at the Ottoman period and at the national resistance the hideout of the enslaved Greeks and resistance. Impressive murals decorate the interior of the church dating from the 17th century. The suspension bridge before entering remains mobile. When it is up, there is a vacuum of 4 meters above the cliff and protected in the old days the monastery of aspiring raiders.
We left the monastery and continued climbing to 1200m. altitude, where is the village of Kalarrytes. It is built on the edge of the steep slope leading to the river Kalarritikos. Opposite, in the southwest of the village, is the slope called Pouliana . The gray stone is the main building material and the dominant architectural feature of the village houses. It is used ample for building houses, roofs, floors in cellars, the gates and courtyards, the laying on the streets, build enclosures for the taps. As a local referred to us that a roof for a house 50sqm, weighs about 10 tons! The village attracts more people in August and the period of Christmas - New Year.
The entrance is only accessible on foot. The hotel we chose to stay was in the main square, so saddled up our stuff and started to find it. The hostel is the same property with the grocery - tavern, whose age is approaching 200 years! Most visitors to the village to know it, as it is picturesque and has a lot of good food! And one more thing ... is the only one that is open anytime you find yourself in the village! So we left our stuff at the hostel and we got to enjoy coffee and our food , having the opportunity to meet the friendly owner Napoleon and his wife, as well as the nice employer Monica , who I had met the previous visit.
This time the village had more people, who as time passed gathered at the restoran. In a short time we had all met each other, something not surprising, as the people are friendly and hospitable. We sat up late chatting and enjoying the atmosphere, an atmosphere that referred back to old times.
THE NEXT DAY
The next sunny day was the best for the mountain trail we wanted to do. The locals told us that throughout the previous period it rained constantly and just 2-3 days the things were better! We were lucky!!! Our sleep was full and when we woke up we went directly to the restaurant where it was prepared a homemade breakfast. The time passed quickly and we had to depart, as we would return to Athens. The kilometers were not much, but we should ride a paved mountain path (about 20km) up the side of the mountains of Trikala.
This route was the main reason we visited the area. Last time it was blocked by snow. The road that connects Kalarrytes with Anthousa (and Matsouki), it finished its asphalt paving about 3-4 years ago . This particular road axis is why the installation of the first inhabitants of the region occupied the fortified positions and made settlements. For these reasons it developed the trade and it is no coincidence that most of the inhabitants of the village, staying in Trikala - Karditsa and Larissa, despite Ioannina and Arta.
So we left the beautiful Kalarites and we followed the almost - deserted - ascent. Although spiral it was not tiring, but unlike much enjoyable. Each turn made you to stop and photo the landscape! Around the area was surrounded by huge mountains , with herbaceous vegetation and enough snow in some places. At the highest point we were in the junction that in the right, led to Matsouki (15km) and left Anthousa. The altitude was 2000m. Over our heads lifted up the top of baros (approximately 2100m). Observing the landscape came to your mind, all these narratives friends motorcyclists and references to the famous Alps ... however we were in Greece!
We did not resist following the path to Matsouki, as we watched the street rammed to the snowy part of the mountain! We traveled 5-6km., we started with the road descends back to the previous intersection. Beyond the road passed-originally-from snowy sections and following a downhill path entered a wooded area with high firs! Soon we met the river Acheloos and essentially is the point we left Epirus and Thessaly enters. We led the riverside path for about 20 km. and guide the signs for Trikala/Pertoyli/Elati.
The vegetation was most intense and the driving enjoyable! The weather showed us its best face! Ideal conditions! After about 90km. we reached the Pili, which is known from the famous stone arcuate bridge that joins the river Portaikos. Although the total kilometers of Kalarrytes was about 100, we needed about 2 hour to go... of course along with the attitudes and photos.
The Pili was our last stop before our departure for Athens. Possibly not as random as its name from that point you enter into another world ... truly "magical"!!!