It dawned the second day of the excursion, during which at total we traveled 1310km. This day included a trip to the west side of Tzoumerka, the central and western Zagori, in the region of Vasilitsa and we would come to spend the night in the area of Valia Calda and more specific to the shelter of Vovousa.
We woke up early and after we drank a cup of coffee we started heading north. We returned to the neighboring Pramanta and following the signs to Ioannina, we took the same road leading to the famous villages of Tzoumerka: Kalarrytes and Syrrako. Driving in an area with a stunning scenery, we reached the metal bridge (type Belei), crossing the river of Kallarites, tributary of Achelloos.
Adjacent is the small stone bridge Sygouna. It was made by the Syrrakiotis merchant Sygounas as there from that point he passed his goods to Arta. Before the construction of the bridge the carriage of the goods became with a wire rope, which was attached to the two sides of the river.
We took some photos and continued the relatively narrow street with continuous turns. In some places there were landslides, making the drivers of the opposite way to ask if the road from which we came was open!
After the village Kedros, we were on the route point that started the descent of the gorge of Arachthos through 20 consecutive "petals" of the road. Around the halfway we met a metallic monument, depicting a human figure with open arms, on the edge of the cliff... many call it "cradled by the cliff" and is dedicated to the 29 people who died in the crash 22.12.1958.
After we passed the bridge of Tsimovo that crossed Arachthos River, we drove more rapidly, until we reached the junction of Egnatia Odos for Ioannina. We refueled with fuel -in adjacent station- as until Vovousa, we would not have the chance to meet a gas station.
We used the Egnatia motorway for a few kilometers until the exit for Miliotades. From the very first kilometers of the route, it seemed the beauty that we would meet ... also most of us had revisit Zagori and we knew what we had to meet!
Shortly before the village Miliotades we met the stone arched bridge Kaber-Aga or Kamperaga in Zagoritikos River. It was built by the Ottoman kaber - Aga, who was the owner (squire) of Miliotades area. It reported that the Kaber Aga made a lot while doing good deeds, making rare for Ottoman. In Kaber Aga belonged the homonym inn where travelers stopped, either to rest or refueling, which is built just before the bridge.
As we continued the landscape became increasingly more impressive! Especially, after the intersection of Dolianis where we turned left with destination the Central Zagori. In the section of the route Fragiades - Kipi, the road passed through a wooded area that offered a unique landscape!
Shortly after the Kipi, we stopped at the famous "Kalogeriko Bridge" or "bridge of Plakida," as it is also called. It is a stone bridge, with a length of about 55 meters and deck width greater than 3 m, while on the side instead of parapet bears sparse arcades. It is one of the most famous stone bridges of Zagoria, a wonderful example of folk high technical and aesthetic of the time. It was built in 1814 and cost 20,000 piastres which granted the then Abbot of the Monastery of Prophet Ilias in Vitsa, Seraphim.
After a short stop, we continued to the destination of Asprageloi. We made a stopover in another famous bridge: the bridge of Noutsou (or Kokkori). It arched stone bridge located in Voidomatis River, in central Zagori, near the village Koukouli. Constructed in 1750 approximately and was named by the Noutso Kontodimo from Vradeto, who financed the construction.
In the small village of Archangels, we intended to meet up with two Cretan brothers, John and George, who unfortunately lost their ship from Crete due to the bad weather, they had been forced to lose one day of our 3-day excursion. So we said to meet at the guesthouse of Virginia. However, wrong information from locals that a road would not be accessible to the meeting point, changed their plans, when we would be in the shelter of Vovousa at the end of the day.
Owner of Hostel Virginia was the nice and friendly Virginia. By Costas P. she was known, when we proposed to visit her in order for a short lunch and rest, as we were in -about- halfway. After trying her tasty cuisine, we discussed the plan of continuity of the route.
We decided to change it a bit and get to the village Palaioseli through the route of Tsepelovo - Skamnelli - Iliochori, and not through Konitsa. The path we chose was at an altitude between 900-1200m and crossed a wooded area of fir. We met the settlement of Sarakatsanou, unfortunately -this time- it was locked. So we saw the huts and other traditional wooden constructions from outside. The deserted road after passing the bridge over the River Aoos, came to Palaioseli, the road of Konitsa - Vasilitsa.
So, in Palaioseli we turned right and continued on a narrow path that followed east course and on the substance, we crossed horizontal the mountains of Pindos. Besides trees, we met and the impressive bushes. Just opposite of us, we could enjoy the amazing view of the snowy mountain of Tymfi.
Continuing we climb altitude and the snowy areas again appeared. The road was clear and to the point that we approached the ski resort of Vasilitsa (1.750m.), at the roadside the snow exceeded 1.5m. This pattern was our way to the village of Smixi. Essentially we had entered the Western Macedonia. We followed the path to Perivoli, in an equally impressive track consisting of what else;;; Firs ... !!! The sun had begun going down and the cold to make its presence, in a sunny day that reminded of the summer!
After the Perivoli, the road climbed altitude and at the saddle (1540m), we met the dirt road leading to the core of the famous Valia Calda, which in Vlach means "warm valley". In the time we arrived at this point, we were fortunate to find ourselves in front of an incredible sunset that gave its colors on white surfaces of the remaining snow ... really magical!!!
We continued to Vovousa particularly to the retreat of Vovousa, located 2 km. after the village. The road passed through a fir forest, while we had the chance to meet a small deer while crossing the road!
In the shelter of Vovousa the owners waited us, Yiannis and Kostas, along with the Cretan friends, John and George, and also Constantine with Evangelitsa friends of Kostas P.
The warmth of the fireplace of the main hall of the shelter was the best for that moment. We arranged our stuff in the rooms and we sat together waiting the time of the Resurrection of the Holy Saturday. Some of us went walking to the village for the ceremony of the Resurrection. During 1am we sat down together to eat the traditional "soup", which really was very tasty ... even from those who do not usually eat!
The evening ended with a conversation and jokes, while Natasha and Stelios distributed to all souvenirs for our meeting.
The Easter day spent at a relaxed pace with music, food and drink, without making either one kilometer ... Happy Easter to everyone!!!
Next day ... Day of return...
Now is the day of return ... Having covered all these kilometers on a provincial road with many turns, we did not feel tired ... on the contrary we felt the inclination to cover even more kilometers!
The plan was to get to Metsovo through the route Flabourari - Aoos Lake and from there via the old national road and the passage of Katara, to end up in Kalambaka. Beyond through Karditsa - Domokos, we would go to Lamia and monotonous motorway will lead us to the port of Piraeus, where we would board our Cretan friends. Our time was limited then, as we should be at the port until 8pm.
We ended up delaying the departure and we left the shelter at the 11:15 a.m. The route –one more time- crossed an area with pines and climbed up to 1500m altitude. We met the junction leading to the central Zagori just outside the village of Makrino. But we turned left, towards the village of Flabourari.
The road provided an incredible panoramic view, while in a distance we saw the mountain snowy volumes of Tzoumerka. After the Flabourari village and just before the village of Greveniti, we met the sign for Lake Noufara, where we turned left. In less than 500m we met a small lake, in whose waters mirrored the tall trees that surround it... Other names are "Lake Captain" or "Lake Zorika," that is filled with water lilies every year and represents a unique spectacle inside the endless charm of green. We took some photos and continued our way to the dam of Aoos.
The road in many places was not in good condition. Frequent landslides destroy it and there are few times when the passage of vehicles is cut. The vegetation was dense lot. We came to the dam of the lake of Aoos, where we turned left following the path round the lake from the north side. It has an area of about 8.5 sq km at an altitude of 1,300 meters.
Constructed in 1987 in Politses plateau to generate electricity, but then it was particularly important habitat for the region. Following the path we met a lot of points with spectacular views.
After a few kilometers we found ourselves at the node for the passage of Katara, who for our regret we realized that a bar stop the passage ... notice that the road was not cleaned from the recent snowfall. Constantine and Evangelitsa who followed us from Vovousa with their car, suggested to us to get to Karditsa through Chalikio. The idea was very good, however when Kostas P put the GPS on a certain route, we realized that we do not had the time to do so. So we chose to cross Metsovo to refuel, and again used the Egnatia motorway until the exit to Kalambaka as at Meteora, we made a short stop for coffee and relaxation.
Beyond the path was as we had originally planned, we managed to get to Piraeus on time...
Returning to the house, I threw a furtive glance at the odometer, it had surpassed the 1.3 thousand kilometers ... It was one of the few cases when having covered this distance in two days, I did not feel tired. Indeed, the incredibly beautiful landscapes and unique journeys were so fascinated, that monotonous motorway back to the increased traffic, was not able to spoil my mood!
I would like to thank wholeheartedly the friends of MotoAdventures, which for the second consecutive time that I was invited to their annual meeting, giving me the opportunity to travel and spend beautiful company moments! I would also like to express a big BRAVO to Kostas P for the stunning route planned, giving us the opportunity to meet the friendly owners of Melissourgon shelters and Vovousa, but also his friend and photographer Constantine and Evangelitsa.
I hope we meet again soon my friends...