Summer is in for good, so this was a chance for exploration and experience of driving through new landscapes. This time destination was the Thessaly land. The trip was accomplished from 07/07/07 till 09/07/07.
We started Saturday morning. Once you get out of Ioannina, you start to climb slowly slowly Mitsikeli. The road follows the perimeter of the lake (Pamvotida). From one side you’ve got the mountain, with pine-trees almost reaching the road and from the other side you’ve got the the whole city, the lake and the small island spreading beside you. The combination of colors this season is really something magical. The road surface up to the village Mazia is good, not the best though, with smooth twists. From Mazia and up to Peristeri, a distance of approximately 20 km, and while heading for Metsovo, the road surface is a motorcyclist’s hell! Asphalt is shinning a lot, due to the construction of Egnatia Road, where plenty of worksites produce dirt and dust, covering the whole road.
Oil leaks, tar and dry pieces of cement are everywhere. Both lanes of the road have been sinking due to heavy trucks. That’s because this road is considered a national road and it’s been used by international trucks. Also, for those that want to go from Igoumenitsa port up to Thessaloniki, mainly foreigners, who are driving in convoys of 10-15 cars, are doing very dangerous over takings, bypassing all-together the trucks, or at the best chance, don’t give you much space for you to bypass. At many points, the width of the road is so small, that you have to communicate first with the one on the opposite side of the road. Also there are lots of twists with completely reverse lean.
This kind of stuff is up to Peristeri. From that part and on, a small part of Egnatia, 11 km in length, has been given to the public, up to Metsovo. We passed Metsovo and stopped for a coffee at Profitis Elias, 3 km after. In the winter season, you can find here ski and snowboard classes, and in the summer season, you can go for riding with horses.
Once we enjoyed the landscape and the coffee, we continued for a little bit further. Up to the junction of Milia, traffic is noticable. From that part up to Kalambaka, you suddenly discover a playground of 60 km in length. In many parts, the road has been resurfaced, with new, pitch black asphalt, making an exceptionally good grip on the road. For a while you find yourself driving in between the pine-trees and fir-trees. There are lots of corners for your eyes to take a rest from the road and for you to fulfill your artistic concerns. We stopped at the bottleneck of Katara, with an altitude of 1690 m, for the necessary photos. From the other side of the road, small hills rise and at the end you can see the artificial lake of Aoos. Continuing this route, you start to descend, while you drive in between villages. The scenery changes from pine-trees to plane-trees. Maybe a “wild” beauty, but at the same time you feel a kindness.
The road led us to the bridge of Mourgani. Here there’s always a police barricade. We’re already for a long time in the prefecture of Trikala. There is a big straight road in between plane-trees, which are covering with their big shadows the whole road. Big straight lines, sweet turns and a really good road surface are the characteristics up to Kalampaka. Once entering Kalampaka, we turned left, heading for Kastraki, in order to reach Meteora.
The route is ascending, sprouting is getting stronger, lots of enjoyable turns, asphalt condition almost perfect. The big rocks start to reveal themselves on a slow pace. They seem that they are been cut off from the rest of the landscape, like if someone tried to put them there additionally. Watching the monasteries at the top of the huge roads, you get a mixed bag of feeling of awe, amazement and perplexity. The power of human will… In order to reach the outside room of the monasteries, you have to bypass various points. The main road leads you to the monastety of Saint Stephanos. We stopped there, while at least 40 tourist buses and lots of people where there. From the parking of Saint Stephanos, you can clearly view the flat lands of Kalampaka, while the road to Trikala looks like a completely straight line. Sunset from this specific point is unbelievable. The eye doesn’t meet an end. Reorganizing of our strengths and we started for our next stop, Larissa city. The road from kalampaka to Larisa has nothing to offer. A huge straight line, leading you to Trikala. We turned left, in order not to pass through the city. Scenery was exactly the same. Straight lines all the way. At many points of the road, the road has been widened a lot. You have the chance to ride faster if you like, due to this widening of the road. Road surface is rather good.
Around 12:30pm we’ve reached Larissa. Due to affiliate relations, we would stay there for the next two days. Middle of July and Larissa is quite tormenting. Heat is high and unbearable. On the afternoon, we decided to visit Mesagala, in order to do some swimming. This area is located approximately 50 km North-East of Larissa. In order to get there, you follow the national road Athens – Thessaloniki, traveling through the valley of Tempi. At Tempi, due to the width of the road and the curves, there was a traffic jam. Of course, for us it was not a problem, so we bypassed them and left. The beach at where we sit is named Kastri Loutro. Organized beach, thin sand,with lots of cafeterias along the lengthy beach, sun umbrellas, deck-chairs without charge, an offer of the cafeterias, and the best part, the coffee is served at the beach.After that, what else could somebody ask? Though once we’ve reached there, there was a light wind and wave, but the waters were hot and shallow enough.
The next day our destination was Agiokampos and Velika, East of Larissa. The distance was approximately 55 km. Along this route, the traffic jam started from inside Larissa. 55 km and the cars were almost stopped. After Velika, there was a beach, called Limanakia, organized as well, and as we were told, it gathers youngsters, avoiding the “family” orientation that the broaden area has. The sand has very thin pebbles and get deepen almost immediately. Also here, the cafeteria service reaches up to the beach where you can sit. Our return back was the same as our going there, but this time from the other side. Same taste, endless row. So, Monday morning we were ready for our return back to Ioannina, trying to find out what our next destination would be.