Jul 23, 2008 in Balkans 2008
On the last day of my trip, we went for a drive in the mountains. We headed out towards Metsovo, to the Pindus National Park. We had wanted to go hiking, but it turned out the national park office was closed this week and we couldn’t get any information about the trails. So we decided to just drive up interesting trails, and found ourselves going through some seriously remote forest. Eventually we reached a clearing where a lone shepherd was tending his flock. The track after here became impassable, so we turned around and headed back.
We took another road into a different part of the forest. We wound up in another clearing near a river, where we stopped and hiked downstream a bit. There was no-one else around and the woods were calm and peaceful, except for the distant bark of sheepdogs.
It was getting late and we had to head off. Back where the car was parked, some shepherds were working and their dogs were pretty aggressive. They chased the car, barking furiously as we drove, and followed us for quite a while. Eventually we shook them off. Then, we rounded a corner and saw a large animal sitting in the road. For a second I thought it was another dog, but we’d hardly seen it when it got up and shambled off into the forest. It was a bear; I didn’t even know there were bears in these forests so I was definitely didn’t expect to see one.
We headed back to Ioannina. In the morning I said goodbye to Iraklis and his family, and got a bus across Greece to Thessaloniki to catch my flight home.