Articles tagged with "greece"

Pindus

Pindus

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 for the week and we couldn’t get any information about the trails. So we decided to just drive up interesting trails and see where we got to, 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 definitely didn’t expect to see one.


Ioannina

Ioannina

We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in Ioannina itself, but we had a look around the mediaeval fortress, and got a boat to the island in the lake and explored that. The town was the last stronghold of local legend Ali Pasha, who went rogue and declared his own personal fiefdom, ending up holed up in a small house on the island, where a crack squad of Ottomans eventually turned up to terminate him with extreme prejudice.


Vikos gorge

Vikos gorge

I got a shared taxi to the Greek border. I asked how much it would be in hacky Albanian, and understood that it would be either 500 or 5000 lek√ę. 5000 would have been about 30 pounds so I assumed it was 500. I did slightly fear an ugly situation at the border when I handed over my 500 lek note, but luckily I’d assumed correctly.

I walked across the border. Waiting for me on the other side was my friend Iraklis, who was from these parts and was here over the summer. It was strange to see a familiar face from London here at the border with Albania. My trip would finish with three days in north-western Greece, staying with him in Ioannina.

We drove from the border straight up to the village of Monodendri, where legend had it we could obtain the best pie in Greece. But when we got there, the famous pie restaurant was closed and we had to make do with the second best. From there we hiked a bit of a way down the Vikos Gorge, supposedly the deepest in the world relative to its width. We hiked until we got to a point where insanity would have been required to carry on, and then turned round and headed back to Monodendri.