Northern Pindus (Monodendri, Vikos, Vikos Gorge), Greece Week 111 May 23rd - 26th 2013
After it blew all night (almost had to turn the truck end on) it rained all day.

Borders are miserable places at the best of times. Leaving Albania was painless, even in the rain.

Entering Greece was a half hour queue of cars.

Customs had an interest in the Albanians but waved us through.

We headed towards the Northern Pindus.

Several connected national parks.

We camped a couple of km short of Kato Vista down a gravel road.

No fences in the valley, some crops, and three herds, one each of goats, sheep and cattle.

Roaming the floor of the valley.

It rained most of the night.

Heavy at times.

Visited in the morning by the large herd of goats.

One with a large bell.

Large herder unperturbed at our presence.

Watched the clouds clear in the morning then after lunch went for a walk from Kato Vitsa down into the gorge.

The houses in the 45 villages in the region are built of stone, with stone roofs.

Lots of shade required in Vitsa.
The "steps of Vitsa".

The tracks and bridges date from the Ottoman era.

Though the shrines are clearly more orthodox.

Some of them have lighted candles.

The river flows through the deeper part of the Vikos Gorge in the distance.

Apparently in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's deepest.

900m deep, 1100m between rims.

Halfway down the steps is Agios Nikolaos Church.

About 1612.

The candles are still burning.

We are walking down about 200m.

More about the silty water later ....

Misiou's Stone Bridge.

About 1748.

The stone on top of the sidewalls looks a bit like cast concrete.

A perfect arch, or two.
Not to be fooled by another bridge that just looks like the first one.

Kokori's Stone Bridge. About 1806.

Different sidewalls.

Both look like they've had a bit of maintenance recently.

And the EU "we paid for this" notice helped the analysis.

We walked across before turning back for the walk up the steps.

The bridges were built through patronage. Named after the patron.

The patron for this one was an official at the court of ... you guessed ... Ali Pasha.

Fascinating shape.

Perhaps the same stone masons as built the famous bridge at Mostar (that we didn't visit).

The Kokori's bridge is just out of sight beside the new road.

Just in a gorge that joins through the middle of that cliff on the left.

We think Rose Hips.
We drove up the hill with the aim of having a quick look at the gorge then returning to our last night campsite
Through Monodendri to Oxio.

Not a town, a lookout.

The gorge looking North.

gps has the road all the way to Vikos but reality forced us to a different conclusion.

Not content with the new lookout I climbed up to the old one.

Look, no walls!

Tomorrow we'll walk down into the gorge from Monodendri.

There was some convenient flat ground near Oxio so we stopped for the night.

We'd met some Austrian motorcyclists at the lookout.

The occupants of this other motorhome arrived with a bit of "fanfare".

A couple of Aussies from Townsville in a German motorhome. Tony, and Denise with children Jasmine and Malakai Traveling Europe. The Austrians had told them about us.

Lots of info about Turkey. And half a terrabyte of movies!

After a late night, talking about the things one talks about.

Nice to talk to long term independent travelers. And Aussies to boot.

We were woken by the sheep. Larger herds here than we have become used to. But still herds, and still kept on the move.

And dogs to assist.

Stone roofs.

With a hint of contemporary weather proofing.

But we do like chimneys.

After the late night we moved about lunch time.

Decided against walking into the gorge from Monodendri but will drive round to the north end.

Kalpaki down in the valley. A bit of a detour to the supermarket (we missed the first time through) and an ATM at its front door.

Failed at a sim card for the internet - usual problem, a tobacco / magazine seller didn't have enough info.


Overlooking Kalpaki.

Vikos down the road to the right.

Papingo more to the left then up the zig-zag in the distance.

We stopped to check on the geography.

For a while the zig-zag to Papingo had looked like it was on the opposite side of the gorge.

But no. The gorge turns a bit of a corner.

At Vikos we parked in the square and walked down into the gorge.

The butterfly stayed still long enough for a photo.

Its more cautious publicity agent hovered above.

Voidomatis Springs.

Yesterday we'd noted that the river flowing into the gorge was a bit silty and brown.

From Vikos, looking down we saw the lower stretch of river looked like that wonderful iridescent limestone clear water.

The Springs are several outlets pouring clear water into the river, overwhelming the silt.

The Theotokos Koimesis Church (we think) is on the valley floor below Vikos.

We're unsure of the difference between church and monastery - this is also described as a monastery.

Downstream from the Springs.

We could hear the chickens..

Our camp for the night in the square at Vikos.

Looking north.

Water from the tap in the square.

A couple of convenient restaurants - beef & tomatoes, pork in white wine, with 50/50 fried potatoes and rice.

Plus the wine (of course) in sensible glasses.

Nice to relax under a grapevine.

All at a very relaxed "Greek" pace.

There's a lookout at Vikos.

The gorge flows from the right, around the corner below us, and disappears to the left.

The previous photo is of the face just off this picture to the left.

One of those "just take a step backwards" occasions.

The springs are close to the bottom of the photo. Just where the trees get a bit bigger, and the small patch of open ground, for those with a keen eye.

The monastery is about 200m directly below us

The corner in the distance is perhaps the corner we saw from the Oxio lookout.

A bit overcast next morning.

Time to head south.

But first say goodbye to the Czech couple who camped next to us.

An interesting bit of "isn't it the communist system" when volunteering their understanding of the extent of regulation in Australia after we'd asked about how Czech freedom affected them.

Favourite hypothesis of mine about freedom - seems I'm not alone! The poms call it "nanny state".

Through Kalpaki again.

We bought some fetta cheese in Albania but Greece is really its "home".

Some days it seems everything in the world is plastic. Even the milk urns.

At least the tops stayed on the old metal urns, no need for the stone!

Not sure if its goat, sheep, or cow's milk.

We've wondered about the stones on top of the bee hives also.

We thought we'd take a look at Nekromantia.

gps didn't know about it so we told it Mesopotamo.

A bit of an awkward route it seems. We crossed this narrow bridge within a km of leaving motorway after Ioaninna.

We passed Ioaninna on the "peripheralium" (or some such). Reminding us of some of the origins of English. So much more romantic sounding than "by-pass".

No sim card on Sunday. 

The villages, and thus the roads, seem to hang on the sides of the mountains.

And sometimes the roads go over them. And sometimes down to the valley floor.

The worst of the narrow Greek mountain roads seem on a par with the best of the Albanian ones.

This descent across the hillside above us was a bit deceptive.

Lots of hairpins and 2nd gear to remain in control.

We stopped around lunchtime in an old road building / stone digging area.

Silica rather than limestone.

A Caterpillar 950 sized front end loader had conveniently dug a flat bit.

We did nothing more energetic than watch the clouds go by.

And contemplate tonight's movie - among Tony and Denise's movie collection is "Animals are Beautiful People" - I knew it as simply "Beautiful People" but that became "americanised" and my search over several years for the original, Jamie Uys' precursor to "The Gods Must Be Crazy", failed miserably.

One of life's more enjoyable little coincidences.

Of course the opening sequence reminded us of watching beetles make tracks in the sand in Morocco.

Nekromanteion of Acheron, Lefkada, Greece Week 112 May 27th - 30th 2013

Barry & Robyn Smith Fri, 31 May 13 09:15:57 +1000
Still keeping track of "the Voyages of Sinbad" (and Mrs Sinbad) as they sail in the Tardis with (hopefully) not too many Daleks (or similar) to be delt with on you trip through the 'space of time' to get back to Aussie. Thank goodness you both are doing this journey, now we don't have to! Cheers, Barry & Robyn

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