"We are in the mountains of Vardoussia. This is the second time this week that we broke our nose on a closed refuge. We have to get out of there, we have nothing to eat.
The typical Greek village: the small square with its majestic plane tree and its café. At 6 pm in August, it's the end of the "siesta", everyone starts to show up for a game of cards or a coffee. Our presence does not go unnoticed. Everyone throws us, more or less discreetly, curious and surprised looks. And then finally, after a few dozen minutes, the usual mechanism starts. Somebody dares. The most astonishing thing in all this is to arrive in a village of one of the most touristic countries of Europe and to be told that nobody has ever seen tourists arrive there!
The Pindus is a mountainous massif in Epirus, in northern Greece and southeastern Albania. In ancient Greece, it was dedicated to Apollo. Today it is classified as a national park. On the Pindus mountain range, we followed the markers of the Epirus Trail, a long distance trail which overlaps on this section with the Pindus Trail. The dense vegetation and lack of trail maintenance made our progress slow and difficult. The thistles and other thorny plants that cover the trails sometimes broke through the soles of our shoes.
The promise of Pelion: a mountainous arm of land plunging directly into the sea, small heavenly coves and, in mythology, it was the corner of the Centaurs and where the Gods went on vacation. In fact, the coves were beautiful and it was fantastic to be able to swim every day, but going from beach to beach means going inland and swallowing a lot of difference in altitude. Overall, the area is not really made for walking. The paths are either agricultural tracks or abandoned roads on which it is very difficult to progress.
We often hear about Mount Olympus but it is more correct to speak about the mountains of Olympus. Olympus is a mountain range, the highest of its peaks is Mytikas. As the peaks are often invisible from below, either draped in clouds or dazzling with snow, Greek mythology regarded it as the domain of the gods, inaccessible to humans. The climb itself is steep and quite technical. For our ascent, a capricious weather creating a mythical, almost supernatural atmosphere and breathtaking landscapes.
On a last minute change of itinerary, we found ourselves at the edge of Lake Kerkini. This man-made lake was declared a national park about 15 years ago and is home to exceptional wildlife, from pelicans to pygmy cormorants to water buffalo. The views were sumptuous and totally unexpected. Unfortunately, in some places, there are more fishermen and garbage than wildlife...
"Hiking in Greece in the middle of a heat wave, what a good idea! When preparing the itinerary, we had promised ourselves not to be in Portugal during the hot months, to cross the Alps between June and October and to avoid being in Greece in summer. Almost a faultless, but the winter in the Balkans slowed us down a lot. As a result, we arrived in Greece at the beginning of July".
Spending two months in Greece, our itinerary could only be varied. The first half of our route in Greece was very mountainous. In Epirus, we followed the Pindus mountain range before continuing on to the heights of Vardoussia. We made an appearance in the Gulf of Corinth to visit Delphi and the Sea of Olives before heading northeast again until we hit the Aegean Sea. So close to the Sporades, we spent a few days on the island of Skopelos before reaching Pelion and then climbing Mount Olympus. Piera was the last mountainous section of the country before we reached the Bulgarian border.