top of page
DSC_5280_edited.jpg

GREECE

"To live intensely does not mean to live each day as if it were the last, but as if it were the first."

Paul Carvel

We were very happy to arrive in Greece and we are not disappointed, but not necessarily for the reasons that one would directly think. Indeed, we arrived in the country in March and this year it snowed as it almost never snows here. We therefore had the opportunity to make magnificent ski trips while enjoying the view of the sea, which is quite simply magical! 

 

But that's not all! As soon as you go back down to the seaside, the temperatures are much milder. Near Mount Parnassus, for example, we went from -20°C to 15°C in less than 24 hours and driving only 30 minutes. With these temperatures, the conditions were therefore perfect for mountain biking, climbing and many more.

 

We were also struck by the kindness and generosity of the people. The day after my birthday, we were treated to a perfect example of this generosity. Indeed, while we were parked directly by the sea, a fisherman came to see us to offer us a cone filled with octopus, more than 2.5 kg, which he and his wife had just fished and cleaned.  ;

 

So of course, when you travel like us, you can't afford to go to a restaurant every day, but the few times we have treated ourselves to this luxury, we have not been on it!

DSC_4686_edited.jpg

Astraka 2486 m

Mikro Papingo is a small mountain village full of charm that is worth a visit. It is located in a valley surrounded by mountains and rivers, all connected by numerous footpaths. The village is traversed by small cobbled and narrow streets. These last zigzag between old and beautiful dry stone houses which shelter small restaurants which seem more succulent than the others!

 

Just above the village, there is a mountain, the Astraka, which we would like to climb on skis. However, we know that there is enough snow only from 1500m when we are only at 950m. We will therefore have to carry our skis for the first 500-600 meters of elevation. 

 

The next morning, we say goodbye to Lucky who does not accompany us for this outing because it is too long for him. Very tired after having carried our skis on 600 m of elevation gain, we find ourselves just in front of the steepest slope of the first route. After a few dried fruits, we launch ourselves there and climb on a first summit, the Kalogeros (2112 m), before deciding if we will indeed climb on the Astraka (2486 m).

ASTRAKA (continued)

The snow is quite hard, in places even a little icy which forces us to put our knives on our skis. However, it allows us to move forward quickly and without too much effort. In places, where the slopes are the steepest and most exposed, we each take our turn. Arrived at the first summit, it is still early enough to launch an assault on Astraka.

 

Once at the top, the view is so beautiful that we do not regret for a second to have gone there and to have sweated so much. Being alone in the world on this snowy summit and contemplating these breathtaking landscapes is an incredible gift that nature offers us.

 

Once our skis are ready and after having contemplated the landscape, we attack the descent which makes us very happy despite a fairly compact snow. The last 600m of elevation must, like the climb, be done on foot, but we do it with a good heart with a magnificent view in front of us.

DSC_4659.jpg
photo numéro 2.jpg

Vikos Gorge

When traveling to northern Greece, stopping at Pindos National Park to see the Vikos Gorge is a must. The park, which also has dozens of ancient stone bridges, is located in the mountainous region of Epirus.

 

Until the 1950s, these bridges had an essential role in connecting the isolated surrounding villages. Paying for the construction or renovation of a bridge was a sign of wealth and conferred great prestige in the community, so each bridge was named after its patron.

 

This region is really rich in discoveries with its villages and their stone houses, its rivers whose clarity you never tire of, its impressive trees and its magnificent peaks.

Hector the malamute

We head towards the village of Pades, a somewhat remote village, but located at the foot of Smolikas, the second highest peak in Greece at 2637 m. 

 

We were given the address of a great hostel, the Munti Smolikas hostel, which organizes mountain biking, climbing and other sports activities. When we arrived there, there was no one there except for a HUGE dog, a very impressive malamute who greeted us happily barking, but who looked quite friendly.  Unfortunately, the owners of the hostel are absent, we still ask them, by sms, for advice on the different outings to do here. They offer us to park our van in front of their hostel to be able to take advantage of running water and access to the toilets.

 

We really want to do some skinning again and climb the Smolikas. However, the village is only at 1100 m altitude and there is snow only from 1600 m. We will, once again, have to carry our skis…

 

The next morning, before sunrise, we leave ready. Our skis are attached to our bags and Lucky is also by our side. Today, we also have the honor of having a guide: Hector the Malamute. At first, the two dogs didn't really like each other and Lucky was quite impressed, but after a while they started to get used to each other.

 

Due to a small route error and a leak from Lucky, at 11:30 a.m. we had only gained 1100 m in altitude and were only at the foot of Smolikas. The snow turns and the conditions become dangerous. We therefore decide not to continue climbing to the top and to let ourselves be guided by Hector who brings us back to the refuge.

DSC_5005.jpg
photo numéro 3.jpg

Ski trips with your dog

Close to the village of Anthchori, we plan to climb the Kalogiros summit on skis. As before each of our ski outings, when we prepare our things, Lucky is impatient to go and can no longer stand still. Snow is his element, it's where he feels best, he feels alive there and it makes us happy to see him like that. 

 

During our first outings with Lucky, on the climb, we let him run in all directions. His energy expenditure was such that he had none on the descent. Sevan therefore found himself having to wear it. On the strength of this experience, we decided to lead him on the climb.

 

He adapted to it very quickly and that did not prevent him from being very excited. As soon as we reach the top, Lucky, just like us, loves to admire the landscape. It's something he does consistently and we love to see. Sometimes it does that even on the way up.

 

On the descent, he likes to be in front, so he runs like an arrow behind us to try to catch up with us. We are so lucky to have met him, him with his desires which agree so well with ours. Having him with us and being able to share our passions together is an incredible opportunity.

Meteors

In Thessaly, in the Peneus valley, we discover what is probably one of the most beautiful wonders of Greece: Meteora!

 

Already from very far away, we can see these majestic rocky peaks appearing on the horizon, which seem straight out of a scene from Star Wars. The closer we get to them, the more their imposing size leaves us speechless, and this, even before having been able to observe one of the Monasteries which litter some of their peaks and seem to be clinging to the sky. The road that slaloms between these rock formations offers magnificent viewpoints and we travel it several times.

 

We visit the monastery, Megalou Meteoron, we discover some troglodyte constructions and we walk hoping to discover one or the other of the treasures that hide in this grandiose landscape.

 

We would like to be able to discover every nook and cranny of these stone giants, they fascinate us so much. One thing is sure, we will come back to rediscover this region of Greece that impressed us so much.

photo numéro 4.jpg
photo numéro 5.jpg

Mount Parnassus (2460m)

Not to be confused with the Mount Parnassus tower, no, it is indeed a summit which is located on a mountain very close to Athens and which overlooks two seas.

 

Arriving at the Parnasse ski resort, there is a huge amount of snow. The conditions are going to be crazy. On the other hand, it is a more extreme polar cold than what we have been able to experience so far. We had less than -20° at night.

 

And besides, that night, I woke up with my teeth chattering, because the heating no longer worked. According to the error code, there is a shortage of diesel, but it is impossible, the tank is still half full.

 

Sevan has the good idea to squirt boiling water on the diesel pipes outside, under the van, because he imagines that they could have frozen (not sure that in Greece there is diesel with the additives allowing it to withstand this kind of temperature). When he returned, the heating started up again, so the pipes were definitely frozen.

Mount Parnassus (continued)

We are frozen all three and it is not very pleasant before a ski outing. Lucky is cold and all curled up and shivering. So I cover him with my blanket while the van warms up.

 

We begin to prepare our things for our outing. We planned to go to Mount Parnassus, at an altitude of 2470 m. From this peak, we should be able to see two seas, the Myrto Sea and the Aegean Sea. 

 

From the station, we follow a snowy ridge to reach the first peak, Gerontobrachos. We are very cold, even after climbing 500 m, we have to keep our jackets on. Even Lucky, who is never cold, has pain in the pads. 

 

We are waiting for the sun, which should be soon, to see if it will warm us up or not. As soon as it arrives, it warms us enough to be able to continue to the next summit, the Toumporache.

 

From there, we admire Mount Parnassus, this beautiful mountain covered with a thick white powder just waiting to be traced. Feeling strongly tired after our short night, we nevertheless decide to turn around.

DJI_0195.jpg
photo numéro 6.jpg

The Prodromou Monastery

Below the village of Dimitsana, there are magnificent gorges and several monasteries. We decide to visit that of Prodromou which attracts us far away. It is like hanging on the cliff and we wonder how all this can hold. There seems to be activity, as from where we are we see smoke coming out of its chimneys. Along the way, we find ourselves face to face with two mules that the monks use to bring provisions to the monastery.

 

We are lucky, arrived at the monastery, a monk welcomes us and invites us to enter. Everything is calm and serene, it's really impressive. 

 

He offers us a Turkish coffee which we accept with pleasure. We exchange a few words and he explains to us that he has been here for 4 years and that there are 7 monks in the monastery which at the time housed 300! He also explains to us that they supply supplies twice a month on the backs of men and that the mules are here to transport the wood. What a life it must be!

 

We don't leave empty-handed, we offer ourselves one of their homemade olive oil soap as well as some lokoums that the monk offers us for the road.

Leonidio, the climbing village

This village leaves us speechless. When we arrive there, we admire the many cliffs in height and at the edge of the sea which surround the village. There is choice and variety. The spot that catches our eye is a cave that we see in the distance called Twin Caves. The different sectors mainly offer rinds (one-pitch routes), but there are also quite a few long ones.

 

We had been recommended this region for climbing and we do not regret having made the detour. There is so much to do that we could stay there for 2 months without any problem. We also learn that this is often what happens to tourist climbers. They come here for a week imagining visiting the rest of the country and end up staying the entire duration of their stays here. 

 

We stay here for only 3 days and discover three different sectors: Twin caves; Aresus; Panagia. We like all three very much and we love the type of climbing that can be done there. These sectors offer sees for climbers of all levels. Despite their popularity, the rock remains very grippy and you can climb there in front of a magnificent panorama.

photo numéro 7_edited.jpg
photo numéro 8.jpg

The theater of Epidaurus

We definitely wanted to see the ancient theater of Epidaurus, which was built in the 4th century BC. It is still very well preserved, with gray limestone steps, almost all original. This theater can accommodate nearly 12,000 spectators and is still used today for shows as part of the Epidaurus Festival.

 

This theater is known for its impressive acoustics. Wherever you are, in the stands, you can perfectly hear a speaker located in the center of the stage. If you take the place of the speaker, this is where the magic happens. When you speak or clap your hands, you have the impression that the area begins to reason. It is really impressive.

Athens and its acropolis

Our visit to Greece could not be done without stopping in Athens and its acropolis.

 

As we climb the short distance that separates us from the entrance to the acropolis, we are amazed. Admittedly, these monuments have been maintained, restored, and even rebuilt following conflicts, but it is no less remarkable and impressive to see what remains of them even today when several millennia have passed since the laying of the first block of marble. At a time when monuments are built more or less than for the duration of a sporting event, should we not take a look at these buildings from another era and question the durability of the stones that we lay or rather concrete that we pour. 

 

Coming back to our visit, walking in front of the Parthenon, the Erechtheion or one of the other monuments on the site, Sevan has its architectural history lessons that came to mind (the orders, the effects optics, etc). Even if it was not the subject that fascinated him the most, he would have liked to have his teachers by his side so that they could tell him a little more about these places.

photo numéro 9.jpg
bottom of page