We left Athens early in the morning, a wonderful time to travel when the sun rises and keeps us company to our road trip. The way down to Lamia was relatively of no interest as the route up till there has nothing to offer but tolls. Luckily, the view of Evoikos gulf, Evia itself, the alluring dawn along with the sky’s special colours made the trip go fast.
After Lamia, we moved towards Domokos and passed through the most beautiful uphill route which is surrounded by the mountains of the area and we finally reached the village of Domokos watching the amazing view of Karditsa’s bay. The scenery was enchanting; a heavy snowfall happened a few days ago and we were lucky to see everything covered with a white veil.
We made our first stop in the Kastraki village which is located under the rocks of Kalabaka and Meteora. Due to the fact that Kalabaka is a crowded place we avoided to go there. Instead, we chose to visit Kastraki for its own authentic style; it is not influenced by tourism so it remains a traditional place even nowadays with an amazing sight unto the sky. We had a hot mountain tea at the central square’s coffeehouse and we were all welcomed as the owner of the coffeehouse, a grandmother, treated us so kindly like we were her own grandchildren. Once we had taken some time to relax we went ahead to visit the monasteries. Going through Kastraki and passing by the back side of the rocks we arrived at the Great Meteora in about a quarter. The Great Meteora’s special geophysical phenomenon of 60 million years ago and the monasteries being built by the monk’s bare hands on the edge of the cliff is a stunning view. This landscape is not only a tourist attraction for religious purposes but it also attracts travelers for its recreational activities. Therefore, here you can enjoy exquisite routes of walking, cycling, climbing and try some delicious food. In addition, you can enjoy moments of relaxation by exercising like doing yoga or pilates outdoors while gazing this great sight.
We continued our road trip before noon moving to the north and following the route that goes to Grevena. The landscape keeps surprising us as we initially pass through the forest and then drive up to the mountain, which was so snowy and seemed magical. Τhere was no access problem and no ice and that made the journey be enjoyable in its every kilometre. The first signs of “Caution Bear pass” reminds you that you enter one of the most beautiful forest areas in Greece, an area where the exceptional beauty of flora and fauna jump out.
Arriving in Grevena, we drove in Egnatia street for a while towards the direction that goes to Kozani in order to save some time. The Grevena-Kozani route has no tolls to pay. Consequently, the fact that we did not have to pay tolls was a positive one since we had already paid so many tolls in our way to Lamia from Athens. Near Kozani we go towards Ptolemaida and then Amintaio-Florina. After Egnatia’s exit, on the right side of the road there lie both the lignite's mines and PPC’s factories. This is an impressive sight as from a very long distance you can see two enormous distinguishable chimneys emit large quantities of smoke. However, if one ponders on the bad and disastrous effects that this emission of smoke causes to the environment, this cannot be considered an impressive sight but a dramatic and even a mournful fact.
As we approached Amintaio, the sun had already set colouring the sky with orange and red hues. Going out of the road near Amintaio we are moving towards Xino Nero and Sklithro and then to Nymfaio, a distance that lasts 15 minutes. Amintaio’s area is known for its wineries that are found around the lake Vegoritida. The most known wineries are “Ktima Alfa”,"Kyr-Yanni" and “Karanika”.
In “Xino Nero” you will find one of the best traditional restaurants named “Kontosoros” in which you can not only taste traditional and non-traditional dishes but also combine these dishes with a wide variety of wines that are found in the restaurant’s cellar. It is said that “O Kontosoros” restaurant has an exceptional variety of wines both of Greek and foreign origin in terms of their label and year production. What is more, there is a guest house in the restaurant where you can stay. In Sklithro, on the other hand, there are many options to find delicious food and one of the best is in “Thomas” tavern.
We arrived in Nymfaio the moment when the sun had created its canvas of the sunset’s vivid colours thus making the village seem more beautiful than it was before. Even though there was a lot of snow, there wasn’t any problem to access the village. However, the alleys of the village were so white and this gave a distinctive sense to this wonderful place.
During the winter season, a few shops remain open but the atmosphere and the pleasing sense of the village make you feel the warmth and hospitality of the residents.
A wonderful first day in unique places, more in next articles.
Detailed information of Day 01:
Point of departure: Athens
Point of arrival: Nymfaio
between stops: Lamia (for a short coffee), Kastraki, Meteora
Distance: Athens - Meteora, 355 km.
Meteora - Nymfaio, 172 km.
What to see:
Monasteries in Meteora, lake Vegoritida, Winery of Ktima Alfa, Arktouros in Nymfaio and Nikeios School (Nymfaio)
Where to eat:
Kontosoros (Xino Nero), Thomas (Sklithro)
Where to stay:
We stayed in guesthouse "Argyro" and was so cozy and warm, there are plenty of nice options in the village also.
The atmosphere of the village Kastraki, the scenery of Meteora, the landscape from Kalampaka to Grevena, the wine of Amyntaio, the sunset from Nymfaio, the amazing beautiful Nymfaio and its calmness.
We did not liked:
The tolls from Athens to Lamia (we paid around 15 euros) and the touristic village of Kalampaka.
*Special thanks to Volvo Cars Greece, for granting us the Volvo V60 Cross Country and making our trip more comfortable.