Experience it

Nymfaio is known for the traditional architectural style of its buildings. Nevertheless, it is mostly known for "Arktouros", the bear shelter. "Arktouros" is closed during the winter period as the little bears are in hibernation. Many paths of the forest are also closed due to the large quantity of snow. For these reasons, the tourist presence at that period of time is low and as a consequence, most of the shops are closed. In this beautiful place, though, one can surely calm and relax, so the low tourist presence is not a big thing to bother. In addition, Sklithro, Xino Nero and Amyntaio are located so close to Nymfaio that this fact makes the area serve as a full packet of destination that offers relaxation, good food to eat, good wine to drink while gazing the amazing beauty of Nymfaio. Watching the village from the guesthouse "Argyro", where we stayed, is an unforgettable memory as the fog at the crack of dawn created a delightful atmosphere. We had a Greek traditional breakfast cooked at that particular time by Argyro herself.

We then drove off to Florina and Prespes after of course, we had taken a quick stroll in the village's lanes. As we were drawing near Florina the scenery was much more magical as the quantity of the snow became larger. Everything turned white in Florina; a city which one cannot tell that is beautiful, now seemed so magical. The way to Prespes passes through the mountain and the Pisoderi's ski resort. Even though there are a lot of bends, the route to Prespes was an easy and beautiful one. There was not snow and ice in the street surface but there was fog coming on the hillsides of the mountain.

.Prespes are located in the northest part of Florina's county. The Small Prespa lake is found in Greece whereas the Great Prespa lake is shared by Greece, Albany and FYROM. Getting closer to Prespes and leaving behind Pisoderi's mountain we passed by the historic Greek villages. During the war periods these villages were military bases and now they are not only abandoned with their buildings being demolished but also they are present and keep reminding us of that period of time.

The scenery while arriving at Prespes was astonishing. The little Prespa was completely iced and seemed to be a fairytale. We went to the village named "Psarades" which is one of the northest villages in Greece. Even there everything was iced but it worthed stopping by and have a bean soup while drinking tsipouro. The area is famous for its beans - the beans of Prespes- which is a variety of beans whose taste is of a kind and whose digestion is a quickly one. Therefore, the Prespes was an ideal place to stop, "recharge our batteries" and get warm as the temperature at this period of time is -4˚C. Besides the beautiful white landscape that you see you also feel serene by watching that view. The aura and calmness of the place are so noticeable that make your soul serene and calm when you hear the seagulls and the other birds singing their beautiful melodious songs near the edge of the lake.

Once we were supplied with the necessary things and were full with the considerably beautiful images of Prespes, we headed out to Kastoria. Kastoria is not far so in an hour we arrived in the beautiful city of Kastoria, the so called city of “Gounarades” (people who process furs). Lake Orestiada, in which Kastoria is located, plays a significant role to the city's beauty. Kastoria became famous for the processing of fur and its craftsmen. The companies that already deal with the processing of fur provide breeding grounds only in order to process the animals’ furs. Also, these companies basically export their products to countries like Russia as it has colder climates than other countries.

As mentioned earlier, lake Orestiada plays an important role for Kastoria's beauty. Thus, taking a stroll early in the morning or in the afternoon in the lake's edge is considered a “must”. At this period of time and after two years' time, the lake of Kastoria is still iced creating an amazing view. The overnight snowfall made the city of Kastoria even more impressive as the snowfall overlaid a white carpet on its surface. Kastoria puts up a very large number of birds and this fact is considered a negative one because the birds find it difficult to find food. However, the qualified authorities of the protection of flora and fauna do whatever they can so that these problems are avoided.

Moreover, Prophet Elia's Chapel is a worth visiting sightseeing, so you can also go there and enjoy the view from this height.Going around the lake and stopping by the cave of the Dragon and Mavrohori village while gazing both the twilight and the sunset mirrored in the magical waters of the lake are also worth-visiting. As far as accommodation is concerned, you can stay in Doltso which is one of the traditional accommodations located in the old city of Kastoria. There, you can try wonderful and delicious dishes. During the night of our stay there was a sparse but wonderful snowfall and in the morning there was a surprise for us.

 More in our next and last part about the Roadtrip to Northern Greece.

Detailed information of Day 02:

Starting point: Nymfaio

Arrival point: Kastoria

Mid-stops: Prespa lake (Small and Great), Psarades

Distance: Nymfaio - Psarades, 83 km

                Psarades - Kastoria, 62 km

Where to eat:

In the taverns of Ancient Kastoria (Doltso) and in the coffehouses in Psarades village

Where to stay:

Choose to stay in one of the traditional accommodations. We chose to stay at Orologopoulos mansion , the rooms were clean and the colour of their walls was white. Their architectural style is a traditional one in beautiful Kastoria.

We liked:

The route to Florina towards Prespes that passes through Pisoderio mountain, the Small Prespa lake (amazing view), Psarades village, lake Orestiada and the walk around it, Kastoria's picturesque, Doltso, the view from Prophet Elia's Chapel, the bean soup and tsipouro

We did not like:

The tourist part of gounaradika and the souvenirs at the beginning of the beach in Kastoria

Enjoy some more photos of the magical landscape from frozen little Prespa.

Photo credits: 
All photos © Christos Tzoutis

*Special thanks to Volvo Cars Greece, for granting us the Volvo V60 Cross Country and making our trip more comfortable.

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