Sep 18

Meteora to Parga, Greece

After breakfast, we hopped into Emanuel, left Metsovo and drove the remainder of the way to Meteora (which was just over an hour away!). The weather today was mostly overcast, which was unfortunate – as it would have been fantastic to get some nice photos of these epic monasteries in all their glory.

We rocked into the town underneath the rock cliffs, where Gina jumped into the Information Centre to get us a map for the different monasteries.We could see from the get-go that this was going to be a major tourist attraction, as the place was full of buses, all going up to see the monasteries.

We had a lovely time up there; massive rock pinnacles with epic monasteries perched ontop of them. There was far too many for us to visit in a day, so armed with Gina’s map – and some recommendations from the inofmation centre, upwards we went!


Gina & Megalo Meteoro, Meteora

Our first stop was Varlaam, which is the second biggest monastery in Meteora. It offered some fantastic views towards Megalo Meteoro on the rock pinnacle across the way. It had a lovely small museum (no photos allowed!) and we could also see the original rope basket  in which the monks used to get to the top (there we’re no steps back then!!).

Ginas petting heaven

A Meteora Cat

We continued on towards Agiatrias and Agios Stefanos, which both offered spectacular views over the town below, and over to the hills at the other side.

Gina superpose

Views over Kalabaka

Gina at the viewpoint

And there we have it! Another World Heritage site ticked off the list.

Our next stop was Parga for a couple of days, and luckily for me, Gina had booked this stay for us, and boy! what a booking!

Balcony views over Parga

Iest and some cats

Parga is a picture-perfect little town, with it’s hollow castle perched above, and two lovely sandy beach to either side. To add to it’s beauty – our b&b owner was the local stray-cat lover, giving them dinner every evening, so Gina was again in cat-heaven!

Cat gathering

Valtos Beach cove

We chilled to the max, with Gina taking a dip in the sea, and then off for an epic Greek dinner in the evening, before heading to our b&b to enjoy the views from our epic balcony, and listen to the crickets chirrup.

Gina having a splash

Our lovely dinner

Sep 18

Ioannina to Meteora (ish), Greece

We woke up, and headed downstairs for some breakfast. A large buffet was awaiting us, and we got stuck in. We had hoped to take the little relaxing boat cruise over to the To Nisi (the Island) right in the middle of Lake Pamvotida, but unfortunately, the winds were still blowing strongly. We walked along the lake shore just to double check, but all the boats were tied up for the day. No luck!

Windy Lake Ioannina Pamvotida

Old streets of Ioaninna

From here, we decided to walk into the old town, to see the sights. There’s a lot of history in Ioannina, and the thing that stands out the most is solid, tall walls of the Kastro enclosure; a tranquil old quarter, with many interesting sights that we planned on visiting.

We first headed over to see the Aslan Pasha Mosque, which is set atop Ioannina, in some really quite impressive castle ruins – littered the floors were stacks of cannon balls. Inside the Mosque, was the Municipal Ethnographic Museum, which exhibits local costumes and period photographs together with exhibits of the Greek, the Turkish and the Jewish community.

Grounds of Aslan Pasha Mosque

Gina and the stacks of cannon balls

The Mosque itself was really impressive and quite beautiful – built in the 17th Century. We pretty much had the whole area to ourselves, so we took our time and and admired the beauty of the place.

From here, I had to head over to the car quickly to sort out parking, while I left Gina for a few minutes. I had such a hard time finding her afterwards – so much so, that I’m making a note of it on our blog. The impressive Kastro walls wouldn’t let me inside anywhere – I finally found her, chilling on the grounds of Its Kale, by the Silversmithing Museum.

Gina inside Aslan Pasha Mosque

The Silversmithing Museum at the Its Kale

We continued to explore the grounds of Its Kale – and relaxing behind the Fethiye Mosque, which was another really impressive mosque overlooking the lake. We didn’t go into the Fethiye Mosque, as this one was quite busy – so we just chilled in the glorious sun.

Fethiye Mosque


Fethiye Mosque

Gina and Lake Pamvotis

Walls of the Kastro enclosure

We decided to hit the high street, to see what Ioannina had to offer us – Gina found a H&M, and got herself a funky Wonder Woman t-shirt which she loved. By now we were a bit peckish and headed over a local cake shop to sit outside in the sun to have a couple of lovely slices.

Cake Shop

Cake eating in the sun

We then headed back to Emanuel, and decided see if we could try to catch a boat to To Nisi (the island), but from the other side of the lake. Unfortunately, they weren’t going from here either – the winds we’re just too strong.

The plan then was to head over to Meteora, so we drove East, out of the Ioannina. Unfortunately, Gina had tasked me with booking our hotel for this night. I managed to book us into a super fancy hotel, that was in a tiny sleepy little town of Metsovo, which was still a good hour away from Meteora. Oh dear.

We decided to make the best of our situation, and head out for some local dinner – and then retire to bed early.


Sep 18

Beloi Lookout to Ioannina, Greece

We woke up at a leisurely pace, and went for another dose of our favourite Greek breakfast. The weather today had totally changed compared to yesterdays; completely overcast, with rain clouds everywhere. We had another lovely chat with the host, and she recommended that we went around the Canyon the other way – as it also offered some great, less busy views of the canyon.

So after packing up, and saying our goodbyes, we set off driving anti-clockwise from Dilofo and immediately stumbled upon a few fantastic stone bridges, dating back to the 18th Century – we parked Emanuel, and hopped out for a couple of snaps. The first bridge was Bridge of Kokkoros (or Noutsos) – and about 5 mins drive around the corner is the more adventurous; The Bridge of Plakidas – both must be amazing when the river is at it highest – but right now, there wasn’t even a drop of water going under them.

Bridge of Kokkoros or Noutsos

The Bridge of Plakidas

We continued up, through the winding road up to a tiny little village called Vradeto. We parked up, and hiked a few the km along the top plateau of the gorge until we reached the Beloi Lookout point – a similar setup to what we had at Oxya Viewpoint, but we’re now at the other side of the Canyon.

Hiking along the plateau

Another Hiking Pic

The view was pretty fantastic. The canyon is BIG. We had the place to ourselves for a little while, but we were then joined by an older couple who happily took our photo for us. Being so high, it was a bit nippy, and started to hail a bit by the time we were leaving. We got back to the village, and decided to pop into the only little hotel/cafe that’s in Vradeto for a quick cup of coffee and cake by the fire. We picked up a couple of Iranian hitchhikers and dropped them off as far as we could along the route they were going.

Beloi Lookout

Us at the gorge

From here, we continued going counter-clockwise, the road started to get worse and worse, but the view were still mighty impressive. There was evidence that some serious landslides had happened in the past at a few places, with the road almost gone – so I took my sweet time driving along this little road. It was incredibly quiet, but we stopped now and again to take in the views, take photos and timelapses. We listened to some traditional Greek radio – to help set the mood, and Gina kept a sharp eye for some bears in the woods (which we didn’t see.)

Incredible landscape

After a few solid hours of driving, we arrived back on one of the main roads, we’d basically done a massive loop around the whole mountains and gorge. Our next destination was down South to Ioannina. When we arrived, the weather had changed again – this time the wind was super fierce, the lake had waves on it! We found our hotel, and set ourselves up for the night.

Iest & our hotel

Windy Lake at Ioannina

By now, we were super hungry – we popped over to the lake for a quick look, and decided to run into the town to shelter from the massive winds. Gina found a nice place for us to eat, recommended by our Lonely Planet guide book; Stoa Louli – serving Greek favourites with a contemporary twist. The food was fantastic – but unfortunately, the whole electrical power of Ioannina was knocked out by the massive wind. We were given candles to eat by, so everything was good. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, through the pitch black streets, into bed, where we watched the new second season of the amazing Norsemen. Yey!

Sep 18

Vikos, Greece

We woke up (having slept beautifully in pitch black room!) to glorious sunshine. Wonderful! We made our way over to the breakfast room, and were greeted nicely by the owner. We then helped ourselves to the most amazing breakfast buffet of all things Greek – cakes, fruits and yogurt, it was magnificent.

We had a little chat with the owner about the area, and she provided us with a nice local map of the sights. As it was such a great day for hiking, we decided it would be great fun to check out the Vikos gorge, and walk down to the valley today.

Morning at Archontiko Dilofou

The view from Convent of Agia Paraskevi

We started by driving over to the next village, Monodendri where Convent of Agia Paraskevi was located. A really pretty, stone built monastery perched atop the gorge, offering us some incredible panoramic views of the start of the gorge. We pottered around for a while, checking out the very old chapel and walking out over the ledges to take in the views.

From here, we jumped back into Emanuel for a short, winding drive over to Oxya Viewpoint – which offers some incredible views of the canyon. We parked at the end of the road, and walked a few meters towards the viewpoint. Vikos gorge is officially the ‘deepest gorge in the world’ – and standing at this amazing viewpoint, you could take in the sheer size of this place.

We spent a little bit of time here, just taking in the epic views, and had a quick photo-shoot as the sun was shining quite nicely.

The Vikos gorge

Us at the Gorge

A Gina photoshoot

Another Gina photoshoot

From here, we drove over to the village of Vikos, where one of the walks down into the gorge starts. We parked Emanuel, and ventured down into the depths of the canyon.

Down we go!

Deep into the Gorge

The walk itself really didn’t take too long going down. The views were just incredible, so I was stopping every 2 minutes to take a few photos – I would confidently say that Vikos gorge is one of the prettiest places I’ve been to so far. Just an amazing views for the whole walk down. Once we got to the bottom, we were greeted by the Voidomatis River, and it’s crystal clear waters – I was once told that this river is the cleanest in Europe, and I could totally believe it – I’ve not seen anything like it.

Papigo Towers

Voidomatis River

We spent a good hour or so down on the banks, just relaxing and petting the friendly stray-looking dog that was relaxing there as well. There wasn’t many people here either, so there was a very nice calm feeling. Gina, of course, wanted to go into the water, so off she went when I was down exploring the river banks. She pressured me to take a dip into the icy cold water, and I really did want to [note from Gina: he *really* didn’t! had to be shamed into it.] as I couldn’t give up the chance to dip into the cleanest waters in Europe. I can tell you now, the waters were freezing, but very enjoyable. I went in twice.

Gina taking a dip

The water sure was cold!

We headed back up the trail towards Vikos village, where we grabbed some ice cream, and walked around the local shops.

Into Vikos village

We then decided to drive over to Papingo to see the end of the gorge, and to get some dinner. The road was long and windy, with some sheep coming down, but Papingo offered some more great views of the gorge for us.

Traffic on the way to Papingo

Dinner at Pantheon

We grabbed dinner at a restaurant called Pantheon – where there was a massive sleeping dog, and an outside terrace for us to enjoy. We filled up on some pie, before retiring for the night at our lovely hotel room back in Dilofo.

Sep 18

Dilofo, Greece

After dropping Lily off on the weekend, we were all packed and ready to go to Greece for our summer vacay. Unfortunately for us, we had to get up super early this time – 3am to be exact, ready to be picked up for 4am by the taxi to take us to Gatwick. Everything went super smoothly, Gina even managed to get a few Zzz’s in on the plane, and we landed in Thessaloniki in no time.

Our first mission was to pick up the car, a nice little Citroen we named Emanuel. After familiarising ourselves with the car, we departed Thessaloniki on the 4 hour drive over to Dilofo.

The drive took us right through the middle of the country, where we were greeted by some lovely views – and the Greek highways were super nice to drive on. We noticed loads of high fences on either side of the highways – these were to prevent bears entering onto the highways! How cool!


Iest & the church at Dilofo

We arrived at Dilofo just as the sun was starting to set. No cars are allowed into Dilofo – so we parked Emanuel in the car park that’s just on the outskirts of the village. Dilofo is amazing, an incredibly traditional, picturesque village that I don’t think has ever changed since the day it was built. All the houses and roads are made from the same stone, with the whole village nestled into the woods in the hills, making it look like a little fairy tail village. We dragged our suitcase over the stone cobbles, and found our fantastic hotel; Archontiko Dilofou that Gina had picked nicely for us. I can’t recommend this hotel enough, the rooms were beautiful – all rustic and super comfortable, with a lovely host that we got chatting to a lot. She made us feel very welcomed.

Archontiko Dilofou

The streets of Dilofo

After familiarising ourselves with the beautiful room, we headed out to take a tour of the little village. Dilofo is super quaint, with lovely old buildings everywhere, with a church in the middle of the village and narrow lanes connecting everything up. We walked the loop around the village, and eyed up a nice little restaurant for dinner; Taki’s place. We sat outside on the terrace, looking out towards the mountains as the moon was slowly rising up behind them. We ordered a whole lot of fantastic food, including the grilled feta with tomatoes and herbs – something so simple, yet incredibly delicious. We had a couple of beers, and then retired to bed for the night – since we’d been up since 3am (!) and we had a full day of exploring to do tomorrow.

Grilled Feta!

Moon rising