26
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!


25
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.


24
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!

Dilofo

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