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!