Taxi service

Taxi service
TAXI SERVICE, for all your holiday needs while you are travelling in Hania. If you're coming to Hania and you need a taxi, maybe we can help you out. For quotes and prompt service, drop me a line at: mverivaki hotmail com

Friday, 7 October 2011

The road to Proussos (Ο δρόμος για τον Προυσσό)

Tune in every second day this week to see how we spent our family holiday in Central/Northern Greece.

The town of Karpenisi is a nice quiet place to overnight, to see how the locals live and entertain themselves at an altitude of 1000 metres above sea level, but you need to travel to the outlying regions to find a bit more amusement to sustain a longer visit. A car is essential on such a journey. The village of Proussos is the main attraction point in the area, due to a monastery located here, dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Proussos (Mary from Proussos, or Proussiotisa, as she is known in the region). The journey is only thirty kilometres away from Karpenisi, and the road offers relatively good driving conditions. What most people don't realise about this simple journey is that this route is lined with some of the most stunning scenery in Evritania, concealing a number of the most picturesque villages and landscapes in the region.


There is something for everyone here in this short-distance trip: local food delights, religious travel, nature hikes, sightseeing, traditional architecture, as well as children's activities and places to chill out in true Greek style. Few of the magnificent sights pictured below are visible from the main road. These sights of interest have not been developed into tourist attractions: they are simply 'there', waiting to be discovered by the lucky traveller: you really need to know where you are going, as not everything is sign-posted. I was provided with a text message of the route from my friend in the area, and followed it as well as I could, which turned this half-hour journey into an eight-hour day-trip. There were so many delights to take in off the main road, that we didn't manage to fit them all into the one day that we had to complete this trip in. Had I not been given these directions, I would not have known what there was to see and do off the main route; we would simply have gone to the main tourist destination (the monastery), and then returned to our hotel.

In just 30 kilometres... 

"Just a few minutes out of Karpenisi, there is the picturesque village of Koryschades, an architecturally protected area with a traditional feel to it... 

Buildings in Koryschades are protected by law, so that all constructions keep in line with the general traditional style.

... In the village of Voutyro, apart from a nice cafe near the village church, there is a wildlife breeding centre, where wild species are bred (mainly birds and deer), which are later released in the wild.

My husband was quite surprised to learn that some of the partridges he has hunted during the game season in the past might have been bred here.

Near the turn-off for the village of Nostimo, there's a clearing on the road, which leads to the river Karpenisiotis running beside it. It's a nice place to take a river walk as far as the water will let you...

 The flora of the area was very interesting, with intense colours; at one point, we came across a whole lot of tomato plants growing happily in the rocks over the riverbed!




... Further down the road is a small but interesting cluster of villages: Megalo Horio (= the Big Village) has quite a good taverna before the village with an open green space for the children to play in, but you might like to go to Mikro Horio (= the Small Village), which is opposite Megalo Horio, where there is also a good taverna...  

It wasn't lunch time yet (our picnic lunches were more than enough), so we simply toured these villages, stopping off at various points on the road to enjoy the views. It's quite a treat to come across natural waterfalls, rock pools, winter preparations, quaint houses and wood art.

... Follow the road from Mikro Horio to Palio Mikro Horio (= the Old Small Village)...

Palio Mikro Horio has a very beautiful square, decorated with plants growing inside logs. The waiter brings you a glass of icy cold water straight from the spring (where the watermelons have been placed to keep them cold), and you sit under a very old plane tree, which provides a great deal of shade, keeping you cool under the hot summer sun.

... for the best view of the valley and Velouchi...

Just a few metres away from the cafe at Palio Mikro Horio is a road leading to the church of Agios Sostis (the Saviour), from where you can see the whole valley and the Velouchi ski resort.

... Coming back on to the main route, you will pass a narrow strip of road running by the river Karpenisiotis, which was carved out of the mountain rock...

This narrow gorge seemed to spring out of nowhere.

... Eventually you will come across a bridge where three rivers meet: Karpenisiotis, Trikeriotis and Krikelopotamos... 

Rivers and bridges are landmark sites in this part of the country, Greece's most mountainous region. This old bridge looks rather desecrated with the more modern concrete tarmac on the top - it is no longer used, as another bridge has been built in its place (the one we were driving on, where this photo was taken). If you take the river route, you will come across one of the most amazing views of villages nestled in the mountains - apparently, the road was so narrow that not even donkeys could pass through here, and a new-born donkey had to be carried into the area by a villager in his arms, so that the village could have their first working animal.

... A little after that, the Proussiotissa monastery will come into view. From this vantage point, you get amazing views of the valley... 

On our way to the other sights, we passed by the monastery and thought we'd visit it on our way back... but we ran out of time. So we just made the sign of the cross (like most Greeks would do) while we were in the car. The Proussotissa monastery is a significant one in Greek terms; Greeks may not be outwardly religious, but they often ask favours of the Virgin Mary, especially in difficult cases, such as that of infertility - many a Greek will tell you that they came here on a pilgrimage because they couldn't have a child, and after their visit, lo and behold, they begot one.

... Continuing on the road, a little further away, you will come across a sign directing you to an area called Tornos. As you drive along this route, you can visit Mavri Spilia (Μαύρη Σπηλιά = the Black Cave), before you get to Tornos. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the cave from the footpath, where there are pools, bridges and waterfalls.  It is slippery to enter the cave so be careful...

At this point, we were unlucky. The sign pointing out the road to the Black Cave was not visible to us because of roadworks blocking the route at the very point where we were to drive on to see this attraction. The signs diverted us to a dirt track, from where we continued on to the village of Tornos. We missed out on a spectacular nature walk, viewable here in this series of 21 photos.

After your walk in Mavri Spilia, drive on to Tornos, where there is also a nice footpath below the church, with running waters, little bridges, and a water mill, that takes about an hour for a round trip back to the church.

 
It was almost 3pm by the time arrived at Tornos, so we did about half the walk; at least we didn't miss out on this waterfall. We also came across bridges, rivers and rockpools. There were probably fairies flying around the place too...

There's no taverna in Tornos...
There was indeed no taverna at Tornos, but there was a cafe. It was closed, but somewhere nearby I could hear people talking from a television show. I could also see quite clearly through the cafe window. The cafe seemed ready for business: the tables were laid with a clean crisp white tablecloth and a fresh hydrangea in a glass of fresh water, as if the owner was expecting guests...

... But you can also return to the village of Proussos near the monastery, where the taverna is OK...

The return trip meant viewing the landscape from a different angle, and it was quite mesmerising. But the taverna that we wanted to visit at the village of Proussos was closed...

... Or if you prefer, when returning to Karpenisi, you can stop at the village of Gavros, where there is a large square with some tavernas clustered together... 

... so we continued on to Gavros, a small village nestled between two mountain ranges, with the river running beside it.

... There you can have grilled trout at the "Spiti tou Psara"...


We were recommended the taverna "To Spiti tou Psara", which means "The home of the fisherman." Trout was served here, but since we aren't really hot on fresh fish (and possibly our pockets weren't padded well enough), we chose from the more standard range of Greek meals available; the taverna offered a good variety. The total cost of this meal was just 33 euro for the four of us. The most interesting part of the meal was the very kindly taverna owner, a grandmother in her late 50s, who told me how I could replicate her delicious pita in my own home, as well as how to make her very tasty dessert which we were treated to at the end of the meal. The pies were made in typical  Evritanian fashion, the feta was produced locally and the cake - karidopasta - is a specialty of the area. 

... Did you notice the children's adventure park, Saloon, located just three kilometres out of Karpenisi? It offers horse-riding (a little pricey), and it's a nice place to rest and have a drink (not too expensive at all).

 
We didn't need to notice the adventure park; the children did that for us. The price of these rides cost the children's parents just as much as the taverna meal!

This was the only day throughout our whole trip where we did not have to refill the car with petrol (the price of petrol in Central Greece is just as high as it is in Crete, averaging, at the time, about 1.75 euro per litre). All the driving distances were short; we just stopped the car every ten minutes or so, to see something we could not see at all in our own little part of Greece. I regret not being able to get to all the sights, as there is always the fear that we may not be able to come out here again, but we all live in hope that this kind of holiday (a cheap one within one's own country) will be able to be repeated in the future, despite the austerity measures being imposed on us daily.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.