I am back after a long break from social media with this photo and the fisherman by the lakeside of Pamvotida lake in Ioannina. I envy the fisherman’s lifestyle, a daily life without stress and deadlines. In the middle of the university city of Ioannina and yet in a calm as few can get away in today’s digital world.
What lifestyle have you chosen in your daily life? Do you live in a big city, in the countryside or somewhere in between? Do you hear the birds in the morning or are you sitting with the headphones on the bus on your way to work? I envy those who left the big city and moved to the countryside and chosen a still life…
Have you heard the story about the fisherman who lives in the present?
A poor fisherman sat on the beach when a rich businessman passed by.
“Why do you sit here with a lazy look? Why are you not fishing?” the businessman asked.
“Because I caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman. “Now I’m sitting here enjoying the sun.”
The businessman shook his head.
“Now when you have time you could catch more fish, do not just sit here and do nothing”
“What would I do with the fish,” wondered the fisherman.
“You could sell it and earn lots of money,” said the businessman. “Buy one bigger boat with bigger engine and fish even more and earn more money.”
“What would I do then?” wondered the fisherman.
“You should be able to sit and just enjoy life”, said the businessman.
“I do that right now”, said the poor fisherman.
Lake Pamvotida is the only lake in Greece with an inhabited island within its perimeter. And maybe one of the resons why it’s such a popular travel destination. Ioannina is the capital of the Greek province of Epirus. The city has about 100,000 inhabitants. Ioannina can be followed back to the 900’s but became important as Epirus’s first city in 1204 and became independent in 1913.
The photo is shot from Aslan Pasha Mosque in the old castle of Ioannina. The island or to nisi as the greeks says is interesting with its history and role as the scene of the murder of Ali Pasha, ruler over Ioannina in the 1800s.
In Epirus, in the north west of Greece, you will find the region Zagori. In short its 46 stone villages in a magnificent landscape and just one hour drive from the city Ioannina. I grew up in Stockholm, in the middle of the city. Landscapes views and nature were not around the corner. It was usually up to date on summer holidays when we went to Greece. However the exception is my earliest childhood year when I lived with my grandparents in a small mountain village. As the years goes by I’m drawn to the mountains like a magnet and love the views of the those hilly landscapes…
Zagori means beyond the mountains, from the Slavic za “behind” and gore “mountain”. During the Ottoman era Zagori flourished and that is evident in the architecture of the houses, the unique bridges and monasteries. Kalderimi is the name of the cobblestone paved roads around the stone villages in Zagori. Most importantly they are designed for foot and hoofed traffic and tie together many of the villages in the region. Zagoria or Zagori or Zagorochoria (villages of Zagori) is divided into three regions, western, eastern and central Zagori. Here is the attractions you do not want to miss.
The villages you must visit here is Megalo Papingo and Mikro Papingo, its the villages in the photos above. We actually stayed here at Mikro Papigo hotel and from here you can start your hiking up to the mountain top of mountain Tymfi and reach the top Gamilla with an altitude of 2436m. Beside the mountains you have the famous lake Drakolimni on the way up and about 4,5 hours from Papingo. In between the two villages you will find the natural swimming pools of Rogovo. On your way to the village Aristi, stop at Aristi bridge and perhaps join the rafting groups for a pleasant rafting tour in the river of Voidomatis.
Above all the main attraction here is Vikos gorge, listed as the deepest gorge in the world by Guinness Book of Record. It begins between the villages of Monodendri and Koukouli and ends near the village Vikos. In addition village Monodendri has the most tourists as you have a spectacular view to Vikos gorge from this point. In the centre of the village you have Rizario Exhibition Culture Centre with nice handcraft and photography exhibitions. Central Zagori has the most famous stone bridges and monasteries in Zagori, don’t miss them if you are nearby. Villages like Dilofo, Kipoi are just some of the 20 villages in this section.
Consist of 16 villages which has the oldest villages in the area. Further this part of Zagori is for nature lovers, hikers, scouts and hunters. On your way up to the very east you find the villages Greveniti, Elatochori, Vouvousa and Perivoli among others. I have been to Vouvousa twice as its at least a few hours drive from Ioannina city. Above all nature lovers can enjoy the national forrest of Pindos and the river Aoos which flows through the village.
How to get here
You will reach Zagori with bus or car from Thessaloniki, its about three hours drive to the region. The nearest airport is located in Ioannina city, now with direct charter flights from Sweden. From Ioannina its thirty minutes drive to the villages Aristi or Dilofo, to reach the very east part of Zagori can take a few hours. The roads in Zagori are new but with a number of hairpin bends.
Once upon a time the center of Minoan civilization which is the earliest known civilization in Europe. Today one of the most popular destinations for Scandinavians and many others. And the reasons for spending your holiday in Crete are many, the beaches with the long bathing season and the sights with Greek ancient history are just a few. However what I’m most impressed of is the gastronomic culture. The Cretan cuisine is fairly considered as one of the healthiest and most delicious in the world.
If you ask the staff at your hotel what they are doing after the holiday season is over, they will probably tell you that they are taking care of the piece of land. Probably with the olive trees they own. Crete produces olive oil of course, wine and even their own beer. The name of the beer we ordered in some restaurants is Charma and is very tasty. And the best part is that you usually can visit the producers and taste and learn about products in place. We use to rent a car to make trips around the island to discover the producers or the restaurants with the authentic Cretan cuisine. I call those trips for culinary trips read about them here.
The last time we visit Crete we stayed in Rethymnon and drove up to the little village Maroulas and there at the top of the hill we found a little nice family restaurant Fantastiko with the most a fantastic view towards the coastline.
The typical dishes we use to order as starters besides the Greek salad are:
Dakos also known as Koukouvagia. Consisting of a slice of soaked dried bread or barley rusk topped with chopped tomatoes and crumbled feta or mizithra cheese. Also flavored with herbs such as dried oregano.
Secondly Skaltsounia or Kaltsounia is pastries with kafkalithres or mironia. Thats Greek wild greens that reminds of spinach. Thirdly people here are very fond of drinking Raki or Tsikoudia the traditional wine of the island made on distilled grape peel. The Cretans love Raki so much that almost each family has its own unique recipe and can contain up to 37% alcohol. Raki is usually served after the meals with or without dessert.
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