After getting a taste of Halkidiki in Kassandra (the first finger) we moved on to the even more stunning Sithonia, the second finger.
It was even more green, with more amazing beaches and even a few stunning hikes to do. I won’t bore you with the details, just take a look at the images later on in this post.
The Locals Are Insanely Friendly
We don’t come across too many locals in our travels because we are mostly camped wild in the middle of nowhere. However, the night before we headed to Meteora was a crazy exception.
We chose to camp at a local park that was said to be “camper friendly” with water, toilets and great views. What more could we ask for?
It was a small village about 45 minutes north of Meteora and about 5 hours drive from Halkidiki, so we were happy for the break.
We arrived and all was quiet, but soon a few guys started their brush cutters to clean up the park. Not long after that they beckoned us over for a chat. Even though they did not speak much English. We used Google Translate App to help us all chat, and it was quite a lot of fun.
They proceeded to tell us we could do whatever we wanted there, use their BBQ area, camp as long as we wanted and even have a drink with them. They were retired locals who volunteered and looked after the park. We chatted to them for a while and they were super interested and friendly, they even found a friend who spoke German so we could communicate better.
We tried to organise a haircut for me as my Swiss barber cut was growing too long after 2 months, and the lovely lady who worked with them – Sofie, rang a few friends to get one to come in the morning! What time she asked? ah, 10am? Sure, she will come with her equipment to the park and cut your hair! Ok?
Sure! Bring on the wild haircut in the park I thought.
Before they left Sofie said – I will bring you Greek coffee and pastries in the morning!? Ok?
That is kinda insanely nice. Yes, please!!!
So, the next morning arrived and so did the hot pastries and coffee!
The haircut was cancelled due to other urgent commitments apparently, but who cares. I had pastries!
We decided it was fitting to donate something to the park as it was all done by these four locals and the government did little to help. After much refusal from them, it was decided we would buy a couple of plants for their park garden as they lost a lot of them in a deep winter snow.
So, we headed off with Sofie to see her house, her garden and then finally pop into the garden store! We chose a rose and a jasmin plant and headed back to plant them! Sofie and her husband then informed us our names would be added to them so we would always be remembered!
We were not sure what time we would leave, as we still had to make it to Meteora, but we wanted to spend at least a little more time with Sofie and the crew. Especially since they dropped the news that lunch was coming and we were invited!
It’s time to end this mini-story here, but needless to say an 8 hour slow-cooked calf’s head was brought over at 1pm with salad, bread and some local wine! Delicious.
Eventually, we got to Meteora…
Meteora – Those Monks Sure Were Ambitious
If you have ever (or never) heard of Meteora, you are in for a treat. It is basically a series of monasteries perched on some stunning rocks right outside some beautiful towns (Kastraki & Kalabaka).
The images certainly do not do it justice. We hiked around the area for one day and then did a driving tour around the monasteries on the second. Both were amazing.
Not only are the views spectacular – both with and without the monasteries, the sites themselves are like movie sets from Game of Thrones! It is certainly getting popular – we had to climb over hoards of tourists from all over the world to get into the monasteries, but it should certainly go on your bucket list (just go in the off-season).
Vikos Gorge & The Pindos Mountains
We love the mountains as most of you know. That is why we live in Switzerland. So, of course, we had to sample the mountains Greece has to offer. And the Pindos, with Vikos Gorge, is a great way to do that.
The Vikos Gorge is jaw-dropping. From wherever you view it. But the most outstanding thing for us was that the surroundings are amazing as well. Lots of hikes, amazing views, a huge variety of climates and vegetation. And bears! Yes, there are over 450 bears in Greece, many of them in this mountain range. We even saw a fresh paw print on one of our hikes!
It’s starting to get very hot here in Greece, so our hike in the Gorge was a challenge. Not the hike itself, but the climb out in 30+ degrees with heated rocks all around. Let’s just say we were glad to reach the top and grab a coke or two at the local Tavern (and by the looks of them, so was every other hiker!)
It’s soon time to leave Greek soil and move on to our next destination.