Roadtrip North Greece in the low season
Greece. Not only the islands are world-famous for their variety, diversity and beautiful beaches, but also and especially the ancient culture of Greece shapes our everyday life until today. In the first part of the road trip, we go once from west (Corfu) to east (Thassos) through the north of Greece down to the mountain of mountains, the home of the ancient gods, the Olympus.
Corfu: Dreamlike island between mountains of garbage
My first destination in Greece was the island Corfu. From Igoumenitsa I took the ferry at 21 o'clock to Corfu. On Corfu I looked for a place to sleep on a parking lot at the beach and found one after midnight in the south of the island near Astrakeri. The next morning I went shopping. There the Greek shopkeeper asked me about the state elections in Bavaria (!), and that the result (AFD so high) was not so good... I was a bit impressed.
For getting on and off I didn't have much in mind at first. Just find a better place to sleep and enjoy the peace and quiet. For that I did not drive far and found a wonderful place near Almyros and spent the whole day sitting on the beach.
Sunrise on the Pantokrator, Old Perithia & Loutses Cave
After the very relaxed day before, I got up in time and went up to the highest mountain of Corfu, the Pantokrator (917m ) and made breakfast there. Pantokrator (gr. Παντοκράτορας) means "master of all things". This is the feeling you actually experience on the mountain. The view was overwhelming:
From Pantokrator we went on to Old Perithia. This is an abandoned village that is slowly being reclaimed by nature. Here you can see very clearly how ephemeral the buildings of the people are. In the village there are small cafes and there are also some houses that sell honey and other homemade products.
Not far from the village is the Loutses Cave. Beside the official path a very narrow and overgrown gravel road leads there. All off-road riders should choose this way... The cave itself is worth seeing, but not very spectacular.
Chalikounas Beach & Flamingos at Lake Korrision
After mountain, village and cave it was time for a beach again. But not just any beach, but a beach that borders the sea on one side and a lake on the other side: Chalikounas Beach (also Halikounas Beach).
When I arrived, a swarm of flamingos even made a stopover in Lake Korrision. Unfortunately there were none left during the day. At the wide sandy beach I could easily set up camp, cook something to eat and go swimming. Even the beach showers were still working, despite the off-season. The weather became increasingly stormy and there are countless mosquitoes on the way.
TIP: Drinking water in Greece
On Corfu and also in whole Greece there are drinking water sources everywhere. These are usually small stone walls with a water tap. There you can draw the water from most of the springs for free. This saves bottle waste and money. In my Navi-App "Locus Pro" these springs are shown with a small tap.
Archilleon: Empress Sissi in Greece
On the last day and on the way back to the ferry the Archilleon is located . This is a villa that Empress Sissi had built as a holiday residence. After changing owners several times, the Archilleon is now open to visitors and exhibits furniture, statues, paintings, and much more from that time. I was there very early and in the beginning I was completely alone. But in the main season it is probably totally overcrowded. Admission costs 8€.
Meteora: The floating monasteries
From Corfu I drove once from east to west to visit two friends (Rafi & Kati) near Volos. The drive was enormously foggy, rainy and stormy. On half of the way huge rocks appeared in the middle of nowhere and with houses on them. Strange, I thought to myself...In Volos, I realized that this was Meteora. Good that Rafi and Kati wanted to go there as well, so we did that the next day. It was absolutely worth it.
From 24 monasteries there are only 8 left, but they are still inhabited. For 3€ entrance fee per monastery the price is fair and reasonable. You can get quite far by car, but a little walk is still necessary. Also a James Bond movie was shot here.
Sithonia: The middle finger of Chalkidiki
After a few days with Kati and Rafi I continued my journey towards the peninsula of Chalkidiki. In Thessaloniki I picked up Lena, who will accompany me for the next week.
Chalkidiki is a very popular holiday destination not only for Germans. Hotels, campsites and restaurants are plentiful here. In the low season everything is extinct, the campsites are closed and most hotels and restaurants are closed as well. There are also only a few supermarkets open. The Greeks move to the cities over the winter. In Sithonia there was nothing more going on.
The advantage is that you have the beaches to yourself, you canstay overnight at the beachesand move aroundvery freely. So we are once around the middle finger. The constant view of Mount Athos is always impressive. To enter Athos itself is forbidden for women.
Insider tip for offroaders: Lemos Beach
At the very south of Sithonia there is a very small headland at sea level. On this headland the rough eastern side meets the calmer western side of the Mediterranean Sea and is separated by a barely 50 meters wide sandy beach. Rarely one can observe so well two "different" seas.
But be careful: the drive there is no walk in the park and is urgently only for four-wheelers and only to be driven in dry weather or on dry ground. The track is totally washed out, very steep and left and right it goes even steeper into the abyss!
Sleepy island Thassos
After a few days on Sithonia we transferred to the island of Thassos. But important: The ferry goes from Keramoti and not from Kavala, as shown on Google Maps! On Thassos we have got to know Georgus an old, very dear and good-natured hotel owner who has tried to explain us the origins of the democracy and has packed thereby virtually all Greek legends with. To make it short: According to him democracy was "invented" by a certain Democratos...
Since we wanted a real bed and a warm shower, we booked ourselves for 2 nights in a B&B for 25€/night. That was very fair. Thassos itself can be easily circumnavigated in one day and you can watch one or the other. There are tasty fish restaurants and everywhere at the sea is fishing by amateurs and professionals.
Olympus: The mountain of the gods
I myself had to learn Ancient Greek at school in addition to Latin, and I was allowed to learn mine. In this time the desire to climb the Olympus has developed with me. From Thassos, it went as over the airport Thessaloniki still with, and from Thessaloniki to the Olymp without Lena further. At the foot of the Olympus one can spend the night in a car in a strong inclined position.
I got up very early and left at about 6:30. The way is not difficult, but endurance and surefootedness is required. After all it goes from 1050m to over 2866m. The last ascent is enormously steep, slippery and goes directly to summit "Skala". At the top you are greeted with a spectacular view and with luck by chamois. Ascent was about 4,5h with me.
Scale, Mytikas & Skolioi
Besides Skala there are the spectacular Mytikas (2918m ), the summit Skolio (2911m) and Stefani (2909m). I would like to go from Skala to Mytikas. But the summit is exposed and you have to climb a bit. It was sunny, but extremely windy and icy cold (there was snow on the top... but it was also November 3rd), so unfortunately (or fortunately?) common sense prevailed there, and I descended again.
Tip: Round tour Olympus
As I said, it was already the beginning of November and I broke off the tour. If you have better weather and are fit, you can consider the following tour: From Peak Skala to Mytikas. From there there is a path in southern direction that leads to a storm hut below the peaks "Touba" and "Profitis Ilias".
There one goes over the Plateau of the Muses southeast further downhill to a second hut and finally further down in eastern direction until one meets the path from the ascent.
To recover I stood on the beach at the foot of Mount Olympus for two days with total muscle ache and regenerated. From here I went on in southern direction. But that is what you find in the 2nd part of the Greece report.
Conclusion Roadtrip in Northern Greece
Just great. Greece is an absolute dream country in terms of its landscape. The hilly and mountainous landscape can be found on the mainland as well as on the (semi-)islands. The people are very relaxed and friendly.
The beautiful landscapes are only clouded by the waste problems of the country and the ruins of buildings. But whoever sees the big picture or the vastness will be thrilled.
The whole route went as follows: