The Monastery of Agios Lavrentios, Pelion
Since we are staying these days in the village of Agios Lavrentios we thought to visit the Monastery as well because it is considered one of the significant sights of the area. In fact, the road leading to it, starts right from the entrance of the village. It is the same road that leads to the Metropolis Youth Campsite which is almost attached to the Monastery.
I am not going to refer to its history which can easily be found on the net, but I want to thank The Mother Superior who was so humble and discreet and welcomed me upstairs to the Monastery’s dorter (archontariki). It is the place where nuns welcome their guests.
I miss her name but when I told her that I come from Cyprus she seemed so enthusiastic and told me that she remembers herself as a youth participating in mass demonstrations and protests for the liberation of Cyprus. She spoke with compassion and love for the heroes of EOKA (Palikarides and Grigoris Afxendiou and many more.
I managed to get one or two photos of the beautiful gold-plated iconostasis before a nun asked me not to. The carvings on the wood are true masterpieces.
Of course before leaving we had a treat from the nuns which was ‘loukoumi’ and cool water.
If you happen to be in the area, do drop by. The nuns will welcome you in with a smile, they will offer you a drink and they will be happy to show you around.
- Road Trip
- Religious Travel
Pammegisti Taxiarches Monastery - (south)
The monastery is a nunnery nowadays since 1976 and it dates back from 1538. It was built over an older church of the 13th century and its wood-carved inconostasis is of great importance with remarkable work of art.
Unfortunately photos are prohibited in the interior of the church and I had no idea until the nun who was taking us around noticed it and kindly requested that I stop taking more photos. Instantly I stopped and this is the reason I have very few from the interior.
We are 600 metres above sea level and the view is amazing. Unfortunately there is work going on at the moment at the new and much bigger church which stands right in front of the Monastery. The new one is huge and it can be seen from miles away, but unfortunately we found its doors locked again.
The nun was very polite and invited us in for some ‘loukoumi’ (Greek delicacy). It is amazing how all nuns keep busy in the Monastery. When I asked to buy something she was kind enough to take us to the special room where they exhibit all the goods they make themselves.
I bought some homemade lasagna, herbs, 2 bars of soap and a couple of spoon desserts. I only trust buying goods from Monasteries and from Women’s Cooperatives in the area.
***The Monastery lies in the area of Agios Georgios of Nilia and it is only 21km from Volos, so if you happen to be around I urge you to visit it. It is sure that you won’t be disappointed whether you are a Christian or not, -not to mention the breathtaking view!
You will find more about the Monastery through the link below.
- Religious Travel
- Road Trip
The Preserved Village of Agios Lavrentios
Leaving behind the beautiful village of Milina in the south we move upwards this morning towards Agria. (If you come from Volos Agria is only 19km). We come to a junction and follow the road towards Agios Lavrentios for another 10km of ascend but the ride is interesting and it gives some breathtaking views of the Pagasetic gulf.
It is funny how a friend smiled when she heard that Ι have included a stay here because she said the village is not among the most popular. Well, she proved wrong. On the contrary I loved the village and its people…..at least the ones I met. I liked it so much that on a coming trip to Pelion I consider visiting it again. I plan to start from Milina this time for its sunsets, then spend 2 or three nights at Horto for its amazing coves and crystal waters and then come to this village before moving upwards to the other side of Pelion.
Personally I believe it exceeds by far the beauty of Makrinitsa. It is the best preserved village of Pelion and the fact that it is in an altitude of 580 sq.m makes it a unique destination for summer. Probably the reason that it is not that popular is only because the road ends at the village by the square so visitors cannot continue on to other villages and have to get all the way back again.
The ones reading this should have in mind that there are several Guest houses where travelers have to carry their suitcases all the way up to where they have booked. The hotel Dryades that we stayed is just by the square and has a unique location and very friendly people….not to mention that Dimitri the owner is an excellent Chef himself and he works miracles in his cuisine. I don’t recommend that you dine anywhere else but stick to “Dryadon Gefsis” and you won’t be disappointed.
The beautiful cobblestoned alley travelled me, and several times locals opened their doors and welcomed me in and offered me a drink or a homemade dessert. Authentic Greek hospitality that you don’t come across nowadays that often.
There is so much greenery out here, age-long plane trees, walnut, apple, ivy, olive, cherry and chestnut trees in the entire area, not to mention the different fountains I came across on my way. The first fountain you will come across is by the first square but if you move further up a few metres before coming to the central square with the age-long plane trees you will come across another one, and further up several more. The water that flows is cool and refreshing.
I won’t go on writing anything else but let you see what I mean through pictures.
****THE VILLAGE OF MUSIC
Agios Lavrentios is also known as the ‘music village’.
For two whole weeks in August each year Agios Lavrentios becomes the meeting point of musicians who come here from all over the world. They have their families along and they combine pleasure and holidays. Throughout these 2 weeks different events, performances, concerts, and seminars take place and all this gives life to the village. All hotels, taverns and cafes are full and everybody out here has something to do to keep active.
This project is organized by the (arTtreeI) -an international community for musical expression where Artists of diverse nationalities and cultural backgrounds meet and exchange ideas, projects, perform live and have fun.
Contact www.music-village.gr (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you wish to join.
Click on the link to see all 79 photos from this village:
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
The Village of ZAGORA
Zagora is the largest and most historical village of Eastern Pelion. The distance is only 25km from Tsagkarada where we are but we make several stops for pictures on the way.
The road is weaving in and out of forests of oak and chestnut trees and it is so cool and nice out here.
Zagora is on a slope and it prides for its tastiest apples which are cultivated in this area. As we approach we come across several apple orchards. Fruit are hanging but they are not as yet ripe.
Perachora, Agia Paraskevi, Agia Kyriaki, and Saint George are the four quarters the village is divided into. The mansion we are staying is somewhere between Agia Kyriaki and Saint George’s square.
Through my stroll in the village I got some beautiful pictures of mansions with the traditional architecture. The stone roofs are also an example of this traditional architecture.
See for yourselves what I mean.
** If you get to the link below you can see my 100 photos taken from this beautiful place.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
The village of HORTO
Horto is a couple of kms before Milina and I included it in my 16 day tour to Pelion. I had never expected it to be so beautiful. Both Horto and Milina are embedded into green landscape but quite different from the mountainous Pelion.
Here you will see plenty of silver-shining olive groves.
There is a small mooring upon entering the village and there are plenty of amazingly beautiful coves, and crystal clear waters around. The magic with these coves is that the colour of the water changes depending where the sun is. Sometimes the water seems green although it is clear and crystal.
I will surely consider spending at least 3 nights at Horto and also at Milina on my coming trip to Pelion before driving northern up to the beautiful mountains with the chestnut, apple and cherry trees and the wood with lush greenery.
I urge people who plan visiting Pelion to count these two villages in. The Pagasitikos gulf is beautiful, and if you are romantic you can enjoy the most stunning and breathtaking sunsets here.
- Sailing and Boating
The beautiful Fishing Village of MILINA, Pelion
One of the villages I loved but I had the opportunity to stay one day only is the fishing village of Milina.
I liked it so much that on our coming trip to Pelion I plan to start from Milina and move upwards.
It is known for its breathtaking sunsets and amazing coves.
The two islets close to Milina are called Alatas and Prasouda.
Check the link below if you wish to see the whole collection of my photos from this place.
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Water Sports
The Village of MAKRINITSA
Although it is so close to Volos the climate is much cooler out here. The change is recognized in the foliage which is predominately apple trees, blackberry bushes, walnut and fig trees. It is touristy the year round and has maintained the traditional look of the original and very impressive architecture of Pelion. From a distance the whole village looks like hanging from the green slope of Pelion. The colour of the houses makes a contrast to the green of the area. The village overlooks the city of Volos and people have given it the nick name –The balcony of Pelion.
The style of architecture is similar to the houses of northern Greece and was brought here by refugees who came from Epirus the years of the Ottoman occupation. These people were artists in stone themselves and they are the ones who built the beautiful arched bridges and all those cobblestone paths and churches we come across as we travel throughout Pelion. There is also the Egyptian style of architecture and this is with simpler lines and symmetrical windows, iron balconies and marble details.
Imposing noble mansions are scattered throughout the village. Years back these buildings belonged to wealthy locals. Nowadays some with new owners have turned them into beautiful Guesthouses. The fact that I am invited inside by owners makes me happy but out of discretion I don’t take pictures or if I do I ask for permission. The ground floor and base is entirely made of stone and the walls are thick to help keep out the heat of the summer and the cold of winter. Getting upstairs to the other two floors the interior is a combination of stone and wood and most of them are furnished in traditional rustic country style.
I have come across family heirlooms that decorate rooms and also antiques and flea market finds. Sofas and chairs are mostly covered by fabrics and accessories that decorate these interiors are usually handcrafted items such as pottery, wooden crockery and baskets. I am impressed when I see windows decorated by hand-made family embroidery, pieces coming from the bride’s underwear or outfit that once belonged to Mothers or Great Grandma’s.
Cars are prohibited inside the village and only the ones with supplies can get inside only for a while and then drive off. There is a huge parking lot at the entrance of the village for this reason.
The cobblestone alleys are luckily only for pedestrians making the walk more enjoyable. At the entrance of the village there are beautiful little shops selling local products and small restaurants and coffee shops in flowery gardens.
We were here late last night and I could not take proper photos or enjoy a walk through its paths. I am here today though to take a long walk through the entire central village as I am impressed with the cobblestone paths that differ a lot from the usual. These refugees who made them must have been amazing artists.
Throughout the village I come across traditional water fountains with the one at the square being the most impressive.
CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW to see ALL my 122 photos
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Follow the Path of Damouchari to the Beach
THE BEACH OF DAMOUCHARI
"Mamma Mia the Movie" may be the best movie to inspire Greek travel since "Summer Lovers" way, way back in the early 1980s. Do you remember that film? Have you watched it?
Some of the Damouchari footage was used at the beginning of Mamma Mia when Christine Baranski and Julie Walters arrive on the island and are met by Meryl Streep. It was combined with images shot on Skopelos though.
I am sure this is the reason why locals get so excited when they urge you to visit this beach.
I tried to get there this morning through a path but it did not take me to any beach tavern or anything I saw in photos. We reached the village from Agios Ioannis after 8km following the rural road.
Damouchari has two bays –one a natural harbor with fishing boats wallowing in the shallows, overlooked by a couple of sleepy tavernas and bars.
I guess I approached the other bay which is supposed to be stunning with white pebble beach with aquamarine waters, graphic tavernas above in the wave. But still my expectations were higher.
I did go down the cliff at first through a path abounding in lavish growth a lady indicated, I got some beautiful photos of the coasts of Agios Ioannis from a spot right across the wooden resting area for ramblers. I also have to admit that the walk out here is pleasant, climbing the craggy steps of the cliff overlooking the beach.
On my way down I came across a group of youngsters who were resting and making plans that moment but I met them again on their way down. They were singing as they were descending the path and I must admit I envied them. I greet them and they make a stop, we chat for a while and they offer to take a photo for the VT competition. They were excited and said they want to see their photos on Facebook.
The walk through this path is interesting on its own and to me it was more fun walking the path than the popular beach. If I had the time I could have extended the walk meandering along the coastal track that leads to Papa Nero beach and Agios Ioannis through another picturesque kalterimi but I would need 1 more hour to get there. The path extends as far as Tsagarada after another 45 minutes from Papa Nero.
“You have to get to Damouchari”. It comes like a command and you hear the word continuously.
I truly cannot understand why people consider this particular beach so beautiful. I could understand it if they were talking only about the path. It is not only my own idea but I am constantly asking tourists that I come across who have been here to tell me their opinion which is the same like mine.
The answer is “Not thrilled”
Such a fuss for Damouchari while there are other much more beautiful beaches to visit in Pelion.
The waters are clear, they are turquoise and crystal and this I can understand, but all beaches out here have these characteristics.
Well, I am looking at a booklet right now to see what it says about this beach.
I read that it is the only natural port of the whole Eastern Pelion and it was given this name from a heartbreaking love story and it translates as “for the name of the love” –I still cannot understand the words in Greek and if somebody can make it more clear, please be my guest. I truly want to find out.*
- Hiking and Walking
Agios Ioannis, Mouresi
The peninsula is only 95km long. The landscape changes as we drive further up with slopes cloaked in chestnut, plane trees and beech. The tortuous roads make for slow driving and it is nice that we don’t have to hurry. It is much cooler as we move to the northern side towards Agios Ioannis.
As we descend the mountains the view is breathtaking. The village is indeed a cosmopolitan resort, set on a beautiful beach of sand and pebbles.
Right from above you can see the three beaches connected with the one of Agios Ioannis being the central. It extends to the north with the Plaka beach and to the south with the Papa Nero Beach.
The village is packed with hotels, studios and apartments for rent, beautiful restaurants, and trendy café bars and lots of night clubs -not my piece of cake but who cares! Even when I was much younger I preferred isolated resorts for peace and tranquility.
I can recommend two amazing restaurants where we had lunch. Both are good value for money, they are popular and everything we had was yummy.
If you happen to be here don’t miss “Poseidonas”. Mrs. Zina is in charge and the catch of fish comes directly from their boat in the pan.
The second restaurant is called “Galeos” and the person in charge is Stathis. It is always packed, and the food is good.
- Food and Dining
MILIES AND NEOCHORI
Since we are already at Kala Nera we drive through the village of Milies first and then a nice village in a distance attracts our attention. It is hidden in a vast pine forest and it is the village of NEOCHORI.
The church of Agios Dimitrios is just below the square and I climb up the stairs for a better view. I come across some locals there who are sitting at the kafenio of the village enjoying their morning coffee. Like all squares in Pelion, this one is also adorned by very old plane trees and a roofed fountain that dates back to 1807.
If you want to start conversation with locals the best thing to do is to greet them. So, I did this and they acknowledged the salute with a smile. The first question was where I come from and if I like their village, as always.
There is a trail from the village of Milies to Neochori for anyone interested by the way! The first half is mostly kalderimi (cobble stone pavement) and the second half earth road with stretches of path.
The route passes by the old monasteries of Agios Nikolaos close to Milies and Panagia Tourkogianni near Neochori. The walk goes as far as Panagiotiko dam and its small artificial lake.
The starting point is at Milies with the route marked with red signs. The vegetation gets rough near Neochori so it is advisable for those interested to have along a cutting tool and wear of course long pair of trousers or jeans.*
- Hiking and Walking
- Horse Riding
KALA NERA - It is a Must Visit!
The wealth with which nature has generously endowed Pelion, the beauty of the landscape around with constantly alternating scenery is a guarantee for memorable holidays. Every Greek knows that Pelion offers unique beauty and charm so there is no way to get bored out here.
HEADING TOWARDS KALA NERA:
We drive pass Volos and continue driving for 20 more km towards the south eastern part of Pelion to Kala Nera.
We have come here several times in the past but years back and instantly we can feel the difference.
The village is very touristy with many more houses, restaurants and Café bars that expand on both sides of the coastal road. It is crowded as we expected it to be and this is nice.
I find the long promenade street unique for an evening walk and generally it is a pleasant place to be. Finally, I am glad we are here first before getting to the slopes of Pelion. Restaurants and Café bars are very inviting for enjoyable evening outings. Huge eucalyptus trees and deciduous trees border the beach road making the stay here more interesting.
I was dying to get to the beach the moment we arrived and thought nothing could stop me from jumping in the cool waters. I have second thoughts however now after seeing the waters across the hotel. Perhaps I am very demanding! The fact that I see happy faces all over is encouraging! The majority are sunbathing, others are swimming, several are involved with beach sports, local youngsters are mostly by the Café Bars enjoying a cool drink or a cup of coffee and there are a few who do some shopping – buying fruit mainly.
In all there is music and sounds of laughter and giggles in the air which reminds me that this is how the Greek holidays should be.
Café bars offer beach umbrellas and sunbeds for free if you order something -a coffee or an ice cream for instance, so nobody is without an umbrella or a seat.
There is a plethora of activities to keep yourselves busy during the summer season –water sports, horse riding, mountaineering trips and hiking are the most popular. There are hiking paths leading to mountain sites and to the villages of PINAKATES, VYZITSA and MILIES.
If you come to Pelion in winter however you can also visit one of the first ski centers to operate in Greece. The ski centre of Agriolefkes is located only 2 km from the village of Hania which is not that far from Kala Nera.
The fact that the village is by the coast it does not mean that it is ideal only for summer holidays. On the contrary I find it interesting the year round and it can easily become the ideal base for winter mountain excursions and skiing since it is close to Hania and the ski resort. During the high winter season availability is limited on the mountains so why not staying out here?*
- Food and Dining
. It is one of the most beautiful villages of Pelion still retaining the local colour where as the rapid steram of the Vrihon river adds to the beauty of the scenery. One of the main sights is the cavern where supposedly the Centaurs Cheiron dwelled according to Mythology. Agios Lavrentios took his name after the monastery which was built by latin monks during the 4th Crusade around 1378, the year that the village was first inhabited.
This was probably our favourite beach. We thought, (according to our map) that it was not going to be easily accessible as the road was shown as being a dirt track. Not any longer. Newly surfaced (no doubt with E.E.C. money) this was the best road we travelled. It terminates in a huge sandy car-park with absolutely no facilities. A wonderfully large beach with wierd rocks standing in the water (possibly volcanic plugs?) with a very sandy back-shore and shingle in the water. There were interesting rock formations at the back of the beach also and the odd cave.
This beach is also accessible on foot from Potisikon Beach.
- Hiking and Walking
- Road Trip
When visiting Platanias, Kastri Beach is just a short detour. It is a steep road down with many hairpins, (where aren't there in this area?) and ends on the beach. There is very limited parking unless you are willing to drive on soft sand.
Facilities include a campsite right on the beach with a taverna. The taverna appeared to be closed on our visit. I
If you walk to the far right of the beach, by the rocks, the sea-bed is sandy whereas other parts were stoney.
This was probably the busiest beach we had been to, with all of ten lots of people, owing to the campsite.
- Road Trip
Another magnificent beach with huge rocks breaking up the beach. Quite popular as two excellent roads form a circular route so you don't have to return the same way.
There was an area where free camping in motorhomes seemed to be permitted.
There were a lot of cars parked here but not many people on the beach. We realised most had walked over the cliffs to Melani Beach.
This beach was extremely difficult to walk on, consisting of "large " shingle. Very painful.
Certainly a very interesting stretch of coastline, this.
- Family Travel
- Road Trip