One of the greatest pleasures of travelling is the delightful discoveries you experience…often completely by chance. They can inspire you, transport you to another time and sometimes even change your life. But to do that you have to be willing to explore, to wonder, to go off the beaten path…
The small mountain village you are about to see is not on tourist brochures, holiday posters or TV ads inviting you to Greece. But then again most of the best places aren’t….in any country. You have to find them, you have to be willing to explore, take the narrow path, the small trail, the off-road that nobody goes on. To me…that’s the most delicious part of travel and exploration.
This small village is on the side hills of Mt Olympus and we discovered it last winter by chance. It was risky driving up with no chains at the time…. snow cover was almost half a metre, but the road was relatively clear and we took the chance. It was a decision that left everyone with the most memorable images of the Christmas holiday.
The village is high up…around 500m above sea level and the anticipation builds as one drives up the winding mountain road.
The scenery slowly unfolds the higher up you drive and the lush green colours of the mountain side are a feast for the eyes. The car edges higher and higher and each turn brings a new surprise….
Looking down the coastline begins to look like a painting and the endless aegean blue gives off the special light that has inspired so many poets and photographers over the years. Altitude gives you a different perspective of an area and Mt Olympus was beginning to weave its magic…
These pictures were taken this week…mid-June, a time of year where everything at sea level is already starting to turn a golden hue. But not up here…. here the mountain wears its’ lush green coat and the air is the stuff you wish you could bottle and take with you…
Then you take another turn…. and your jaw drops, the foot hits the breaks and you slowly get out to take in a sublime image like this:
What you see in the distance is a medieval fort (more on that soon) which seems almost as if someone had painted it on the hills below. The colour and scent of the mountain…coupled with the scenery below are mesmerising….
and then it suddenly appears. Nestled among the trees is a traditional mountain village…stone houses hugging the mountain side. It sits quietly, serenely, almost as if it’s waiting for you to discover it…
The views are spectacular and the mountain air is so uplifting you feel like you want to run around like a child….exploring every nook and cranny of the whole village. Your mind feels justified for making the decision to drive up…to discover…to explore…
On entering the village you see details that make you realise a lot of thought has gone into maintaining its traditional charm and beauty. From the tree trunk pots, to the paving, to the stone houses… it seems every detail has been thoughtfully kept authentic, giving you a sense of stepping back in time.
Mountain villages in Greece and throughout Europe have a different charm. The architecture is practical and honest…everything is done for a purpose and function is an essential part of the aesthetic. There is nothing fancy, nothing “showy”….yet it looks magical.
As you wonder through the tiny village… each narrow, paved path leads you to another exquisite image. Its as if you’ve jumped into a storybook and you are living the experience…
The houses are all made from local stone and the textures are perfectly blended… adding to the experience of being on a mountain. It is a credit to the residents, architects and local authorities that they have managed to maintain the tiny village in such an exquisite state and in such perfect harmony with its’ surroundings.
But there is more to this little village paradise than what you have seen so far….lots more. You see, the images above were taken this week…almost in the middle of summer in Greece. The village looks gorgeous, green and picturesque….
But when we first saw this tiny little treasure it was winter…. and if you think it looks nice in summer, then have a look at this:
This…. my dear friends, is what we first saw when we discovered this little place in the middle of winter. The image has stayed in my mind ever since and hence the return visit with Alessi as we drove through this area again. It was simply stunning…a fairytale image that added to our delighted sense of discovery at the time.
The scenery of the snow covered village with the coast line below is breathtaking. The snow was fresh powder, the air crisp, clean & fragrant… and the feeling of having discovered this small treasure was fantastic.
Life is full of exquisite surprises if only you are willing to explore….to follow a small path or walk through a different door !
Cheers to a life of discovery ;-)