Friends and Family of Backpack Greece and Italy,
We left Sivota and pit stopped for lunch in the beautiful port city of Ioannina! We toured the only Fortress in Europe, in which people live. After a quick walk around, we took a small ferry to the Island with No Name of Ioannina; yes that is what it’s called! We walked around the quaint streets, peaked into the charming shops, and grabbed a bite of authentic Greek food before continuing on our way to Monodendri.
Feta Cheese for days! We put our faith in our bus driver Yiannis to take us through the breathtaking mountainous terrains and views of the Greek mainland. What seemed randomly, the small mountainside city of Monodendri popped into view. During our stay, we made up 1/5 of the town’s population as only 127 people live there! Our hotel was a neat unconventional configuration with the trip members getting a good kick out of their cool and unique rooms. From the attic-like to college dorm room, the hotel was a fun experience! We took to exploring the Vikos Gorge, with a nice hike to the bottom of a beautiful ravine. We admired the architecture of the stone bridges and steps that allowed Ancient Greeks to transport goods between mountain villages. More impressively, we were passed by people training for the mountain marathons of both 26 and 52 miles—next level fitness! At night we celebrated Noah’s Big Fat Sweet Sixteen dressed to the nines in the city center of Monodendri, capping off the night with some delicious homemade chocolate cake and hilarious improvisation games.
Day 2 in Monodendri was a huge hit as well! We slapped on our wet suits and helmets before river tubing. Some thrills and rapids later, and we returned to the mountain roads to head even higher up into the Greek countryside. Papigo was our next destination. We dined at a family-run, garden to table type restaurant and experienced as fresh a meal as we had to date. Feta cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers straight from the vine, lamb, beef, chicken and pork hours after being pulled from the farm—it was as majestic as the phenomenal views. We roamed the tiny town to capture some pictures, before venturing even higher up to the natural springs of Papigo. We accepted the shade gratefully, and dunked our heads in the cold water of the natural pool. A beautiful day overall. We headed back to the hotel for a delicious meal before facing off in our own version of minute-to-win-it. Many laughs later, we went to bed to refuel for the next day.
We woke up early and travelled on to Olympia, with a gorgeous lunch stop in the beach town of Nafpaktos. We enjoyed some Greek Salad and Gyros while enjoying the nice breeze and ocean views. With our stomachs satisfied, we hopped back on the bus and pumped ourselves up for a Greek History lesson in the archaeological sites of Olympia! From the temple of Zeus to the original Olympic Stadium, we enjoyed a fruitful and enriching tour. Who knew that if your 2nd toe is longer than your first you share the genetic mutation that was present ONLY among ancient Greeks—therefore you have ancient Greek ancestry! We then strapped on our runners and duked it out in our own Greek Olympics, kicking up the same dirt that our newly realized Greek ancestors had. With our hearts racing and a fresh appetite, we took to the city of Olympia and enjoyed some more Greek food, shopping, and a classic gelato to end the night.
The next day we trekked out to the larger city of Nafplio, but not without an epic white water rafting day along the Lucius River. We rafted in the same water that Greek Mythology tells us Lucio washed Zeus’ hair—hence the Greek word to wash is lucia. After completing the rapids under the guidance of our enthusiastic raft guides, we went for a home-cooked meal by the guides’ parents! Pasta, chicken stew, and freshly picked tomatoes had us ready for a nap on the way to the Nafplio hotel. Another family-run establishment, with unique stone walled rooms, we got ourselves cleaned up and out into town for a big group dinner. We enjoyed the company of the entire group immensely as conversation rose to a pleasant buzz above the outside noise. We explored the city streets and squares and enjoyed the feel of a bigger city and a plethora of shopping options. Nothing beat the frozen yogurt shop that the trip members discovered, as we indulged in some REAL Greek-yogurt froyo.
The next day we toured the ancient Greek Ruins of Mycaenae. From the burial monument of Agamemnon to the top of the fortress that was in a crucial position during war times, we took some great pictures and enjoyed our 2nd journey into ancient Greece. We moved onto the impressive theater of Epidavre where we climbed to the top to appreciate the genius physics that allowed for such stellar acoustics in the outdoor theater. The theater still holds 10, 000 spectators per performance, however show time has changed from early morning like in ancient times to late at night. After gobbling up a nice lunch in the city center of Nafplio, we went to the beach to cool off and enjoy the crystal clear waters of Nafplio. We chatted and laughed as evening approached us and our tummies began to grumble. However, we held off just a while longer to enjoy a cool Greek dance lesson on the hotel roof. We twisted, bent, and twirled our way into the city center for a nice quiet dinner. We then shopped some more and walked around as we welcomed the cool evening air on our faces.
We look forward to visiting the Islands! Until next time,
The Westcoast Blogger
Are you ready for this experience? On our 25-day tour to Greece and Italy, you will discover all wonders of these summer destinations, including the greek islands.