26th July, 2013.
We have been anchored in the bay at Milina for nearly a week now. During this time we have met up with Jim’s friend Chris Wicks and his wife Kathryn who live in Platanias overlooking Evia from their terrace. Chris and Kathryn fell in love with the area ten years ago and bought three acres overlooking the sea with olive and fruit trees. They had built an upside down house which took two years to complete which is beautiful. In their garden was an olive store which they had renovated and they let out as a two bedroom cottage from Mach to October which also has the same marvellous view. They have got involved with a walking group and a choir and thoroughly enjoy their Greek life.
We hired a car for three days to see the area of Pelion which to the Greeks is the mythological home of the forest loving centaurs with its woods of chestnut, oaks and beech and makes it one of the beautiful regions of the mainland. The mountain air in ancient times with the smell of herbs was believed to have healing powers. The area became populated in the 13th century as Greeks retreated from the Ottomans under whose rule they were taxed heavily. Most of the villages were built close to mountain monasteries and had thick stone walls and narrow windows to protect their freedom from any emery.
The first day we drove down to the southerly tip to Kiriaki. We stopped to enjoy the views before we drove down into the village. The road was very narrow although we passed many cars tucked into their drives. Lots of places it was just a car width and was a little unnerving. When we got to the other end of the village where they have built a car park there was a sign saying “Don’t enter the village as very narrow”. It was an experience! A beautiful village with lots of small restaurants and a few small fishing boats but no place for Ariel as no depth near the small quay for our 2.1 metre depth required.
We met up with Chris and Kathryn in the evening and went to eat at their favourite taverna. We were treated to delicious starters which we shared followed by some of their favourite main courses which we all shared as well. The setting was beautiful, outside tables, a huge plane tree and small lights all around us.
The next day we went up into the mountains and worked our way along the east coast which is known as the Pelion Riviera as there lots of beaches. The views are magnificent and reminded us of the Amalfi coast. We stopped for coffee at Tsagkarada which is a mountain village and has the oldest plane tree in Greece. It is reported to be over 1000 years old.
We travelled higher up into the mountains and saw Mount Pilio which is 5415 feet high and saw the ski runs and chair lifts where people ski for a few weeks of the year. In this heat of 35 in the shade it is hard to believe that it snows here in the winter. The mountain goats we came across had been trimmed and their coats were shaped. Never seem this before. We wandered what they did with the hair.
We made a point of visiting Makrinitsa village where cars are banned from the steep cobbled streets of this traditional village. It was a lovely village with an impressive church called Agios Ioannis. Close to the Agios Ioannis is a cafe with an interior decorated with frescoes painted by the artist Theofilos who had fled to Pilio in 1894 when he had killed a Turk in Smyrna. He was a little strange and use to wear costumes of his heroes such as Alexander the Great. He returned to the island of Lesvos where he died in 1934.
The main square has plane trees and views over Volos and around the coast of this big bay. Many of the large houses have been turned into guest houses and we saw quite a few people with their suitcases on wheels making their way along the cobbles.
The road took us back all along the coast to Ariel at anchor near Milina.