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Greece tour provided by: Phoebus Katsanos


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Tour

On the way to the 5th !

Starting from Igoumenitsa
Igoumenitsa: (I haven't been there, so i will get some help from acouple of good books).
Since most of you are going to spend the night at Igoumenitsa, there are 2 campings near it, Kalami beach, a small one according to my book 63 places and it's tel no is 0030 665 71211 , and a bigger one that even has a swimming pool, Naftilos, tel 0030 665 71416. They are both at Platarias, near the beach.
Igoumenitsa has beautiful beaches, and if you have the time visiting one of them might be a good idea. They are Drepano (4 km North-West), Makrygialli (5 km NW), and beaches Kalami and Plataria. At Igoumenitsa the phone no of the ELPA's road help is 0665 25104 (ELPA is one of the big road help companies that cooperage with other european similar companies and if you need help that's probably where you should turn to, ask your company though if you have one).

Paramythia
37 km east of igoumenitsa, a small and pretty town with 3.000 people and a lot of history, a Byzantine castle they call "koulia", an ancient city 6km NE at the village Chryasvgi, and a medieval castle.

Ioannina
93 km's from Igoumenitsa, a town of about 90.000 people, next to a lake. Places worth seeing there are: The little island at the lake with Byzantine churches dating back to the 13nth century, most famous is the island of saint Nicholas (1292).Also the new wax museum of Pavlos Vrellis and the old town is pretty. Generally the town is worth having a stop.
** If you have time arriving at Igoumenitsa and want to make more km's you can spend the night at Ioannina, since it has a good camping owned by the city, next to the lake, you have less driving for next day (-93 km's) and Ioannina has a good night life with all SS'es except the sea ;) .

The perama cave
A big cave 4 km's from Ioannina on the road to Metsovo, it's trail is 1.100 meters of trail to walk and a few lakes.

Metsovo
"The cherry on the pie". A beautiful small town, 147 km's from Igoumenitsa, a perfect place to eat, don't forget to get cheese, they make a very good one. Also, a few things to sea, like the saint Nicholas church and the Averof paintings museum.Right after Metsovo you start climbing for the mountain pass of Katara, small potatoes for you alpine guys, with only 1690 meters, but you better wish the weather is good, and also you should be careful, the roads aren't like the once you are used to, not to mention truck and buss drivers!!!Not much to sea after Ioannina, but 216 km's from Igoumenitsa witch should make it about 110 from Ioannina you reach Kalambaka.

Kalambaka
216 from Igoumenitsa, it is strongly recommend to close your eyes while in this ugly town, specially the shops that will try to sell you stupid souvenirs (!!) but pass it and head for Meteora. Meteora is a set of big vertical rocks, the biggest is 630 meters high, that were formed 60 million years ago, when all the earea was a sea! Over them monks have built 24 separate monasteries (only a few are still operating) and the best and bigger is the mount of saint Varlaam, built at 1350, but also the other monasteries are worth the visit if you have the time. From Kalambaka, you take the road to Trikala.

Trikala
148 km's from Ioannina and 238 from Igoumenitsa is not a very beautiful town, but good enough for a coffee brake, or even to eat, and if you do stop there, you may want to check out the Byzantine fortress (built at the 5th century ac.) and the old town under it.
Trikala has a beautiful mountain over it, but you will not have time to go there, maybe we will arrange a trip there. From Trikala you can either go through Larissa, or through Karditsa, but through Larissa the roads are better and there isn't much to sea either way. Both ways, be careful for tractors!!!! You know the agricultural machines that are used on the fields, those roads are full of them, they go with 20 km/h and truck drivers suddenly turn left to pass them while you are passing the truck... in fact all those roads have those thing, you will sea a lot of this shit here, so be extra careful. Don't go too fast even if the road is straight and empty, those guys come from the fields into the road without checking!

Larissa
60 km's from Trikala, it is a big town with industries, and all that shit, in the middle of an agricultural area. If you sit up on your bike you are taller than the taller mountain around there, so full throttle passed it. Here maybe you will have to ask directions for the old highway, I can't remember how you pass Larissa from where you come. In Greek it sounds like "Palia ethniki odos". The new one is under heavy works and it is dangerous and slow.
After Larissa, if you go through the old road you have another 60 km's for Volos, if you accidentally take the new highway don't worry, it is not that bad, almost the same kilometres, but just be careful for the works witch you will have to pay for since there is a toll station on the road but it only costs 250 drs.

Volos
362 kms from Igoumenitsa, 272 from Ioannina, 147 km's from Kalabaka and 124 from trikala.It is not a bad city, the traffic will bother you a bit. If you are tired head for the port, and grab a cup of coffee at the little park with the trees, near the University, witch is at the other end of the peer.

And now the good stuff!!!
Volos -> Kato Gatzea.
Take it slowly, to enjoy the ride. This is a very nice ride, all of it next to the sea. If you took your coffee at the place I was talking bout you will keep going the way you went to find it (keeping the sea at your left) and soon you are out of Volos, and about 15 kms (or is it 20?) later you reach Kato Gatzea witch you pass and pretty soon you'll reach the Camping Hellas and the 5th ATIC meeting!!!!!!!!

Dodoni
It is a bit out of your way, 22 km's from Ioannina, but the second largest ancient center of profecies after Delfi.
It is South east of Ioannina on the way to Arta, 8 km's on that road and another 12 km's west and then south-west, but if you have the time maybe it would be worth it.

UPDATE!!!

1. Igoumenitsa -> Ioannina:
The distance is about 95 km's, but the road is "terribly nice": it is all turns!
I don't think you will find 1000 meters of straight line!!!! (after something like 10 km's out of Igoumenitsa), but it is nice if you like this kind of ridding, but you have to be carefull, the grip isn't what you are used to at all!!! However, even with the rain in a part of it I did about an hour loose time, so you can estimate from 50 minutes to an hour and 10 minutes to reach Ioannina, depending on how fast you go and how many bikes you are.

2. Ioannina -> Metsovo, 57 kms:
Same thing! A twisty road, with heavy trucks, but wide enaugh to go fast. Be extra carefull if it rains. Also, great sceanery but don't get destracted or you 'll become part of it! I did most of it under heavy rain, ,2 people on the bike and a lot of stuff, and it took me 50 minutes, if it is dry (it will probubly be) you will do it faster, but if you are more than 4 bikes it might take you that long or even longer. Metsovo is a nice place to stop to eat, try the Greek sausage, kontosouvli, boilt goat (it is something like a soup with meat), the lamp chops and the local cheese is a defenate must!

3. Metsovo -> Kalambaka ~68 kms
Right after Metsovo you pass the Katara (alt 1690, katara means curse in Greek...) passing and that's where the fun begins! Same kind of road, only worst! A bit later the road gets narrower, with big bumps. Lost count of time, and also did it under rain, or wet road, but it must be abou an hour and 10 mins, since I counted the first few kilometers an average of just under 60 km/h.
When you are comming down from the mountain, closing in Kalambaka you will see the rocks of Meteora. At last you are on flat ground!!!!

4. Kalambaka -(~22)-> Trikala -(70)-> Larissa.
You would expect the road to get better, but this is the bad part! This is a narrow straight road, where you can go fast, but it passes through a lot of vilages, and you have to pay attention on cars of the local heroes doing U turns in any place you can think of! Anyway, it is defenately faster than the rest of the road, and there is not a single interesting place there, so only stop for gass, and you will be able to do it in less than an hour, but it depends heavily on the traffic you will meet, since as I said it is narrow.

Now to get to Volos as I said in the last mail, it is better to avoid the main road, since there are heavy works in progress there, To do that, as you approach Larissa, you ignore the sign that says Volos and you continue untill a big wide turn that takes you to the main road that passes through Larissa heading to Thessaloniki. As you get to the main road you will see a sign that says Larissa. Then you will pass 3 red lights, the first leads on the right to a military base, the next to
nothing and on the third you will see yet again a sign for Volos and thats where you turn right. This is the old road (E92) that takes you to Volos through a few vilages, and it is only a bit better than the one from Trikala to Larissa. Hope this isn't too confusing...

Also, from Igoumenitsa, (also i think from Ioannina) there isn't a sign for Metsovo, or for E92, but there are signs for Trikala which you have to follow to get on the road to Metsovo (a few kms later you will see a sign for Metsovo).

Last tip: Gasoline is cheap in Greece, it only costs ~220 DRS a liter unleaded, as opposed to Italy where it costs about 320 DRS a liter, so if you can get on the ship empty. Also, get gass on the third station, first and second are BP, the third one, a Shell station is the cheaper and it mast be something like 6-10 km's from the harbour.


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