At Manchester Airport I am selected (again!!) for frisking & boot removal. Donkeys sneak through without passports. Uneventful flight to Preveza.
Pick up car & off we go. Err – where is everyone? Greece is empty! First stop Zalongo mounment – under renovation & surrounded by scaffolding so took a bad photo & returned to car where we ate our smuggled Melton Mowbray pork pies for a late lunch.
A scenic drive throught the hills, onto the coast at Ammoudia & through Parga to our first rooms at Filoxenia Studios in Anthousa. Christina & Vassilis make us welcome and she brings coffee & spoon fruit to our balcony with it's panoramic views over the olive groves to Parga & the sea.
Anthousa is a proper greek village, only up the road from Parga, but seems to be a million light years away from the “tourist trap” environment.
That evening we eat at “Taverna Vassilis”. This is a different Vassilis, who speaks no english but treats us as honoured guests, with free tsipouro, sponge puddings & brandies to accompany our meal.
We are up by 7.30am – a quick coffee from our travel kettle, & off to Ali Pasha’s Castle atop the hill overlooking the village. We have the place to ourselves & explore the ruins & gaze at the views. Then into Parga for a walk along the waterfront & harbour. A pleasant town with a lovely outlook, but VERY touristy – would be a no-no place for me to be in busy season!
Off on a 2 hour walk through the olive groves, to enjoy more lovely views & interesting churches. Excellent lunch at Taverna Perivolis on the outskirts of town, followed by a walk back into Parga & up to the fortress. It starts to rain but what the heck! As tourists dive for shelter & coffee bar owners rub their hands with glee I go stroll on the beach in a downpour! I’m in Greece – who cares about the weather!!
That evening we return to Perivolis for their famous Meze Plate meal. A deal for 2 for €25 – a huge plate of cold mezes, followed by an equally huge plate of chips, rice, grilled meats, souvlaki etc. What we cannot eat is kindly put into a container for lunch next day. And we got more freebies – ouzo!
We drive to Glyki, on the Acheron River & spend 3 hours walking along the gorge to the bridge where we can go no further as it is too deep to wade up the river (as is common practice). Amazing views, & lovely shade under the trees. Back at the car we enjoy our leftovers picnic lunch & then set off for Kafias Kastro beyond Souli, zig-zagging our way up the mountains. A serendipitous wrong turn takes us to picturesque watermills & falls. After back-tracking we reach the end of the tarmac where we park & then scramble up the steep rocky slope to the Kastro. It starts to thunder & lighten, so we make a hasty exploration of the ruins & stumble back down the precipitous path just before the rain starts.
Back at Anthousa we again walk to the local taverna, which provides delicious stifado & garlic bread. Free orange spoon fruit, MORE ouzo & MORE brandies appear. I think Vassilis likes us! Then again – we are his only customers.
On the way back to the studio we see fireflies flitting about in the dark lane. Tomorrow we move on to our next base in Konitsa.