Riding through Thessaly and climbing Mount Pelion!

End of day 10: 26th of April, 2012. 
Distance covered so far: 415.23 kilometers (259.52 miles).

The road through Thessaly began with steep climbs. Half of the next 40 kilometers that I was going to ride were not only uphill, but also under the midday scorching sun. Not easy, not fun. The ferry took me to Glyfa and from there I rode through Achilleion, Pteleos and Sourpi and finally reached the village of Almyros.

From Agiokampos all the way up to Pelion.

I have spent many a childhood summer in Almyros because my family has a home here. Even though I had not visited for many years, I still have friends here, so I decided to relax for a couple of days. My friend Irini gave me a room to myself

The Winnie room!

and her whole family spoilt me rotten.

Can't get enough of the food in Greece!

It was indeed two very relaxing days. I also took the opportunity to give my bike some TLC. After the rain of the previous days, it needed a good wash and some grease.

All nice and clean!

However, seeing Almyros once again with a much more matured point of view, I found nothing that I liked. The village itself is not really all that pretty and doesn’t have much to show. As for the people, although I had some very pleasant interactions, others were quite unwelcoming and highly judgmental. I think the only interesting thing I found about this place was the following image.

This looks totally out of place!

After Almyros I made a stop in Volos. Just the day before I was told that I have a cousin there I have never even heard about in my life, let alone having met him. So off I went to meet him. Nikolas is a great guy, hospitable and full of interests, living in a wonderful home outside the city with his two beautiful dogs. It felt very strange meeting a family member for the first time at the age of 30, but I’m very glad I did so.

My cousin, Nikolas.

The following day I aimed to undertake what is probably one of the most difficult parts of the trip. Mount Pelion is considered to be one of the most beautiful areas of the whole country. It’s inundated with little picturesque villages, numerous types of trees, thousands of different types of animals and some wonderful beaches washing its green feet all around. Pelion has many different villages and my choices were numerous. I intended to start with visiting Portaria and Makrynitsa, two well-known villages that are worth seeing.

From the moment I left Volos, the road was going uphill, however, this came as no surprise. I knew it would be a tough road and I was mentally prepared for it, but that did not make it any easier.

Still a long way to go.

It was a very tough climb and I needed frequent breaks and lots of water. Sweat was running down my face like crazy and the mountain was endless. Every time I reached a turn, there was more road ahead of me.

The winding roads of Pelion.

A tough climb!

Eventually, I reached Portaria. I locked my bike and walked around the village for a bit.

Welcome to Portaria!

Lots of stone-built houses, stone-paved roads and more restaurants, cafes, hotels and tourist shops than one could count. This is clearly a village that receives a massive tourist influx during the holiday season.

Lots of stone.

The main square of Portaria.

Just a hotel, but beautiful architecture nonetheless.

Not far from Portaria, lies the village of Makrynitsa.

Makrynitsa, at 850m altitude.

They are both built on the slope of the mountain, so from far below, all houses seem to be built one on top of the other.

Makrynitsa from afar.

And from within the village itself.

Makrynitsa is much more beautiful and picturesque than Portaria. Its houses are built with white stones and they are all on different levels, while at the same time surrounded by stone-paved roads and plane trees.

Not a castle. Just a cafeteria entrance!

A very serene place, if you manage to ignore the flocking tourists.

Old ladies are tough and hard-working up here!

Not only is the structure of the village itself spectacular, but the view down the mountain is also extraordinary.

Volos from above.

The view from the edge of Makrynitsa.

Only thing I didn’t like about it was that it’s a very touristy place. That means it’s inundated by gift shops and noisy people that take away from the traditional feel of the place. Regardless, I walked around quite a bit, took lots of photos, had some great food and started riding back down.

My idea was to ride south to another village of Pelion and possibly spend the night there. However, I ended up chatting for hours with the owner of a little coffee shop and after a very chilled afternoon, I decided to ride back to Volos. I spent the night at a couchsurfer’s place, the great Skylaros, who gave me a great tour of the Volos-by-night life.

Next stop: Larisa!

Things I learnt:

  • Cut off the Schrader valve off a tire. Remove the little pin from inside it. Place the rubber end into the nozzle of any regular pump. Place it at a 45 degree angle on your Presta valve. Inflate successfully.
  • I have a cousin who lives in Volos!

M.

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