Last summer, as I drove back into Athens after completing an incredible road trip through the center of the Peloponnese and to the tip of Cape Tainaron in the new Mercedes GLA, I made a promise to myself that it would be the start of many solitary road trips and searched my calendar for the moment to recreate that incredible experience. That moment finally came and I found myself back in the driver's seat - of the Mercedes GLC 250 d 4Matic AMG line - and off on a new adventure. This time, my car and I were headed up to the Zagorohoria, a lush region tucked deep into the steep hillsides of the Pindus Mountains in Epirus, in northwestern Greece.
Time-wise it's quite a trip getting up there, however, thanks to my being comfortably ensconced in the luxurious and solid feeling cabin of the GLC, I didn't even realize the duration: as if the trip lasted a grand total of five minutes and not six hours! I might as well have been travelling in the spacious confines of an airplane's business class, what with the car's many elegant trims and comfortable touches, not to mention the multitudes of parking cameras on all angles of the car which make piloting it a dream. And the seats' heating feature made me feel as if I was riding in a cozy cocoon which made watching the snow flurries falling onto the windshield all the more appealing!
Directed and Produced by Yatzerland Ltd.
Driver: Costas Voyatzis
Car: Mercedes GLC 250d 4matic
Camera Operators: Panos Manolitsis, Emmanouel Armoutakis | Production House
Post Production: Alexis Patsis | FEEL ME Productions
Video Editing: Vassilis Tsoukalas
Color Correction: Dimitris Karteris
Music by Stavros Gasparatos
Sound mix: Panos Sialmas
Photographer: Elias Joidos
Locations: Northern Greece (Papingo, Rock Pools, Stone Forest, Kokorou Bridge, Vikos Gorge, Voidomatis River).
A film powered by Mercedes-Benz Hellas S.A.
For it was a mighty, weather show I was treated to - from snow to rain and deep fog to bright sunshine, like driving through all the seasons in one fell swoop! I even felt as if I was chasing rainbows as they appeared one after the other, arching above the road in all their colorful glory. There was even a double rainbow, an omen that stands for "great luck"!
And I knew my luck was running full speed ahead when I arrived at the Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas - member of the "National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World" -, my home base for the duration of my exploratory stay. What a magical location. The stone buildings perched on the side of the mountains. The incredible views. I felt transported to another time. The cozy stone-walled rooms - with welcoming fireplaces - and the delicious food served by the hotel, refueled my energy to start exploring some of the 46 villages of the Zagorohoria region and its numerous stone bridges, asap.
This included the two picturesque and enchanting villages of Papingo - descriptively named Megalo Papingo and Mikro Papingo - with their close-knit stone buildings, welcoming atmosphere and delicious tavernas offering local specialties created for warming bodies and spirits. A must visit stop were, of course, the well-known natural rock-pools, the Kolybithres, cut into the limestone rock of the Rogovo stream between the two villages. The crystalline waters were - seasonally - freezing, so I didn't even attempt a dive-in, however the unusual Rock Pools' formations are incredible to behold…
Further down the road I caught myself pressing on the brake a bit more than usual as I drove along the Pindus mountains' winding road along the Vikos Gorge. What a sight! Swooping down from the southern slopes of Mount Tymfi, and with the magnificence of the virginal ecosystem displayed before me, I fully believed the Guinness Book of Records assessment that the Vikos is the deepest gorge in the world.
Continuing along this path to Monodendri seemed like a peaceful drive through the forest - a beautiful and lush forest, at that - until the landscape took a dramatic turn. Seemingly, all at once, the wood and fiber trees were joined by "trees" made out of layers of stone, each layer vertically resting on the other and stretching up as if to touch the clouds above. It's not called the "Stone Forest" for nothing and is an almost surreal yet awesome splendor to see up close.
As I mentioned previously, Zagori is also known for being home to a plethora of stone bridges that cross its many rushing rivers like masonry rainbows. The Bridge of Kokoris and the Bridge of Voidomatis are two of the regions' most prime examples. The first, situated along the central road to Zagori, was built in 1750 and the second, arching over the mighty Voidomatis river, is a century "younger," built in 1853. Other than a multitude of facts that history buffs would love to explore, what both these bridges have in common is that they make a visitor stare and wonder, "how did they do that?" proving that great design is truly… timeless.
Just like this trip. Another trip to remember. One that made me realize something, for although I'm Greek, this is the first time I visited these awe-inspiring locations: one can travel all over the world, but the most beautiful locations can be located a mere 500 km away from home. Never underestimate the beauty of your own country for there will always be new places within it to discover. Come to think of it, maybe this should be part of all of our New Year's resolutions….