August 13: Woke up much too early considering last night’s escapades, but I was determined to go hiking before the afternoon brought the possibility of more rain. Breakfast at the hotel was rusks with homemade marmalades, little fried dough thinks that looked like Munchkins but tasted like sweet, crunchy air, and an egg.
Polidroso has all sorts of great hiking trails leading in and out of the mountains, and unlike the “trails” in some places, these are generally very well marked and easy to follow. My first hike was a short one, a twenty-minute climb up a very steep hill that leads to a church built right into the hillside. This building looks far more impressive at a distance than up close, but I’m glad I went to see it. This trail also gave a great view back down to the village and the hotel (the hotel is the building in the top right).
My second hike was a longer one, a loop that took me up, up, up into the pines. The trail was beautiful, especially once I hit the spot where the ferns began. Fresh mountain springs bubble out of these hillsides at unexpected places, and if it ever rains in Greece, it rains here, so the forest floor was relatively lush. There were even mosses on many of the rocks, and some Spanish moss (or a European relative) growing on a few trees.
I’m fascinated with the fountains that you find here and there on mountain roads and, here, on the trail.
These are fountains that were built to deliver spring water, and everyone swears that the water is safe to drink. Given the goats and sheep around here, I don’t know how that’s possible, but I’m trusting them. The water is cold and perfect, like I remember water being when we camped when we were little kids, before warnings about giardia steered us all away from mountain water.
Now I’m back at the hotel, having lunch (dakos and a wild greens pie) and relaxing before I take myself back down into the valley. This has been a great little side trip.
Not much to report for the afternoon. I hung out at the hotel and read in the cool mountain air for a couple of hours. Checking out of the hotel was a fascinating lesson in inefficiency; the owner does all of his record-keeping by hand in a little notebook and has to walk down to talk to the kitchen-woman to make sure he has all of the right food accounting. Still, I really like the guy. He traveled to Polidroso on a vacation twelve years ago and decided that he wanted to move there. And his hotel is lovely — he has a great design sensibility. It’s called the Pritanio Guesthouse, should you ever want to stay there.
I drove back to Koumani, fascinated once again by the eerie landscape left by forest fires around Polidroso. The house on the farm was stuffy from being shut up for a day, so I did a quick change and headed to the beach at Mavrovouni. Now I’m showered and waiting for dinner (a Greek salad and beans) at the “other tavern” in the village.