Northern Greece: Autumn Paradise
With winter time come new experiences. After the sweltering lava-like summer we’ve had, even then Lannisters are happy to see winter coming. And if news are to be believed (lol, you got me) then Greece is in for a real doozy.
And we don’t mind. Not when places like Northern Greece are now less than 4 hours by car thanks to the new highway (and it isn’t even election time). Of course if you live near then that’s even better for you. But for us southerners, winter means cold, snow and hella lot hot cocoas. Oh, and fire places. We love fire places. And comfort food. Loads of it, preferably funneled down there with heaps of house wine.
Northern Greece is conducive to all that, and more. The terrain is wild, green and mountainous, and the people fiercely proud and friendly. The food is just ridiculous. I mean no wonder Greece has the biggest obesity problem in Europe. Have you tasted gigantes in red sauce? They are beyond words. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Thessaloniki (Greece’s northern capital and second biggest city) is the de facto food capital of Greece. And you think to yourself: How can the food possibly be any better than what I ve just tasted in like some remote island. It simply can’t. And of course, you take a bite out of the rabbit stew in front of you and you realize you’re just gonna have to join a gym when you get back.
Naturally, such huge expanses come with equally beguiling landscapes. Grevena is one village that shouldn’t be missed. With oodles of old world charm and the indispensable Greek character it is home to many wildlife species and unique flora types.
Not too far lies Vikos gorge. Situated smack bang in the middle of the Vikos-Aoos Natural Park it boasts incredible hiking trails, not to mention Instagram photo gold.
The small city of Ioannina is similarly enchanting. The local character of stone mansions and rustic architecture is perfectly highlighted by Lake Pamvotida.
Not to be undone by its less illustrious competition, Mt. Olympus (the authentic) packs a wallop. And it aint Zeus having a barney. That’s the sound of glory you hear. A hike up this mythical mountain should do wonders for your spirituality.
Northern Greece is, frankly, littered with ancient ruins, castles, fortresses, aqueducts, monasteries and all types of archaic structures and settlements. Ottomans, Romans, Jews, Slavs, Venetians, Franks and the original inhabitants, the Macedonians have left a vast array of architectural patrimony for us to gawk at. Thessaloniki in particular, is brimming with stuff from yesteryear in a surreal amalgam of streets and corners, perfectly juxtaposing old and new.
Northern Greece may just be our favorite region. The multitude of sounds, smells and sights is refreshing. The fact that it is yet undiscovered by the masses is the cherry on top. Make sure you get your slice of Greek autumn heaven before you see it on a Thomas Cook pamphlet.