Did you know that Agrafa were characterized by Unesco as one of the top five areas of our planet in environmental purity? Do you know that it has the cleanest waters of all Europe? The truth is that neither did I before I went and discovered this natural landscape, with endless mountain peaks, deep gorges, ravines with rushing waters and shady forests, a wildlife sanctuary.
One particular phrase attracted me “can a path change a man’s and a place’s life?” And I thought to try this experience with my family first and then with my companions. Lake Plastira was familiar to me but I did not know what I would find 4.5 km after that, on the back slope of the mountain, in a ravine.
Christos and his children, Artemis and the rest of the Montanema Handmade Village team, opened the door to their home, a hidden jewel right in the center of Greece. This terrestrial paradise seemed to be just for a few people, something kept secret – like a secret seal, and you can only learn it from mouth to mouth.
The luxury was evident everywhere, in the 33 stone-built houses with magnificent bathrooms, outdoors with the pool, the restaurant, the bar-lounge, all carefully made up to their last detail. The village-hotel was so harmoniously located in the natural landscape overlooking the gorge, within the fir forest and truly “flooded” by the surrounded waters. The only sound that surrounded you constantly was the creeks, the waterfall from nearby Anthochori, various birds and farm animals.
But I felt that this place was hiding something, something more experiential, mysterious, that I was looking forward to discover the next day.
I woke up early and walked a bit in the area. The room was surrounded by gardens, where every morning the farmer and the local cook pick the goodies up to prepare breakfast and traditional Agrafa recipes for the restaurant meals. They cook in 3 wood-fire ovens and traditional dutch ovens, they make handmade bread and local pies. Vegetables all in their season and of course eggs and legumes from the region, all organic and pure with flavors that made us travel.
Immediately afterward, Jordan appeared wearing his apron and we made bread with flour without improvers and preservatives from the neighboring watermill. We also learned how to open a fyllo for the traditional pie.
The hotel’s schedule also included trekking (3 km) in the fir forest to the post-Byzantine church of Ai Giorgis. I felt tired from a difficult winter and an even harder summer and it was not easy for me to get up and go. All that until I saw Ntinos, a naturalist, experienced hiker, a furious mushroom hunter who truth be told I could not figure out if he was born in a normal clinic or in the mountains of Agrafa!
I live in this mountain for 20 years, I get my strength from this place and I try to make the rest of the world meet and love it
The walk was not a simple walk, but we dabbled in collecting different types of mushrooms, as well as analyzing and picking up several wild herbs. I was relieved by my decision to experience this unique experience and come into such close contact with nature.
In the afternoon, we had a walk at the hotel’s farm where, under the guidance of Vangelis, the kids fed the goats, the sheep, the pigs and the chickens. Their biggest joy was feeding the donkey Melpo and the pony Kitsos in their mouth.
The last day had another small descent to the waterfalls where the cool bathing in the small lake compensated us for the trouble we went through.
But I have left the best thing for the end. I have an obsession to search throughout Greece for the best indoor and outdoor Yoga halls. The fact is that it is not easy because our country, despite its unparalleled beauty, unique coastline and islands, its impressive mountainous landscape, does not have many places combining comfort, quality and specialized services in alternative tourism groups with specific requirements and needs. In this particular place, once I opened the door and saw this room, with this energy, the view and the comforts, I really stood with my mouth open, I was impressed. I said I wanted to do Yoga here and of course I did not want to do it alone but share this experience with my companions. I have visited several indoor halls around the world, perhaps this is the best I’ve ever seen in my life. It is difficult to describe it if you have not been there. Christos made it, stone by stone, with real artistry.
The rest on November 16-18, 2018, in our 3-day Autumn Escape at Montanema handmade Village.
More info Here…
Fotini Bitrou -> Βιο
P.S. I forgot to tell you that on our way back to Athens we stopped by Lake Plastira where we did some activities, canoeing, cycling and archery. We drank coffee, ate and went back full of experience and joy for the beauties of our country.
Mostly, though, full of satisfaction that some people envision in this place, they create, produce experiences with nature, for themselves but also to share them with us. We have accepted this invitation to follow this path of life. But we have to keep this place as our little secret …