Warmpenguin took the opportunity to spend the morning with Pano’s on a recent tour with a family of 4 from Denmark who graciously consented to having us along for the walk, and I should add who were also a pleasure to spend time with.
With the morning Autumn sunlight coming through the tree canopy at the start of one of the local ‘paths of the centaurs’ Panos knows well we started off. Once these were the only paths connecting the pretty stone villages of Pelion used by donkeys bringing supplies & trade but with the advent of roads became disused until many were opened in the last 10 years to make perfect walking trails.
Although we have worked with Panos for four years we got to find out a little more about him along the way. Athough his English is great, his Greek accent seems a little different & he tells us that although he grew up in the Local city of Volos (sitting at the foot of the peninsula) he has spent some time abroad.
‘I always was coming to walk in Pelion as a child & even when I was away later on I wanted to come back’. So how did you start here with biking & hiking the activities you do? ‘About 5 years ago I decided to turn my love for Pelion into my profession. Its very fulfilling showing guests the place I know so well. Its off the beaten track but one of the most beautiful in Greece’.
About half way through our route Panos stops to ask us if we would like a short detour, around 1 km he tells us. We look at the family & they still feel fresh so agree to extend the time a little. Panos tells us that there are many hidden places that even the locals have forgotten & leads us along a narrower path through a short-wooded valley until we hear the sound of water growing louder and come to an old stone construction on the hillside. Water seems to gush from its foundations & down to a fast flowing stream below. As we get closer we see old stone walls & go inside to find the workings of a water mill. Its really incredible to see & unexpected. Panos says the old mill was in use over a hundred years ago and the source of bread supplied with grain from the town below, locals of the area would come to meet, trade & buy their bread here. The metal workings of the mill are still there, as are the great mill stones that turned to the water flow & were used to grind the flour.
Everyone, including us takes lots of pictures. The sound of the water is beautiful & at the same time so peaceful. Its just a place frozen in time & given back to nature. We walk the short distance down to the stream below & Panos pulls out something from a paper bag he has bought at a local shop. Some sort of oat & fruit cake but which tastes wonderful. Hes has also brought along refreshments & it’s a great spot for an impromptu picknic to just enjoy the landscape for a while.
Along the return path Panos shared some more great spots & we could see that as the expression goes ‘he is the right man in the right place’. We also saw he was very adept at managing the pace & activity level of the group (as we had some different ages) & no one was left out. The family later told me what a great experience it was, & for us also a great morning in one of Greece’s best kept secrets, Pelion.