Thursday, May 18, 2006

Greek Grand Canyon

I couldn't spend hypothetical time in the north west of Greece without a hypothetical excursion to the Greek Grand Canyon, Vikos, just north of Ioannina.

We take the Konitsa road out of Ioannina and turn off for the village of Monodendri. Then, if I remember rightly after walking through the village there is a path to one of those monasteries that the Greeks just loved to build in insanely impossible places. I mean if someone came to you and asked you to build a monastery somewhere, I very much doubt you would say, "well, how about half way up a precipitous cliff-face?" And I think it even less likely that your customer would say, "hey! Good idea!"

But the Greeks think differently - just one of the many reasons I like them so much.

This is an amazing area not visited too much by pesky tourists and it's probably just as well when you see the path you need to walk along. This is a picture which I took in the 70s and you can just about see the path right above the bushes half way down the side of the cliff.

I have no head for heights and this stroll along a 3-foot wide (that's about a metre for Metricians) path which just about clings to the cliff-face with no railings or fencing to protect you from the drop miles down to the rocks and river below was a total nightmare for me but now I have finally recovered from it 30 years later I am glad we went!

The really nice exciting thing is that at some points the path has crumbled away and it is only about one foot wide (erm...that's about 30 centimetres). And at one particular place the path had gone completely and the 5 foot gap (let's see... erm... oh work it out yourself) was bridged just by a rotten old plank that some thoughtful sadist had just plonked down there.

It does make you appreciate life when you get back to Monodendri though (assuming you DO get back) and it makes a beer and a slice of the heavenly tyropitta (cheese pie) taste like nectar and ambrosia.


doris said...

Looks wonderful but not sure I could manage those tiny paths or huge gaps over planks.

doris said...

What a curious idea to have a Hypoholiday - I wonder if it will catch on and if we'll have travel agents specialising in it? Hang on a second, that's what I do all the time when I get a holiday catalogue but we still don't go anywhere!