By taking a stroll within the quarter of Varoussi you will see the old Christian settlement during the Ottoman Era dating back to, mainly, the 17th and 18th century. You will be conveyed to a different epoch, where time seems to have forgotten this traditional settlement and where the houses are built in an erratic way, with their second floor protruding and painted in bright colours, such as green, pink, indigo blue and light mauve. Only a few of these houses have been restored and refurbished due to the fact that the whole settlement is listed as a preserved one and strict rules apply for new buildings, as far as urban planning and architectural styling is concerned. The town of Trikala is where the famous Greek songwriter and bouzouki player Vassilis Tsitsanis was born. In his career, he wrote more than 500 songs, one of which actually referred to this particular quarter. He was the founder of the music genre of “rebetika” back in the early 60s where the song lyrics almost always had to do with particular urban circumstances and human relations.
As you exit the quarter of Varoussi, you will face the gate of the Frourio fortress, as well as the large Clock which constitutes the town’s trademark. Climbing up the numerous stairs will bring you at a height of thirty three meters. Totally worthy of your effort, if you want to see the town from above, with its countless red roofs and in order to gain an extensive view of the beauty of the glorious Thessalic plains.
The town of Trikala could be described as a heavenly place for cyclists, since it spreads over a totally flat area in continuance to the Thessaly plains. A lot of the locals use a bicycle to get around the town and this is the main reason for which the town of Trikala became the sister-city to Amsterdam. As in The Netherlands, “cycling it” to school, to work, for grocery shopping or wherever it is that we are going, constitutes a commonality.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take a stroll along the riverbanks, where couples in love enjoy the setting and where the true romantics gaze at the waters. The town of Trikala is very proud of its river which brings ounces of beauty to the eyes of locals and visitors. Bicycles come and go, the people laugh and chatter with enthusiasm at the main pedestrianised street down-town. This is such a romantic town that no matter how heart broken one may be, the picturesque setting will do its magic and ease the pain.
The villages of Elati and Pertouli
Literally drenched in pines and at an altitude of 900 meters the village of Elati resembles the scenery of a fairy tale with elves and fairies. This explains the constant increase in the past few years of the number of tourists visiting, the numerous new openings of guest houses and tavernas, as well as, the rise in the number of people who don’t take the exit at the National Road for the Arachova Ski Resort and the homonymous village but instead they are willing to drive those extra kilometers from Athens and reach Elati.
At the main street of the village, the local producers set up their little market and are eager to promote the delicacies of their land. Numerous cozy coffee shops are there to warm you up with a beverage by the fireplace and then, afterwards...who can really resist the smells of grilled meats emitted by the tavernas? The village of Elati welcomes its visitors wholeheartedly and guarantees a fine overnight stay after an enjoyable day full of activities. The next morning, you can always devote your time to the Pertouli Ski Center which offers an alternative excursion and promises its own set of experiences.
Driving from Elati village towards the village of Pertouli it is very likely that you will see horses running in the green meadows. Make a stop here and hire a horse if you feel like taking a ride in the beautiful nature yourself. Alternatively, you may simply have a refreshing walk within the dense forest for a while. Chances are you will come across the students of the Department of Forestry of the University of Thessaloniki who are there for research purposes. The actual forest belongs to the university and spreads over an area of 33.000 acres in total. The Pertouli Ski Resort is not far now. You will adore its setting and you will quickly understand why it is listed among the most mainstream in the country. Get ready to ski in style or, indeed, take a few lessons with the highly experienced instructors.
At the resort’s chalet, delicious hot chocolates are served non stop. Grab your own and rush to the large fireplace to get warm and dry after all that skiing and playing with the snow!
The ski resort has been operating since 1985 and has undoubtedly boosted the levels of tourism of the wider area which has been happily enjoying continuous waves of constructive change. The level of provided services has been constantly gaining ground. Not even the locals could have ever imagined that their homeland would attract hundreds of visitors as high up as 1.200 meters! It is now commonplace that during the weekends especially, the resort is always busy and a string of events are organized with great success. If during your visit there is a snow-dance party held, don’t miss the chance to participate and have an awesome time.
Back in the village of Elati, the dusk is setting in and visitors return from their daily activities and excursions. This is the best time as ever to enjoy a rich early dinner at any of the tavernas. The night falls early here on the mountains and the scenery changes to yield a totally different set of images. The village is surrounded by the mystique of the dense forest and it seems as if the fairies have found in there their natural habitat. As they are getting ready to go to sleep at their hollow trees, it is time that the elves prepare for their evening outing. They love to watch the people from the distance. It is those people who are having a short break from their hectic life back home. They have selected to come in this beautiful region of Greece and relax, play, fall in love and dream. This is where they have chosen to come in order to recharge their batteries and allow their childish side defeat their other side…their serious side, which is well locked back home.
The rocks of Meteora
We head at a mere 20 km distance from the town of Trikala in order to admire the unique geological phenomenon of the rocks of Meteora. The imposing complex of massive rocks were created through the process of erosion of a large conglomeration of large stones, sand and mud which was what was left behind after the waters of the massive Thessalic lagoon drained into the Aegean Sea centuries ago.
We capture Meteora through dozens of clicks with our cameras and we are bewildered by the second largest complex of monasteries in Greece which is hosted upon the imposing rocks. The first largest is that of Agion Oros. Six monasteries still operate and since 1988 they are also listed among the monuments of international heritage of UNESCO.
Without doubt, the beauties of the region will keep us captive for at least one long weekend. As far as our accommodation is concerned, we choose the ultra-modern and luxurious Ananti City Resort at the outskirts of the town of Trikala, which offers uninhibited views to the rocks of Meteora and the glorious plains of Thessaly. The resort’s contemporary facilities and indulgent services, will attract our return again and again in order to discover more of the top attractions of this wonderful region.