Οn the slopes of Vardoussia mountains
Mountainous Fokida-Athanassios Diakos
Fokida, situated only a few hours away from Athens, constitutes an exceptionally gifted rough and at the same time warm and hospitable land. Such unprecedented and unspoiled natural beauty is generously encountered throughout the whole region not only at mounts Giona, Vardoussia and Oiti, but also at Mornos lake and at its gorgeous beaches! Let’s explore mountainous Fokida and let’s allow ourselves be enchanted by the imposing summits of the mountains and the endless meadows.
Our itinerary mainly focuses on Athanassios Diakos, a picturesque villagelying at the foot of the north side of mount Vardoussia at an altitude of 1.500m, surrounded by a dense forest of fir, plane, chestnut and oak trees. In fact, it is the ideal place for day trips from Athens. On the national road from Athens to Lamia, just a few km from Thermopyles, you turn left and through mount Oiti you get to the village of Pavliani – beautiful for its alpine landscape- which is comprised of two settlements: “Ano” and “Kato” Pavliani. At “Kato” Pavliani, you should definitely taste the traditional spoon sweets, home-made rice pudding and ice-cream. The natural park of alternative tourism at the Assopos springs (between “Ano” and “Kato” Pavliani) is also worth visiting. Following the path leading to the “heart” of the park, where there is sufficient infrastructure for diverse athletic activities, you will undoubtedly be surprised by the luxuriant vegetation and the fresh cold water of the river.
On our way to Athanassios Diakos, following a really wonderful itinerary, you can stop just outside the idyllic Stromi village, where taking a photo in front of the impetuous Kremasi waterfall is a must! Through a landscape of superb beauty, we head for Athanassios Diakos. The stone-built square with the old plane tree and the spring with the cold running water never fail to impress the visitors. The statue of Athanassios Diakos, the eminent Greek hero of 1821, dominates the village square, as this is his birthplace. The Athanassios Diakos Museum will tell you his story. Tourism infrastructure including accommodation facilities is absolutely satisfying. The stone-built guest houses serve authentic local breakfast. Should you have sufficient time, give a try to reaching the shelter situated against a backdrop of exquisite beauty on the summit of Vardoussia: you will be left in awe! The E4 European long distance path passes from here, too. At the square of the village, traditional tavernas generously provide local tastes, such as the authentic “kokoretsi”, lamb on the spit, lamb chops, pies, feta cheese, sheep yogurt and local hand-made ice-cream. Before you depart, do not forget to stroll around the river - just follow the signs at the square. An alpine landscape of natural beauty and running waters will encompass you. Let your troubles and worries give way to the magic!
Leaving the area, you can opt to pass by Lidoriki, Amfissa, Delphi and Arachova. It is your chance to pass through Sykia village, built at the foot of mount Giona, well known for its impressive caves and for one of the most important climbing centers (1.500m. high). On your way to Lefkaditi village and to Lidoriki, one of the main settlements of the region, you can have a magnificent view of Mornos Lake. As you are approaching Vounichora, do not forget to buy local products from the local women’s cooperation. Following the route towards Amfissa through the world famous olive grove, you are heading for Delphi “the center of the world” and for Arachova, a quaint, yet modern village.
It goes without saying that mountainous Fokida is not only restricted to the above mentioned itinerary. There are numerous other villages of impeccable beauty, not so touristicly promoted, that challenge the potential visitor to explore another side of Greece, probably unknown to some of us, in an attempt to come across a unique experience, to feel the local hospitality and to become a “sine qua non” element of the magnificent landscape!
Fokida: an experience not to be missed!