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Trip Report Greece trip report - winter in the center - Epirus, Pelion etc

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Better late then never, I am finally trying to get my act together and sit down to write this trip report. As usual I am encouraged by the Fodorites who are always ready to give advice and expert information, and my thanks to you all. This trip took place in the beginning of January, but we were mostly blessed with great weather.
So here goes:

Our first little find was Peri’s hotel near the airport.
http://www.perishotelapt.gr/
We landed in Athens at night and had a flight the next morning, and I didn’t want an expensive, impersonal airport hotel. Peri’s was perfect as they offer free transfers (although the evening driver seemed to expect a tip and I was happy to oblige. In the morning the owner took us and no tip was expected). The room was clean and totally adequate, as was the breakfast. When we arrived, we were hungry and the local taverna was closed, so the night clerk offered to order take-away or to drive us to the seaside (5 min) which we preferred. He then came back to pick us up when we finished our meal. Service above and beyond I think.

Next morning we flew to Ioannina where our friends met us at the airport and we began our trip with a visit to the caves of Perama. These are beautiful caves with amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations. The entrance (not so easy to find) is in the middle of the little town of Perama and you must join a 45 minute tour. Our next destination was the site of the oracle of Dodona (the second most famous oracle after Delphi). Well you think that should be easy to find! Even with a GPS we drove around for a while, even driving right up to the gate of this unimpressive little building with a tiny sign that we missed, and we decided this was not the place. So we turned right around and drove up and down until we decided to go back to this little building – which of course was the entrance to the site. And it closed at 3pm even though our information said 5pm. But now that we knew where it was we managed to fit it in another day!
We then drove around the lake of Ioannina to our hotel, another great find. The Kastro hotel is inside the old walls of Ioannina and a beautifully restored little hotel, great location, and service and most reasonably priced.
http://en.hotelkastro.gr/

We then spent two days in Papingo, hiking the beautiful trails around the Vikos Gorge. Papingo is an amazing little village high up in the Pindus mountains of Epirus. After reading the book Eleni, by Nicholas Gage (recommended to me on another post) we couldn’t stop thinking about the characters of the book and the hardships they faced on these mountain trails. A must-read for anyone interested in Greece.
Another lovely hotel was the Pantheon, and we enjoyed all meals in their cozy restaurant.
http://www.pantheonpapigo.gr/hotel-en.htm

More soon...

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