It was Sunday morning, April the 17th and we arrived at the picturesque village of Spilaio, (literary “Cave” in English) Grevena and parked the car outside the village. The day was just about right! The glorious sun was shining and after a hectic morning due to job-related issues, I decided I should try to make the most of the day. We were going to walk a 4km trail from the village down to the river of Venetikos and the Portitsa Stone bridge (around 350m elevation) and then back again to the village. It was going to be a challenging task, bearing in mind we had the kids with us.
We spent around 40 minutes in the main square of the village talking to friends, stretching and preparing for the …walk. For the kids it was a unique experience. They loved the whole atmosphere and were running around in joy. It was a party. At around 11.00 we all gathered in-front of the old school and once the signal was given was started our walk. We were about 200 of us and the great thing was to see small kids among the older ones.
We started our descent. A trail of people, one after the other, was going down the mountain walking a path that from time to time kept appearing and disappearing. We had to hold tight to the kids hands because in some instances even for the trained people the trail required attention. As we were going down, on our right we kept seeing Orliakas, the main mountain. Sharp and menacing rocks, ready to start rolling downhill, were a feast for the eyes. While descending and keeping an eye on our feet and on the kids I was trying to get sneaky views of the mountain and when possible take a couple of shots with my camera.
It took us around 1.15 minutes to make it to the river level. The view was magnificent. The Portitsa stone brigde and canyon is a unique spot in Grevena and a great place to spend not just an hour but a whole day. I remember one year ago we had had a humble yet great picnic next to the river. Trailers were taking photos, eating sandwiches, talking to each other. Some of the kids were walking by the river banks while older ones were just relaxing and marvelling the great scenery that nature sometimes offers us. Still, we had to get going. It was already 12.45 and we had to walk all the up the mountain in an almost vertical path.
In the first ten minutes of our walk we had only ascended 30 meters and had already stopped 2 times. The heat kept building up and it was this time I started realising that this was going to be an extremely difficult task to execute with the kids of 5 and 3.5 While on our descent the kids were so happy and playful, now in our ascend they started complaining from the first minute. There was no turning back though. We started sweating and as the time was passing by the frequency of stops just rocketed. At some point I even had to take on my shoulders both kids (totalling more than 40 kilos) for sdhort intervals!
When we had time though, we would stop and marvel the great view – The Veneticos river moving like a snake in the Pindos mountains. Under other circumstances we would spend more time to marvel such great scenery, but in the current circumstances we were just hoping for some … teleporting to take place! It was a tiring process, yet the kids showed a surprisingly high amount of stamina and determination.It was only 2 hours later, that we made it back to the village.
I instructed the kids to …make a great finish in the finishing line. They were dead tired but they did find that extra bit of stamina and strength to run and …pretend they were finishing the … London Marathon – because for them it was a marathon!
We finished the trail, spend some time in the main square and then feasted ourselves with a great yet light late lunch. The day ended in style with an ice cream for the kids. We were back at home at 19.00 and all were dead tired but all very happy with a great day we had. It was inevitable to note down the day for the next year!