one foot on the mountain
News, Spring 2012
A Happy New Year to all our friends!
2012 looks set to be an interesting and challenging year for many people, not least our friends and neighbours in Greece. A few words about 2011 first;
The effects of Greece's economic troubles were not very visible in Exochori during the Summer, although the rise in fuel costs was having an impact on local small businesses and we noticed some increase in the cost of food etc.Tourism at the coast didn't seem to be much affected with many people reporting a good season.The area continues to attract large numbers of independent travellers. None of our visitors coming via Athens experienced any problems.
Up in Exochori we had a great season, we were especially pleased to see 'returners.'
Work continues in the garden, clearing and lanscaping the lower terraces and growing as much of our own food as possible.We did not suffer from water shortages this year and, although we were confident that our rainwater storage would help, it was a great relief not to preoccupied with water all summer.
The big news in the house was the installation of fly screens on all windows. Also the outside kitchen is now under cover, making it more user friendly during the day.
The village enjoyed its usual summer transformation with lots of people coming back to their family homes in July and August. The "panayri"church celebrations in August saw partying into the small hours.
The 'Hotel Farragi' restaraunt, with its wonderful view of the Viros Gorge, was open all summer and put on some terrific music nights.'Me Thea' restaraunt now opens all year, very much the heart of the village it continues to be a great favorite with our guests
We very much enjoyed hosting the 14 Italian walkers, who came, with their guide, over the mountains from Sparti and have since developed links with a guesthouse in Anavriti.
This makes it easier for hikers to tackle crossing the Taygetos ridge from Sparti to Exochori.
At its simplest this would be a 3 day trip with overnight stops at Anavriti, the mountain refuge (katafigio), and ending with us here in Exochori.The itinerary would be Day 1 walk from Mystras to Anavriti. Day 2 Anavriti to Mountain refuge (1700m) along wooded eastern slopes of Taygetos ridge. Day 3 crossing to Agios Dimitrios, and then descending the Viros Gorge from its start beneath the peak of Profitas Ilias to Exochori.
For more experienced mountain walkers this could be extended to 5 days and include more challenging climbs, taking in the peaks of Spanakaki, and Profitas Ilias (2400m).
These hikes could be self led or with a qualified mountain guide from the Sparti Mountain Club.
Local environmental group Gaia has been clearing paths in the area. The big outdoor events, the mountain marathon and mountain bike race have also made a big difference to some of the routes. This years Taigetos Challenge is scheduled for April,find out more about this event on the 2407 website.
2012 in Greece certainly brings some challenges for our friends and neighbours who will undoubtedly feel the austerity measures. Exochori may even see more people return to live in their village homes. We are as always looking forward to being back there and we sincerely hope that visitors will keep coming to enjoy the unique beauty and hospitality of this country .Greece needs its tourist industry more than ever.