View from above of the red tiled roofs of Matsouki hamlet surrounded by the wild splendour of the mountains

Matsouki: the Ossuary Porch

Metsovo to Matsouki

“Where can we camp?” I asked in the Matsouki café. “Anywhere you like,” came the reply. So we put up our tent under the porch of a little building next to the cemetery. Glancing inside, I saw shelves of neatly labelled boxes of bones: the ossuary. The Greek Orthodox church forbids cremation, and there is little suitable land for burial, so after some years, the bones are dug up and kept in the ossuary. At dusk, old ladies in black came to light the nightlights on the graves. “Aren’t you afraid of ghosts?” they asked.

We camped in some strange places, but although wild camping is officially forbidden, we were always welcomed.

It was now early autumn. We’d disappeared down to the coast to escape the summer heat, and when we returned to Metsovo, the mountains were brown and parched, the spring flowers long gone. This was magnificently desolate country, with peaks rising over 2000 metres.

Route: Metsovo, Kalarites, Matsouki

Old stone monastery and church in the mountains near Metsovo, now uninhabited, where we slept the night.
Overnight at the monastery: caught on CCTV!
Path from Metsovo to Kalarites through bare mountains, part of E6 and 01 national trails
From Metsovo to Kalarites
Rocky track through bare and empty mountains: O1 national trail
Bare and empty country with large flocks of sheep in summer
Albanian shepherd with his fierce sheep guard dog
Elias, the shepherd who rescued us from the storm
Pretty Kalarites village with slate roofs and white stone walls
Kalarites, one of the prettiest villages
Kalarites magasi: cafe cum shop, with wide range of articles on shelves, bird in cage and simple tables
Cafe and shop in Kalarites: Romanian cook, excellent food
Lovely view from Kalarites village out over the mountains
Below Kalarites
Narrow wooded path from Kalarites to Matsouki, party of the national 01 trail
Path to Matsouki, a little overgrown but cool below the treeline.
Monastery of the Virgin Mary near Matsouki : old well maintained building
Broom and plea to keep the place tidy hung up on a tree in the Matsouki monastery courtyard

Vilica monastery. Like many monasteries no longer inhabited, but with crowds coming to celebrate the saint’s day. Broom provided in the courtyard with exhortation to visitors to keep the place tidy.

Jovial members of the Matsouki monastery renovation committee, with Alan
The Monastery Renovation Committee (and Alan)
Precipitous path to the monastery from Matsouki, under renovation
The committee’s major project: renovating the precipitous path from Matsouki.
Dry autumn vegetation mostly thistles before the rains
Thistles. A faint skim of green after the first rains, but few autumn flowers as yet.
Cafe owner and customer at Matsouki magasi
Matsouki cafe and shop

Travelling Slow

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