Dense mountainsides, picturesque villages, abandoned monasteries, natural beauty... Is there a better place for walking than Pelion? This impressive mountain peninsula in the centre of the country, the Tuscany of Greece as it is called, is better enjoyed on foot, step by step. Probably that is what few locals thought and created the Friends of the Kalderimi of South Pelion, a society whose mission is to create walking paths in the region.
"First of all, our aim is to renovate and protect the kalderimia, the footpaths that people used to move from one place to the other in the past", told us Mr John Basdanis, the president of this society. "We have also put signs anywhere it is necessary and we organize the cleaning and conservation of the paths, because we see kalderimia as a way to preserve the history, the environment and why not to help in the increase of tourism in our region. Our dream is to join the kalderimia of South Pelion with the kalderimia of central Pelion and maybe later join the kalderimia of the whole Pelion together."
Who had the idea to create this society?
It started as an idea by our Vice President Chris Wicks. Chris and Catherine Wicks is a British retired couple who have a house in Pelion. It became real in November 2008, when we had the official foundation of our society and also the first registrations and elections, which brought about 50 members as a beginning. Today we have about 100 members. Financially, we are supported only by the contributions of our members plus a small fund we may get from the local community. Once a year, during the Carnival, we organize a masque dance at a local ball room and the entrance fees we collect are used for the expenses of our society. The same happens with the plant bazaar that we organize a week before the Orthodox Easter.
How many hours does a typical walk last?
We arrange about 12 walks a year that in average last about 2-3 hours each. There are walks that can last a little more. I should mention that after each walk, there is always a nice lunch at the local tavernas, where people taste the local food and drinks and where we tie our bonds as a team.
The members of the group are only people who live in Pelion or foreigners also?
Most of our members are foreigners who live in Pelion, or they only come for holidays here. The rest are Greeks who live around in the area or in Volos.
Which is your favorite route?
There is no favorite route because every route here in South Pelion is very attractive. Wherever you walk, you admire the nature, a combination of mountain and sea. The views are magnificent, the vegetation is beautiful and any season has something interesting and fascinating to intrigue you to walk in the footpaths. Personally, I like the walk from Promyri to Platanias (about 2 hours).