We reached Kali Komi at lunchtime. It’s a lovely village, hidden in a valley on one of the Acheloos tributaries. There had been billboards advertising the Hotel Alkiviadis on the roadside, and we were looking forward to a comfortable bed and shower. But when we got there, it was shut, though a dog guarded the entrance and there was washing on the line. There was no answer from the phone number displayed on the sign outside.
We wandered on a little further, and stopped to ask a woman working in her garden. “Yes, they’re around,” she said. “They live in the house down there. I’ll phone them for you, if you like.” As we were talking, the neighbours appeared from the next door garden, and a pick-up drew up alongside. We now had five people all concerned to find us a bed for the night, while one of them invited us to join them for a freshly cooked spinach pie.
The hotel had been built just seven years ago, and was luxurious compared to the one in Mesochora, with our own balcony looking out to the steep wooded slopes beyond. It was incredibly quiet. Although most of the roads had been tarred, there was almost no traffic. All we could hear was sheep bells, and the murmur of the river below.
It had been an easy day’s walk from our campsite. We’d taken a last look at the northern peaks, then crossed the ridge for our first view of the massive peak of Delidhimi. Our route would lead over the pass below the peak, and then along a faint path down the other side. It was wild, remote country and we were a little nervous.
The highlight of the walk was a little wayside church, with a brightly painted billboard outside. Inside, the icons were in the same naive style, with the saints wreathed in grape vines and peacocks at the foot of the crucifix.
Supper was the most enormous meal we had on the whole trip: mixed grill, with steak, sausage and souvlaki, plus a vast platter of chips. Even Alan was defeated. We were the only guests in the little restaurant, which felt more like the family living room. The elderly parents, two sons and a family friend sat at the adjoining tables, chatting and watching television, while we ate.
Then they spread out our maps and pored over possible routes, especially the way down the river Koubourianitikos, which the old man knew well. Talk then turned to business (hard to make ends meet with such a short season), Scottish independence (difficult to explain!) and climate change. They were an international family. The eldest son had married a girl from Wales, and commuted between the hotel and his home down in the plains, where the children went to school. Another son had married a Norwegian and gone off to Norway where it was easier to find work.
The route: Mixture of dirt and tarred roads. Water at Ellinika. Kilometres: 12. Ascent: 89m. Descent: 598m. Map: Anavasi: South Pindus 4.2.
Facilities: Cafe in square at Ellinika. Hotel Alkiviadis at Kali Komi. We didn’t visit the Kali Komi village square just off our route: there may also have been cafes there.