Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Αlli Meria (Volos)-Hania

Distance: 11,4 km
Duration: 4,5 hours (walking time 3,5 h)
Altitude: from 215 m. (Alli Meria) to 1200 m. (Hania)
Total ascent: 1030 m. Total descent: 49 m.
Signing: red marks, a few signs
Drinking water on walk: yes
Download GPS track:   from Everytrail   from Wikiloc


          In this walk, we are following the historical old mule track which connected Volos to the villages of East Pelion (Zagora, Makrirachi, Kissos etc.). We start from the village of Alli Meria at the outskirts of Volos, because the first section of the original route has become an asphalt road and therefore is unpleasant to walk. We can go from Volos to Alli Meria by city bus nr. 7 or taxi and return from Hania by regional bus (www.ktelvolou.gr). Another option is to continue walking from Hania to Zagora or Anilio, Kissos, Tsagarada, Mouresi, Agios Lavrentios, Agios Georgios (see the respective routes). At Hania there are hotels and restaurants open all year round.
         Starting from the drinking water fountain at the square of Alli Meria, we walk on a narrow flat stone paved road, formerly a kalderimi (cobbled stone path). We pass by Hadziargiris` imposing old mansion on our left, then go right at a T-junction, cross the asphalt below to the small chapel of Agii Anargiri and continue uphill on a concrete road. From the end of the road, we walk next to the fence of a mansion, having on the right the ravine of Anavros, overgrown with plane trees.
Walking next to a mansion's fence
           The kalderimi opens to a road junction with a water tank and we take the uphill road that has a black plastic water pipe on its side, which serves us as a guide. Further up, there is another water tank where the black pipe ends and we get to an asphalt road. After ten meters on the road, we find the continuity of the kalderimi on our right. It opens to another asphalt, we walk uphill  and after fifty meters we notice the wide kalderimi on the right side going steadily uphill. We reach the small square of Katichori called ''Pazarouli''. A little further up, there is a drinking water fountain on the side of the road. Here we take the concrete road that ascends steeply next to the fountain. This is the old kalderimi, now covered with concrete, which avoids passing through Portaria to save time (we can still go to Portaria if we want-see the route Portaria-Alli Meria).
           The concrete track opens to the main asphalt, just under Portaria Hotel. From the small parking area on the right, we can see steps climbing up to a parallel asphalt road a little higher. We walk on this to the right (to the east) until it leads to a christian school's summer camping area (ΓΕΧΑ), and continue on a narrow dirt track next to the upper side of it. This used to be a proper kalderimi until recently, but was sadly destroyed to lay an underground water pipe...One wonders, why are the authorities consistently failing to protect the cobblestone and turn a blind eye to its destruction? Why can`t they realise its value at least for the tourists and visitors?
Kalderimi into chestnut forest (in winter)

            Anyway, a small section of kalderimi survives further on, then it is covered by concrete next to a cottage and then appears again, climbing into chestnut forest. On our way is a drinking water fountain and a kiosk next to Agia Triada chapel. From some spots, we enjoy beautiful views to Portaria village and the sea down below or to the peaks Agriolefkes and Schitzouravli above to the east.
View to Agriolefkes and Schidzouravli peaks
              We cross a dirt road and after a little while reach a watering trough. After this, the kalderimi takes a left turn. Here a path goes straight ahead towards Drakia, marked with blue paint. We continue uphill on the kalderimi and reach the main asphalt to Hania, next to another watering trough and a telecommunication antenna. We walk a few meters on the asphalt downhill (attention, downhill) and find the path-kalderimi that continues parallel to the road a few meters below on the right (follow the red marks). Eventually we join the asphalt again for 50 meters. Just before a sharp right turn, noticing the handmade sign to Hania ("Χάνια"), we take the narrow road to the left, initially among apple orchards, then becoming kalderimi into beech forest.
Kalderimi into beech forest approaching Hania
              Eventually, the path-kalderimi opens to a dirt road next to a football pitch. We take this road uphill and soon reach Manthos hotel. We continue on the same direction and pass a small stream, finding a small stretch of the original kalderimi near Zisis hotel. After that, we walk on an asphalt road for a few meters and then go left uphill on a dirt track to reach the main asphalt at Hania just above us, at the corner of Kokkinis hotel-restaurant (To hani tou Kokkini).
Zisis` old hani (hostel) around 1920 (now gone)


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