Friday, July 12, 2019

Κala Nera-Vizitsa-Milies train station (circular)

View to Milies
Distance: 13,3 km
Time: about 6 h total, moving time 4.45'
Altitude: from 0 m. (Kala Nera) to 520 m. max (Vizitsa square)
Total uphill/downhill: 694 m.
Signed with red paint and yellow metal signs
Drinking water on walk: yes
Start/finish: Kala Nera beach at the bus turn
Download GPS track: from Wikiloc
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         This is an excellent circular walk, mostly on kalderimi, climbing from the beach of Kala Nera to Vizitsa and returning back via the train station of Milies. Points of interest on our way include the waterfall Katafidi near Vizitsa, the old monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos (St. John the Baptist) at Vizitsa, the metallic train bridge and the tiny chapel of Taxiarchis near Milies train station, and, finally, the cave of ''Centaur Chiron'' (see Pelion: mythology and history).
          Starting from the bus turn at the seaside of Kala Nera, we walk away from the sea on the asphalt road. We come to cross the main asphalt at an angle to the right (attention to traffic!) and on the other side continue on an earth path next to a house which is on our right. The path soon becomes cobblestone kalderimi, ascending through olive groves.
          On our way up we walk through the cottages of the settlement ''Argireika'', including an old olive press. Many inhabitants of Vizitsa preferred to stay here through winter, to  be nearer to their olive groves and to avoid heavy winter snow, which is not unusual in Pelion. This was common practice in most Pelion villages.
             Further up, we walk for a short distance on earth road. There is an open irrigation water tank on our left. After that, we find the kalderimi again, overgrown with vegetation but still passable (in spring 2019). Eventually it opens at an angle to a wider earth road, next to the small chapel of Timios Stavros. From here we can see Vizitsa in the middle, Milies to the right and Pinakates to the left. There is a large ravine, which we will have to cross, between our position and Vizitsa.
View to Vizitsa
          So, we conitinue on the road downhill. Further on, it becomes asphalt. At a sharp right turn we leave it and walk at a straight line on a narrow earth road, which becomes kalderimi and we come to cross the stream over a small concrete bridge. Shortly after that, watching on our left, we find a path that leads to the waterfall ''Katafidi''. This is an excellent spot, especially early in spring, when the flow of water is high. The waterfall is dry through summer and autumn but remains impressive nonetheless.
Katafidi waterfall (in spring)
            Returning back to the wide, well-crafted kalderimi, higher up it suffers from landslides, so we have to abandon it and walk on an earth track. Coming to a junction, we find the kalderimi up left, next to a shrine. It keeps climbing up and we enter Vizitsa, passing by the main church of  Zoodochos Pighi, then crossing the asphalt road and finally we arrive at the cosy village square. This is the highest point of our walk (520 m.), where we can have a refreshment or a snack. 
Vizitsa square
           Returning back to the asphalt, we walk on this to the left. In a little while, we pass by the women`s association ''Esperides''  where local products are sold, and then turn right on a kalderimi that leads to the tiny 18th century monastery of  Aghios Ioannis Prodromos (St. John the Baptist).
The monastery`s church entrance
        Since 2017 it is looked after by sister Markella, who can also guide us around. 
From the entrance of the monastery we continue downhill on a path just next to the monastery`s outer wall and join a wide descending kalderimi. 
         We pass by a roofed drinking water fountain on our left and then join an earth road, on which we walk downhill. Passing under the village`s cemetery, we cross an asphalt road and continue on a path which soon becomes kalderimi.  On our right is the large overgrown Miliotiko ravine. At the opposite bank we can make the white chapel of Timios Stavros and, if we look carefully, the chapel of Taxiarchis built midway on the cliff. 
         Further down, the kalderimi becomes earth path and we come to a path junction. We elect the right branch, which further down opens to the train rails and we follow them to the right to visit the bridge. In five minutes we reach the magnificent metallic bridge, which was constructed in the beginning of 20th century by Schneider, a German specialist engineer, under the supervision of Italian chief engineer Evaristo de Chirico.
The metallic train bridge
   
            Just after we pass over the bridge, we find a narrow ascending path and follow it climbing steadily. At a junction we take the left branch.  After climbing some steps built with stones, we walk on a narrow lane on the nearly vertical rock, that leads to the tiny chapel of Taxiarchis,  built on the edge of the cliff, accompanied by the birds, waiting every day to hear the shuffle of the little train  passing below.
The path on the cliff
              Tracing our steps back, we follow the rails to get to the train station of Milies (end of the train line). We continue on the asphalt for 100 m. (on the left an uphill kalderimi leads to the square of Milies) and then find the kalderimi to Kala Nera next to a small drinking water fountain and follow it downhill. Wide and clear, it winds down to cross the Miliotiko stream over a concrete bridge and continues on the other bank between olive groves. At some point there is signpost on the left side, indicating a large cave, called somewhat arbitrarily Centaur Chiron`s cave.
          Further on, we join at an angle an earth road, on which we walk for 100 m. to find the continuity of the kalderimi on the left. Eventually the kalderimi ends and we continue walking on an earth road, which later becomes paved with concrete as it passes by the cemetery of Kala Nera and then joins the main asphalt. At the juction lie a few cypress trees and a road sign to ''Argireika''. We walk on the main asphalt for 100 m. and then, at the junction with the kalderimi coming from Vizitsa, turn left on the asphalt road that opens down to the seaside of Kala Nera, at the point of the bus turn, from where our walk had started.
Kala Nera beach (off season)

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