Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tsagarada-Damouchari-Ai Giannis (Agios Ioannis)

 Distance: 4,3 km
Duration: 1.45' (walking time 1.15')
Altitude: from 480 m. (Agia Paraskevi, Tsagarada) to 0 m.
Signed with: a few signs and red paint marks
Drinking water on walk: yes (Agia Kyriaki fountain, Vainas fountain)

      Download GPS track:  from Wikiloc    from Everytrail

       This excellent walk will take us, on kalderimi, from the village of Tsagarada down to the small picturesque harbour of Damouchari (of Mamma mia! fame), and then to the nearby sandy beach of Papa Nero at Ai Giannis. After swimming into the crystal clear Aegean sea and eating at one of the local tavernas, we can return to Tsagarada by bus (check the timetables at: www.ktelvolou.gr) or taxi (+306944718863). We can also continue walking from Ai Giannis to Mouresi, KissosAnilio, or Horefto.
           Starting at the junction with the main asphalt, we are initially walking down the asphalt going to Agia Paraskevi square. After 100 m., as the road takes a right bend, we notice a yellow sign to Damouchari on the left. This is where the old cobbled stone path (kalderimi) starts. It is descending steadily, almost on a straight line, in a northeasterly direction among houses and chestnut trees.

           Crossing the asphalt twice, there is then a small stretch covered by concrete, but the kalderimi soon emerges again  and reaches a monumental marble fountain built in 1907, just above Agia Kiriaki church. The small square with the plane tree next to the church is sadly deserted.
Agia Kiriaki church
            The kalderimi zigzags to the left to pass by the church, then crosses the asphalt again and continues downhill beautifully into dense chestnut forest. We pass a stream over a small concrete (formerly wooden) bridge that lies on stone bases, next to the fountain of Vainas. Climbing the slope, we exit the forest and join a narrow asphalt road that comes from the left, to get the first view of the Aegean. Looking to the north, we can see the coastline as far as to the village of Pouri. The asphalt stops and we continue straight ahead on an earth road for a few meters, then the kalderimi reappears on the left, next to a fence.
View to the north
             A little further down, we reach a wooden kiosk. On the left a small stone balcony is built, where one can sit in quiet and admire the view to the sea. As the kalderimi zigzags its way down, we can feel the sea breeze and hear the waves that hit the rocky coast below.

           A path crosses on the right, going towards Krifo Scholio and Fakistra beach. There is a protective low stone wall built on the outer side, because the slope is very steep. Eventually, we come to pass the Chalorema stream over a wooden bridge. As if to justify its name (Chalorema=destroying stream), the stream has destroyed the concrete lane on which we walk at the other side.
Chalorema stream

           In a few meters we reach the beach of Damouchari, under the ruins of the old castle. Walking on flat stone paved path parallel to the sea, we pass just above the small port, the only place in the east Pelion area where a ship could safely dock. Some scenes of the movie ''Mamma mia'' were shot here in 2007 and there are happy pictures of the taverna owner with Meryl Streep.
Damouchari port

         A little further on, as a concrete road continues to the right, we notice the kalderimi climbing to the left. It soon opens at the entrance of Damouchari on the asphalt road which we follow, leaving the village. After about 300 m., there is a junction next to a fountain, where we go right. We then come to a point where a wooden kiosk is next to the asphalt. Here on the right a narrow concrete road leads to ''Katerina'' tourist accomodation. The kalderimi is descending just left to this road and then left to the entrance of Katerina, and we soon find ourselves at the south end of the magnificent sandy beach Papa Nero of Ai Giannis.
          As an epilogue, I will quote the late Nikos Haratsis, from his milestone book ''A hiker`s guide to Mt.Pelion'' (1995): ''Those who walk this path are fortunate. They are sure to find many pleasant surprises in their way. No matter how far they drift from Pelion, its memory never fades away. So joy to those who choose to walk down this path, that is hard to find anywhere else''.  
Papa Nero beach