Greece: Prespa Lake & the TransFlorina Highway

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Stara Varos, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2017
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Thesaloniki, Greece
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    Let's start by justifying the title of the post. «Prespes» or even better «Prespa National Park» is a mountainous lake area in northern Greece and specifically in the region of Western Macedonia. It is an important protected wetland of international interest. The timeliness, unfortunately, makes the region more famous for other reasons, as it was chosen as the place where, in a hegemonic way, some obsessive vicious people, locked up in ideologies tried to give flesh and bones to their political ancestors' dreams. As for the second part of the title, the word «Transflorina» clearly has the inspiration of its birth to the exceptional road 67c in Romania, «Transalpina». Corresponding beautiful, if not superior, is the mountain road that connects the city of Florina with Kastoria via Vitsi, which we will now on describe as «Transflorina». It is a route of high aesthetic value, surrounded by beech forests, overlooking the surrounding Vitsi Mountains (Mount Vernon).

    We chose this area in the end of summer 2018 to have a motorcycle ride. The participants in this trip have also appeared in earlier posts of mine, but no further recommendations have been made. Now is the time to restore this injustice.

    Starting from Thessaloniki on my own, i had the opportunity to stop for a while at some points i wanted for a long time to visit. On the abandoned bridge of Axios River, in the area «Kastro» or «Frourio» near Chalkidona, i tried to figure out how many times in life you will need to choose which bridges to cross and which you will have to burn.

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    A second stop was made just before Florina, right on the Thessaloniki - Monastiri Railway Line. The project began in 1891 and was completed in 1894 when the «Ottoman High Gate» granted Deutsche Bank (several questions about the conditions by which the fate of the Balkans is being promoted in History, have been solved) the right to construct the railroad as a branch of the «East Railway» and to extend it to an Albanian port. The length of the line reached the 219.1 km.

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    Along the railway line there are in nodal points, to endure their futile destiny, old railings. I do not know when, who, or why they were placed or what exactly they are serving up to today, but if anyone can tell me, i would be happy to update my post.

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    Then i headed for the mountain village Akritas, some 16 km away from Florina. It is located at an altitude of 1,050 meters on the slopes of Mount Varnous, overlooking the plain of Pelagonia and Prespa lakes. The road was closed, with signs and bars, but they did not prevent me from driving a part of it.

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    Vigla Ski Resort.

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    Kassomoulis, a revolutionary in 1821 War of Independence, as the plaque describes, born in Pisoderi.

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    A walk in the almost deserted Antartiko. Its original name was Zelovo, but it was renamed in honor of Pavlos Kyros, the chieftain Traianos Liantzakis, the teacher Christos Traianos, and the many simple inhabitants who participated in the Greek Struggle for Macedonia. From this village, as well as the wider region, apart from Pavlos Melas, Kaoudis, Captain Kottas and the other fighters, the Bulgarian Committees and the «rebels» of the 1946 - 1949 fratricide «civil war» passed before their final exodus to Tito's Yugoslavia. I read a very good article about the village, here.

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    Mikrolimni and Oksia.

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    Mileonas or Miliona, once Medovo. Only the vaults of the brick-built dwellings are left, without windows and doors, while nature having undertaken to play the final act of drama. The history of the village does not differ significantly from that of the other deserted villages of Florina and Kastoria. Initially, the villages suffered population bleeding by the practice of forced recruitment of children from communist-held parts of Greece. Then, their Slav-conscious inhabitants came to the mountains in the expectation of the autonomy of Macedonia, an idea that Tito cultivated and partly the Greek Communist Party. Eventually, they were forced to abandon them to avoid the consequences of their defeat in the Civil War.

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    After we were gathered, we put the barbecue on and along with panseta (meat), the first ideas for the next day's excursion were discussed.

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    In the evening we went to a new café to the village of Mikrolimni, overlooking the Prespa lake.

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    In the morning, after we loaded calories, we started for the Vigla ski resort «Tottis», just before Florina.

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    Reference has been made to the beginning of my publication and ι will now introduce to you my two best friends. At the center of photography, Charalambos, a friend of mine since school years. Although he was never related with the world of motorcycles, we have shared so much in the past that it would be madness to not have a common future in traveling by two wheels. To the left, Alkis. We met a few years ago due to work, but our common passion for BMW motorcycles made us an inseparable duo. These two guys daily confirm that true friends are the second family we create after the one we come from.

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    Leaving Vigla and the ski resort, we headed for Florina. Then, the route we followed was: Florina – Drosopigi – Vitsi ski center. It is worth a visit to the villages Oksia, Visinia, and the traditional Polikeraso. The route that connects Florina with Kastoria, the «TransFlorina Highway», is 55 km long, and between the ski center (at an altitude of 1700 meters) and the Hellenic Air Force facilities, a secondary network that serves logging expands, offering opportunities for offroad explorations. The whole area, of course, is also of historical interest since it was the center of war operations during the Civil War.

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    Stop for «refueling» with views of the lake of Kastoria, to the main square of the village Aposkepos.

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    The old provincial road from Aposkepos to Prespa lakes, leads us through the forgotten Korestia area. It is a cluster of small mountain villages along Ladopotamos river (Upper and Lower Kraniona, Agios Antonios, Gavros, Kottas, Halara, Melas, Makrohori, Mavrokampos and Vatohori). The heavy atmosphere of their abandonment is strengthened by the marks from the firearms in the old brick-built houses.

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    Bridge of Ladopotamos river, possition «Mpiriki».

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    Our ride came to its end to Psarades village, after making a stopover on the provincial road leading to Vronteroc and then to the old military post of Koula, the abandoned Prespa canning plant and the lake's beach settlements .

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    Shortly before Psarades village, to the left after the chapel of St. George, there is a small path - single track, ideal for a ride with small enduro bikes. The next day we returned to Thessaloniki via the Egnatia Motorway.

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    Every time my material for a publication is done, i'm facing the same problem writing an epilogue. This time i will close it with no more, since the wider area of Prespa lakes requires to return to explore.

    To be continued..
    #1
  2. Fenianbastard

    Fenianbastard Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2014
    Oddometer:
    338
    Location:
    Princeton (the center of liberal hell in NJ)
    Greece is great riding country. I was in Crete a few years ago and regret not renting a bike for a ride around the island.
    #2
    Stara Varos likes this.
  3. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2017
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Thesaloniki, Greece
    ..a nice reason to fly back, since many companies can now rent you the bike of your choise, even the newest xl on-offs :-)
    thanks for the read!
    #3
  4. jdwininger

    jdwininger n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2020
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    US
    Thanks for sharing! Took a last minute solo trip to Thessaloniki and on Friday decided to rent a car in Thessaloniki and go for a road trip further south on the Halkidiki region and saw a beach that looked promising. It was amazing, fantastic beach and where I also made this discovery. Known as shipwreck of Epanomi off of Potamos beach. If you haven’t been the whole region is fantastic and highly recommend it.
    #4
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  5. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2017
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Thesaloniki, Greece

    @jdwininger thanks for the read&comment! Thessaloniki is my hometown and my parents live near Epanomi. I have great memories there, every summer on ATV's to those sandy beaches! If you ll ever be around, gimme a heads up
    :photog:photog:photog :y0!
    #5