Just a few days before the end of October (even as we were preparing our November newsletter), Mindy received a newsletter that she is subscribed to about Greek travel. There was an article in it about suggested autumn destinations. A few months ago, we had planned a trip for October to Crete, but it didn’t work out and we had to cancel, which kinda bummed us out, so when we saw this article, it certainly caught our full attention!


Pelion Peninsula, Greece

Within hours of reading the article, we had secured flight tickets and a hotel reservation on the Pelion peninsula, which is about half-way between Thessaloniki and Athens, on the eastern coast.

Just a few days after that, we landed in Thessaloniki, took our rented car and headed south, having a wonderful meal on the way, going under a beautiful mountain in a 6 km long tunnel, and up to our hotel in a lovely little town called Portaria, situated 600 meters above sea level, and only half-way up the slope it is located on.

We spent five nights in Greece, seeing some of the beautiful sites the area has to offer, including:


·        A valley gorge that, according to the local legends, the Centaurs used to roam, called the Pelion Centaur’s Path located in Portaria, starting a short walking distance from our hotel.

·        A historic mountain train (completed in 1903!) that travels between two towns through gorgeous scenery, at only 20 km per hour, and only once a week. The tracks are considered one of the narrowest train tracks in the world, at only 60 cm width! (Here’s a YouTube video – not ours. Sadly, we didn’t get to ride the train because of scheduling issues, but we visited both train stations.)

·        Driving over the top of Mt. Pelion on a super-clear and sunny day at the high elevation we were at – but then descended on the other side, down into the clouds, heading toward the shore on the far side of the mountain. Totally different climate under the clouds, just 15 minutes away!

·        Visiting a Jewish cemetery in the city of Volos, dating back to 1887, with over 700 graves. There is still a small, active Jewish community in Volos, and we had planned on also attending Erev Shabbat services at their synagogue, but they started at 21:30 (!), and we were conked out by then!

·        Visiting a real haunted house, with an amazing history, starting with the fact that the family’s three children died there by drinking milk into which a poisonous gecko had fallen! Or at least, so goes the story… the truth is that they died of tuberculosis, but their rich and famous parents were too ashamed to let that truth out, so they made up the story of the poisonous lizard. But that’s not all – Nazis eventually took over the building and tortured and murdered Greek patriots in the cellar. These Greek souls are said to be haunting the building to this day. Watch this cool, spine-chilling YouTube clip about it.

·        The ancient archeological site of Dion, with all its amazing history, situated at the foot of Mt. Olympus, Greece’s highest mountain (which is actually only about 100 meters higher than the Hermon). In the museum, there were even the remains of an ancient musical instrument, called a “Hydraulis”, dated over two thousand years old!

·        Of course, eating at wonderful restaurants, among them an amazing organic gluten-free, sugar-free vegan restaurant in Volos called Anthema with fabulous desserts, two different friendly fish taverns just a few meters from the shores of the Aegean Sea, and a delicious restaurant called Kardamo in the scenic town of Markrinitsa. AMAZING view from the balcony there, and a delight for the palate!

·        Oh, and there was a road-side kiosk not far from the hotel that had a Hebrew sign outside it – but look at how the words came out - backwards! (By the way, the name of the Kiosk in Greek is pronounced – “Eneni”, which in Hebrew means, “I’m not here!”)

We had a lovely time in Pelion, and look forward to our next excursion to Greece, whenever that may be.



Uh, but if you plan on visiting Portaria, PLEASE take this next aspect into consideration!


On the first day, we were driving up to the hotel from Volos, following Waze to get the hotel. In one of the villages on the way, Waze told us to take a left turn off the main road. It looked suspicious, but since we don’t know the area, we thought that maybe there’s no other way.

WELL! We found ourselves driving up through people’s yards, extremely narrow and steep roads (if you can actually call them roads!) and came to what seemed an impassable section. Mindy got out of the car, found a man standing nearby watching us, and asked him directions.

With a completely dry and straight face, he said to her… “You’re from Israel.” (She spoke in her perfectly American English, of course.) Dumbfounded, she said yes.

Every day we have people from Israel coming up this way by mistake,” he said.

We blame it on Waze.

How did we get out? He told us to follow him out to the main road, then to continue up the mountain, adding emphatically, “Don’t turn left, don’t turn right. Just stay on the MAIN ROAD. You’ll get there.”

And we did. We got to the hotel with no further difficulties.

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