Our trip to Western and Central Macedonia is coming to an end, but not yet… We have four more days, two in Elatochori, Pieria and two more in Veria, and they will all be just as full as all the previous ones, we promise !
In the first part of our new travel article we stay in Elatochori, Pieria, at the Alseides Boutique Hotel and move locally: we learn about the local products of the area in the folk art shop in the Horostasi complex, we eat a wonderful dinner in the nearby restaurant Tzivaeri and go hiking in nature until we reach Sotiris Rema with the fantastic waterfall.
Our next destination, Elatochori, is a village in the mountains of Pieria, 8 km west of Katerini. Its old name was Skouterna, later, in 1928 it was named Elatousa and in 1929 Elatochori.
Arriving at the old Elatochori of Pieria, after α 60 km road, about an hour and a quarter by car, we saw the Alseides Boutique Hotel and we got excited! The village is green, peaceful, simply beautiful and our hotel is a jewel of Macedonian architecture… We knew from the first moment that we would have a wonderful time these two days!
Arriving at our hotel, we were welcomed by our new friend, Nadia the dog! The sweetest owners of Alseides Boutique Hotel, Mrs. Zafiria and Mr. Christos, welcomed us too. They took us to our room to settle down and we arranged to sit together in the hotel lounge at night to have a detailed conversation, as we like to do with all the businesses we visit!
Entering the reception area of the hotel, our gaze fell directly on its comfortable living room with a large fireplace and we thought that the atmosphere would be great when it was lit – in Elatochori the nights are cold, we were told, so we could see it lit!
Alseides Boutique Hotel has 9 fully equipped rooms, decorated in earthy tones, elegant and simple, as it fits a boutique hotel located in such a beautiful location. The decoration has been chosen by Mrs. Zafiria herself and she has really done a very good job!
So we opened the door and went into our room – it was fantastic! With a wooden floor, stone on the wall, beautiful decorations, a clean bathroom, a comfortable, large bed, and a fireplace next to it, it was exactly what every visitor dreams of in their beautiful village!
And the highlight? If you open the window your gaze gets lost in a vast green view!
We were very curious to see the other rooms of the hotel – are they all so beautiful? We took a look at one more and made sure!
The experience of staying in the elegant hotel is complemented by wellness and relaxation services… In the basement of the building there is a specially designed spa area with heated pool, which offers hydromassage, air massage, cervical massage and turbo jet, as well as hammam and sauna. Guests also have the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing, beneficial massage by the hotel partner.
So, after we had thoroughly explored our hotel, we went for a walk in the village. Soon we came across signs, which pointed to the various points of natural interest in the area. In Elatochori, as we were told, there are beautiful and easy hiking trails, which we should not miss! One of them is the path to Pigi Keramida, which passes through rivers, suspension bridges, places with awesome views, and ends at the source with the gurgling water. Another is the route to Sotiris Rema and Nikola Pigadi, with fantastic forest roads, lush forests of beech, oak, chestnut, fir, walnut and pine and ending at a magnificent waterfall. You will see later (in this and our next article) our photos from both routes!
One of the products that the place produces and is known for is walnut. Large walnuts in the streets of the village give abundant fruits. We have to admit that it was the first time we saw a walnut tree up close, and it was beautiful, as was the whole nature of the area!
Very close to the Alseides Boutique Hotel there is a small square with a fountain, the Trani Pigi that has been running for centuries. Next to it there is a large metal heart, on which couples in love “lock” their love. A habit that comes from abroad and we are very happy to come across it in our small Elatochori village…
As we found out, the village is very famous for its walnuts. We looked for these and other local products at the folk art shop in the Horostasi complex, which is very close to our hotel. We met its friendly owners, Mrs. Jenny Poulou and Mr. Dimitris Glaras, who spoke to us with great love about their business, which has been operating for ten years, as well as about their village.
Mr. Dimitris told us that the complex in which their store is located is called Horostasi because in the past, in the square that existed there, all the events and dances of the village took place (horos means dance in Greek). He also told us a few things about the history of the village: a lot has happened, since the Germans burned it three times in the ’40s; once the inhabitants painted the church of the village, Agios Nikolaos, black with the cloths that clean the ovens, so as not to be seen by the Turks. Next to Horostasi there used to be a two-storey stone school, which unfortunately was bombed by the Germans.
Mrs. Jenny told us that the village is full of walnuts and that they also have their own – from them come the walnuts that they sell and that they gave us to bring to Athens. Mr. Dimitris added that in their shop they have very nice local wines, tsipouro, liqueurs, jams, honey from small producers.
Mrs. Jenny told us about their village: they used to plant smoke in the village, but now they grow cherries, apricots, walnuts, tomatoes, chestnuts, beans; the young people return to the village and cultivate. She is a kindergarten teacher in Katerini, apart from her commercial activities, and she loves her job very much. The village has not had a school for two years and the children go to the next village.
In the past, when Mrs. Jenny was a child, the village again operated as a tourist destination in a different way. The inhabitants who worked in the fields rented their houses to people from Katerini, who came to the village for the coolness and the nice climate. Many also came and built houses when the ski resort was built. The village started operating as a touristic destination again near 2005, at a difficult time, as the financial crisis soon came. Now there is demand again, something very optimistic for the place.
Another very interesting thing that Mrs. Jenny told us is that in 2018 there was a big tribute to tea in the village, due to a collaboration with the American Agricultural School of Thessaloniki. For six months they had done a project about the black pig and another about tea; there were also relevant events, such as the two-day event entitled “Redefining Elatochori”, which we saw organized in May 2018 by the American Farm School together with the Peripheral Unit of Pieria, the Municipality of Katerini and the local authorities of Elatochori.
Mrs. Jenny and Mr. Dimitris gave us delicious gifts to take with us to Athens: their walnuts, our favorite kiwi jam and a local red wine to drink to their health. Thank you very much!
The time had passed and we were hungry… So, we did not travel much and sat in the next tavern, Tzivaeri of Mr. Giannis Papavramidis and Mrs. Eleonora, which has been operating since 2006 and is famous for its stews and grilled meat. On the outside of the tavern they have placed information signs, which give information about the paths of the area, the historic church of the village, Agios Nikolaos, and the Folklore Museum – a very beautiful initiative that promotes their place.
Elatochori is located at an altitude of 780 m and in the evening, even in September, it is really cold. So, we sat in the warm, welcoming space of the tavern and enjoyed its delicious, homemade food.
We had so much to choose from! Fresh bread, grilled pitas and other baked goods – which Mr. Giannis himself kneads every day -, pizzas, salads, appetizers, pasta, soups, stews, grilled meat and of course local wines. We made very good choices, and we would like to emphasize that we tried an incredibly delicious bulk white wine, with fruity aromas and a peach aftertaste, truly unique!
Tzivaeri tavern aims to introduce its visitors to the history and beauties of the village. This can be seen both from the signs outside and from the pages of the menu that describe the history of the village, its natural beauties and its sights. Well done!
And now, time for warm, homemade, rustic food!
And how could we know what awaited us when we returned to our hotel! Mr. Christos had lit the fireplace, since it was a cold night, and the atmosphere was warm and sweet… We sat on the couch by the fire and had a very nice conversation with Mrs. Zafiria and Mr. Christos.
Mrs. Zafiria and Mr. Christos are honestly very hospitable people and we thank them warmly for that. They offered us liqueur and wild grapes and told us about their lives. Mrs. Zafiria comes from Serres and Mr. Christos from Kilkis. They lived in Thessaloniki and when they visited Elatochori they fell in love with it and bought a holiday home there, instead of Halkidiki where they intended to. They loved nature so much that they could not leave it!
Their hotel operated on Christmas Eve 2007, shortly before the onset of the financial crisis, at a time when tourism was booming in the village. Since then it always stays open, all year round. They had never worked in tourism before; their daughter helped them a lot, working for the hotel for ten years. They built their hotel with a lot of love, as it seems at first glance…
In winter in the village the hotels are open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So, they stay at their home in Thessaloniki more often, Ms. Zafiria told us. In summer, from June to September, they live permanently in Elatochori. The tourist season in the village lasts from the end of October until April, and then in June, July very well and in August dynamically. Tourists come from all over Greece and from abroad, Israelis, Americans, Canadians, Swiss, French, Romanians, Australians… visitors from all over the world in summer, while in winter more Greeks. Foreigners stay in Elatochori to go to Thessaloniki, Meteora… it is like a hub for excursions to the surrounding areas.
The village is magical in summer, we were told, but also in autumn when the leaves fall it is wonderful. We also looked forward to enjoying this nature. But first, we had to sleep, to rest and have plenty of strength the next day for hiking and new discoveries…
The next morning we opened the window of our room and our gaze was lost once again in the endless green… We were ready to get lost in the surrounding paths of the village!
But first we had to recharge our batteries with Mrs. Zafiria’s delicious breakfast. So we went down to the dining room, next to the living room with the fireplace, and enjoyed all the delicacies offered by our kind hostess. We took a walk first, however, around our hotel, to breathe fresh air and to whet our appetite even more… although we did not need it!
Time for our breakfast now! Freshly baked omelets with fresh eggs, handmade jams, croissants, cold cuts, cheeses, yogurt with local honey, their own tomato, local honey, fresh bread, butter, all fresh and delicious, prepared with much love. The perfect start to another full day!
Breakfast was another bliss in our happiness; this village is truly enchanting! With this wonderful nature, which has not been burdened by the presence of tourists, it is a breath of coolness and relaxation from our daily life in the city. How would we leave it? Fortunately, we had another two days to enjoy it in peace!
We decided for our first exploration to be the route to Nikola Pigadi and Sotiris Rema, in the Pieria Mountains. To get there we started from Elatochori, in the direction of the Ski Center. This is a relatively easy route, which generously offers the beauty of the forest that takes your breath away. You can reach Nikola Pigadi by car through a dirt road, and continue on foot to Sotiris Rema. For the more adventurous, the walking distance from Elatochori to Sotiris Rema is about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Nikola Pigadi is a fantastic place, in the forest, like a landscape taken from a fairy tale… A fountain and some benches are waiting for the walkers to rest and immerse themselves in the peace of this place…
Shortly after Nikola Pigadi, we arrived at a sign that showed the way to Sotiris Rema. Nikola Pigadi is about 2 km away from Sotiris Rema, and it is really worth reaching the end of the route. You will see immediately why!
The end of the hiking route Elatochori-Nikola Pigadi-Sotiris Rema is a wonderful waterfall. The waterfall may be small – about 10 m high – and relatively unknown, but these are the facts that make it unique. We believe that the image speaks for itself!
The weather was quite cool and so we did not dare to go under the icy waters of the waterfall – a pending for the next time we come, in the summer maybe. We walked for a while more in the surrounding area, since it was so enjoyable that we really could not leave. Small paths and wooden bridges invite you to explore the landscape… Who could resist!
We got back in the car and decided to see another part of the area, its Ski Center. The Ski Center is located at Papa Chorafi, at an altitude of 1450 m. It is 8.5 km away from Elatochori, a quarter by car. It is a relatively new ski resort, but it has become very popular and is flooded with people every winter.
The facilities of the ski center include 10 slopes with variable altitude difference and with an increasing degree of difficulty. Skiing is not our sport, but the fantastic location of the ski resort makes us really want to come again in the winter and test our performance!
This is where our article ends… Our trip to Elatochori, however, still has a lot to show you. In the second part of our article come hiking in nature on the route Elatochori-Pigi Keramida, unique images from the historic church of Agios Nikolaos, coffee and sweets in Itamos, food in Anoi and a stop in Panagia Agrotissa on the way to the last destination of our long travel tribute to Western and Central Macedonia, Veria. Watch our next articles, the places we visited really deserve it!
Read first each of our new articles!
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