Thraki and Eastern Macedonia were regions of the continental part of Greece that I didn’t ever visit up to now. Under some interesting circumstances though, I will have to live in Xanthi for some time, so it would be a big mistake from my side, not to grab the opportunity to start exploring the widen area …
After many days of heavy cloudiness and rain, a sunny Sunday morning came out. Unfortunately, the temperature didn’t climb more than 10 degrees. Of course this wasn’t a restrictive factor for my growing appetite to explore the highlands of the prefecture.
Around 11:30 am I started driving, heading for Xanthi. After filling up my tank with gas, I followed the signs for “Stavroupoli” and “Echino”. Some days ago, while talking with the locals, I found out that one of the most popular motorcyclists’ – and not only – routes, was the road from Xanthi to Stavroupoli (25 km). I decided that it would be my first route to start with, within the area.
Getting out of Xanthi, I grabbed the opportunity to admire the view of the city from the cliff above. That’s why there are 2-3 cafeterias in that spot. Continuing my route and while covering the first kilometres of the route, I found myself inside a green landscape. On many occasions the road was going in parallel with the Kosynthos River. Kosynthos is an affluent of Nestos River, the most known river of the prefecture.
While en route, I saw many stone-made bridges & passages that were standing overbearing, accepting the merciless strokes of the violent water streams. Some of them had a few deteriorations, but were still standing high. In any case, they are considered architectural gems. As I’ve learnt, they have been built by local craftsmen, while many of them stopped being used after 1925, when the asphalting of the road began.
I passed by the junction of “Pilima” – a village with an extra-ordinary food quality to offer – and Exinos (which is considered the starting point for the exploration of the well known “Pomakochoria”). The scenery still remained fascinating, while the altitude was still rising. Temperature had fallen below 10 degrees, but this fact didn’t bother me at all, since I’ve found myself amused by driving through a helix route, with a decent quality of asphalt.
A little while later, after the junction to village “Mega Evmoiro”, I met a wooden sign that was leading to the small church of Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elija). I’ve read from a tourist guide that this place was a gathering point by the locals during the 1st of May and also during the summer season. While I knew that the route till the church was 2 kilometers of dust-road, I decided to go and visit it. From the first few meters that I covered, I knew that my decision was successful… The scenery was magnificent! The fallen leafs of the trees were covering the whole road, creating a unique and beautiful yellow-reddish veil… At the end of the dust-road, I reached the top, where the small church was standing, along with an observation point and many wooden tables and chairs. It’s unnecessary to mention what panoramic view this place was offering. In spite of the cold, I relaxed for some minutes, staring at the broaden area. After that, I started driving my way back to the main road network, heading for Stavroupoli.
From there and on, following the downside route I reached conveniently to the village of Stavroupoli. I visited the graphic centre with the tiled roads and the traditional houses that were made of stone. The village offers some taverns, while in the central square there’s a grill-house along with a coffee-house, under the shadow of a huge plane-tree.
I decided to continue, heading to Drama. The route was very pleasant, even though the scenery was not that impressive, compared with the scenery up to Stavroupoli. At “Neochori” village, I came upon a sign for "Castle Kalyva", its distance was 9 kilometers from the main road. I decided to take a visit. After passing from 1-2 small villages (Kato Ioniko & Ioniko), I followed a deserted, but at the same time, magnificent route. The thin road (too difficult to fit 2 cars at the same time), was passing through a very beautiful natural background, while it was crossing a small canyon. Unfortunately I was unlucky, since reaching the fortress facilities, I realised that it was closed … In fact; I couldn’t even see any castle at all, since the thick forest of oak trees in front of me prevented my optical range.
Even though I was unlucky, I didn’t regret it, since the route up to there was fantastic. So I returned to the main road and continued for Drama city, which was approximately 40 kilometers away. I passed by the known “Paranesti” but also through the junctions that lead to Livaditis and the dam of Thesaurus, which I promised to myself that I would visit it another time. On the biggest part of it, the route up to Drama crossed a big valley.
Around 3:30 pm I reached the beautiful city of Drama and chose one of the central cafeterias to rest while drinking a coffee. In the afternoon, I departed, heading for Kavala city (35 km), until I met Egnatia Odos. The cold was getting stronger by that time. Luckily, I crossed the last 40 km of the highway in high speed, in order to get back to Toxotes of Xanthi, where I was staying. Having the best impressions about the area, I went back to the warmth of my room and started inspecting the photos that I shot the same day… Having only positive impressions, this excursion was a very good starting point for the general exploration of the area…