Day 17 – Via Egnatia – a bad experience in Neo Kavkasos

If you are a potential VE walker  – WARNING – Avoid Neo Kavkasos! In my opinion, the place does not deserve anyone setting foot within it. The eight people we met and spoke with there were unhelpful, uninterested and would clearly prefer travellers and tourists to take themselves elsewhere. You are missing nothing but aggravation by avoiding the place.

Another sunny day! We left Bitola after a picnic breakfast in our room and a coffee on the way out of town. Always hard to get food in the early mornings here. We picked up some fresh bread from a bakery a little further on and were soon heading into the hills. Our morning walk was along a grassy track at the foot of treed hills along meadows. It was delightful. Soft under foot, sheep and cow bells ringing. Shepherds with their flocks and herds. A few barking dogs but nothing alarming. They were behind fences, on ropes or chains or with their owners who called them off. We stopped for a picnic lunch in the last village before the border. Enjoyed the shade and a rest while we devoured excellent bread stuffed with cheese and olives. Then we headed down a long straight flat boring road (disused). About five kms. The border crossing was swift – though the heat bouncing off the tarmack was intense.

Soon we were in Greece. The first little town Niki was supposed to have several restaurants and bars – maybe – but they were all closed. We decided to walk on another 5.5 kms to Neo Kavkasos where our guide book tells us “private rooms possible.” I know those of you who have been reading this blog are going to know what happened when we got there right?

First bar we went into – talked to a vacant young woman. Accommodation? No. Taxi? She had no idea. She sent us down the road to a larger restaurant. There were three people inside. Two older people and a youngish man. He informed us of course there was nowhere to stay in this town. Despite the place being very neat and prosperous looking, it seemed to be populated by incredibly insular unhelpful people. (children of the corn.) We were assured there was no taxi that could or would come to this isolated place. No it wasn’t really isolated – but this man assured  us it was. He was the most unhelpful person we’ve met on this trip. Welcome to Greece! No wonder the country is in dept with citizens like this character. He essentially told us to walk to the next town. Good bye.

We had no option. We stopped and talked to four other people but everyone was equally sure that no taxi would come, no bus would come, and no one would drive us anywhere despite offers of money. Certainly no one was about to let us have a bed for the night. Never heard of such a thing. So much for the guide book. Pat and I have officially fired the book as a source of reliable info about accommodation.

So off we set again. To say we were foot sore is putting it mildly. Was tonight going to be a sleep in the ditch night? It was looking this way. Then a man driving a small delivery van stopped. He spoke no English but told us to get in and he was going to Florina. Florina is not on our route but we’d heard already that it has hotels. He drove us there in about 15 mins. So much for the guy in Neo Kavkasos saying it was 50 kms away.  The van driver took us into town and delivered us to a hotel. We tried to pay him – no money was accepted. So his kindness of course counters the dreadful behaviour of the restaurant worker who had been so unhelpful. The hotel was full but the fellow at the desk took the time to call another place and we got the last room. This is a lovely clean simple place. We are on the top floor with a beautiful balcony. We’ve gone out for a delicious dinner. Life is good. We are going to find a bus tomorrow to get us to the next place on the VE route that has real accommodation. This will mean skipping two places but too bad so sad – we’re done with this nonsense.

We will not trusting the guide book again. We feel it was written by people who really want this idea to work but who have completely unrealistic ideas about real human nature. Perhaps in time some folks in these villages will get the idea that tourism isn’t a bad way of making a living or supplementing an income – but there is a big education process that needs to take place before that happens. We were happy to be part of that process until what happened today in creepy Neo Kavkasos.

We walked 34 kms today. A long long way.

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