Speaking through Europe (part 3, Greece)

In the fall of 2022, I had the unique experience of speaking at international climbing festivals in 3 countries of Europe. You can read about my events in Italy (in the Dolomites) and in Switzerland (the Italian-speaking part, in the Alps) in my 2 previous blogs. Today I’d like to share my adventures in Greece.

The small city of Leonidio, where the climbing festival took place, is in the Peloponnese region of Greece, in the Municipality of South Kynouria, about a 4-hour drive west of Athens. Behind it rise the “Red Rocks of Leonidio” —

After Covid, getting back together for a real, face-to-face festival was wonderful, especially among the beautiful Kokkino Vrachos (Red Rocks) of Leonidio. We are back!

Perfect place to hang out w/climbing buddies

My friends / climbing partners & I stayed in a delightful boutique hotel, a former private mansion, the Archontiko Chioti

Nestled at the foot of the Red Rocks

Stone walls, flowers everywhere, unimaginably sumptuous breakfasts, and friendly, helpful staff made our stay memorable in so many ways! So many details stand out, like the rocks in the indoor walls or our rooms, the delicious liqueur made there from geranium leaves, the lovely sitting areas… I don’t usually get so excited by lodgings, but the Chioti was exceptional and I look forward to going back someday.

Leading a climb, gazing at the blue-green Aegean.

The whole region is studded with beautiful golden limestone rocks, cliffs, bluffs, mountains…a climber’s paradise. Here are some glimpses of our adventure —

So many beautiful places to climb, within a short drive from Leonidio! Always a view of the green-blue Aegean Sea, always the golden glow of sun on the rocks…

I did all my leads gazing at the Aegean. 🙂
Leading a 5C felt…legendary, in that setting!

The night I spoke at the Festival, the town put on a wonderful traditional dance show for us.

And sometimes, we just got to hang out with friends. This plateia (plaza) is filled with the local men playing chess & just talking…and me & some climbing friends.

If my favorite café (red building) was too crowded, I just carried my cappuccino across the street and settled in with friends.
And so many favorite restaurants! I’ve always loved places where life happens outdoors. 🙂

Climbing & speaking in Leonidio was an experience I’ll always cherish…for the new friends, like Thomi…

who organized and shuffled and made things happen…

And Aris, and Kirios Kavas and his amazing store and restaurant…

and Panagiota, and all those who made it an outstanding experience…

Adio, Ellada!…Au revoir, Greece — until the next time.