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Mission…to Amyntaio, a TNH Documentary by Clelia Charissis

Dear readers, let me briefly introduce myself, while wishing you “a summer full of positive energy and good health.”

I am Clelia Charissis and together we will take part in a weekly ‘Mission’ through the Greek and English publications of the National Herald (where corresponding videos will be posted) starting this week. The Mission involves weekly travelogues around Greece and all over the world, in order to showcase and highlight the destinations’ beauty and meaning.

Discovering the places’ nature, history, traditions, culture, art, gastronomy, sports, and accommodations will be the main goal of our mission, travel being an endeavor that unites Hellenes and Philhellenes worldwide.

We will ‘visit’ places and people of the Hellenic land “that reside in the souls of those who have left the homeland and those who dream of becoming travelers of the Hellenic spirit.” Places and people of the lands “with whom we become companions along our journey.”

Based on this premise, our first mission will be to the beautiful Amyntaio of Florina. The journey begins a few days prior to Greek Independence Day on the 25th of March, which coincides with the great Orthodox holiday of the Feast Day of the Annunciation, the joyful announcement of the arrival of Christ to the Virgin Mary.

With the magnificent backdrop of the lake complex of Zazaris, Chimaditida, Petra, and Vegoritida (lakes of the European Ecological Network NATURA 2000) – this remarkable, extensive, and rich in flora and fauna portion of the natural environment of the local Community of Aetos in the Municipality of Amyntaio – the Deputy Mayor of Amyntaio, Pavlos Sergianidis, welcomed us in the festive spirit of the Greek Independence Day in the context of the laying of wreaths and the student parade!

Two parades were held in Aetos, and Anthimos Bitakis, the mayor, welcomed us in the center of Amyntaio, where the exclamation “happy holiday!” that day was a double celebration – Orthodox Christians and Hellenes all over the world were celebrating.

The 201-year anniversary of the National Revolution is proof that when Greeks are united, setting aside their divisions and conflicts, then the greatest ideas an deeds are born.

It was a wonderful celebration. The slogan of Alexandros Ypsilantis, the leader of the Society of Friends, “Battle for Faith and Patriotism” was seen in blue and white – the colors of the Greece flag – on the chest of the parade’s flag bearer, a high school student of the community of Aetos, who said, “we are proud that today our Nation celebrates and that thousands of people, on a day just like today, decided to sacrifice their lives for the sake of freedom … theirs, ours! We support our country as much as anything else! Our country needs children; it needs young people. Young people are the future!”

The words of this young man were engraved in our hearts with deep emotion, sparking hopes for the future of the province… especially when the province has the power to produce, to create, to evolve amid glorious nature and timeless tradition. Amyntaio is a blessed with countless productive villages – diverse and meaningful reference points for Greece.

From the well-known traditional settlement Nymphaeon to the legendary Lechovo, from the rich flora and fauna of the four lakes (Vegoritida, Chimaditida, Petron, Zazari) to the mountains (Mount Vernon and Voras) of the region with their countless mountaineering and hiking trails, including the Irini Paths, a delightful adventure awaits every visitor.

And there are so many more treasures to experience:

From the famous settlement where the famous ‘Sour Water’ is produced, to the world-famous wineries and the infinite wine and Tsipouro vineyards, to the – it absolutely essential to everyone nutritionally and tastewise to try it – Florina Pepper!

From Agios Panteleimon with the traditional fishing boats and rare fish, to Sklithro with those rare trees that have the ability to absorb Nitrogen.

From the bear sanctuary – Arktouros in Nymphaeum, to the wolf and lynx Sanctuary in Agrapidies.

The old and the new generation of fishermen of the natural lake of Vegoritida in Agios Panteleimon, with the oldest being the 97-year-old Mr. Antonis and the youngest 30-year-old John Meditsko, welcomed us together with John’s father George and showed us the traditional way of fishing – with plates – afterwards enjoying a meal of the delicious fish of the lake such as the gravid, the golianos, the thessalian, the Balkan briana, the butterfly, the eel, the turna…as well as the freshwater crayfish (Astacus fluviatilis)!

We first discovered the fascinating combination of experiencing both the process of fishing and cooking through our encounter with the award-winning chef and businessman Angelos Naoumidis when Meditskos supplied him with the turna fish he had just caught.

The excellent Chef together with his lovely mother Fani who instilled in him the great love for cooking, greeted us, and step by step, in the patio of their modern restaurant with a traditional touch, called Naoumidis, they taught us how to cut open the turna, remove precious caviar, and turn it into a delicious fillet based on…Florina pepper!

The first part of our journey to Amyntaio ended with a surprise encounter with walkers of the Green Oliver team on the Irini paths, outside the miraculous chapel of Agia Paraskevi, which celebrates twice a year, on the feast days of Zoodochos Pigi and Agia Paraskevi.

At such moment, when a person encounters the miracle of nature accompanied by faith…a small quatrain provides us with an epilogue worthy of the beauty of Amyntaio:

 Even the sea urchins have moved from their wavy warmth.

We, in what homeland

Shall we stand?

The sea is dry. The word is dry.

Special Thanks to: The Municipality of Amyntaio and the mayor Bitakis Anthimos; ‘Xino Nero‘ and its Village President Christos Thomaidis; The Deputy Mayor of Amyntaio Pavlos Sergianidis; Ateron Suites & Spa and Michael Parlanis; The Travel Agency TRAVEL BIZZ (www.travelbizz.gr); SEAJETS (www.seajets.com); RentPhotoVideo (www.rentphotovideo.gr); Carnmotion (www.carnmotion.gr); Mikelina Boutique; Shop&Trade; and Saucony.


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