Sunday, March 12, 2023

Vrnik Quarries


Otok Vrnik is a small island close to Korcula (town) and the Korcula island. Otok Vrnik's history revolves around quarries ... the whole island is a quarry. Since the activity has stopped hundreds of years ago, there's little that you can see today, but there are some places where big walls of rock are still visible.

This is one such place: N 42.9369 E 17.1694 (approximate). There's a sign on the walking path by the houses that leads to the quarry.

Attachment for cables, carved out of rock:

The sign:

Read more urban exploration stories from, and other underground stories from Read the full Planetskier series at, or all blog articles from Blogspot or TGR. Photos and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Vrnik beaches


Vrnik is a small island off the bigger Korčula island in the Adriatic Sea. Vrnik has only a handful of houses and remnants from its past as a quarry for stones. There are two restaurants, but no shops, and no services. But it has great, clean, beautiful waters. The beaches are rocky but it is a pleasure to swim in them.

There's also plenty of natural seashore, in front of various house as well as around the island. You can (almost, there's one private residence) walk around the entire island, and swim anywhere. I really liked the east shores (pic above) for their quietness and lack of any houses. Easy access to water, too.

But the beach is where the church is, the taxi boat harbor, and the fine-dining restaurant (The Arts Club) is. The beach coordinates are N 42.937802 E 17.166205.


For more sauna and swimming stories, check out and websites! And of course the Planetcaver, and Planetskier blogs for other stories in Blogspot and TGR! The photos and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved. I never take photos of other saunagoers or swimmers and visit when there is simply no one else or the facility has been closed or booked only for me.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Skiing the Mount Parnassus


Early morning by the olive trees. Too early, but I have a long drive, 3-4 hours from my hotel to Mount Parnassus, a premier ski resort in Greece. It is perhaps the resort that is known, if anyone has heard of any. A quite magnificent ski resort, I think. Slightly lover than the other one that I visited, Kalavrita, but with more slopes, lifts, and because Mount Parnassus stands alone (prominence: 1,590 m) it feels a much bigger mountain. There is a vast area of snow up there, and only tiny fraction of it is in the ski resort. This would be a wonderful place to do so ski touring!

As a well-known resort, Parnassus also attracts a lot of visitors. On the main lifts there was quite a lot of queues, but in the end it was also maybe 15 minute wait for these long runs, so not too bad. Here's the ski area map: map. However, there's no rush at all on the east side of the ski hill. That's also where I parked, at it was smooth. Go to Amfikleia Elateia instead of Polydrosos. The main rush is one lift up from the parking area on the west (Polydrosos) side.

Still, the west side is nicer and bigger place to ski in. But there's quite decent, sustained steep runs on the east side as well.

The one really nice run (#24) leaves from the top and goes from from the west side back to the east. It is mostly a narrow traverse route, but you can cut across the slope and ski as well... when I was there, I was able to find quite good powder.

There are also nice (but rocky) areas of the ridge to traverse to on the far west side of the west slopes.

After ski action was mostly in the west side, where the rush traffic was, obviously :-) The restaurant that ate quick lunch was on the east side, and their selection wasn't too great. I'm sure the after ski area has better cafeteria.

Here's the first view I got of Parnassus:

And here some of the views from the actual mountain:

At the top there's a small chapel to light candles for a memory of someone. I lit one for my father... and rang the bell.

Here are some of the slopes:

Many of the slopes were marked with danger signs, and they indeed were quite rocky:

The slope that I liked the most was the Peripheral, #24. It goes from the top and around to the side that I started from. 

When the day was over, I enjoyed some very basic meal -- the only one really available: a hot dog and coke. It had to do, but the food in Kalavrita was clearly better. Of course it is possible that some other restaurant in Parnassus would have had equally good selection.

Then it was time for two minutes of after ski. music played by a DJ, by the relaxed bar setting under the slopes:

On the way to Parnassus I also got a glimpse of a cave I wanted to visit. I wasn't quite sure where I had seen it, but managed to find it again on the way back. Here's an article about the cave and tower on top.

This article has also appeared in TGR. Read the full Planetskier series at, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2023 by Jari Arkko.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Kalavrita: Highest vertical ski resort in Greece


Greece: I have always pictured it as a land of sunshine, warm beaches, and white sand. I clearly had no idea. It is those things, too, particularly in the summer. But in the winter it is surprisingly cold, has a lot of mountainous areas, and yes, IT HAS SNOW AND SKI RESORTS! I tried two of them in February 2023...

This is about the first one of them, Kalavrita Ski Resort. Kalavrita - or Kalavryta or Καλάβρυτα - is located west of Athens (Google maps link) and if you're coming from Athens it is about a 3 hour drive. The sign just before the final road climb to the ski resort was funny because it promised both skiing and caving in the neighborhood:

(I write more about caving here in another article.)

Kalavrita is not the highest altitude ski resort in Greece, but it has the highest vertical - 625 meters, beating the more famous Parnassus Ski Resort by by five meters :-) Kalavrita is smaller though, in general, than Parnassus. Parnassus being to the north of Athens but at a similar distance, both are equally valid destinations if you're staying in Athens. Again, I write about Parnassus in another article.


Kalavrita does make you feel like you really are in the high mountains. The top of the resort is at 2325 meters, near the Chelmos Observatory

There's only a handful of lifts, but the ski runs are long, sustained, and generally quite steep. A lot of fun skiing the long runs, in particular I like the red trail #4 that runs from the top all the way to the base, even if you have to take two lifts to get back up. A shorter, black run and slightly steeper #8 is also very nice. Then from the top there's #10. 

Here's a view down #4:

And #10:

From the top there was a closed black ski run -- which I of course skied -- down to the mid-station:

What would have been much nicer though is to traverse from the top on the ridge, and then drop straight on the steep face, and ride direct to the mid-station. I tried a variant of that, entering lower, and found the snow was very hard to ski. Occasionally falling through the crust, occasionally not. That, and the possibility of avalanche danger and skiing alone, I did not ski the more interesting route. But it must be a spectacular off-piste run in the right conditions! Much recommended. Here are some shots from my short run on it:

The ski resort's web page is here and a wikipedia entry is here. The trail map is here. Tickets are of the wristband type:

For lunch I had some greek food from the mid-station food stand. Very good!


Views from the other side of the mountain up to the ski area:


This article has also appeared at TGR. Read the full Planetskier series at, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2023 by Jari Arkko.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

New ZIF-25 bunker in Siuntio!


We had heard a rumor of a potentially previously unknown bunker in Siuntio. Let's call it the Hoivakodin Bunkkeri (Retirement Home Bunker). It turned out to be accessible -- if you don't mind passing through pieces of concrete hanging by rusting, twisted rebar. And it was a massive one! Another ZIF-25 model bunker, i.e., a two-floor bunker with several entrance tunnels and a side mountain gun port.

This seems like an appropriate time to remind every reader that VISITING UNDERGROUND STRUCTURES IS DANGEROUS AND NOT RECOMMENDED BY THIS BLOG. At all. And we in particular do not recommend anyone to visit partially blown-up bunkers, because that's just INSANELY DANGEROUS.

As has been the case with all the ZIF-25s that we've visited, they've been quite carefully fully destroyed, much more carefully apparently than the smaller bunkers that sometimes are somewhat intact. The main side walls and roofs have taken significant damage, but are generally standing, but entire insides are otherwise crushed, e.g., doors, intermediate floors, etc. In addition, the gun ports have been made unusable by cementing them shut. 

As many as 300 bunkers have been laid out in the Porkkala area that was occupied by Soviet Union after World War II. Fortunately, the area was returned to Finland after just slightly over a decade. The bunkers were built to defend against a NATO invasion, or perhaps an invitation from the Finnish military. Either type of attack was of course entirely imaginary situation, but it didn't stop the presumably significant effort to build these bunkers by such large numbers. It must have taken a lot of workers -- even if in part with forced labour -- and material such as steel, concrete and machines to make them.

Looking at the placement of the bunkers, the central idea seems to have been to surround every patch of open fields by preferably two bunkers that can defend against the forces landing by airplane (for instance).

Fast forward 70 years, and the bunkers are rusting, sometimes stalactites are building up, water is flooding some, nature will eventually take over everything. In the mean time these structures are a reminder of a dark past. And sometimes beautiful, dark spaces with occasional glimpse of light from explorers headlamps. And a few crawling or flying friends are joining the fun: butterflies, insects, bats even.

We had a visitor from overseas, an Australian caver, Alan, who we took to see the bunkers. I suppose the Russian bunkers are in short supply in his home land, so hopefully we were able to provide a new experience. The Finnish caves are a bit small by anyone's standards, but we can maybe provide man-made alternate versions instead. 

We also had local cavers, Jukka and Johanna who have a lot of experience in Finnish caves, but who had not visited the Porkkala area bunkers before. They were particularly keen on exploring the fauna in the bunkers. Amazingly, when someone who knows something actually looks closely, they start to be able to point to the living things in place where I had though there wasn't really anything.

Here are some pictures from the new bunker. Look, stalactites:



Text. What does it say?

We also visited another, old known bunker in Siuntio. Here's Ralf behind some re-bar:




Johanna and Jukka looking at what's flying or crawling:


Read more urban exploration stories from, and other underground stories from Read the full Planetskier series at, or all blog articles from Blogspot or TGR. Photos and text (c) 2023 by family Arkko. All rights reserved.