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