Experience a Greek island in winter. Snow, mountains, snowmen and fun

Greek islands always conjure up the image of warm sunshine and clear blue skies. For most of the year that is what we get, but for a couple of months each year winter comes to visit.

As we headed into our 4th winter on the island we had a warm, long and dry Autumn, many telling us it was the warmest November for ages. Then December hit and temperatures plummeted to what we’ve come to expect in the coldest months of January and February and we were told it was the coldest anyone could remember. There were a couple of winter storms but nothing to worry about and still very little rain.

2017 has brought a further drop in temperatures across Greece. Snow isn’t unusual for the mainland and many of the islands but January has been extreme. For a while it seemed as if the cold would miss us, instead we had wet stormy weather and southerly winds.

Sometime on Saturday that all changed and according to social media the night had brought snow to highest peaks on the island. Now it’s once again the coldest anyone can remember. I’m starting to think the weather isn’t the same from one year to the next.

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snow Attivyros mountain Rhodes jan 8 2017

Our first glimpse of the snow on the mountain

We woke up on Sunday not certain if there would really be any snow but decided to head out and explore just in case. The last time it snowed here In February 2015 there was only a little snow on Mount Attivyros and we failed to get to the snowline. Having discovered the road up to the mountain the temple up the top last year we now knew the way.

Heading up the island from us we took the mountain road between Masari and Malona, twisting and turning it soon gave us a view of the white top of Attivyros and a dusting on the trees on Profitis Ilias. The road brings you out just below Platania where there was a dusting of snow at the side of the road and on vehicle roofs. (And a great taverna that’s open on winter weekends)

Through Platania to Elousa, where it was cold out but there was no sign of snow. The fountain was still running and there wasn’t even much sign of ice around. Then we came past the little chapel of Agios Nikolaus Foundoukli, there was light cover of snow on it’s roof and a on the ground around it. A family were stopped with children enjoying the snow covered play area.

We continued on excited about just how much snow we were going to see, there was still a lot of climbing to do the narrow winding mountain road.

a snowy glade, snow rhodes jan 8 2017

We stopped to take a couple of pictures on the way up the hill

Pulling over to take pictures, the snow was melting quickly. Wishing we’d brought an umbrella, a carrier bag acted as protection for the camera, while my hood protected me from the clumps of snow that dropped on us.

It was now around 9.40 and there were a lot more cars around. We headed on towards the Elafos hotel and were amazed as the snow got deeper with each twist up the mountain.

Arriving at the Elafos hotel lots of people had the same idea. The car park was full, though it looked like some had been there all night as they were covered in snow. Children were throwing snowballs and others building snowmen.

As someone mentioned on the Facebook page, the hotel with it’s alpine architecture fitted in perfectly to the snowy surroundings.

With the sun on them the trees were beginning to thaw quickly. Apollo was not impressed at the large clumps of snow and water coming down he quickly wanted to be back in the car.

Elafos Hotel in the snow

A snowy hotel Elafos

view from Elafos hotel in the snow

View from the hotel

From the hotel we headed upwards and over to the other side. The snow here was heavier, we’d followed a digger up earlier that was clearing the road with the bucket but had only managed to clear a single narrow lane through.

We passed him and continued on hoping that we wouldn’t meet anyone coming the other way. The road was very slippery we didn’t dare stop to take any pictures, just hoping to get through to a clearer road soon.

As the road cleared at a junction we were glad to see a police vehicle. I like to think he was stopping traffic driving up until the road had been cleared, then again maybe he’d come to see the snow too, we saw several taxis during the day that had. These are a few shots taken through the window.

snow in the woods

thick with snow

snow rhodes jan 8 2017

a slippery snowy corner

snow rhodes 8 jan 2017

We didn’t want to skid off

The road cleared as we made our way down the mountain, though the twists and turns the other side are much steeper and it’s still a narrow road. You have to be careful of vehicles coming the other way as locals tend to drive in the middle of the road here at the best of times.

We now headed towards Embona and Attavyros. The snow on the top was still there as was a light covering on the vineyards. Even the banks of solar panels we passed had a little snow that was now rapidly melting.

snowy vineyard with Attivyros in the distance

snowy vineyard with Attavyros in the distance

Driving through Embona water was pouring off the roofs as everything was now melting very quickly. A few vehicles still had snow on them and we continued on through to the road that leads up to the top.

Heading to the other coast just before you turn onto the coast road there is a sharp left hand bend with a turning that is signposted to the wind farm.

The road from now on is steep, very narrow with sharp bends and a sheer drop on one side. It has it’s scary moments but there are wonderful views if you can bare to take your eyes off the road ahead.

We reached the tree line and the snow without any problems. The snow here was also melting very quickly and there were lots of people doing just what we were.

We’d taken Apollo with us, he didn’t seem to pay much attention to the snow but enjoyed playing snowball with some children and meeting lots of people.

snow on Attivyros

Snow on Attivyros

me and Apollo in the snow

Apollo and me

We took some pictures then built a car snowman. We first saw these on our trip to Crete, in the white mountains the Cretans built snowmen on their cars then drove them down the mountain.

D built ours on the bonnet, though it looked a little more like a snowbird than a snowman. He was completed with twig arms, pine cone beak and feet, a twig mohican and some goat poo eyes!

Fixed on as best we could he attracted a few cameras and lots of smiles as we drove back down the hill. By now many more people had arrived and there was a queue of us leaving. The chaos going down the hill was almost funny and certainly dangerous.

We made it in one piece to the bottom complete with the snowman and then headed back to Embona. Taking the road slowly trying not to lose the snowman on the way. He was rocking back and forth and sliding slightly, each corner we thought he would go. But he made it to the village square.

By now it was nearly midday and we stopped for a hot drink at the bakery. The snowman was still on the car when we came out but he had started to thaw and his beak had fallen off.

Outside the village he finally slid off the bonnet as we took a bend going downhill!

building a snowman on a car

building a snowman on the car

The snowman made it to Embona

The snowman made it to Embona

The snowman on our way down from Attivyros

The snowman on our way down from Attivyros

sliding off the bonnet!

sliding off the bonnet!

The original plan for the weekend was to take my husband to see the Christmas scene at Salakos and for us both to visit the Chrismas market in Rhodes town.

Salakos was quiet as everyone seemed to have gone to check out the snow first. There were stalls selling food and drink and an open fire pit to keep people warm. A child was dressed as an angle in the cave and there were lots of animals around for the children to see.

Our friend Elpida was there with her ponies from the ranch so we stopped by to say hello before heading to Rhodes town.

In Rhodes town the Christmas market was small and very quiet, everything was open and we were more than happy with a hot gluhwein and a curry wurst.

It must have looked festive at night with the lights on and the music playing. Although ti was a lot warmer in town than it had been in Embona, sitting in the sun having lunch the icy wind made it feel a lot cooler. We’ll have to come back and see the lights at night next Christmas.

Elpida's ponies

Elpida’s ponies

rhodes harbour jan 8 2017

lunch with a view

This morning was another cold and icy start. With ice on the car and in the puddles around the olive groves. We took an early drive to see if all the snow had melted or if there had been more.

There were a few patches of white stuff around Elafos, but Attavyros clearly had a new coat of fresh snow overnight. We stopped with our flask of hot coffee in Apollona to take a picture of the view and then headed back home via the bakery in Lardos for breakfast.

Attivyros with snow jan 9 2017

The view of Mount Attivyros with our coffee this morning

We are keeping warm with the log burner, but it’s hard for others around the country. There are still refugees on many of the islands in tents and I hope the international aid agencies finally get involved to improve conditions.

The world’s weather seems a little crazy right now, we’ve got a friend in Turkey who’s balcony is full of snow and it’s not stopped falling for over a day while in ski resorts the snow has been late this year.

Right now it’s freezing out and the sun is setting, there’s clouds overhead and rain forecast, though I have a feeling there could be more snow somewhere nearby tonight. It’s going to be interesting to see what else this winter brings…

What’s winter like where you are? Has your weather gone crazy this year? If you enjoyed the post and found it useful please comment and share. Thank you


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