A small bus is climbing high into the mountains. Apart from the driver, the ticket seller and three passengers, the bus is empty. It's six o'clock in the morning. For the greater part of the journey, the village remains hidden behind the low-hanging cloud cover. It seems haphazardly thrown against the mountainside. The street-lightning is still on, contributing to the image of a charming village.
Getting off the bus, I am startled by the bitter cold. I left my winter coat back in the hotel. Due to the severe coolness I notice the difference in altitude between here and the town below. As I make this trip more often, I also notice how slowly the bus progresses the last kilometres. It is quite a climb.
This trip from Γρεβενά (Grevená) to Σπήλαιο (Spíleon) through Μαυραναίοι (Mavranái) and Zákas is made three times a week. Mondays and Wednesdays early in the morning and Saturdays in the afternoon. On Friday afternoon the bus brings home the children who attend school in the nearby town of Γρεβενά and stay with relatives during the week.
The 22 km trip up the mountain takes 45 minutes. The first stage until Μαυραναίοι is smooth. It's a two lane road and there is no significant difference in altitude. The final 8 km however the bus moves ahead laboriously. Here the construction of the new road is progressing slowly.