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Ioannina Capital of Epirus Page 5

the islandLimni (Lake) Pamvotidha is fed by springs from the mountain of Mitsikeli. Until very recently it was 10-11km (about 6-7 miles) in length, averaged 3km/1.86miles across, and ranged in depth from 9-20meters (30-66 feet), with shallow reedy shores. The Lapista marsh is to the north, and after heavy rains the lake may join into one body of water with it. The local boats resemble those used on Lake Kastoria. Sadly, the lake is quite visibly polluted, with viscous green water near the edges flanking the walkway. It is also shrinking, since the springs that fed it suddenly dried up during the 1980s, and not long after the lake stopped emptying into the Adriatic. Contaminated runoff from the city and surrounding farmland further increased the problem; four very dry years between 1989-92 lowered the water level drastically (almost 3 meters), though the level came up again somewhat after a few wet winters. Swimming is forbidden (not that many would want to dive in after looking at that cloudy paint-like green). Unbelievably, the islanders (at least up until recently) fish in the lake, which was stocked with three species from Hungary until 1986. Only one of these, however (the carp-like 'kyprinos') were fished out, since they failed to reproduce. Inhabitants of Ioannina refuse to eat any fish from the lake, though, and the catch gets sold cheap for shipment to Thessaloniki, where people pay dearly for this likely very toxic food.

The restaurants on the island do serve the kyrpinos and eels from the lake, as well as frog legs caught in the reedbanks along the shore, so be forewarned when studying the menus there. During the summer peak tourist season, small boats run every half hour ( hourly during the rest of the year) to Nissi, the Island in the lake with is beautiful village, founded during the 16th century by refugees from the Mani (Peloponnese).

The village is flanked by several monasteries. There are restaurants on the waterfront and more by the monastery of Pandelimonos (east of the village). Outside cars are not allowed on this little island; those of the villagers, which are few in number, are hauled across on a chain-barge to the mainland when needed there.

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