Greek Journal Part
Greek Journal: 5/13/2005-6/8/2005
Summary: DenveràLondonàAthensàLeptokaryaàLitochoroàKalambaka (Meteora)àIguominitsaàCorfu
TownàIguominitsaàZorganian Villages, Vikos Gorge andMt.AstrakaàAthensàLondonàDenver
exciting event today, besides finding Kelley, was buying a cane. About 7 days before leaving on this trip I
was warming up for a rock climb at Chuckwalla Wall in St. George and stepped
back landing with my full weight on my right heal directly on a small rock. I
was sure it was broken, but the X-Ray said other wise. The walking to the Acropolis yesterday really
fired it up. Knowing that today we had
to leave our hotel, walk about a half mile to the underground train with all
our luggage and negotiate through the train stations and the airport was
painful to think about. We found a
pharmacy and bought a cane to assist in the effort.
The trip and finding Kelley went amazingly smoothly, but the
luck or miracle that took place that allowed us to find Kelley and get on our
way only became evident after the fact.
Originally Kelley was supposed to catch the train in to Athens
and meet us at one of the bus stations in down town Athens. That in it self would have been an epic
achievement. After our original plan was set I figured out that it would be
easier to meet her at the airport and get directly on the train to our next
destination from there. Good plan except
Kelley never got the email with the change of plans. She had arrived on her flight to
Athens a little early and had headed for the bus to
Athens. She had
left the terminal and then remembered something she needed to check on inside
the terminal and just as she came through the door back inside there we
were. If she would have gotten on that
bus to AthensI don’t think we
would have ever found her.
Once we were all together we took the train to the connector
station at Larissa just outside of Athens
to connect with our train to Leptokarya.
5/16/2005: On the train: We got some traveling in
Greece education today. Trains leave about every 4-6 hours from
Larissa up the cost to Leptokarya. We
arrived in the station with about an hour to spare and got in line for tickets. When I got to the front of the line the man
at the window told me I was in the wrong line and directed me to another
line. When I got to the front of that
line the lady told me the train was full and we would have to wait for the next
train in 6 hours. A mighty depressing
prospect since it was hot, no food was available and given it was an 8 hour
trip and it was now 10:00 AM that would put us at our destination around
As we hung around in
the waiting area discussing our options an American student from
Berkeley introduced himself and said “There are
plenty of seats on the train. Just buy a
ticket and get on”. I got back in
the first line, insisted on buying three tickets, the train came, we got on
with no problem and off we went.
was a travel day. After leaving Larissa
station in Athens we wound around the convolutions, hills
and valley’s of the east coast of Greece. The further north we traveled the more rural
and open the land became. The haze and
pollution of Athens faded into
rolling hills covered with olive groves and farms.
We stopped at every train station in every
little town along he way. Some times
people board or disembark, but more often the train stopped for its obligatory
five minutes and then moved on. It was a
relaxing rhythm. We read about
Greece, learned a
little Greek, caught up on Kelley’s life in Barcelona
and her current life in Montpellier,
France, where she was learning French while on a
semi-work leave from her job Prous Science in Barcelona. We slept and watched the changing country
side go by hour after hour.
On the train to Leptokarya
Our destination was
Leptokarya which is the first town you encounter as you pass from Thessalia and
Epiros (central Greece) to
Macedonia, which borders Albania
on the west, Turkey on the north and
Bulgariaon the northeast. Leptokarya is located right on the shores of
the Aegean (east) and Mt.
Olympos National Park(west).
Right now it is 9:42 am, the temperature is
72F. Mo, Kelley and I are sitting in
lounge chairs looking east out to sea.
Unlike the oceans I am used to on the west coast of the
US, the Aegean is glassy smooth
with the exception of an occasional ripple created by some seas creature
surfacing. The geography is a little
more condensed than I am used to, much like the
am sitting 20’ from the ocean at 0’ elevation and I can look over
my left shoulder and see the summit of Mt.
Olympus, the highest point in
Greece(9,571 ft.) just 12 miles away as the
Other than the three of us, the beach is
deserted as far as the eye can see in both directions. The beach side cabana bar just opened and Bob
Marley is singing “No woman No Cry.
I think it must be time for an ouzo.
Hanging out on the Aegean. Some serious whiteness.
Still on the beach: Yesterday was pure relaxation. Read, laid on the beach and rented a bike for
a leisurely ride through the town of Leptokarya.
Rode along the coast on a small path for a while then randomly turned west on a
small road in to the village. The
remarkable thing about this town is that no matter how large of small the homes
are, they are all very clean with white washed walls, tile roofs and beautiful
flower gardens. I wish I had my mother
with me to help identify the flora, because other than the roses and the
bogenvias, I just know they are beautiful flowers.
After the tour de Leptokarya I met Kelley and
Mo at an on the beach café where Kelley introduced us to a European treat,
lemonade and a beer, mixed together.
After our relaxing day we enjoyed a meal at the Poseidon Hotel where we
were lodging and readied our selves for our accent of
Refreshing with a lemobeer at
the on the beach café in Letochoro
Our plan was to rent
a car and get an early start since we had to drive to 25k to Letochoro at the
baser of Mt. Olympus
before we could even start our trek.
There were two Eurocar rental guys that hung out at the hotel in lobby
so we arranged for a car early the morning of the 18th.
Dumb OC Americans
that we are, we were up at 6 am, packed and in the lobby waiting for the car at
7:30 am. Promptly at 9 am the two Eurocars
guys arrived with significant blood ouzo levels. Not only were they late, but the cost of the
car had escalated since yesterday and it was questionable whether or not there
was really a car available. After a
quick pow-wow we decided to take a taxi.
We learned travel in
Greece lesson #2: Ask four people for the same information,
average the content of the responses, disregard all information and just show
up and negotiate when you are ready to go.
How things worked
out is as follows: The day clerk at the Poseidon was a nice guy and took a
personal interest in our desire to climb
Mt. Olympus. He told us about Tasso who was the 11 pm to 7
am desk clerk who climbs Olympus all the time and could
help us. I located Tasso who it turns
out is the god father to the daughter of the hut master and head ranger, Maria
Zalota, at Spelio Agopitos (hut on Mt.
The Zalotas are legends in these parts because Maria’s father
single handedly built the original hut and started and ran the
National Park for many years until Maria took
It turned out that
Maria’s cousin was a taxi driver and he personally picked us up at the
Poseidon and drove us to the town square in Letochoro. In Letochoro another driver picked us up and
drove us 20k to the trail head for Mt.
Pretty simple when you know the right people.
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