Thursday, September 30, 2004

Return to Athens

Well today I left Lamia for Delphi.
In Delphi walking up the sidewalk I was admiring the view. It's situated on the foothills of mountains. I, however was not looking at the ancient site, I was looking at the mountains thinking "look at that crack, that would be awesome to climb" when OPA! I stepped in the gutter, lost my balance and fell to the ground. Very unlady like I might add, with some not so repeatable words coming out of my mouth. Later, while contemplating the real site it occured to me what my goddess name is: Goddess of misplaced steps.
I tripped on Mt Olympus and at the Oracle. Cursed alot too, but that is beside the point. Now when my family and friends address me, they must use Jodi, Goddess of Misplaced Steps...
Delphi was quite interesting, I forgot how much that whisle rattled my nerves. I was constently looking around making sure it wasn't me they were pointing at.
Meteora has ruined me though. I kept looking at the rocks thinking, 'that wouldn't be too hard', 'that would be an awesome chimney' ... I think climbing is now for sure in my blood. Even though it wasn't sandstone.
Today was a lot of travelling on the bus. I'm in Athens for the night. I will visit Crete tomorrow to do the Samaria gorge and the Minoan sites, after I'm off to Italy to visit with Willy in Amalfi. It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the first of October and I have only 18 days left in Europe!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

:( Finally left Meteora

Today I packed up my stuff, my food and my tent and said a sad farewell to Meteora with a promise to return next year.
I'm in Lamia on my way to Delphi tomorrow to visit the Oracle, then Athens for a night, and Crete for a few days. After I ship over to Italy for a visit with Willy before heading to London and ending in Halifax.
Yesterday, I did two more summits. 10 in all! The past few days I've been climbing with a Saxon, Volker. We did this crazy crack! Wow! that was a challenge. I got to the end and was so thrilled. No, "I'm glad that is done with!" only "That was awesome!" Last night I went to the Taverna with all of the Saxons. They left today as well. No more reasons to stay. Well we drank Amstel all night. At one point it was only myself, Volker, Houver, and 'Wuss'( I can never remember his name, he's always doing something that I think is wussy. Kostas popped in for a bit as well. At one point, Houver came back from a 'Pinkle Bowser' and told us that only 11 more beer were left in the fridge. That was a challenge! So we started in. Just when we had allmost made it, the owner starts putting more beer in the fridge. That was not a pretty sight. Big, tall, blonde, long haired drunk German arguing with the owner about how he's not allowed to put more beer in the fridge!
We stumbled back to the Campsite at I don't know what time! I woke up and I swear I was still drunk craving a great big Greasy Spoon breakfast. I had to settle for Tyropitta, Cheese Pie.
Kostas drove me down to the station and I cried, of course. But this is all part of travelling, meeting and forming great friendships.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Mrs Bean goes camping

I started to tell the story of what happened when I got into Kalabaka for the first time:

I'll recap so everyone can get the feel of the situation

I hiked up to the Campground from the rail station at 530 in the morning. It was still very dark out. Of course I was always sure I missed it,so I kept looking down every dirt road I came accross with my little flashlight. Finally I turn a corner and Voila, a huge camping sign. The gate was shut and locked and I was walking around to see if I could get in. No. High fence, vines, ect.. I went back to the gate and thought I'd hang out until someone opened up. I touched the gate by accident and a small door opened up. Picture that of course with me continuously mumbling under my breath...
I moseyed on into the campsite, not sure what to do... do I set up and then sign in do I wait to sign in before I set up? I was confused. Luckly, I met a fellow bundled in a toque cooking breakfast. I asked a couple questions and he told me just to go set up and sign in later. He even offered his headlamp, which I stupidly refused. So I took a turn around looking for a nice camping spot. back and forth flashing my light everywhere, probably waking people up in their tents. I chose a spot, and proceeded to try to set up my tent in the dark. Positively sure that because I set it up once, I could do it in under 5 minutes. It was a bloody cold morning! Still mumbling, I rolled out the tent and tried to set it up! What a nightmare! everytime I would think that I had the pole in right, and move to another, it would fall flat. I tried maneuvering the flashlight in my mouth to see what I was doing, but I could never quite aim it where I wanted the light to shine. Finaly I had it up well enough. Now came the pegs. Instead of being like every other level headed camper and using a rock, I was jumping on the pegs. Did I mention I was mumbling under my breath new words I was creating, and I desperatly had to pee.
After the tent was up, I went back to the communal kitchen area and sat with Sylwek who was waiting for David to go climbing. I drank tea with him and waited for the reception to open. The note on the Reception Door had said: "passports in the restaurant. Open 730" Well at 730 I walked up and the door was still closed. 800, still closed... Finaly, on my way back down into the campground I thought maybe I should check the restaurant. Sure enough, that was the check in area.
Excited that I had a real place to sleep with indoor plumbing and showers, I Grabbed my large bag of dirty, stinky clothes and made my way to the sinks in back of the washrooms to wash clothes. My hands were wrinkled, water was everywhere. I was lucky I didn't slip! I bring my wet launry back to my site to dry. You would think I would have set up the line before I washed the clothes... Of course not. I had to find a place to put my clean wet clothes. I settled for a semi-sturdy kind of clean chair. I fiddled with the line and the trees in an attempt to make it reach. No luck. I found another piece of string around in one of the empty sites and fiddled with them until I had a decent clothes line. I started to put up the clothes (no pins) and boom the whole thing falls down and I have to start over.
Once the clothes were drying, the sun was warming the air and all I could think of was a hot shower. I grabbed my clothes and soap and stuff and headed to the WC. I grabbed the first stall I came to and hopped on in. I was in there so long that I thought I would use up all the hot water. I was hoping they had a big tank. The showers in greece for some reason never have the shower head on the wall; its attached to a long hose and placed on top of the taps. I turn on the water and I get sprayed with water in my eye. The head had a small crack. I didn't care, it was hot. I start soaping up and washing when I realise that the whole time I was doing this I was aiming the head towards my bag and clothes. I tried to maneuver so the spray would go to the wall, and the little crack sprayed a fine stream of water towards the bag. As I turned and moved, I dropped the head and it starts going like a crazy hose that nobody is holding. I am cursing under my breath, mumbling just Like Mr Bean.

Mt Olympus 4 - Refuge A to the top and back down again

I started up the mountain around 10/11 am. Later than most of the others. The German fellow caught up to me and we talked and climbed together for a while. I was a little slow. He asked if I minded him heading off ahead. Of course not! The trees gradually thinned out and I got a great view of the Med and Litochoro. I did my usual pause and picture, as an excuse to breathe. It started to get colder and colder as I got closer to the top. I was stopping periodically to add another layer. Wow. I felt like I was back in Canada.
As the peaks got closer I started to get more excited. [I just kept thinking...its all downhill from here!] grass started to become more and more sparse until it was just rocks. I thought I saw a path. It looked easier, all big stones instead of the smaller ones which are easier to lose your footing on. I was walking, coming up to, what I thought was a small hill. Well I got to the top and jumped back real quick. It was the edge and there was a sheer drop down. I didn't stray off the path after that.
I finally reached the top of Skala, over 2800 meters above. Nice! I could see Mitikas sparkling in the distance, beconning me on... I stopped and caught my breath. It was really cold! I was wishing I had a toque and mittens. Imagine that! Greece in Sept, wanting a toque and mittens. I paused at the top of Skala and could see my german friend climbing the cliff of Mitikas with two others. Wow. It looked pretty steep. I talked with a couple I had bumped into a few times, in Litochoro and again at the refuge, they had just come back from Mitikas. They said it was pretty rough, to go alone might be a bit of a problem. I had been feeling under the weather for the past few days, my red pox were finally disapeering, but I was very congested. The whole climb I had a nasty cough, and constently spitting phlem from my sinus. I waited to see if any others were heading to Mitikas and when noone came I decided to go it alone. The "Kaka Scala" (evil staircase) route to Mitikas was as an American I met described it "pretty raunchy". It was steep, my sinus' were clogged and I don't know how much thinner the air is up there but I was having vertigo. So I stopped the ascent, knowing it would only get worse and I didn't want to risk it. I retraced my steps up to Skala and built another Inukshuk- bigger and in full view of Mitikas. I didn't stay up much longer... it was too bloody cold! I tell you I booted my ass down. The way down was a breeze! From the refuge to Prionia it took 2-2 1/2 hours. From Prionia I decided to walk the road instead of going back through the gorge. After a while I realised, this isn't much of a direct route and I wouldn't be in town for hours so I stuck out my thumb. 3 people in a little red car stopped for me. Their first question was if I was German. When I told them I was Canadian, they were pretty impressed. We chatted in English and they dropped me off in the middle of town.
I thought the climb to the mountain was hard, what I didn't realise is the toll that it took on me mentally as well. All I wanted when I got back was to have a hot shower and rest. I was also having a problem with monies owed to me by my former job. I was constently calling them, nagging to get my Vacation Pay. All I had was a prepaid VISA. The problem was I don't have a pin code for it and NOBODY in Litochoro took cards all cash! I found one hotel with the help of other tourists and the locals. I got there the machine was broken. When I finally found another one it was dark, when I went in it was full. I was upset and didn't know what to do.
Then I realised I was near the spot where I had come out from the first walk I did and got lost trying to get to the entrance to the Epineas Gorge! That was the reason I had gotten lost I thought, so I could get back to that place where I had felt so peaceful. Unbelievably I found my was to the bridge and the hilltop in the dark with a little flashlight. I set up my $30 tent for the first time, crawled in and cried. I was exhausted.
I slept until 6pm the next day. I had the craziest dreams that night and day. All the goats and sheep and dogs, bells ringing around me. Voices of men. At one point I dreamt someone had told me to clear out of there by 4:30. I was having trouble distinguishing reality from dreams. I was waking up in my dreams, thinking I was really awake. I dreamt about archaeological dig 4000 years from now finding our civilisation and being impressed that we were as advanced as we were. I dreamt about the past, influenced by Greek Mythology, with centaurs and gods. It was all so wierd I was completely disoriented when I woke up. I knew that the sun would be setting shortly so I went back to sleep only to awake early the next morning. Every night I asked my spirit guides, angels and ancestors to keep me safe and everytime I woke up I felt safe and secure.
I washed up in the river, sat in my tree and ate. No tuna though! I packed up and made my way back to Litochoro. I was never so happy to leave somewhere so beautiful, but in my mind it was a hell hole. I had to transfer funds from my US account to my Canadian account just to be able to take out 20 Euro and get on a bus that would finally take me out of there.
I took a bus to Larisa. I asked at the counter and was told that the next bus to Meteora wasn't leaving until 9am the next morning. When I asked how to get to the train station everyone told me to take a cab. My money was so scarse that I couldn't afford it. I asked about the city bus. No NO no city buses here. It's amazing how Greeks who live in a city/town there whole life really know nothing about it. The transportation system, where something specific is, like a certain shop somewhere that everyone should know-like citadel hill. I walked to the town centre, by road signs. I know better than to trust Greek directions! There I found a hotel and got a map and from there I went to a square and found out which city bus to take to get to the station. I asked the driver to let me off at the station. We got to the point where he turns around, he gets up asks where I was going. When I told him, he appologised for forgetting about me and dropped me off directly in front of the bus station on our return trip.
At the station, I wanted to use my credit card, but the counter attendant said no. I went to the info desk and talked to 3 men behind a desk. I showed them where in the guide that it said the Larrissa station accepts credit cards! It's amazing how quickly people are to say no when they either don't know it, or just don't want to do it. The train didn't leave until 415 am. The ticket, which I did eventually purchase by credit card was only 4 euro. Crazy I know, but I had to preserve every cent.
You weren't allowed to sleep in the station, so when the train finally came and I got on, I was dead. There were a bunch of other backpackers from Austria that were on the same train. I woke up to one of their voices saying we were in Kalambaka. I jumped up and sure enough we were stopped, for how long who knows. The conductors more than likely had some kind of pool going as to how long we would sleep, and if we would sleep long enough to be on the train when it left at 600 to go back to Larissa. They had smiles on their faces when we got off. I knew what was in their minds. Many times I wished I could have done the same thing!
I walked with the Austrians for a while, but I had packed so quick that things were falling out of my bag and my shoes were still untied. They went ahead and I eventually made it to the campground where the first person I met was Sylwek, making breakfast. After I set up my tent, I met David and Izabella and later on that night, Kostas. Little was I to know how special these four would become to me, and how much they would change my life!
So here I write from Meteora, 2 weeks later! Still haven't been in a monastery; however, I have 8 ascents to my name and I even led a pitch! For those who understand, chimney climbing is wicket! Love it!
Now that Iza and Sylwek left on Friday, I have hooked up with some Saxonians... (crazy climbers! But good climbers) They remind me a lot of Maritimers; they like their beer. I'll stay one more night, and tomorrpw is another day. Should I stay or go? I'll answer that tomorrow, today I have a new rock to climb!

Happy Tipouro Day!!!!!!

Mna today, I stepped in some gunky stuff that stuck to the bottom of my sandal and wouldn't come off. At least it didn't stink!

I've had a hard time getting to an internet cafe. I'm at a campground in Kastraki and have met these wonderful people that I spend most of my time with. I have successfully climbed 6 different peaks in Meteora. My name is now in the summit books. Yesterday, Silvek, Iza and I were the 39th team to complete one of the routes. It feels really good to stand on the top of a rock. I have a new appreciation for climbing and I think for sure I will keep doing it when I get back to Canada.
I'm waiting for Kostas and his friend right now. They are going to change some pitons and bolts on one of the routes. After Kostas and I will go climbing and he is going to show me how to lead. Tonight Kostas is bringing supper to the campground, tipouro moonshine and we are all going out to Kalabaka to Whoop it up. Iza and Silvek head back home tommorow. I think I might stay until Monday providing that I can find others to climb with.
There are so many stories to update everyone with. I have yet to finish my story of my hike up Olympus!
I have sent some postcards, but there are still many yet to buy, write and send. If you gave me your address and haven't received one yet, it'll come!
MOM I'm okay!!! It's just hard to communicate from the top of a Rock!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Mt Olympus 3- Prionia to Refuge A

I was really happy to make it Prionia, which I though because it had a name, that it was another little town. No, how presumptous of me! A restaurant, an info booth and to my happy surprise, washrooms! The washrooms were locked and when i asked at the restaurant, they told me "toilettes, Caput!" I resigned myself to another day of peeing in the bushes. Surprisingly not as often as I thought i would considering all the water I drank. I started up the mountain. Today, almost all uphill... argh!!! My body was aching, but at least the yoga I did that morning and the day before helped relieve some of it.
I was soon passed by to men and what I assume were their two young sons. I felt even worse when I met them again later in the day, and they were coming down hill and I was still going up. I heard the jangling of bells and thought I was coming up to another herd of goats, but instead I passed some horses and donkeys eating breakfast, accompanied by a dog who didn't stop barking until I was out of sight. I loolygagged my way up the mountain, not half as impressed with the view as I was the day before. The River had disappeared and soon the deciduous trees turned into only coniferous ones. I passes a blonde woman and a young girl, and a black dog coming down the hill. Later in the morning, after a bathroom break, the sounds of bells reached my ears again. A while later, I was passed by the blonde woman and a man sitting on the donkeys followed by the others laden down with supplies.
Everytime I would stop to check my map I would hope that I was farther up than I thought I was. I stopped at a tap for some lunch... more canned tuna and nuts! My diet was getting really boring. I watched little yellow birds play in a puddle and get kicked out by a larger blue bird. I continued up. Constantly being passed by other hikers. I didn't mind, I was going at my speed; I wasn't as exhuberant as I had been the day before though. I heard the bells again and hoped that they had already been to the Refuge and They were going to pass me on their way home. I hopped beyond hope, because this would mean that I hadn't much farther to go. When I reached a clearing I looked up for the sounds of the bells and there was the train, high up on the mountain, still climbing. Argh! I looked at the path up, looked at the rocks and decided it was time to take my noon day siesta. I laid down in the sun and took a nice nap, stretched, meditated and continued up.
I was pleasantly surprised higher up the mountain when I came accross RASPBERRIES! My favourite! I stopped and started to stuff my face. Other hikers would pass, looking at me, I would smile and say "raspberries" They would smile, nod, look at each other and keep going. They probably thought they should call for the Rescue team, some crazy Canuck has lost it. I finally made it to Refuge A at 3:30 pm that afternoon. I walked into the house and there was the blonde woman who had passed me twice that day. She smiled and said "you finally made it" I laughed and nodded. When I asked her how long it took to climb to the top, she told me it was to late in the day to try, that the time it takes to climb from Prionia to the refuge is about the amount of time it takes to get to Mitikas. I laughed and told her for sure I wasn't going to try today. I had some food, met some of the hikers I had seen the days previously and went to bed around 7pm. Most of the occupants of the Refuge were German speaking. I couldn't get away, I always seemed to be surrounded by people whose language I can't understand.
I slept real well that night. I kept on dreaming about climbing to Mitikas with my brothers Josh and Jesse, but everytime we were on our way, we would get way laid. Once we made it to Litochoro and I told them my things were up at the refuge already, then we woke up and were back home (In Canada). Another time we had to find there passports, another time we couldn't get a drive? Canada-Greece driving. You know dreams. I woke up at the wake up call 8am. Myself and a man from Germany sleeping on the bunk on top of me were the last to get up and out of the room. We ate breakfast together, I went out, did some sunsalutations in the shadow of the mountains. It was really exhilarating....

Mt Olympus 2- Epineas Gorge

Relieved to find the entrance to the Park, I started on my way along the path, filling my water bottle at the tap. Well, nothing prepared me for what I met. It was torturous. Uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill. I didn't turn back because I knew what met me there. Somewhere along the route, I was hoping it would level out and be easier. Ha!
For all the sweat and panting, I must say it was one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen. I think the fact that the hike was so arduous made the scenery that much sweeter. Every now and then, more often than not, I would stop and look. Watch the birds, listen to the River below and look towards the town of Litochoro and the sea. I was travelling alone, so of course I had to make my own fun. I would do impressions of the bionic woman, Jamie Sommers, climbing the steps of the path. You know how they would always show here bionic speed in slow motion. I thougth out loud too much, built an Inukshuk, but most of all I cursed the uphills. I started to call every set of steps I came accross "KaKa Skala" like the path to mitikas (evil Staircase). At first, I would jump up and down and rejoice whenever I saw a downward path. 2 hours into the hike I stopped, realising that everytime I went down meant that I would have to climb up again later.
Along the path there are at least 7 bridges that cross tributaries to the Epineas river. The water is clean,clear, crisp, cold and refreshing. At the second bridge, I took a gander down the river a bit. In the water were little tadpoles; the deeper pools were green. I took off my boots and slipped my feet into the water. All along the river, the water cascaded down like little waterfalls. I laid back and took a siesta. I continued my hike through the paths, every turn was a marvel beyond the one before. At one point, I came accross this sheer cliff covered in moss. Amongst the rocks and the moss, I could make out a face.
Towards the end of the path, up on a cliff was a little church built on a spring. It was fascinating, and the water tasted real good. The hike in the forest reminded me a lot of Canada. I hadn't imagined that they would have forests that big in Greece. I felt very comfortable and safe the whole way.
Not too much further down the path was an old monastery, originally built in the 1500's and was destroyed by German Bombers in WWII. Today they have rebuilt the church, and a couple of monks live there. I walked around, took pics and admired what was left even after the bombs.
I left the Monastery and started back down the path, realising it was starting to get late and I was nowhere near the Refuge where I wanted to stay the night. I started signing 99 bottles of beer on the wall and skiping. Of course, I tripped and lost my balance. I didn't have my day pack strapped on so when I bent to catch my balance, the pack went over my head and pulled me down. It wasn't on any of the steep paths I had travelled earlier that day. I scrapped up my right knee and elbow. I sat and cursed for a few minutes, cleaned myself up, and headed on my way learning the important lesson that I always had to keep my pack strapped to my back. It got dark faster in the forest than I had remembered. I followed the path for a while with my flashlight. After a while I decided my beast bet was to bunck down for the night. I found a spot under a tree and pulled out my sheet and sarong, put on all my clothes and a silver emergency blanket that I opened and tucked into my sheetbag. I asked my spirit guides, angels and ancestors to keep me safe through the night. I woke up a few times. once to pee and found an even flatter spot to sleep. Once I awoke to an odd sound and found that a squirrell or some other animal had been chewing on my bag to get at my bag of nuts. Overall, only small animals came to check me out throughout the night and I woke up, went to the river, washed up, ate, and started back up the path. I'll tell you, that water is enough to get the dead moving in the early morning. After about 45 minutes to 1 hour of hiking I made it to Prionia and the begginning of the next leg of my hike.

Mount Olympus 1- Epineas Path

Well here goes my adventures...

I took the Overnight train from Athens to Litochoro. It left around 11pm and got into town around 5:30.
People who complain about the rennaisance should check out this train. I was in a cabin with 8 assigned seats and only two benches facing one another. Now that's uncomfortable. No pillows, no blankets, luckily there were only five of us travelling in it that night, I couldn't imagine if there were 8! I don't think any of us got much sleep. I was paranoid about missing my stop, like I did in Italy two years ago. The conductors were good though, they would walk down the halls just as I was falling asleep and in a LOUD voice sing out the upcoming stops. When we finally arrived, I found an unmanned station with what I believe was a space for lease sign in the window. To top it all off, the station is 9km out of town. It was dark, no busses, no cabs, zip. One other passenger got off the train in Litochoro with me. He was in the army and suppsed to report to the base in 5 min. He was on his cell, trying to get a taxi. He looked at me and said, "There are no taxis in this town!" After, he found out there were some, they just didn't start working until after 7am. I decided to hike up to the overpass and walk up to the city/town. On the other side of the overpass, I was surprised by about six barking dogs. I stopped, hoping they weren't a renegade band of chiken thieves and turned my flashlight towards them. I realised that this might antagonise them more so I turned it off. As they got closer I noticed the tails wagging and felt somewhat relieved.
They ended up being very friendly, and from what I understood from the night watchman of some local plant, they were strays who hung around and helped protect it with him. They were quite the mix. One looked like Benji, another like a chocolate Lab, one reminded me a lot of Tanner only he had a darker coat, more like a Lassie dog. The night watchman was very nice, he pointed me towards the bus stop and told me that another one would be along shortly, and take me into town. He used to be a seaman and had travelled all over the world. His English was excellent.
When I got into town on the bus, the sun was up and I got a good view of the mountains. Mt Olympus isn't just one peak, it's a range of many peaks, the tallest being Mitikas at 2919m. Canada's tallest, Mt Robson is over 3900m. (For those who like comparisons). I found a place to store my bag and started to check out the town. Being the first real town I visited since arriving in Greece, I was pleasantly surprised with the narrow streets and the architecture. It's not as square as that of Athens. I did a little roundabout, bought a cheese pie (lisa, they are awesome! I've been eating a lot of cheese pies. And the pastries/sweets are devine. Everytime I'm in a shop I try something new and have yet to find something I dislike) I had to buy a bottle of water because I had forgotten mine on the train. I poked around the Epineas river bed at the bottom of the mountain. It's dry until the spring months when the snow on the mountains thaws. There were tons of birds who nest in the caves, names of which I don't know. I started my journey from there and followed a little path with desciptive signs on the local flora, fauna and history.
At the end of the path, I cme upon this clearing and was blown away. I can't say there was anything spectacular about the clearing, but at that moment it took my breath away. In the middle there was an outcropping that looked as if it had been built long ago and now was overgrown with mint. One huge tree grew out of it and offered me a perfect perch from which i could observe the beauty of the moment. I cried. I looked up in the sky and a falcon flew overhead. A bridge crossed the river, which at the moment was nothing more than a trickling stream. I listened to the bees in the mint, the leaves russling in the wind, and the birds chirping. I meditated on the limbs of the tree, and as I was about to continue my journey, I heard bells. I stayed where I was and as they got closer I noticed a bunch of goats crossing the bridge in an orderly fashion. A dog led them up and over the hill to my left. Not one of the animals seemed to know I was there, and if they knew they ignored me. the clanging of the bellechoed away and more came from the right. The gaggle of goats crossed the bridge, and a flock of sheep followed, not so patient or orderly. They went over the bank, accross the river from all directions and made their own way over the hill. The bell chimes reminded me of Monks in a solemn procession. Finally, I got down and tried to find my way to the path to the Gorge entrance.
I took one way and ended up at a dirt road, which I followed, all the time being watched by a sheep dog, ready to pounce in case of a threat. I figured I had read the map wrong so I went back and tried another way. Well you can imagine I danced in cicles for who knows how long, finally, however I found my way passed a mill, down a road the the Park entrance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Another quick hi

Today I hiked around the holy ghost and stepped in a lot of goat shit!
Yesterday I went climbing for the first time, u know with the roaps and harness and hanging off a rock. It was awesome. Meteora is quite the haven for climbers and they all seem to stay here at the campground. I've met great people from all over and have been spending most of my time with David from Germany, Costas from here and Silvac and Isabella from PolaND. I'll probably stay a little bit longer than I thought. They are going to take me climbing again....
out of time

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Hello from nowhere

I onlyhave 8 more minutes on the timer.
Internet is really expensive up here iin Meteora. What a beautiful place it is though, very relaxing.
I climbed Mount Olympus...Those are many stories I don't have time to tell about now, next time.
I'm at a campground, with real hot showers... It had been so long since I had one I felt like I was using up the whole water tank, which must be huge.
I felt like Mr been goes camping when I first got here. I hiked up from the rail station at 530 in the morning and of course was always sure I missed it, looking down every dirt road I came accross. Finally I turn a corner and Voila, a huge camping sign. The gate was shut and locked and I was walking aroundto see if I could get in. No. High fence, vines, ect.. I went back to the gate and thought I'd hang out until someone opened up. I touched the gate by accident and a small door opened up. Picture that of course with me continuously mumbling under my breath...
go to run no time

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

You want to put me in Isolation?

For those of you wondering what happened to me, this weekend, I went up to Karateia to spend some time at Joachim's family's beach house. It's not really on a beach; it's actually way up on a hill. You can't even see the water through the hills and trees, but, it's beautiful and quiet. Iro, Dennis and I arrived Saturday eve, after dark. The place was only lit by candles and mosquito smokers. Harry and Barbara were there, along with Tolis, Poppy and her parents Maria and Spiro.
There was excitement when we got there, it seemed they had trapped a mouse in the garden. I'm surprised it didn't die of fright before the night was out. It seemed there was always someone over in the corner shing the bright flashlights in its eyes. To make sure it was still there? I don't know. That kind of attention sure would have turned me into some kind of phobe.
Dennis got the generator up and running. I guess he's the only one who can. And the lights came on. We sat outside, and Poppy showed me around the perimeter, the duck, geese, chickens and rabbits. We had a huge supper and then settled down for a movie and of course I fell asleep. I slipped into my sleeping quarters on the couch groggily at I don't know what time. At around three o'clock, i was awakened by an awful zzzzz sound. God damned mosquitos. I tossed and turned, put the pillow over my head, pulled the sheet over me entirely. Everytime I managed to get rid of the awful sounds, I would start sweating. I wasn't the only one, Barbara was up and down as well, The next morning, mosquitos were the common complaint. I got up, walked around until I got tired and went back to sleep. The next morning I had welts all over the only arm that was exposed. I figured they had gotten me real well.
By mid day, Barbara had given me aloe from her garden to help with the bloody itching. I tried playing with the watercolour pencils... Damn trees, They are my nemesis... I was up pretty early outside walking around the garden. checking out the plants , trees, rabbits and then the geese. I had flashbacks to when I was young and the geese used to chase me around the farm. I tried not to show fear and stand my ground. The big guy just stared at me with one blue eye and I stared back. Finally, he went his way. I think we had a silent understanding. You don't come near me I don't come near you. It worked real well, no horrifying screams ( on my part). Cassie and Cain, Dennis' Rotties were there as well. Harry told me that he'd take a goose over a watchdog any day. I also found out that he had had more chickens, but a fox had been hunting them in the winter. Harry also got rid of the mouse before his boys could. He took it away and let it go. They would have killed it and dennis probably would have taunted the dogs with it (ha ha ha, joking) But Harry figured the little guy would be back soon.
By the time we got home, I still had the welts. I joked saying if they weren't gone in a couple of days, I'd have to go to the hospital.
I woke up the next day, looked in the mirror and almost screamed. They'd propogated!!!! I had spots on my face, back, other arm and a couple on my legs. When I showed this to Iro and Dennis, Iro asked the neighbour and soon four people were looking me up and down gabbing back and forth in Greek, it seemed they were arguing over the diagnosis. Every now and then Iro would ask in English, have you had the.... before she could finish, I'd pipe up, "yep, I've had the Chicken Pox and the Measles" Soon we had a dictionary out trying to find the best translations.
We went to the Hospital. I'm so glad she was with me, I can just imagine what would have happened with my wide eyed lost look, asking anyone "English?" In the triage area the Doctor was very nice, and spoke English well. He looked me over and without hesitation said, "i'm sending to to an isolation room, not because we're racist, just in case you are infectious."
Iro and I had Lots of fun in Isolation. She called work and told them she neede the day off because she was in Isolation. I poked my head in everything opened every cupboard I could and played with valves and anything else I could find. I found a cord and as I was pulling it up, I realised it was the nurses bell, and then Iro's phone rang. I jumped and dropped the cord, thinking I had somehow set it off. Iro went to find a doctor, I guess she hounded him until he came to check me out. He figured I had the chicken pox and told me to go to the dermatological hospital(All of this is via Iro's translation)
We went to the dermatologist and on all the walls were SARS warnings. I'm thinking this is a little outdated. Iro said that people were so paranoid about catching it that they would drive around on their motorcycles with masks on. No helmets mind you. How Ironic is that? More so than Alanis' song. I've seen 2 accidents involving bikes since I've been here.
Anyhow this relates because Toronto Canada is on the list of infected sites. The doc found out I was from Canada and she had the mask and gloves on so fast. She mentioned Torontoa and Iro corrected her, but it didn't matter. Here, the people just don't understand how big Canada is and how far apart the cities are. Explaining to someone that driving to Toronto is like driving to London is a concept they can't grasp. Oh well, at least she felt safe.
She gave me a prescription and told me to come back the next morning at 0700. Iro couldn't come with me this morning, so she explained to me how to get back to the hospital via bus, metro, and foot.
This morn, I woke up at 5:30, headed out. My it was windy and chilly, I had to put on a long sleeve shirt and pants. I waited about 20 min for the bus, hopped on the metro got off at the right stop and proceeded to go the way Iro had pointed me. To be sure I was headed in the right direction, I asked someone. He told me to go back, take a right and another right and I would see it. My first right was a dead end. It is now 0730. I found a hospital and they said I had the wrong one and pointed me to the end of the road. I went down the road found another hospital and asked again for directions. at every stage I had to ask again... Greeks and their bloody directions! I found an outpatient station which was no the one I was at the previous day. Finally I was diredted to a security guard who took me to dermatology. The wrong place. He told me to go back and take a number. I was ready to take the newspaper I had in my hand and whack him over the head. I tried to explain that that wasn't where I was supposed to be. I pulled out the precription I had from the previous day, he took a good look at it and said. You are in the wrong hospital. Hospitals in Greece are like Tim Hortons in Canada. he directed me through the parc to the Hilton and from there to ask directions. Through the parc I was where I had started off, the Metro station. I was ready to cry. Finally I made it to the right hospital. waited in line to pay, waited in line to check in, waited in line to be seen. The office I was waiting for was the slowest of the bunch, so I practised breathing, deep slow breaths. I was out of there by 1030 with the diagnosis that it is an allergic reaction to a bug bite and a prescirption for a topical cream to take in addition to the pills I got yesterday. If it doesn't go away in 4-5 days to go back to the Hospital.
One thing I can't complain about though is the cost. Three dif emergency visits and I only paid 3 euro plus the cost of the prescriptions, under 20.
It's such a different world here. Everything is still very paper oriented. No computers that I saw anywhere in the Hospitals. A stray dog was begging outside one of the doors and they are not scanning your Id and health card everytime you want to see a doctor.
Today I'm getting ready to leave for Mount Olympus. Getting food, flashlight and stuff. From there I go to the Monasteries at Meteora, and then to the Oracle at Delphi. It might be a while before I can update, so don't worry... I'm just having fun.
Oh yes... I have been cleared to travel!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Another Day, Another Ruin

Yesterday I went to the Temple of Zeus beside the national Gardens. I think there are only sixteen pillars remaining but they are collosal! Anyways, I'm down around the side looking at all the old settlements from different eras, wondering off all by myself. I'm a little unsure as to whether I'm supposed to be in the area, my philosophy is to try until someone tells me no. Around here they blow the Whistles, Annoying, screeching, always going off. I'm a little paranoid because oftentimes it's for me. How I'm I supposed to know not to go somewhere if it's not cordonned off, or there are no signs? So I'm cruising around and I see this makeshift wooden bridge; it looks like one for a wheelbarrow. I looked around, didn't see anyone and stepped on it... Well, let me tell you, an alarm went off and I flew off that bridge so bloody fast. (if you read previous posts, you know about the museum) I looked around, saw noone and stepped on it again. Nothing. Just one of those bloody coincidences I guess. So i finished y little tour without a care in the world.

I bought some watercolor pencils last night and a scketch pencil and a small sketch book. I've already started to use them. The art supplies here are amazingly cheap. I'm starting to run low on pages in my journal. Can you believe it? And I've been gone 2 weeks... 7 more to go. Feels like I have all the time in the world.

Today I ran around the Ancient Agora, took more pics, saw some awesome stuff in the museum. I think tommorrow I might go see socrates' prison... I'm also thinking I need a beach breack so who knows. Wish I had a pic to show everyone enjoying the 5 minute weather how dark I'm getting, and I'm not even trying... hahahaha. I haven't seen rain since I left Paris 2 weeks ago. This sure ain't Halifax.
Post again soon...xoxoxo

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Happy Belated Birthday Nanny!

For Everyone reading this who sees my Nan, please give her a big hug a kiss from me for her birthday. Tell her I thought about her all day, however, seeing as there is seven hours difference and my access to phone are limited, I wasn't able to call :(

Yesterday was really interesting! I went to the Archeaology Museum. I saw the Big bronze statue of Zeus that's everywhere. WoW. It was incredible! Every little detail you can think of is there. Even the nipples. Hopefully my pics will turn out. The musculature the hands, feet.... all of this was done in bronze thousands of years ago and then lost to the Ocean. I also saw the mask of Aggamemnon. They had a special exhibit dealing with "AGON" the spirit of fair play. It was pretty incredible. Lots and lots of funerary and headstones... Pottery bronze and marble workings... is a website to see what I saw.

Funny thing happened to me at the museum, I had my journal with me and was writing down my thoughts, info I wanted to remember (I don't have the memory of my younger years) and drawing designs that I thought were interesting in the evolution of greek potterry art. Well I'm in the AGON display rooms, crouched down drawing a really interesting pattern I hadden't seen yet when I hear this binging, like an alarm. I continue what I'm doing and it goes off again. This happens repeatedly until finally a young women from the museum comes over and tells me not to put my book on the glass (I had been using the base and case as support) "because alarms". I looked at her, my eyes went wide and I said "oohhh that was me?" she again told me to move away because alarms. She did kindly offer me a chair though. I smiled and did my best greek thank you. That would have been great! Arrested in Greece. It might have led to another one of my life list of things to do... Get deported from a foreign country. And here I always thought that it would be from Australia for stalking Russell.

I also found out yesterday that I had been using the Metro/bus system all wrong. I always wondered why it cost 5 cents more when I bought a ticket from a stand and not from the automated machines in the Metro station. THe answer is not that the consessioneurs are making a profit, it's because I'm supposed to be using two different tickets, one for the bus and another for the metro. OOoops, I thought Athenians had a really sweet deal travelling around for under 50 cents. Luckly, noone has checked my tickets yet!

I got lost in Athens on my way to Syntagma Square... I'm as bad as a guy when it comes to asking directions. I did eventually find my way out all by myself, without having to ask anyone for directions. A man can't say that. Boys, my trick is to remain calm, don't worry about looking like a silly lost tourist, pull out that map and study it, figure out alternate routes and if worst comes to worst, backtrack. I finally got to Syntagma 45 minutes late. Iro got there at about the same time. Both of us saying I'm sorry to keep you waiting. She asked me to stay in Athens for a bit longer and I agreed.

Today, I'm going to the Temple of Zeus to offer up my petty sacrifices. I haven't quite figured what that will be yet but I'll let you know next time