Thassos

Oct. 13th, 2005 04:43 pm
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The season was over when I was on Thassos, so I got a beachfront hotel for E20 a night. I could hear the waves crashing while I dozed. It wasn't as stunning as the place I stayed on Naxos, but it was nice enough.

This isn't the greatest pic, but I like the feel of anonymity of it. I don't see it as a pic of me--not even a hair shot--but just a woman on the balcony and a rumpled bed.

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I haven't posted about Delphi yet, and I should before it leaves my mind altogether. So, let me take a break from work and remember my adventures there. There are a couple of things I'd like to write about it and I'll keep them separate.

Delphi is one of my favorite places on this earth. It feels like home. Going there feels like going home. It's not just that I think it's beautiful, but I'm so relaxed there that I may as well be...well, home. So, I decided it would be a perfect place to go to end my trip and bought a ticket to Delphi from the little town below Meteora.

"Delphi," I told the counter-woman in Kalambaka.

"Ne," she said, and gave me a confusing series of tickets. I could make out the Greek writing to see that I'd have to change busses at Trikkala, but I couldn't really make out the second ticket so assumed it said Delphi.

Mistake One.

Oh, it was no big deal, really... )

Meteora

Sep. 29th, 2005 12:23 pm
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Meteora is an almost indescribably beautiful place, with high jutting rocks appearing out of nowhere on the plains of Thessaly, leading into the mountians. Years ago, a monk from Mt. Athos (where women are still not allowed--not even female animals, although they have broken down enough to admit that their hens must be girls, since they lay eggs), arrived here to build a monastery. And build he did. There are four monasteries and one nunnery hidden among or perched on top of these enormous, craggy cliffs. The poor monks who live there can't have a very peaceful, monastic life with the hoards of visitors, but they certainly rake in the dough.

I visited the Great Meteoran, the largest and oldest of the monasteries, a smaller one, and the nunnery. Climbed the winding stairs, looked politely at the ancient kitchens and chapels and gardens, and made a few discoveries.

The celebrated and gorgeously painted frescoes had interesting subjects.

After gaping for a while, I started noting down exactly what I was seeing in my journal:

1. Beheadings. Many, many, many beheadings.
2. People tied to a wheel and rotisseried through a flame.
3. People crushed between two enormous slabs.
4. A guy dragged behind a horse by the feet.
5. Burned at the stake.
6. Burned in a furnace.
7. Burned in a cage.
8. Boiled in a pot of water.
9. Stoned.
10. Tied prone to a woodpile.
11. Dismembered.
12. Pierced or stabbed with knives or swords.
13. Hung upside down (by the ankles).
14. Traditionally crucified.
15. Fed to lions.
16. Hung rightside up (by the neck).
17. Buried halfway in unidentified white things.

ETA: Oh, yes. Amongst all these where the guys with halos were coming out the worst, there was Daniel with lions licking his feet. I swear, all the martyrs were looking at him, going, "You bitch."

Also ETA: As a kid, I couldn't parse what halos were in my Children's Illustrated Bible, which was the only religious text I owned until I was 18 or so. I thought they all had plates on their heads and could NOT figure that out for the life of me.

It was like the little lederhose men in Germany, but these were all beautifully painted up in a church.

So, I'm not a churchgoing person, I admit, but I always thought church frescoes were, like, beautiful scenes. This was gorier than a slasher flick directed by a 16-year-old.

And in case you were wondering what happened to all those heads cut free from the bodies... )
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Sept 13-21 is posted earlier.

Sept 22: Hiked to Ypsarion; hiked to next village. Bussed to Limenaria.
Sept 23: Hiked to next village. Ferry/bus to Thessalolinki, then overnight bus to Ioannina.
Sept 24: Vikos Gorge hike fell through (fuckity fuck) due to no busses on Sat. Bus to Kalambaka.
(Continued next post.)

Ypsarion and more )
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September 13 - 19 is posted earlier. I left off upon leaving Mt. Olympos for Thessaloniki.

Sept 20: Explored Thessaloniki.
Sept 21: Bus to Kavala, ferry to Thassos, bus to Limenas.
(Continued next post.)

Thessaloniki, asslets and more. )
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I woke up in the middle of the night with absolutely no idea where I was. I looked around my room for what seemed like an endless amount of time before finally remembering that I'd come home.

Most of my updates will be directly from my personal journal, or I'd write forever. I'm going to just stick to highlights. Before I do, though, here is a breakdown of what I did. I kept a concise calendar in my journal, noting what I did that day, so I wouldn't get temporally disoriented and have to ask people what day it was.

Sept 13: Left. Home to DC to Munich. Slept on plane.
Sept 14: Arrived Munich, went on to Salzburg and Berchesgaden.
Sept 15: Hiked above Konigssee in the National Park. Late train to Munich.
Sept 16: Flew to Athens.
Sept 17: Train to Larissa, Litochora.
Sept 18: Hiked Mt. Olympos. Stayed at Refuge A.
Sept 19: Hiked Mt. Olympos. Hiked out, late bus to Thessaloniki.
(The rest on my next post)

Some details through Mt. Olympos )

Back...

Sep. 27th, 2005 10:56 pm
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My feet are swollen half again their size, from both the abuse of the previous two weeks and sitting on three different airplanes for hours on end. Athens to Frankfurt to DC to Seattle. I've had almost no sleep for the past 30-something hours, so I'm going to bed now.

But back from this trip. I'm already coming up with ideas for my next one, but not now... Need to rest.

Spinning on the old dancing floor of Athena's Temple on Thassos.

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Quickly checking in from the heights of Delphi, one of my favorite places to be. I spent the morning paying my respects to Apollo (as much as one can at his temple, these days) Then I'm going to tank up on water and spend the afternoon hiking the craggy mountains above the town. I'll be catching the latest bus to Athens and spending the night out in the Plaka before heading to the airport in the wee hours of the morning to head home. I miss the kitties, so it'll be good to get back.

A few things:

I always insisted that I don't look Greek. Let me correct that: I do not look like a Southern Greek. I look exactly like a Northern (or even Central) Greek, especially now that I'm pretty tan. Enough people have blurted out that I can't be American that I'm finally convinced.

In the States, if you tell a waiter that you would like the bill immediately, because you're cold and want to leave, they nod in understanding and bring you the bill. In Greece, they nod in understanding and bring you a sweater.

Because you can't really want to leave.
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I'm still alive. I'll do an actual update sometime when I'm not exhausted, but I just spent the last two days hiking Mt. Olympos. I summited twice, spent the night at a refuge on the mountain and sat, totally alone and above the treeline, watching the sun rise this morning. It was beautiful.

Killer hike, though.

I'm in Thessaloniki right now. Just arrived about an hour ago. Lively, modern city with unusual shops and open late. It may be more my thing than Athens. I'm going to look around for a bit tomorrow and then probably head to Thassos for more hiking and swimming.

Lots to write about. Later. I'm keeping notes in my personal journal.
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Athens is driving me nuts. I paid my respects to Athena but am blasting out of here in the morning, toward Mt. Olympus or Meteora. I just need to figure out the train schedule. I don't want a bus for that long of trip.

My favorite hostel was booked up for singles, so I gritted my teeth and am trying the four-person dorm. I need to cut costs a few nights to make up for the expensive nights I just had. I doubt I'll be too thrilled with the results, but I think my options will open up when I leave this overcrowded city.

Met a gal on the plane who tried to convince me to come down to Samos with her and some friends. I have a few days to call her. I wasn't going to do it, but we'll see how the next day or so goes.

Thessaloniki is holding a huge trade fair right now, it turns out. Won't be any rooms and it'll be packed and expensive, just like Munich. I may day-trip it, but I won't be staying there.
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I've been hiking for a while this season, just short, lowland hikes, but I thought I'd start this season's hiking log with my trek up Mt. Zeus (Zas) on Naxos.

Mt. Zeus, Friday March 28
Buttkicking rating (out of 5): 2.5
Coolness factor (out of 5): 5 Hey, it was in Greece, after all!

Using the vague, flowery descriptions found in Nicoleta's copy of Walking on Naxos, Katherine and I decided that the best hike would be up the highest peak on the island--perhaps the highest peak in the Cyclades. Unfortunately, although sunny, the skies were still pretty hazy and we weren't sure about the prospect of a view. Also unfortunately, we weren't sure how to get to the trailhead. Using the book, we pinpointed on the map the most likely area of the trailhead, and showed the map to the bus station attendent.

"We want to go here." Pointed at a branch in the road just above Filoti. "Can we be let off right here? What bus do we take to get there?"

Through language barriers and misunderstanding *why* we wanted to get off in the middle of nowhere, the man eventually directed us to a bus. We went through the same song and dance with the bus driver, and he eventually waved us away with a "Ne, ne." Good.
Read more... )

I'm back

Apr. 2nd, 2003 09:01 am
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Back after a nine hour ferry ride from Santorini, one hour bus ride to the airport, six hours of fitful (1 am to 7 am) sort-of catnaps on the airport floor, a two-hour plane flight, one hour layover, twelve hour plane flight, one hour layover, two-hour plane flight and jumpstarting my car at the park-n-fly. Slept for twelve hours at home.

Woke up one hour after I went to bed. Literally had no idea where I was. I got up and sort of wandered around the place where I've been living for the past several months trying to get *any* sort of clue. I was half asleep and terribly jet-lagged, and thought I was still in Greece, and my brain was trying to translate all the contours of my atypical, weird apartment as being outdoors in one of the catacomb-like Greek villages with covered walkways--like Fira or Naxos Town. I finally awoke to the fact that I was, indeed, indooors, and in the states again. But it took a while.

I'm all toned up from all the walking and hiking I did. Just for the start of this year's hiking season! I'm going to range farther afield this year, and do more seriously butt-kicking hikes. Only one last year seriously thrashed me (the Grand Canyon, of course) and only one other was what I consider challeging (Gothic Basin). The two hikes where I lost toenails, actually. Hope to avoid *that* this year.

Maybe my next trip will be to the Alps. Or Peru.

Onward...

Mar. 29th, 2003 10:45 am
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Two weeks is not *nearly* enough time here. I added an extra day onto my Naxos portion of the trip in order to climb Mt. Zeus (or Zas, as the locals call it) with a girl I met from Canada. It was fun getting there...telling the bus driver to stop in the middle of nowhere near a branch in the road, on the assumption that it was fairly close to the trailhead. It was, and all was well. It is the highest peak on Naxos, and perhaps in the Cyclades. According to local legend, Zeus was raised in a cave on the mountain.

The lovely Nicoleta (of Hotel Grotta) fed me local citron liquer, local cheese, local yogurt and honey, and fresh baked bread for the last few mornings. At night, we stayed up talking politics, love, etc. I left my copy of Lord Valentine's Castle at the hotel, and took another sf book from the shelf.

I'm getting tan. I'm also off to Santorini in a few hours.

I don't want to go home. Just want to keep moving around for a few months.
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I have discovered heaven on earth. I'm on Naxos, and I won't want to leave. I am going to go see Santorini in a few days, but I want to submerge myself in this place for a while. The hotel is absolutely incredible, right on the water with a view of the ruins that look like an arch into the city (but that's out in the water). The owners are wonderful, and my suite is the best I've ever stayed in, bar none. At $25 a night.

I'm going out to explore the island.
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I spent yesterday and last night at Cape Sounion, at the Temple of Poseidon. Ripping winds, sheer cliffs, wild ocean, a riot of wildflowers in bloom... The temple is incredibly awe-inspiring, and I took well over a hundred photos of the remaining pillars against the sky. The drive up the coast was incredible as well. I love this area, and wandering through the olive groves while heading north again was a real treat.

I'm now in Delfi, where it's the best weather I've had all trip. Sunny and warm, and so outstandingly, freakingly gorgeous. It's a real eagle's aerie, with the ruins on the face of a cliff overlooking the gulf of Corinth. And the water is hallucinatory--I kid you not. Maybe I'm just susceptible (or romantic) because other tourists and locals were imbibing from the spring water as well, and I didn't see anyone else get loopy, but I sure did. I'm bringing some home, if any of you want to try it.

I'm so lucky to go from Poseidon's Temple, which represents everything the sea is to me, to go to Apollo's Temple, which is everything the mountains are to me, in one day.

I want to keep going, but I'm afraid I need to return my car tomorrow. Then off to the islands. Time is going really fast.

La La La!

Mar. 25th, 2003 05:09 pm
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This post was supposed to go out yesterday, but the computer was being weird.

I went dancing last night with an old Greek gentleman, in a taberna I stumbled across about 11 pm that was playing live music. I heard the music from my hotel room and wandered out to find it. Two old Plaka residents encouraged me to get up and dance with one of them, while the other yelled encouragment from the sidelines. I used to know the Greek footwork really well, but it's been a few years. I kept up, though. The other guy kept kissing me on both cheeks after each dance and toasting me. He was distressed that I was drinking vin instead of ouzo, but I just pointed to my head and made buzzing noises. Heh. He didn't speak English, but we both speak Spanish, so we communicated fairly well. Apparently, I'm beautiful, and it's a shame I'm not married. Well! Finally a compliment! I was wondering where all these Greek men who were supposed to be hitting on me were hiding! I was feeling cheated, damn it. I think all the so-called harpoonists are hiding out in southern Italy, where it's actually warm, until the season starts. Which is the day I go home.

It's snowing lightly. I may pass on Delphi, because if it's snowing here, it'll be snowing there harder.

Off to the airport to rent a car.

Athens

Mar. 22nd, 2003 01:58 pm
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In Athens, and am beginning to sway, I'm so tired. Spent the morning hiking around the Acropolis, and then on a hill opposite it which was even cooler--no one was there, and it was miles of neat cobbled trails leading to the summit of a huge hill. The view was incredible. Athens is a hopelessly confusing city--I still haven't found the hotel I want to stay at tonight. But I'm sure I'm within 500 meters or so. Ready for a nap, so I hope I find it soon.

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Jen Kleis

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