After our 1AM ferry with only a few hours of neck-wrecking sleep, we found our way to the Hotel Neo Olympus in Athens. The National Archeological Museum was our first stop as it is the most famous museum in the world for Greek history.
It is filled with large sculptures of Greek Gods and beautiful gold and bronzed items that have been preserved in tombs as early as the 17th century B.C. Katie is not a museum person and she was even impressed! After a gyro and a coffee freddo, we were revived and stumbled upon a movie theater playing the new Wes Anderson film. Not having been to a movie in so long we pumped to see a movie. To our surprise, there was an intermission during the movie and our guess is for a smoke break as they are crazy about their cigarettes here.
Passing the Temple of Zeus and other ruins we made our way to the hill of Acropolis, the home of the famous Pantheon. Unfortunately, there is a lot of renovation taking place on the Pantheon and it simply took away from the allure and romance of it all. Passing by the Parliament Building and Tomb of the Unknown Solider on the hour we took in the unique site of the changing of the guards, along with a hundreds of Chinese tourists filming. The guard’s uniforms with pom-poms on their boots and their ceremonial actions was quite a rare observation.
Coffee Freddos, a shot of espresso blended then poured over ice, are delicious and sold on every street corner. Milk or cream can be added as well after it has been blended in a burr mixer to perfection. Pork gyros and Greek Salads have been our daily diet, sorry Turkey, but your kebabs got nothing on Greek gyros!
Heading north on a 5-hour bus ride, our final destination in Greece was Litohoro, meaning ‘The City of the Gods”, to hike Mt. Olympus, “The Mountain of the Gods”. Here we literally went from the sea to snow in a day. Many of the Greek mythology legends about Zeus come from this mountain. Meeting back up with our Aussie friends, Kim and Tom, from our boat cruise made the trip extra special. Our hostel, Summit Zero, was on the beach so our first day was filled with beach runs and sand volleyball. Sad to report that team USA was defeated by team Australia on the match but the girls were victorious in the cribbage game that evening!
Leaving sea level at 6AM the next morning we grabbed a cab to the trailhead. Our first few hours were in bright green, dense forest with views of the Mt. Olympus and the coastline. It was a heartbreaking trail as we went down as much as we went up feeling as though no progress was being made. There were many river crossings with the clearest water and a small monastery built into the mountain with claimed holy water flowing out of it. A bit over our halfway point we came to a car park where loads of people drove to and were just beginning the hike. From here it was another 2 hours of uphill to a 7,000ft/2,100m Refuge after a couple of snow crossings.
Unfortunately, due to the amount of snow and our lack of mountaineering equipment we couldn’t make it to the 9,500ft/2,910m summit of Mt. Olympus. The way down started off pretty entertaining as Kim put her legs through a plastic bag and used it as a sled down the snow. Watching our Aussie friends play in the snow was so funny it was making us cry! Who knew we would touch snow in Greece!
After 9 hours of hiking we again reached the car park where we tried to hitch rides down or could call a cab. But we were feeling extra adventurous (and cheap!), so we made a team decision to run the remaining 9km/5.5m to town. It felt like we were in an adventure race and we were having a blast, for the first 2 hours at least. The last hour was a killer as it kept creeping up and up. The 12-hour day in the end was well worth it and made the celebratory beers and dinner taste that much sweeter.
Go Team ‘Tzatim”! (Clue…it’s all of our names put together!) We found our Aussie doppelgangers that were willing to accomplish a crazy adventure with us! We miss you guys already!
Just under 2 weeks in Greece was not enough as usual. There are so many more things to see here such as Sparta, monasteries on top of mountain pinnacles, and many more islands and beaches. Our time was limited to fit in the once in a lifetime chance to see the ancient Egyptian Pyramids as we head to Cairo today from Athens.
More Pics: https://picasaweb.google.com/105315223482012434599/Athens_MtOlympus