Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hiking to the Gods: Mount Olympus

Over the weekend I, along with several other students on my program, climbed Mount Olympus in Thessaly. After spending all of my weekends thus far exploring Grecian islands, the cold was a shock to the system. Even at the base of the mountain, we could see our breath. The hike itself was strenuous but manageable. Anyone who has hiked near the Loj would likely be able to handle it.

The first day, the hike was flatter but longer. We slowly made our way up to the cabin where we had dinner and spent the night. The fall foliage enhanced the views (if that is possible) but made me nostalgic for a New England fall. Nothing can compare.

The second day's climb had a much steeper incline as neared the summit. Eventually, we climbed above the tree line...then above the cloud line. The coolest sight was to look across the mountain ridge and see the clouds in a shelf below you, being mirrored back by the sea. Stunning.

The adrenaline really kicked in when we reached the top and felt the sense of accomplishment. Totally worth the effort, and completely attainable. As instructed by my Myth and Religion professor, we offered libations to the Greek Gods reported to live on the mountain.

We told riddles and stories on the long hike down, pausing occasionally to breath in the incredible fresh air (here in Athens you don't get much of that).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Island Hopping

In the month that I have been here, I have visited four islands: Mykonos, Andros, Crete, and Santorini. I have yet to stay in Athens (or leave Greece) for a weekend, but that seems fairly standard for this program. After spending over 50 collective hours aboard Blue Star Ferries, I'm beginning to feel at home on these boats.

Each island had its own distinct landscape, appeal, and personality. Personally, I had the best time visiting Andros as a part of CYA's optional trip. Prior to the trip, I had never even heard of Andros. It is a small island, with few tourists and beautiful, isolated beaches that we had to hike to reach. There was a medieval monastery built high up into the mountains. The monastery itself, as well as the view of the island/sea was incredible.

Yesterday, I returned from Santorini. Though it was more touristy than the others, there was an archeological site that was breathtaking. Akrotiri is an ancient city that was buried by a volcanic eruption. Like Pompeii, the site was perfectly preserved by the ash. Three story houses, pristine pottery, and impressive frescos were all discovered at Akrotiri.