Athens. After another spell of disappearance, I be at my last location on mainland Greece. I sit on a hill near The Parthenon, able to see everything around me. There is no one else nearby, and its relatively quiet. Sometimes a dog comes to say hi, then runs off with a more interesting smell.
I last reported in from Horto, a fair distance North now. We managed a good few days to escape the rain, and after a month we left Pelion, leaving behind many new friends and memories of the old and more rare Greek hospitality. The going was slow, and we spent one more night in that lovely city of Volos, in a fairly creepy abandoned park on the edge of the concrete jungle.
One day it took to finally reach Thermopolis. On arrival we could smell the water, and we rushed to the pools to finally feel the soothing heat. Though it was a much less romantic area than we both had imagined, this area of a few pools connected by a stream was still beautifully hot for bathing. Ignoring the steady flow of visitors, the very close proximity to two highways, lots of garbage, and abandoned buildings, we had a good relaxing few days. And though it still rained constantly, we were even able to campfire cook a wee bit. A french couple we had met near Horto even met us there.
I don’t think I will be able to stroll through a forest in November naked and warm for quite some time again (Air drying, you see).
With a few hours break in the rain, the four of us took up differing positions to hitch to Delfi. The next day we all met up again, in the rain( naturally) and found a comfortable abandoned building to stay in… But here is what happened next:
Our Frenchie friends decided to sneak into the Delfi ruins after closing. I didn’t want to risk it, so we all agreed to meet up later at the house.. But on returning, we noticed no one home, and all their gear was gone. We speculated that the cops caught them, and took them to the station to search their bags. Later on we saw them strolling through town and verified that our thoughts were correct, and that it was a rather large scene at the house as all the eldely neighbors came out to see what was happening, and they even tried getting them into more trouble by saying they must have broken the locks to get inside (Though they were broken beforehand). But I read that Delfi is supposed to be one of the most rightwing villages in Greece. After this experience, and the way everyone reacted, it made sense.
The ruins themselves were of course beautiful. Though I will admit I had a stronger spiritual feeling among the standing stones of Scotland than in Delfi. Nevertheless the engineering of some of the more massive stone monuments, and detailed carvings were stunning. The location itself, on the side of a mountain was just… Lovely.
And then we continued South. Snow on the nearby mountains warned of finally dropping temperatures, and a greater need to keep on moving before we started to get uncomfortable at night. We happened to run into another hitchhiker (very rare!) who was couchsurfing with a couple in Galaxidi, and so that night we were lucky enough to join him!
Our next goal was Olympia. The day after Galaxidi, we made it past Patra, but when night fell we had ourselves another unexpected adventure. We were walking through a small village, to kill some time, when three police cars stopped. They asked for passports while looking us up and down – myself especially. We were asked what we were doing in the village, why we were in Greece at that time of year, and hell, what our religion was. “Are you Christian, or Muslim?” When I told them I had no religion, one of them sighed annoyingly. I must be going to Hell.
So then they of course want to check my bag. So we had to take them to where we stashed them, and I pretty much had to unpack eveeything. They even started reading my journal. After that fun, they decided to drive us 20km back the way we came, to apparently check our passports at the main station. Yay. On arrival they pretty much just told us we were free to go.
So after a couple days spent there, we headed South yet again, to Pyrgos. From Pyrgos we visited Olympia, and South again to Kalamata. We were luckily able to find couchsurfers who actually replied to messages in these places. From Kalamata to Sparta we went.. Though in a village up in the mountains we were stuck with no ride out. Not even a bus. The villagers whom we asked for help, as there was not even a hotel, offered an apartment for 35 euros.. We didn’t need so much, but we didn’t have much choice, either. My friend was getting sick, and it was to be -3 with a real feeling of -6! The people who offered the apartment wouldn’t even budge on the price. We were a little downed at how we were being taken advantage of, but there it is. The next day did not even produce a ride, so to end that purgatory we reluctantly got a bus to Sparta.
Sparta is not an impressive place at all, yet the few uncovered ruins were still worth a visit. What we really loved was Mystras, the nearby fortified hill. An imposing and expansive place, full of many crumbling buildings, churches, and the remains of a castle on the summit. I think one of the most impressive fortresses I have seen.
So from Sparta we hit Tripoli, where we were quite excited to find out we could stay all night in the warm bus station. An uncomfortable attempt at sleeping, but it was warm and we were thankful for at least that. The next day we reached Athens.
So here I am. Myself and my friend have finally split. She is to head homeways for Christmas soon, and sometime soon after that, to India. As for me, I will spend a week or so here, to relax, and perhaps get to know the city a bit… It is not ugly as I have been told by many people. Though I have yet to explore deeply, there are enough parks empty of people for me to enjoy solitude, and enough sites to keep me busy.
My next destination is Crete. My idea is to try and hitchhike onto a truck, as to avoid the 35 euro ticket (that is a lot lf food!), but other than getting to the island, I have no other real plans… Just explore!
So as Christmas comes along and I see families together and homes cozied up decorations, I’m starting to miss he family, of course! Though I am used to being more or less alone, so its not an odd feeling of loneliness, and its not so much loneliness as it is just appreciating the times I have had with my loving family, and the future times when I do return home. But the point is, though I’m still a stranger in a strange land, I’m content with where I am and what the future possibly holds.
Not all those who wander are lost