24 de enero de 2011

Greece. Mount Olympus. Day 63

Una vez más, y para descontento de algunos de los que suelen leerme, vuelvo al inglés en esta entrada. Una buena forma de practicar, aunque agradecería que alguien me corrigiese los errores (y así aprendo...). Allá va...

 Day 63:

The greek frontier is 180 km from Sofia. Too short distance to avoid the temptation… Ok, Athens and all the famous islands are in the south, far away from us (around 1.000 km), but the north of Greece also has interesting things… The main attraction for me was the Mount Olympus, the sacred mountain. All began when Ludi told me things about this region, and how beautiful is. He joked about how greek mountaineers try to exceed Musala's height, the highest Balkan mountain, putting stones one above another in the top of the Olympus. Of course it’s only a joke (I hope…), but it’s true that the Bulgarian peak is only 8 meters higher… so maybe, if they put enough stones...

On the road to Greece. South Bulgaria landscape.

So, finally I decided to look for some people interested in a trip to Mount Olympus (since Pacas and Monroy were not). I put a message in the Sofia couchsurfing forum, and one Bulgarian boy was very interested: Ronnie. I met with him in Flocafe (just in the center of Sofia) on Wednesday, and we talked about the plan. Everything was hasty; but we didn’t have so much time before extreme winter temperatures, so we decided to try it as soon as possible: this weekend!! And we added to the trip two main destinations: Meteora and Thessaloniki! I explained everything to Adri and Josemi (our new spanish friends), and they were crazy about the idea! On Thursday, the four of us visited a huge market in the outskirts of Sofia, in which we found some necessary (and cheap!) things as gloves, winter pants, etc. Ready to rock!!

Views over Litohoro and Aegean Sea. Cloudy day.

Near Litohoro... where is Olympus?
We arranged to meet on Friday (22th of October) at 8 AM, but we started with some problems: Ronnie overslept and we got muddled with our new meeting point… Result: we said good bye to Sofia around one hour later. Bad thing, considering we were very short on time (as we will see later). The journey to the frontier is easy and has great mountain landscapes, we could enjoy them with a sunny weather. We stopped to have a quick meal in our way, and we arrived to the frontier 3 hours after exiting Sofia. A greek policewoman asked Ronnie where did he meet us (3 spanish), and why were we entering Greece. She was very impolite in her manners… we joked long time about that situation. Since here, we started to drive on highway, and everything went easier: 100 km after the frontier is Thessaloniki, and another 100 more km and we were on Litohoro, a village used as a “base camp” for the excursions to Mount Olympus. The day was very ugly, cloudy and foggy in the mountains. We bought some food in the last minute, and we ate something before drove to the end of the port (Prionia, 1.060 meters high, 17 km from Litohoro) in which starts the path to Zolotas hut (or “A” hut). This hut is 2.060 meters high, so that day we had 1.000 meters of height difference, not bad!.

One more time... german motor!

Here we go...
At that moment, it was 5 PM and very cloudy. Not so much light around us. It’s 2 hours and a half walking to the hut, so we had to be very hurry, or we would be covered by the darkness. The path was very beautiful, all the time walking across a fall forest. But, at the same time, it was darker and darker. And we didn’t know the area, we didn’t see other people doing trekking around there… I had a map, but I think it's not useful in the night... These things happen when you start walking at 5 PM… botch!!

I was trying to rush the guys when I noticed that Ronnie’s bag was the biggest and heaviest, and, naturally, he was the slowest. I asked him:

“Ronnie, what are you carrying there??”. 
–“Ahh… nothing special, only the clothes, some food, some beer…”. 
–“I see…beer... and how much beer are you talking about?” 
–“Err… around 2 liters, I think… Ah! And one bottle of Rakia!”.  
 –“Fuck!, ok Ronnie, we have to hurry up or we will get in troubles with the darkness… come on, empty that bottles and we may walk faster”. 
–“No, no, no! No way! The beer goes with me! No way! We have to drink it in the top of the peak!”

One of the last photos of the day... before darkness
Ok, ok… at that moment I understood that Ronnie would not throw anything of his bag, and much less the beer!. But since then, we took great pains to go faster. When the last rays of light were disappearing, we reached two exhausted Greek girls. Twenty minutes later, the absolute darkness covered us. The fog was blocking the moonlight, and everything went black, black, black. We continued walking with the help of some small lanterns, but the girls were very tired and they wanted to stop to have a rest (and they didn't have any lantern). I didn’t like the idea, because the hut was supposed to be close from our position, so we did the last effort carrying their bags until the end. We were lucky and we could follow the track and arrive to Zolotas Hut, but getting lost in that conditions would have been quite risky. 

The amazing path to the Olympus

Once inside, we received a nice reward in its warm dining room: spaghetti and some beer!! We had dinner with the girls and we all talked about our experience together, it was a perfect ending to a very long (and funny) day. After that, we went to our bunks and covered ourselves with 3 blankets each one… and they weren’t enough!! Viva la revolución, Ronnie!!!