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Published: February 3rd 2007
The start of our journey...
So last night, at about 10 pm my dear flatmate Elizabeth of Occidental University gets a call from Luke of Denison, a fine young man in our program. About a minute later she comes into the living room and declares in her gleeful manner, “Some of us are going hiking tomorrow! Who wants to come?”
I heard “Hiking” and immediately was interested- this is hiking at a Greek National Park. I instantly committed to joining them. My resolve to hike was then tested when I heard that we’d be leaving the apartment at 5:45 the next morning. I don’t care what time zone I’m in. 5:45 AM is hella(s) early. My heart heavy, I decided that a group hiking trip would have been well worth the early awakening.
When I woke up this morning, it wasn’t actually so bad. I got dressed (no shower, of course- I’m in Europe, right?) and then Elizabeth and I went to meet our company at the bus stop. Well, on the way to the designated meeting place, plans changed (thank goodness Elizabeth has a cell phone) and we were to meet at the bus stop on the other town, where we would change busses to
The Metro in Athens is really quite nice.
leave Athens for Mt. Parnitha National Park. Once we got to that neighborhood, I found out that we were on a tight time schedule as the only bus leaving that morning from Athens would come at 6:40.
We made it there with the help of our maps at about 6:39. And waited.
It got to be about 7:15, when we realized that perhaps we’d missed the bus or there was another strike (there’ve been 2 since I’ve been here) or that it simply wasn’t going to come.
Here we were, 6 college students ready to something different on our second weekend in Greece, having awoken at 5:30 AM (quite contrary to our natural sleep patern), and aching for adventure- what the Greeks might call a ‘tolmima.’
Well, after a little bit of indecision we decided to take the metro to Piraeus, the grand port of Athens and catch a ferry to some nearby island for a day trip. And That’s exactly what we did. Piraeus wasn’t so far away and, in case I haven’t yet mentioned it, the subway system here is extremely affordable, comfortable, clean and easy to use.
Within a half hour we were looking for
This is the port of Athens that has been used for about 4500 years.
a boat to Salamina, the nearest island to Piraeus and also a place that none of us new a thing about. The ferry was cheap and speedy, €2.60 each way. It was a nice ride over, though a bit chilly on the deck. For the record, the Aegean remains quite blue even when the sky is a soupy grey.
Salamina is definitely not much of a tourist haven. I imagined it would be something like the Athenian version of Staten Island, a bit of a suburb with lots of commuters. I think it was. But it was also distinctly Greek as well. In fact, not attracting much tourism, it was probably a nice change from the tourism of Athens or Nafplio for us. We took our chances with the bus system, which was inconveniently map and schedule-free and made it to the main city on the island and started looking around. Since it was at this point about 8:30 and none of us had eaten properly that morning we tried to find a place to sit down and enjoy some food. It was also pretty cold with a stiff sea breeze from no matter where we went, so we wanted
The view of Piraeus from the back of our Ferry as we left. The sky was still pretty dark, since it was about 7:30 AM.
to take a break in some place heated.
The cafe we found was really nice, and not super pricy. I ordered a latte and had a large zambonatyropita (a kind of ham and cheese-filled pastry, which is exceedingly delicious) from a nearby bakery. The latte was one of the best I’ve ever had and since it’s Greece we were able to spend an inordinate amount of time at the cafe, just sipping our drinks and being warm. It was nice.
When we left at about 10 or 10:30, the 3 boys decided to climb the highest hill we could see from that side of the city, just ‘cuz. In a disgusting adherence to gender norms (as is to be expected in Greece, I suppose) the women opted to look at the shops (understandably, since the stores are all cheaper than those in Athens) and we went our separate ways for the time being.
This hill reminded me all the way up of the Agrokrag from the Nickolodeon TV show of my youth, Guts. The rocks were hard and sharp and there was definitely not a path, despite the church that sat on the very top (which was quite predictably there;
The Hill in Salaminas
This is the hill we climbed as seen from the base in Dimos Salaminas (Salaminas City).
It was harder to climb that it looks, okay?
there is a church on the very top of every hill in Greece). Charlie, Luke and I had a great climb though. The view was also spectacular, even if the day was cold, windy and overcast.
Salaminas, it seems, is a crescent-shaped island and from this hill we could see the back of the crescent on one side, higher hills to 2 and the large, wide bay on the 4th side, which is where Salaminas the town is situated. The church is named after the Prophet Elijah and was pretty new, for a church in Greece. I really like how they name churches after old testament figures in the Orthodox Church, something I’ve never heard of in Catholicism. I mean, I don’t see why we shouldn’t do that...
Anyhow, we made it back down the rocky hill and found the girls at a fast food restaurant called Goody’s. It was right across the street from an Ichthyagora, or a fish-market. After we had a little lunch, we went across the street and looked at the octopi, boxes full of inky squid, salmon, tuna, and wide variety of freshly caught fish waiting to be bought and taken home. I was quite
Charlie leads the way through the nice little homes...
tempted here to buy some kind of medium-sized, oval-shaped silver fish that I had seen at the laiki agora in town on Tuesday, which seemed much more inexpensive on Salaminas (probably something to do with the fact that this fish market was directly on the harbor, rather than in the middle of the city). However, I did not, since it would have made the rest of the day quite smelly for everyone else, especially when we were to take the metro back home in about 2 hours.
We waited a while for a return bus so we could get back to the ferries and go to Piraeus before realizing that perhaps it wouldn’t come. So the 6 of us decided to hoof it until a bus come by us.
We made the trek from Salaminas back to Pangratti quite sleepily. And the ferry ride from Salaminas to Piraeus was a welcome nap time. Elizabeth and I were back at Iofontos 1 by 2:30 or 3, with plenty of time to eat lunch and siesta for the next adventure of the day....
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