Travel: A Night with the Gods

Our car arrived in Litochoro around midnight, where we were kindly greeted by the hostel owner. Exhausted, we grabbed showers and crawled into bed.

2013-06-11 07.47.06

 

When we woke early in the morning, the forecast was cloudy with a chance of rain – this is prone to happen in mountainous areas due to the extreme change in elevation between valleys and peaks (also known as microclimates).

 

2013-06-11 05.52.55

Thinking that we had little chance to ascend to the top of Mount Olympus that day, and being exhausted from the license debacle, we all rolled over and went back to sleep. Eventually, when we woke around 10 AM, we decided to go hiking despite the gloomy skies. We decided to first fill our stomaches with some goat stew before embarking on our quest.

Mount Olympus is one of the highest peaks in Europe. The highest peak,  Mytikas, meaning “nose,” has a total elevation of 9,570 ft above sea level. The first part of our hike was fairly wooded with dirt paths and wooded steps. You can see from my face how hot we all got from our hike despite the cool atmosphere. It was pretty breathtaking to watch the mist creep over the surrounding peaks and then wisp away to reveal snow along the terrain as we continued to scale the mountain side.

2013-06-11 07.51.37

Unfortunately, we were hoping for the weather to clear as we continued our hike; the exact opposite happened. The clouds got larger, the skies got darker, and an ominous shadow started to encroach on our light. Before we knew it, it had started to drizzle. This happened as we were crawling up some more challenging rock faces, the wooded area and trees having long diminished.

One of our friends, stubborn as she is, refused to turn back, and despite our frustration with her, there was little we could do but surge onward. Eventually, we reached one of the climbers rest-stops just as the rain began to pelt and the sun began to set. Fortunately, there was plenty of space for us to spend the night, and we bonded with the other climbers that had also taken shelter. A fireplace was available to dry out our wet clothes, and we enjoyed witty banter and card games.

I like to joke and say that we spent our night with the gods, which in a way is true. 😀

2013-06-11 14.09.04In classic Greek Mythology, this mountain was seen as the residence of the Twelve Olympian Gods. Mytikas was their forum, and Zeus  resided over all; from his palace above the clouds, he would preside over humanity, and unleash his godly wrath with his thunderbolts.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Travel: Acropolis of Athens

Cherishing the shut-eye, we rose late in the morning. Despite the  beautiful weather and the sun shining bright in the sky, and knowing that quite a bit of uphill hiking would be involved, we decided to hop a metro to the base of the Acropolis, grabbing some coffee and croissants on the way. At the foot of the hill, we were fortunate to get into the region for free as it was a celebration day for the country.

Some aimless meandering around the hill occurred while we searched for the appropriate path toward the top. On the way, we bypassed the Tower of the Winds.

2013-06-05 04.06.14It is an octagonal marble clock tower that resides in the Roman Agora whose primary function was to function as a “timepiece” or horologion.  The structure is 12-metres tall, has a diameter of 8-metres, and was topped in antiquity by a weathervane-like Triton indicating the wind direction. There is a frieze that depicts eight wind deities corresponding to the eight cardinal directionsBoreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Eurus (SE), Apeliotes (E), Notus (S), Livas (SW), Zephyrus (W), and Skiron (NW) – and below it, eight sundials.

 

Continuing up the Agora, we observed the ruins of the Temple Of Zeus from a distance, and a view of vibrant Athens.

2013-06-05 04.16.40

Not too long later, we ascended the steps of the Propylaea, a symbolic gateway that serves as the entrance to the Acropolis. (The Brandenburg Gate was inspired by this). Immediately beyond this window, one comes across the awe-inspiring Parthenon.

 

2013-06-05 05.33.52

Constructed from 447 to 438 BC, the temple was dedicated to the goddess Athena at the height of the Athenian Empire‘s power. It is recognized as the most important surviving building of  Classical Greece, and considered the culmination of the development of the Doric order. The decorative sculptures are the epitome of Ancient Grecian Culture, and this structure is an enduring symbol the continues to inspire future generations. It represents Ancient Greece, the prosperity of the  Athenian democracy, and the evolution of Western Civilization.

One of my favorite mythological stories, is of about how Athena beat Poseidon to become the patron of this great city.

2013-06-05 05.12.02

The citizens offered a competition to the greek gods in which each deity had to present a gift to the city, with the people serving as the judges. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident, and from it a salt water spring arose, providing a means of trade and water. However, due to it’s saltiness, it was not potable.

In turn, Athena presented them with the first domesticated olive tree. With this, Athena won the competition, for the olive tree provided wood to build and carve from, oil to light fires and cook, and olives as food.

Do you enjoy mythology? What is your favorite story? Why does it strike a chord in you?