First of all, I like to thank my friend Moritz. He translated this article for you.
After an excellent breakfast with Mariani and Efthimia in the kitchen, Mariani took me to the ferry port. There I boarded the "Speedrunner III", a modern ferry that should take me to Sami, a wonderful small town on the island of Kefalonia in just 2.5 hours. In Sami, I booked a nice place at a campsite near the beach. Kefalonia is a very popular destination for the Italians. Because it is a stone’s throw away from Italy, many small sailing yachts and motor boats with Italian flag dock here. But not only in the port, everywhere is Italian advertising, restaurant names etc. to see. In addition to Italy, England sends many guests to this island. Mischievous tongues have told me a Dutch proverb that reads something like:"Ask a Englishmen, if he knows your destination, if not, you can go there with a good conscience!" For various reasons, Englishmen are not necessarily felt as the most pleasant holidaymakers. But maybe I'm not telling you anything new. And it is, of course, an irrational generalization which is untrue. This island, however, attracts not only the Italians and the British, but is also one of the favorite holiday spots of Leonardo di Caprio. I'm sorry; I have not met him.
I am very fortunate to have found a good friend in Mariani. Not only because she was hosting me excellente, I was also allowed to store unnecessary equipmentfor my time in Kefalonia and she loaned me her digital camera for this time. Very generous! And I'm very glad I had a camera to capture the next day. I spent the evening writing the last article and I made myself comfortable in my parcel at the campsite. Without a tent, only in my sleeping bag, I spent the night under the trees. The next and only full day on the island should get exhausting and exciting. Because I have just come here on the island for one reason. A few weeks ago my former roommate, sent me a picture of a cave, which is located here. And since I travel flexible, I have decided to visit them.
Early in the morning I went off to the Melissani cave and its lake. On foot, of course, it took about an hour to get there and after a cigarette on the surface, I climbed down the stairs to the cave. The cave is a geological-hydrological phenomenon. Through an underground pipe system, sea water flows into the interior of the country. There, it mixes with basic & rainwater. The fresh water is pushed up by the sea water and this brackish water has formed a 160m long and 36m deep cave over the course in thousands of years. About 5,000 years ago, in the course of an earthquake, a part of the
ceiling broke down, forming a unique "cabrio cave". Now that the sun
is shining, the water can evaporate, forming a constant lake with about 9m deep and crystal clear, almost transparent water.
It is unbelievable, almost like in a fairytale, as the sunbeams struggle through the opening into the depths. Numerous, fantastic reflections of the light in the water and the damp walls of the cave in contrast with the shady places that the sunrays could not reach at this time form a colorful and extraordinary optical play. Surrounded by stalacmites and stalactites, the boat seems to fly through the cave. The oval ceiling opening is lined with trees and other vegetation. The pictures I saw in the preview have, of course, all been pulled through Photoshop and been artificially improved, but I am still overwhelmed by this uniquely beautiful place and very glad to have taken the path there.
Of course, Greek mythology has something to say here as well. The cave is considered as the origin of the nymphs, the godlike, but mortal natural spirits, which repeatedly appear as personifications of natural forces in Greek and Roman mythology. In addition, this place was used as a pilgrimage center for the ancient pastoral god Pan. Here archaeologists also found the oldest written documentation of the word "nymphomania", about 300 years BC. I probably do not need to explain this here. After I got back to the surface, I went on a small hike to the next natural wonder. For about two hours I went accross country, partly on small gravel roads through olive groves and past small villages to another cave.
This cave belongs to one of the largest caves in Greece and is the only one to offer a space for events. Events of all kinds happen on about 600m². Of course I did not want to miss this little location check. Thus, outside of social events, it is accessible to tourists. Here, too, the stalakmites and -tites were of course very impressive. Through changing lighting it was very varied to see what nature has shaped in the past years. The meter-long, tapering stalactites above the heads were somewhat frightening. But I survived it. And although photographing in this place is actually forbidden, I kept it like most: Ignoring the signs and shoot everything.
After about 1.5 hours hiking back to the camping I spent time at the pool and thougt about the experiences. Yes, the campsite has a pool and even a jacuzzi. What was very good, because the sea was rough and the actually very nice looking reef of the bay, was not visible despite snorkel equipment. My evening went on, spontaneously filled with creativity. One of my closest friends marry on September 9th, the day I publish this article. Congratulations to Hanna and Alex. I wish you all the best for your future together. Well, anyway, my friend Joni has asked me to support him and other people of our clique in the wedding performance. Perfectly, so I have the opportunity, if I can not even be personally on site, my creativity can take part at the ceremony, at least. So I wrote two songs this evening, and I had some funny and partly profound lyrics.
The next day I went back to Patra. There I spent two hours in a cafe bar and had nice conversations with the owners and service staff. Here I was (11:00am!) invited to the local liqueur specialty "Tentoura" (very cinnamonic). Later, I met Mariani at her home, where I could prepare for the eight-hour bus trip to my next destination. Then she told me that there should have been an earthquake on Kefalonia early in the morning. 3.8 on the Richter scale should have been well felt. But I was very tired and slept. There was no need to worry, I had no roof over my head. After a well-groomed lunch in one of the small, charming restaurants of Patras, Mariani accompanied me to the bus station and I boarded the bus to Trikala.
Trikala is a small town in the heart of the Greek mainland. Two hours earlier than expected, I reached it. The city itself has not much to offer besides a medieval castle, a good-looking mosque and French bridges. But Trikala can do four things quite well:
1) The city radiates authenticity. Hardly any Latin inscriptions, almost none bilingual menus or things like this, are to be discovered. This can not only be to the fact that I am now in the off-season in Greece. So it is here to discover the real Greek life and flair, away from tourism. The price level is also a bit lower, only the supermarkets are similarly expensive as everywhere, but because the Greeks simply do not buy their food in the supermarket. The average Greek buys fresh from the market and locally, even the restaurants, that's what a New York nutritionist scientist on expedition, told me.
2] Burger! If we already talk about nutrition: In the search for a cheap lunch, I sneaked through the streets and discovered an awesome burger restaurant. Stef's Grill offers incredibly good burgers and small Greek snacks. Of course with regional ingredients. I have visited Stef and his tea twice. On my last night, Diana (RUS) and Katerina (GR) accompanied me there. The two were so enthusiastic that later in the hostel the guests ordered tons of burger.
3] The hostel is wonderful. On my personal ranking of this trip, it is ranked on 2nd place, after Plakias. Already at the check-in I met my two female roommates Diana and Giselle (SGP). They are also just individually arrived and will work here for the next two weeks for food and lodging. The quality of a hostels stands and falls with the infrastructure (for sure) and the community facilities. The more spacious and betterlooking these are, the more likely the travelers are willing to socialize and make friends. It is always the people, no matter what place you are located, which make you want to like a place or not. And this hotel almost forces community. Right next to the reception in the cellar there is a large common room with all kinds of music instruments, projector with screen and comfortable seating. Although some guests stayed only for 1-2 nights there, the group dynamic was always very good and I felt very comfortable.
4] Probably the most important feature of the otherwise moderate attractive city. eteora is only 20 km away. A region that I would like to describe in detail.
What an ultimate place! And even better: When I made myself ready in the morning, I have out of spite, but without expectations, tried my camera again... And it worked! No complaints! From out of nowhere! For no reason! Unbelievable ... I do not know what to think of it. Although I am very happy that my camera works again, but the uncertainty that she will break down again, unfortunately, remains and give me a bad feeling.
But anyhow, I can definitely show you breathtaking pictures. By bus, Giselle and I went to Kalampaka, the small village at the foot of the Meteora rocks & monasteries. Exited, enthusiastic, six-hour hike, descent, still enthusiastic, bus taken to Trikala, enthusiastic and sad. That was the brief description.
Meteora, which means "to lift up" describes about 24 monasteries and innumerable, peculiar rocks in this region. The name came from the fact that the monasteries built on the tops of the rocks seem to float in the air in the presence of mist or fog. And it is truly impressive how the builders have managed to place the structures in and on the rock and to integrate them visually into the landscape. A masterpiece. But even outside of these religious places of homage, the landscape is incredibly beautiful, which is why it deserves to belong to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. The partial freestanding sandstone cliffs extend up to 300-400 m hight and offer a more than picturesque panorama. I can hardly describe how wonderful it is here. And the images - once again - can not reflect what Giselle and I have experienced on this day and have seen.
We had very nice weather and do not wanted to miss the small paths through and on the rocks. Of course, we also visited one of the monasteries, the largest with the appropriate name "Megálo Metéoro". How beautiful it is, a monastery remains a monastery. Beautiful and old, traditional and religious. But what makes these monasteries interesting to me is the view from the top of the rocks, drinking water and toilets. Well, the historical paintings and other works of art are also impressive. After a magical day, with painful legs and feet, we were reluctant to return to Trikala. As a souvenir: beautiful memories, fascinating pictures and ... of course ... a sunburn.
I would have loved to go back to this fantastic place to see the evening dusk and sunset, but the weather got worse. Okay, there is no bad weather. However, the following days, until the end of my visit to Trikala, it rained. But after over 2 months of best weather, this was totally fine for me. However, it has caught many parts of Greece, such as Thessaloniki and Athens more violently. Flooding, floating cars and mud. The beginning of the autumn has unfortunately surprised many Greeks in its intensity. But we could not complain. Unfortunately we canceled our travel plans, with the rental car to the "oblique" city Roboto and the probably impressive Venetian bridge in Paleokaria with their waterfalls, due to the weather. The rain was all day long, but of course we made the best of it.
So we spent many lovely hours and days in the hostel among us travelers and have set up our own small cinema, exchanged experiences, listened to and exchanged music, debate about, philosophies and politics (Greece crisis), relaxed as well as some evenings in a bar or the hostel bar. It's been great that there were some private English courses offered in the
premises. Katerina, the teacher who's in my age, teaches children from 9-13 years who come to the hostel for further lessons after school. Unfortunately, the Greek school system is dependent on private lessons, since the state schools can no longer do so in the course of the crisis. Thus, it is common for the families, who can spare the necessary money, to send their children in various subjects to additional private lessons.
Today I left Trikala again. This time I traveled by train. My goal is Litochoro, a small town at the bottom of Mount Olympus and close to the coast. Here I will exchange my workforce for free nights in a hostel on the beach. It was a great coincidence, that Dimitris (owner of the hostel in Trikala) is well friends with Periklis, the local owner. So I just asked cheeky whether the two can talk to each other and I have sent an email to Periklis. And two days later, I sit here in Litochoro and after some gardening I finalize this article. So I can balance my budget problem. If I find the time to ascend the Olymp and give Zeus a high-five is still uncertain, depending on work and weather. But it is good to be productive again.
We'll talk again in a few days.
Schilli over and out.
- Almost every bus is of German origin. Safety instructions and other labels clearly indicate that the German buses are discarded.
- Partially, I was the only man with 10-15 women in the hostel. I do not complain. But I had to care for every spider and cockroach. You are welcome.
- 2 girls (Giselle & Licia (IT)) have locked themselves in the castle. Overslept opening time. We called the keeper. Unfortunately, I had no white horse to rescue them lika a prince.
- "In the deep", an incomparably ridiculous shark-horror film, has made us very amused. It is international, almost a genetic urge to comment bad horror films.