First of all, I would like to anticipate that Moritz has contributed significantly to this article. And he even translated it to English. Thank you very much!
Before Moritz arrived in Thessaloniki, I met two of my roommates in the hostel. Maggy and Meggi from Germany. They were also waiting for a friend and as it turned out, she was on the same plane as Mo. It was a great pleasure to see a familiar face for the first time since my journey started. But he still recognized me, even with my beard. After Moritz arrived, we went directly off again to explore the city. Many days were not planned here, because Thessaloniki was thought to be the starting point for the upcoming explorations. With over 300,000 inhabitants, the city is the second-largest city in Greece, but it is easy to explore on foot, thanks to its concentration of sights near the coast.
The most famous sight, number one postcard motif and souvenir of Thessaloniki, is the "white tower". From there you can see the harbor town. We decided, however, to explore the city from the water way and get on one of the three party boats, to do a round trip in front of the city. These are boats with a traditional look and the music genres Reggea, Pop and Rock which cruise several times per hour free of charge along the waterway the city, of course for a certain minimum consumption on board. The further visit was not that impressive. There are some antique buildings like the Rotunda, but I've seen a lot of them in Greece. Our tour was interrupted by a heavy rain and after a dinner in the next dry place, we headed back to the hostel. The most important child of the city is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the leader of the Turkish revolution. The rest of the day we devoted stories from the experiences of the last months as well as the planning for the upcoming days, which we should spend with Maggy, Meggi and the freshly arrived Katha.
The next day we spend planning the tour with a rental car through Halkidiki (three peninsulas in Northeast Greece) and the organization of climbing gear. Since these very sensitive live saving tools are not easy to lend, I've phoned through the mountain and climbing clubs to finally get a very friendly contact near Thessaloniki. In addition, we were looking for a new power-cable for my tablet - unfortunately in vain. But now we know all the electronics stores in the city!
The next morning we started. packed everything, went to the car rental and head towards Kassandra (the first peninsula). On the way we collected the climbing equipment from Christos, a climbing guide. He kindly lent us material for the coming days and for a small bail only...without further costs. What a great guy! And as if this is not enough, he invited us all to a delicious Greek coffee and showed us impressive pictures of his tours in Greece
Kassandra is known for beautiful sandy beaches, so we stopped course at one of those. Here again it became clear that the high season is definitely over. This means more space for us, but also that the beach bar has only a small selection to offer. Nevertheless we found something else. It wasn’t good but instead expensive and directly from the supermarket including plastic dish of the salad. But we did’t let this destroy our good mood and enjoyed the sun on the beach, including music and games.
Together with the three ladies we booked a small apartment directly at the sea. Although not on the beach, but directly on beautiful rock formations and not far from our climbing spot. At the southern part of the peninsula, in a small village with supermarket, restaurants and a lot of peace, we sat together on the balcony in the evening, ate self-cooked, discussed and played cards. The girls teached us the game called „Doppelkopf“, an unexpectedly complicated game and I even think I forgotten the rules already, but it was really amusing and a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it rained on the first day in Loutra, so we extended our stay one night.
In the late afternoon, Meggi, Mo and I went to a secret place that Dimos, the owner of the apartment, recommended. Despite the bad weather, we changed
our clothes to our bathing outfits and climbed over the rocks into the sea.
Because the place is only accessible by the waterway. Past beautiful rocks, one
of those looks like a praying Muslim, we came to the remains of a stone staircase. We went ashore and climbed into a small hidden cave, which was not
very high, so we needed to crawl. There is a source of hot sulfur in this cave,
and we should not have reached it unless a Greek sitting in the dark part had
shown us the way. A magical, abandoned place. On a maximum of 1.5m² is a crack in the ground in which up to a maximum of five visitors can stand in the water at the same time. And it is naturally pitch black. Only a bit of light passes
through the cave entrance into the dark, warm corner. After the Greek was gone, Maggy and Katha came along surprisingly. We explored the cave and enjoyed the warm spring water. Unfortunately we had no choice but to swim back to our apartment by the comparatively cold seawater.
The day after, it was finally time, with excellent weather, we set out to climb. A few minutes southwards is a small stone beach, which is lined with 15m high rocks. Massive bolts and routes have been created, installed and mapped by the German Kai Maluk several years ago. An incredibly beautiful scenery for climbing. The rocks end directly at the water and from below as from above you have a magical view. Fortunately it was not too hot and we could even inspire two of the ladies to try it once. The time passed by very fast and I am very happy that we have taken the efforts to get the gear, etc.. Of course, I also hurt me knee again, but you need to see what you did... I would gladly visit Loutra and its climbing beaches again for a longer time. We only climbed a small part and there is certainly a lot to discover. After climbing we made a small tour around Kassandra and visited the town of Afytos.
Then we went off to the second foot of Chalkidikis. Here we drove along the coast to Sarti, a small tourist village with a gigantic sandy beach. The nice
thing here is, that the beach is located on the east side of the peninsula just
opposite of Mount Athos. Athos is 2033m high and is situated on the third foot of Chalcidikis with the same name. And this finger is special. I personally think
about it particularly in the negative way. The peninsula is a small separate
state in the Greek nation. This region belongs to the Orthodox Church and there are > 20 monasteries here. Pilgrims and selected men of other faith are,
under special circumstances, entitled to discover this region and its fascinating, original nature. Right, only men. The entire peninsula is prohibited terrain for women. Women, including female children, do not get visas and are rejected at the border. Hard stuff, isn‘t it?? I can understand, if some faith groups, because of their tradition, deny the opposite sex in individual buildings. Like we do the same on toilets. But a complete region? A peninsula? So somewhere you need to do a cut. I would have liked to ask one of the monks how it is with transgenders, but unfortunately it did not happen. The region is devoted to the Virgin Mary and no female being is allowed to be next to her on this peninsula. Yes you got it right! No feminine being! They do not eat female animals or even keep them. That is really too much. Well ... my opinion. Anyhow nature should be very beautiful there and we can only guess, with a view from the opposite bank, how fascinating a climb on the mountain must be.
The following day, we drove across the peninsula and spontaneously
settled down on a beach. And what a lucky hit was that? Probably it wouldn‘t have mattered where we stop, but this small spot was awesome! The women settled on the sandy beach where Mo and I have followed our urge to explore the closer environment, the hills and rocks. And there it is. Mo‘s and my favorite spot. Amazingly beautiful, impressive and abstruse rocks adorn the scenery. Sufficient to practice us in free-solo climbing and lonely enough for a beautiful nudist swim in the sea. We also tried naked climbing, but in the end I prefer the dressed version. It is definitely one of the favorite places of my trip. After we went back to the sand beach to do some snorkeling and swimming, we went back to Thessaloniki. Of course not without a stop at Christos with thanks, liquor and climber hand cream to deliver the climbing gear. In Thessaloniki, we said goodbye to Meggi and Katha, who spent the night with a couchurfer. So we three spent the last night at Hostel Arabas in Thessaloniki.
The next morning, early in the morning at 7:00 o'clock our train went to Alexandroupoli. This border town to Turkey will accommodate us one night to get to another highlight by ferry. The island and my secret advise: Samothraki. Unfortunately, logistical reasons have stolen a lot of time from us, so we could only spend two nights on the island. Actually, we had planned much longer. But also this short time was definitely worth it. Samothraki is located in the north-east of the country and is an island that is actually only cosist of the mountain Sáos (1611m). Around the mountain are fascinating canyons and
rivers with waterfalls rushing them down. The island is not well know by mass tourism and nature conservation is very important. So there are only a few small hotels and apartments on the 3,000 inhabitants island. Among the Greeks the fact is know, that wild camping (even if not officially) is tolerated and some hikers and hippie communities are at the coasts. It would have been great
if we would have looked for some other persons and settled down with a tent somewhere.
But we did not have enough time, so a small apartment was cheaper than buying a tent. To explore the island in the fast run, we have granted ourselves a small gadget. We rented a 100cc scooter directly at arrival at the port. But it was fun and very clever. On the day of arrival, we already hiked up a canyon. After walking along a very nice hiking trail with exciting, hollow trees and a beautiful watercourse we arrived at a great waterfall. Mo started immediately to climb up some steep rocks and I entered the cool ... fu***** cold water. I love waterfalls and just can not get enough of it. The power of the water, the noise, the light reflections and the massive rocks are exactly what I like!
Luckily we had got the tip, not to stay at the first waterfall all time. If you have confidence and some climbing experience, you can climb the watercourse upwards to two more, great waterfalls. And of course we did. Partially challenging, but apparently also feasible for me, we have explored the canyon more and more. At the second waterfall we met a few hippies, who spent their day here and there we also found a new friend for the day. No idea how his / her name was, however, a dog accompanied us for the following hours. He constantly jumped around us, even as we master the steep path to the third waterfall, he tried to come after us. When he noticed he couldnt do it, he barked until we came back. There was much to discover here in the canyon. Below you will find some pictures.
The next day, the mountain was our next target. Our hosts warned us that
it could be dangerous and tiring. But mountain goats like Mo and I should manage that anyhow. Carrying enough water in the backpack we went to the entrance. And this was the first challenge. Miserable and confusing, not marked at all, it took us a while until we discovered the trail uphill. From here we hiked with full speed. Passing through a dense forest including decaying goats on the way, gorges and a fairy-tale elf forest, we reached the tree line. From now on we needed to climb over rocks and partly loose gravel on a steep path to the top. Exciting and totally cool we ran the 1600 heights in 3-4 hours (including breaks). We only met one couple on the way, otherwise we had the mountain for us. After reaching our summit, which was not the highest point on the island, to be honest, we did a lunch break with bread, cake from the hosts and some delicious chocolate. The view was breathtaking. On the top of the mountain you can perfectly see how small and uninhabited this island is. Uniquely beautiful.
But whoever goes up must also go down again. So we started the descent. Returned the same way back. My legs burned with pain as we arrived at sea level. 1600 altitudes up and down within 6 hours was already an enormous achievement and my muscles should remind me of this success experience for a long time. What is best to help: a bath in the cool ocean. So we hopped on our scooter and drove along the coast road to the opposite side of the island. Here we wanted to go to the probably best beach on the island. Unfortunately, we did not reach this. It went so steeply up and down, so Mo partly had to jump off, what is why we gave up and jumped into the refreshing water on the next beach around. Back at the small village we celebrated the experienced in a delicious fish restaurant.
The next day, our ferry, took off again at 7:00 AM to take us back to Alexandroupoli. Here we relaxed / slept for a few hours in the city park and took the long-distance bus to Istanbul. In the almost empty bus, which arrived 4 hours late in Alexandroupoli, we rushed to the Orient. The bus driver wanted to catch up some time and Mo and I were fans of it. We enjoyed water from yogurt cups (???), hot drinks and snacks, which the bus attendant served us every hour. At the border we had no problems, maybe due to the fact that the bus attendant provided the border officials with sweets ... Bribery? As soon as we had reached Turkish ground, the country was on fire. No worry, no attack, no revolution. Useless plants were burned on the fields behind the border. But it looked like a battlefield. Thick, black fog winds and meter-high streams formed a surreal panorama. Thanks to the fastest bus driver
in the world, we arrived in record time in Istanbul. There we hopped on the next, free shuttle to Taksim Square to our hostel.
Thats how I left my first country of my journey behind. Bye Greece! You were good to me! You're great and we'll meet again!
Tomorrow, Mo will leave. Very sad, but I think we had - again - a totally awesome time. Everything done right and - as always - perfect timing in everything we do!
Cheers, your Schilli
- Full of variety! The Greek alphabet offers six different possibilities to write down the sound "i". And they really use them! But a spelling reform is supposed to simplify this now.
- Moritz was so kind to pack his hair trimmer. So I razored not only a shorter beard, but also a new short hairstyle. Again a few euros saved for the barber.
- We were immortal. Our rental car was insured against EVERYTHING. Under floor... tires etc. "Hello tourist trap".
- On the second finger, I guided Moritz blind folded about 1km, only by language along the beach path. Exciting experiment.
- At Mountaineering in Samothraki we had a lot of respect first. The evenig before we read from a man who had supposedly spent 14 years preparing to climb the summit. 14 years from when… from birth?!
- When life gives you lemons ... A friendly hippie lady gave me two lemons on board the ferry. Very friendly. It turned out later that they were oranges.