Monday, 4 June 2012

Mount Olympus

Much of the morning's ride was through a semi-industrial landscape but with mountain ranges away on each side. Occasionally the light industrial ribbon was broken by field of wheat or corn. Near Larissa we hit what the map showed as a tollway but we found that much of it hadn't been built yet and it was a slow road though they have already constructed the toll gates and are extracting the money from everyone.

Turned off the toll way and headed up Mount Olympus which is the highest mountain in Greece and the second highest mountain in the Balkans. The road passed sheer rocky peaks, deep gorges, alpine fields and thick deciduous and conifer forests. In total there are 52 peaks ranging from altitudes of 760 m to 2918 m which are the home of the ancient Greek gods. We looked out for them but it is a Greek public holiday today so they were probably off eating grapes and drinking wine somewhere and communing with their fauns and centaurs and plotting a few more myths.

We rode up as far as we could befoe the road turned to a rough potholed gravel road and we turned back. Half way back down the mountain we took a side turn and visted the Monastery of St. Dionysius which was built in the 1500's but was looted and trashed by German troops in 1943. It is slowly being restored. We met a Greek Aussie couple there who are on holiday from Melbourne. The husband, Harry, was certainly on for a chat! They are touring Greece for 3 months in a hire car but as far as they are concerned Oz is home.

We originally intended to spend the night near here but it was only mid-day so we thought we'd have an early lunch and then move on. Lunch at a taverna in Dion was a disappointment. The dishes we wanted were not available. Mind you we probably shouldnt complain when we got a feed for 2 for about six dollars fifty.

Back onto the tollway again though it actually existed this time. Took a wrong turn at some point and ended up going 60 km in the wrong direction up into the mountains through some fantastic tunnels the longest of which must have been a couple of kilometres. The mountain views were amazing. When we eventually found somehere to turn round and come back down we were soon after passed by 4 bikers doing at least 250 kph wearing helmets but no jackets or gloves and their t-shirts billowing up round their arm pits. We stuck to the 130 speed limit.

Found a room for the night at Nea Vrasna which isn't on our map but is between Stavros and Asprovolta on the coast. It is a small resort town with beach umbrellas in rows and rows on the coarse sand and pebble beach and dozens of beachfront cafes. This is the view from our balcony, one of the few sections without regimented brollies. That's my head in the water on the almost far right. The water was warm but a mucky green.

Now it's mid evening and we are at a cafe with free wifi having a drink before we find somewhere for dinner.

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