Tuesday, December 4, 2007

How to tell you are not a genuis

When you are riding down the main highway along the coast and you think to yourself "its cold, wet, rainy, overcast and windy, let's take the shortcut over Mt. Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece" you can be sure your Mensa application didn't get lost in the mail.

Soon we were winding our way back and forth up a few thousand feet on the shoulder of the snowcapped mountain of the Gods. Apparently the only people taking this lonely route. We came within about a thousand feet of the snowline near where we got gas in a toilet free station. The teeth chattering would continue.

The winds were whipping through various passes we overcame and across the valleys we crossed, lightly populated with minor gauge farming taking advantage of the patches of fertile soil around the high peaks not littered with too many stones. I went cautiously, afraid of black ice mostly, while knowingly avoiding the farmers ruts of mud, the wet leaves, and the slippery piles of pine needles.

A hardened clump jolted us and knocked my feet off the pegs, but we continued unabated to the tourist Mecca of Meteora. We are the only tourists in town. Most places are closed up for the season. But it is gorgeous, there are 24 or so huge rock pillars rising out of the plains. Hermits have been living on their tops for a thousand years, and monasteries have been there for 500. Tomorrow we will attempt to see some. Think of the James Bond film with Telly Savales, it must have been filmed here, truly unique.

The last stretch of road reminded me of Vermont. The wind brought the last vestiges of leaves alive, as a swarm of bats impeding our path, like a halloween howl. Leaves struck our windshield, in my helmet, as they flapped at us, back and forth, up and down. Natural beauty.

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Greek travel tip #1

If you order the less expensive wine on the menu and they bring out a bottle labeled "RETSINA" with a bottle cap, you are not about to enjoy a culinary revalation.

Sent from Meteora
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