Monday, 16 April 2018

The Istanbul trip | 1

 DAY 0 

Sunday 1.4. was that day, on which we got the spontaneous idea, to go to Sofia first, pick up the tent for future adventures, we forgot there last time,
and continue to Istanbul.

8 hours after this decisions, we sat with my parents in a car, who were visiting me in Thessaloniki during the Easter holiday, going to Sofia. Few more hours later, afer a nice walk around Sofia and a cup of Coffee, I was sitting in a bus, calling my grandma, enjoying the last cheap calls in the EU for a while.

Border crossing story short: They took my passport away (and few more people who were not Bulgarian nor Turkish) and I had to go to a little room with dark windows, to answer all possible questions. "Where you go, is this your first time in Turkey, how long you stay, did you book hostel, write your phone number here..." and it continued. I was so happy, when I finally got out of there.

 DEN 0 

Nedělě 1.4. byl ten den, kdy jsem dostala ten spontánní nápad jed nejdřív do Sofie, vyzvednout stan pro budoucí dobrodružství, který jsme zapomněli vzít minule, a pokračovat do Istanbulu. 

8 hodin poté jsme už seděly v autě  s mými rodiči, kteří mě byli navštívit v Soluni a vraceli se, směr Sofie. Pár hodin později, po procházce městem, obědě, kdy jsme seděli na kašně v místní tržnici, protože nikde nebylo místo a kávě, už jsem stála na autobusovém nádraží.

Čaj a sušenka v autobuse potěší. Obzvláště když je v ceně. Na hranicích mi trochu dělal starost kapesní nůž v mojí kapse, který mám od dob prvního letního tábora a bezpečnostní rám. Nakonec v pohodě. Byla jsem překvapená, když dali můj pas stranou a v malé temné místnosti musela zodpovídat všelijaké otázky. Jasně, vypadám podezřele. Chtěli vědět všechno. Telefonní číslo, jak dlouho zůstanu, kde... trochu stres, protože jsme neměli žádný plán a bydlet jsme měli u kamarádů jednoho kamaráda. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Litóchoro hitchhiking adventure

Another weekend, another adventure. We had a breakfast together with E. so that we could plan and change our minds again, where to hitchhike tomorrow. In the end, Litóchoro won. It was near to the highway heading to Athens, not far from Katerini, a bigger city, with higher chances to stop some car.

The bakery was our meeting point, then we bought some "kouluri" first. There is no trip without "kouluri". Next point was getting to the main bus station. There was a big road and a roundabout, cars were slowing down, so we tried our luck. But just in between we were taking our signs out, a car went into the wrong lane, in the opposite direction and blocked the whole traffic. No one stopped for us, but at least, there was something interesting to watch. This driver didn't continue to make a turn and get to his lane, he started going backwards at the roundabout. Too crazy even for Greece.
After about 20 minutes we got picked up, by a pickup. Only one place in front, but sitting in the back of the car would be too dangerous on the highway. So we fitted inside. Somehow. And started our first real Greek conversation. Finally, I got more motivation to learn Greek. 

The guy was not going to Katerini, and he dropped us off on the toll station at the highway. So we started from there again. A car stopped, so we ran to talk to the driver. Unfortunately, he didn't stop for us, but his child. I just took out the kuluri and wanted to start eating, when another car stopped, this time for us. To Katerini. A nice traditional music was playing. 

We had a short walk around the city centre, found a toilet, bought more "kouluri" and had very nice vegan hazelnut ice cream for lunch. One of the things, I wished to do as a child.

We decided not to go back to the highway and take to smaller road through other villages instead. Again, many people smiling, waving and even one car stopped, to give us advice, where to go.

We had a very adventurous ride to Litóchoro. We walked through the city, heading to the path, which was going on the nearest mountain. Golna 1033m, with a beautiful view on Mount Olympus.

We even met 4 Greek people hiking, which is a lot, since hiking is not very popular among most of the people I have been speaking with. Last time, when we made a break in a café on our way back home, the owner couldn't understand, why did we go to that village, when we don't have relatives there.

We set off late on our journey back. Almost no cars around, no people, but a beautiful sunset. Just us next to the bus stop, holding the sign. But then, finally, a car stopped. An older couple, who wanted us to take the bus from Katerini. Well. We went to the bus station and missed that bus, while walking to the next hitchhiking-friendly crossing.

It turned out, not to be that hitchhiking-friendly as expected, because the cars were splitting in two directions and it was getting dark. And then we were picked up by a Greek-Polish couple with their children. They had almost full car, but they took us anyway and told their hitchhiking story from their student times on Erasmus in Bulgaria. The way passed quickly and soon we were at Makedonia bus station. A nice trip. Again. And ice cream on the way home.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Hiking in Greece: Edessa, Kavala

Now I am first realizing, what a good choice Greece was. I think I was just lucky, because I only thought about having sea in my Erasmus destination. But mountains and sea, that's amazing. I was also lucky to find a group of people, who love hiking as I do.
In Greece, hiking is not a thing. Usually someone stops us, when we're starting from some village to the hills, and asks, where we go. And when we say, to the mountains, they look weird and ask why?

First idea was to write about each trip here, as I wrote about mount Chortiatis here, but since I already did many hiking trips, I will write about hiking here more in general.

I could find only few marked trails, so basically, what you have to do, is to look at the map and pick some mountain, which is high and challenging enough. Then zoom in and check if there is any path, probably, there is. 


We wanted to visit the hot springs in Loutra Pozar and waterfall in Edessa. That was our first experience with renting a car here. The traffic was crazy. But we felt soon Greek enough to manage. The traffic lights here have different waiting and switching times. All people go on orange and even in the beginning of red here. Pedestrians cross everywhere. People park in the second row, just leaving their phone number behind the front window, so the other driver who are blocked can call them.

I always enjoy being the navigator, siting next to the driver with a map. We had many nice views from the car. Blooming cherry trees and mountains. 

Is surprised me, that the pools where smaller then expected, but still, very beautiful, with the river, waterfalls and mountains in the backg
round. We decided to go hiking first and take a bath afterwards.

As usual, we were the only people hiking. It was a bit challenging since I hurt my shin the day before, while not looking on the way and hitting one of the metal things, which prevent cars to park on the sidewalk. Oh, but the view. We event met a goat there.

Our lunch spot.
Sitting in the hot springs felt much more deserved after coming back down from the mountain. I could stay day till the end of the day, but we wanted to visit Edessa waterfall as well.

While we were driving through some villages, a pack of 8 stray dogs started to bark and run around our car, so we moving forwards very slowly, being shocked, what's happening. So unfortunately no one made a video.
Edessa Waterfall

We took the opposite direction the next time - to the east. I also got some "kuluri" for snack on the way. My favourite Greek pastry - sesame rings. (I prefer those with raisins inside.)

The weather was changing each 10 minutes, fog, that we didn't see anything and sunshine with blue sky. Although there was a marked hiking route, we were the only hikers there, we met only one older lady and a cat.
Thassos Island in the background. Next time.

The route was following old water supply system with many stone bridges.  And holes in the path. The hike was nice until we saw a wild pig. Ok, we though, it was a wild, but then we spotted some traces of human impacts - some shepherd dogs accompanied the pigs, but who knows, maybe just befriended stray dogs. Well, we saw, that there were some cute piglets. We didn't want to risk any problems in the middle of nowhere. We enjoyed the view and then went back. 

We wanted to visit the castle in Kavala, but unfortunately, we came 15 minutes too late. Then we went to see the excavation site near to Philippi. What a surprise. Closed again! At least we were making a lot of fun of our stupidity when not checking the opening hours.