Aegean Adventure in Greece, Part 4

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The following travel post(s) this week are written by Dawn Stuart Weinraub, an avid traveler and wonderful storyteller. This past October she took a trip to Greece to enjoy their food, dance, art and history of ancient civilizations amidst stern austerity measures. Her travelogue provides a mix of observation, opinion and historical perspective.

Friday, Oct. 12, 2012
Observations on a ride from Kalambaka to Kastraki Village

We started the day with a coach ride across the plain of Thessaly, past Mont Brallos and through a landscape studded with rocky pinnacles to Kalambaka. First, we descended toward the Plain of Apollo below Delphi, toward the Gulf. Pines, sycamore (plane trees), cypresses, all of mother nature is incredibly aromatic in Greece, especially the thyme which is why the honey from Mt. Parnassus is so delicious.

There are literally thousands of olive trees alive even after living 1000 years, all wild but cultivated. The trees do not need much water but require special handling at harvest. There’s something called “Mastique” which is a kind of delicious aromatic resin used in treats, chewing gum and flavoring for cakes that comes from these trees.

monasteries on Meteora crags

While en route, Maria gave us some background on Mt. Olympus. The story goes that the gods “strolled down from above” and coupled with mortals. Zeus & Danaë (Argos) produced Theseus. Zeus & Europa in Crete produced Minos. Their progeny became the “Heroes.” The only characteristic that separated gods from men is that the gods were eternally young. Homer created the epithets that characterized each. Because Pan was half man and half goat he was very ugly but popular because he played the flute divinely. “Pan” and “pandemonium” come from the name Pan, because of his tricks, e.g., letting loose animals in the night. Just as our guide Maria recounted this, we looked out the window and there were cows wandering onto the road!

Greece is the third most mountainous country in Europe after Norway and Albania. Our guide describes how poles along the highway measure the depth of snow in winder. The road signs are all in Greek and English. We left Parnassus and now are approaching another mountain range called Brallus. From here we can see the Aegean Sea as well as giant photovoltaic panels and wind turbines. It seems that Greece too is making strides in reducing their carbon emissions.

The bus stops and we break for lunch outside of Lamia, in the Plain of Thessaly. Thessaly Plain is very fertile and considered the breadbasket of central and mainland Greece. A few hours later we arrived at the Meteora Hotel in the Kastraki Village. The owner, Kosta, is married to a woman from Poland, expecting their second child to join their 8 year old son. The man at the reception desk, Sofiri, seems to take care of a wide range of jobs to keep things running smoothly here.

The hotel appears to be a fairly recent with a large resort-conference center, spacious dining room, several terraces and a beautiful outdoor swimming pool. The decor is modern, attractive, and features warm creamsicle colors including the lampshades in the bedroom. As usual, the light is too dim for bedtime reading and the bath and bedroom isn’t really adequate for applying make up, either. Ahhh… the perennial complaint of lucky women on otherwise wonderful trips!

Dawn's Greece Adventure

The hotel chef prides herself on her considerable culinary skills and set forth an incredibly array of foods for breakfast, including a huge assortment of baked goods that she prepared in the wee hours of dawn. I hope the economy doesn’t harm their chance of success with this business. The next day a sizable group of Asians arrived which is encouraging.

My friend Ann from Black Point, Ct led a few hardy souls in water aerobics in the pool. The gathering clouds and light breeze was too cool to tempt me.