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Backtrack for the Backpack

Litochoron, Greece


After a quick breakfast at a local cafe and scoring some Greek Tylenol near an orange tree lined street, we jetted out of Athens in our Up! Volkswagen. I prayed our little dune buggy wouldn't fall to pieces on us as we whizzed by block after block of graffiti covered buildings, making our way out of this haphazard city.

Originally, we had planned to visit Delphi on the way up to Thessaloniki. But after seeing many different ruins within Athens and after hitting a traffic jam on the way out of Athens, we decided to skip it, and check out Mt. Olympus which was more along our path to Thessaloniki anyways.

As we sped north up the coastal highway, well out of the city limits, we began noticing a few things: 1) the road conditions were impeccable - new, smooth pavement, not a single pothole, 2) holy mother of toll booths every 5 minutes - we must have spent AT LEAST 40 Euros on tolls to get up to Thessaloniki 3) hardly any cars on the road the whole way - which helps to explain #1 and is most likely a result of #2, 4) every other house/structure was either unfinished or abandoned.

Ok let's talk more about #4. Literally at least 25-30% of the houses and structures we passed were either unfinished or abandoned. Many times a 3 story frame was built, but no windows and no interior put in, or the first two floors were finished and the third was just a frame. Other times, there were structures that looked like they may have been used but then abandoned and never leveled or re-purposed. As unsightly as it all was against the striking natural beauty of the coastline, it honestly became somewhat funny. I Googled this phenomenon when we got to our hotel in Thessaloniki, and there were some plausible explanations, the best of which was: Greek's don't have to pay property tax on unfinished structures. Seems like the Greek government may want to look into changing their tax laws? Hey, only a suggestion:)

We eventually made it to the town of Litochoro, which is a small town at the base of Mt. Olympus. The mountain was quite impressive along the drive up, with the clouds billowing over it like poly-fill and the snow dusting the top peaks, like too much powdered sugar on a Bundt cake. We wound up the switch-backs to an overlook about 10 km up the mountain to admire the ocean and the town below, and Mt. Olympus above. We took a few photos, and as the sun was setting, we hopped back into the car and made our way to the hotel, which was past Thessaloniki by the airport.

As we got out of the car, we realized we were missing something...our Camelbak packpack, which contained Kris' scarf, hat, camera pouch...and a few hours later we realized, Kris' passport. Oooopsies!! We left it at the overlook on the mountain, which was over an hour's drive away. We looked at each other in disbelief...and hunger. It was already dark, and hopefully no one would be coming up the mountain in the dark so we relaxed for a few minutes in our hotel room, which smelled faintly of smoke (even though the sign said it was a non-smoking room), and got something to eat. Around 10pm, we headed BACK to the mountain in hopes that the bag was still in the same spot. When we arrived back to the overlook in the pitch black, we found it still there - reflecting off of our VW's headlights as we approached. Whew, crisis averted!!

By the time we got back to the hotel (and almost ran out of gas on the way back - literally put putted up to the gas station) it was 2am.

I was ready for a good night's rest!




permalink written by  blondie on February 6, 2015 from Litochoron, Greece
from the travel blog: Greek Life
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wow... Greek, i love it. Nice adventure & challenge for backpacker.

permalink written by  ainevele on March 6, 2015

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