Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SUMMER RECAP 2013: Hiking and working in the Greek mountains

July 2013: After my stay at the pink palace, I moved island to work in the tiny town of Papingo in the Greek mountains! I found a job working and assisting at a guest house with HelpX. The proprietor was a sweet older Greek gentleman. To get there I had to take a ferry from Corfu to Igoumenista, then  bus from there to Ioannina, and another bus from Ioannina to a neighboring town but ask to be let off half way at another town in between the two. There my host would meet me.

 George was waiting exactly as he said he would be when I arrived. We went to the store together. The agreement included a place to stay but not food and there was no grocery store in his small town. After our shopping trip we got a ride up into the mountains.

Papingo was absolutely charming- I love everything about the adorable, Greek mountain town. I seemed to me the only American and absolutely the only tourist. It was an old 16th century town with modern plumbing and such just installed in the past half a century. There were cobblestone streets, and beautiful old houses with cellars old beams.

The first full day I was there we didn't have any work so I went hiking and exploring around the area.

It was stunning! And then I got settled in my room which is where I would live for the next week or so. I had a mini appartment, two beds, a bathroom, and a little kitchennette! It was pretty much perfect.

That night we made some beds and set out the guesthouses before just relaxing. Our guests arrived the next day and they were fabulous! It was two Greek American families with tons of kids that were so much fun and took great care of me!

The courtyard between the guest houses became our playground.

Sunset over the large mountains above us (which we climbed a few days later!!)

They cooked big meals and BBQs for all of us, and we enjoyed each other company!

I got to wake up to this view every morning!

 On the third day they were there we decided to hike up into the mountains to see more of what there was to see. The hike was far, but we planned to just check it out and see. There was a refuge about 2/3 of the way up where we could stay before making it to the summit. We didn't plan to make it all the way there but thought we would go part-way. Well about 3 hours into this journey we realized that that was completely ridiculous!  We decided to push through and just keep going to reach the refuge. And we got there, tired, hungry and with no clean clothes, food, or even a toothbrush to speak of. But we had made it!

The trail

Hiking buddies



View from the top

Map to plan out the logistics

We spent the night planning for our accent to the top the next day.  It was another 3.5 hours up, and then we were going to descend all the way to the bottom that same day. So needless to say we knew we would have a very very early wake-up call. After hang man, dinner, and a slow relaxing evening, we turned it early (in our nasty sweaty clothes- what a joy). 

We woke up at 6 the next morning, then me Dave, and Ed got ready to summit. The rest stayed behind to descend that morning.

Early wake-up call in the cold hostel meant wrapping ourselves in blankets to keep from completely losing it. Burrrr....

Then it began.

We started our climb, and at first we were ascending rubble and rock, but then it plateaued out for awhile and we were climbing through a grass field and that is when the bugs started. They were just flies but I have NEVER in my life been swarmed and tormented by so many flies for so long. They were everywhere. they were relentless, and I felt utterly disgusting. All 3 of us were driven to the brink of insanity as so matter how high we climbed we couldn't escape them.  I was behind david and I would look ahead of me at his shirt and it'd be black from one shoulder to the other just blanketed in flies. I realized that my back probably looked the same and I would turn back and slap my shoulder to hear the crunch of no less that 30 flies being smashed into my back. It was putrid. We reached the summit, and took quick pictures because we couldn't stand to stay still too long with the flies still there.

We began our descent and I have never descended a mountain with such speed in my life! I was so so so very ready to be OUT of there. Although the view was gorgeous!

I spent the next day hanging out with the guesthouse guests again before they left, helped George clean up and then headed back to Corfu myself to move on to sunny Croatia.

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