Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Tues 28 Jun 2016. On Mount Olympus

Tues 28 Jun 2016. On Mount Olympus
Drove up the (yet another overgrown) mountain road to Prionia, the top parking point on Mount Olympus, home of the 12 Greek Gods, who ruled after the overthrow of the Titans. 

Surely can't be snow in this heat...

Walked up to the waterfall, avoiding the "great danger" by walking very quickly past the rocks as the sign recommended! Saw tiny purple butterflies (and some bigger photograph-able ones!), flowers, moss and lichen; boulders getting bigger the higher you climbed.

Walked upwards for another hour, past sapling forests, balanced boulders and protruding tree trunks, green filtered light between trees. 

Saw a heartfelt prayer anchored by a stone, written in English and left by trekker pleading for a healthy baby.  With rain clouds amassing, stood on lookout shouting hello to Gods and making a quiet wish for the health of our own family before turning back. 

Made it back to Ozzie just in time to beat a midday storm of lightening, thunder and small hailstones - sat cosily inside eating our sandwich. Had a quick look at the now running stream, finding camouflaged frogs, before departing.

Drove partway back down mountain to ruins of Dionysios Monastery, with its partial restoration. It was an impressive sight on a natural fortified plateau, with the mists rising up the mountain beyond. In some myths/legends Dionysios is considered one of the 12 Gods, (although Hestia is a more than able contestant!)

Original drinking fountain

The main church, the Katholikon, has been restored

The monastery suffered for its principles, set afire by Ali Pashas family in 1821, hanging 13 monks. Putting aside for the first time the prohibition against female entry, in 1878 the monastery provided shelter to the women and children of Litochoro during the Olympus Revolt. The Metocheon of Skala was used as a replenishment and disembarkation station for the Greek fighters (similarly in the Macedonian Struggle). “Despite all the successive natural or volitional destructions and ceaseless pillages, the Monastery kept on protecting the inhabitants of Mount Olympus under its sacred shadow”. In Easter Week of 1943, Germans climbed up to the monastery and destroyed it with explosives. Today, the grave of St Dionysios lies in the northwestern chapel. Christian Orthodox art includes relics in silver cases, carved crosses, 16th century icons, patriarchal sigilliums, a Russian imperial golden bull and manuscripts.

Departing the ruins, we headed back down the mountain to see the new St Dionysios monastery, 15kms away towards the coast. On the way we pulled in to admire the view over villages and the Mediterranean below, and found we'd interrupted a small Indian (?) group praying and making an offering. They admired the truck and asked what was our mission in such a journey? Next to their pilgrimage it felt somewhat insignificant to say travel was our life dream and we aimed to make the most of our retirement - but at least they all laughed! 

The church at the new St Dionysios monastery is dark and filled with gilt. Whilst it is dedicated to the Assumption of the Mother of God, GirlRob found it another Greek Tragedy that the prohibition against the entry of women had been reinstated. 

Concluded our explorations driving along the beach to the foot of the Crusader castle, Platamonas. The storm that had been threatening approached with strong swirling winds that sent holidaymakers scurrying for cover, tearing down tarpaulins and small branches, and covering the road with sheets of water. It was all over by the time we pulled into our now muddy campground. Found a busload of senior students had used up the hot water and clogged the internet. Oh well. Sat looking at the sunset reflecting pale pink on the ocean over our seafood risotto and grilled vegetable dinner. Over-full plates, over-sweet wine, and dessert we didn't order came free with the bill...

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