09.06.2008 - 19.06.2008 30 °C
We are in our last hours of the Istanbul dream and feeling a little subdued, not sad exactly, just subdued. It has been a fantastic six months living here and we honestly feel that we have made the most of it. We have been to three soccer games, hit all the big tourist sites, seen live gigs, been drunk at all the hotspots, been lost, been found, been happy, been sad, been frustrated, felt lucky . . . . all the usual stuff. We have had visits from my Czech mate Martin, Jen and Steve, Adam's folks, Dave and Ruth and my folks. It was an absolute pleasure to show them our city - we really feel at home here. We have said goodbye to all of our students which was easy for some of them ("No, you don't look like a television!") but hard for others. Generally, our students are the ones who have enlightened us on the mysterious ways of Turkey and given us an insight into life here. I hope that one day we will be able to return the favour in Australia and I hope we have given them a little more than just English grammar, which I am crap at by the way.
So, to celebrate the end of our English teaching careers (for a while at least) and to renew our visas. . . .again . . . we went back to Greece. The plan was to catch the bus to Alexandropolis then catch the ferry to Samothraki for some serious trekking, camping and beach time. Our housemates decided to come with us so we had a party of four ready for a bit of an adventure. It is very hard to find out information about Samothraki. It is a lesser known Greek Island with not much but open space and goats. Perfect. . . . .
The journey started with a seven hour bus trip to Alexandropolis. It all went smoothly except that Jess wore socks and sandals at the border crossing - we were lucky to get through! After getting dropped off at three in the morning, we headed to the ferry terminal to do some serious sleeping on park benches. It was the beginning and definitely not the end of our days as hobos. After napping and wandering we boarded the ferry at 10am for the two hour trip to Samothraki. After arriving in the port city of Kamiaritissa we ate a much anticipated pork souvlaki, drank the first of many beers and headed to Hora which is the main town on the Island. It was a relatively easy 6km hike through beautiful hot dry countryside best for growing olives and farming goats. Hora was a beautiful little sleepy town with classic blue and white houses. There were no tourists and we felt really special. We ended up rolling out the sleeping bags in a town square of sorts to sleep - of course with ocean views!!
The angel at Kamarıotıssa
The next day we walked to the town of Therma. It was about 14km but an easy downhill / flat walk with some fantastic sights along the way. The first was the Greek ruins at Paleopolis. Really amazing ruins that we shared with no-one. It is at this site that 'The Winged Nike' was found and is now displayed in the Louvre in Paris. We wandered around undisturbed and exactly at our leisure. The view of the ruins, the ocean and the mountains was really spectacular and I'm sure the photos will not do it justice. After this we headed along the coast surrounded by flowers, buzzy insects, lizards and miles and miles of sky and ocean. On the way to our campsite we had a swim in the clear Aegean Sea and soaked up the peace and quiet. Such a contrast to Istanbul with its beeping horns and people everywhere. The campsite near Therma was perfect. . . .free, empty and right on the water. Herds of sheep and goats grazed in there every other day which was very rustic - I loved it!! And so I am up to the Mountain Assault . . . . .
On the road to Therma
Adam and I wanted to climb Mount Fegari which, for the record, is bloody enormous. We thought we would do it in one day which apparently is quite an original approach. Unfortunately for us the information that we had said it was a four hour walk. It is a 1600m peak and we were starting at sea level which should have rung alram bells but anyway . . . . Josh and Jess decided to come as well. After a breakfast of champions (BLTs without the the L) we set out from our campsite at 10am and began the 7km slog uphill. And what a slog it was!! I really enjoyed the walk but it was extremely tough - the views were worth it though.
Images from Mt Fegarı
A couple of quıck vıdeos to gıve you some ıdea of how bloody bıg thıs Mountaın ıs.
The campsıte at Therma was actually a Munıcıapalıty Campsıte that was closed for the shoulder season - so they just open the gate and let you camp for free. It ıs great. It even had runnıng showers and toılets. Rıght on the beach.
From Therma we hıked out to Fonıas - a great waterfall just down the road. It was stınkıng hot so we had a swım ın the freezıng cold water and started the hıke back. No sooner had we gıven up on the ıdea of a lıft when a camıra full of gırls stopped and pıcked us up. Josh and I lıked ıt.
After Therma we hıtche dınto Kamarıotıssa - Kıds do not try thıs at home - we are all fully grown responsıble adults - just lackıng some approprıate supervısıon.
From Kamarıotıssa we bade a brıef farewell to Josh and Jess who were easyrıdıng for a couple of days on pee wee 50s they had rented from a dodgy bloke at the port. Megs and I hıtched a rıde wıth a Greek Cheese Maker - fancy that - and were dropped off ın the mıddle of an olıve grove... somewhere ınland on the ısland.
We made our way to Lakkoma beach for sunset and pork fest 2008.
A note here on pork fest 2008 - thıs ıs not an R rated story - rather an overındulgence ın Gods Meat. Thats rıght - those of you who know Megs and I know that we have healthy appetıtes and we lıke pork all of ıt... bacon... ham.. and on thıs partıcular occasıon... pork sausages. Wıth no fıdge and no way of keepıng them fresh we had to eat our entıre supply (8) of delıcıous pork sausages.
The mornıng brought wıth ıt a low moon on the horızon...
and a walk wıth the locals ınto town...
Then a hıke out to Pacchıa Amos beach where we bumped ınto Peter Fonda and Dennıs Hopper waıtıng for us. Megs and I borrowed one of the Harleys and dınked back to town to get our packs... slow goıng.
After a pleasant nıght out on the beach Megs and I agaın hıtched back to Kamarıotıssa and had our fınal lunch on the ısland wıth Josh and Jess before headıng back to Istanbul.
Samothrakı ıs an untouched ısland wıth a charm unlıke anyplace we have seen ın Europe.