My hotel is in Pireaus, near one end of the metro line. I wanted to see what the other end was like. While riding the electric train, I scanned the area I was headed for on the map when Mount Penitelli caught my fancy. It looked like there was kind of a road to the crest on my detail deficient map. Navigation is simpler when Geography dominates the destination. Before I got into the natural section I noticed that the homes were much different in this neighborhood. They were much larger and cut off from the street. I made it to the foothill paths where I ran into a group of Boy/Girl Scouts. They had a tent setup with water and I asked for some and received with a smile. It was the first time I was in a group that didn’t speak any English. One of the hosts gave me cup filled with small pellets. I sniffed it and he freaked out. With some miming and pointing I realized they were planting trees and fertilizing them. Gods bless the scouts and I continued my hike.
There was no direct trail to the top and a few times I found myself bushwacking the scrub brush to get in position. I was approaching the crest and was at a higher elevation than the road I saw leading to a church, the only structure there. Instead of loosing altitude I switch backed making my own trail. I saw that there used to be trees all the way up but they had been downed and then used for errotion control. Later after reading about the wiki about mountain I learned that the Trurks had infiltrated with secret service to set the mountain on fire. Silly Turks. As I walked the line of drift around the hollow I was greeted by some hidden ruins. That was very exciting! When I arrived I could tell they weren’t BC old but they definitely weren’t new either. The walls were stacked stone with a built in fire place. The roof had deteriated into nothing. There was a large stone inside that had been carved out. It looked like it might have been used to grind grain or hold water for something. I rested in my stone ruin with not even a footpath to access it and was overjoyed by this wonderful happenstance. Real Greek magic! I was startled by a tourtis hiss and made a new friend, even if he put up the closed for business sign. It was very fun picking him up to look at his battle scars up close. The guy was old, maybe even older than the ruins.
Continuing to the church, I was lucky enough to make the ending of a service. I watched a Greek Orthodox nun fill up a vase from a wonderfully old copper spigot for some flowers. I motioned to my mouth and she nodded yes. I downed 3 liters of water as they watched amazed at my parched state. I don’t think they get many people walking to that church. Olympians must have used the mountain for training. Enjoying the view from the parking lot and resting a bit more, a little boy whipped it out and let-er-go. The patrons around averted their eyes and I just relished in the unabashed shamelessness of youth.
I had a coloric deficate of about 2000 calories for the day so I high tailed it back to the edge of town. Starving, I looked for some greek food. All I could find were Sushi shops, burger joints, Mexican and the like. I would rather starve than eat burritos in Greece. The affluent seem to be the same wherever they are: foreign is always better, the grass is always greener. It was odd walking around the neighborhood because it seemed very much like the USA. I saw a TGI Friday’s… when in Rome. I sat down at the bar and ordered an Alfa beer which cost 5X more than the Alfa I’ve been drinking in my hood. I was a waiter at TGIF for a few months, back when they required at least a dozen pieces of “flare”. I can’t describe how it felt being at home with an exreamly familiar atmosphere except for the words being spoken.
I was getting weak from lack of food and my frustration was growing. Finally I walked by a fish shop were there were people dinning outdoors eating whole fish like barbarians! One person spoke broken English and helped me order. He said he didn’t know the name of the fish. I asked if it was from the metateranian. He nodded yes and the fish eyes were very clear indicating freshness. They slapped it whole on the grill and finished it with a lemon sauce. It was nice being able to dig out some Greek cheeks.
Trying to find the terminal I asked a man to point me in the right direction. When he spoke I heard a British accent. He said he was British/Greek but lived in the USA for 10 years. Further into our conversation his British accent was suppressed. Amazingly he told me he worked in Pittsburgh for a steel company. He said that there wasn’t the money in steel anymore and I replied that it’s still an amazing substance. He said he also spent some time in Houston for gas and oil. I mentioned my extreme preference of Pittsburgh over Houston, especially because of the natural beauty. He said he liked Houston more, because there was more money. Currency creates the strangest of currents.