Perhaps the best reason to stay in a hostel (especially as a solo traveler) is the fellow guests. You’re all travelers, and most people don’t have any plans. It was on one such occasion that I ran into a couple from Germany (because Germans are everywhere). They had a car, and were heading to a hill/mountain that overlooks Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki). A plan was quickly hatched for a few of us to join them. Five people in a tiny car; what could go wrong?
The hostel is in Thessaloniki’s άνω πολή (ano poli: upper town) which means there are tiny, cobble stone, hilly streets. Some of these hills were too steep for the car to make it up them with all of us in the car (at least from a dead stop). So the driver had to find a (relatively) flat spot for us to pile in. First problem solved…though we were worried for the rest of the trip every time we came up to a steep hill (which was every couple kilometers).
While we were still in the city, there was also the issue of the narrow streets and traffic. Between cars parked on the side of the road and oncoming traffic, it was a rather stressful trip (for the driver). Thanks Maxi; I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that.
Eventually, we got out and were in the ‘woods’. The country side in Greece is rocky, hilly, and covered in evergreen trees with minor ground vegetation. It’s very different than the green forests to which I’m accustomed.
Then we got to the windy roads going up a mountain. With only a small guard rail to keep us from careening over the side of a cliff, you tend to feel your mortality a little more.
Finally we were at the ‘top’. Mount Χορτιάτης (Chortiatis) only gets up to 1,200 meters (and we weren’t even at the peak), but the weather was different. It was still 25C (77F), but there was a lot more wind. It’s amazing the difference a few mountains to block the wind make.
Also, the peak was covered in antennas. “Excuse me antenna. Could you move out of my epic view? I’m trying to take sweet Instagram pics here.” After walking around for a bit we found a couple places where the view wasn’t completely littered with the metal monstrosities, but it was more challenging than I’d have thought.
Since the landscape shots were so difficult, I decided to get a few of my friends when they weren’t looking. Sadly, they were my best pictures of the trip. Though I guess I could say they’re more photogenic than the scenery…. Yeah, we’ll go with that.
We were all a bit cold after walking around in a tornado so we decided to head back…and we arrived in the city early enough to buy a bottle of wine and wait for the sunset on the city’s old wall. The clouds were in exactly the wrong place for sweet sunset shots, but the wine and conversation was excellent. Being around so many stoners (the locals there for the sunset; not us…this time), the conversation eventually turned to drugs…because what else would you talk about with a bunch of travelers?
This story isn’t as good as a lot of the others I’ve posted, but it was still a fantastic day. I wouldn’t change a thing about it if I could. And the craziest part is the night before, I had no idea any of this would happen. Well played universe…well played….