Monday, 5 May 2008

Pilgrimage from Kastoria to Vasiliada 02/05/08

Last night was the best sleep I have had since leaving Struga. The room was warm, the shower was hot, well worth the €30 each as we both woke up feeling great!

Rushing around we managed to get most things we need (Including a map!!! Finally!!!), before deciding to have a quick stop at the internet café…

Two hours later we realize it’s 12 noon and the hotel is probably waiting for us to check out, not to mention we should have started walking hours ago ;)

Sticking to the lake edge we have a pleasant walk, making really good time. A car pulls up to us offering us a lift. Even though we can’t take the ride it turns out we will be hitting the town he lives, Fotini, in a couple of hours. He gives us his name and directions to his house and tells us to stop in for a drink.

Ten kilometers later we hit the edge of Fotini and ask some locals where to find him. One of the old ladies takes it upon herself to show us the way and takes us down to his house.

Akis and his wife are great. They have both done a lot of traveling and hiking themselves so we sit on there verandah drinking coffee and orange juice swapping stories. It is a perfectly timed break and an hour later we are recharged and ready to hit the road once again. Thanks guys, you are awesome :)

The Greek coffee must have done the job as it isn’t long before we reach our goal for the day, Vasiliada. We still have a couple of hours of daylight left so we figure we might as well start to climb the mountain in front of us. We don’t really know where the track will cross but it doesn’t appear to be too high, maybe we can reach the top today…

Asking the locals about the track we get warned on numerous occasions that “You have to be careful, the Albanians up there will rob you”.

Yes, the dreaded Albanians!!! We will have to watch ourselves ;)

After an hour of walking around town we finally find an old guy who knows exactly where our track is, and is super keen to show us! Up the hill we all go :) This guy is 80 years old but he leaves Sabine and me for dead. He seems to know his way around, or we hope he does anyway as he soon leaves the track to takes a shortcut straight up the side of the mountain. Telling us stories about his encounters with bears up in these hills he finally leaves us to fend for ourselves…

He points north, “less than 1km that way and you’ll be back on the road”

Sounds easy but sure enough five minutes after he leaves we loose our track and have to start making our own way roughly in the direction he pointed. We come across the road just on dark and find a nice little spot to camp. After the bear stories neither of us are very keen to have the food in our tents so we tie it in a tree. Let’s hope that will keep the bears entertained and they don’t come looking elsewhere…

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