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Old 07-21-2010, 07:11 AM   #1
GreeKKTiNoS OP
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Athens Kastraki Milia (Grevena) Metsovo Meteora

It had been a while since I had taken a ride with my son.
School, work, you know how it is. Time flies and you keep missing episodes from a film that's only going to be shown once, titled "life."
Our life.
So after we talked about it, my son Alexis and I took off after work on Friday night and headed to Kastraki Kalambakas, in Thessaly.


It's amazing how much those teenagers can eat!
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:13 AM   #2
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So we got there at 2 am, but my friend Wolf was waiting for us anyway.
So was the "wolfdog" (the word for German Shepherd in Greek),


which, using its fierce jaws, shattered anything it found (dog biscuits etc) to tiny pieces
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:19 AM   #3
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We slept like logs and woke up early the next day.
We packed what was necessary and took of for Milia in the Grevena prefecture. Goes without saying, I didn't take the Egnatia highway.
The ride was superb.
Mountainous,




with bear crossings,


sunflower fields,




and the Venetikos River (an old acquaintance from a 36-hour endurance race).





We also stopped and were surprised to be surrounded by Romanian gypsies with French cars and trucks. I soon realized that the Egnatia highway leads there from Igoumenitsa (crossing from Italy).
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:30 AM   #4
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Eventually we reached Milia, home of the internationally unknown paleontological museum hosting tusks noted in the Guiness Book of World Records for their length.



Before going, I had called the town hall to ask about the museum's opening hours and they had told me to find "uncle Thanassis" who's always there, to open it for me.
So, upon arriving, I found the museum closed.
I look around and see a cafe.
I go there and find an old man.



I ask and get the answer.
-I'M the one who'll open for you....
Pause.
-After I drink my juice.
I notice that the old man has a pin on his lapel with the mammoth.
A few years ago I would have knocked him upside the head, but now I have the sense to realize that there's no way that at this age he's a public servant.
While trying to figure it all out, I also get a soft drink and wait.
At some point, he says officially
-Let's go!
OK, let's go, I think. Let's see what will happen.
He opens the door slowly and gives us our tickets.
-How much is it? I ask.

-Whatever you like, he answers.

I take out 5 euros and give it to him, but he won't take it.

I must be missing something.

He tells us about the history of the animals in extreme detail and with a unique fervor, PASSION I'd say.










A sabertooth, badly focused!

When the tour ends, he shows us a notebook, tells us to put the money there after giving our info and the exact amount we have left. There's more money in the notebook.

I can't stand it any longer and ask him what this is all about.

GreeKKTiNoS screwed with this post 07-21-2010 at 12:19 PM
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:33 AM   #5
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So he starts explaining...
- My boys, I fight here alone. I don't get a salary or any other money from anyone. I make no profit taking care of the museum and I've established the Association of Friends of the Museum.
In the last 2 months, I've collected 500 euros for the museum, all documented here!
The villagers say I'm an idiot, but I won't listen to anyone.

I notice his eyes filling with water...

-Patience, I tell him. Better days are coming....
-DO YOU BELIEVE THAT? he asks
-YES, I BELIEVE IT, I answer

And I manage to surprise myself with this statement.

As long as there are people like Uncle Thanasis, though, giving us hope, we will all become better and believe in a humanity with higher ideals, a better soul, more generous and noble.

So, yes Uncle Thanasis, I also believe, as the first Christians who professed their faith...
I BELIEVE!

After this conversation, he lets us take pictures, calls Alexis over ("Come here, buddy") and shows him a picture of a mamoth that was found in Siberia frozen and intact.




He tries to find brochures but (as usual) they didn't send him any from the Prefecture offices so we take one in Spanish, his last one.

He's also made t-shirts and hats, he says, but these days he's out.

In July the Dutch will be coming back to continue digging and he's really looking forward to it.
I promise to send him more people.



Upon leaving, I can't get the word "I believe" out of my head.

I believe in one god, the Father Almighty...
The profession of faith, a basic condition for every religion...
"Won't you become a Turk, [Athanasios] Diakos, and change your faith?" (a famous quote from the 19th-century Greek War of Independence)

I believe in Marxism, I believe in Anarchy, I believe in a free economy.
Profesion of faith to any ideology.


I am a motorcyclist, I believe in Uncle Thanasis and the Friends of the Museum.
I believe in any person who strives for things greater than food, shit and sleep, against the times....

As regards the importance of the facts, the travel log could end here.
But Mother Earth had more to show us.

GreeKKTiNoS screwed with this post 07-22-2010 at 08:45 AM
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:03 AM   #6
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So from Milia, UNFORTUNATELY, as time was pressing and we couldn't take the back roads, we take the Egnatia highway to Metsovo and stop for lunch.

We had to get to the right spot quickly so we could drive through the Katara mountain pass.

Metsovo is known (among other things) for its EATS!!












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Old 07-21-2010, 08:06 AM   #7
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So after we tried all the local delicacies -- Metsovone cheese, leek sausage, wild-greens pie etc -- we slowly headed out for Katara.

On the way, the green fields hosted beautiful horses that had just given birth.





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Old 07-21-2010, 08:08 AM   #8
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And wherever there's horses, somewhere around there there's mischevious donkeys walking around without a worry in the world.






And we continued ascending...
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:11 AM   #9
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I'd been through here many years ago in the winter and it was nothing like this. I remember it was snowing and there were 5 of us, college students in a car with the heat cranked and freezing our @@s off.
I haven't even been that cold in Finland.

But beauty was all around us, filling our eyes and overflowing our minds to a point that memory is unable to recreate the images.
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:15 AM   #10
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Eventually we returned to Kastraki, which is near Meteora in central Greece, because of the World Cup game on TV. Germany unfortunately won -- but since they didn't get the cup, we write them on our....... (Greek phrase, meaning "we couldn't care less")

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Old 07-21-2010, 08:40 AM   #11
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very nice.
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God. Family. Motorcycles. Guns. Music. Books. Dogs. Beer. Baseball. Work. That about covers it.


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Old 07-22-2010, 04:41 AM   #12
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As usual... very nice, especially the thoughts born out of the experience. Is that an ADVrider sticker above you on the Katara sign?

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Old 07-22-2010, 05:32 AM   #13
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Italians ...



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Old 07-22-2010, 05:38 AM   #14
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The next day, Sunday, we took a short ride to the monasteries in Meteora.
Less is more when talking about Meteora, and we didn't take many pics, as the morning sun was too bright.







The road to the heavens is difficult and often.... perilous!
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Old 07-22-2010, 05:41 AM   #15
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