Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Hiker's Guide to Climbing Mt. Zeus

If you ever find yourself in the Cyclades on the island of Naxos and are filled with the desire to climb and explore Mt. Zeus, the  mythological childhood dwelling of said Greek god, allow me to share some (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) advice, based on my experiences yesterday...

From the city center of Hora, board a local bus and wind your way through the beautiful Naxian villages. After about 45 minutes, when you hear the bus driver shout the city name, "Filoti!" hop off the bus and look for a cute little Greek cafe called Platanos.
Enter the maze of alleys behind the cafe and pass through quaint little neighborhoods full of children playing and cats napping in the shade. As you get farther and farther away from Palomas, it might seem like the "trail" to the summit of Mt. Zeus is nowhere to be seen...
...but don't get too worried. Just keeping going up and eventually, you'll be rewarded with a sign. Once you see the sign, pause for a moment to do a brief happy dance now that you know you are definitely on the right track.
From there, begin the ascent to the church of Agia Marina via a small trail intended primarily for goats. If you ever get lost, just follow the....um....trail....the goats have kindly left behind to guide you.  (I'll spare you the picture!)

As a forewarning, a few other critters may come out to greet you along the way.
If you, as I am, are terrified of snakes and spiders, don't let yourself get too freaked out when they come to welcome you to Mt. Zeus. The adrenaline that courses through your veins as a result of unexpectedly spotting these critters just might give you the energy to scurry up the entire mountain without feeling nearly as tired as you thought you'd be!

Once you spot the white walls of the Aghia Marina church in the distance, do a second happy dance because now you are definitely on the right track and good news awaits you: there will be fewer critters who join you for the rest of the trek. The trail from here on up is a bit more hiker-friendly. Yes, it's okay to let out a little sigh of relief once you realize that (I did!).
With fewer animal friends to worry about, it is now time to truly soak up the scenery around you. Marvel at the rolling hills and rock-covered mountains. Linger for a moment to take a sip of water and listen closely. You just might hear the clamor of bells tied around the necks of Naxian goats who are roaming about the very same mountain.

Continue your ascent up Mt. Zeus, keeping a watchful eye for trail markings in the form of signs,

cairns in the distance,

or, once again, the trails that those friendly goats left for you.

Keep going up and up, while being sure to soak up the breathtaking views around you on what just might be a perfectly gorgeous, sunny day.

Soon enough, you will be rewarded with the sight of a small monument that marks the summit of this mountain and the stunning scenery that is yours to behold as you stand on the highest point in all of the Cyclades.
Of course, at the summit, you must sign your name in the "log book," joining the company of those who have climbed this mountain before you, and you must then take the obligatory "selfie" before beginning your descent.
Then, retrace your steps. Don't worry, even though you are taking the same path back, you won't grow tired of the awe-inspiring views.

And if you make it back down the mountain with time to spare before the next bus arrives, I strongly recommending rewarding yourself with a treat at the Platanos Cafe. They make a mean chocolate-banana crepe.

Slice of Life is a weekly blogging challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Check out their webpage and then join us each Tuesday to share a slice of your life!