Halloween in Greece / 06.11.12

After a couple days in Igoumenitsa, we were primed and ready to enter Greece… and it happened to be Halloween.

We found a LiDL grocery store (one of our favorites–like ALDI) that accepted credit cards, so we decided to stock up on groceries and Kallie and I decided to buy $15 worth of candy for our very own FBR Halloween celebration. We did this on the sly, and then hid some among Peter and Lindsey’s gear for a surprise. They were thrilled when they found it, and we were surprised when we found out Lindsey had also purchased $15 worth of candy just because they accepted credit cards. We had also heard rumors that the sheep dogs in Greece were somewhat aggressive, so we each picked up a “dog stick” in case any got too close for comfort. Peter’s was an intimidating yet mostly harmless dried thistle stock…

On our way up the road, we passed a cow tied up. As we got closer, Lindsey said, “I think it’s a goat!” just as she and Peter realized that there was no longer any doubt it was a cow. They both burst out laughing, as cows and goats have some significant differences, even besides their relative sizes…

We found a lunch spot overlooking the valley, and were in the middle of our bread and cheese and meats and fruits, when someone looked up and slipped an expletive. “What is that!?” I looked up the road, and galloping toward us was a furry shape. At first I thought it was a dog running down the road, and was getting into “sheep-dog-alert” mode, when I noticed it wasn’t doggish enough. It was a wild boar, bearing down on us within 50 yards! Kallie saw the look of surprise and horror on Lindsey’s face and stood and turned to see what it was. The boar saw Kallie and us for the first time, and, not thirty yards from us, took a hard right into the bushes. We stayed frozen for a moment, hearts racing, wondering what that was all about, and then went back to lunch, laughing and speculating on our wild pig encounters.

Twenty minutes later as we were finishing up, a dog came down the same road, nose to the ground. It had a bell on its collar, and was clink-clunking its way around sniffing for scent. A hunting hound! So we were in the middle of a boar hunt! Sure enough, about three minutes down the road we passed a man with a walkie-talkie wearing a blaze orange vest and camo pants. Several hundred meters farther was another man, gazing over the valley, walkie-talkie in hand. So this was why the boar was charging down the road without seeing us — it was fleeing for its life! Soon a pickup passed us carrying another hound and a couple hunters. I didn’t tell them we had seen the boar, just waved and said hello. I always have had an affinity for the underdog–in this case the under-pig–and I was hoping he gets away.



We climbed and climbed, and then finally found a downward grade that brought us quickly into the shadow of the mountain and the chill of the falling dusk. It was close to five, and the temperature was descending almost as fast as we were. We found our way down to the town on our map, Vrosina, and were greeted in German by an old man on the way in. When we stopped to discuss a possible camping site close to the stream, he stopped and added his two cents. He said it was better farther on, so after a bit we decided to check on up the road. As we came down around to the shop area we found an altercation. A huge yellow combine was parked in the middle of the road, blocking traffic. In front of it was another large grain truck, and behind it another transport vehicle. Two fairly formidable men were yelling at each other and a crowd was gathering. Deciding not to get involved, we slipped through the narrow gap between a car and the combine, and looked back. A man with a camera was chasing us.

He seemed harmless enough, and so Kallie and I slowed our rig enough so that I thought he could snap a picture, but he was a bit slow on the snap. He motioned for us to stop, and so we did. After a quick picture he asked us if we were German. No, we weren’t, but it turns out that he was. He was walking from Igoumenitsa to Thessaloniki with three other companions. After a brief exchange (during which the shouting match turned to some shoving and one of the burley men punched the side of the combine) they bid us “good journey” and we continued our search for potential camping sites. We soon realized our first site was the best, and returned there. Just as we arrived, a car pulled up and the window rolled down. “Where are you going?” the young man asked. “Thessaloniki,” we replied, “but now we’re camping here for the night.” He nodded and pulled the car over. “Just a moment,” he said. He parked the car and got out and came over to us with his cell phone. “You are on bikes!” he exclaimed, “I’m here to pick you up… but I don’t know how we will fit them.” We looked at each other with a “well, this should be good” look.

Was it the mafia? Was it a local hotel gag to get clients? Was it our friend Gael from Thessaloniki sending us a break from the mountain climbs? Was this a trick…or a treat? We were going to find out, but first the man had to make a call on his cell phone. He sensed our confusion and wanted to double check — or perhaps arrange for our kidnappings and bicycle theft with a few other of his Greek mafia hoodlums.
“Is your name Dohl?” he finally asked after several moments. I was about to say my name is SPEE-dohl, but luckily Kallie jumped in and said simply, “No.”
“Ah, because I am from the hotel and I am supposed to pick up some Germans walking to Thessaloniki with the name of Dohl.”
“No, that’s not us,” we said, “but we met them. They are down by the tavern having a beer right now.”
“Sorry,” he smiled.
“It was interesting,” I smiled back. He pulled away and was passed by a truck with the driver shaking his head, a combine, and a transport vehicle.

The old man who greeted us on the way in also stopped by, and we gathered that he was a widower and that we should come up to his house “just there” (he pointed up the hill). Peter and Lindsey decided to check it out and discovered that he could let us fill up on water, and perhaps he would allow us to camp in his garden, but there wasn’t much room. We decided to camp at the original place. As we were unpacking he came down again, this time with two walnuts for each of us from his tree. He showed us how to crack them, and we thanked him (perhaps a bit too profusely). He told us to come in the morning for coffee, and we said sure, we’ll be there at half past 8. By now it was mostly dark, and we had yet to set up tents, bathe in the icy stream, and cook dinner. I managed a fire, Kallie managed some lentil goulash, and we all managed to set up camp and bathe, finishing off the night with some cookies and sweets, and feeling full not only from the meal but also from the day’s events.


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  1. Andy Lei said on November 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Wow! I envy all of you for such a bold and daring trip. I would be so fortunate to do a similar trip in the future. I look forward to reading your previous and future posts. With Peter the resident German speaker, does anyone else have language expertise?

  2. Rod said on November 8, 2012 at 4:39 am

    I’ve never gotten fresh walnuts in my T or T bag! Thanks for a nice slice of your life !!

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