I know what you’re thinking, but don’t let the title fool you. Zeus may have wanted to show me his thunderbolt, but I told him I’m not that kind of girl. I was sweaty because the trek up Mt. Olympus felt like using a Stairmaster in a sweat lodge, and I was naked because the cold and crystal clear water at the bottom provided an opportunity for a refreshing nude plunge.
I had started the morning in Thessaloniki by briefly considering spending the night in the mountainous village of Litochoro and climbing the entire mountain to the summit the following day, before chuckling to myself and returning to reality. Instead, I took the bus up to Litochoro that morning and, after resisting the temptation to have coffee and sit around at one of the adorable cafes nestled at the mountain’s base, crossed the river and headed up. After asking some old Greek men for directions through the use of pointing and grunting, I found the trail leading up to Prionia, the village further up the mountain.
Thankfully some shady trees covered most of the ascent, making the heat semi-bearable. Occasional viewpoints gave me the opportunity to tie my camera to a tree by its wrist-strap and sprawl across the rocks before the auto timer captured an attempt at a heroically posed outdoor adventure photo. After emerging from the trees a few kilometers up, I was surprised to see that a paved road actually led directly to the lookout where I was standing, and a German couple had driven their Volkswagen straight up there while I slaved away on the hillside by foot. Well, what you put in is what you get out, there’s no elevator to success, grind hard stay humble, etc. Plus, I had the advantage of getting to make up Greek myths to entertain myself as I hiked, since I couldn’t remember the ones I had learned in my 7th grade world history class. With the amazing views and sheer size of the mountain, it’s easy to see why the ancient Greeks thought this place was the home of the Gods. If it weren’t for the past few thousand years of scientific progress and discovery, I would also believe that the river running through the valley was actually the result of Athena putting Apollo’s hand in warm water while he slept as revenge for telling the other gods she had syphillis. (Did I make that one up? Who knows.)
Falling short of the 11 kilometers to Prionia, I opted instead to sit at a scenic overlook two-thirds of the way up and eat a chocolate bar before heading back down the mountain in time for the late afternoon bus back to Thessaloniki. However, I did take a few moments to strip down and throw myself into the water near the bottom, which I’m fairly confident was not actually Apollo’s piss. The people near me on the bus may have been slightly offended that I was both smelly and dripping everywhere, but the unappreciative glances were well worth the experience.