How to climb Mount Olympus in bathrobes? Why change the train? What to do when in Prdejci? What do Moldovans eat at the top of the mountains?
When eight relatively crazy and ambitious men get together, it’s natural for them to crave an adventure.
And we at the Injoi club are starting to get ideas (apart from saving the world from decay and anthropomorphising gender dualism). Ideas about a trip to the mountains. We each displayed our Gestalts, compared them, and that’s how Oleg happened to have the biggest and hardest Gestalt to close.
— I tried to climb Mount Olympus. No luck..
The idea of coming down from Mount Olympus resonated strongly and we made a deal. I already had experience with Mont Blanc and Mount Elbrus, and he had about 100,500 mountain peaks of various calibers.
— Simply climbing is boring. Let’s go up, say… in bathrobes! We’re a bathing club.
One for all. Olaf, Martin, Vega, Sulea, Roman, Haj, Apostol, and me.
The decision is made: we climb Olympus in our bathrobes, cook mamaliga and, following an established tradition, we treat the other conquerors of the mountain.
We split into two camps – dull car enthusiasts and trouble-seeking adventurers who end up in Greece without cars. We decided to take the train to Bucharest and from there, the plane.
I haven’t traveled by train in about 10 years, but judging by the coasters, old Soviet coupes and carpets, I didn’t miss much. In the rumble of the wheels, we ate chicken and boiled eggs, sipped cognac and discussed the complexity of the world. And so we arrived at the station where the train changed shoes.
Did you know that the distance between rails varies from one country to another? The USSR made the distance different from the European one, so that, in case of war, trains with equipment and supplies could not travel on the USSR tracks. So, all our trains can only go as far as the border. And there they stop. But now the problem is solved – the trains change shoes, or rather wheels, at the border and can go on.
After a few hours of creaking and rattling, we moved on, falling fast asleep under the rough wool blankets. In the meantime, our friends were moving in a car. Here’s what Oleg told us about it:
“While the lazy but glamorous representatives of our team consumed the standard kit for train travel – boiled chicken, tea in coasters, the smell of socks and creosote, the other five members hurried along the roads of the homeland and neighbors to the Bulgarian and Greek mountains in a car full of backpacks.
I had a feeling we were filming a new episode of the comedy “What Men Talk About”. It should be said that going on holiday in the company of such different but equally interesting interlocutors is a rare pleasure.
According to our estimates, the total IQ of the “motorists” was 300 higher than that of the “railway aviators”.
But we were willing to ignore this difference, because we missed each other so much, and there should be no score between people who are so close. Well, if not close, then certainly not too far apart.”
Sunrise. Railway station. Modest breakfast. The plane leaves in the evening, so we hop on to Europe’s biggest spa, in Bucharest. Hopping means running, as the three of us are marathoners and can easily run about ten kilometers with our backpacks on.
On the way, we were stopped several times by generous Romanians who wanted to give me a pair of shoes, thinking I had no money for shoes. Nice.
The baths in Bucharest impressed us with their grandeur – palm trees, huge spaces with all sorts of water: dead, living, salty, cold, hot, warm, wet. We tested the saunas and came to the conclusion that we prefer a traditional sauna, with high humidity and not very high temperature. Although, the aufguss dancer had a charm.
In a word, we had a great rest.
The plane. In the evening of the same day we met up with the dull team of motorists who told us about their adventures in the cave.
Boring as heck. We chatted, had a bite and went to bed.
Macedonia and Prdejci
In the morning, I woke up with the thought of making a foray into neighboring North Macedonia to visit the town of Prdejci. Driving from Prdejci to Mount Olympus must sound funny. I’ve never been to that country and wonder what it’s like without us.
The guys resisted like lions – it’s not in our way, it’s far away, it’s not according to plan and why the heck do we need it? But when I told them what my concept was, they all sighed and off we went.
Only we didn’t go far. The first car (which I was in) crossed the border easily, but there was a problem with the second one — it was a rental car and there was no way it would get out.
We had already passed both customs, anticipating a ride, when we got a call from the second car. They told us the sad news, hinting that the esteemed Dmitri Sergeyevich, who had encouraged everyone towards the adventure, was already one step away from Prdejci, and the guys who believed in fairy tales were stuck across the border.
Dmitri Sergeyevich scratched his head and walked back to Greece. What can you do? Within 10 minutes, the barefoot Moldovan crossed the border from Northern Macedonia to Greece (which surprised the customs officials), hugged his friends, felt sad that he hadn’t fulfilled his dream of visiting the miraculous city, and had some ice cream.
The guys arrived at Prdejci, checked in and went back.
Too bad I wasn’t with them. Instead, I can now boast that I was in Macedonia. Just 15 minutes ago.
On our way to the campsite, we stopped at a monastery built in a cliff.
Amazing views, beautiful weather and lots of people on the boulders
The motorists drove and we walked along the road through woods and rapids until we reached our campsite.
We pitched our tents and hammocks, had some buckwheat with boiled onions, put on our bathrobes and headed for the local tavern.
We have two chefs on the team, Olaf and Apostol, who have always wanted to cook for us with their hands.
It’s always impressive, because getting me to cook is persecution for me. And they really like it. Oh, what I’d like to taste is Apostol’s crayfish, yummy…
After a beer and another Greek snack, we ordered some ice cream. And then we burst out laughing when we realized what we looked like from the outside: eight very mature men in bathrobes licking ice cream balls. We laughed for about ten minutes non-stop, which added even more impressionism to the image from the outside.
And that made us laugh even harder.
Cabin at 2,000 meters high
After waking up, we got ready, got into our cars and drove to Olympus.
At the parking lot under the mountain at a height of 1,000 meters we put on our equipment (bathrobes and bath hats), packed our backpacks with the most important things, took our sticks in our hands and went up.
We had a simple route – a four-hour hiking route with an altitude gain of 1000m. Before us, many thousands had traveled this way to Olympus, so the path was well-maintained, there were steps in some places and even a bench.
I decided to walk this part of the route barefoot (which I did not regret later) – the weather was not very cold, snow was very rare and my feet were almost not frozen. But how many new impressions the receptors got – from a carpet of dry pine needles to stone granite crumbs and snow.
In our team the training ranges from the ultra professional Vega to the infra amateur Sulea. So the gradient of the team’s capabilities is incredible! Not so much the speed of mountain travel.
Although Andrei Suleanschi had the hardest time, I would give him the award for overcoming oneself. Gripping himself in his hands (literally and figuratively), like a mountain lion, Andrei kept going without stopping. Respect, my friend.
The views from Olymp are incredible – huge pines holding up the sky, mosses, steep cliffs and dry riverbeds.
But this is for those who like to admire nature’s views. To be honest, I’ve never been tempted to go and see anything. I’ve seen lots of things, from the Grand Canyon to icebergs at the North Pole. And nowhere have I ever had any excitement – everything I see with my eyes I can see at home on my computer, filmed by professional videographers from perfect angles in perfect weather.
I don’t collect sights, I collect experiences. I’m not interested in seeing a huge glacier, I’m interested in climbing it, not in shedding a tear at the sight of the endless ocean at sunset, but in swimming across it. Doing what I can’t do at home on the couch. That’s what motivates me. So I walk barefoot to the top of the mountain and enjoy a new bodily experience.
Here we are at last at the cabin. The temperature had dropped to +5 and the wind was much stronger. And it wasn’t as comfortable as at the foot of the mountain. And, quite unexpectedly, almost at the top of Olympus, we met a compatriot of ours.
We chatted, found out that she hadn’t met any Moldovans other than us for a few years, had some warm food, warmed up and went to bed.
The chorus of eight snorers rocked the foot of Mount Olympus for six hours. To be more exact, nine hours.
We woke up at 6am, stretched our tired legs, consumed a hearty meal and started to get ready. I also put on my boots, which I didn’t regret later. Sulea hugged us and told us he had made the difficult decision to stay at the cabin waiting for us. As it turned out later, this decision allowed our group to climb.
A cavalcade of Moldovans in bathrobes and knitted caps made their way to the top where the gods reside. Olympus has two peaks – Mytikas and Skolio. There is a difference of a few meters between them, so we climbed the one that is safer – Skolio.
There is snow everywhere. From time to time we are overtaken by strange looking people. Some are over 100 years old, others are wearing shorts and t-shirts. And the temperature is close to freezing and windy.
At the fork in the road to Refuge Seo we stop and notice that the two dogs we saw in the hut are running after us. For them it’s just a walk with a potential feast.
Another hour and here we are in the Skala saddle. We fall on the snow, just a little more. We rest. We turn left and crawl on.
We crawl to the top of Olympus. Someone sees Zeus, someone sees hot tea, and someone else sees a jetpack to move us smoothly straight to the top. We walk moaning.
And there it is – the top of Mount Olympus!
We hug, we wave the flag, we sing songs!
For many of us it’s our first mountain, and emotions are running high. It’s not easy to climb 2911 meters above sea level in a few days.
Suddenly I discovered a snail on my foot, which was with me all the way to Olympus. I immediately remembered Pelevin.
Climb Mount Fuji
But slowly, slowly!”
Right away, we started to cook the mamaliga – someone brought the cauldron, someone brought the cornflour and someone brought the burner. Olaf supervised the process, and Vega, like an experienced mountain masher, helped him.
Our cauldron sun is ready! A bit of cheese and mmm…how good it is! We served the Germans, and they watched in amazement, because it’s a miracle – to taste delicious, hot Moldovan corn mash on the heights of Olympus!
I found a stone right next to Zeus’ throne and solemnly put it in my backpack. It’s for the Woloshin banya stove, it will give its energy to the guests.
Another surprise was a bottle of excellent Moldovan wine. Let’s celebrate! An hour passed, we caught the frost and started the descent home. Vega gave us a masterful lesson in downhill speed and we “ran” down the slope.
After two hours of descending, our quads and knees were begging for mercy. We slowed down, waited for the slower ones, slowed down the faster ones, joked, chatted and took pictures. Another hour later we arrived at the cabin, tired but happy, where our friend was waiting.
We hugged Andrei, had lunch, rested a bit and headed down to the cars. And here the questions began. First, we stopped taking pictures, then we stopped joking. Many of us felt serious pain in our legs, as it is not so easy for an unprepared man to go up and down to such heights, especially for joints and ligaments.
But the caravan keeps going. And so in the evening, three hours later, we were already in the parking lot. How did we get there? Someone could move on their feet, and someone else rather like a macaroni jelly.
After drinking some spring water, we hugged each other, got into our cars and went to relax by the Aegean Sea.
The sea and the way home
We woke up and immediately went to the beach, where we spent the day drinking beer and occasionally exchanging remarks about the importance of relaxing after a job well done.
And in the evening, the men decided to gather around the table and tell each other face-to-face who and what they thought of each other, and what annoyed them. Honestly. The amount of insight that evening was beyond measure. A useful practice, I recommend it.
Morning. Cars. Thessaloniki. The plane. Bucharest. The train.
On the train we had an interesting story. We didn’t take any food or drink with us, relying on the dining car. But it was under repair, so there were four hungry people left on the train. What to do?
Go begging! That’s what we did, and it turned out to be the right strategy. They fried us sixteen!!! eggs right there in the wagon and then treated us to wine. It was very nice and unexpected.
Thank you, good people!
For dessert, a film about our adventures in the house of the gods:
That was the end of our trip to the mountains. Let’s sum up.
1. There is no God. At least we didn’t find him on Olympus. Maybe he was out of town?
2. Bathrobes are handy for mountain climbing.
3. Not everyone prefers to climb mountains.
4. Mountains are cool.
5. Mountains suck.
6. Boiled onions and buckwheat are totally unrelated.
7. Mountaintop corn mash is worth 5 Michelin stars!
And the main thing — it is important and necessary that friends overcome difficulties. It strengthens friendships and character, enriches vocabulary, and turns legs into twisted and funny spaghetti 🙂