Catching Z’s in a hostel can definitely be a struggle especially when there’s a man playing the flute outside of your window.
But lets not paint all flute players with the same brush. In just a few short hours, this flute playing stranger became one of the best city tour guides that I’ve ever followed.
Curious? Well stay tuned!
Day 1 in Thessaloniki: I was waiting inside of a coffee shop for a phone call from my Couchsurfing host. I haven’t had the best luck with Couchsurfing in this region but I was lucky enough to find Aloysius who accepted my last-minute couch request. Once my phone started to ring, I collected my things and stepped outside to find him.
“I’m the girl with the giant backpack, you can’t miss me.”
“I’m the big guy with the motorcycle, you can’t miss me either.”
Within an hour of arriving in Thessaloniki we were whisking around the twists and turns of the Old Town. I missed the feeling of being on a motorcycle so I was absolutely thrilled to spend my first afternoon in Greece on the back of one. Later that night his parents invited me to share a traditional Greek dinner with them. According to Aloysius this is an everyday thing. I was offered Greek feta and olives. This combination has always been my favorite snack but to have the honor of snacking on olives in Greece? Oooof..
The next day was Thanksgiving, do you want to know how I spent this holiday?
That’s right, I ate some Baklava and pastries in a park with pigeons. No complaints from this girl!
The next destination, which is a definite MUST SEE whenever you finally come to Greece, was Kalambaka. Kalambaka is a small city but what lies on the outskirts is what really matters. The surrounding area is called Meteora, it is known for its caves and ancient pinnacles. Hermetic Orthodox Monks used to live inside of these caves until they decided to scale these massive cliffs in order to build monasteries where they would be safe from foreign invaders.
Can you imagine how absolutely terrifying that must have been? These monks went from living in total solitude inside of caves to essentially free-soloing cliffs in order to build places for worship.
Move over, Alex Honnold.
After a whole day of walking around the cliffs, we struggled to find the walking path back to the city. That’s when Scooter appeared. Scooter was little adventurous dog that decided to follow us around until he was ready to go back home. We decided it was best to follow him and without hesitation this little fella brought us right to the path! Whenever we stopped to look at something for too long, he would run back up the trail to find us. Thanks Scooter for being the best four legged-guide!
On my last day in Meteora, I met two brothers from Canada who were driving around Greece in a rental car. I tagged along and we traveled to Athens together.
Athens, here we come!
Ready to hear about the mysterious flute player ?
I’m going to tell you a story about the best city guide I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. This tour started very very early. I was sleeping in my dorm bed when suddenly I was woken up to the sound of a flute being played outside of my window. It’s common to wake up to weird sounds and sights while staying in communal areas but waking up to a flute was something I definitely wasnt expecting.
I met Sid on the porch of the hostel. He was an older man with long grey hair tied into a ponytail. He was looking off into the distance while playing his flute I’m not sure if he knew he had a small audience. Sid does not believe in cell phones, or technology but he does believe in the existence of Pan and he’s determined to travel the earth until he finds him. Sid has been traveling for years, I don’t remember his exact timeline but can you imagine what this guy has seen?
Quick Wikipedia Search: “Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds, rustic music and impromptus, and companion of the nymphs. He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun or satyr. With his homeland in rustic Arcadia, he is also recognized as the god of fields, groves, wooded glens and often affiliated with sex; because of this, Pan is connected to fertility and the season of spring. The ancient Greeks also considered Pan to be the god of theatrical criticism. The word panic ultimately derives from the god’s name.”
That morning our hostel cancelled the city walking tour last-minute so Sid offered to take us on a tour of his own. He hasn’t been in Athens in at least 10 years, but I was stoked to take a trip down his personal memory lane. Who knows, maybe we will run into clues about Pan!
And we did. As we were walking down a busy street in downtown Athens, we heard a flute. Sid stopped in his tracks and searched the road until his eyes found a single busker with a flute and a spread of CD’s. Sid’s face went white and his feet started to move around as he noticed that this man was playing with actual Panpipes.
Meeting people like Sid will always brighten up my day, he will continue searching for more clues with pure enthusiasm and determination. Since Sid is against technology I have no way of contacting him but consider yourselves lucky if you ever cross paths with him.
Until next time, Greece!