Greece — Day 6: Still at the conference.

While Dan was on his way back to Thessaloniki, I continued being a dutiful conference attendee. In fact, this was the day when I had to give my presentation and my poster. In a format new to me (and to many others), the conference had scheduled the vast majority of papers to be presented as posters and given the researchers a “speed-poster presentation” time, in which we were to present the general idea of our paper in 5 minutes. Some people were more successful at this than others. (Here’s a general hint: if you have 27 slides, you’re probably not going to get through them all in 5 minutes.)

My speed presentation went well, I thought, and then I had good turnout and feedback at the poster session itself, where I stood by the poster and chatted with interested people. My poster ended up being on the wing closest to the coffee break area, so I got a mix of genuinely interested people and people who were just bored enough to come wandering over.

Dan made it back from Athos in the afternoon (and if you haven’t read his recap of the day, be sure to read the next post!), and we went out to dinner with my friend Rich Randall, who recommended a wonderful little place in a tiny alley in downtown Thessaloniki. He’d been there the night before, so we felt bad making him go back to the same place, but it was worth it! We shared some fantastic roasted peppers and some delicious spicy cheese dip to start, and I had steamed mussels that were amazing. We also had a lovely after dinner surprise when the waiter offered us an ice cream crepe for free.


  • Total presentation time: 5 minutes
  • Meals involving cheese: 3
  • Free stuff: crepe filled with ice cream

Greece – Day 6: Mount Athos

If I had chosen to join the monks for their entire morning service the next morning, I would have needed to be at the church at 4AM, and remained there until 8 or 9.  I’m sure it would have been a unique experience, but I suspect I would have nodded off, and that probably would not have been respectful.  Instead, I got up at about 6:30 and started walking towards the next monastery.

I’m sure you’re bored of sunset pictures by now, so here’s a sunrise picture for you:

This is the view looking back towards Gregoriou from the path to the next monastery, Simonas Petra.  This path was much better maintained than yesterday’s, and didn’t involve nearly as much of what the French refer to as “deleveling,” and what normal people refer to as “oh crap, more hills.”  Which is not to say there weren’t some spectacular hills, just that they weren’t QUITE as strenuous.  Plus, it wasn’t midday, which helped.

My destination:

Now here’s a bit of geocaching geekery.  I won’t go into gruesome detail here, but geocaching is basically a hobby where people hide small packages all over the world, and then post their location online for others to try and find.  On the path up to this particular monastery, there actually IS a geocache.  Given the difficulty of reaching the spot, I suppose it’s not surprising that the cache had been there for two years, and I was the first person to actually find it.  So, yeah – first to find.  On a two-year-old cache.  In Greece.  Here’s the view from near the spot where I found it.

That’s a pretty amazing building.  There’s a little bit of scaffolding visible for some renovations going on, but the key point is that when the scaffolding isn’t there – those balconies still are.  In fact, that’s the ONLY way to access some of the rooms, via the balconies over the sheer drop.  How’s that fear of heights working out for you?

One note about all these pictures.  I brought a camera with me to Greece, really I did.  But the fact of the matter is that my phone is now a much better camera than my camera.  So the poor actual camera never came out of the case.  Instead, every picture on this blog was taken with my phone, which had features I was still discovering as the trip progressed.  Like, for instance, panorama mode:

This is a view from slightly above the monastery.  My original plan had been to continue walking up the coast to Daphni, but after the previous day’s experience, and a report that the path to Daphni was pretty much a dusty road the whole way, I opted instead to walk down to Simonas Petra’s boat dock and wait for the ferry.  It was a little worrisome, because the buildings around the dock are all unoccupied, and the cement dock itself has some big holes in it, so you can’t help but worry if you’re in the right place until the boat actually comes.  Here’s the view from the dock back up to the monastery:

I should mention that while I was staying in Gregoriou, I met Andreas, a young Greek boy, probably about eleven, who was traveling with his father. Andreas attends an English-speaking school, and was very keen to practice his language skills by chatting with me.  I saw him again on the ferry from Simonas Petras to Daphi, and we ended up talking the whole way back.  And then again for the 2 hour ferry ride from Daphni to Oranoupolis.  His father didn’t speak English, but his son would translate for him.  For the most part we just talked to each other.  In typically eleven-year-old fashion, he was all over the place, but a really bright kid.

And we share a common interest in Doctor Who, so that was a topic of conversation.

As I was preparing to get off the ferry in Oranoupolis, I asked Andreas’ father where I needed to wait to catch my bus, and he said, “Oh, I’ll be happy to give you a ride back to Thessaloniki.”  So that’s how I found myself in a private van, with Andreas, his dad, another person whose name I didn’t catch, and two monks for the ride back to Thessaloniki.  They dropped me, other guy, and the monks off on the outskirts, and we all took the bus back into town.

The bus stopped at the train station.  This time, I took a cab.


  • Means of Transportation Employed: Boat, Private Vehicle, Bus, Cab
  • Cumulative Total: 9
  • Geocaches Found: 1
  • First Song Played on Van Radio: James Brown, “I Got You (I Feel Good)”