Daughter of Olympus

It was a beautiful September morning when we all began our short trip to the footsteps of mount Olympus. The road for the most part is dull , pretty much what one would expect when driving on the highway. But that changes the minute you live the big road and start climbing the hills towards the sacred mountain.Our destination , the place where little Iris would receive her name , a few miles north of Old Vrodou village in Katerini. A place called Agia Kori , the "Holy Daughter".

As all things in Greece , the legend has it , that a beautiful girl who lived during the years of the Ottoman Empire refused to marry the Sultan of Ioannina and join his harem. The Sultan who could not resist her beauty pursuited her into the dense forest. The young girl , in a desperate attempt to save herself from the Sultan , found her way into mount Olympus where she hide in a tree hollow. The hollow then trapped her inside the tree where she remained protected by her persecutors. No-one knew the girl's name so she was given the name "Agia Kori" which in Greek means "Holy Daughter" and the church declared her a saint. One can find a small chapel dedicated to her memory at the very spot where the tree protected her...

After a short break upon arrival , everybody packed a few things and got ready to enter the forest.

Our true destination was not the chapel of Agia Kori for Iris was not meant to be baptized there in the first place! Above and through the chapel , coming from deep above the mountain , runs a creek forming beautiful pools and waterfalls along the way. That's where we were headed!

Holding her in her arms Iris's mother , Christina , walks through the dense forest.

The "Priest" and his wife , dear friends of Christina's family , putting on their green copes as they get ready for this strange ceremony...

As you might realize until now this baptizing ceremony had nothing to do with anything one might have in mind when talking about a baptism in a religious form. It was more like a joyful celebration of life honoring the spirit of mount Olympus and asking for its blessings. It was what Iris's family wanted and that's how it was done. As for the "Priest" and his beloved wife , well let's just say that spirits where truly high!

After the ceremony everybody gathered to Krevatia shelter , just half a mile from Agia Kori's waterfalls. You surely didn't expect a Greek gathering to go down without an after party with good food and drinks , did you? After all , for all the people involved this was a chance to get together , have fun and enjoy life in a free spirit and this place was just right for that.

Everybody helped along the way in a true family spirit. From bringing in drinks and food , gathering dry wood for starting a fire for the barbeque to the time of cooking and preparing the dishes everybody had something to do

Just before lunch was ready Albena , our yoga instructor for the day , took sometime and showed us a few "easy" exercises. The scenery of the mountain helped along. Clear sky , fresh air and serenity can really help one elevate on a higher level of awareness...

Λίγο πριν το σερβίρισμα του φαγητού η Αλμπένα , η δασκάλα της γιόγκα , μας έδειξε μερικές "εύκολες" ασκήσεις. Το τοπίο του βουνού βοήθησε σε αυτό. Καθαρός ουράνος , καθαρός αέρας και γαλήνη μπορούν πραγματικά να ανεβάσουν το σώμα και το πνεύμα σε άλλα επίπεδα πραγματικότητας...

When everything was ready everybody had a taste! A true feast

Most of Christina's friends are professional musicians so as time flew away and with full bellies it was time for some music

Christina's family along some friends were going to spent the night on the mountain and return back to Thessaloniki first thing in the morning. So , by the time the sun started to set , they began setting up their tents and gear.

Orion is one of the biggest and most recognizable constellations in the night sky. Son of god Poseidon , he was a great hunter who feared none. Tall , bold and beautiful he accompanied goddess Artemis in many of her hunts. Tattooed on Christina's back , as a genuine daughter of Olympus , Orion lays there to remind to little Iris and to all of us that no man or woman should live in fear and that we all should live our lives in light , just like these bright stars in the night sky.

I couldn't stay for the night so by sunset I took the road back to Thessaloniki. It was peaceful and calm , all in colors , all in bloom. Beautiful...

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