Abroad Knox student climbs Mt. Olympus, meets Viggo Mortensen

Last week, I accomplished one of the greatest athletic feats so far in my life: climbing Mt. Olympus.

The hike to the shelter was three hours long. And since we were a group of young and spry college students, we made the trek in two hours and 40 minutes. Go us! I wish we would have had those extra 20 minutes on the trail, however. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. In the beginning of the trail (once we got past the awful mule poo smell), there were pines and moss covered stones on both sides of us. It was like we weren’t in Greece anymore. That kind of image just doesn’t pop into your head when you think of the Mediterranean.

Once we got to the shelter, we had to take off our shoes and place them in these cupboards. The shelter provided slippers for us, except by the time I got to the crate, the only thing left was a pair of giant flip flops, far too big for my size six feet. Then came for what we were all waiting for: food. They even had hot chocolate.

I began the next day with a nice breakfast of bread and cheese and a mug of glorious hot chocolate. Then we were off. This leg of our journey up to 200 meters away from the highest peak, known as the Throne of Zeus (the last 200 meters were a climb/scrabble on a 60 degree cliff face), was a lot harder than the trek to the shelter.

Once we reached the top (or as high as we went), I stopped to just soak it all in: the mountains below and across from us, the tiny stretch of city we could barely make out as it boarded a body of water, the crisp mountain air stirring my curls. I couldn’t believe that I had just climbed up a mountain. Not just any mountain, mind you, but Mt. Olympus. The Mt. Olympus. The gods of old were just 200 meters away from me. The rush that that thought alone sent rushing through my veins was more than enough to make me giddy as we began our trek back to the shelter for lunch (and my last steaming mug of hot chocolate) and again down through the forest and to the bus.
I am also going to be an extra in the movie “The Two Faces of January.” It takes place in 1962, so I have to wear period clothing and everything during filming (which is on the Acropolis). The main stars of the movie are Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen. Monday was the first day of filming, and even though we couldn’t actually film our scene because the weather changed, I did get to see Kirsten and Viggo in action.
It was very funny actually. We had to walk from the studio to the Acropolis in our 1960s dresses and shoes. I’m used to people stopping and staring at me because I’m obviously not Greek, but having them stare at me because I look like I’m obviously not from this decade was another feeling entirely. While we were on the Acropolis, all the tourists (they didn’t close it down) were taking pictures of us as we stood on the sidelines. One guy went up to us and asked if we’d come all the way from America to shoot this movie. We just smiled at him and didn’t say otherwise.
Midterms are coming up here and I’m only really nervous for one: my Archaeology of Athens course. Wish me luck! Yeia sas!
Amber Hogan

Tags:  amber hogan athens greece mount olympus study abroad viggo mortensen

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