Running through Greece
Adventuring through Greece was one of the best experiences of my life. I loved every part of the journey, including the travel.
Running and exercising in different countries is one of the most liberating feelings. Exploring the breathtaking nature and culture, while maintaining your fitness. I love running in hot weather. To feel the European heat on my face while sweating out those winter blues is truly sensational. In Greece, the first place I went to was Santorini. I will never forget running up a windy, rocky road to get to the top of this island peak and looking across a sea of blue. It was incredible. The difficulty of the runs in Greece varied, from seaside cliff trails to flat, long roads and running into head winds. The extreme running terrains pushed me to my limits. Running in the heat, over rocks, narrow trails and up unstable, monster stairs. You can really feel the burn in your legs. Stairs are the perfect lower body toning workout.
The sun was so hot and it was only early in the morning. There were so many old, Greek houses to see on the way, all different colours; green, pink, white and blue. The people in Greece take pride in their culture, their homes and food. I am not surprised the people are always happy and glowing. If New Zealand had a climate like that, I am sure we would be gleaming in our bronzed bodies. I was in my element.
One morning I got up at 6am, the sun was up and the warm air kissed my face. It was a pleasure getting up early. I ran through Santorini and this time you could really see the blue colour of the water as it contrasted with the white and blue, traditional Greek buildings. I remember looking across the water and seeing never ending blue. I was so thankful to be alive, smelling the fresh air, feeling the perspiration dripping from my face and my muscles were on fire. Running is so good for the soul. The endorphins kick in and you never want to stop.
After leaving Santorini, I visited Monemvasia. Monemvasia means “single entrance”, renowned for the narrow roads, extending along the cliffs. It is different to Santorini, not commercialised and modernised, instead you can drive through the small towns and see the authentic, traditional Greek villages.
I visited the historical castle buildings and church. To see the history in Monemvasia was truly special, simply untouched and raw. Travelling to Greece made me realise how fortunate we are in New Zealand. Everything is so readily available and we are never in need. The people who live in these poor villages are so passionate about their culture and take pride in their environment. They are thankful for the little they have. I especially loved how they grow all their own fresh crops.
I learnt about how olive oil is made. Kalamata olives and olive oil originate from the Greek city of Kalamata. I had the opportunity to see where the world’s finest olives originate from. The environment in Greece is conducive to cultivating premium olives. These olives are carefully hand-picked and olive oil is created.
Olive oil is rich in healthy fats, contains antioxidants, strong anti-inflammatory components and can protect against heart disease. I use olive oil on my salads and even my skin. It is great to use for massaging and moisturiser, instead of using creams which can irritate the skin. Wine making is another tradition I experienced in Monemvasia, although Greek wine is not on the same level as the olive oil. I stood in a traditional grape-stomping pit, riddled with bees and gave my non-existent calves a workout, squashing grapes.
Every destination brings the opportunity to explore and exercise, while being enriched by other cultures. I will never take my legs for granted, because they take me to great heights and to beautiful places.