Greeced Up: Part 1

There is a place, far far away where the people are friendly, the meat is plentiful and salty, the scenery beautiful, and cigarettes and crazy drivers omnipresent. It is a land with a history of mythological proportions, where the men dress like Bono, all the women wear boots, and every other guy is named “Costas”. Yes, I can tell that you have easily pegged the place as being none other than Greece.

What, you might ask, are professional snowboarders like Louie Fountain, Bryan Fox, Joni Makinen, photographer Mark Kohlman and myself doing here? Is it just to partake in the legendary hospitality and epic grandeur of the land where Aristotle (not to mention Remises, the pillow humping dog) spawned a civilization that took another millennia to match? No, no of course not. We came here to snowboard.

Scrap the visions of 80-degree water, white sand beaches and an endless supply of Ouzo. Actually, keep the last thing, but supplant your tropical daydream with rugged mountains, four person gondolas from the 60’s, and tourists and skiers alike mobbing the hill while smoking cigarettes. This is the Greece we’re talking about.

Joni Mak happened to cruise by Greece last winter on a Option tour, and dropped word to Kohlman, who put the bug in my ear. Chris Spissou at Zero Gravity board shop is our hook up, and with the afore-mentioned pro shreds and photog in tow (plus Chris’s two scintillating henchmen, Costas #1 and Costas #2) we set out to get straight Butros on them Greek hills.

Now none of us foreigners smoke, so that put us at a disadvantage. And collectively we had only about a third of the enthusiasm of Mr. Spissou, but hot damn we were psyched to shred that land of feta and spanakopita.

After flying into Thessaloniki our first stop was Parnassos, on the south end of Greece. This fine establishment was a bit socked in with the old fog, but that didn’t stop us from savaging a concrete wall ride while dodging oncoming traffic from sledders and out of control skiers. Accompanied by a posse of Greek shreds including, of course, two more Costas’s, we adventured into the rocky backcountry at the base of the resort, working out a nifty little jump over some rocks.

The next day found us at Kalavrita, on the Peloponnesian peninsula. It was a jaw-dropping drive: all around it’s easy to see the inspiration of Greecian mythological imagery – epic beauty stretching from the sea to the mountains. At Kalavrita we built a crazy high-alpine jump next to a ski chalet. A crowd of Greek fans watched while we sessioned the thing, including one fine individual with the sweetest Afro I have ever seen.

For Apre’s we ate the best Gyros any of our crew had ever set their carnivorous teeth into. Then we submitted once again to the regional insanity that is a Greek behind the wheel and drove back north to Thessalonica.

Which is where the story will pick up next week my friend, stay tuned.Efaristo!