Olympus is a world in itself and May is the best time to discover it. And there is much to discover even if you don’t make it to the summit: gentle paths, hidden corners, towering trees, unique wildflowers and wild rocks, below and above the clouds. You can explore the foothills by car or mountain bike, but the greatest rewards will go to the hikers.
In the realm of the GodsAs Homer described the shining palace of the gods of Ancient Greece, “Olympus was not shaken by winds nor ever wet with rain, nor did snow fall upon it, but the air is outspread clear and cloudless, and over it hovered a radiant whiteness.” (Odyssey, VI, 41) This whiteness inspires present-day climbers, too. With the proper equipment – boots and a stick – and a bit of determination, any reasonably fit person can reach the top, slowly but surely, a step at a time.
Mytikas, 2.917m closer to heavenOnly birds (and planes) fly higher than Mytikas, the highest of Olympus’ peaks. It and the other slightly lower summits – Skolio, Stefani, Skala and Prophitis Ilias – that make up this massive range are often veiled in clouds. But when they part, there is no more dazzling sight than these dramatic pinnacles outlined against the deep blue firmament. After all, one of the meanings of the word Olympos has, since Homer’s days, been ‘shining’.
National Park and a unique ecosystem
At the heart of Olympus, the country’s single most important national park, you’ll commune with Greece’s ‘divine’ natural heritage. Ravines and ridges, gorges and plateaus, deep caves and daunting rocks will make impressive snapshots. But they’re not just photogenic. This mountain harbours more than 1,500 types of plants (some endemic), dozens of animal species and many rare birds.
Eighty kilometers of sandy beach
Korinos, Katerini, Litohoro, Plaka, Leptokarya, Skotina, Panteleimonas, Platamonas, Neoi Pori: all names for spots on a beach 80km long at the feet of Mount Olympus. Along this huge stretch of clean sandy beach are dozens of good restaurants and beach bars affording you a multitude of choices for a very special holiday and relaxation. The beaches of Korinos, Paralia and Olympiaki Akti are visited by both Greek and international tourists during the summer. The base of Mount Olympus and the town of Litohoro, are at a distance of around 20 kilometers from the hotel.
Dion: Natural beauty and ancient monuments
Near Katerini, Dion is one of Greece’s most spacious and serene archaeological sites. In a setting crisscrossed by bubbling streams, you’ll find temples, Hellenistic and Roman theatres, flag-stoned streets, baths decorated with mosaics, Roman houses and villas, early-Christian basilicas and an Odeon. Don’t miss the shrine to Isis, remnants of the grandeur of Ancient Greece. Built in a swampy area, its ruins and statues appear even more poetic surrounded by greenery and with ‘their feet’ in the water. Nearby, the shrine of Demetra was one of the earliest to be excavated in Macedonia. At the Archaeological Museum of Dion on the ground floor you’ll find an exceptional trove of sculptures – statues, bas reliefs, funerary stelae, architectural elements – and other finds from the site, which was dedicated to Olympian Zeus.
The function of a castle is to dominate an area and Platamonas must have done this brilliantly as it overlooks a huge stretch of the coast of Pieria. The high walls and well-preserved central tower date from the 10th century. While excavations have unearthed Hellenistic remains from the 4th century BC, it is the Byzantine churches and traces of the 10th-century town and later that will grab your attention.
Palios Panteleimon, a listed village
The beauty of Macedonia unfolds at your feet. This listed village has been called the Balcony of Olympus. You’ll travel back in time walking from the old village to the square filled with humongous plane trees. The view in this timeless place is stunning.
This picturesque town makes an excellent launch pad for your expedition up Mountain Olympus, or for your dips into the sea, if you’re not in a climbing mood. Litohoro, on the lower slopes of Mt Olympus, combines access to the sea and the mountain in a lovely green setting. Don’t forget to wander around and admire the marvelous Macedonian-style houses.
How to get there
The easiest way to arrive to the conference site is via Macedonia Airport of Thessaloniki.(link) There will be a conference bus on May 8th, 9th, and 13th for your transportation from and to the airport. Please visit the website for times and prices, in September 2017. Alternatively, you can take a taxi from Thessaloniki airport to Katerini, or rent a car in the airport (1 hour drive). Please visit our website for more details on transportation, in September 2017.
Several international airlines connect major European and American cities with Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Athens. From there you can get an internal connecting flight to Thessaloniki (45 minutes) with Aegean Airlines. Alternatively, you can hire a car and drive to the conference site from Athens airport. (4 1/2 hours) You can also take the train from the center of Athens (Larissa Station) to the city of Katerini.(link) In order to go to Larissa Station from Eleftherios Venizelos airport you take the Metro (Line 3 – Direction Agia Marina) at station “Syntagma” you change from Line 3 to Line 2 (Direction Anthoupoli) and arrive at station “Larissa St.” (Duration: 46’) (link)
Christina Maslach, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Ronald M. Epstein, University of Rochester Medical Center, USA, Director of the Center for Communication and Disparities Research
Kevin Eva, University of British Columbia, Canada, Editor in Chief, Journal of Medical Education
Michael West, Lancaster University, UK, Head of Thought Leadership, The King's Fund
Please visit our website regularly, for updates on our invited speakers!
Master class (PDF)
"How to Design, Develop and Evaluate Healthy Work-Places in Healthcare" , Christina Maslach
- Members of our WELLMED network include:
Tessa Richards, BMJ Senior Editor - Patient Partneship
Aneez Esmail, University of Manchester, UK
Charles Vincent, University of Oxford, UK
Jane Lemaire, University of Calgary, Canada
David Bates, Editor Journal of Patient Safety, USA
Bryan Sexton, Duke University Health System, USA
Hardeep Singh, Houston VA Health Services, USA