We survived a volcano! Ben and I recently left the island of Stromboli, north of Sicily. Stromboli is an active volcano that continues to spew out lava on average every 10-20 minutes. You can only go up 400 meters on your own, but you can pay a guide to hike up and look into the crater of the volcano. We decided to go for it. It was the most physically challenging thing I have ever done. Once we got to the top, there it was...you could hear the cracks of the volcano as more lava escaped. The guide commented on how it was very active that day. We were there about 5 minutes when we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by this plume of sulfuric emissions from the volcano. Others in the group were coughing because of the sulfur. We could hardly see anything, including the ground, and we were on a ridge that led to death on either side if you went the wrong way. Our guide said "this is too much" and led us all back down the mountain. He later commented that in the 800 times he has hiked the mountain, he has never seen the smoke that thick. This short explanation doesn't begin to explain the experience, but hopefully the pictures to come will help! Note to self: never hike a volcano without a guide. We would not have been able to get down in the smoke on our own.
We'll be in Athens before heading north for Venice. Ciao!