I'd just gotten back from a visit to the Archaeological Park of Dion, a city built by Alexander the Great and had made a comment on how pervasive the influence of Alexander was in the shadow of Mount Olympus, sharing my plan to go the next day to Vergina. I had always associated Alexander with even farther north in Greece, and it was a surprise to find him so firmly entrenched around the mountain of Zeus and the small Greek city of Katerini. "You must go to Vergina," Vassili told me, soberly. "Dion is wonderful, very beautiful, but Vergina -" He visibly winced, as if the thought of the place was both sacred and painful. "Vergina is something else."
Vassili detailed a scenic route for me to take, keeping me off of the main highway on the side roads. "Prettier, and I think for you, safer." (He had just seen me trying to parallel park in front of the Hotel Olympion after picking up my rental car.) I agreed and set off early the next morning. Before I had gone too far, I was thankful for his instructions that kept me off of the busy National Highway. The largest brown worm snake I've ever seen in Greece zigzagged across the road ahead of me, so big I had plenty of time to brake and watch as it disappeared into the underbrush along the side of the road. Later, I stopped again to take a closer look at a mother stork who had erected a magnificent nest on a power pole.