981-986: Nothing Naff in Nafplio!

981- Thursday 8th February 2018:  Nothing Naf in Nafplio

Now then readers – where do motorhomes come from? They’re not Greek or Roman (even Romahomes – or DunRoamins) – although as we are in Greece – we do like our fiery engined chariots….. No – I can exclusively reveal all – no, not that all please!  As you know, current motorhome manufacturers previously built caravans….  One day long ago three young people who built caravans got together in a wine bar – drinking Gluevine, Ouzo and Sambuka (as you do).  Their names were – Frau Harriet Hymer, Dinky Dethleffs and Randy Rapido….  They scratched their dandruff and thought “how can we make the business leaner and meaner (and get more money?).  Randy said “let’s put a washing machine engine in the front of the caravan?”. So, a brand new Miele 500 cc unit was gaffa taped to the front (on top of the tow bar). The dream was born – and the first purchasers could spin dry as they raced/rinsed around hairy mountain bends!!!  If anyone comes up with a better story – I will eat a grommet from our on board twin tub – which is not a Miele – it’s a Schaffer from 1767 (get your Googles out).  In 1767, Captain Samuel Wallis became the first European to visit Tahiti – and Daniel Boone reached Kentucky – why?  He wanted some fried chicken, perhaps…       
 
What’s that got to do with Nafplio, you ask?  Well…to be honest – not a lot.  Nothing naf about Nafplio – it’s gorgeous – lovely harbour, shops – and people. Coffee in the sun in the town square – walking along the front….  Our Airbnb host had recommended a fish restaurant a few km away – off we went – on his local knowledge, we were well looked after…..
 
IMG 0589
Feels like a lagoon, but Nafplio is a large bay.

IMG 0590
 
IMG 0592
The Bourzi island was originally a fortress, then the local executioner’s residence and then a hotel … go figure what all the ‘guests’ had in common!

IMG 0594
 
IMG 0597
 
 

982- Friday 9th February:  Corinth – Ancient and Canal

K here, as I was the one that went in with the Aged P’s.  J stayed walked Oscar.  To be honest, Ancient Corinth was a bit of a disappointment.  So much of it had been knocked down and built over by the Romans, and then knocked down again by an earthquake.  The Odeon and Amphitheatre are viewed from the roadside and are certainly not the finest examples.  The Temple of Apollo and the cistern with its tunnels were worth seeing.  The museum was memorable as in 1990, thieves broke  in, wounded and tied up the guard and ‘removed’ 274 artefacts.  Most were recovered in Miami, USA, by the FBI.  The history is probably what makes it so well known … it was a major capital, allied with Sparta and then against and a reputation for licentious living, which St Paul attacked when he visited.
 
The Corinth Canal is deep (average 8 metres) and sheer in places (see photos).  We drove the far west end of the canal and had a road side / car park picnic.  It was a tad windy, and sadly we did not see any ships along the canal in the whole time we were there.  I know Carol and Mike didn’t see any passage either … perhaps it is just cruise / tourist ships in summer.
 
We used Maps.Me and spotted a private bridge over the canal.  We drove around there and were able to walk right over the centre of the canal.  The only down side was the smell, as the bridge carried sewage to the adjacent sewage works!
 
IMG 0599
Temple of Apollo in Ancient Corinth
 
IMG 0604\
IMG 0608
The Peirene Fountain with water channels off.  Rituals and ceremonies also took place here. 

IMG 0609
Picnic at the west end of the canal.  A tad windy so we did not linger  Pudding was fresh oranges from a neighbour at the house.  We didn’t steal… it was a gift, honest!
 
IMG 9969
Handsome boy.

IMG 0610
The Diolkos – paved road – the Romans unloaded ships and hauled the ships across this 4 mile flagway.  Safer than sailing around the Peloponnese…
 
IMG 9957
… This pix from the museum shows surprisingly large ships being hauled across.

IMG 9955
Amazing detail … a dressing table mirror.

IMG 9954
Such long toes!

IMG 9959
Such detail.
 
IMG 0619
From the smelly bridge.  Looking west.

IMG 0626
Who let the lunatics out?
 

983- Saturday 10th February:  Coffee and Lunch Mystery Tour

J’s turn to scribe … “Magical Mystery Tour” a la Katherine and her superb coordinary coordinates!  A Pyramid that looked like some large stones in a roughly shaped minyprid…..  A lake that was – a bit short of water…. Lunch with the locals (always a good idea) – while it rained outside – our repast was not dry…..   A coffee along the coast whilst sitting next to a roaring fire followed by a meze lunch … and the rain pretty much dogged us all day.

K:  what J does not reveal is that my data entry into the sat nav was flawed, we ended up in a neighbouring town, down a narrow lane and had to reverse a long way … thankfully we were in a car and not Jez.  We also managed to pass the rock church our destination … before realising it was our destination!

The house central heating wasn’t working so Grahame lit the fire with logs provided by the owner…. later, we foraged locally to find more ‘lumber’ (American?) to feed the hungry beast – we were toasty….. 

IMG 9995
A pyramid, we think it was 4BC
 
IMG 0631
Church built into a rock overlooking a lake.  Actually a non lake.  Locals used to wash their carpets here, but now farmers take too much of the ground water further up, the lake is dry … so dirty carpets?
 
IMG 0001
You don’t get a fire like this in a motorhome!  or if you do, you have a problem!!!!  The heating problem was solved … lack of oil, but our AirBnB host sorted it promptly :).
 

984- Sunday 11th February:  Mycene

Again, I went in and J kept O away from the local barking hounds.  The setting is superb, a cliff on one side and mountains. This is one of the earliest examples of a citadel and was inhabited from 1700-1100BC.  The tombs here were stunning.  Huge and built as a circle and dome roof and then covered over with earth; they are no longer buried.  The Royal Palace was at the top and only nobles lived inside the walls.
 
P1150743
The main city is up a hill, again protected by hills on several sides.
 
P1150749
Tholos tomb of Clytemnestra.

P1150752
Bits of script were preserved due to a fire as the ‘slates’ would have been soft.
 
 
P1150757
 
P1150762
I have conquered!

P1150763
 
P1150769
Looking up out of the cistern.  A secret stairway of 99 steps, but visitors can only access as few.

P1150772
Postern Gate … a side gate – we had to look up the meaning of postern!

P1150778
The Lion Gate 13BC … we were lucky to photo this with no other visitors, as Mycene was quite busy with an American tour group and several school parties.  Mycene was always known about as part of the gate poked up above ground.

985 – Monday 12th February:  Epidaurus

 
Massive amphitheatre – 12,000 people – and good other archaeological remains to see.  Most of the site was given over to Asklepios and healing.
Lunch – of course (at Epidural Beach – sorry, Epidaurus Beach). Many little courses – with no alcohol (for us) as it’s a dry day….
 
However, as the Aged Ps booked to visit us in ‘the Bulge’ – Bulgaria – we celebrated – with vino collapso (with no collapso)!!!  
 

IMG 0006

The theatre is used for classical performances in the summer.  330BC.
 
IMG 0009
The Greeks had it seating 6000, the Romans doubled the capacity.  Ear wigging an English speaking guide, Discovered that Greek theatres have circular stages, but the Romans semi-circles.  Also the Greeks ‘discovered’ theatre.  Followers of Dionysos celebrated with inebriated role playing and moved from dancing to theatre … the first purpose built buildings appearing in late 6BC.
  
IMG 0637
It may have been a heating centre, but exercise and games took place too.

P1150781
The water front stroll before lunch.
 

986 – Tuesday 13th February:  A Non Train Ride

We planned to travel on the Kalavryta-Diakofto railway at EUR19 each … their loss as no dogs.  So we drove there – only an hour and a half.  The   road followed some of the route the train would have, so some good views on the way up.  Good cafe break.  The Museum to the local Katarya holocaust was disturbing but it’s a must – ’no more wars’ – defitiely!  Sad news that old Leslie family friend (95) had fallen at home and may be failing – hope not – more news tomorrow – fingers crossed… 
 
P1150788
The Germans planned reprisals against hill towns due to the partisan activity in the area.  They took all the men and boys over 13 up a hill and machine gunned them down.  The women and children were locked in the school and the building was set alight.  The women broke out and the German soldiers on duty there did not shoot, but herded them down hill.  In the morning, the women discovered the hill side strewn with bodies.  this was December and freezing, and they had to use any tools they could find and their bare hands to dig shallow graves for their menfolk.  A film with English subtitles followed the story with clips from survivors, who had been young children at the time.  It was immensely moving.
 
P1150789
P1150790
The hillside where very few have proper headstones.

P1150795
Families were buried together.  Ages here were 55, 19 and 48.  One survivor talked about burying his father, 3 bothers and his brother in law together and the discussions about how to lay them out.   Lanterns marking burials were nameless.  The museum guide said 669 were massacred, the guide book quotes 1436.  The Germans moved onto neighbouring villages, shooting on sight.
 
P1150798
 
 

986 – Wednesday 14th February:  Nafplio, Fort, Karathona Beach and Another Good Lunch

Kitty car drove us to Nafplio Castle/Fort – stunning views.  Oscar doggy walk on Karathona Beach (overnight motorhomers have been moved on by the police recently).  Another excellent lunch in Napflio (recommended by Dimitrios) – finished off with coffee and Metaxa.
 

IMG 0028

Karathona beach … we’ve seen a few signs of getting ready for the summer season.
 
 

976-980: Post CITY Jobs and Chilling

976- Saturday 3rd February 2018:  Adria Stars

As arranged, we arrived in convoy (K in the hire car leading the way) at the Adria dealer – all of 15 minutes along the A8 – at 10:00 am.  Their service was fantastic – fixed our front noisy seat, spotted several issues we were unaware of – gave us a can of oil spray for the locks – and all for a whopping – €15!!!  They pointed us to a tyre shop for the puncture repair on the hire car – more amazing service – the boss and his young man – boss is a young 72 and fit as a fiddle – the people are just wonderful here…   And only EUR10.  Little old Lidl next – for essential supplies – wine – to quaff with the Aged Ps when they arrive on Wednesday…..
 
To Cape Melagathi – out on a spit of land – fresh sea site all around. Minor nanny nap for me.  K had a lovely walk down and up to the lighthouse – more ancient remains – little port and temple – great for an overnight.  2:00 am – and the wind was rocking us – again – thoughts of Pylos harbour (at least no salty waves washing over us)  – but not quite as strong here. We moved to the shelter of the facilities building and resumed sound sleep.
 
IMG 9915
The huge rusty nail out of he hire car tyre.  Tissues for scale. 
 
IMG 0569
Ancient Eraion:  a massive cistern and harbour.  What an amazing place to have lived.  Mostly 6BC.
 
IMG 0573
Cape Melagathi Lighthouse.
 

977- Sunday 4th February:  Jobs

Spring is in the air – and so is “Jezspringcleaning”!  Walls, ceilings, cupboards, etc.  Finished in time for the England v Italy rugby.  Did I mention that Ireland beat France by a wonder drop goal from our Jonny Sexton in injury time?  No – well consider it truly mentioned, then!  England v Ireland on St Patrick’s Day could be the tournament decider……..   And a great Welsh win.  What a start to the tournament.
 
Fellow motorhomer, Karl, dropped by (Aussie) – Mazda Bongo man – we loved our Bongo for 2 years. In conversation, it emerged that he is homophobic – thinks gays folk are unnatural – in this day and age?  Definitely not shared by us!  Not by way of pay back – but – we informed him that his vehicle must return to UK for MoT – due in the next 2 weeks – not in his plans – tough, Matey.  It’s a gay old life……  
IMG 9901
Water on both sides. 
 

978- Monday 5th February:  A BIG Move … Not!

My first run for 18 days! We both ran – just a few km to get back in the groove…  Filled with water at the tap behind the building – and a major move – for all of 2 km!  To a nearby beach on Lake Vouliagmenis, with gently lapping sea just beside us – restaurant – we booked for early supper at 4:00 pm.   Two lovely spots suggested by Pete, who has a Google Map of Greece wild spots … peejays Greece Stopovers a must for anyone travelling in Greece.
 
Boyos haircuts – lots of wild cats – better than wild dogs. Surprise – Haken and Helena (from Sweden) motorhomers, arrived.  We dined well at the restaurant – with fried fish – leftovers by K for a chowder tomorrow…
 
Fell asleep to the sound of waves lapping on the shore.
 
IMG 0581
Greek salad, 8 humungous langoustine and a plate of white? fish with wine for EUR33 …. stuffed.  Real quality. 

IMG 0582
 
IMG 0580
Photo of the TV in the restaurant as it was an Oscar brand, but it was not as ancient as the couple running the restaurant.  There was a quirky stove with funnel flue in the centre. 
 
IMG 9909
Walk around one side of the lake …
 
IMG 9921
 
 

979- Tuesday 6th February:  Corinth/Isthmia!

Am – we ran – just a few kms…. but good exercise.  A local man gave us good advice about house purchasing in Greece – lots of folk moving from owned to rented – legacy of the recession.  Jez and Kitty (reg KTI) car to Corinth/Isthisa – manic wild dogs in a bun dance (sorry).   So bad that at one point J wielded a stick to keep an aggressive one at bay, whilst K walked on sharpish with Oscar.  We’ve not often found the dogs aggressive, other than outside the Acropolis and here.  We Facetimed with K’s great aunt Gladys in Eastbourne when Mum and sister Clare visited her – 95 years young…..   K Lidl-shopped in Corinth.   
 
IMG 9928
The east entrance of the Corinth Canal.
 
IMG 9932
Definitely seeing more spring flowers around.  J took a lovely close up of a dandelion, but I told him that I refused to put a pic of it up as it is a weed!
 

980- Wednesday 7th February:  Aged Ps Arrived  

The wild dogs put us off running….. moved south to our Airbnb in Anifli, near Nafplio – owner Dimitrios and Maria (daughter) welcomed us hugely – Jez squeezed into the driveway. We unloaded a LOT of STUFF and had a nap.  To Athens airport to collect Diane and Grahame – back to HQ for some glasses of vino and chat – until 1:00 am…..

Zzzzzs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

965-975: Athens Antics

965 – Wednesday 24th January:  A Long Drive

First longish drive for ages…….should recharge the leisure batteries – given the lack of constant sunshine…..From Glythio to Marathonas beach wilding – €39 in m’way tolls but it was a good idea to shorten the journey. 
 
A lovely remote overnight parking on the beach near closed restaurants that may open at weekends……  About 2km of sand and sea.
 
IMG 1689
  Snow en route and snow ploughs were out along the m’way through the centre of the Peloponnese.   

967 – Thursday 25th January:  Marathonas

Into Marathonas town and – we passed the Marathon museum!  I had to visit (K and O stayed in Jez). Huge empathy from my 4 marathons (long time ago – last in 1988).  The photo is Dorado Pietri (Italian) finishing the 1908  London Olympic Marathon. He fell several times within sight of the finishing line and was helped across by stewards – promptly disqualified!  For his bravery, Queen Alexandra presented him with a special cup – he’s now world famous as the runner who did not properly complete the course!  
 
We headed to Nea Kifisia campsite NE of Athens – better for me to stay while K is in Blighty to see Maddy…only 2 days.  Not much to do except walk Oscar, visit the local mini market – and read……and chill.
IMG 1695
Dorando Pietri.
 

968 – Friday 26th January:  K Brighton Bound

I drove K to the Athens airport in the afternoon – and navigated back to campsite successfully – with my co pilot Oscar!
 
K Here:
Being 2 hours ahead, I landed at 10.15 p.m. UK time, but it was midnight for my body clock.   We went to Maddy’s flat in Brighton via a super supermarket … I bought mostly herbs and spices that I can’t easily find over here.  And Saturday’s supper request was that I cook a roast chicken!  By the time we chatted and had a glass … my body was in free fall.
 
IMG 0481
Met at Gatwick 🙂  A wonderful welcome by my Munchkin.
 
IMG 0482
Got to pick up my birthday and Christmas pressie … love ‘em.

969 – Saturday 27th January:  Brighton Day

IMG 0483
Maddy drove me along the coast to her workplace.  Steel comes in by boat, off loaded by use of magnets.  Into the sheds for drilling and cutting and out on the left onto trucks.
 
IMG 0488
We went on the Pier … the Shove TwoPenny is sooooo additive.  Had a giggle on the House of Horrors.  This is Maddy’s new date!

We had lunch in Brighton and then shopped till we dropped … trousers for Maddy, new waterproof for me and deodorant for J (he has a special one!).  Chicken back at Maddy’s and movie night.  Hagen Daas and chocolate, of course!
 

970 – Sunday 28th January:  Breakfast and Back to Greece

Up in time to dive into the centre for breakfast.  Banana milk shake was followed by pancakes for someone. I had a green smoothie … aren’t I sanctimonious!  I’d bought M a super cheap slow cooker (all of £10 with a 2 year warranty … how do they do that!?, so we headed to the supermarket to fill Maddy’s fridge with food for the week and for the slow cooker.  We were cutting it just OK for my flight, but then hit a motorway closure … oops… I arrived at the airport with only an hour to spare.  Not only was I scanned, but my ruck sack was pulled for inspection.  I had electric cables and plugs for the motorhome, as well as all those food items.  I’m trying to keep cool and not tell the chap hurry up, as he pulled out cornflower and icing sugar … fortunately for me, he was off on his break in 3 mins so he did not even use his drug/explosive dust swab.  A fast walk through the airport and I made the gate, just with time to buy a bottle of water and a coffee.
 
At Athens airport I picked up a hire car, which we had booked as we had anticipated our Friend Alison coming to see us tomorrow.  Sadly she has had to postpone her trip to us as she is awaiting a heart procedure.  
 
Being with Maddy was very emotional … whilst we talk and text a lot, it is not the same as a good hug and hanging out with her.  I will see her next in May.
 
IMG 0492
 

971- Monday 29th January:  Checking Out Sleep Spots 

Laundry day – well part of… we drove our hire car (an Astra diesel and nice to drive) to Porto Rafina to check out wild parking spots – met some lovely Transcendental Meditation ladies from Athens and USA.  Nice seaside lunch and then to Porto Rafti for more wildspeccing – including for K when I go to Nice to see my daughter in March and for moi whilst K is in UK in May – well travelled us?  a lot of flights booked!  Then – to Glifda and Pireas for researching our proposed trip to Crete!  Did we mention this?  A few people, especially on a forum that K is is on, have raved about it, various motorhome bloggers have said it is the best place to motorhome … and K bought the guide book whilst in Brighton … looks like we’re going then! 
 
IMG 0538
Mezze lunch in Rafina.
 

972- Tuesday 30th January:  Athens Walking Tour

Car driving in central Athens is – “interesting”…… nobody bothers about lanes or speed restrictions – and the motorbikes/scooters come from all sides!!!  But, as we have driven our previous motorhome in central Palermo in the rush hour – Athens by car is a doddle… We even managed to find free on road parking each day we drove in.  As we’d given ourselves lots of time I ingested an omelette special in a restaurant next to where we parked the car.  The owner gave us his business card so we could find our way back … kind.  Actually K spicks a Save on our location in maps.me so we can route our way back, but it would have been ungracious to explain that.  
 
Our guided walking tour – with Michael (Masters degree in Classics) was a lovely 2 hours – with excellent local information and anecdotes.  If any local politician or leader took too much power – he was ‘ostracised’ – hence the origin of the word. Only the true born Athenians (6,000) could vote – the other 40,000 were lesser citizens!  If that applied in UK, not many people would have the franchise!  When we later met Carol and Mike their tour was over 3 hours and so much more informative … ho hum.  
 
The photos below tell the story… 
 
IMG 9752
Tower of the Winds in the Roman Forum 2BC.  Combined weather vane and water clock.  The external friezes depict the 8 winds.

IMG 9753
Byzantine Church 1000AD

IMG 9754
The area where the Greek nobility attended to vote.  6000 men were entitled to vote and at one point were enticed with silver to attend.  Votes were taken on every and any issue daily.

IMG 9759
 
IMG 9761
Herodes Theatre AD161, restored in 1955 and used for concerts.

IMG 9762
We couldn’t eat it all … Tzatziki, Moussaka, baked Feta with peppers, salad and wine … set price EUR25 for two.  And the sun shone.


973- Wednesday 31st January:  Acropolis

Our motorhome convoy moved to a wild S of Athens.  Soupful lunch in Jez – and off to Athens again – I walked around the Acropolis Museum and then the actual site itself.  Very impressive – but we have been truly spoiled by the Greco-Roman remains in Sicily and Italy…   Then – a K-phone app guided walking tour to see more local sites.
IMG 0539
Views from Areopagus, where youths hang out with a beer at night.  
 
IMG 0540
There is the Acropolis, a couple of other hills and a massive urban sprawl … thankfully very few high rises.
 
IMG 9769
Acropolis Museum:  Alexander the Great.

IMG 9771
 
IMG 9772
 
IMG 9774
James came out of the museum and caught me red handed … oreo and milk chocolate flavour.  Yummy.  Note the new Maddy boots.

IMG 9775
View up to the Acropolis.  Only the Temple of Athena Nike 426bc has been restored fully so far.
 
IMG 9779
Propylaia – the enormous entrance.

IMG 9780
The Parthenon was covered in scaffolding and plastic sheets when I visited it 30+ years ago … got to see a bit more this time.  They have only just replaced the crane inside that had been in service all this time.

IMG 9782
 
IMG 9789
J mastering a selfie 🙂

IMG 9798
 
IMG 9800
 
IMG 9806
Hadrian’s Arch AD131 – positioned to deliberately mark the boundary between the ancient Greek city and the new Athens of Hadrian.  Two inscriptions read “This is the ancient city of Theseus” and on the other side, “This is the city of Hadrian, not of Theseus”, just in case Athenians were not sure!

IMG 9807
The Temple of Olympian Zeus. Was the largest in Greece.  It started in 6BC, but not completed for 650 years .. a bit like the slow Acropolis rebuilding programme!

IMG 9809
Panathaenic (Olympic) Stadium in the site of the original stadium  330BC.  It was reconstructed for  gladiatorial contests in Hadrian’s time, then in AD144.  In 1896 it had a major reconstruction in time for the first modern Olympic Games.  It seats 60,000.  In 2004 it was used for Archery and the end of the Marathon.

IMG 9814
The Royal Palace was completed in 1842, destroyed by fire in 1909 and used as the Parliament building since 1935 … very plain compared to the English Houses of Parliament, about to undergo it’s own £40b (+) renovation.  I tried to stand next to the elite guard for my pic … he stamped his gun on the ground and an ordinary army officer came and told me to move off the step.  Carol was told on her walking tour that they only stamp their guns if they are threatened … was he concerned about me or Oscar?  The tomb of the unknown soldier is behind me.

IMG 9815
And without me.
 
IMG 9817
Byron being crowned by Greece.  Carol and Mike were told Byron was having his hair combed!
 
 
 974- Thursday 1st January:  Agora and Meeting Up

 
Athens Camping was our next stop – to hook up again with Carol and Mike (we met them at Ionian Camping at Christmas). Athens centre again – so far we’ve managed free on street parking – lucky…  K walked around the Agora – and then later we walked through the old town – narrow market streets and very touristy.  We had a date with Mike and Carol for an early supper – walked it off back to our Astra and back up the A8 to the campsite.  
 
 
IMG 9819
Walk through the park and stumbled on Socrates Prison.  The holes in the wall were where wooden building were attached to the rock.  During WW2, the caves were cemented up concealing museum artefacts.

IMG 9822
The Agora … the Greek Forum equivalent, where all the business took place.  This is the Stoa … shops now a timeline museum.

IMG 9833
Pan … just amazing quality.

IMG 9835
A Kleroteria – an allotment machine to see who was to be called for jury duty.  People inserted their bronze name tags into the slots, into the top were poured black or white balls.  By means of a crank handle the balls were released selecting an entire row for jury service.
 
IMG 9837
Ostracism – intende to protect the city from aspirants to despotic power.  Voters scribbled ‘candidates’ names on pottery shards and these were then counted.  The ‘winner’ was then ostracised from the city for 10 years.

IMG 9838
Ancient Athens Weights and Measures.  Financial transactions were supervised by the Agora (Greek Council).  These are official vessels for dry goods.

IMG 9839
Lead tokens for issuing pieces of armour.  The images are representations for helmets, breastplate, shields etc.  Middle 3BC.

IMG 9840
These vessels have a hole in the top to measure the water and one at the bottom … when the water has emptied, the orator has to stop speaking.  I think some teachers could have done with this!

IMG 9847
View from the Temple Hephaisteion of the Stoa and the Acropolis.

IMG 9849
Temple Hephaisteion 449BC and the best preserved in all Greece … it’s roof is still intact, but you can’t go in.

IMG 9853
 
IMG 9855
The security at the Temple took this … nice chap.
 
IMG 9866
Tourist tat in lots of the old streets.

IMG 9871
Late lunch/early supper with Carol and Mike.
 
 

975- Friday 2nd February:  Acropolis 2, Benaki Museum and Central Market 

We had planned to high tail out of Athens, but felt we ought to give it another shot.  Oscar is an impediment.  Being 21kgs, he is too heavy to go in a bag (not that he would entertain this), so the Metro is out.  Our only option for visiting the metropolis is to drive in.  Given the traffic and erratic parking, a motorhome is a no go.  So it sort of made sense to do another day whilst we had the car.  There is free camper parking S of the Acropolis, but we worry about being a newish van in a city … we were broken into in Copenhagen.  So … another day it was.
 
Drove in with C and M – they wandered through the Acropolis – Oscar and I sat and braved the wild dogs.  Note: most of the wild dogs in Greece have been quite friendly … these were NOT.  One attacked our boy.  Bastard.  The nice man in the cafe came out to call the dogs off.  Almost forgave him his prices … €7.00 for a coffee and Twix – extortionate but – tourist prices – I wonder how much it would be in high summer?  
 
Separately, we went into the Benaki Museum – we’re close to being ‘museumed’ out…..and ‘cityfied’ out…   Choice over Archaeological Museum as would take 3-5 hours each and we’ve had enough of being in a city.  Central Market for meat and veg … stagger back to car with a good load in our back pack and shopping bag.  
 
Earlier back to the campsite than planned as early start next day … our Bristol based Adria dealer has sadly gone bust (we really liked the people that ran it and worked there, so we are very sad for them), so we booked the only Greek Adria dealer to look at front seat at 10.00 tomorrow.  It ‘complains’ and grinds when we swivel it.  Not sure if it is a warranty issue or not, but since UK Adria dealers will not take on warranty work for another dealer … we may have to pay and labour rates are cheaper here.
 
K made more haute cuisine soup and prepped a beef stew for the next day.
 
Evening drinkies at chez M and C – and early abed…..
 
IMG 9872
Theatre of Herodes.

IMG 9878  1
 
IMG 0542
From the Acropolis you can see the Olympic Stadium, Hardian’s Arch and Temple of Olympian Zeus.

IMG 9897
And now inside the Benaki Museum … a private collection.
 
IMG 0544
Marble Cycladic female figures 2300-2200BC.  Inspired later artist such as Van Gogh.

IMG 0551
Bronze folding mirror showing Aphrodite and Eros.  280BC.  Perhaps a bit heavy for a handbag, but amazingly constructed.

IMG 0555
Lord Byron’s portable desk, pistols and portrait.

IMG 0557
The table where King Othon signed the Greek Constitution in 1844.  The actual manuscript and Othon’s pen.

IMG 0561
Part of the university.  Strangely a statue of Gladstone in front.  Wonder if some wag of a student was posing a maths sum?
 
IMG 0562
The Central Market … great food and great prices … I had to buy some meat from this chap since he’d obligingly posed.  We just had to lug it 1.8km back to the car!
 
 


961-964: Mani Peninsular

962 – Sunday 21st January 2018:  A Splendid but Solitary Walk
 
Late arising at our Kalamata bivouac…so no run or showers – it’s only been 3 weeks – oops – 3 days since our last shower! Hands up those motorhomers who shower every day – OK, no hands show?  Good!  The nice marina security man helped us to fill with water.  To Kardamili – I was still nursing the ‘boycold’ so I reclined and K+O walked to the castle, museum and gorge – see the wonderful views….
Overnight at Ag Nikolaos – on the beach (again) – lovely picturesque harbour.  Would have been a good dinner out spot, but not much point when poorly.  The dry day became a wine day – purely medicinal!  A kooky bar with lots of good chat and OscarSociety admirers….. 
 
P1150701
Kardamyli:  The lair of the Troupakis family.  The Tower house hamlet turned museum.  Info in English explained how the Maniot families were loyal to blood rather than community.  Feuds would last years.  Local prisons has to keep them apart in separate wings. Feuding was generally over the inadequate land – the mountain range down the spine of the peninsular falls to a narrow strip before the sea cliffs.
 
P1150702
 
P1150703
Relief stone of the family from the tower 1787.

P1150705
The Towers were built and maintained by the extended families.  Towers grew in height so the feuding families could catapult the neighbouring ones. Cease fires during crop harvesting and women were not targetted.  As a result of these battles the peninsula was never completely subjugated under foreign rule.

P1150708
The Mani hamlets had their own olive presses (this was the main income generator of the area until tourism) and this one had a forge.
 
P1150713
 
P1150715
The Tomb Of Dioskourroi:  2-3BC.  A twin tomb carved into the rock.
 
P1150724
Fab views of a fab coastline.
 
P1150727
The hamlets’ roof tiles were made of local clay.

IMG 9631
Ag. Nikolaos:  Our overnight carpark … think Jez is having an identity crisis and wants to float on water.
 
P1150733
Ag Nikolaos is described as Outer Mani’s most photogenic harbour … we’d agree.
 

963 – Monday 22nd January:  Going Under and South

Am – K ran and I walked Oscardog….onto Aereopoli for a walk and coffee – a chill and bracing wind – hot coffee and cake.  Former stronghold of one of the feuding Mani families, but here that the Maniot uprising against the Turks was declared.  
 
Pyrgos Dirou Caves. One of largest and most colourful in Greece.  Boat ride – how low can we go?  No hard hats – we were bobbing up and down all the time, folded in half – but it rivals the Potsdjayna Caves in Slovenia – of 2+ years ago…the colours are quite stunning. Oscar waited patiently (?) in Jez…..
 
Fabulous drive down the coast to the most southerly point of mainland Greece – remote and – yes – very quiet….hunkered down for the evening.  No light pollution so again amazing stars.
 
IMG 9634
Areopoli: Another feuding family stronghold, but was renamed after the war of independence as this is where the Maniots united and declared war on the Turks.

IMG 9635
The bell tower of the Taxiarchon is the highest in the Mani.
 
IMG 9637The wind was seriously biting, so we sheltered for coffee and a shared orange cake.
 
IMG 9643
Dirou Caves … wow as soon as you enter.  A 20 min boat ride followed by a walk.  We had the caves to ourselves.  If only the chap punting us had broken into “Just one cornetto!”
 
IMG 9644
The caves were known about from 1900, but not systematically explored until 1949.  Now routes of 14,700 metres have been charted.  The tourist route is 1500m, the first 1200 being by boat.  The grand opening of the caves was in 1967 after 6 years of work, including linking the natural caverns with tunnels.
 
IMG 9660
 
IMG 9662
 
IMG 9676
 
IMG 9682
 
IMG 9698
 
IMG 9702
 
P1150735Vatheia on our route south:  dramatic location with deserted and restored Tower Houses.

P1150739
Cape Tenaro: as far south as you can go.  This is the chapel of Asomati constructed from the stones of an ancient temple of Poseidon.
 
P1150741
Our spot … our bottom to the wind with seaward views.
 
IMG 0470
As the eldest of 3, I had to share this with my parents and sibblings … my sister’s answer is unprintable!!   She said something that rymes with “Rollox”!!! 

 964 – Tuesday 23rd January:  The Furthest Point

 
How long can I drag out this ‘boyschilly’ thing?  In boarding school, I would have been turfed out of Matron’s bedrest room…the boys loved to be ‘turfed’ by Matron….make of that what you will!  Her bedside manner was – appealing – nothing to do with her big b**b**s, at all…  Back to the script before I get smacked around the gillies for being ‘off-topic’…   K did her pilates early while Oscar watched from a tethered position – he does like to join in – especially for the ‘horizontal round-the-tummy’ position – (so do I).  The views from our overnight are quite something, again…  We broke bread and walked to the most southerly point in the mainland – lighthouse – where we had the obligatory ‘selfie’.   A cave nearby is another mouth to Hades, not sure where exactly and not about to risk life and limb to clamber around the rocks. 
 
The wild flowers are rather beautiful here – spring is just around the corner…
 
As K will fly from Athens to see her daughter, we must quite reluctantly now travel north – but we will certainly return to this area – probably in late February/early March.  We really like the Maniot architeture … cuboid stone and flat grooves … some are modern but still really attractive.  Great walking area and coast … 
 
In recent years, we’ve had a dream – well several, actually…. To sell one of our modest properties in Brizzle – and buy in Euroland. (K’parents – Diane and Grahame think we’re mad – well we are). First it was going to be Scotland – then Portugal – then France. Now – Greece – of course!  If this is madness – we quite like it. Much more ‘bangs’ for our bucks in Greece – it might happen… watch this space!  
 
North to Gythio – well, a beach nearby – for a wilding.  A famous shipwreck beached and now for the tourists….  this demands another poetical quote…
 
“And now the storm blast came and he
was tyrannous and strong
he struck with his o’er taking wings
and drove us south along
the ship drove fast, loud roared the blast
and southward aye we fled”
 
Coleridge, again – the poor Mariner should not have shot the albatross – but that’s another tale….just watch out for mariners with crossbows!
 
IMG 9706
Cape Tenaro.
 
IMG 9708
Looking back to the car park and Jez.
 

IMG 9713The lighthouse at the point.  We’ve been watching numerous ferries and freighters sail by.

IMG 9719We woz ‘ere.

IMG 9724

We’ve seen wild orchids for a few days now, but today’s sunshine brought our small red and pink poppy look alikes along the road.  We’ve been told the Spring flowers here are quite a sight.

IMG 9728

As well as Hades Cave, the church with the stolen temple stones, there are Roman remains with mosaics.  A local museum was shut.

IMG 9729

Just 5 km N of Gythio is our overnight spot.  The Dimitrios accidentally ‘docked’ here in 1981 and has become a bit of a tourist attraction.  Our overnight is a car park just below the pic.

IMG 9732

IMG 9734

And Gythio in the background, which we may come back to, as we did not have time to wander here.

IMG 9736

Chilled!  Both of us.


 

 
 

955-961: Reoccuring Meetings

955 – Sunday 14th January 2018:  Gialova Castle and Lagoons.

Ag Kiriaki harbour was the perfect peaceful overnight and we awoke to beautiful clear blue skies.  As I was still suffering from a minor ‘mancold/chill’ – and requiring R&R……K and Oscar ran in the am.  We jezzed a short distance to – Gialova Lagoon – another amazing wilding spot.  My recuperation was proceeding in a ‘manly’ fashion – men are so brave – how do ladies cope with these ailments?  I couldn’t possibly comment!  We met Tony – Greek resident from God’s own country – Wales!  He gave us loads of advice on walking routes….. K had a fantastic walk to the Castle and 360 degree views… K: coming down to Nestor’s Cave from the castle was seriously steep.  my knees are not brilliant and my sense of balance abysmal … even with the metal foot bars and railings, I was reduced to all fours on more than one occasion!
 
IMG 9547
We didn’t get washed away at Ag Kiriaki harbour, but woke to brilliant blue skies 🙂
 
P1150641
Our two night pitch.  Gialova Lagoon behind and the Bay of Navarino in front.
 
P1150644
A climb up to Old Navarino Castle, another Franco Venetian construction, huge but lacking any restoration.  In fact signs say it is dangerous so closed.  At the base, the walk is also shut due to rockfall.  In true Greek style, Oscar and I ignored the signs.

P1150647
The most amazing views of the Lagoon and Voidokilia Beach – a perfect horseshoe.

P1150650
Such a steep descent from the castle there were metal footholds and a hand rail … down to Nestor’s Cave.  This cave may have been the inspiration for Homer where Nestor and Beleus kept their cows.

P1150653
Looking out of Nestor’s Cave.
 

956 – Monday 15th January:  A Leisurely Lagoon Walk

Nice easy 7k walk around the lagoon….later, as we were ‘napping’ – in a state of undress, a knock sounded on the door!  Sue and Mick (from Brighton) had seen our GB reg and introduced themselves…..  Their van was parked about 1k away – so – appointment for post-prandial drinks at 6:00 – as you do…..they have been part time/winter motorhomers for 14 years!  Much chat about places we’ve both visited.  
 
P1150669
The lagoon is a bird sanctuary with an easy path around it.

P1150670
 
P1150679
 
P1150683
 
IMG 9550
 

957 – Tuesday 16th January:  Pylos – Big Night OUT

Showered and de-sanded Jez – a much and frequently needed operation these days. Journeyed to Pylos Harbour – Sue and Mick arrived – closely followed by newcomers (to us) – Helena and Hakan (Swedish) and Ruth and Allen (New Zealanders).  Decision to eat out in local restaurant – all 8 of us.  Pre and after drinkies in Jez – a slightly tipsy agreement to hold an ‘American’ supper on the following night…in ours. 
 
IMG 9556
Our peaceful parking.
 

958 – Wednesday 17th January:  Pylos – A Not So Big Night IN

We stayed in town to shop for the evening while the others visited Nestor’s Palace nearby.  Our trip took in the post office, fish market, supermarket – and coffee!  After last nights late to bed – guess what everyone did in the afternoon – nappyzapped!  K did her starter of aubergeine, tomato and Halloumi, Ruth prepared stuffed squid a la delicious, Helena did a Greek salad – and Sue conjured a gorgeous lemon meringue pie!  Did we sup well?   Someone had a bottle of port……
IMG 9558
We thought 7 eating in Jez was pushing it, but now we are up to 8.  9?  I think not!

959 – Thursday 18th January:  Being Blown off the Harbour and Methoni

In the night, the wind did blow – and blow – up to 62kph gusts!  We rocked and rolled – we had sited Jez to face the wind – but the clever wind anticipated us and changed direction. We’ve never had our wheels in the sea water.  Early morning all 4 vans took shelter back at the end of the harbour parking – much relief…vans covered with encrusted salt….leisure batteries on very low voltage.
 
To Methoni – castle visit in the gales (see photos) and on to a small campsite to recharge batteries – wash Jez, hand washing laundry and selfshowering.  Our other recent friends will be following our path along the coast towards Kalamata.  
 
IMG 9563
Our peaceful harbour wall became a roller coaster ride with 62 kph gusts and spray coming over us.
 
P1150693

IMG 9569
Methoni castle – one of the pair of Venetian ‘eyes’ with the sea on 3 sides and a moat landward.  It was huge and contained hammams, a church a huge market place, and a main street.

IMG 9570
The French built the arched bridge across the moat in 1828.  Don’t be fooled by the stunning blue sky … the winds had NOT abated!

IMG 9573
Going into the marketplace.

IMG 9585
The Bourtzi was a prison island.  Accessed by a causeway, which was totally impassable impassable today – either you’d have been blown off or washed off.
 
IMG 9595
Peaceful and windless view from our camping pitch at Camping Thines.  EUR14 incl. EHU.  The young manager told me that the massive hail storm last Sunday had been the case of the road to the village to collapse – he’s not sure when the municipality will repair the damage.

960 – Friday 19th January:  Koroni and Kalamata

K and O ran around Finikounda, which was pretty – lots of open bars and restaurants.  

Koroni for lunch and walk – Sue and Mick passed and stopped to chat – we’ll see them later at Kalamata Marina wild parking. We perambulated the village and castle – and met Tony (again)!  He became our impromptu tour guide – he’s considering another adventure – in India! 

En route to Kalamata, our Colin SatNav said “After 2 kilometres, turn right on Calamitous Road”!!!  Even Oscar jumped!  OK, it was Colin’s pronunciation of “Kalamata’s Road”.  Overnight at the Marina was €12 with eclectic, sorry electric, toilets, showers and laundry facilities – excellent value.  It should have been a ‘dry’ night – but with Sue and Mick, we pushed the boat out in a local restaurant (nice pun, James). €80 for 4 meals – 2 courses and copious wine!  Lovely quality food and fresh fish 🙂

A quiet sheltered night – no wind.
 
IMG 9599
Koroni:  Seen livestock in towns, but not geese blocking the pavement before.

IMG 9602
 A larger town than Methoni.
 
IMG 9608
Walk around the base of the castle … it seems to be held up with spray on concrete!
 

961 – Saturday 20th January:  Kalamatious Laundry!

Loaded washing machine with our bedding …. water off in town!  Long wait for water and laundry completion – then town walk – not the prettiest place but interesting. I replenished my vape supplies. Mike and Sue left for Mycene and we encountered Hakan and Helena who were off to stay at a local village – sure we’ll wee them all again on our travels around Greece.  Wonder where the NZ couple are?
 
IMG 9628
Other than the restaurants, this seems to be the main (only?) attraction of Kalamata … a collection of trains and carriages in a central park.
 
IMG 9629
Our Marina pitch.