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….. 
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.
Relief stone of the family from the tower 1787.

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.

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.
The Tomb Of Dioskourroi:  2-3BC.  A twin tomb carved into the rock.
Fab views of a fab coastline.
The hamlets’ roof tiles were made of local clay.

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Ag. Nikolaos:  Our overnight carpark … think Jez is having an identity crisis and wants to float on water.
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.
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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.

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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.
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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!”
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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.
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P1150735Vatheia on our route south:  dramatic location with deserted and restored Tower Houses.

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.
Our spot … our bottom to the wind with seaward views.
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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!
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Cape Tenaro.
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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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!
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We didn’t get washed away at Ag Kiriaki harbour, but woke to brilliant blue skies 🙂
Our two night pitch.  Gialova Lagoon behind and the Bay of Navarino in front.
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.

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

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.

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.  
The lagoon is a bird sanctuary with an easy path around it.

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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. 
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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……
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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.  
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Our peaceful harbour wall became a roller coaster ride with 62 kph gusts and spray coming over us.

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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.

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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!

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Going into the marketplace.

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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.
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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.
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Koroni:  Seen livestock in towns, but not geese blocking the pavement before.

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 A larger town than Methoni.
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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?
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Other than the restaurants, this seems to be the main (only?) attraction of Kalamata … a collection of trains and carriages in a central park.
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Our Marina pitch.

949-954: GORGEous, Follies and Flowers

949 – Monday 8th January 2018:  Monastery Walk

At 9:30 am (early or what?), we embarked on what would be a 10k walk steeply up and down along the gorge. Oscar ‘em barked his way too….but his ‘em barking settles when we’re underway.  We followed a path carved by the monks for their donkeys hundreds of years ago – still droppings on the way so it’s still used to transport stuff to the monasteries.  After a short time, we came to the Prodhromou Monastery – literally clinging to the steep cliffs – it looked almost as if the rock had been carved to accommodate the structures. I went in and viewed the kooky stairways and rooms – very quiet and definitely contemplative.  On we went down and up and the other way around – past rushing streams – while Oscar bashed our legs with his usual selection of sticks!  The Monastery of Nea Filosoou was more modern and we entered the courtyard to be greeted by a charming monk who gave us water and Turkish Delight sweets!  We’ve since herd that the Greeks don’t call it Turkish Delight, but just Delight!   It was necessary to tie O up in the yard – he vocally made his objections clear…  The chapel is lovely and small.. Only 2 monks live there – our host had been in residence for 8 years.   Super frescoes.
Back retracing our footsteps and down to the actual gorge itself. Ancient Gortys nestled at the bottom. I nestled my feet as this septuagenarian was feeling slightly tired – age related? 
Back up again to the original path and after only (?) 3.5 hours – to good old Jez….. my feet took a direction in the door, past the executive bathroom and into the royal bedchamber where they forced me to recline….  But a stunning day – excellent walking and views to die for…..
Same overnightly – and even more quiet than last night………
Hard to see, but there is a chapel on the right and another on the left of the gorge, so our walk will go down and then up … and then in reverse!  Demitsana nestles at the head of the gorge.  

Zoom lens to see the chapel at the right hand Monastery of Prodhromou C12.
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Part of the easier donkey path, carved out by the monks.

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Wow, turn a corner and this is the Monastery with living accommodation … all clinging to the cliff.

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Looking back at the Monastery of Prodhromou.

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The gorge is 300m deep and the water powered around rocks.

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Nea Filosoou Monastery:  C17.  Restored 
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Church with 1663 frescoes …
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Ancient Gortys at the other end of our gorge walk.  Temple to Asklepios God of Healing, a therapeutic centre, from 4BC.
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Taken from Ancient Gortys … can just make out the church where Jez is parked.
 950 – Tuesday 9th January:  Back to Kaiafa Springs With a Purpose!

Back up the hill from Lousois Gorge – the nightly darkest pitch we’ve ever stayed at……lots of clear stars overhead.  Powered to Dimitsana Water Power Museum – open all days – except Tuesday!  But their car park contained a water supply – so Jez got his fill.  Lunch and admin in van – with Wifi.
Across the mountains towards Kaifia Springs (again – second stay).  More lovely hill towns and a stop at Langardia for coffee – very narrow streets (have we written about these before?) – mega reversing to pass oncoming coach.  The usual visit to Lidl – and then the wild parking at the Springs – one other van (German) for company.  
Now during the food prep, K opened the door of an overhead locker, taking the usual precaution of placing her hand to prevent anything falling on her nod…  well, this Greek olive oil bottle had other ideas – avoided her grasp – and in true aviation style – flew around the kitchen!!!   I was outside and heard the anthem “F**k a**e bum t*t” in her melodious and high pitched voice…..the glass was everywhere – floor, rugs – and next morning – even in the blinking shower!  The oil had attached itself to floor and all vertical surfaces, including K – not that she’s a vertical surface….. Oscar and I escaped.  Clearing up took a good hour – the unanticipated benefit was a thorough kitchen clean!   
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Sorry a few final pix of our loveliest of spots, taken with J’s mega zoom lens.  The chapel – our van view.

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Ancient Gortys and St Andrews Chapel.

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The second monastery.

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Spontaneous stop in pretty Langadia.  Not sure when the Christmas decs will come down.

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Watching busses and a huge lorry negotiate the narrow roads.

951 – Wednesday 10th January:  Spring Swim and Laundry

Morning – and my water babe took to the Springs – the reason we had come back here.  Vaulting high into the air straight over the gate – well climbing actually but the high jump sounded better…back in Jez – the sweet aroma of sulphur pervaded…… showered and brekkied, we eased back to Elea beach wilding spot – same pitch looking at the rolling seas…..  (I had declined the Springs due to a ‘mancold’, manifestly – not testily or feistily).  
A swift climb over the gate and in – we’d seen locals do this on our last stay here.  The old bath house has just been left as an eyesore; the new on is adjacent.  The water gurgles up from inside the cave.

Maddy’s Bad Hair Day Shower cap!


952 – Thursday 11th January:  Easy to Supper

Slow easy day start, beach walking………..Rod and Bernadette came to supper – brought flowers and a yummy lemon curd – much chat and easy company…..we parted with them at 2:00 am!!!  
Rod picked these from their garden … they are just delightful and still have a wonderful scent.  Absolutely years since anyone has given me flowers, other than James, of course!

953 – Friday 12th January:  Admin and Rest

Another restful day – some admin, including updating our spreadsheet re putative house purchase in France…..  Verdict …Yes we can afford to live if we buy in France 🙂

954 – Saturday 13th January:  Follies in Filiatra

A really sad adieu to Elea wilding after a total of 9 days!  Highly recommended, indeed.  Met Phil and Carol at Lidl – and on the Filiatra, via the Fairy Castle and Eiffel Tower.  Overnight on a lovely harbourside wilding, with the sea washing over the wall behind us – I wonder what time high tide will be?  
A Greek, Dr. Harry Fournier, returned from Chicago in the 1960’s built this … his son has restored it.

 I only spotted Oscar’s wee activity when I looked at the pix on the computer…

… pleased to say J is not following suit.
A Poseidon’s horse building.

And he built a mini Tour Eiffel just into Filiatra.
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Our overnight stop Ag. Karachi.  Just hoping the wind is not up, or we will get a wave drenching!
Oscar’s Diary

They tell me I’ve been quite a few day at ‘Ellyyah’ – it’s good here – lots of nice K9 friends, girls and boyos….good humanoids as well, I must mention.  
K phoned her Mum (and Dad) – they’re off to someplace called  “Eeejit” which is east of here with also sandy beaches – and Kyro (sounds Greek to me) has somethings called Pyromids and Spanks (very naughty, Grahame and Diane!).   Now most folk would say  “Morning Mum – how are you this fine day?”  Not our K – no need to roll out the nice-titties, sorry niceties… “It’s only I – can you bring some coryanngle to Athens?”   Blinking BT will never make money from the Leslie Clan!  If I tried asking for my dinner like that “Katherine – it’s only O – dinner now pronto?”  My backside would be whinging it’s way to Solihull…
Oh well, there’s newt as frog as folk, as the poet said….. this was short as time presses – people to see.


945-948: And Up Into the Hills

945 – Thursday 4th January 2018:  Waiting for the Weather

Another day of pottering waiting for the weather to improve so we can head for the hills.  We moved out of the strong winds and then back again as they abated…
K:  I found the trees far too gloomy with no view … fortunately the wind died down so we moved to ‘our’ pitch.  Funny how you can become quite territorial
We were treated to supper by San and Dave. Their permanent home is in Bulgaria and they gave us loads if good tips of places to visit. They also kindly invited us to visit them there in the Spring! Many thanks to you two…
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 ‘Our’ pitch sunset view.  Worth moving back for!

946 – Friday 5th January: Interesting Drive to Interesting Places

Our first run for eleven days…a bit creaky but what a lovely place to run…..  Plentiful water supply so showers were in order – and then adieu to San, Dave and Phil, although we’ll see Phil next week on our return to Elea – definitely one of the best ever wilding places… 
The road through the hills to the Temple of Apollo (about one hour and a half) had suffered badly from recent rains – rocks on the road, subsidence, slippery mud, etc. But quite safe.  Very narrow towns and villages – but well worth the drive – the Temple is amazing – K’s photos do it justice! 
We could have stayed overnight in the Temple car park but decided to Jezzy on to Adritsiana…  Well, with vino at €2.00 per reasonable glassful – could we resist? Our dry night became a little less so… never mind – most of next week will be completely (mostly) alcohol-free – a real challenge but necessary after the Christmas and New Year festivities. We treated ourselves to a local meal out – with Oscar in attendance – €30.00 in total. (We found out in the morning that we had won £50.00 in Premium Bonds – yippee – good old Ernie!!!  
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Traffic Jam.  Not the only road obstacle encountered.  Fallen rocks, mud and some narrow towns.
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Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae.  Wow factor as soon as you enter the big tent.

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The stones outside may be replaced within the temple at some point; they are all numbered with the location where they fell.

A Walk around Andritsena / Andritsaina and at EUR2 apiece, our dry day went out of the window and led to this…
… Supper out.  Once they had taken our order, one of the chaps disappeared and came back with a shopping bag … know it’s fresh.

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 Andritsena is known for the tree fountain.  We’d not found it until I looked across from our restaurant window and there it was!

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A lovely kooky town with lots of stone crumbling buildings and narrow cobbled streets.  And people living here, with normal shops!

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Liked Andrritsana a lot … checked it out, a massive 300m2 house with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, in the centre of town and ours for all of EUR95 before we begin negotiations!  But what would we do all day … every day???

947 – Saturday 6th January:  Karytaina / Karitena

No morning run – but all brekkied up and on to Karytaina. It’s the feast of Epiphany which is more important (or as important) than Christmas in Greece.  A much easier drive and the town was buzzing because of the feast… We were extremely lucky to get a parking place in the town centre where we will overnight – we had to wait in Jez until a space became free.  It may well be busy until much later…  Lovely steep walk up to the castle with magnificent 360 degrees panorama. Coffee in town – and moist orange cake!  Plenty of tourists around – what a nice place to stay…we are so lucky in our chosen lifestyle…  Quiet overnight once the charming church bells finished tolling the hours – our parking was lit up brightly all night.
The castle was visible from about 20km away.

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Views from the top of Karitena … miles of rolling hills.

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Oscar there are treats at the bottom to entice you down.  Didn’t take him long to decide.

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Byzantine Church with castle.

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More crumbling stone buildings and narrow roads, but definitely more touristy than Andritsena.  No proper shops!  Cafes and restaurants.
Fabulous views from our parking…

948 – Sunday 8th January:  Megalopoli & Stemnitsa

We drove from Karitena to Megalopoli to see more Grecian remains – it was closed but we walked around the perimeter fence – not a lot to be seen but a work in progress…  An ‘interesting’ drive to Stemnitsa – fallen trees almost blocking the road and snow!  A very slow drive indeed with no chances take…..multiple z bends as well.  Into the town – the overnight parking was through the centre – very narrow streets, cars parked – mega busy due to Epiphany feast weekend. A large easy carpark alongside the road, but few using it.  We’ve been told by a Greek, that the Greeks do not like walking and will park as close as they can to save walking!  Sound familiar?  Think the Brits are often like this too.   A folklore museum – the town was for centuries the the premier metal smithing place. We had previously lunched in Jez.  
To the Lousios Gorge for our night stay – Scandinavian serious z bends all the way down with cars coming up on a very narrow road – some reversing and wiggling.  Not to mention the rock fall and subsidence!  
When we arrived at the parking it was  busy and remained so until quite late – some people stay at the monasteries atop the gorge – maybe some ‘courting couples’ also. What a nicely old fashioned word – do girls and boys still ‘court’ each other?  We hope so….. our courting went on for some years before the ‘question’ was popped.
zzzzzzs in absolute blackness until the moon came over the mountain.
Megalopoli:  Massive carpark, but closed for restoration.  The guide book described it as ‘one of the most extensive and least touristy sites’.  9km of walls.  The amphitheatre seated 20,000.


OK, so we ended up on a more minor road than intended … we saw a lot trees down …

… experienced another traffic jam ….

P1150575… and thankfully the snow plough had been through some days before us.
Stemnitsa.  Another touristy town with lots of Greeks meeting friends and family for coffee.

The gift shops were all selling jams, noodles and some fruit drinks.

Viewpoint looking back to the town.  It is divided by ravines.

Lousios Gorge – our over night parking view from Jez.  I sat on the door step of Jez with my knitting in the sun.  There may have been a beer!

934-940: Ioanian Christmas Festivities

934 – Thursday 21th December 2017:  Achaia Clauss Winecastle

In the last post, I made mention of that funny stuff comes from the sky – this morning, it was a multiplicraination!  Bilateral decision to postpone the Olympic training to another day….  We ‘LPGd’ and set off across the Rio Antirrio Bridge – not to Janeiro, Oscar!  The bridge was built by a consortium including my old shareholder (at SRC) Vinci of France – opened in 2004 – I received an invite at the time but couldn’t make it.  It set all kinds of records and looks beautiful. Shortly after opening, a long cable stay fell on to the road and closed the bridge – may have been a lightning strike. I hope to visit the people there sometime on this trip…..
On to – a winery – the second oldest business in Greece, after the National Bank and before a chocolate company – so if you’re Greek, you take your savings from the bank and buy – you get the picture…  The guide Maria was fascinating!  Articulate, funny, highly informative – and wonderfully theatrical!  In one story, she said “Queen Margarita suffered from tubercul (pause) – we all chorused -osis!!!”  Apparently, this wine is very good for health, including low blood pressure….. well, you all know what we immediately suffer from!!!  Definitely a recommended visit.  She also arranged for us to buy 20 litres of her olive oil – for €23!  
The rain increased – we briefly considered going straight to tomorrow’s intended campsite – but stopped short – wild camping for the night, at the sea again – and we’ll save the campsite fee to spend on the olive oil, which we will pick up tomorrow…..  By the way, K describes this stuff as “wet rain” – based on her experiences in Brizzle, perchance?
Headline in the local news – “Greece to have white Christmas”!!!  
Sunset tonight 5.17 – the Shortest Day.  Spring is on it’s way.

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Rio Antirrio Bridge last night.
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And after paying the EUR13.30 to cross it.  As a large camper, we travel at truck rate :(.
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Not camera shake, but that wet stuff on the screen.

 Achaia Clauss Winecastle:  French and Portuguese oak barrels, a few were previously used for Cognac.  

From 1908 the company specialised in production of the Mavrodaphne and Demestica wines.

Clauss died shortly after, and the company passed into the hands of a German named Gudert from whom on the outbreak of World War I the Greek government confiscated the winery as an enemy alien asset. In 1920 it passed into the ownership of Vlassis Antonopoulos, and from then on, with a slight pause during the German occupation in World War II, the company developed rapidly.

The German founder, Clauss, brought in Maltese castle builders to construct his wine castle.  He provided schools etc. 
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The latest cooper recruit.
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Clauss started with two mega barrels he purchased from the Great Exhibition in Trieste … they still contain wine from 1889.

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Given his German heritage, he dedicated a barrel to Bismark.
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The wine in this barrel was made to the secret recipe on page 601 of the founders book.

935 – Friday 22nd December:  Jobs and Preparation

We left our very wet overnighting spot and headed back to the wine castle to collect our olive oil from the lovely Maria…  Next port of call was Ionion Campsite – much recommended by lots of folk. We met Carol and Mike, whose blog we follow https://moho-dream.co.uk – and Dave. Evening drinks with Mike and Carol – very Jolly and pre-Christmasy…
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Morning drenching on our wild pitch.

936 – Saturday 23rd December:  Jobs and Preparation

Jez was settled into his sunlit pitch with nearby sea views – K did massive laundry – we cleaned the van and showered ourselves – lovely heated shower rooms and piping hot water!  We are even picking up an english speaking radio station … Island FM from Xante.  Katherine prepared my favourite ever veggie in the slow cooker – red cabbage – yummy…..   A top run in the morning had set us up nicely for the day.

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Note the Irish and British flags are fluttering on the bonnet, and the laundry on the rack!

P1150523Can’t beat a snow globe.


937 – Sunday 24th December:  Christmas Eve for 7 – in Jez!

Another good training run and then we moved all of 5 metres to get a full on beachside pitch – vacated by a German family – efharristo and danke to you all…  In search of food supplies we biked to a town – 20k round trip.  K was prepping food for 7 in our supermobile tonight – we’ve had 6 before….pushing the boat out.  Carol, Mike, Julia, Simon and Dave joined us – the conversation and wine flowed – excellent company indeed! 

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The German family due to arrive had their caravan moved to another pitch, so we hopped into their beach front pitch.  Not a beach towel in sight.

Bakery told me this is a special bread for Christmas …. with almonds and hazelnuts in shells 

938 – Monday 25th December:  A Traditional Christmas in the Sun

Well – Happy Crimbo everyone – Nollag Shona Dhuibh go leir to the Celtic contingent!!!   Oscar says Happy K9day to Kinsey, Ice, Poppy and Boo and all his friends! 
We sat outside in the sun to brekkie and open prezzies – phone calls with family.  A lazy slow and festive lunch with fizzy bubblies…..our K-Haute Cuisine was ‘perfecto’.
An afternoon nap was mandated and in the evening – more seasonal drinks with Carol and Mike.  We remembered Punta Bracetto in 2015 – cheers, Dan the man – Lagos in 2016 with the lovely Shirley, Margaret, Chris and Mary – slainte to you all!!!  We’ll meet again soon and maybe in Arisaig?      
Socks had to feature … nothing mundane about the colours!

And a new waterproof.

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 In with the new and out with the old.

My Christmas Stocking which is a collated during the year on the Aged P’s travels; white a few dodgy bottles!  I now do the same for Maddy.

A festive dog with his festive new squeaker.

Starter …

And the main turkey event …. cooked in a slow cooker, two rings and the oven … including homemade bread sauce, Yum!

939 – Tuesday 26th December:  Pottering and Supper at Julia & Simon’s

A lazy hazy day – of pottering – where do the days go?  As we miss families especially at this time of year – we’ve decided to spend Christmas 2018 in the UK and Ireland – cheers in advance… yet to invite ourselves!!!
Julia and Simon had us around to a delicious supper of leftovers – with Dave – and mulled wine.  Nightcap in Jez – some of K’s stocking filler miniature bottles – then Zzzzzs….
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Boxing Day sunset.

940 – Wednesday 27th December:  Departure Jobs

We said adieu to Carol and Mike – they’re heading down south like us – so it’s likely we’ll meet again, soon. Dave had left earlier – safe travels to you all!  The local castle looked inviting but not in the heavy rain forecast – so – a pre departure jobs day – more laundry, wc emptying, grey waste – blog – doggybeachwalking – cleaning, etc.  And – the sun came out to shine – on the righteous?