Kineta Beach 1/11/2015
Klippity Klopp, Klippity Klopp, Klippity Klopp Klopp Klopp. We are just outside Athens on the beach at Kineta. Today for some unknown reason I have extra bounce in my hooves and Tracy is dancing on her trotters, Klippity Klopp. We are on our way to Athens earlier than scheduled due to the fact one of our wet-acid Leisure Batteries has given up. So we are going to take advantage of being able to upgrade to AGM ones at about a third cheaper than the UK price. Since the last post we have been on a bit of culture tour and pulled ourselves away from the beach. This was mainly prompted by a dramatic change in the weather. The temperature has dropped by about 8°C and the wind has been howling for the last week.
Monemvasia 28/10 – 30/10/2015
Only an hour after landing back on the Peloponnese we are parked up on the quayside of Monemvasia. To be absolutely anal we were on the harbour of Gefyra which is the port on the mainland overlooking the Island of Monemvasia. Feeling peckish we trundled along the sea-fronted Tavernas looking to pump-up our bellies with some tasty nosh. We settled on a kebab house. Not one those new trendy ones with chrome and arty pictures of Greek Gods. The place we chose was a spit for The Silver Jubilee, Potter Bar, even down to the toilet having a sliding door with a hook to lock it and painted in cream gloss paint. It had two donner machines, one pork, one chicken, a mountain of half-cooked Pitta bread, a deep-fat fryer utilised non-stop and enough active bacteria to win a chemical war. Tracy had Lamb chops and I had the meat platter which consisted of some souvlakis, a couple of sausages and a heap of sliced Gyros just slightly shorter in height than Mt Olympus. Add couple of Carafes of wine, exchange £20 and two happy chronic coronary-crusaders wheezed home.
Next day we were up nice and early and for one of the first times in my life I had no hardened lines of fat on my wrists and no salad in the old belly-button. It must have been a good kebab then. To ease ourselves into the day’s exertions we decided to catch the bus over the causeway and up the hill to the Kastro entrance.
Monemvasia, the guide books would have you believe is the Greek equivalent to Mont St Michael. Poppycock, that is like saying my footballing skills are that of Lionel Messi. Monemvasia is vast, imposing, spectacular, a perfect fortress rising hundreds of metres from the sea, Mont St Michael is an over-commercialised piece of tat in the middle of mud-flat. In physical shape think more Gibraltar. Of course there is some commercial enterprise, but it is low-key and tasteful.
The ‘island’ was part of the mainland until 375AD when an earthquake decided it wasn’t to be any longer. During history it has been ruled by the Franks, Venetians and Turks. Walking around the streets you can see evidence of Islamic form in the architecture. The place became pretty run-down by the 1970’s when the Athenian Hipsters of the day thought it would be a cool place for a week-end retreat and started to renovate the place. Today most of the lower town has had a makeover and to be it has been carried out in a sympathetic way. Vehicles are barred from the town and therefore all supplies for the rebuilding and to support the commerce are carried in by donkey. Nice touch.
We then hiked uphill towards the table-topping High Town, ignoring umpteen signs saying ‘closed’. And the signs were not wrong, the high town is currently shut for renovation but the views from the closed city gates are superb and well worth the effort of some mild yomping.
We had a quick refreshment before walking the 2 Klicks back to the van passing one of the most beautiful situated petrol stations on the planet:
After all that exercise there was only one thing left to do, and you’ve guessed it, back to the kebab shop for Double Donner Delights. The weather had taken a bit of turn with the sun going for a holiday behind the clouds so we decamped back to the van for a late afternoon of fiddling with this and that. My brain vacancy was shattered by Tracy asking what sort of bird was wading around in the harbour. A quick flick through the spotter’s book confirmed it was a Purple Heron. Not one of those dull grey things that gobble your pond-life, no this was a completely blown off-course, confused purple jobby.
Excitement, this town had not seen such excitement since the Spartans got a kicking at the Battle of Leuctra in 371BC. The whole town turned out to capture this strange beast and take it off to the nearby animal sanctuary. Men looked up from their games of backgammon, women waved sticks and shouted and I filmed it while laughing at the entire circus.
Here is the Video. Catching a Purple Heron Video
We loved Monemvasia and our advice is to forget Mont St Michael and spend a tenner on an EasyJet flight to Greece and see the real Island Sanctuary.
Roll up, roll up for the Magical Mystras Tour. Mystras is a former Mountain-top town of note, being a one-time capital for the Byzantines from 1249 until 1460 that overlooks another city of previous glories, Sparta. This was a place of enlightenment where arts and science were encouraged and where many of Mystras’ pupils made a significant contribution to the Italian Renaissance. Since its heyday it has been left to rot by the Turks, burnt by the Russians and the Albanians and finally torched for a third time by the Turks in 1825. Somebody should educate these people to the benefits of an organised risk-free council run bonfire party, it would save an enormous amount of restoration.
There are two areas to explore, the upper town and the lower town, each with an entrance. Our plan after getting completely confused by our guide book was to drive up to the upper town gate, explore, then drive to the lower town entrance and finish it off. We started from our base in a car-park here: and headed upwards.
5€ buys a multiple entry ticket allowing our double-entry plan to work. Firstly we climbed for 15 minutes to reach the Kastro, the main reason for hiking up is for the wonderviews offered over the Lakonian Plain with its dense cultivation of Olives and Citrus fruits. Not much remains of the castle aside from the walls and occasional watch-tower. The views are outstanding and make the walk worthwhile. Unfortunately on the day we visited the light was not the best;
As well as the views are two small churches to see within the Upper Town, St Sophia, the Palace church and St Nikolaos. Both are adorned internally with some 600 year old Byzantine frescos. The human endeavour and craftsmanship that went into creating these once beautiful places of worship is breath-taking. But as Tracy correctly pointed out, ‘there was no internet then’. The steepness of the streets and general ruggedness of the Upper Town also prompted some more profound wisdom from Tracy; ‘ If I lived here I wouldn’t go out’.
The last building of significance is the Palace of Despots. This structure is undergoing serious transformation currently and sadly we were not allowed near the place. I was deeply upset as I have often been called a Despot and hoped by finding the genesis and walking within I could understand why. It does look like somewhere stunning to visit when finished.
We whizzed down to the Monemvasia Gate to finish our visit where we came across a brace of Homie couples, one Brit, one Irish who like us are on a long-term journey. We had a good old chin-wag and swapped some good info before going our separate ways, safe travels to you. The buildings within the Lower Town are generally in better repair than those higher up. Here we have as well as churches, a mansion, a monastery, a convent and a collection of buildings known as Mitropolis. This is quite hard going up and then down then up then down to visit the lot but to be fair it is worth it. The highlight for us was the Monastery of Perivieptos, a church built into a cave with great frescos.
According to our Health App we walked 9,000 paces all told. This is currently ranked fourth longest since July with our current leader being the 12,500 paces we undertook on the 17th of July. Was this a walk across Dartmoor you ask? No, it was when Tracy dragged me around Milton Keynes Shopping Mall.
Tracy’s Colour Supplement.
Ladies, if your man nags you about your figure or your love of shopping then get a health app on your phone. Here you can prove how tough it is to go shopping and how he should do a bit more in the lardy department.
1/11/2015 Corinth Canal
As we are coming back to cover the thumb of The Peloponnese we have missed we decided to splash out the €12 and cut an hour off our journey by using the Motorway. We arrived just before sunset in Isthmia, the Aegean end of the Corinth Canal and a despairing settlement it is. All people it seems have been replaced by gangs of wild dogs roaming the streets and barking non-stop. Even though we were parked next to a bar we couldn’t be bothered to go out and we settled down with a home-cooked chicken curry, and it was damn tasty too. We seemed to have parked in the Greek version of Tornado Alley where every 10 minutes we were struck by a ferocious cyclone that shook the van. It was like being a baby in a cot and every time you were just about to go into slumber Rancid Rachel the evil step-mother came and shook the cot so violently that your fillings fell out. Consequently we didn’t get much sleep due to the harmonious duet of wind and wolf-pack.
Up early we made the short drive across the submergible bridge to park up for breakfast to hopefully see a ship pass through and the bridge submerse. We waited for an hour and nothing, even the bridge operator has no idea until the last minute. So here are some pictures and this is unfinished business and we will be back.
In the meantime here is a short video of us going across, ignore the Weight Limit Signs, we did. Crossing the Submersible Bridge Video
One of the great things about Greece is nothing is ever spelt the same way twice with A’s E’s B’s V’s G’s Y’s and I’s completely interchangeable and it seems they have taken this logic into football results. I asked the bridge operator the result of Chavski V Liverpool and told me 0-2. Yes, Liverpool did win, yes the goal difference is the same but like the place names not precise.
Sensing no bridge action we drove the couple of Klicks for the deep-cut photo opportunity where we were both dismayed to find the Bungee jump not in operation. We had been looking forward to this since leaving Portsmouth and so we took some pics and then galloped off. Klippity Klopp, Klippity Klopp, Klippity Klopp Klopp Klopp.
Love to all
E & T