Kiato 29/11 – 1/12/2015
This bloggage was supposed to be primarily about our visits to the ancient monuments of Epidavros, Mycenae and Nemea. After Epidavros we couldn’t take spending any more money looking at rubble strewn around. Unfortunately, I have the imagination of a dead slug when it comes to antiquity and so being able to place myself in the shoes of Agamemnon while looking at a pile of rocks leaves me under-whelmed. I just scream internally to get the place finished, and so for those reasons and the fact that anything worth seeing at the other two sites has been scooped up and moved to Athens.
Six Euros gets you a ticket to wander around the sanctuary of Asklepios, he being the son of Apollo and Coronis and god of medicine in his own right. His birth could be described in Midwifery circles as a mite difficult in that his mother, Coronis, was struck by a thunderbolt and killed during the delivery. But being from a single parent family did not hold him back and with the help of his father Apollo and his mate Chiron they taught him everything there was to know in the art of healing.
The 14,000 seater ancient theatre is impressive and is still used to this day during the Hellenic Festival. This World Heritage site occupies a glorious setting amid pine-clad hills and even my gastropod limiting imagination can appreciate this. Accompanying the theatre are the ruins of the Sanctuary of Asklepios consisting of a hostelry for pilgrims and patients, a banquet hall, an athletics stadium and a Roman built Odeum.
So here are the pictures;
Figure 1Epidavros Theatre from the top row
Figure 2 From the thespian’s perspective
Figure 3 The Stadium, Still used to this day for school events
Figure 4 The Katagogeion
Figure 5 A Wall
Cultured up we left Epidavros and headed for the coast and left the debris-centric attractions of Mycenae and Nemea for another day. Greece like everywhere has brown signs highlighting places of interest, but unlike everywhere these ‘Crazy Greeks’ have taken them to a new dimension. On the road north we passed a ‘Brownie’ with the words ‘Archaeological Place’. No name and no distance to help the user to decide if it was the place they were looking for or how far the place with no name was. I thought how amusing this could be if we took this cost-saving approach to all road signs. We could just have two new types of brown sign, Old Place and New Place. Imagine the excitement and suspense after travelling along miles of country roads to end up at Stonehenge when you thought you were heading to Bath. I digress.
The way we find a spot to stop now is to look on Google Earth for somewhere that does not look to scabby and has a reasonable place to park. And to be fair this is the best method we have found, especially here in Greece where there seems to be no restrictions to parking a motorhome. If it looks like a sensible place then it appears you will be left in peace. The only drawback we have found to the Google Method is that it does not show dogs, and dogs are the biggest pain, especially dogs that bay at the moon.
Using the above method we hit on a large car-park that seemed to have been built when Kiato had plans to be a commercial port. Flat, on the coast, in town, no dogs, open-access WiFi, freely available water, perfect. After having a long drive we went to the shops and bought 2 donner kebabs for me, one for Tracy, a six pack of beer, a bottle of wine and a blood pressure testing machine. I am now taking pills to control my blood pressure. I keep telling Tracy I feel like a space cadet, Tracy claims she can see no difference.
While cruising through Greece we have noticed that the Grecians do not like to walk one centimetre more than they have to. This results in every street being blocked by double parking as everyone slings on the anchors outside the shop they wish to visit. They also use this approach when parking in a car park, they must park in the spot nearest to where they wish to go. They do not care if it takes 27 manoeuvers to get in the gap, they do not care if bits of their cars fall off, they must be as close as possible. To back up my theory here are a couple of pictures taken at exactly the same time in the car park we were in.
Figure 6 Plenty of Space that side of the van
Figure 7But I will squeeze into that gap in front of you no matter what.
The next day we got up, took the bikes off the rack and had a good old cycle up and down the extensive Kiato prom, and a rather pleasant place it is too. We were feeling rather proud of ourselves of finding such a pleasant place to park-up when we were engaged in conversation with a jolly local. We were espousing the delights of Kiato when we were stopped in our tracks.
Jolly Local: ‘Did you know this is the worst town in Greece?’
Us: ‘No, we kinda like it, with its harbour, beach, shops, and café lined town square’
Jolly Local: ‘It’s all to do with Feng Shui, everything is wrong, it faces the wrong way, even the mayor admits it. I used to live in America, for ten years. I had never been so happy in my life, so I decided to come back to Greece to see if I was correct about being so happy in America. I came home to die.’
Us: ‘When was that then?’ We were thinking he must have a terminal illness as he didn’t look that old
Jolly Local: ‘About 25 years ago. But I was right, I was happiest when I was in America’
Us: ‘So why don’t you go back to where you were happy?’
Jolly Local: ‘Because I’ll never be that happy again’
Confused we left, and once we had room to move the van we left for Diakopton. But first some pictures of Kiato, a fine town.
Figure 8 Kiato Town Square
Figure 9 Snow-capped hills and blue sea
Figure 10 Tracy on her bike on the prom at Kiato
The two hour drive between Kiato and Diakopton was the worst we have had in a long while. It appears there was a motorway that has been now been dug-up to build a new one in the same place as the old one. This has resulted with most of the journey officially being a 60kph limited contraflow system. The locals have a different idea with them hooting, gesticulating and overtaking in a contraflow for the entire journey. Hellish, but nothing is going to keep these people from a fag and a frappe.
Diakopton 1/12 -4/12/2015
OK, so what is the attraction of an insignificant fishing village on the south side of the Gulf of Corinth? Only one of the great railway journeys of the world. But before we embarked on that we found a lovely level spot on the harbour with water and free open-access Wifi. And here we are, all snuggly at sunset.
Figure 11 Diakopton Harbour
No time for a leisurely breakfast this morning as we had to catch the 08:45 from Diakopton to Kalavryta narrow-gauge rack-and-pinion train up through the Vouraikos Gorge. This unique little train driven by a fag smoking, Frappa drinking engineer takes passengers from sea-level at Diakopton on a 22.5Km journey though the gorge to the regional town of Kalavryta 772m (2532 feet) above sea level. This remarkable feat of engineering delivered by a French company and built by Italian and Greek labourers took seven years to build between 1889 and 1896 (6 years behind schedule) and apart from a couple of years has been delivering people and goods for over a hundred years through some pretty inhospitable country. If you have any spotter genes in you whatsoever then you must do this trip before you die.
Figure 12 Tracy on-board just about to leave
Figure 13 Original Steam loco from 1896. No. DK8003. Spotted
Figure 14 Engine Shed at Diakopton showing new Stadler Class 31 and Old Decauville Class 30 Railcars
Figure 15 Class 30 and 31 side by side
The journey takes approximately an hour with a short stop at the village of Zahlorou and includes three stages of rack-assisted climb. The journey switches back and forth under a canopy of Plane trees while clinging to a narrow edge overlooking the river and passing through a total of seven curving tunnels. It is magnificent and in our opinion the best day-out in Greece. We have made a movie by clamping the GoPro to the outside of the train. Unfortunately we have not found an access point fast enough to upload the video and so we will turn it into our Christmas Special. In the meantime here are a couple of stills.
Figure 16 Kalavryta Station
Figure 17 from the Cab
Figure 18 Into a Tunnel
Figure 19 The Vouraikos Gorge
Figure 20 The GoPro Filming the journey
Kalavryta is the top Skiing centre in Greece and it gives the glow of an up-market town. It is a beautifully clean Alpine Village with breathable air and some exquisite shops. However a shadow hangs over this town from events that happened on the 13th December 1943. This is when the German Army split the town into two. All men and boys over the age of thirteen were marched to the top of the ridge and slaughtered, 498 died and 13 survived. The women and children were herded into the local school and the building set ablaze. This harrowing story is told in a dignified way in the Museum of the Kalavryta Holocaust and especially moving is the video telling the story by some of the survivors. Moving on.
Figure 21 Holocaust Statue
Figure 22 Cathedral Kalavryta
Figure 23 Heathens
Figure 24 Main street Kalavryta
We spent another day at Diakopton catching the last of the sun’s rays before winter finally gets a foothold in this beautiful country. In our next episode we plan to cross the Rio-Antirion Bridge and head up to Delphi (more rubble I expect.)
Love to All