Saturday, 6 August 2011

Penistone to the Peloponnese - again 4

Day 24  Karathona Beach, Napflion

We drove the Kalamata/Tripoli road on the old road. We stopped above Megalopoli where there is a monument to people who gave their lives in the war 1944. The road and the view looked a bit like standing on Mam Tor looking down at Castleton- really ! The road is slipping away and you can see a big cement works. We had lunch there.

I missed a turn in Tripoli which meant a lovely three point turn  from Pete while I stopped the traffic ( very embarrassing but it was okay) We followed a scenic route with lots of hairpins down to Mili where Pete had camped in the 70s then along into the port at Napflion. We parked there and went for a walk round the lovely town streets with steps leading up to the castle. However an Olympiakos fan had graffitied ‘gate 7’ everywhere and it made it look so scruffy. It was too hot to be tempted to go up to the castle .

We thought we ought to check out Karathona Beach to park overnight as an alternative to the port and it was signposted so we found it easily. It’s a big bay with beach bars at one end and a hardly started holiday village at the other where we parked under eucalyptus trees and had a swim in warm water. There were five other vans there so we stayed. People came to the beach to have swims and picnics till after dark.

Day 25 Karathona Beach

We got ‘ mozzied’ in the night though we’d had a burner coil on earlier. There  was a flat calm sea
And we cycled along the cliff path into Napflion- 2.2 miles by a beautiful sea on one side and cliffs and trees on the other. There are a couple of places to swim from- little pebble areas. We had to lift the bikes over a low barrier at the Napflion end but it was the best bike ride I’ve ever done. We went down past the Palace walls , parked by a square and went for coffee in the old railway station. We bought local bread and hoummus and cycled back. We went for a swim  then sat reading and watching people. We cycled then to the other end of the bay to take sunset photos, past the beach bars and the no camping signs. It’s possible to use the showers and loos there though. It got hot later as there was no breeze and one of the beach bars played loud music till late. It’s a good place to stop apart from that. Pete did a Good Samaratin bit when I noticed that a priest had got his car grounded on a tree root so off he went to assist armed with leveling ramps etc. A German guy with a jack also assisted and a happy chappy got his car cleared just before his fireman friend arrived.

Day 26 Ancient Corinth via Epidavros/ Achea Epidavros
We woke up early and headed for Epidavros. We passed a Mycean bridge, just by the road so had to stop to take a photo. ( 6000 year old bridge!)

 We got to the almost empty car park at Epidavros and parked in the shade. The Theatre is awesome!!!! I’d seen lots of pictures but hadn’t got  the scale of it at all. I glimpsed it through the trees after paying 6 euros to go in and was amazed. The actual stage had a set on it as Kevin Spacey was doing a play there later. We had a shady quiet walk around the site and the museum and still I couldn’t get over the majesty of the construction and the amazing acoustics. We watched in total fascination an archaeologist painstakingly measuring as  a workman lowered one stone onto another using a tripod. We seemed to stumble into a work area where pile sof stone and columns were waiting to be sorted and moved………so much work for people to do.
Returning the van after a really good look round, we had bread and marmite (!) and coffee and talked about what we’d seen. We’d had a super time there. We set off for Achea Epidavros , followed signs and turned along a road to Camping Nicolas and carried on to a tiny beach and café. The owner parked us up close to his bar and we had a drink.

We were going to swim there but I felt uncomfortable for other people seeing this big van next to the café spoiling the view so we went into the little town port, parked there and cycled along for a swim. We didn’t feel like parking there overnight so we headed for Corinth. The drive there is quite scenic.  We parked down by Isthmia by a small beach after looking at the bottom end of the canal. We sat about and has swims and watched a gypsy extended family arrive ( 22- 9 adults, 13 kids) who put down mats on the pavement and all the children went in the water. At one point, some of the adults were engrossed in burying one of the children in sand and didn’t see one little one face down in the shallows………the grandma saw and screamed and the whole beach seemed to hold it’s breath till the little one breathed too. Almost a tragedy..........
They then carried on swimming and playing then all got in the van ( some soaking wet) and headed off. We watched the huge ‘gin palaces’ going up the canal and the big ships waiting to go through and I pondered on the realities of so much money in one place and so little in another- the wealth of the yacht owners and the contrast with the gypsy family.

It got very hot in the van so we thought it wouldn’t be a good place to overnight so mistake 1 was to move.
Mistake 2 was not to check the co-ordinates to the Camperstop so we ended up on the Tripoli ‘motorway’ with no way to get off for 18 kilometres and a toll booth. Mistake 3 was to try and use another road to get ot Ancient Corinth with few signposts. Pete was anxious as it was starting to get dark so we ended up turning round and going back to the motorway where of course we had to payanother 6.20 to go back to Corinth. We found the road and the Camperstop ( and even though it looked a bit unlikely a place, we were warmly welcomed by Vassilis and Fotini the couple who run it. We were brought Greek coffee and spoon sweets before we’d even hooked up. There was an English van there already and Pete spoke to the lady while I was talking to Fotini.
There are views there over the sea though it’s close to the main road with some noise. We went up the hill to the village and had fantastic food and some really nice ( cheap ) wine and coming back to a camper where we could run fans, have good long showers and be cooler made me feel happier.

Day 27 Athens

We got up and took the clothes in from the line, had a chat to Fotini and set off for Athens. Our friend George rang to say he was at Camping Athens already and he’d had an argument with the woman there who said we couldn’t leave the van there and go and stay at his flat . He said she was a nutcase……….I made a mess of getting us to the campsite but the plus side was we got cheap diesel when we stopped at a garage to ask the way. I tried to be diplomatic with the woman at Camping Athens but she wasn’t having it- I said I’d heard of people leaving their vans there, she said they didn’t do it- then contradicted herself saying sometimes they let people leave their vans while they go to the islands……….aaarrgghh- we left!  ( I heard later via that several people had trouble with this 'lady' . George and Zoi came so we followed him ( hairy drive) into Athens and parked across the street from the flat. We went to eat in the local taverna with Dragana  then George went home and we went to Dragana’s new flat. It’s very nice and near to George’s. We went back to George’s then to Nikos Bodega bar for drinks with other friends Gregoris, Vangelis and Yiannis who was driving down to get a ferry to Kythera that night. Nikos and Pete came back from the bar to put the bikes inside the van as Nikos was worried about them being stolen. I went to the swings with Dragana and Zoi.
It was very hot- George went to work and we stayed in his room but it was  hot and noisy and I always forget  that about Athens till I get there..

Day 28 Athens

Hot! Pete went to the bakery for bread and got two free little pies. We went to Dragana's for coffee and while I stayed there, Pete went round to Tota’s  coffee shop with George and Vivien. We then went back to George’s – they’d ordered food in from a restaurant. Vivien showed us some pictures of sculptures she’s working on for an exhibition.  Later we went to Nikos’ again and then to Joker’s bar where George works as a DJ near Syntagma.

Day 29 Athens
It wasn’t so hot in the night- we put a fan on. The day followed a similar pattern, Dragana’s for coffee, Nikos’ for drinks. It was an evening tinged with a bit of sadness because we planned to leave the next day.  We had a bit of fun describing the rules of cricket ( !) and Pete made George, Vivien and I play cricket in the flat……..silly mid what???? We formed the  Fostiras Cricket Club but we didn’t have quite enough people for a proper game………!

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