A tour thru the Peloponnese in absolute Greek off-season, the ferry to Italy and approaching Laufenburg in Swizzyland.
Back to Nafplio. It’s said to be 1 of the nicest towns in Greece. True for the old town. Carefully restored buildings, at least not 100% used for tourist infrastructure. A huge difference to the never ending 3rd world concrete constructions predominant in most Greek towns.
They have pretty nice GHs in town. Only they forgot that some guys may arrive with a full car and the port’s dark parking area may not be the best solution. Fortunately we found a place a little outside the old town with own parking. After a night’s stay we could leave Prado in their good hands while we moved to an old town accommodation. Thanx guys.
Overlooking the town they have their Palmidi castle. Just a few 100 steps up. It’s November, so cool weather and a chance to climb up the hill. Maybe the castle itself is not exactly the world’s top sight. Many old stones, some thick walls and a dungeon were they probably imprisoned some unlawful or politically inconvenient guys.
Then to the nearby World Heritage of Epidauros. Well, you know these Greek settlement having this health station called Asclepeion and a site for these open air events they called Theater. Simply wiki it for more reliable information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidaurus and admire it on the panorama below.
Still a lot of work seems to be going on. Unfortunately all working sites were completely empty that day. Maybe a consequence of the austerity measures imposed to Greece by some countries of the rest of the world. Maybe less dramatically just an extended siesta by the workers.
Whatever, we could not determine whether they wanted to rebuild 1 of the ancient monuments or to make us believe that the ancient Greeks already worked with this technology.
Please click on the arrow 2c the Panorama
We moved on to the Mani Peninsula.
On the way a stop in Monemvasia. A village on the eastern finger of the Peloponnese. In summer famous for a constant flow of tourists admiring the old cobble roads lined with all kind of tourist oriented traditional shops, so-called Greek food sellers and accommodation for those few guys not having their watery bed on a cruise ship. Currently, without all these tourist accessories it’s a traditional, quite atmospheric village with a tavern serving good food and lots of rotten grape juice.
On to Areopoli. The biggest town on Mani Peninsula. Thus a chance to find accommodation and an open restaurant even in off-season. Our experiences showed that this is not always an easy task. Wind, temperatures below 17.9°C and winter arriving soon keeps nearly all tourists away. You like a particular village, would like to stay there a little bit longer – no way, the next open hotel is more than 30km away. And don’t even think about food!
Against all odds, we found one of those rare hotels open all year in Areopolis. Nice location and a parking for Prado.
Then a trip around the peninsula. To some beaches and tiny harbours, …
… narrow roads over sheers cliffs and great views from the hills.
Many with their traditional towers. As far as we understood these constructions were used to better manage the neighbours. Whatever that may mean. There are stories about blood feud having lasted for more than 40 years. Maybe they’re still a reason for turbulences in Greek’s parliament. Who knows.
Finally we arrived at Cape Tainaro.
A short walk to the lighthouse and the view back to the north…
… well, somehow not too impressive the view from the bottom of Europe.
The cape is also the place of the ancient Oracle of Choros Tenaro. A place still used if people want to know their destiny with the latest girl- or boyfriend, the boss’ behaviour next year or simply what they will expect at home after having not explained the last nights absence.
And of course the all famous sunset of Mani. A long way out along the sea to find the perfect place …
… and then the sunset of the sunsets – kitsch as kitsch can be – simply forget Oia!!!
Driving northwards. Along the coast towards Kalamata. Passing the small village of Limeni just outside Areopoli, …
… over the 1200m high Lagadha pass and the deep gorge between the Taygetos mountains to arrive in the late afternoon at Mystras. The gateway to the eponymous Byzantine ruins.
Mystra a place with a pretty complicated history of ever-changing rulers and despots. A mix of a huge fortress on the top of the hill, …
… fully destroyed houses of ordinary citizens, a mosque and a number of churches. Should you really want to know all these bloodthirsty details simply wiki them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystras.
The 1st test to pass are the road signs. No problem. Thanx to our knowledge of the Cyrillic script we could identify about half of the signs. Another 25% after remembering what we’ve learned during painful mathematic lessons at school and the rest by intuition. So no problem at all. – You probably can imagine how long time it took at each sign; however, we still managed to arrive before sunset.
The next test consisted of the width of the road and the gradients on the side. Of course no problem after having conquered the road to Tusheti in Caucasus.
The gorge. A walk of some 3h down to the bottom, on the other side up to the top and then again down to the river and finally the same way back. This all to visit 2 monasteries and an ancient Greek archaeological site rather resembling to a heap of stones – sorry to all die-hard Greek old stone fanatics.
1st the visit to the wonderful Philosophu Monastry. The new and the old one. You’re received by a monk, get some information and water’n’Lukum. These chewing-gum like over sweet play dough is offered in different colours, all tasting the same. Then a look at the new monastery …
Also this place high up in a cliff of the gorge.
In Greece it’s sometimes quite difficult to get the real feeling to be following the silk road somewhere between its loose end in the west – Laufenburg and the home village of Djingis Khan in the Mongolian desert. Even if travelling it the reverse way. Nevertheless sometimes there’s an ultimate proof that you’re on the right way. We had this all enlightening experience when feeding Prado at the fuel station in Dhimitsana.
After that we headed towards Olympia. We crossed the mountains and hills on more of those small roads. It was not the fastest way to arrive, but the landscape and the villages we passed were quite nice.
Nevertheless, somehow we had the strong impression that these roads were not really built for ordinary traffic. Many times they rather resembled to African bushland, sometimes to veggie fields or in their luxury version even to herb gardens. Whatever. Botanists could spend weeks to determine all these beautiful plants growing in the cracks of the pavement and on its sideboards.
Then we arrived in Olympia. The town – artificial, solely built for tourists with absolutely no pretensions, just money. Accordingly our accommodation, our dinner, our breakfast. No idea if any better for the beautiful souvenirs. We didn’t try. Should you ever be nearby – just avoid it. Better go somewhere else.
Anyway, we didn’t go there to see the village. It’s all about the great Greek ruins in the town where they invented this huge money laundering mechanism they called Olympic games.
A huge area with all kind of ruined houses, schools, temples and even a full size stadium.
Once the old Greek finished these Olympic games in the stadium you can still imagine how these guys played soccer preparing for world championship. They even had a small tribune for their guests of honour. You can easily imagine –Seppi Blatties predecessor negotiating for FIFA with Caesar, Ramses II, the representative of Neanderthal, Mao, Rasputin or Tsipras. Finding great solutions and exchanging lots of bundles of paper.
Ordinary people had to sit in the grass and got a wet a…
Enough of low service-high prize Olympia. The final stretch in Greece to Patra.
Patra CBD – not much to see or to do. Some lounging’n’eating places and the port to take the ferry to Italy.
On 9th we boarded a vessel of Minoan Lines to Italy. For reasons we could never understand the only company we could book on internet for a car higher than 2,40 m. Even already having a little experience with this line, we haven’t learned anything: again we went on board on the 22h trip without any food. As to expect again the food was barbarous. Maybe we should take them to the international court for human rights. Maybe it’s just one of these Italian mafia enterprises responsible for catering. So nothing to do. Whatever, after dinner we no longer had any courage to buy cooked food on this ferry.
On northwards. Traversing the boring Padan Plain to Milan and then to Como. Another stop. The accommodation with the beautiful breakfast we went to at the beginning of the journey some 5 months ago. We got a room but no breakfast. The guys have no space for it. Only their tables on the road – not really the solution for cold winter mornings.
After breakfast in a nearby bar – a slobbery croissant filled with an industrial filling material they call jam and a coffee – on to Swizzyland. The border formalities were pretty straight forward. The guys simply ignored us. What a shame we did not buy more bottles of Armenian Cognac to bring to Swizzyland.
Weather was nice. Our great chance as we still had to conquer the mighty Alps. We decided to drive over the San Gottardo Pass. Not because it was less dangerous, less steep or less high than other alpine pass. But simply because it was on the way to Laufaburg. We expected a kind of experience we had when we crossed Abano Pass in Tusheti, Georgia. In November of course with a lot of snow as an extra challenge.
Well, it was slightly less adventurous. A kind of expressway, all paved no potholes and without any snow ascends to the summit of the pass and on the other side down into the fog of northern Swizzyland. Whatever – we did it.
A short visit to Martin’s parents to proof that we’re back and on to Laufaburg – 1 of the starting points of the Silk Road on its way to the east of Mongolia.
And then – the traditional bottle of South African Allesverloren Tinta Barocca to celebrate the safe return after all these incredible dangers, the unexpected adventures and the boring trips on the vessels of Minoan lines in the last 5 month of our journey.
After 18 170 km time to prepare for hibernation and to seriously get ready for the trip next year to reach, inshallah, Korea.
cu after hibernation in March next year.