2 – 13/04/2018 Kalamata
After all the excitement of the near disastrous damage caused by the road conditions here in Greece we have decided to have a break from touring. A little sojourn is called for. So, we headed back to the marina at Kalamata. Brian and Wendy are there and will be until their part arrives from England. We didn’t tell them we were on our way back. Thought it would be a nice surprise. They were up town when we arrived, and we managed to get exactly the same spot, right on the water’s edge, next to the front of their van.
When they returned through the gate, they noticed another van next to theirs, only when they got closer, did they realise it was us back. Of course, a celebration was called for. The next day, Brian and I climbed under our van and between us, made permanent the repair I had done to the brackets that hold the water tank onto the underside of our motorhome.
The weather now has turned warm. Everyday it seems to be getting hotter and hotter and we are now beginning to see the boats being worked on for when it is time to leave the marina. We watch the fishing boats go out in the morning and return later in the evening.
I keep getting into trouble because I keep feeding any bread we have to the fish. It is great to see the different varieties that join the feeding frenzy as handfuls of bread are thrown into the water in front of the van. A lone Razor Fish is now a regular visitor to the food fest. Fishing is never allowed in marinas, but it is very tempting to get my fishing rods off the top of our van.
One thing that would make all sweet toothed people jealous is that, this year we have had two Easter celebrations. We are English, so we celebrated Easter at the normal time. However here in Greece Easter is celebrated one week later because the Greek Orthodox church go by the old Julian calendar unlike almost everybody else that use the Gregorian calendar. This is a very religious country and although most will not fully follow the rules for lent, most will have some things that they give up. So, whilst we were out and about this Good Friday we saw lots of “Guy Fawkes” type effigies being strung up all over town.
A young lad was up a ladder putting the finishing touches to his effort. We asked him what it is for. In perfect English he told us that in their religion the dummy signifies Judas Iscariot who was one of Jesus’s apprentices and at around 10 pm they kill him by setting him alight.
All day we have been hearing fireworks and the people ringing the church bells must have been on overtime. That Evening the four of us went off and stood in front of the rather macabre sight of six such dummies strung up awaiting their fate. Lots of people stood behind the dummies and every so often the mannequins were sprayed with a fire accelerant. Meanwhile bangers were lit and tossed into the field behind. More and more people came to watch whatever was going to happen. Around 10 pm masses of fireworks were heard in the distance. The sound got closer.
Then around the corner came a procession led by a man carrying a cross followed by a priest and then four men, one each corner of a flower decorated bed with a picture of Jesus laying on the mattress. Following on were throngs of people all carrying lit candles whilst singing hymns. The moment “Jesus” got level with the last dummy, it was immediately set alight followed by the other 5 Judas Iscariots.
Smoke filled the area and many of the followers stopped singing as they covered their mouths. At the same time there was a crescendo of bangs and coloured lights as many fireworks were lit to add to the spectacle. I risked being ran over by the faithful and smoke-filled lungs to get these pictures for you.
The bells of all the churches around started tolling at 8 am Easter Saturday and went on all day. We went to a supermarket and lamb couldn’t be bought for love nor money. It was all pre-ordered as this is must ingredient for any Greeks Easter Sunday meal. Whole prepared lambs were being wheeled towards the checkout ready for the Sunday spit roast. We did learn that at 10 o’clock that evening, everyone goes to church. On leaving the church people go home carrying their lit, highly decorated candles. Now Lent is over. The celebrations can carry on all night and into the next day when barbecues and loud Greek music are the order of the day. Also, on Easter Sunday, everything is closed including the restaurants and bars. It is said that this is the one day of the year when even the ferries to the many islands do not run. At the parties, everyone goes armed with a red hard boiled egg. They tap their eggs against other eggs and the person’s egg that remains intact is deemed to be lucky throughout the next year. This is one tradition we did not join in. I feel we are so fortunate to be doing what we do that we do not need an un-cracked boiled egg to tell us how lucky we are.
We went down to a local car hire depot and hired a standard four door saloon for two days. The four of us packed our bags the next day and went off to pick up the car. We had been upgraded to a 1.4 litre, diesel BMW at no extra cost. Brian and I shared the driving and we planned to find a hotel for the night. Off we went. Driving a car on the narrow Greek roads is a totally different experience to driving our motorhomes. We first went down to the caves at Pyrgos Dirou, so Brian and Wendy could experience what we had already seen.
We then went on to Gytheio and found a great hotel right on the water front. Elaine negotiated the price for the two rooms down to an easily afforded price. That evening we had a great meal out and then found a fascinating bar full of a random selection of interesting curios including a chatty parrot in a large cage.
The next day we drove all around the Lukonikos Kolpos, the huge bay and on down to Monemvasia. This very up-market sea side resort has a very special claim to fame. Over the bridge from the modern town is Greece’s Rock of Gibraltar.
We parked the car and followed everyone to the far end of the rock. We could see signs of fortifications way up on top. Once through the walls at the end we came into the quaintest narrow streets full of shops, bars and cafes. Way above, there was a zigzag path that would lead you up to the top of the rock.
Whilst Brian, Wendy and Elaine went off to get a coffee, I just had to see what was up there. Having climbed to behind the houses, I found the start of the zig-zag path up to the top. The pathway was shiny cobbles and very slippery so, very carefully I started the climb. The view from the top was well worth the effort to get up there and at the top there was a mixture of old ruins and recently renovated parts.
Over the castle walls I got great pictures of the small township below and then I spotted the other three far below. Back across the bridge we found a café for lunch in this now very busy holiday hot spot.
Heading back, we had great views of the snow covered, severe Tangelos mountain range. We were driving in beautiful sunshine and the warmth and up there was lots of the white stuff. We had started to climb by the time we got to Mystras and the weather was on the change. By the time we got to this fascinating town it was raining so we decided to take the mountain route back to the marina, so we could see if the route was suitable for our motorhomes. The road climbed and climbed and now we were on the narrowest zig-zagging roads imaginable. The rain turned into a storm and the thunder and lightening preceded a downpour of hailstones. Visibility was so bad I had to stop for our safety. Brian offered to take over the driving but that would have meant me getting out of the car during the “monsoon” that was taking place, so I stayed firmly in the driving seat. Torrents of water were running down the road.
When we got to the top the storm abated and all around us we could see snow on the fields around us. At some stages the road way took us through holes in the mountain rock that towered above us. On the way down, we went through long stretches where the roadway was completely covered in running water. Finally, when we got down to almost sea level we were back in the warmth and the sunshine. I think we all agreed that that particular road is not really suitable for motorhome travel.
The days passed by. We were all very relaxed. We kept trying to track the parcel for the part, so Brian and Wendy could drive their motorhome safely. Finally, after yet another search, I discovered that the parcel was in Germany!!!! Thank you, UK post office for your not so wonderful service. I finally also got a phone number for the Greek company that would eventually be delivering the parcel. I also discovered that they had an office here in Kalamata. Off we tracked. Finally, we got a promise after more phone calls that we would have the parcel at the latest by Monday.
So, between us, we decided to get another hire car. Budget / Avis did us another great deal and hired us exactly the same BMW at the super low price that we had got it for before. We packed our bags and set off down to Nafplio. We started off going over the same mountain we had crossed when I was driving during the storm. Brian drove, so of course, the sun shone, and the going was perfect. We stopped at the ancient ruins at Mystras and spent a few hours wandering around the wonders that were there. After a great, typically Greek meal, in the town, Brian drove us down to Nafplio.
I do not do recommendations but if you ever get the chance then Nafplio is a place to visit. The old town is full of narrow streets with great bars, shops and restaurants. There is a fort out in the bay and the mountains that lay behind are covered in fascinating looking fortifications.
We finally decided on which hotel we would stay at and managed to park just across the road from the entrance. It wasn’t long before we were enjoying the hospitality of a nice bar and sat people watching and enjoying the sunshine of the lovely warm day. We went off to explore the town and to see where we fancied eating that evening.
This is a very busy resort and is now very high on our best places to visit in Greece list. That evening we had a great Lamb dish in a fabulous, typically Greek restaurant. This place got the nod because the old man of the restaurant took Elaine and Wendy through to the kitchen where he proceeded to open every pot on the huge stove to show them what was cooking. Later on the same old man came over to the table to chat. When he learnt that Brian and Wendy are Australians, he went off and got his address book and asked if they knew his nephew who lives in Australia. Before going back to the hotel, we walked around the town again to take night pictures around the town.
Today, after breakfast we made our way up to the extensive castle and the views from up there were magnificent. We headed north from Nafplio and we to Ancient Mycenae to look at the ruins there before heading back to the Marina via the new Greek toll road. Great we got back a little early. The indicator stalk had been delivered here to the office just today and Brian immediately fitted it and we all got the thumbs up.
We are on our way towards Ancient Corinth and Athens tomorrow.