Thursday, 18 February 2016

the wandering Waddy's in the Peloponnese, part two...

A room with a view in the hotel Byron.
 Well here it is the end of our Peloponnese odyssey.  We moved from Sparta to Nafplion last Thursday and wow, I think this is my new favourite area in Greece.  With places like Epidavros and Mycenae on the doorstep and the islands of Poros, Hydra.Dokos and Spetsies just up the coast it has to be a place where you can spend time.
Eating al fresco in February.

The Corinth Canal taken from the "sinking bridge".
 Nafplio is a beautiful town with great history culture and food to be had there.  It was the original capital city of Greece and beats the current one hands down for friendliness and cleanliness, we were impressed.

We stayed at the Byron Hotel a quintesentially quaint and quirky place, just beneath the walls of one of the town's forts with views over the rooftops down to the harbour.  Great little place and for our three night stay it was only €114 (£88) with breakfast and good fast internet.

The only thing which may affect some people visiting is that being built on a mountain side there are very steep slopes and many stairs both in the streets and in the hotel which has no lift.  That said it is a very small price to pay and it does aid sleeping when you get home exhausted on a night.

The sinking bridge in the up position.
As you can guess we didn't manage to visit all the local archaeological sites as we only had three nights so really two days to do it in.  So we missed the main Site at Epidavros which I would guess is the best part of a days visit in itself.

The small Theatre at Epidavros.
We visited the small theatre though which you can get directly to with your car but we walked about a mile through orange groves to get there, sampling the wares en-route.  On returning to the car there was an old jolly Greek guy sat nearby who gave us another Orange, he said "they were the best" and he was correct, like nectar.

Waterfall in the city walls at Nafplion.
We also Visited the Corinth canal to see the sinking bridge which is dragged down bodily through the water to allow ships to travel over the top, a very novel way to solve the problem.

 Onwards to the world famous vineyards (well it is to the Greeks) of Nemea.  We sampled and delighted in their really very good produce although I'm certainly no expert and ended up buying a couple of bottles to take home with us.

Unloading turbine blades in Nafplion harbour
 On returning to Nafplio we notice a large ship in the harbour with wind turbine blades being unloaded.  Being always one to have a look at the unusual I had a walk down there to nosey.  Not a lot of health and safety going on with the riggers who were climbing all over the blades getting straps in place in order to transfer the blades to the awaiting vehicles.

70 foot low loader not big enough then.
I would estimate each blade being about 150 to 170 foot long and the wind was blowing but it didn't stop them shifting their cargo.  The low loading wagons were perhaps 70 to 80 foot long but as you can see from the picture there is a monstrous overhang at the back.  I was wondering how they would get them onto site but as it happened they moved them about a quarter of a mile to the other end of the harbour and lifted them onto terra-firma.  Overall a very interesting thing to witness.

Galatas looking from Poros, our water taxi.
Fisherman giving the cat his share.
The next day we decided to visit Poros and Galatas where we had intended looking at perhaps overwintering when we went looking at marinas around Athens last year.  I wish we had gone there then I think we could well have moved last spring before I had my stroke.  It's fantastic, only really a town quay but you could still moor up there very comfy as there is electricity and water laid on all along the quay and showers available at several places even in winter.  There is a hydrofoil runs all year around between the islands and across to Athens so it would have been a great location for the winter months.  Ah well it was not to be.

We found a small restaurant in Nafplio which was exceptional in it's quality and presentation, the latter of which the Greeks are not famous for.  It was called Kitton and positioned in one of the town squares, beautiful food in a really nice setting slightly premium prices but generally the food there is a little dearer than it is here.  I would whole heartedly recommend it.

Our residence, Hotel Byron
In our minds the best restaurant in Nafplio, Kitton.
 Next Morning the trip home was meant to take in the rack and pinion railway which goes through the Vouraikos Gorge from Diakopto to Karavryta and takes around a hour each way.  Unfortunately the train was full until the 14:30 train, this would have meant a four and a half hour wait and also getting back to Lefkas very late bearing in mind that we knew the farmers were on strike and block major roads in a very random fashion you really don't want to finding a new route home in the dark.  So with this in mind we set off without doing the train trip but we can always do it again at some other time.

As it happened we did the right thing as access to the motorway was blocked at Messalonghi and we ended up coming home along the old coast road to Asterkos and a lovely ride it was too.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Waddy's lightening tour of the Peloponnese part one...

And we are going nowhere fast.
 On Monday we set off on our much waited for "world tour of the Peloponnese.  This is an area of Greece which we have not visited in the past other than transiting the north on the way to Athens or going to Patras.  We had decided that our first stop for a couple of nights would be at Olympia, the original location of the Olympic games some three thousand of so years ago.

Money problems with the regional council cause this.
The guy who owned the house which we originally lived in when we moved out to Assos actually lives there and we did think that we may stand a chance of bumping into them.  Just before we left we managed to find someone who knew them but of course as it was a whistle stop tour we didn't get a chance to renew our acquaintance.   We did however learn that his wife Yorta (incorrect spelling but that's how it's pronounced), is very ill, so we just sent or best wishes to them via this friend or theirs.  Shame.

Just some of the road block components.

But there's always a glass of wine waiting.
A visit to the ancient ruins there is a must and also the museums of which there are three in Olympia as well.  The only trouble is that although there is plenty of space and no crowds at this time of year they all close at three in the afternoon so it makes it a little tight when you've only got the one full day so we managed to get two museums in on the day we arrived and the site and final museum on the following, full, day.
She's not quite 3500 years old but following their footsteps.

Part of the temple to Zeus, one of the seven wonders.
Our Journey down there took over an hour longer than it should have due to tractors blocking the motorway before you get Messalongi resulting in a long detour, and then again as we approached Olympia when we had to take a unsurfaced road for about 10 Kms.  In the municipal area of Olympia (not in the village itself but for miles around it) there are huge piles of waste.

It seems that they have no space for land-fill and the money had been found for a factory to dispose of it but the money went missing!!  Perhaps this isn't a unique story but it's a real bloody mess.

Wednesday we set of for Sparta via Kalamata where we wanted to look at the marina.  We quite liked Kalamata and the marina, a little shabby but never the less we could have spent one winter there although I guess it could get very lumpy on the water with southerly wind blowing.
The carvings which formed the Apex of a Zeus' roof (poetic?)

The theatre at Olympia 

Part of the stunning 40km gorge between Kalamata and Sparta
 The scenery down the west side of the Peloponnese is really not that great compared to most of the rest of Greece which we have seen, in fact we were somewhat under whelmed by it.  However, the ride over the mountains from Kalamata to Sparta is something else.  Going from sea level right up over the highest peaks, normally well above the snow at this time of year but luckily for us not this time, although there was the remnants of it.  The road more or less follows a gorge for forty glorious kilometres, it's absolutely stunning. You are recommended to have tyre chains on this road, we didn't because we knew that to date the winter has been very gentle but we also knew that if things started getting bad we could reverse our passage and go the alternative route via the motorway to Tripoli.
Millions of Spider's nests in the trees

Road hewn through the mountain.

And sometimes hung precariously over you.
Sparta is a very bustling place I would imagine a little later in the year and judging by the amount of hotels there they must get loads of visitors.  It is a little "Spartan"(pun intended) with regards to having things to do though at this time of year, although the town itself is nice.  We looked high and low for an eatery doing something a little different but failed and as it was raining we returned to the hotel knowing that they did have a restaurant within.  We don't normally eat in hotels as they can be top price and bottom quality.  Not so this one we had a fantastic sole with shrimps (big prawns).  It was the best fish I have EVER eaten in Greece and with starter, bread, water and half a litre of good wine it came to thirty Euros for the two of us.  We have paid more than twice that for much less before.  I can therefore recommend the Maniatis Hotel, which is slap bang in the middle of Sparta very highly if anyone is thinking of going there, the breakfast was great too.

Today it's off to Nafplio but more about that next week.  If anyone wants more information on our hotels, The Pelops in Olympia, The Mantiatis in Sparta or the Byron in Nafplio, drop me a line and I'll give you the low-down.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The duchess has come to stay....

Final brush full of antifoul.
Only two things of note have happened this week.  The first of these is the launching of "Nita", Deb and Jez's new home from home.  Nita, named after Deb's mother, I had thought they may call it "the duchess" as that is how they usually refer to her, not to her face of course!  I understand that she is delighted at having a yacht named in her honour, and so she bloody well should be!

"Nita" get her bum wet for the first time.
The guys have moored her up adjacent to Kapsali so they can transfer all their goods and chattels across to Nita.  Since getting onto the pontoon they have been working tirelessly to get everything ship shape and Bristol fashion but I think the end is in sight.  Now comes the task of getting Kapsali deep gutted and ready for any potential buyers to come and see her.

Well done guys and congratulations on your new floating palace.

All board the skylark!
The other thing which has happened today is I have decided to put Lesanda up for sale.  Well at least advertise her on apolloduck and see if anyone is biting.  We are not in any real hurry but if they don't know she's for sale then they won't buy her.  Hopefully there will be someone out there who wants to live the life out here as we have done but we shall have to wait and see.
And she's there.

We are selling up lock, stock and barrel in anticipation of something new in our lives.  Perhaps some land travel, maybe a motor home but we shall have to see what happens on the home front first.