Written from the balcony of a cheap hotel a day before we fly/at the airport just about to leave/the plane/Anna’s parents’ (It’s a long one!)
Further adventures high and low in the ‘Mani’ area
A stolen evening on a romantic island
Greece turns truly mountainous
We go soft in Nafplio
More ruins at Mycenae
Time to go
Mani Mountains and Diros Caves
In retrospect Kardamyli was something of a highlight. Since then there have certainly been high points, but mostly only those we’ve climbed to over grinding hours in our lowest gears!
We tore ourselves away from a waterside café in Karlamyli too late to ever make the ‘easy’ 40km down the coast the doddle it should have been. Despite being overtly a coast road the daft engineers seemed intent on climbing as high into the mountains as possible to achieve their aim, and we had to go with them.
For those of you who don’t cycle, and as a reminder to myself, I think it’s easier to pedal 20km on the flat than 5km on these kind of hills with our panniers on. With the same pedal force you’d be whipping along at 20-30km/h on a smooth, flat road- winding into the mountains you’re suddenly stuck, inching across the flat map at glacial ‘speed’ with tired legs and creaky knees- maybe 8km/h if you’re lucky and fresh, down to 5km/h on the really steep bits. Not having contour lines on our map (just vague topography indicated by shading) made judging journey times something of a lottery. This is one we lost! On the plus side the ride and scenery was truly spectacular- think the Highlands in the sunshine over the sea and you’re not far off. If we had given ourselves all day for it, and could have taken plenty of breaks, it would have been great, as it was we ‘arrived’ (set up emergency camp in an olive grove) just after dark, still about 8kms from our final destination and totally fried.
Written in the early morning Kardamyli sunshine, one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever seen
To the Bay
It’s almost two weeks in now and the ‘bum’ lifestyle is working out a treat. Other than healthy exhaustion and a wrong turn or two that stormy night on the beach was the last wobbly point- everything else has been vying for highlight status.
Since that rain cleared we’ve barely seen a cloud in the sky- the climate is perfect- dry heat, warm and sunny in the day, cool enough to sleep well at night and not too windy for cycling. I don’t know if we’re lucky for this time of year, or if this is the ideal time to come but it couldn’t be better for us.
The afternoon after the rain saw us put in a hurried 60ks to our major destination on the west coast- a stunning complex of lagoon and bays near Pylos. I was on a ‘60s tip on my new Fiio X3 Mp3 player (bit geeky, but amazing quality)- The Grateful Dead, Revolver and Johnny Cash spun away the miles. We arrived just before dark (as usual) having barely had a break all the way down and without a clue where we were going to stay. The joy of self-sufficiency though- we just headed to the most beautiful spot on the bay, found an extremely friendly beach bar for a sundowner orange juice (still not drinking) and were welcomed to camp next to it, to use their showers and toilets and to benefit from their 24 hr security- nice! I don’t think my words can do justice to the ideal which was this gently lapping bay of sand, 5km long with the twinkling lights of Pylos at the far end and a mountainous island across the mouth to keep the heavy seas out. Add to this a huge lagoon a stone’s throw across the spit of land we were camped on, a ruined castle on the headland surveying the site and a postcard perfect mushroom-shaped cove just to the north and you’ve got wild-camp heaven.