You left us last striking out from the American-dominated surf-town of Tamarindo to explore the whole northern Pacific coast (known as Guanacaste). While Tamarindo with its range of surf (from beginner to challenging), great beaches and multitude tasty eateries would be a pleasant enough stay we had some exploring to do.
We quickly evaluated tripping around by bus, but given the slightly out of the way places, the potentially ‘relaxed’ country-schedules and our ability to be on time we opted for a car. In my book there are two types of travellers; those whose limiting factor is money, and those which is time. If you’ve got £5,000 to see the world with and no work that you’re missing out on you count your time away in money. If you spend £10pd that’s a year and a half of work-free adventure (a-la Al and Laura on their www.aroundtheworldtravels.co.uk), if you spend £100pd then that’s not even two months before it’s back to the grind. This is why long term travellers get almost insanely tight; it’s their freedom they’re spending. On the other hand they have the untold luxury of all the time in the world to hunt out cheap stays, work while away and so get into the culture properly, wait hours for busses which might not show. While Anna and I have got a luxury month in the time budget, and being away 30 days means we’ve got to watch our per day spend, time is still by far our limiting factor= rental car it is.
Written after a sun and sweat drenched beach run and lazy breakfast
• A month in the UK in a few sentences
• Costa Rica??
• The first few days
Back in the UK
Due to much laziness and the usual dashing around these posts have lapsed- apologies! In a few weeks back in the UK we ran(/limped) the Royal Parks Half Marathon (our joints didn’t thank us for the lack of training and Anna’s knee and my ankles gave in), had the luxury of time to visit pretty much everyone we know in the UK which was brilliant (hi all!), went clubbing in Sankies despite adhering to Sober October (different), put Fes (the camper van) away for the winter, packed in a load of work and of course met my new nephew.
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.
Written in the pissing rain, in our champ tent on the beach
We leave Manchester in a blur
Party Greece is a total bust
Slip the noose and escape on our bikes
We’re not as hard as we like to think
Ancient Olympia rocks
Our tent is tested
Wow! What a blur from last Friday to this! Last Friday Anna had just finished her last day of three years’ work and training, handed in the corrections on her Psychology thesis, packed up the last of her flat’s furniture into our massive camper van and her car, driven over to her parents’ place to unload and finally get to bed about 1am. We thought that was the hump and that the Friday would be easier- we were wrong! Although the flat was mostly empty, we still needed to do a final pack, break down the bikes for the flight, totally empty the flat and deep clean. The afternoon and then the evening slipped away and midnight found us still mopping floors and emptying the fridge. The van was loaded with the last of it and we finally got away, totally exhausted but slightly exhilarated. It was too late for bed by the time we got to Anna’s bro’s, where we were supposed to have spent the evening and night before the 3am taxi- a bottle of champagne had been promising itself to us all night and the lack of sleep wasn’t going to stop us!
This whole Greece jaunt was instigated by an invite to a friend’s 30th birthday at a villa in Zakynthos- we thought we could make the most of the flights rather than just going for a long weekend like most. It was going to be a good chance to celebrate with her, catch up with a few of her friends I knew, meet some new ones and have a the good old party we deserved before a couple of healthy weeks.
There’s not much to say about this really- if you know the Peak District (between Sheffield and Manchester in the UK) you won’t be surprised by the beauty, if you don’t then you should pay a visit!
These pics are from a weekend trip organized by our mate Anth- he managed to get over 20 of us together from all over the country to camp, mountain bike, eat like champs and generally take in the best of the Peaks. The awesome power of planning and preparation- thanks Anth!
Written on train from Manchester to London 08/09/14
We pack up Anna’s flat and go for a ride.
Before you can go you must leave. Leaving is ending, and ending something good is sad.
We’ve just spent another weekend packing up Anna’s flat of three years and shifting her things to her childhood bedroom at her parents’ house. Before they could fit however this room needed to be cleared of the detritus of her late teens and 20s- endless A4 sheets of academic notes, a box or two for jumble sale and a few gems to keep.
It’s at times like this I wonder what we’re doing- it seems like a massive effort to pack everything up and away, rather than just shift it all to a bigger place and settle in. Of course this is madness. Everything needs a good weeding out every once in a while but there’s always something better to do unless forced by something like this. And it feels good once completed- a clear room and the knowledge that everything you’re carting around and storing is actually good and useful to you. I went through this a few years ago before moving to London- sorting, weeding, storing (in easy to move, easy to find boxes- with labels! If you can’t find something you need in 2 mins is it’s not worth keeping it. And, ‘If in doubt, chuck it out.’)
We even found time to hit a circuit around the Lancashire moors; the first time on our road bikes for ages. I was a bit worried I might have gone off road riding, but sure enough it was still a buzz and the legs, bikes and bums held up fine to a hilly 20 mile loop. I can’t wait to be off with everything we could need with us; and a whole land of the unknown to discover.