Greece is home of the Yiros and at 2 euro each, was a staple member of our daily diet. OK, OK we didn’t limit it to just 1 a day, but at 2 euro…..WHY WOULD YOU! They are THE best! and at home in Adelaide we would pay $8 each for one and don’t taste anywhere near as good. Yiros is a Kebab for all you eastern board Australians & European friends out there! I never knew why Raderlaidans where the only Ozzies that called it a Yiros, but now I realize it’s because we have the largest Greek population in Australia & as the eastern states have more Lebanese, hence they called it Kebab or Falafel.
With Yiros in hand we left Monemvasia & headed towards Nafplio area, following the coast most of the way and taking a few days to get there. As with most of our journey we often don’t have a plan or any idea of which road we wish to take until a junction is upon us that finally forces a decision. So little did we know that the “red road” towards the coast was going to take us up & over a SMAZING high mountain pass, via the gorgeous mountain village of Kosmas, through a beautiful National Park & along a stunning Gorge. Our reward for this unplanned route was sore hands, from the countless hairpin turns & a dry mouth, after holding it open the whole time like one of those silly side show alley clowns. But, this is what we love the most about travelling and what we love especially about Greece. You can count on the fact that any road you decide to take, generally turns out to be hard work but with much reward.
As the scenery is breath taking we’ve never had a dull day on the road. There are just so many great drives to be had in any which direction you take, little planning is generally needed and an early start is always a good idea. But alas we are bad at that too which generally means we don’t quite get as far as we hoped or arrive a lot later than anticipated.
With the days getting shorter and just a little bit cooler (mid-high 20’s) we knew summer was coming to an end and we kind of thought that by the time we got to Athens, we’d probably be a bit tired of touring and would want to start to slow the pace down a bit and think about heading to Austria.
Nafplio is such a great town & we really feel in love with this area of Greece. The town itself has a beautiful fortification and old ruined castle which overlooks the bay & surrounding beaches. There is some truly amazing coastline in Greece and again we have not been disappointed.
A fishing village called Vivary
We found a little fishing village about 10kms from Nafplio called Vivari and ended up camping on the beach for 3 weeks. It had the most amazing view over a bay, protected calm waters for a lazy swim & fish abundant that kept us in the water virtually the whole time. There was a French campervan there the 3 weeks like us, who liked to “nude it up”…so you kind of had to be careful which way you looked first thing in the morning if you didn’t want a rude awakening and enjoy waking up slowly as we do!
The ‘wedgie’ didn’t really make an appearance in Greece, but ‘birthday suit’ European’s where abundant! Austrian’s are very relaxed when it comes to nudity and the retired folk have indeed made an art form out of it and enjoy this style of sunbaking and swimming all day long. I’ll have to make sure I find the “togs allowed” spas and sauna’s when where in the snow as I hear they have some that are mandatory “birthday suit only”…..GULP!
About 25kms from Vivari is the very well restored/preserved amphitheater of Ancient Epidaurus which is wonderful. They still hold productions here in summer, which would be awesome to see one day as the acoustics are perfect. We really loved the village of Epidaurus & the coast around this side of Peloponnese which then heads south towards the islands of Poros and Hydra. It is so beautiful that we did the drive quite a few times, stopping when we found any opportunity to have a dip and a quick spearfish. ….we could do it again and again and still love it. We would really love to live in this part of the world and if we had our choice it would be Epidaurus…a house with a view over the bay not far from the water.
I must admit we were a little underwhelmed by many of Greece’s ancient sites. For all the historical significance that Greece has, it’s quite strange to be in the ruins that have not stood the test of time well and seem so much smaller than you imagine. Kind of like how you feel when you see the Mona Lisa for the first time! As Ancient Olympia & the Acropolis, where not what we imagined and being a little underwhelmed with these 2 sites we decided not to go via Delphi on our way back to Patras (for the ferry to Venice). We instead decided to wait out the rest of our days on the beaches of Southern Athens and enjoyed our last days of sun & surf. I must say however, that I regret not making it to Meteora (in Northern Greece), but we intend to come back next year for summer so it’s top of the list, along with Crete.
Not sure if we mentioned Jean and Malcolm previously but they are an Australian couple whom we meet on the turtle nesting beach, Kalo Nero. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a Land cruiser with QLD number plates. They have spent the past 18 months on tour driving their Toyota Land Cruiser overland from Capetown to Europe and where making their way back to OZ via the Stan countries and India. Anyway, we got an email from them the other day to say they had just arrived in India. We had only made it as far as Athens and they had done all of that while we lazed on the beach, swam & fished……I get tired just thinking out what they’ve been up too!!
It was the strangest feeling when we had to put on jeans for our day trip into Athens. We’ve quite literally spent the past 6 months in our togs and not much else. I’ve had more washing pile up in the past 2 weeks than I have in the past 2 months now that we back to wearing clothes.
Greeks are a truly friendly and welcoming
The Greeks are a truly friendly and welcoming bunch of people and we have met some great people on this leg of our journey. Fellow travelers and Greeks alike…it has really been a great experience and we will always hold Greece dear for this reason. I think because we are younger than the average European motorhomer (by 20+ years) and we are older than the average Ozzie or Kiwi doing the Bongo Van tour we haven’t met nearly as many people as we thought we would. There have been very few English travelers as most tend to go to France, Spain and perhaps Northern Italy around the lakes, but anything further south or in the hotter countries, you just don’t see any.
To me….Greece’s biggest draw card is its natural wonders. Mountains which either plunge into or rise out of the ocean, idyllic islands & bays, laid back locals, seafood, Yiros, crystal clear waters and a dramatic coastline that gets better and better the more you discover it.
It was a sad day when it happened, but we eventually had to leave Greece. We are now in Venice and summer has been ripped away from us like the way your mother rips a band-aid from your arm. Its bloody freezing here, but Venice is Venice and is great in any weather. There’s snow on the Dolomites (Italian Alps) behind us, which is also exciting at the same time as we etch ever closer to Austria for skiing.
The tans are fading fast and soon the summer we have had will seem like a distant memory….but what a summer it has been. I’ll miss dodging goats & eating a Yiros but look forward to dodging rain deer & drinking mulled wine over the next few months.
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