2018/01/29 – Greece – the best Calamari ever

Monday 29th January & Tuesday 30th January

Woke up to another magic Greek sunrise after a wonderfully peaceful night. Blue skies, no wind and not a cloud anywhere to be seen.

Travelled from the west coast to the east coast today. Hard to believe things could get any better but they did.

Our campsite for two nights: Monemvassia

Again on the waterfront at a small village with a small fishing fleet and port for larger vessels. A huge parking area is provided for locals and restaurant goers and of course motorhomes. A very touristy place, however in the winter months, not as busy with many of the restaurants and tavernas closed for the season.

The ancient city of Monemvassia is just a short 15 minute walk across to the island directly opposite the Marina. Wow – what a surprise. We saw the castle and church perched atop the mountain but it was not until we were half way around the other side, did the ancient city come into view. It has been mostly restored now and houses lots of very classy old hotels and restaurants.

One of the many narrow cobble stoned streets through the ancient walled city

The restored buildings have been done very effectively and in the style of the old ruins which are still nestled amongst them. There are several levels of buildings built into the mountainside with narrow cobbled streets, just wide enough to walk along – no cars or bikes are permitted so everything is brought in and out by wheel barrows. We saw the porters bringing in fresh linen for the hotels – yes in wheel barrows. All rubbish is taken to the front entry of the town – beyond the entry gate.

Great views which ever way we looked

Took a good part of our day as we strolled up and down and through the many levels – what a hoot! Such hot thirsty work all this mountain climbing – just had to stop at a rooftop taverna and sample the wares whilst overlooking the breathtaking ocean views than went forever.

Even a Roman Bath

Another beautiful sunny day next day so opted to stay on. Only a couple of motorhomes here overnight with our neighbour (Ben) being this amazing 83 year old Danish man who had been travelling in this same motorhome for 42 years. He lost his wife 12 years back but still travels to Greece for six months every year. He was quite excited today as he was receiving his new dentures. Evidently he threw the old pair out accidentally in the rubbish and has been waiting for 6 weeks for new ones.

Decided to have a nice lunch today – really hankering for some more fresh seafood – so after a long walk around the village – stopped back at the closest restaurant to us on the pier. No seafood would you believe – so Garcon recommended the second last restaurant at the end of the bay – a cousin, I think?? Kosta was his name – couldn’t tell you the name of the restaurant as it was written in Greek. We sat outside – across the road from the kitchen – and were served the best grilled calamari we have ever had. A whole calamari sliced thinly and grilled and flavoured Greek style. Yum.

The best calamari – ever

Bought an amazing chocolate covered mouse from a bakery on the way home – which we had after a light dinner.

Wednesday 31st January & Thursday 1st January

Could have stayed on for more days here but we have so much still to see so opted to move on. Ben had told us about this super place not far from here so took his advice and headed in that direction.

Port Limenas, Geraka – ancient ruins of temple of Zanez

Only about 20kms from Monemvassia and a very pleasant drive through the mountains, we arrived at this small one road in and one road out – quaint but small waterfront village with a church and a few houses and some waterfront tavernas. The end of the road was a parking place on the pier for boats and of course motorhomes, though it is not registered as a parking place in any of our apps.

Looks like a good spot for Ziggy to view the sites

We ran into a couple of locals sitting in front of a taverna (had their worry beads doing a few laps) while we spoke with them. They told us the tavernas only opened at 2pm so as we had seen the sign to the temple of Zanez about a km back, decided to explore this and soak up the hour or so until opening.

All the way uphill, we ventured over rocks and boulders along a track that thankfully was marked with red paint on the occasional boulder along the way to assist us with finding the temple. Took quite a while and eventually we reached the top, only to find there was not much left of the temple – hardly worth the effort to get up there to see the ruins but the 360 degree view at the top was really worth it.

Got lost a couple of times on the way down and backtracked a couple of times until we found the red paint again. Now really thirsty and hungry we headed back to the taverna where the locals had been sitting – only to be informed that Wednesday was a rest day and none of the restaurants would be open.

Had a Ziggy lunch and sat for some time and watched the fishermen try their luck from the dock.

Had seen this beautiful isolated beach only about 10kms back so decided to head back there and spend the night.

Our campsite for tonight: beachfront – co ordinates 36.728362. 23.026256

Found a couple of Brits here soaking up the sunshine and after a long chat moved further up the beach to give them and ourselves some privacy.

They too were regulars to Greece and turns out they knew and were friends with Ben who we met at Monemvassia. They are so lucky to be able to venture here every year from just across the channel – we are so envious and would love to be in their shoes.

Spent two wonderful sunny days here soaking up the sunshine and recharging the batteries (ours not Ziggy). Even got out the BBQ and indulged in a wonderful rib fillet steak and a good bottle of Greek red wine for lunch (think it was Greek- can’t remember!) then read my latest Dan Brown book, Inferno – but dozed off mostly in the camp chairs for a good part of the afternoon.

Our beach front campsite for 2 nights – even had a BBQ

How wonderfully relaxing this country is!

Friday 2nd February

A cloudy day for the first time in a few days so said goodbye to our Brit friends who are heading in the same direction as us over the next couple of weeks. Likely we will probably run into them again.

Opted to head inland north over the mountains today instead of hugging the coast road. Had heard that this was the wisest thing to do from here.

First stop after replenishing our food and grog supplies in Lidl in Skala was Sparta.

We headed to Mystra, the ancient site in Sparta, and spent the afternoon exploring the mid 13th century medieval fortress, citadel, churches and monasteries.

All of course built into a mountainside. It constantly poses us with the question – how did they do it way back then when they didn’t have the equipment and technology we have today. For us, it is such a huge hike just to walk it to the top. Unfortunately, at this time of year they close at 3pm so we did not get to see everything. Really worth the time to spend here.

Decided to head for the coast again as there did not appear to be any interesting places to camp in Sparta though there is lots more to see here. The main streets are lined with orange trees in full fruit. Strange that they still sell oranges here when they are there for the picking in every street. Have run out of the large bag we bought – fresh orange juice for breakfast for days – very tempted to stop and pick some but not sure if it is legal.

Travelled across country again over the mountains. Great road with lots of scenery, though lots of hairpin bends and soon we sighted the water again.

Our campsite for tonight: Beachfront, Myli (Mylio) – a few kms south west of Amyros – not designated campspot.

Just a small village again with only one street leading to the beach where there is a boat ramp, great beach and of course lots of tavernas. Parked right on the boardwalk and dropped in to one of the tavernas to check if we were allowed to park there. With a big smile and “no problemo” reassuring us, we headed back to Ziggy and tapped into a free wi fi and spent a couple of hours catching up on the blog before choosing one of the tavernas to have another great Greek meal – just so inexpensive and oh so good.

There were more boats then cars to compete with for an overnight spot

Of course as soon as they find out we are from Australia they can’t tell you quickly enough that they have a relation or friend who lives in Australia – usually Melbourne.

A local fisherman repairing his nets

We then ask them if they knew that Melbourne is the 2nd largest Greek City in the World – some do and some don’t.