Exploring the Peloponnese

Weds. 27th of November – Koroni – camping Koroni

After a quick breakfast we left our beautiful spot by the sea and drove up the mountains to the ancient city of Messini. The guide book said it was spectacular and with very few tourists. 

We parked the van near the entrance. Dogs, once again, are not allowed. That is very annoying considering there are stray dogs and cats everywhere, including in ancient sites, dropping poos everywhere. So once again we left Scruffy in the van. 

To start with, the site did not look like much. How wrong I was. As we descended into the site, we saw that the temple complex was massive with a small ritual and political theatre attached to it. There was a huge agora with large baths on one side, including floor heating. The floor was suspended over piles of terracotta bricks. It was all there. 

And then there was the massive the stadium, surrounded by a forest of columns. It was incredibly well preserved and quite a sight. 

The access to Messini is near impossible for coaches, so the cruises ships cannot ferry people up there. We had the site all to ourselves. Until another couple, on a rented car, turned up. 

We had a quick look at the museum but it was tiny and had very little of interest, I guess all the nice stuff is in a bigger museum in Athens. What a shame. 

After all that we had lunch in the van  before driving down to the seaside, to the small Greek town of Koroni. The only camping open in the area was a short walk from town, it was ideal. 

When we arrived we parked the van to check where we could drive. This is always a good plan as we do not want to drive into a spot that is too difficult to get out from! A fat old woman came running toward us. She was friendly enough but her clothes were covered in stains! She showed us a tiny spot near the road and the only shower block in working order. The shower block needs to be demolished, it is that old and ghastly. 

The worse thing though, were the flies. Hundreds of flies getting inside the van. Thousands outside. It was dreadful. 

Somehow, I cooked a big lentil stew that should last 4 meals and then I went for a shower. The showers’ doors were on the outside of the shower block, and the showers cubicles were so tiny you could not physically get dressed inside! I went in wearing only my “shower dress” and flip flops. For years now I have used a small dress that packs tiny. I use it for campings when getting dressed is difficult in tiny showers. Some people in motorhomes use a bathrobe but that takes too much space. Same idea though. 

Back to the van, I used a towel to “flap” as many flies as possible out of the van. We were planning to spend 2 nights there and visit the lovely town of Koroni but…. too many flies. It was that bad. So we changed our plan. 

Making the most of the WiFi, I also went through the planning for the next few days, with Alistair. We have seen enough archeological sites. There are more interesting stuff to see though, to keep us busy for few more days before we take our ferry for Italy. 

Thursday 28th November – Monemvasia 

We walked to the town of Koroni in the morning. It had a big castle on the top. Not much left though. Then we went back to camp and left. We drove past the town of Sparta ( nothing is left of the ancient town) and joined the seaside on the east side of the Peloponnese. The road from our camping to Sparta took us on the most beautiful mountain road we have been to in this trip. It took up into the clouds in an impressive narrow windy road. The views were spectacular. 

We arrived in Monemvasia about 4pm. Park4night listed 4 possible spots. We went for the one next to the causeway, leading to the medieval village. It was  a large parking lot in the fishing port of modern Monemvasia. We went for a walk to check out the seafront and tavernas. We spotted various motorhomes in another parking, about 500 m away. We had a look but decided to stay in our original spot. It is so out of season p, it is unlikely the police will ask us to move! 

Later on we went for a small meal at one of the tavernas. 3 euros for 1/2 litre jug of wine… not bad. The grilled sardines were nice too! 

A large bus that was parked near us with music blaring, when we arrived, left. We had pretty much the entire parking for ourselves, and even a water point. Usually, in ports and small harbours there is a tap of water we can use. Very handy! 

Friday 29th of December, Lefka beach camping, near Nafplio

After breakfast we walked along the causeway to the rock. The medieval village was on the opposite side. It had a big citadel at the very top. The village was stunning, one of  the most beautiful medieval village I have ever visited. For some strange reason the few tourists we met were all American! 

After exploring the village we went back to the campervan. Then we had an orange juice at a local bar. The region produces oranges, and the hills are covered in orange trees. Nice change from the never ending olive trees we have been seeing everywhere since Croatia! 

Then we drove further north east. We had to get back to Sparta, further west before picking up a road east. However, as usual, the GPS sent us on a wild goose chase and took us, from Sparta, totally in the wrong direction then asking us to take a single track road along a massive mountain to join a nice road! A nice detour of an hour at least and  a very scary drive! 

Eventually we arrived to Napflio, considerably later than planned. We drove to the camping, 15 kms out of town. As usual, the reception was closed and a note at the door said to just get settled. So we did. 

The camping was actually nice ( for a change!). The shower block was tired but clean(ish), the camping spots were tight but as it was virtually empty it did not matter. The site had its own private beach! And it had no flies, no mosquitoes, no stray dogs, only one black cat. 

Saturday 30th November  – Lefka beach camping, near Nafplio 

After breakfast we drove to the town of Napflio. It was established by the Venetians in the 1600s. The seafront was absolutely beautiful. The town has a huge citadel at the top of a massive hill as well as a smaller one out in the bay. The old town, with its pedestrian narrow streets, pastel painted houses with large balconies, large flowers and trees to provide extra shade and its many small shops selling crafts, was lovely. We had a nice walk around the old town. 

On the way back we stopped in a village for a spot of lunch, before heading back to the camping. 

Sunday 1st December – wild camping in the village of Krathi ( half way between Corinth and Patras)

After breakfast and a shower,  we left. Our first stop was the Corinthian Canal. 

The first one to have a go at digging a canal was an ancient local king around 700bc. He failed. The Romans had a go with Caligula carving the first bit with a golden axe, before leaving the rest to 6000 slaves. The Romans got distracted by an invasion from the Gauls so abandoned the project. 

It is only in the late 19th century that a French company completed the work, carving through pure rock, at its highest about 90 metres. So, a canal nearly 3,000 years in the pipeline. We had to see it. 

I found online a foot bridge midway between the two entrances so we set the GPS there. Not particularly a tourist spot as we parked near a sewage treatment plant. It was really smelly but half way on the bridge ( which had two very fat pipelines going through, most certainly full of sewage) we had a great view on both sides of the canal. The place must have been of strategic importance by the number of abandoned bunkers dotted around. 

We then drove to the submersible bridge at the north entrance of the canal. No large ship was passing so there was not much to see. We had lunch there and drove for an hour and a half to a small village. 

We had a look around and moved the van near a cafe. Then We went to have a drink at the cafe, and to get the WiFi code! Our cunning plan worked as we then had the WiFi on the van for the rest  of the evening! Sneaky result!