Monday 29th April to Saturday 4th May
Olympia/Zakharo – Kalamata – Monemvasia – Nafplio – Athens
Monday 29/04/19 – Ride Day: Proastio to Zakharo; 195klm
It’s either feast or famine when you travel as we do, and this last few days have definitely been a feast. Breakfast this morning was no exception, even bacon and eggs which was very unusual but very much appreciated and devoured accordingly. We pilfered morning tea, paid the bill, and headed south in glorious sunshine. It doesn’t get much better than this.
We took the easy option of the highway for the first 50klm then followed the coast, dropping into the harbor of Kylinni where the local fishermen were cleaning their nets as they had for millennium. We took a break here and just sat and watched as the world went about its business.
We dropped into Arkoydi for a look
before moving on to Paralia where I spied this tiny harbour off to the side, so we stopped and had a brew and savoured pilfered cookies. I could spend time in an out of the way place like this, as long as I had a boat, my dive gear, and my fishing gear. That’s not too much to ask is it.
We kept riding.
Our next stop was the famous Olympia, then it was just down the road 30klms to our room at Zakharo. This had been a very pleasant and easy day’s ride which we thoroughly enjoyed. We had Greek Salad with chips and a souvlaki pie for dinner; loving this Greek food.
Tuesday 30/04/19 – Ride Day: Zakharo to Kalamata; 180klms
I’m smiling as I write this because I’m trying to remember where today started from and it was only 12 hours ago. That’s right, it started with a cold shower, well not really because I’m not doing cold showers. Seems the thing in Greece is ‘the switch’ that turns the hot water on. Come on, what is this! Never mind, at least there were coffee pods and a machine that had a working switch, so all was good. I washed the Guzzi again! We had breakfast, our own, packed up and left the sleepy little town of Zakharo.
Today was pretty much a coast hugging day and with cool overcast conditions it was a pleasant ride. Then the sun came out so we stopped at this quiet little fishing port and bought a coffee which came with free cake and Easter eggs. I’m liking these Greeks more and more 😁
It was great to observe the local boat building style with one new boat being fitted out out in the open as they’d have been doing around here for centuries.
Then further south to Pylos. What a beautiful town and harbour. Nothing small or traditional about Pylos with its modern town center and flashy boats. Still loved it.
We kept heading south. Sooner or later I knew we’d have to do a left and go over the range but when the command came the road didn’t look very inviting. Norma said she was game so away we went. It wasn’t that bad but a definite C road and it eventually spat us out on the eastern side of the peninsula, but not before we received a wonderful Skype call from the Melbourne Blackmores. Amazing, in the middle of nowhere up some back road on a mountainside with a shepherd and his goats nearby and good old Vodafone came through, I swear it gives better service over here than over there.
We continued on in increasing traffic and finally found our Pension right under the sheer cliffs just south of Kalamata.
We dined on Greek salad and aged pork cutlets prepared in our room and eaten on the balcony overlooking an olive grove. Life is good.
Wednesday 01/05/19 – Ride Day: Kalamata to Monemvasia; 170klms
I have to say I’m loving the southern coast of Greece and today’s ride to Monemvasia was an easy saunter south and east from one perfect little fishing harbour to the next. Maybe that sort of thing isn’t your cup of tea, but I love what these places are, what they’ve seen and what they’re there for. In a former life I’d have anchored in these little places for days at a time.
First stop was Kitries with its quaint cafe’s and taverns flanking the sea wall and its tiny breakwater with small fishing boats tied up behind. Just a quick stop.
Then south to Stoupa which has sandy beaches and sun umbrellas and deck chairs, but it’s far from the Riviera. More of a holiday haven as there’s no fishing boats here, but it does have its breakwater with some small pleasure craft secured. They had a lovely bakery here and we succumbed to temptation and bought not one, but two custardy type pastry thingys – one would have been ample.
South just a couple of klms to Agios Nikolaos where we hid against the sea wall and brewed a coffee and indulged in our custardy pastry thingys – two was better than one.
It was here right next to us that an old fisherman and his granddaughter were working on the boat that he’d built 35 years ago on Crete. It was 8m long with classic local lines but with unique personal touches and was a beautiful example of a man’s love for his boat and the sea. She spoke passable English so we had a bit of a natter about such things. I was his best friend when I said it was the most beautiful boat on the south coast. It was my kind of boat, tho certainly not everyone’s idea of cruising luxury.
Then it was winding up over the headlands with stunning views and corner cutting locals, so it was one eye on the scenery and one eye for mortality. Stopped overlooking Neo Oitylo for a quick pic
then made our easting turn and headed up and over the peninsula and stopped at Gytheio which was all hussel and bussel and pack seaside restaurants and cars all over. I just pulled up on the harbor front. Had a chat with a bloke who was a motorcycle mechanic and was an encyclopedia on Australian motorcycle racers. And yes, that is snow just up there would you believe.
We moved on and stopped overlooking the wreck of the Domitri, I have no idea of its history or its demise but as we were sitting there eating oranges a bloke from Port Stephens in NSW pulled up. He was now local and we had a good chat. He advised us that traffic in Athens on a motorcycle was a bit like Russian Roulette. (he’s right)
Monemvasia was calling and we were listening so a brisk ride up through the valley that divides this peninsula to its eastern shore, then a quick run down to this jewel.
Thursday 02/05/19 – Lay Day: Monemvasia
Today was a ‘ let’s get our act together early to beat the tourists’ day, so we had our own do-it-yourself breakfast which is pretty much always the same when breakfast isn’t provided for us. It consists of muesli, banana and yogurt with milk or fruit juice depending on weather there’s a fridge in the room. I’ll more often than not brew a coffee as well.
So that was how today started, then we walked the 1.5klm out to Monemvasia’s powerful medieval fortress (the Wikipedia account is a good read if you’ve got the time) which is located on a small island that is linked to the mainland by a short causeway 200m in length.
We did beat the tourist hordes, but they eventually caught up with us although we were leaving but then.
We had a good look around and it’s a pretty impressive place although it’s mostly rebuilt.
We walked back to town and had a lazy afternoon only interrupted by my having a swim which seemed like a good idea at the time but it was cold as, so we retreated to our cafe and read for a couple of hours over a freddo espresso. A lovely relaxing day in what is a place not to be missed. We went out for dinner and watched the sun set against the rock.
Friday 03/05/19 – Ride Day: Monemvasia to Nafplio; 185klms
Today was a glorious Mediterranean day, clear skys and lovely roads. We started it with our customary breakfast then loaded the bike and left the town of Monemvasia and headed north, but not before Norma visited the bakery and bought way too much cake for morning tea. There was also a small cruise ship anchored off the town this morning, so it was a good day to leave.
Detoured into the really small inlet village of Limenas Gerakos which was hidden away from all but the most curious of eyes and seemed like time itself had forgotten it there.
The roads we rode today were virtually deserted as we twisted and turned our way over one headland after the other, they were in really good condition and a joy to ride with amazing views off into the distances.
We stopped for morning tea high up over the seaside town of Poulithra with a glorious view out over the sea as we devoured our custard pastry thingy and traditional Greek biscuits washed down with coffee we still have from Barcelona. A lovely place to stop with snow on the mountains behind us.
We continued up the coast.
Then stopped at Arkadiko Chorio for a break and walk along the waterfront. No spritz here so thought I’d try an Ouzo, I didn’t much like it back in the day and I can’t say my taste had changed. Cheap though.
So onto Nafplio where we visited the old Palamidi fort. €8 each to enter, no concession unless you’re a local pensioner; not happy about that. Anyway we clambered our way around and took the required pics before heading back down the hill to find our accommodation for the night run by a truly lovely old Greek grandmother.
We went down into town and had some dinner followed by desert because it’s Friday and Friday is ice cream day. Then we wandered along the waterfront where there were well over 100 luxury boats tied up. It appears that the Mediterranean Yacht Show is in town for the next 5 days. It is recognized as the most important show of its kind worldwide, and is where super-yachts available for charter in Greece during the upcoming summer are showcased including a combination of motor yachts, sailing yachts, and luxury catamarans.
These things are seriously big, and truly luxurious, and ridiculously expensive to charter. 50m @ €145,000 per week. Very impressive. And this monster is 85m long, built in 2018. You can charter her for a mere €800,000 a week PLUS expenses. I kid you not.
Tomorrow it’s on to Athens.
Saturday 04/05/19 – Ride Day: Nafplio to Athens; 175klms
Today we awoke to the pitta patta of rain on the roof. That’s not fair, but we had to ride because today is Athens. Wets on and hit the road. Pics and rain don’t happen but we did call into a number of the usual lovely and sometimes hidden away places. Finally the sun came out, well more correctly it stopped raining just as we crossed the Corinth Canal Submersible Bridge. Pic pinched from Google.
So we stopped here and had lunch in what seemed to be a working men’s club. Traditional souvlaki with the trimmings.
Then onto Athens. Not a bad day really.