After some final beaches, we are inland in mountainous Greece.
More Random Observations About Greece
Here are a few things that aren't so wonderful in Greece. (Just in case you were worried that we were having too much fun.)
- Coming from "green" Oregon, it's a little hard to see the garbage all over Greece. I do think there are some recycling programs but they aren't clear and I am not convinced they are widely used. Lots of plastic water bottles, etc... But they do have these cool cylindrical hot water things that are powered by solar.
- Where is everyone? This one really isn't a bad thing. It's just that there are so so many cute tavernas and coffee shops with rows and rows of nice outdoor seating with often almost zero customers. It seems almost sad to me. These are great recommended places too. I'm guessing everyone is on the Greek islands or things will pick up in July and August.
- Traffic can be really gnarly. Like scary crazy! On a road that has two lanes with a "turning lane" in the middle, you will see trucks driving in the shoulder and people passing anywhere they want despite lines, curves, or speed limits. The speed limits don't make any sense either. The speed limit will go down for no apparent reason. The trucks are kind of scary too. Some go really slow, don't always stay in their lane, and will tailgate you even if there is nothing you can do. Geesh! DH is doing most of the driving.
- Ugly abandoned architecture. It is everywhere! Rebar sticking up from concrete slabs of buildings that were someone's unfinished vision.
- This has nothing to do with Greece but we are on week two of travelling with 12- and 14-year old girls. Enough said. In their defense, they are mostly good but we have all had our moments.
Last Days in Peaceful Kardamyli
We continue to be awed by the quiet beauty of this little seaside town. DH and I went for a morning hike up to an old church and tiny village. There was a lot of uphill climbing and sweat but the views were worth it. We even saw a random sheep who popped up on the trail from below the ridge. He was very chatty! The kids missed out but were happy relaxing at home.
After yet another swim in the pool, we drove a few short miles to the resort town of Stoupa for lunch. The town had a crescent shaped beach lined with umbrellas. The water was beautiful and even though it was a lot busier than Kardamyli, it still had a a relaxed vibe. We found a popular place for lunch where we seemed surrounded by older British tourists.
On the drive back to Kardamyli, we found a nearly hidden beach called Delfinia Beach. The drop off was steep but the water was crystal clear and we enjoyed seeing the rocks below while floating without any effort on the still water.
We headed back for another swim in the pool and eventually had our last dinner in Kardamyli at a delicious place called Kastro. The salad, meatballs, fish, and Tzatziki were wonderful. There was no menu but our kind server explained everything in English. We were awfully sad to leave this place in the morning. We all think we will return.
Ancient Olympia, Greece
Olympia is the birthplace of the Olympic games way back in 776 BC. So this site is ridiculously old! Most of the Olympic grounds are in ruins, which are still pretty impressive. We rented virtual reality glasses which showed us recreations of the sites while we standing on the ancient grounds. It was pretty neat and made the experience more meaningful. We even saw the ancient statue that inspired Nike shoes and the place where the Olympic torch is still lit for modern day Olympics. We all sprinted (OK, I jogged) on the ancient track. In addition to the Olympic grounds, we also explored a couple of archaeological museums which contained more old stuff, like crazy old! It really made me think of how the human experience hasn't changed as much as we think. They were crazy about athletics even 2,800 years ago. They still cared about social status through clothes, jewelry, and could improve their status through connections.
We had a casual lunch on the main strip in Olympia and were happy that we picked a hotel outside of town. Olympia isn't a great town. It appears mostly dependent on tourists, who only seem to come to see the sights, and leave. We found a nice restaurant with a pension (Hotel Bacchus) overlooking the hills. We ate dinner there both of our nights and really enjoyed the pool and atmospheric sunsets. Our room was tiny, with barely enough room for our beds. But the outdoor space and pool made up for it.
On our way out of Olympia, we stopped at Klio's Honey Farm. Klio herself came out to greet us. We were the only ones there. She offered us a spoon sweet made from quince and honey and proceeded to tell us all about her farm and how honey is made. It was really interesting! At the end, she treated us to diplas and honey. Diplas are mostly made from egg whites. They were basically a vehicle for eating honey! We bought honey and some great cream made from beeswax.
Now for a somewhat challenging five-hour ride on a variety of Greek roads! We were most appreciative of the toll roads which had tunnel after tunnel through the impressive mountains. Some of the tunnels were more than three miles long! We also crossed a nifty bridge that was one of two ways off the Peloponnese peninsula. (The Corinth Canal being the other.)
We stopped in a random seaside town for a really cheap lunch of gyro pita sandwiches. Four sandwiches, bottled water, and four ice cream cones was 16 Euros including tip. This was the first place that had menus only in Greek.
Random sightings. Pumpkins sold at roadside stands. I wonder what they use them for?
Lots of melons. This dude had a loud speaker and was advertising them as he drive a load down the street.
Meteora is known for its giant rock formations which are topped with monasteries. They really are a wonder. We could see the giant rocks as we approached the town on a very windy and narrow two-lane road which was also the truck route. We were so happy to check into an Airbnb style apartment that was enormous! Two bedrooms, a giant kitchen, living room, washing machine, three AC units and three TVs with Netflix. Good timing is all I can say. We also had a great view of some of the rocks from our balcony.
We found a pub for our first evening, bought a few groceries, and wandered the town a bit. The town isn't remarkable. But those rocks! I was excited to explore monasteries in the morning. Here's dinner with the obligatory cat.
One day, five monastaries, countless steps
We began at a working monastery on top of a giant rock with many steps to the top. Varlaam Monastery. The views from the monasteries were probably my favorite part.
We were on a mission to see the other monasteries. To be honest, they ran together a bit. All were beautiful and I loved the adventure of having to scramble to the top. There were many tour buses along the way but we tried to avoid the masses and enjoy the peaceful feeling up in the rocks.
One monastery was used in "For Your Eyes Only", the James Bond movie I remember seeing as a kid. We will watch that one again when we get home! Check out the box gondola/shuttle thingy used to transport things from the mainland to the rock. We even saw people riding in it. No thanks!
I know, we took too many pictures!
Our town below, Kalambaka.
Traffic slowed as we approached a herd of goats in the middle of the road. There were nearly 200 goats!
We went to a recommended steakhouse/grill for lunch. We had to laugh when DH got his "housemade burger." It was good but not quite what he was expecting.
We spent the afternoon relaxing in our great apartment. I worked on this blog, did laundry, and took it easy! I haven't mentioned the weather much because it has been hovering in the low to mid 90s. It is hot and we are getting used to being sweaty. We did have some rain in Olympia but it passed quickly. An easy pizza dinner is planned for evening and we will drive about three hours to Delphi in the morning.