A Travellerspoint blog

Tuesday 12th May – Lichnos

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Woke up and sat out on our balcony in the warm sun overlooking the bay eating fresh strawberries, juice (half made with freshly squeezed oranges we had bought earlier) and some croissants Dave heated up (the mini-marker didn’t have any milk for our muesli – normal milk is not very commonly used in Greece) and coffee (using some of the milk containers we pinched from our plane trips).

Had a VERY lazy day lazing on the beach in the sun and having our first swim in the inviting sea. The water was actually colder than we expected once we got in – but given that the temp was probably only about 23/24 °C it’s not surprising the water felt cold. But the sea and beach were beautiful. We had some exercise in walking along the beach which was very fine pebbles/stones and therefore didn’t compact like sand, even when wet or damp, and required some effort to walk through, and there was our climb back up the hill to our Unit.

We needed internet access for Jan to do some work and checking of emails, and the Camping ground’s system seemed to be not working, so we drove into Parga to both shop for dinner that night and for the next few days, and for Jan to access the internet. Were so pleased we had discovered Lichnos as Parga was as described – VERY touristy, although pretty. Shopped (never seen a town with as many mini-marts!) and Jan found a café with wifi access and did some work (while we drank a beer). Back to our Unit for a home cooked meal eaten on the balcony, followed by a night time wander to wonder at the fireflies again.
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Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:17 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Monday 11th May –Arahova to somewhere on the NW coast

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Checked out of our nice studio opposite the main square on Arahova and set out on a long day’s drive to somewhere on the NW coast of the mainland. There was the option of a seaside town (Parga) described in the Lonely Planet guide as beautiful, but now very touristy, although we thought it may not be too bad given we are ahead of the summer tourist season. But we’d try to find another quieter seaside village on the way of we could.

Tom, our pedantic navigator, said the trip would take us in excess of 6.5 hrs to drive a bit over 300 km – typical average speeds for Greece, even though we’d mainly be on “major” roads. We drove back along the coast of the Corinth Gulf and had an amazingly clear trip with little hold ups in terms of trucks, buses or slow local traffic. Dave has fitted into Greek style driving quite comfortably, so there are times when Jan doesn’t see a lot of what’s happening when overtaking buses, trucks or slow cars on the invariably double lined roads – and all in the powerful Hyundai Getz we’re familiar with from Oz! We made a brief am coffee stop, a petrol stop (Dave’s now pretty good at asking for either 20€ or 30€ of petrol), a strawberry buying stop (2€ for 500 gm) and spinach filos for lunch at a seaside town.

Eventually got close to our target destination and started to look for suitable seaside villages with a nice beach – drove off to one, but it was pretty flat and boring and spread out, so kept going. A few km after the turn off the main road towards Parga we noticed a possible smaller village, so headed down hill (the coast was now steeper and more dramatic) to the village. It was a beautiful small bay surrounded by high hills with cliffs at the ends and the normal beautiful blue/green sea. It was mainly just accommodation places, most of which were not yet open (many were being cleaned up and were getting ready), but the camping ground was. So we wandered in and asked if they had any self-contained accommodation – they did, they showed us the room which was a bit of a climb back up the hill, it was well equipped with stunning views, so we booked in for two nights. And the staff were ever so friendly and helpful, something we haven’t found very common. They ordered us fresh wholemeal bread for the next day (Dave asked for it while Jan was checking in – the woman then went and checked with Jan that Dave was ordering the right bread!). Lichnos was one of those special finds.

As we were unsure of where we going to be staying we hadn’t done any shopping, so asked if there was anywhere open for dinner - the only place was the restaurant at the hotel next door. So had to endure sitting out just above the beach looking out at the bay and eating locally caught fish (again). Nice local wine too. The waitress was charming and friendly (and so positive about Dave’s two words of Greek!). Through our chats with her we got to know the names of the fish we ate – had been meaning to eat “bigger” local fish, so we had our first (sea bream) grilled beautifully and more gavros (fresh anchovies) which they fry in the amazingly crisp and fresh way – and these were by far the best we had eaten.

But the highlight of the day was the walk after dinner back through the camping ground up to our unit – there were fireflies everywhere! Dave had never seen them, and Jan had only seen some in Bali. They were amazing – lots of them especially in the low lying tent area where there was no-one camping. They seemed to be synchronized and blinking all together about every second. Have to add it to our “to be researched” list, which now includes at least:
• Fireflies
• Why the seas in Greece (and the Mediterranean?) don’t have waves – everywhere we have been the sea gently laps the shore.
• Saint George (that’s a long story)
• Chameleons (not sure if we’ve seen them or not?)

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:14 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Sunday 10th May – Mt Parnassus and Arahova

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Drove up Mt Parnassus – nearly all the way. Found somewhere to stop and followed a track (walking) for about an hr – much longer with stops for flowers and the views (all dramatic) - and then turned around and came back via a different path that connected with a European walking trail. Felt like we must have been in Austria or Switzerland rather than Greece. Fir trees, green slopes of hills covered in wild flowers (see photos) and the snow covered mountain peaks in the background – where people were still skiing.
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Not bad!!

Has been an interesting village to stay in – many tourists but very few non-Greek ones and not as much in English (including menus). And the most expensive coffee we have ever had – E4 ($8). Can’t make coffee in our room but have found a much cheaper place. Our room has a balcony that looks out on to the main square (opposite it actually) so able to watch the locals and tourists as they noisily enjoy expensive coffee (and other drinks) in the square in the afternoon and evening.
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We can also observe the traffic – buses trying to pass, people ‘parking’ when it is banned (which is done by leaving the hazard lights flashing as they go and buy their cigarettes, bread, coffee, newspaper, …). Given that this is the main road from Athens to Delphi there are many buses.
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Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:07 Archived in Greece Comments (1)

Saturday 9th May – Delphi and Arahova

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After a very late night (for us, but not the locals) at a modern, fun and friendly (and more expensive, as is most of this village) taverna where we were plied with extra free food (lemon yoghurt dessert as good as Dave’s version) and drink (the fiery spirit – tsipouro) we still managed to get up ealryish to get to Delphi, one of Greece’s main tourist spots. Being such a good and famous site relatively close to Athens it has a reputation for being very crowded, esp with busloads of tourists. We managed to do this, and not a lot of tourists were ahead of us into the main part of the site (it is spread over a large area on the side of a mountain).

It was a beautiful day, mild and sunny, and we enjoyed seeing the site and its marvelous position. Doesn’t have the intimacy and wonder of somewhere like Messini (which maybe has spoilt us) but it is dramatic and grand, as some of the photos will show. And the museum, whilst rather crowded (tourist bus people had caught up with us by then), was well set out with good information and a number of highlights – the amazing use early on of bronze for decorations and for utensils (and armour) and for sculpture and a range of original stone sculptures and friezes, including some with painted sections.
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Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:03 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Friday 8th May – Arahova

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Left Diakofto (stopping to see some dolphins frolic in the sea) and drove over a long long bridge across the Corinth Gulf to get to our next stop of Arahova.
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Arahova is a mountain village near Mt Parnassus, which is one of Greece’s main skiing resorts. There’s still some snow visible, but the weather’s quite mild. One issue is that much of the accommodation is closed. Found a studio, quite modern, above a café on the main street – which in typical Greek fashion is very narrow and despite parking restrictions is difficult to negotiate – had to stop and back back once already for a bus to pass a truck. We’re here for 3 reasons – it’s very close to Delphi (a must see site), a good and old monastery with mosaics and frescoes, and we hope some good walking country.

Also the studio has free internet access which means we can get back to being up-to-date with emails and this travel blog. Wasn’t good or easy at the last place and in transit.

Went to the Monastry of Osios Loukas in the late afternoon (small driving / navigation tiff on the way). Set on the side of the hill with views over the valley and mountains – spectacular of course. One of the churches is 10 C and the other Byzantine and is considered to have the best frescoes, mosaics and marble in Greece. Had a lovely feel to it – quiet and serene (after the school kids had gone) and the mosaics were pretty amazing – very gold. Sat in the garden having coffee under large old trees, overlooking the green valley. We were one of the last to leave and as we were leaving first a drum sounded followed by bells. We assume this announces something to the monks – perhaps that the last of the tourists have left and it is safe to come out??
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Posted by Jan_n_Dave 08:59 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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