Monday, November 4, 2013

Greece - The Peloponnese Interior

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Ancient Corinth. Photo credit: Wikipedia
40 miles - Sunday, October 30

Cloudy skies. Met a couple teachers from Holland who helped us with camping information and interesting places to see in northern Greece and western Turkey. The traveler's grapevine is always worthwhile, a source of continual contemplation as we ride 4 kilometers uphill to Ancient Corinth.

We lock bikes at the site's entrance, and discover Sundays are free admission – a nice treat – and something to keep in mind as we venture further in Greece. Andy and I walk carefully over the old stones – to twist an ankle requiring complications we didn't want to think about – exploring an ancient marketplace, restored by archeologists. We tag along on an English speaking tour. The road underfoot once extended a few kilometers to the sea; it was a commercial hub in classical times; population 400-500,000; underground river providing necessary water which also flushed out communal latrines; Romans trashed the place during occupation. With the hilltop ruins spread before us, dry, scrubby trees, and acres of toppled stones, I could easily imagine a once bustling city with expansive views of crowded harbor, and barefoot slaves lugging supplies on rugged, stony roads.

Intricate, beautiful Dionysus (goddess of wine) mosaic in on-site museum.
We visit the indoor museum, admiring marble busts, pottery excavated from 600 B.C., and mosaics. I especially appreciate mosaics; it reminds me of quilting. I study one intricate, symmetrical design with Dionysus (goddess of wine) as its focal point.

Finished with Ancient Corinth, we straddle our bikes, still undecided where to go next. On the spot Andy and I decide to head south, swing through another region with ruins, and hopefully catch a ferry towards Athens.

Andy is amused by namesake tour bus -- a different mode of travel.
The next several kilometers are on a delightful country road to Argos. Exposed rock caps nearby hills. Valleys are irrigated for orange and lemon groves with olive trees taking up the remainder, edging roadsides. It's cozy and quiet. The overcast sky grows darker.

It starts sprinkling as we head toward hopeful camping in Nafplio. This city was the capital of Greece in early 1800s for a while after they gained independence. A large fortification overlooks buildings and harbor. Nearest “maybe” campground is 10-12 kilometers further, but by luck we stumble on a guy from Ottawa, Canada looking for a hostel. It sounded good to us and with more investigating discover the place is closed until spring. A woman from an economy hotel across the street approaches, offers 2,000 drachmas per person (9.00 USD) and we accept her accommodation – threatening skies and late arrival convinced us it's our manger for the evening.

We stay inside, eat cereal for dinner (tomorrows breakfast, stores are closed). Earlier, Andy had talked with an adjoining proprietor, who shared space on hotel's first floor and also started the hostel 26 years ago. He thought we'd want to know about a person firing several rounds into the White House, but was later caught. It's funny how news of home trickles down to us. Even with occasionally reading the Herald Tribune, after months on the road I feel far removed from current events.

We swap stories with the Canadian, John, on archeological sites to visit with all of us yawning and eventually calling it a night at 10 p.m.

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