January 29 7:20 p.m., our Ford Transit with the registration BE 862 ... drives into the belly of the Grimaldi Lines. At 7.45 p.m. we move into cabin 679 and look forward to a 16h trip to Patras. The captain starts the engines at 9 p.m. and at 9:10 p.m. we move. Soon, we sink into a deep sleep, riding a ferry is not exciting for us anymore 😉.
January 30th. At 6:30 a.m. we have stopover at the port of Igoumenitsa. Our journey continues soon, and we arrive in Patras at 2 p.m. At 3 p.m. we move into a small apartment for the next 2 nights. Tonight, we feel like to eat some gyros. We enter a nice restaurant in our district. The menu is only in Greek, but Google Translate helps us (more or less). Finally, we decided what we want to eat, we placed our order with Google Translate 30 minutes later. The food was excellent, and everyone enjoyed it. And the bill was rather thin 😊.
On January 31st we visit Patras, one of the most important port cities in the country. Patras has a population of around 220,000 people, makes it the third largest city in Greece. We stroll through the streets of the city centre and literally feel the vibe of this student town. It is wonderful to be in a big city without the car.
February 1st. We arrive in Megalopolis late in the afternoon. At the Leto Hotel, we settle our appointment with Alex our host from Workaway. Alex is not there right now, but there are other members of the Workaway organization. Karla shows me the way to the house. Once there, everyone gathers to eat lunch. We sit down with everyone and eat chicken, vegetables and baked potatoes. After a long back and forth which room we can move into, Sean the Brit moves into a smaller room, so we can move to the bigger one. First everything out, it must be cleaned. The way it looks, it has not been decluttered in years, nor has it been cleaned. Unfortunately, the room still smells musty. We inflate our camping double air mattress for the children. The first night without heating will be cold.
February 6th. Today I will finish the lobby with the help of T. Pablo has work around the house to do.
February 8th. Today we wash as much as possible, what we wore in Megalopolis (including bed sheets). In the next few days, we simply enjoy the area, the sun and the peace.
On February 11, we explore the beach promenade and discover another supermarket that has a little bit more to offer.
Today, February 12th we are going to Olympia, the venue of the ancient Olympic Games (must see).
The Olympic Games were held every four years throughout Classical antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. After the excavations in 1961, the stadium was restored to the shape it had in the 4th century BC.
It used to be thought that the site had been occupied since about 1500 BC, with a religious cult of Zeus developing around 1000 BC. We visit the Temple of Hera, which is suited in the northern part of the Altis and the oldest temple at Olympia. The temple was built in approximately 590 BC but was destroyed by an earthquake in the early 4th century AD and was not restored afterwards.
On our tour we passed by the Zeus temple. The temple was built between 470 and 457 BC. The building sat on a crepidoma (platform) of three unequal steps, the exterior columns were positioned in a six by thirteen arrangement, two rows of seven columns divided the cella (interior) into three aisles.
On February 16, the urge to move is big (for the adults). A hike to the next village / town is announced. The weather is great. Our route brings us into small villages on the way. After 2.5 hours of walking we arrive in Methoni. The kids and so we, deserve something cool to quench our thirst and the water bottles must be refilled 😊. We decide to go home on the shorter route, which starts close to the sea but later leads to the main road. The 2 hours on the tar are tedious ☹.
This is Spartaaaa!!! This saying from the movie 300 is simply known, I think. Sparta is simply on our radar of the cities we want to visit in Greece. On February 17th we will arrive an hour earlier than planned in the city. New - Sparta (founded in 1834) doesn't impress at all. 35,000 Spartans live here in a city that is designed as in North America, square well 😊. The old Sparta still has some ruins, but there is not much left. Despite, Sparta was popular in the past. 685 to 668 BC Sparta established itself as a local power in the Peloponnesus and the rest of Greece. During the following centuries, Sparta's reputation as a land-fighting force was unequalled. Sparta had some 20,000–35,000 citizens, plus numerous helots and perioikoi. The likely total of 40,000–50,000 made Sparta one of the larger Greek city-states.
On February 18, we visit the more interesting ruins of Mystras. The mountain fortress dates from the Byzantine period. Some churches with colourful wall paintings have been preserved (like Agia Sophia, Agios Dimitrios). Also, one of the monasteries, the Pantanassa Monastery (founded in the 15th century) and still inhabited today.
On February 19th we visit the port city of Nafplion. A trading town that probably dates to 1370 BC, mentioned as Nupliya. But already in the 2nd century BC the city was deserted again. I recommend visiting, it is just fantastic!
On February 20th we are invited to 2 Swiss people who lived in Biel (Mösli Quartier) a long time ago. In the early 90’s they went on a 3-month bike tour through Greece before they wanted to buy a house in Prêles Switzerland (the plan with the house in Prêles didn't work out). On their bike tour, they fell in love with Greece (especially the Peloponnese area) and in 1992 they started to build their current house in Karioupoli. We got the address from Pablo's mother who has buying their olive oil for years and getting to know an olive grower could be interesting. Before we arrive at 3 p.m., we visit the Dimitros shipwreck on the way.
Today, February 22nd, we're leaving to discover something new. The view of the sky reveals that the rain is coming. Hardly 5 minutes in the car, we make our first stop (unwillingly). The driver at my right looks me into my eyes for a very long time and has enough time to brake, but something is bothering him, bum! The little car bumps into our B-pillar. Fortunately, nobody was harmed, only the car has a dent now and will not prevent us from continuing our travels. We spend a good hour on the side of the road with the police, the insurance agents and Pablo on the phone with our insurance, then the journey continues.
In the afternoon we should arrive in Athens. First, we stop at the world-famous Corinth Canal. The Canal was excavated at its narrowest point and it is 6343 m long. It was built between 1881 and 1893. Since then, the canal has connected the Saronic Gulf with the Corinthian Gulf.
We will spend the time from February 22nd to 25th in Athens. Athens is the capital of Greece and has a population of 3.8 - 5 million people (they do not know exactly, because there is no need for registration). The settlement history of the area of the city of Athens goes back to 7500 years, the Neolithic time. Around 1300 BC a Mycenaean palace was built on the acropolis. The oldest city complex was limited to the upper surface of a steep rocky hill accessible only from the west, which later became the military and religious centre of Athens as a castle (Acropolis). The Acropolis in Athens has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1986.
On February 23rd, it’s been a while since we have been taking the subway. We visit Mount Lykabettus and the Panathinaiko Stadium (also known as Kallimarmaro, "beautiful marble") is the Olympic stadium of the modern Olympic Games, where the first game started in 1896. It was built as a reconstruction on the foundations of the ancient stadium and is located on the edge of Athens City centre. From there we march back to our accommodation (8.5 km).
On February 24, Pablo has his appointment at the hairdresser. C. and I go looking for a sportswear shop, because her sole of her hiking shoe is slowly getting holes. Coincidentally, I write on WhatsApp to a colleague we met in Megalopolis. He's currently in Athens too and doesn't have a place to sleep for tonight, so we offer him our couch.
The next day (our last day in Athens) we explore the rest of the city with our friend Victor. We cross the market, side streets and tourist streets. Victor knows a little take away and we eat Greek burgers with delicious fries and home-made ketchup. Through WhatsApp we meet another friend (Workaway from Megalopolis) at the restaurant, David. Our paths separate after lunch and we explore our last attraction, the Acropolis.
At 9:00 p.m. our ferry leaves the port of Piraeus. On February 26th at 6:30 a.m. we should arrive in Heraklion, Crete. Good night!