Friday, 31 July 2015

Central Greece South Coast: Delphi and Nafpaktos

Greece, 8th – 12th July 2015


Nafpaktos

We were planning to head to Athens next and spend a couple of days exploring the city but with the temperatures we’d had for the last few days being consistently in the high 30’s(°C), decided to skip it as it wouldn’t have been pleasant for traipsing around all day. It’s one we will have to save for next time. Instead we planned to get around to Delphi to visit the ancient ruins then start to move more quickly north in the hope of slightly lower temperatures.


Today was very hot! We were already feeling the heat by the time we’d had our croissants for breakfast. One of the nearby tavernas at Limni Vouliagmenis had free WiFi that we could pick up with our booster aerial so I got some copies of other blogs we read saved for offline use and then we had a dip in the sea to cool off. We tried to upload some blog entries but with the poor WiFi signal and the heat the laptop was using a lot of battery so after a bit of time we gave that a miss.

Parking at Psatha (picture taken early in the morning when it was quieter)
After some lunch we drove to see the nearby Cape Melagavi before travelling to Megara for an overnight stay but the port area was busy with taverna’s chairs set out for the summer so it was a no-go. The next stopover spot we had noted was near Delphi which would’ve been a long drive tonight as it was already about 6pm so I nipped online to see if there was anything closer and found a spot on Campercontact at Psatha (GPS: N38.11325 E23.21850) and gave that a go. It was very busy when we arrived with beachgoers so the beachside parking was full, but we managed to park on the opposite side of the road on some grass under trees tucked out of the way. It stayed very hot at night, still 33°C at bedtime with rooflights open!

The shade of the trees helped keep the temperature in the camper down a bit in the morning while I worked on writing a blog post. We left late morning taking the main road that went inland through the mountains which was wide and relatively straight so we cruised along steadily which made a change from the twisty road driving of late. When stopping in a layby for lunch we were shocked to find the temperature outside was 40°C, inside was ok at 33°C thanks to having the air con on for the majority of the journey. After passing a couple of closed ski shops at the side of the road we guessed we were in the ski resort area and then drove through Arahova which has a ski resort look to it, and was very busy with tourists.

The harbour at Itea
We passed Delphi on the way to Itea, a port town with a large marina car park that’s suitable for overnighting. We realised we were running low on drinking water again so had a drive around the town and spotted a small supermarket. We got a few bits and surprisingly Coca Cola was cheaper here than Lidl! We got parked up at the marina (GPS: N38.43138 E22.42139) behind a block of locked toilets or store rooms for boat owners so that we were out of sight from the road and the overlooking hotels and houses as there were no other motorhomes here.

It was the hottest night we’ve had so far so we laid on towels to absorb the sweat. We watched some Prison Break in bed then when we tried to get to sleep some teenagers turned up and hung around by the building a couple of metres from us being noisy. When they started banging on the locked doors we thought we’d better move as it might be our van next. At the other end of the car park we got to sleep eventually as it was still 31°C at midnight and quite noisy with vehicles and people passing by. Jo was awake for longer than I was, at one point hearing police sirens pulling up nearby, possibly because of the group of teenagers.

Delphi


A 7am alarm woke us up so that we could get up to Delphi early to get a parking space as there isn’t a car park, just limited roadside parking due to its hillside location. After filling our water tank from a tap on the building we were parked next to originally last night, and emptying the grey water into a drain we drove up the hillside, we parked at Delphi then had our breakfast.


In ancient myth, Delphi was believed to be the centre of the world.  Zeus allegedly dispatched two eagles from the eastern and western extremities of the Earth, and their paths met in Delphi, where an Omphalos (a religious stone statue) was erected.  As well as the main town there is also the archaeological site where the remains of a panhellenic sanctuary can be found.  Like Olympia, athletes would come here at four year intervals to compete, but as well as athletic games, competitions revolving around music and dance would also take place at Delphi.

The Marmaria
The Treasury of the Athenians

Once we’d got our tickets (€9 for site and museum, or €6 for each individually) we looked around the main sanctuary area first where there’s the rebuilt Treasury of the Athenians building. It was rebuilt in the early 1900s by matching up the inscriptions that cover the blocks that make up its walls. After that there’s the interesting looking Polygonal Wall made of interlocking irregular shaped blocks which is also covered in inscriptions before the Temple of Apollo and the theatre. From here we walked up the hill to the stadium. After looking around the museum we walked around the smaller site down the hill across the road, although the gymnasium part was closed. On the way back up we stopped at the natural Castalian Spring and filled our empty water bottle with the nice tasting fresh water. The day was a bit cooler today, back in the low 30’s and there was some cloud while up in Delphi which made it more pleasant.

The Polygonal Wall
The Temple of Apollo

The next spot we had noted down was Anemokampi Beach (GPS: N38.35138 E22.37994) from OurTour. When we arrived there was a group with two old Greek caravans and a Czech Laika had just arrived. After lunch we swam in the sea and sat outside, and decided to stay the night as it was a very nice little spot. The wind picked up and the Czech couple and one of their two young children were struggling with their awning so I went to give them a hand and got talking to Vladimir as he spoke good English. He asked if I’d like to try a Czech beer, the best beer he said, so I had a can and it was nice stuff. We spoke about the routes we were taking and he was surprised our UK motorhome insurance doesn’t cover Albania and Serbia as theirs does as standard.

The weather turned stormy, the wind was blowing the van, the sea got rougher, there was thunder and lightning and it rained for a while so we had to close all the windows. After dinner we settled down with a couple more episodes of Prison Break which was keeping us hooked.


Part of the coast road at Nafpaktos - the Greeks don't seem to
bother about dealing with coastal erosion

Nafpaktos


In the morning after a dip and a walk over the headland to look at the neighbouring bay we got ready to move on. When saying goodbye to Vladimir he leant us his Womo book of Greece to note down some places on Lefkada where we were heading towards. After looking at a couple of possible beach stopovers en route to Nafpaktos that were busy we continued and parked on the seafront road on the edge of town (GPS: N38.38718 E21.82095) where Europe by Camper stayed.




Nafpaktos has interesting circular town walls that end at the inlet to the attractive old port area and the town is set below a Venetian castle on the hill behind. We walked into the town from the beach through a gateway in the walls into the port and headed uphill towards the castle. Stopping at the clock tower Jo got a shock when the bells rang loudly at 6pm. We continued walking up the road toward the castle but it was very hot and tiring, we were dripping with sweat. I kept thinking the entrance would be coming up soon but as we couldn’t see it and not knowing how much further it was we turned back. Taking a different route back down through some narrow streets we saw three kittens on a wall by a house that were very photogenic looking at the camera while Jo took photos of them.

  
The Rio-Antirrio toll bridge, connecting mainland Greece to the
Peloponnese.  The world's longest fully suspended bridge


Interesting road signs on the way to Krioneri!
A typical travelling seller's pickup
Back at the van we sat on the pavement and drank a very well needed pint of icy cold water between us before moving on. The next place we were heading I was looking forward to from the picture in our book and Terry and Barbara had said it was a very nice spot. A good straight access road led into Krioneri (when continuing straight down the main road to the village rather than turning onto the parallel side road which our sat nav was trying to get us to do) and we parked up on the beach a stone’s throw from the water (GPS: N38.34292 E21.5870. It’s in a very scenic setting with the backdrop of vertical stone cliffs of the headland towering above the village. We jumped straight in the sea to cool down. We’ve found there are a lot of mosquitoes in Greece so bought a Citronella candle in Itea which we tried in the evening but it didn’t seem to work, we had to do a lot of bug catching before we could go to sleep.

A small bottle of wine for Jo
An unusual form of jellyfish washed up on the beach
An abandoned beach bar at Krioneri - we couldn't resist popping in for a quick look around

The following day we chilled doing some reading and swimming, and wrote some blog posts. We had a couple of large stray dogs for company at times lying in the shadow of the van at the other side. Quite a few people turned up for the day with it being the weekend but there was only one other motorhome here, a Greek one which are rare. We stayed a second night as it was such a nice spot.


- Matt

More Delphi Pictures:

The Twins of Argos, Cleobis and Biton. The story is that they honoured their mother, who prayed to Hera for them to receive 'whatever is best for a man to receive'. The two men then, after feasting, lay down to sleep and never rose again, and these statues were then made in their likeness
Looking down over Delphi 
The stadium
Stone carved scene that would've been on a building
An unusual bug

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