Greece 11 - Acrocorinth/three gates/Turkish, Frankish and Byzantine/a small church

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May 9th 2017
Published: May 9th 2017
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Acrocorinth is a little like Corinth – not a lot of people visit. You really have to do your homework to find places like these. No buses. No coachloads of visitors . No school children with their teachers. No hype . No charge to go in . Now that makes a change . Visiting all the monuments we have seen so far has been fairly expensive. Our thoughts though are that you only do them once. We may not pass by this way again. If there is a charge so be it . We pay up as we have going through all the toll booths on the motorways in Greece. There are many of them each charging between 4 euros 80 cents and just under 10 euros . I feel that we pay to join a motorway and pay to come off it. It feels like going to the pictures and paying on the way in and then being asked to pay again when you have watched the film. This was a luxury then to get in free.

The road up had been hard on Suzy. Uphill all the way with a drop to the valley floor below us. Hairpin bends – a road a little hairy for the fainthearted. Again the road verges were full of flowers and butterflies . Acrocorinth has been a fortified city and held by every occupying force since Roman Times. Entry is via three gates. A slippery climb over marble stone and gravel where three steps forward are followed by at least one back. Harzadous in the wet it was just about bearable in the hot dry morning air. The lowest gate , the first we entered is Turkish and was surrounded by a moat long dried up. The middle or second gate is Frankish and the third the highest of the gates is Byzantine. In the middle a sprawling site of 60 acres terraced and hilly with the ruins of minarets, muslim tombs, mosques and a chapel.

This is all that remains of a once thriving town long abandoned. The walls around are impressive and feature Venetian towers. It was possible to walk around them but we were absolutely shattered climbing this far and with Glenns cold turning chesty and my back aching we decided to stay on the lower levels. There is a temple to Aphrodite and inside the tiny church were icons, a small chapel cut off from the rest with its altar. Candles were lit and there was a small box to put money in. I put my money in and lit the candle placing it before the saints icon. The box holding the money had a lock on it but it had been forced . How long the money in it now would stay put was debateable . How sad that someone thinks it is right to break open a box with money in it in the house of God.

We left the small chapel and enjoyed the views from the top. The sea in the distance sparkled and glinted in the sunlight . We have been blessed with exceptional weather . This time last year we were chasing the sun and trying to hide from the rain. The last gloomy day we saw was over two weeks ago when we left England.

We drove down the hairpins slowly until we reached the small town below . It was in the past a very wealthy town to live in. There is evidence Neolithic man lived here . Greece is full of places like this. Perhaps we become blasé as nearly every town has a roman temple or forum or something from its Neolithic past. We say at times once we have seen one temple we have seen them all and then feel guilty because each has a different story to tell and is in a different setting. The Roman part of the town was small with a theatre which was mainly a jumble of stones some of which had found their way into the walls of local houses. A temple stood proudly with all its columns standing. There was again a charge which we declined to pay. We could see all we wanted over the fence . Photographs taken care of, magnet bought we moved on. From Roman to Mycanean. From Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns to walls built by Cyclops. We were heading to see another side of Greece and a very ancient civilisation.

We had picked a campsite near to Mycenae. Camping Atreus. Many of the sites are not ACSI in this area . The further south we come the more we are plagued by mosquito bites, the less well endowed the sites appear to be and the food seems less enjoyable and not so readily available . The sites are more basic. The site was rustic . I say that with tongue in cheek and a bit of a smile on my face. The plots were hard ground with no grass and no definition. It was very much a case of park anywhere you like 15 euros a night – no questions asked . No names exchanged and no passports taken. No paperwork , no trace we had ever been on the site. I imagined every euro taken went in the owners back pocket . No sign telling us not to pay if we didn’t get a receipt or an invoice. A world away from the more organised sites up north. The bins around the site and on the road had not been emptied . It felt like southern Italy. The area was a tad scruffy and the fields full of olive trees , thistles and artichokes. The toilet blocks were - well old fashioned and not particularly clean. They badly needed an upgrade, old fashioned doors . The washing machine was new and I passed over 4 euros to get my full bag of washing washed and coming out sweet smelling. There was a swimming pool perhaps a sign of better days but sadly it had not seen water this year. It was so hot I would have loved a dip but it was not to be. The restaurant and bar were shut. The tables were empty. They were set up as if for a Greek wedding or party in long rows but again no food had passed their way for some time. I imagined before the recession and the Greek economy going belly up this probably was a thriving business but sadly now it was down at heel.

When we arrived there was one Dutch VW parked up , the owners nowhere in sight . Nor did we see them over the next day or so. A couple with a tent turned up and parked opposite us. All was quiet until 8pm when about 20 Eastern European bike riders arrived and parked up with their tents . More turned up as the night progressed. This is how mine host makes his money. At 5 euros a person they must have taken over a 100 that night and all ending up in their back pockets.

Tomorrow is another climbing day as we go to see the Lion Gate – that is another one of those iconic pictures I grew up with as I read through my dads present to me one Christmas – a world atlas . I am slowly ticking the pictures off one by one.


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