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Published: March 9th 2011
Sat 5 – On the evening of Friday 4th, when we ere staying at Manfredonia, we’d extended an invitation to our Italian friends for drinkies. They refused our wine from a 5 litre box! but accepted tiny measures of Bacardi & Coke. We spent a pleasant couple of hours with Antonio and Raffaela with photos, maps, drawings and sign language exchanging ideas, plans and history!
After meeting up again in the morning to look at their photos and say Arrivederci with much cheek kissing, we set off for Bari. From that moment on, it never stopped raining. It was an extremely wet day. We spent a couple of hours en-route in a supermarket/shopping centre, finally parking up alongside the ferry terminal at about 5.30pm. A wet night in.
Sun 6 – Drove on to the Superfast/superduper modern ferry with alarmingly conflicting hand-signals from staff, whose job it was to squeeze several dozen huge lorries and one motorhome into impossible tight spaces.
We spent a comfortable 17½ hours on board in the company of mainly Greek and eastern European lorry drivers.....many Bulgarians, Poles and Turks. Most of these and foot passengers disembarked at Igoumenitsa, near Greek/Albanian border. We spent
the time reading, eating, drinking and watching dreadfully over-acted Greek soaps on a wide screen TV, so wide it made everyone look like deformed, fat dwarfs! We slept by stretching out on fairly comfy rows of seats, to be awoken at 5.30am by the ship’s loudspeaker. Out on deck to admire the lights of Patras and disembarkation.
Mon 7 – We found a deserted side road near the port, alongside the beach. We parked up and went back to bed until 10am.
We woke surrounded by Greek families flying kites on this windy but bright morning. We spent a couple of amusing hours watching them from the van and walking amongst them. It must have been some sort of holiday as the crowds increased and the kite sellers and mobile Kantinas did a roaring trade.
Cars parked Greek style (by just pulling up) resulting in traffic queues and horn honking. Kites were blown into trees, got hooked on overhead wires or simply blew away. Why is it that this family activity, done for the children’s amusement, is the sole domain of the Dads?!! Masses of excited kids but not one of them allowed to actually fly the
kite as Papa won’t let go!
We finally drove onwards stopping to buy bread and spinach pie and drove down to a pretty harbour for lunch. A walk along the water, with every Taverna packed with Greeks, confirmed it must have been some sort of holiday. Onwards, in steadily worsening weather, to finally park up for the night alongside the beach at Diakofto. There is an amazing rack and pinion railway here which takes you up into the mountains through a gorge, which we’re hoping to take a trip on tomorrow. However with a gale howling and drizzle still falling, our fingers are well and truly crossed.
Tue 8 – Awoke to blue skies but very cold and gale-force winds. Whilst we looked around the town, checked out the railway station, old engines and sheds.....we decided to forgo our railway trip from here to Kalavrita (15 miles south) and do it from the Kalavrita end on our return to this area in mid April. So we carried on along the magnificent coastal road to Xiokastro, a seaside resort and parked on the seafront with a clear restaurant enclosure protecting us from the howling northerly wind across the water.
Baz went for a rekky around town and later we ventured forth to a kebab restaurant/takeaway to enjoy Greek fayre and a game of cards.
Wed 9 – With sunshine and more settled weather we continued on this coast-hugging route, being the Corinthian channel that will eventually narrow to the canal before Athens. We admired the stunning snowcapped mountains, bathed in sunshine across the water on our journey to Ancient Corinth (inland from modern day Corinth).
Ancient Corinth is certainly ancient! We paid to enter the site of the town (originally Greek...up to 700 BC and then Roman from 1st century AD), dominated by the temple of Apollo. The site covers a vast area and includes a forum, the podium where St Paul addressed the Corinthians, shop, fountains, temples, amphitheatres and baths. There was also a museum containing finds dating back to Neolithic times! We virtually had the place to ourselves....wonderful.
After a good stroll around we found a restaurant with a patio overlooking the site and enjoyed a delicious Greek meal. We then headed up to the Acrocorinth (the original acropolis 570m above) on a zig zag road. We were rewarded by amazing views but disappointed
on arriving that access to the area had closed at 3pm....maybe we’ll try again when we return.
We finally crossed a tiny bridge over the Corinth Canal with its sheer rock cliffs on either side and eventually found a beachside campsite at Kineta......by the water’s edge and very peaceful.
Our Route (overnight stops in capital letters)
Since Manfredonia on Fri 4 March: Trinitapoli; Barletta; BARI;
FERRY crossing to Patras;
Psathopirgos; Lambiri; Rhodia; Aigio; DIAKOFTO;
Prvalia Platanou; Likoporia; XYLOKASTRA;
Kiato; Vrahati; Ancient Corinth; Corinth; KINETA;
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