Greek Odyssey – Week 3
En route to the Peloponnese thumb, it would have been rude to not stop off at the Corinth Canal. We had seen our friends from the Two Drifters go through this last year on their catamaran heading for the Caribbean, so we were keen to see it. And what great timing! As we arrived to marvel at the sinking bridge, five boats were due to enter the canal and so we actually got to see the bridge in action. Not only that, Mr Controller invited us into his inner sanctum to watch the boats move through. Typical Greek hospitality as we’ve come to learn.
From canals to the famous Peloponnese coastline, we searched for a place we could call ‘home’ after a lot of travelling. After a few failed attempts down some challenging roads, we eventually parked up at Archaia Epidavros where we were treated to the lullaby of gently crashing waves, the historical intrigue of the sunken village, ancient amphitheatres, stunning sunrises and organic olive oil. This was just perfect. There were a couple of wild camping opportunities here. (Co-ords N37.63694 E23.16188). So we anchored down for five days and rested our travel-weary bones and this little town gave us the rejuvenation that we needed. This stunning little bay harbours crystal clear, azure blue waters, peninsulas decorated with oak and pine trees and an authentic village life trying to make a living.
Characterful restaurants line the harbour front and a stunning Greek Church sits proudly above the bay creating a great backdrop to the whole area. If you do visit, you must check out Athena Ecofarm who have their own Organic Olive Grove, shop and bar where they not only produce sensational oil, they also sell oil based products and herbs grown locally on their farm. There’s a fabulous deli in town that sells a whole range of wallet-emptying items. Needless to say a few purchases were made during our stay. If you head towards the Sunken City, which is walking distance from the town to the west, there is a campsite – Camping Nikolas I and a bar at the end of the road, which sits right on the beach. If you’re looking to camp rather than wild, we would recommend Camping Nikolas II, (N37 616111 E23.15861) which although is part of the same group, is a much nicer site than its sibling. With its terraced pitches and shore frontage spots, it’ll be hard to leave here at an ACSI price of €17 for a MH and two. (Trickier for vehicles over 7.5m though).
One of the main reasons people come to this area is the ancient Amphitheatre and Sanctuary, which is about 20km inland, up in the mountains. The theatre has been restored beautifully although it still has a very genuine feel to it, when you look past the coach load of tourists. The rest of the park, which is huge, is still under reconstruction. Not quite sure how I feel about the rebuilding, as it looses so much of its authenticity, although we must keep this ancient history alive – it’s a tricky balance. This has so much history to it and the Sanctuary, with its healing rituals and baths brought people from all over Europe to heal their ailments. Rumour has it that Epidavros or Epidauros is the birth place of the Epidural injection.
Méthana is a delight – the town, from which you can get a ferry to Piraeus, is a quaint seaside town with thermal baths, which smell more than our grey waste tank. Still it is worth a couple of night’s stay as there is so much to do here. We stayed at the harbourside, just opposite the Thermal Baths, which offers a great view of the town and coast. Although no services here, it’s a great spot to explore. (N37.577552 E23.389477) Your reward is hiking up in the mountains, ancient monuments and evidence of volcanic activity everywhere. Something for everyone. Méthana’s biggest draw though is her Volcano. A 20 minute drive around the peninsular, which is narrow although doable with the Motorhome out of season, gives you a chance to regale at the delights of this geological masterpiece. Rock climbing alongside this still active volcano, this challenging 20 minute walk offers you the most incredible views across the bay to Epidavros and also climb into one of the vents in the belly of this volcano. It is a must see if you’re fit and able to do a bit of rock clambering. The larva deposits have created some incredible artwork and framed by the pine trees and the azure seas, it is a must!