We left Methoni and rode through spectacular scenery in rapidly worsening weather. We managed to take shelter in a village during the first downpour and took the opportunity to eat a spot of lunch. We managed to take shelter in a garage cafe during the second downpour and had a coffee whilst waiting for the worst to pass. The final downpour occurred just as we got to Dimitisana. We parked the bike under a tree and took refuge under an overhanging roof. About half an hour later, a charming gentleman (Jordan) came out of his hotel and asked if we needed somewhere to stay. We had parked the bike right outside! As you can see above (in better weather).
Cold and dripping wet we inspected the gorgeous rooms of a genuine boutique hotel. We really could not turn it down after leaving puddles on the floor and water soaking into rugs, apart from which the rain was still torrential and being out in it was not high on our agenda. We decided to stay two nights and, after a hot shower and dry clothes, enjoyed a beer in the bar which has the most amazing view. With the weather clearing we strolled into town past the Roman bridge and found plenty of choices for dinner. We ate well in Dimitsana.
Next morning we had a huge homemade breakfast, including fried nettle leaves and morel mushrooms that Jordan had foraged from the forest. Then we set off on a walk. The trail was reasonably well marked and our first stop was a surprisingly interesting outdoor water power museum. The whole area was famous for water powered industry right up to the middle of last century. There was a fulling tub that resembles a huge top loading washing machine, a flour mill, gunpowder mill, raki still and a tannery. All with very informative videos.
This is the fulling tub:
We walked on down the trail but turned around after a few hours and came back by road. It was all down on the way out to the bottom of the gorge, and all up on the way back! We should have taken more water with us, we didn’t, but there was an abundance of fast flowing streams on the way down.
The walking was quite hard so we didn’t get too many views of the scenery. There were frequent stops to try and capture photographs of butterflies! We do want to go back to Dimitsana and do a bit more exploring – there is quite a lot to see in that part of Arcadia but, this year, we didn’t really have time.
Next day we headed back to Nafplio for a relaxing evening before catching the ferry to Chios then on to home via Çeşme.
Our next stop was Methoni. We visited there, briefly, in 2013. This time we went the pretty way, over Mount Taygetos which must be one of the best bike rides in the world. Scenery is spectacular but we were a bit concerned by the darkening skies. Which opened. Fortunately whilst we were fairly near to a village where we took a rain break for a Freddo Espresso. We managed to get to Methoni without getting seriously wet and checked into the hotel on the beach. This meant we could use the sun loungers and umbrellas without incurring extra costs but, sadly, it wasn’t really beach weather whilst we were there. The storm broke as we reached our room.
Methoni is a quiet, seaside village – which gains much (but not all) its income from tourism. It also has a spectacular Venetian castle which, this time, we managed to visit. In fact we spent an entire morning in there. Apart from the castle we spent our time making friends with the local wildlife in a pleasant bar and eating some excellent meals.
Our next stop was Mystra. We rode there the pretty way, via Leonido, stopping off in Cosmas for lunch with a spectacular view… Some Italian bikers had the same idea so there was quite a crowd enjoying mountain sausage, chips and village bread.
Mystra did not disappoint. It’s an almost intact Byzantine city with many churches containing frescoes, a palace, a working monastery and plenty of interesting wildlife. The village itself is small and friendly, containing a number of small hotels and a sprinkling of restaurants. I think a lot of people just visit for the day from larger tourist centres.
After we arrived we walked up to the entrance to the site (there are two entrances because, if you only use the lower entrance, there is quite a lot of walking involved) where we saw some lattice brown butterflies on a tree stump.
Next day we explored the site itself. It took all day. Like many sites in Greece, the information boards scattered around give you a very good idea of what life must have been like when Byzantine Mystra was a living city. We were lucky to avoid the rainstorm that happened in the evening as the surfaces inside the Byzantine city are very, very slippery when wet!
Apart from the lattice browns, I think I shall save the wildlife for a separate post as Mystra is very, very photogenic.
We took a trip to Greece for Ashley’s birthday. This time we went on the bike. Ferry from Çeşme to Chios (Sakız) where we enjoyed a few beers with friends and nearly missed the ferry to Piraeus. It is probably worth adding that we did not see many refugees on Chios and those we did see seemed well settled with small businesses. Our friend, however, told us that the tourist industry is not doing well. Bookings down by 80%. Tourists, it seems, are fickle beasts.
We did better in Piraeus this time – we only went the wrong way once and when we did we quickly realised we were going the wrong way. Our excuse is that it was very, very early in the morning. We were in Nafplio far too early and our hotel room was not ready. The management could not have been more apologetic (even though it was not their fault – it was barely ten in the morning) so we took ourselves off for an excellent breakfast.
We really did not do a great deal that day, other than wander around and eat delicious ice cream. It really is very much a tourist town (it gets cruise ships) and we did buy a hat.
The next day we indulged in some serious sight seeing. We didn’t manage to get to the museum on our previous visit and this omission needed to be corrected. The area has been inhabited since the iron age and there were the usual prehistoric pots plus some very fine Attic red figure ware. And the only entire suit of Mycenaean armour that has survived to the present day. In the afternoon we headed up the 1000 (actual number disputed but it’s an awful lot) steps to the fortress. This is huge. It was originally Venetian but was taken over by the Ottomans and then the Greeks. Once you get to the top the climbing is not over as there are a number of different bastions, linked by passageways. There are doors that seem to lead to nothing except thin air, but often there are steps leading down from them quite safely. And interesting though the history is, the major attraction here just has to be the wonderful views.
The evenings were spent in a large square in town where vendors found a ready market for various toys including giant bubble blowing machines and luminous twirly parachuting things. The square was full of children, and people generally strolling. After two lovely nights we headed off to Mystra, but that’s for another post…
We are going to keep Pul Biber to mostly being about living in Turkey and local material, our travels, our life here. On which we have just got back from a trip to Greece details of which to follow soon.
Right now we are taking this opportunity to let people know that political content, especially about the UK, and maybe some other bits and pieces, social commentary and observations, human rights matters and so on will appear over on Postcards from the Edge. Do please drop by if you are interested, do comment if you want.
This is something we have been thinking of doing for a while. Recent terrible events in the UK got us off our backsides and writing.
We returned to Akyaka for our third visit. It seems to be becoming an annual event. The picture above, by the way is not Akyaka but Akbük (there are at least two places called Akbük but this one is between Akyaka and Oren).
Akyaka is one of Turkey’s official slow cities. It’s a place we go to relax so we can’t report any frenetic activity. We ate a great deal of kalamari and other seafood, all of which was fantastic. Akyaka really is a good place for seafood. Oh, and hand made organic goat milk ice cream.
We took the bike for a ride along the coast. We went down into Akbük pictured. At ground level there is a narrow, stony beach packed with chaise longues and parasols, so close together that everyone could hold hands. Not really as attractive as it looks from a distance, though there were plenty of cafes and restaurants that looked pleasant enough. We rode as far as Oren which we liked. It’s a ‘real’ place (obviously has year round activity) and we ate gözleme and more kalamari.
Next day we attempted a circular walk that should have been about 12 Km. Our intended route was interrupted at the last moment by an unfordable inlet so we had to turn around and go back the way we came. This made it a much longer walk but very worthwhile as we were able to sit in a ploughed field and watch a colony of bee eaters.
For those UK citizens who are living in Turkey or maybe elsewhere outside of the UK and want to vote in the referendum. If you have a postal vote this may not be of much use since the earliest they will be sent out from the UK is 3rd June, so odds are we will get them sometime in July.
We spoke to the Electoral Commission about this. They provided the telephone number of Electoral Services where we are registered for a postal vote, in our case London Borough of Ealing. We now have the forms by email for a Proxy vote, these can be printed, completed, scanned and returned by email. In our case the Proxy may then have to apply for a postal vote but that too can all be done by email and return of email.
If you are a UK citizen living in Turkey or elsewhere and want to vote, then depending on your postal service this may be what you need to do.
For the record we’ll be voting In. Apart from all the other good reasons, this one. On the front of our passports it says European Union. This is really important, because many of the rights we have to live here (and the same is true of those living in the EU and some other countries) are predicated on agreements with the EU. Leave the EU, those agreements are at risk.
That said, the important thing here is democratic process, having the opportunity to vote.