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.