September 26, 2000 GMT
Relaxing in Greece

We spent a number of days in Athens enjoying the sights and an airconditioned hotel room. Carol's brother did a bit of sightseeing with us then we headed down the south coast to Cape Sounion. The Med coast was still very crowded although we had little trouble finding campsites. The road was as smooth as glass and appeared to have a film of grease. We had a couple of front wheel slides and we watched a local spin the rear wheel from the traffic lights through a few gears in a straight line. Not ideal motorcycle roads.

North along the coast we took a couple of minor roads into the hills and gradually got a little lost due to the poor road signage. Made it back to the freeway and crossed the bridge onto Evia (Island). Travelling south we encountered mainly farmland with the road getting twistier further on when the mountains got closer to the coast. Weather was particularly warm as we headed back north to the central mountain roads. The climate cooled the further we got into the hills and the terrain appeared a lot greener. Plenty of soldiers on this road, most of which were watching out for fires or the people who started them. They have had many bad fires in the area this year. We camped on the East coast for one night, heading to the ferry port on the northern tip early the next morning. The ferry ride to the mainland was very cheap (approx US$5).

A big ride today crossing through the centre of Greece to the northern ferry crossing of Patras onto the Peloponnese. Some great mountain riding combined with some slow stuff through villages. Had a little difficulty finding campgrounds open but eventually found one. It had a small restaurant out the front and they had the largest olive tree growing in the courtyard. The tree provided the canopy for the outdoors section. A hundred people or more could have sat under this tree. We enjoyed a great meal of fresh calamari and sardines with of course the Greek Salad.

Heading south to Olympia was just a short ride so we donned the hiking boots on arrival and trekked through all the ruins and viewed the sights at the museum. Very touristy but worth the effort.

Cutting accross the Island through the mountains we travelled in heat only paralelled in Africa. We later found out that Athens reached over 50 deg. cel. that day so what it was out on the tarmac I dread to think. Enroute we checked out another ampitheatre at Epidaros. Amazing condition for that age and still being used. The Romans were certainly busy when they were in power. We found a small campground that evening and enjoyed a dip in the med to cool our very red faces. We could have spent a couple of days here but there are too many roads waiting. Must mention that getting to the water was a crippling affair for us tenderfoots. We are used to sand on out beaches not clinking smooth rocks that bruise the underfoot.

Back at Athens the next day we decided to camp rather afford the luxury of a Hotel. Not a good Campground and with the oppressive heat campers were still wandering around at 1.00 am in the morning having showers. There was no swimming pool. When the campers finally slept it was outside the tents in their underwear on their sleepmats. What a sight. Next day we hooked up with Carol's brother again and sucked up some of his airconditioning at the Hotel. Thanks Wayne.

While in Athens we were to arrange our visas for Romania so we headed out there on Monday, yes the sign said they were open but you guessed it they weren't. We decided to leave the next day and head north. We couldn't spend another day at the campground in the heat.

Tuesday we reach the Meteora Monastries. Towering granite rocks eroded over time with Monastries perched on the top. Great viewing, great roads and a cool shady campground. Things were looking better. Our road took us west to Ioannina which had a very picturesque lake which was edged by Castle walls and restaurants under shady trees on the shoreline. Beautiful. We walked the grounds inside the castle walls taking in the Byzantine paintings and the wealth of its history.

Enough of the history we headed over to Thessanolika to rest at a beach resort on the Kassandra Peninsula. The campground had only a few spaces left but we squeezed in OK and enjoyed the time with a ride down the Sithonia Pen. Another seafood meal for lunch. It's almost time to diet.

Posted by Carol Duval at 02:52 AM GMT

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