After Meteora and the amazing monasteries perched at the top of the cliffs (Greece: Meteora, For your Eyes too), we drove to the Delphi ruins (Greece: Delphi, the centre of the Ancient Greek World).
Then we headed to nearby Nafpaktos for Easter – there’s a candlelit procession to the fortified harbour – there are candles floating in the water and the castellations are lit with torch flames. Beautiful.
Katie did a post about Easter in Greece, where the celebrations are bigger and more important than Christmas (Greece: Kalo Pascha “Happy Easter”). Neil also did a post about the Wave Cafe in Nafpaktos and the lovely owners who let him into the kitchen to exchange recipes (Greece: Nafpaktos).
We continued south over the bridge beside Nafpaktos (that was a welcome sight because it wasn’t on our 1994 road map). This bridge joins the Peloponnese with mainland Greece. The Peloponnese (Peloponnisos) is a peninsula rather than an island because it dangle by a thread to mainland Greece just below Athens.
The bridge costs 13€ for a campervan. It’s possible to still get a ferry, which is a little more expensive.
Our first stop in the Peloponnese was in a small seaside town near Pyrgos, called Katakolo. This town caters for the cruise ships which stop there (to visit Olympia) and is full of waterfront cafés and restaurants.
We liked the cafe Del Mar, which had huge waffles, wifi and comfy sofas. There’s also an excellent area for campervan stops, which has electric (we read on the internet that it cost 5€ a night, but there was nobody around at all to pay). There are also (slightly stinky) toilets and showers. It’s better to stick with the cafe loos, or your own in the campervan.
Katakolo was a great point to leave early for Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games and the site where the Olympic torch is relit every four years. The ruins and museum is about half an hour from Katakolo.
Olympia itself has plenty of cafés and a modernised town centre; expensive for food and souvenirs as it’s quite touristy. Adam’s done a separate post about Olympia (still pending). It’s a particularly nice visit now, mid April, when the cherry blossoms are in flower. It’s also pretty quiet.
Our plan is to continue south into Mani (the southernmost part of the Peloponnese) towards Aeropolis and the caves of Diros. There’s such a lot to see in the Peloponnese that our original thoughts of getting the boat to Crete have been put on hold for another time.
Where to stop overnight
We’ve taken two weeks to get from Meteora to just south of Olympia. We’ve stayed in one campsite, which was a little disappointing with cold showers. Campsites generally open at the beginning of May and those that are open are pretty much “off season”.
The rest of the time we’ve wildcamped. At this time of year it’s not been a problem at all. The separate blog posts have details.
Fuel just now is varying between 1€30 and 1€45 (April 2014). A cappuccino will set you back a nice touristy 3€ most places, but an espresso or Greek coffee is a euro or less. Beer is 2-3€, although last night at our little bakery stop it was 1€20.
The little bakery deserves a plug. It at the side of the road, on it’s own, near Neo Itsa on the coastal road south. They were happy for us to spend the night parked beside them (although there’s only really space for one).
They have a cafe, serve warm cakes, icecream for 1€ for an enormous scoop, the above bargain beer, and warm bread is is fresh from the oven first thing in the morning. The shop sells honey too. It’s a welcome break just for a coffee if you’re driving the twisty up and down roads which jump from sea level to hilltop village.
We’ve had some rain and some sunshine. Because we are travelling slowly, we’ve waited till the sun popped back out to visit ruins and outdoor things. It’s been tshirt temperature (for us Scots), and yesterday we swam in the sea. Invigorating, but a lovely warm wind when we got out.