Dave the motorhome is on the beach, again, this time at Dhiafofto; he’s turned full-on beach bum in the Peloponnese (N38.20196 E22.19415). As predicted by the ever-reliable (honestly, they’re fabulously accurate for out here) BBC weather men, the early burning sun’s been replaced with the odd half-hearted shower. It’s 8:30pm now and we’re looking out across the Gulf of Corinth to the Greek mainland.
We slept like logs alongside the curtain walls of the castle of Acrocorinth last night, waking as the morning sun started its daily duty of slow-baking this bit of the world. The sky’s still hazy with North African dust, although the view had cleared out a little to the lower town below. Waving goodbye to the German folks who’d given us the hint to stay there (they looked comfortably settled for a day or three) Dave rolled off the hill. Below us we could spy bits of the ancient cropping up in among the modern village of lower town, one time capital of this bit of Roman Empire. Half a Doric temple here, some orderly stones there, intermingled with houses, a football stadium and tavernas, the oddest site of ruins since the goats wandering the carefree Roman towns of northern Tunisia.
Our map, which is pants, and which we should replace, but are too tight to, showed the road west to be a non-toll dual-carriageway. The signs on the ground were green though, the colour of money. After being stung for 12 cans of Lidl lager yesterday (well, the equivalent of), we didn’t fancy dropping any more of our cash into the ocean of Greek national debt, and chose the coast road. For miles the town stretched itself thin, a forest of multi-coloured signs, so many to be useless, even the road signs were swamped by adverts, every tiny shop had a whacking great board demanding your attention. I’d no attention to spare though, we’re back in the land of the living here. Dusty BMWs reverse into the road. Helmetless one-handed (the other’s on the phone/cupping an ear to listen the passenger, holding a coffee, anything by steering) moped riders own the road, little buzzing Top Guns, each and every one. Pedestrians walk along the missing pavements, their heads blissfully unaware of impending doom in the shape of Dave’s wing mirror.
After a few miles of this test by attrition we rolled onto a faster road. Dual carriageway, of a fashion. I’d forgotten the rules here. Everyone drives halfway onto the hard shoulder to make a two lane road into four. We started to rank the corners in terms of the number of shrines sprouted alongside. A five-shriner was a bad ‘un, one to be careful on. Finally we got a real dual carriageway, for about 5 miles until it too was compressed into a single lane by enough cones to melt a Cone Hotline. 50kph signs appeared. Our speedo read 100kph as I attempted to outrun the massive lorry bearing down on us through the cones, with no success. All alongside ran the bones of an abandoned road construction project. Slabs of white concrete sprouting cages of rusty rebar, bridges halting half way over above us, seemingly having just noticed the fact a church occupies the other side of the road.
Finally we found Dhiakofto, a wee workaday (Lonely Planet code for ‘nothing special’) town with something special embedded in it. A rack and pinion railway line, built by the Italians, wings its way through a spectacular gorge to the south of us. It’s famous apparently, someone told us it appears in a book of the World’s Greatest Railways. In among the narrow streets we found somewhere to halt while Ju checked out the timetable and whether pooch could ride. Quick answer: it only runs 3 times a day in the week, we could still make the last train but then we’d only have 20 or 30 minutes at the top. We decided to wait, coming back to buy tickets. Oddly the ticket office man spoke to me in French, finally those ‘At the Station’ French lessons came in handy, ‘deux aller et retour pour demain, s’il vous plait’!
While waiting for time to pass, another British van arrived, Brian at the helm and Mo leaping out to chat with us. They were staying around the corner from the small port we’d slotted ourselves in, popping down for shopping and the free Internet. Free Internet you say, huzzah, Ju kicked off an upload of a video of the submersible bridge at the Corinth Canal and after they’d left we took a quick walk about town which culminated with me falling down this hole:
while taking a photo of this lemon tree:
No harm done, we followed them down the track to this beach, where a few local vans (not motorhomes) had arrived, possibly Gypsies, possible Albanians, possible Romanians, we dunno, but the little olive skinned and clean-clothed nippers all spoke Greek and snippets of English as they came over, not to beg, but just to say hello and eyeball Charlie. Gotta admit I felt a sense of relief though as they packed up the washing they’d done under the beach showers, gathered the nippers, dumped their rubbish on the beach (all of 5m from the bin) and left.
All evening we’ve chatted with Brian and Mo, veteran travellers, authors (their Greek trip’s all documented here), masters of underwater metal detecting (you should see the gold they’ve found under the Spanish seas), jugglers, owners of a Fray Bentos stash to kill for and all round good eggs. Mo’s offered to cook up some grub so I’m off now to enjoy it.
A few more photos from today’s mild adventures:
Cheers folks, tomorrow we ride up a mountain in an Italian train from another age!