Biking Athens, visiting ancient sites and relaxing at the beach

Last Friday, it was time to say our goodbyes in Arla. Even though we loved staying and working with Andreas and Peggy, we were also really excited to start travelling again. However, it felt like our journey had already started on Thursday. That day, Peggy dropped us of in the 3rd biggest city of Greece: Patras. It felt great to be ‘tourists’ again! The city itself wasn’t very touristic, although we saw some English tourists from a cruise ship. In the morning we walked around the old theatre and the castle: really impressive ancient sites! It’s unbelievable what was built in the time B.C.

For lunch we sat down at a cute little restaurant and ordered all kinds of finger food. It started pouring at the time we waited for the food to come, so we decided to really enjoy our lunch and lots of little plates. Tzatziki, cheese pies, pita, blue cheese, meatballs… it was very tasty! After lunch the rain stopped, so we could continue our walk around Patras. We went to a beautiful cathedral, where some Gypsy kids wouldn’t let go of Nienke and we ended the day with a coffee and a visit to the Flying Tiger. This day made us really want to be on the road again, which was good timing, as we were leaving on Friday!

Ancient Corinth
Originally, we had never planned to drive all the way to the Southern part of Greece. We only wanted to stay in the North West and then head to Thessaloniki. However, our plans changed when Nienke’s bike got stolen. The only Decathlon in Greece is situated in Corinth, so after leaving Patras that was our first stop. The Decathlon wasn’t very big, but luckily, they had the bike we wanted! They even did a quick check on Tamara’s bike! Corinth also has an ancient site, so we decided to drive up the hills to find it. We arrived in the late afternoon and it was gorgeous: the sun was shining right on the ancient city. We parked Tiny on the parking lot right in front of the site. It felt like we were part of a movie scene! The next morning, we got up early because we wanted to beat the crowd. As soon as we saw some people opening the gate, we decided to go after them. Thus, we even got in 20 minutes before the official opening time. The first hour, we were the only ones in the ancient city. It was so cool: it was a big fortress/city with 3 different gates from 3 different eras. Everywhere we looked we saw the city walls, all over the hills. We walked all the way up to the top and had an amazing view.

Nafplio
When we finished our visit in Acrocorinth it was only 10 in the morning, so we decided to drive further south to a small city called Nafplio. Another overlander on Instagram inspired us to go there, even though it wasn’t on our route. We really didn’t regret the detour! The city lies next to the sea and has a cute boulevard. We wandered all the tiny, lively little streets with tons of flowers that made the cute streets even look prettier. To make a great day even more fun, we spend the evening with some new friends we met at the parking lot where we slept. They were 2 couples our age, one Dutch couple and one Danish couple, and we had drinks with them in the city centre till late. It was a great day! Unfortunately, we couldn’t spend more time with them, because we had different plans.

Beautiful Athens
The next day we left pretty early, because we had a 4-hour drive before we would be in Athens. We couldn’t really find a nice Park4night spot, so we decided to stay at the Athens campground. At the campground they told us exactly how to take public transport into the city. They even had a pamphlet in Dutch! The lady did forget to tell us that there was no possibility to buy a ticket in the bus, so we ended up walking 40 minutes to the nearest subway station. As soon as we arrived downtown, we walked to the Acropolis. Tickets are expensive (20-euro p.p.), but we really wanted to go in, so we decided to pay 40 euros. And we are glad we did! It felt really special to walk around such an old, incredible place. Besides all the old, beautiful buildings, theatres etc., the view over Athens is fantastic. Visiting the Acropolis really made us want to know more about the ancient Greek times. After our visit, we met up with one of Nienke’s friends who was in Athens for a congress. She and a friend of hers showed us some of the city. First, we went to so a street with white and blue houses. It’s really stereotypical, we know, but for me (Tamara) that really was something I was expecting to see when entering Greece. We had been in Greece for 5 weeks already and still hadn’t seen any (although now I know that I need to go to the Cyclades to see ‘movie Greece’). After the cute streets, we walked all around to see some more temples, gates and the stadium. We were surprised by all the little streets, cafes and restaurants in the Plaka area. Around 10 o’clock we took a metro and a bus back to our campground. Being surrounded by new and ‘old’ friends for two days was so nice! We can’t wait for more family and friends to come visit.

Biking in Athens and visiting Delphi
The next morning, we decided to take our bikes into the city. Biking in the outskirts was a little scary with all the big busy streets, but when we finally reached the inner circle, we even found bike lanes! We went to the ancient Agora, biked some other neighborhoods and decided that we really liked the vibe in the city. Maybe we will be back one day! After Athens there was one more ancient site on our list: Delphi. We thought that our wildcamping spot was 2 km from Delphi, but when we drove the last part the morning after, we realised that Delphi was just around the corner from our spot. We even saw a part of the old ruins (the old gymnasium) from our bed! We got to Delphi at 9.30 in the morning, together with a ton of busses. It felt even more crowded than at the Acropolis! However, it was a really cool site again and we are really glad that we visited it. The part we liked the most were Apollo’s Temple and the Arena all the way on top of the mountain. In the end, we visited so many ancient sites this past week that they start to look alike! That’s why we decided to head for the coast and take a couple of days to relax (and write our blogs).

Still enjoying the sun!
So, right now I am lying in the hammock, in my bathing suit, surrounded by palm trees, overlooking the sea. We got to a wonderful place last night and it really almost feels like paradise. It’s actually ‘just’ a kitesurf club that is closed because the season is over, but the weather is still perfect, some of the sunbeds are still out and the sun is still shining. We even have a toilet and an outdoor shower. Yes, it feels really nice to travel again!

 

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