Naar Griekenland met vakantie! Zeker weten!

"HIGHLIGHTS OF GREECE" "from 26th of May until 27th of June 2008


Verslag van deze tour door Griekenland, geschreven door één van de Britse deelneemsters, mevrouw Christine Edwards.

Twenty five Dutch/British units met at Camping Alberello, Riccione, in Italy where our Dutch tour leaders provided us with a comprehensive tour book and a rally briefing. After a short drive the following day we embarked at Ancona, on the fast ferry "Europa Palace". We settled into our units complete with electricity and many enjoyed sea views. That evening we had our first meal as a group, compliments of Minoan Lines. Early next morning we drifted past the coastlines of Corfu and Albania before disembarking at Igoumenitsa.

After a short drive under clear blue skies and bright sunshine we arrived at our first Greek camp site, Kalami Beach. The reception area was a profusion of colour from the varieties of bougainvillea and many took the opportunity to take their first swim in the clear Ionian sea. That evening we all enjoyed a tipical Greek meal in the camp restaurant accompanied by the unmistakeable sounds of live Greek music.

The 130 mile drive to our next camp site involved threading our way through the steep and winding road over the Northern Greek mountains culminating with the famous Katara Pass. There were many mountain villages, such as Metsovo, to visit on route to Camping Kastraki. The site was situated in the strange and beautiful landscape of the Meteora rocks, a World Heritage site. a group visit was arranged to two of the inhabited monasteries each perched on a massive pinnacle of smooth conglomerate rock. In the 14th century the monasteries were built as peaceful inaccessible havens for the monks away from the Turkish incursions into Greece at the time. By way of contrast, the following day, we entered the colourful, green Pelion Penninsula, said to be one of the most beautiful regions of the mainland and the mythological home of the Centaurs. Camping Sikia, our next stopover, made an ideal setting close to the seashore in the Pagasitikos Gulf. From here we all enjoyed an excursion on a narrow gauge railway from Lehonia, wich climbed steadily through olive groves offering views down to the emerald coloured sea, before reaching the pretty village off Miliés. We enjoyed lunch, in the central square shaded from the heat of the day by a huge, old plane tree.

Our route the took us south arround the Pagasitikos Gulf to Agios Serafim across the Pass of Thermopylea where the heroic balltes of Sparta's King Leonidas against the Persians took place in 480 BC. At the peaceful Camping Venezuela, situated on the coast, we enjoyed a very warm welcome with food and drinks from the camp site owners and played boule together. Our 60 mile journey was a cross country route dotted with tiny inhabited settlements. On route to Delphi we were able to pay our respects at a pristine First World War British Military cemetery at Bralos. Camping Delphi, suspended on a high mountain plateau, had spectacular views to the sea and surrounding mountain ranges. Situated only four kilometres from Ancient Delphi, one of the most visited tourist sites in Greece, it made it a truly memorable interlude. According to legend when Zeus released two eagles from opposite sides of the world their paths crossed at Delphi thus establishing the archaeological splendours of beautiful classical Greece. On our rest day we experienced a shock wave from the earthquake 40 miles away at Patras.

Day 15 involved the journey from Delphi to Athens; we passed through the magnificent village of Arachova perched on the side of Mount Parnassus. Following the E94 we then had the challenge to find the camp site amidst the legendary city traffic at Athens. The following day a guided city tour was organised visiting manymof the wonders of Athens, the largest city in Greece and the most densely populated in Europe. The Acropolis and Parthenon, reputed to be the most omportant ancient monument in the Western World, stand sentinel over Athens and are truly awe-inspiring. After Athens we crossed the Corinth Canal and entered the Peloponnese en route to Epidavros. We were able to spend time observing ships passing through the Corinth Canal, linking the Ionian and Aegean seas, a truly amazing engineering feat completed in 1893 by the French. Our destination, Camping Bekas situated on a calm beach in Palea Epidavros, allowed us time to relax and swim after the hustle and bustle of Athens. Our coach excursion the following day began with a visit to the World Heritage listed Ancient Mycenae. From 1600-1200 BC this was the most powerful kingdom in Greece. This fascinating site included the tomb of Agamemnon - a 40m long passage leads to an immense beehive shaped chamber. Leaving the sombre and mighty ruins we next visited the elegant town of Nafplio, the first capital of Greece. There was ample time to explore the narrow streets of the old town and lunch together in a very busy Greek restaurant on the port. The traditionel food was served by enthusiastic staff which added to the already noisy, frenetic atmosphere. After lunch we continued to the Theatre at Epidavros, one of the best preserved classical Greek structures, renowned for its amazing acoustics and an ideal backdrop for thwe group photograph.

Day 20 and we leave Camping Bekas to make our way to Gyrhion. This is a stunning drive, initially along the coast with views of seaside villages and then passing through (sometimes with difficulty) beautiful small mountain villages. We stopped for lunch at Kosmas and enjoyed sitting in the cool mountain air in the shade of a huge plane tree. At Camping Meltemi there was time to explore Gythio, once the ancient port of Sparta now an attractive fishing town, together with other picturesque small villages in the Mani region. On our first morning it was discovered that turtles had visited the beach during the night to lay their eggs. On our last evening in Gythio, the group walked along the beach to the Takis restaurant for a meal accompanied by the music and the gentle lapping of waves on the shore.

The route from Gythio to Gialova provided more stunning scenery accompanied as ever with clear blue skies. There were many villages allong the coast to explore and take coffee or lunch. We passed through Kalamata and then on across the peninsular to Pilos and Camping Erodioss at Gialova, an extremely well appointed camp site on a safe, sandy beach. Some of the group took the advantage of the beautiful coastline, whilst others explored the Gialova lagoon, the best and accessible bird watching site in the Peloponnese. Our journey continued north along the coast, throughout the tour we had enjoyed wonderful warm sunny days, now the temperature was rising. The cool swimming pool at Camping Alphios, Olympia, became the favourite meeting place. Naturally there was a group visit to Ancient Olympia where our knowledgeable guide gave us an insight into the history of the games which were first declared in 776 BC. There was ample time to tour the site, run in the stadium and visit the finbe new museum where the breathtaking marble statue of Hermes stands. After a frappe in the shade of a spreading chestnut tree, it was back to the camp site swimming pool and a superb evening meal at the restaurant. We continued north past numerous roadside melon and pumpkin sellers, to reach our final site Camping Allissos, situated on the Gulf of Patras.

Our group excursion took us to Kalavrita. On our journey we visit Mega Spileon, (Big Cave) said to be the best oldest monestery in Greece where our excelent guide introduced us to the Igoumenos (leader) of the Monestery (see photo). An excellent lunch was provided in the village, where we enjoyed spontaneous singing and dancing with a visiting Greek choir. On the 13 december 1943 all the men of Kalavrita were killed in conflict and there was time to visit the museum and pay our respects at their memorial. The nearby taverna, overlooking the sea, provided the setting for the final meal where we were entertained by a traditional folklore group and encouraged to join in the dancing. An appropriate opportunity to say 'Goodby'to all our Dutch and British friends and a huge thank to Rinus, Lenny, Jan and Hemmie for a truly outstanding and well organised rally.

Denys and Christine Edwards.


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