After an arctic few days spent in Athens we headed for a Camperstop at Ancient Corinth on the Peloponnese to have the luxury of electric hook up for a few days over the Christmas period. What a good choice it turned out to be. Vasillis, the octogenarian owner, has converted part of his garden to accommodate a dozen or so vans.
At just a five minute walk into the centre of the village it was ideal. We made ourselves at home, had some breakfast, went for a walk round the village and then sat outside in the sun at the communal area on the site where Vasillis has a little area displaying his homemade wine, olive oil and vegetables which he sells on an honesty box basis.
We chatted to Bernard, a German chap who spends the winter on the site, who invited us and the other campers to the midnight service on Christmas Eve at the village church. We’d never been to a Greek Orthodox service before so we felt very fortunate to have been included even if it was the latest night we’d had in the last two years! We’re normally tucked up reading a book by 9.00 pm in the winter and we did have to set the alarm to make sure we were awake at 11.00 pm when it was time to set off for the twenty minute walk up to the church.
All the campers were also invited to spend Christmas lunch with Vassillis and his family the following day. We all contributed a nominal sum to cover the cost of the food and we were treated to a traditional Greek Christmas lunch sitting out on the veranda in the sun. After a two hour walk on Christmas morning up the hill to see the views from the ruins of the Acrocorinth fortress we settled down for a Greek feast with a mix of nationalities – Greek, German, English, Dutch and French.
It was a day we will remember for a long time to come and so unexpected which made it even more special.
The Peloponnese peninsular would be an island if it weren’t for the four mile width of the Corinth Isthmus. In the olden days, to avoid the stormy cape at the southernmost point of the Peloponnese, and before the Corinth canal was built, boats were unloaded on one shore of the isthmus and dragged across the four mile stretch on a paved slipway before being refloated on the other side. It wasn’t until 1893 that the twenty three metre wide Corinth Canal was finally completed. Alas, the canal is not a viable option for huge modern container ships and now generally only accommodates yachts and small freight.
We cycled down there on Boxing Day to take a look. We were able to cycle most of the length of the canal on a rough track without having to fight through any traffic but we weren’t lucky enough to see anything passing through.
Our Dutch neighbours who had cycled there a couple of days earlier were able to watch a barge going through being towed by a tug.
It is thanks to this narrow isthmus between the Saronic and Corinthian Gulfs that Ancient Corinth gained its prosperity. That four mile stretch was the shortest route for passage from the eastern Mediterranean to the Adriatic and Italy. Founded in Neolithic times, ancient Corinth, ten or so kilometres from the canal, then, became the largest Roman township in Greece with a population of 750,000.
Acrocorinth, the acropolis of ancient Corinth, which sits on the hill 2.5 miles above ancient Corinth, is a vast sixty acre site accessed via three successive gateways from different eras – Ottoman, Frankish and Byzantine. We walked up there for a second time to take a look when it was open. We were free to roam anywhere we wanted across the site. The views from the top are spectacular and you can apparently see up to sixty kilometres in every direction on a clear day.
We said goodbye to our neighbours and reluctantly left the Camper stop after having spent four nights there to continue round the Peloponnese in a clockwise direction. From what we have seen so far we are loving the Peloponnese which has been helped, in some part, by the clear warm sunny days we have had since leaving Athens.
After a few days pootling about the small fishing villages of Korphos and Ormos Nea Ephidaurus we were, once again, in need of a washing machine. I know I am such a bore about the laundry but the feng shui in the van is just not right when there is an overflowing bag of dirty washing lurking about! After a bit of googling I found some info on Trip Adviser about a dry cleaners in Napflio, that would maybe do a wash for you. As it was just up the road from a Lidl, and we were in need of a weekly shop, we cut straight across the peninsular on the E070 to find out. And what a beautiful drive it was too up and down through olive, orange and lemon groves. At the dry cleaners we were in luck. Our washing was done for us whilst we cruised the aisles of Lidl and was ready by the time we’d packed away our shopping. Equilibrium was restored once again.
Náfplio is said to be the most elegant town in mainland Greece with its marble pavements, castles and Venetian influenced architecture. We walked the five kilometres from Karathona bay, where we’d parked overnight, along a footpath around the bottom of the cliffs into Náfplio giving us views of the Akronaflía and Palamidi fortresses from below. The path took us straight in to the old town which we decided was an excellent way to arrive.
We drove over to see what it was like on New Year’s Eve after speaking to our friend Chris who told us the celebrations at Easter in Náfplio were quite big. We parked up in the large carpark on the quayside with several other vans and had a very enjoyable wander around the town in the evening with lots of other families before grabbing a bite to eat. There didn’t appear to be anything going on later in the evening so we returned to the van to watch ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’.
We were woken up at midnight by a deafening fog horn blasting from one of the huge freight boats moored not far from us followed by fireworks going off in front of the fortress. So much for nothing going on in Náfplio on New Years Eve then!
ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος!