Thursday, 11 May
Today started with a bit of bad news. One of the couples tested positive for covid and we left them behind this morning. Dolora and I were up early for breakfast after a good night’s sleep. Another nice breakfast buffet. After meeting in the lobby, we boarded the bus and headed towards the Peloponnese Peninsula. We descended from Delphi and drove along the coast. Our first rest stop was at a wonderful bakery with all kinds of cookies, breads and pastries. We resisted the urge to indulge and it was just coffee for me.
We crossed the Gulf of Corinth on a bridge that was opened in 2004. The bridge was constructed to withstand earthquakes in the area. Our guide, Ioanna, lives in a town just on the other side of the bridge. Ionna’s mother baked baklava for the group so we had a short detour to meet Alex, Ioanna’s husband for the hand-off. This gave us a chance to see the bridge from below.
Our next stop was Diakofto for a scenic ride on a cog railway through the Vouraikos Gorge. A river with waterfalls runs through the gorge. Hikers hike on the railway to Kalavryta. It is very narrow in places and there are many bridges. The train blasts the whistle to warn hikers who are sometimes only inches away as we passed. The river and cliffs along the ride were amazing. There are two monuments in town dedicated to the men who lost their lives in World War II.
Our lunch stop was a riverside cafe in Planitero for roasted trout. Of course there were a bunch of appetizers including wild greens and Greek salad. The trout are farmed here. There are huge springs coming out of the rocks to provide the water. Lunch was around 2:30, a more typical time for Greeks to eat their midday meal.
Tonight we are staying at Hotel Kentrikon in Lagadia. Lagadia was founded by stone cutters five hundred years ago. The town was largely abandoned then two brothers whose family owned a hotel updated the building and worked with neighboring towns to set up a hiking trail, the Menalon Trail, which is 75 km (47 miles) between small towns in the Peloponnese Peninsula. This has revitalized the town.
Since the weather is in the mid fifties with a light rain, Dolora and I decided to relax before this evening’s festivities. The group met across the street for a demonstration of Greek dancing. The dance troupe had everyone on the floor. The group drove two hours to be here for the show. The troupe is led by a folk dance instructor and his partner along with several students. I think we all enjoyed the performance.
Back across the street for dinner, Greek salad, bread, tzatzaki, spinach pie. Then it was lamb with Greek potatoes. Dessert was apples with honey and cinnamon.
Hotels in the mountain towns have an interesting architecture. They are built on several levels, sometimes you go outside to take the steps to the next floor. Some of the rooms are at a lower level than the street, still with a view. Our breakfast this morning was two levels below the first floor. The main streets in town were connected by several long staircases. It would be too steep for a sidewalk. The towns have a real character.
Tomorrow we are off to Olympia where I hope to get the chance to run the track, without a stopwatch of course!