And here we are, now in Greece for a month!
We start with the island of Corfu close to Albania that we reach by ferry. Super fast, 1h30 of ferry, the immigration process is very fast, it is the second time that we return in EU and we were afraid that it will take 2h like the first time going to Dubrovnik from Bosnia, but not more than 5 minutes, customs cleared !
We rented a car for our stay on the island. Ohhhh freedom !!! So easy to go from one place to another, no schedules, it changed our lives and no more crazy bus drivers!
6 days in Corfu
We rented a small studio in Vatos not far from Glyfada beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island (according to Thomas)
So we enjoyed the sandy beaches (yes yes the real one, no pebbles, no rocks, or other looks like sandy beach as in Croatia ! ) ... that's the first time since we started our trip
Corfu Island is the greenest of the Greek islands. It has more than 4.5 millions of olive trees. We decided to visit a traditional olive oil factory: The Governor's Olive Mill located in Agios Matheos.
We learnt a lot during this visit. We had many explanations about the production of olive oil, from the harvest to the extraction of the oil, but we also learned how to "taste" an olive oil.
This olive grove has the particularity of producing extra virgin olive oil containing the highest proportion of polyphenol in the world, which is known for its anti oxidant and anti cancer benefits.
A few years ago Corfu's olive oil did not have a very good reputation. Quantity was more important than quality. The factory we visited decided to do things differently and review certain practices to drive production on quality.
We also wandered in the city of Corfu (in Greek: Kerkyra) to see its fortress, its old city center. Charming.
After seeing the beautiful beaches, Glyfada, Agios Georgios, Halikounas to name a few, we decided to go for a short hike on Mount Pantokrator overlooking the island of Corfu. The hike is 11km and is easy! It offers good views of beautiful bays and olive groves. You can even see the Albanian coast. The highest point is at 906m and offers a 360 degrees view of Corfu Island.
We leave Corfu by air and we go to the mainland to the beautiful city of Athens, capital of the country.
We stay 3 whole days in the Greek capital, with of course the must do visit of the Acropolis's site! There was not a lot of people on the site that day, so we really could take beautiful pictures and climb to the top at our own pace in order to see the temples (Athena Nike, and of course the Partenon) as well as other remarkable monuments such as the theater of Dionysos, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Propylees.
A visit to the Acropolis Museum is also a must, although it is not included in the museum pass. It costs 5 EUR but the visit brings a lot of explanations about the history of the Acropolis itself.
We then visited the temple of Zeus, located not far from the site of the Acropolis and two steps away from our AirBnB.
The next day we continue the Athens's visit with the Panatheic Stadium, made entirely of white marble. This stadium was renovated for the 1st modern Olympic Games in 1896 and has a capacity of 45 000 seats.
We continue our exploration of Athens by strolling in the district of Monastiraki (former Turkish bazaar), with its flea market, shops and of course not far from another site to visit : the old Athens Agora . On our way back home in the subway, Emma spoted a pickpocket (very active in Athens according to the guides) and asks her to stop. After a few seconds of misunderstanding, she got insulted, asked to shut up and don't look at it. A nice action of our little French WonderWomen who saved the wallet of an Asian tourist!
It is now time for us to leave Athens and take the road towards Peloponnese peninsula in the southern part of the country. We again rented a car, and thank you Goldcar for having forced our hand to take the insurance on the pretext that we are not Indians or Pakistanis so we can therefore contribute to the Greek national effort. But happy we will drive full of confidence with the Total Relax / Super cover option.
The road is long but very scenic when you leave the highway! Fields of olive trees, orange trees, and vineyards line the roads. We made our way to the fortified city of Monemvasia. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon under a bright sun! No crowd, so we could enjoy strolling through the shady and flowered streets! We also walked up to the castle which offers a breathtaking view of the sea and the bay of Monemvasia.
The next day, we drove XNUMXh south to the island of Elafonisos, in the province of Lacania.
We decided to spend 3 days on the island to rest after the stress of the city ( ah ah ah ). We enjoyed the very relaxing climate with beautiful beaches, fine sand, turquoise water, beautiful sunsets and this without a horde of tourists arriving by ferry early in the morning! We had a great time! The island has, according to us, one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe : Simos Beach.
It is already time to leave for the rest of our journey! Heading to the archaeological site of Mystras, not far from Sparta which is classified World Heritage by Unesco. The ruins of the city includes a group of Byzantine monasteries and a castle, all very well preserved and restored.
Next step: sanctuary of Olympia! Again a lot of road throught the mountains, via Kalamata ( famous Olives ! ) , following the advice of an old man met in a restaurant in Pikoulianika .
It is on this site that the Olympic Games took place in antiquity. There was different disciplines: chariot races, horse races but also "gymnastics": discus throwing, javelin throwing, long jump, running and of course wrestling. These games were held in honor of Zeus and it's on this site that the Olympic flame is lit before the start of the games!
Our last stop in the Peloponnese is the famous sanctuary of Asclepsios (and the theater of Epidaurus)
People from all Greece use to go to that place to heal and see doctors. Sports and theatrical events were organized to pay tribute to the god Asclepsios, healing god. The theater is extremely well preserved and is still used today to host cultural events, ancient dramas and Opera. The architecture is remarkable for its perfect geometry, the sound is excellent. We could hear from the top of the stands the tearing of a sheet of paper from the center of the scene at the bottom.
Thus ends our journey in the Peloponnese, now heading to Crete and the Cyclades Islands!