And here we are, now in Greece for a month!
We start with the Corfu island near Albania that we reach by ferry. Hyper fast, 1h30 of boat, the passage of the immigration is very fast, it is the second time that we return in Europe and we were a little afraid that it takes 2h like the first time, but not more than 5 minutes has customs !
We rented a car for the duration of our stay on the island. Ohhhh freedom !!! Move easily without schedules, without falling on crazy drivers!
6 days in Corfu
We rented a small studio in Vatos not far from the beach Glyfada, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island (dixit Thomas)
So we enjoyed the joys of the beach with sand (yes yes real, no pebbles, no rocks, or other semblance of sand as in Croatia ! ) ... which we had hardly seen since our departure on a trip.
The island of Corfu is the greenest island of the Greek islands. It has more than 4.5 millions of olive trees. We decide to visit a traditional olive oil factory: The Governor's Olive Mill located in Agios Matheos.
It was really very informative as a visit. We had many explanations about the production of olive oil, from the harvest to the extraction of the oil, but we also learned to "taste".
Also you should know that this olive grove has the particularity of producing extra virgin olive oil containing the highest proportion of polyphenol, which is known for its virtues anti oxidant, anti cancer, ...
A few years ago Corfu's olive oil did not have a very good reputation. Quantity took precedence over quality. The factory we visited made the bet to do things differently and to review certain practices to guide production on quality.
We also wandered in the city of Corfu (in Greek: Kerkyra) to see its fortress, its old city center. Charming.
We then decide to leave the beautiful beaches, Glyfada, Agios Georgios, Halikounas to name a few, and take a little height by taking a short hike on Mount Pantokrator overlooking the island of Corfu. The hike is 11km and is rather easy! It offers beautiful views of beautiful bays and olive groves. We can also see the Albanian coast. The highest point is at 906m and offers a view to 360 degrees from Corfu Island.
We leave Corfu by air and we go to the mainland in the beautiful city of Athens, capital of the country.
We stay 3 whole days in the Greek capital, with of course the unmissable visit of the site of the Acropolis! There were not many people on the site that day, so we really could make beautiful pictures and take our time to climb to the top and admire all 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.
The visit to the Acropolis Museum is also a must, although it is not included in the museum pass. Its price is 5 EUR but the visit brings a lot of explanations about the history of the site.
We then visit the temple of Zeus, located not far from the site of the Acropolis and two steps from our AirBnB.
The next day we continue the visits with that of the Panatheic Stadium, made entirely of white marble. This stadium was renovated for the 1ers of the modern era 1896 and 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 the, a site to visit: the old Agora d ' Athens. Returning by metro to our apartment, Emma surprises a pickpocket (very active in Athens according to the guides) and asks him to stop. After a few seconds of misunderstanding, she gets insulted and is asked to just shut up and say nothing and watch. A nice gesture 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 to reach the Peloponnese peninsula in the south of the country. Thank you Goldcar for having forced our hand to take the insurance on the pretext that we are not Indians or Pakistanis and that we can therefore contribute to the Greek national effort, we will ride with confidence with the Total Relax option.
The road is long but very scenic when you leave the highway! Fields of olive trees, orange trees, and vineyards line the roads. Direction the fortified city of Monemvasia. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon under a bright sun! Really few people in this corner of Greece, so we could enjoy strolling through the shady and flowered streets in absolute calm! We are also up to the castle which offers a breathtaking view of the sea and the bay of Monemvasia.
The next day to the island of Elafonisos, south of the Peloponnese in the province of Lacania.
We decided to spend 3 days on the island to rest after the stress of the city. 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 at the southern end of the island: Simos Beach.
It is already time to leave for the rest of our journey! Direction the archaeological site of Mystras, not far from Sparta which is classified World Heritage by Unesco. The city includes a group of Byzantine monasteries and a castle, all very well preserved and restored.
Next step: sanctuary of Olympia! (Not to be confused with Mount Olympus which is not at all the same place!), Again a lot of road through the mountains, via Kalamata, following the advice of an old man met in a restaurant in Pikulianika .
It was on this site that the Olympic Games were held in antiquity. It was practiced: 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 is today on the site of Olympia 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)
It was a Mecca of Greek medicine that housed very famous doctors. Sports and theatrical events were organized to pay homage to the god Asclepsios, healing god. The theater is extremely well preserved and is still used today to host cultural events, ancient dramas and operatic performances. 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!