A couple of thoughts while parked next to a big road leading into Athens.
1. Greece desperately needs a few Marine Sanctuaries!
We have snorkelled in a few places around the Peloponnese, with one major finding: The Aegean is an absolute desert! In our 2 hour snorkel at the Sunken City of Epidavros (more below) we saw … nothing. Not quite true – lots of urchins, a school of mud-coloured fish no more than 5cm long, and one thumb-nail sized, and obviously lost, jellyfish. Nowhere have I seen marine vistas so incredibly devoid of life, and we’ve dived or snorkelled in NZ, South Africa, Philippines, Thailand, Australia… This obviously accounts for the fact that fish (of any reasonable size) are expensive in Greece and, one suspects, is reliant on imports? I’d say this looks like a national emergency requiring immediate attention, but given Greek politics (20 years to get a shipping license …) I’d bet nothing will ever happen.
Took 4 hours this morning to see Athens, and I think we are pretty done. Of course this is reflective of the fact that we are coming to the end of our trip and are probably running out of mental & emotional steam – and Niki’s legs are still sore from climbing the steps to the Paramidi fortress at Nafplio. Nevertheless, sharing a hillside crowded with thousands of tourists, limited information boards, very limited visual attraction – well, done. I’m not really knocking the Parthenon, but there’s not really much to see, is there? And if you don’t have technicolour artistic renditions in your head, well, it’s all a bit dull. Add to that the fact that it’s placed in what must rank as Europe’s ugliest capital city (monochrome 2 storey buildings, dilapidated) and serving the worst (and most expensive) Greek food – might explain why we are leaving in the morning! Note: Niki disagrees about my view on the Parthenon, but I feel this is purely an emotional reaction. Oh, and the campsite, the only one in Athens, is next to Athens’ busiest road. Fortunately, traffic speed is somewhat reduced by the state of the road, but this results in non-melodic thumps! Sleeping will be interesting.
I promised Niki I would not head this section “More Broken Buildings” so, instead, have a look at a selection of Cultural Reminders:
On the Upside:
Spent 3 lovely days in Epidavros, which included the obligatory ‘OMG this road is too narrow for our van’ entry. The water was warmer than it’s been anywhere in the Peloponnese, visibility was excellent and the waters generally calm. None of the above accounts for the fact that Niki and I missed the Sunken City of Epidavros. This may be explained by the fact that I was expecting the city walls to be around 3 metres below the surface. Consequently, we swam around the bay (a moonscape of pebble surface devoid of life) until we had quite traversed the bay. Giving up we walked the kilometre back along the beach, only to stumble upon a sign pointing to the Sunken City, and no more than 200 metres from our campsite. Hmm, on with the fins and stuff, head out into the bay, to swim right over the collapsed walls in about 1 metre of water. Given the fact that it comprises 2 houses (‘City’ seems to be an elastic term) we were soon done, and washed up on shore for well deserved beers. Dinner, though was excellent, and thanks to Russ and Juliet for the long trek they made to take us out. It’s been great meeting people along our trip, and it’s been great to spend time with them.
So, tomorrow we’ll head off, Athens thankfully ticked (no, I don’t think we’ll be back) and try to find somewhere less peopled along the coast. Not sure where, as the Camping Athens wifi is somewhat like the Yeti – rumoured to exist, occasional sightings reported, but no firm evidence.