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Posted: Tue May 20, 2008 5:40 pm
by karen
wmp wrote:Karen - I'm actually leaving Greece on the 16th (a public holiday, so driving back to the airport will be fun) - think I might be battling through departures as you come through arrivals - oh, what a shame...
Yeah, dang. Maybe next time.
As for the time of year - better now than in July / August... :)
Yeah... Swift Rent-a-car counts this as their low season. I'd have preferred to go in April or May, but we wanted to hit the Nemean Games which are on the solstice.
Karen - I see you intend to see the Nemean Games - or are you taking part? I've always fancied the 7km walk / run / crawl from the temple of Herakles to the stadium site, but never quite managed to sign up to it! The Nemea Stadium is very atmospheric - usually there's no one there when I've been in October - & I do hope they've mended the tunnel to the stadium so you can go through it - the graffito is very interesting. Any of Stephen Miller's publications on the site are a must.
Twenty years and many pounds ago, when I was in dynamite shape from studying karate, I'd have done it... I was into long distance running when I was kid. I'd have LOVED to... you wear a chiton and you take an oath and the whole bit, and it would be like having gone through a time machine. Though I doubt I'd have had the nerve to get naked, the way they really did it back then.
From Nafplio I'd recomment Tiryns - you can't miss it on the main Argos / Napflio road - the cyclopean walls reveal a certain paranoia - and a little known site - the Bronze Age pyramid at Elleniko (on the old road from Argos to Tripolis) - you can spend some while there wondering why it was built & staring over the Argolid plain. And of course the neolithic (& later) site at Lerna, just south of Argos. Not very Alexandrine - but still worth a look.
Definitely a possibility.
While driving Olympia - Delphi you need to be aware of the police speed traps on the Olympia - Patras road, and the Rio-Andirio bridge is so much nicer (if more expensive) than the ferry.
Yes, we're taking the bridge. Thanks for the radar head's-up. How long does it take to do that drive if you drive the way I do... always second-fastest on the road? (The fastest gets pulled over ;) )
Oh dear, I'm rabbiting - that's what happens after a week spent staring at research ethics approval applications and studentship award panels.

trying to keep quiet,
Dear wmp, PLEASE continue rabbiting and do NOT keep quiet! I've never been to Greece, my friend has been but once (and on a tour, so she didn't get the tricks of driving it) and so your information is INVALUABLE!

Who, me, excited?

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 2:22 am
by Paralus
karen wrote:And I've heard all about Greek drivers. It reassures me to remember I have pretty fast reactions ;) Question: what means "half-cart"?
Take a squiz at this Picasa album. It is a little taster of Greece (you will likely find other - less - interesting Paralus journeys as well). In there you will find what is meant by "half-cart". On the road from Delphi to Amphissa we were abusively "tooted" - literally - by a tour bus (of all things) which came around a blind corner (mountain road: switchbacks almost) on our side of the road overtaking a mining truck. Apparently we were supposed to leap of the road and let him overtake.
karen wrote: Question -- what time(s) of year were you there? And did you stay in Thebes?
We were in Greece in late January 2007. Mildest winter: 20-22 degrees (c) in Athens - the photos show up the wonderful weather.

We couldn't get a room in Thebes. There is near to no parking around the Cadmeia and the hotels couldn't fit the four of us in. Greece is not exactly family friendly in that it can be difficult to find hotel rooms to sleep four. They seemingly like you to take two rooms and pay the euros! We'd done Chaeronea and so wound up back at the Attalos in Athens...and the roof bar.

As long as you leave yourself enough time you will find something in June: more will be operating than in January.

If I did it again I'd spend a little more time in the Peloponnese and Macedonia: just not enough time in '07. Problem was I'd originally intended to go to the US and back . The airlines wanted between $10,400- $11, 800 to that. I then found a 'round the world ticket for $8,248 for the entire family: US west coast - east coast – Germany - Greece – Singapore- Aussie. Go figure as the yanks are wont to say.

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 1:48 pm
by karen
Hi Paralus (et al):

Well, the other cool thing about that is that your kids will be able to say they've flown around the world.

Half-carting, then, is passing across double lines... and also in what is colloquially known in Ontario as "the suicide lane"? Got it. The practice is not entirely unknown in rural Ontario. Great pics, by the way.

With just two of us, we'll have an easier time with hotels than the four of you obviously did.

I am dreading the heat, tell the truth... I usually get stroppy if it goes over 27 or 28 and I have no convenient lake to jump into like at home, so I'm going to have to let my thrill about being where I am overcome that.....


Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 2:14 pm
by Paralus
I am so jealous girl!

Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 8:17 am
by wmp
I tried to post yesterday, but our server died (revenge for me snarling at ISS earlier in the day, no doubt)...

Driving times - you'll find it's quicker than you think... The toll roads are fine (although some could do with a bit of repair now) & traffic out side towns is pretty light (mind you, I am used to driving in central London, so anything's a change for the better). Last time I drove from Delphi to Olympia, we left Delphi about 9.30 & got to Katokolo (on the coast, where the cruise liners stop to let passengers visit Olympia) about 1.30/2ish for lunch (there's a nice row of fish tavernas on the water's edge.) Going the other way, I guess I'd make for Galaxihdi for lunch - there are two ports. The Galaxihdi tavernas are a bit overpriced but the view is lovely - you can see Delphi in the far distance across the bay. (I travel with a partner whose priorities are archaeological sites & fish lunches & have to plan journeys accordingly!)

Another bit of advice - slow down at cross roads. There's a 50km speed limit at most of them & consequently often a speed trap with bored police clutching frappes. I've been stopped less now that I slow down for junctions, but still find waiving the hirecar receipt & my driving license & bleating "I don't understand" when addressed in Greek. Also, if you have hirecar stickers on your car you rarely get pulled over in the traffic checks (I drove in convoy with a friend driving a Holiday Autos car with orange stickers - he was waved on, I got stopped, as my car, which I hire from Ansa International, didn't have any visible sign of being a hirecar). Mind you, having said all that, the speed traps / police check points are not as prevalent as they were around the Athens Olympic times, when there was a clamp down on mad/fast drivers, and generally you see fewer clapped-out jalopies on the road.

I find the heat pretty bearable - any shade makes a difference. I taught in Tripolis in the Peloponnese one summer and the temperature rose to the mid 30s, but it's not likely to be that hot in late June. The north is always a little cooler, although I've known it very steamy in summer. I stayed south of Xanthi (visiting Avdera & Maroneia) in early June a couple of year ago & it was cold & wet...


Melissa goes tomorrow

Posted: Sat May 31, 2008 11:59 pm
by karen
Hi all:

Thanks wmp for the driving advice. Where else would I get tips on where the speed traps tend to be? I love this forum!

I have started a TravelPod travelblog -- see it here. Just one post so far.

I don't know if I mentioned it, but while I'm going for two weeks starting June 15, my travel companion Melissa is going for a whole month, the first two weeks to be spent in the islands with her three daughters. We're going to meet in Athens. So she takes off... tomorrow.

All adding to the crescendo of excitement...


Leaving today

Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 2:31 pm
by karen
Well, it's beyond excitement at this point -- I take off this afternoon. I wrote a travel-blog post about what this means to me, and thinking about it enough to express it in writing put me in tears. Cross-posting:
In a way, this is only becoming real for me now. Even though I decided to do this a couple of months ago and have been planning and preparing in the meantime, it's seemed like a sort of mythical thing, the way Greece has seemed like a sort of mythical country, a destination too dreamy, and too associated with things that amaze me to too deep a level, for me to ever actually get to.

How does someone as ordinary and small as me travel, in real life, to the land of Alexander, of Sokrates, of Theseus... of the mythology that enthralled me as a child, the philosophy that broadened me as a teen -- and the warrior-king about whom I'm writing a novel, whose life-path would be considered beyond belief, except that it happened to fall into a literate time, so that both texts and inscriptions prove its reality? How is it possible that I will walk on the same land that those people did, see the same mountains and fields, step along the same flagstoned pathways and through the same columns? How do I actually go somewhere that resonates so deeply with something in me that the rest of me almost cannot believe it is real?

By Transat Flight 690, departing Toronto 6/15/08 14:32, arriving Athens 6/16/08 7:10, as it turns out.