Thanks to Lefteris we got the bike fixed and left Athens for the Peloponnese Peninsula. This
is almost a large island, only a small neck of land connects this mass with the mainland,
and there is a canal cut through the neck.
Our destination is a small village near Sparta called Mystras. It was a Byzantine
center of learning just before the Renaissance in Italy. In fact some of the scholars
and learned men moved there from here when the Turks took over in the mid 1400's. The
city was started in 1249 when the Frankish ruler William II de Villchardouin built
the castle which is on the top of the hill. In 1262 the Byzantines took over and
started the city of Mystras. The city consisted of two parts, the upper city ( by
the monastery on the hill) and the lower city (in the foreground. The upper city
was administrative and the aristocratic residential area. The lower city was larger
and was the home of the well known officials and had the cathedral and several monasteries
in it. The peasants lived outside the walls.
This view is looking back down on the monastery on the hill in the upper picture.
The road in the upper picture is the "Main Street" of the towns joining them and
the various important buildings as it zigs and zags up the hill. Obviously no carts
in this town.
And yes it was a wet and rainy day when we were there.
The Town was not completely abandoned, there was one monastery still in use and another
building was being restored as a cafe for tourists.
Then we went over Langada Pass. It is another of those roads built for motorcycles
with a narrow gorge, with undercut rock cliffs, and serpentine switchbacks climbing
to the top.
Now we are getting into the area devastated by the wildfires of 2007. These fires,
man caused, burned hundreds of thousands of acres. Many villages were evacuated
and several were burned severely.
We stopped in Olympia. The site of the original Olympic Games. This arched entrance
was built in the 3rd c. BC for the earlier built stadium where the games were held. The
all-male audience, which could reach 45,000, had to stand. The only seats were for
the judges. The contestants were nude.
The Olympic Torch which travels to each of the current Olympics is lit here in Olympia.
The huge Temple of Zeus had a huge gold and precious metals and wood statue of Zeus
that was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
It included a lot of 2 meter (6') diameter columns holding up the roof, which came
down, looking like sliced sausage, in the earthquake.
Next is Delphi, the navel of the world. It is said the Zeus released two eagles
at the ends of the world and this is where they met. It sure has a spectacular view.
Our campground's view was spectacular too. This is the view from in front of our
tent. The whole valley bottom is filled with very old olive trees. The village
is on the hillside, probably to not waste farmland.
The ancient patrons of Delphi, they were numerous and famous and looking for a favorable
prediction of the future, probably had a donkey path to the oracle's site. Modern
man had a real challenge getting a two-lane road up there, even crossing over itself
Now on to Meteora, the word means "hanging in the air" and is where we get the word
meteor from. This is the area of monasteries perched on rock tops. One of them
was in a James Bond film. There are nine of the original 30+ still in use and heavily
dependent on tourist money.
In the picture there is a second monastery in the left center of the picture. And
no you don't have to take the cables to the close one, there is a walking trail off
to the right. The cables bring in supplies in a big steel box that travels across
to the monastery.
From there it is over another mountain range to the ferry that will take us to Italy
and north towards Amsterdam and the end of our trip..