When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!


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 once.








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..