The Monasteries of Meteora were visually stunning, I don’t have any other words for them. We’ve never seen such a unique spectacle before. But time comes to make a decision, go east to Delphi, or turn around and head back to the coast. We decide to turn around and go back the way we came, back to the west coast and continue with an anti-clockwise tour of the rest of Greece. The drive back, just as scenic as the route inland.
ARTA: We were heading directly for the city and old bridge at Arta. We chose a car park on the north of the city, next to a large park. Not knowing the gradient of the town centre, we chose the most direct route from the car park to the old Ottoman bridge, as we set off on foot little did we know we’d be completely puffed out by the time we reached the top of the hill in the centre of town. Drop down the other side and there it was, at 20m high, spanning the milky green water of the Arahthos river coming down as snow-melt from the Pindos mountains, the ones we’d just driven over and through to get to Meteroa. There has been a bridge here since Roman times, this one is thought to be from the Ottoman period.
Inside the city, I have to admit to being unimpressed by the other attractions listed, Roman ruins, Byzantine castle walls and an Archaeological Museum (closed), but a few churches like church of Parigoritissa in the centre of town is as much of a work of art as the famous Arta bridge is.
If we are comparing bridges, much newer, but also very nice is the pedestrian bridge at Levkas (Lefkas) , a surprise to see such a new bridge and a work of art in itself, but lets face it…it isn’t going to last 2000 years!
Whilst walking around Lefkas ‘tourist’ town centre, I’d spotted a postcard of a ‘picture perfect beach’, turning the postcard over, it tells you the beach is named Katsiki Beach, which was at the other end of the Island of Lefkas, only 30 miles from here. About 20 miles down the road, the town was closed, due to a land-slide. Several lorries full of aggregate and concrete wagons were in attendance but the road was definitely shut! I reversed about 100 metres to find an alternative road…through an olive orchard. The olive tree overhangs into the road were un-pruned, Charlie was getting battered from both sides, the road was washed out in places and must be nearing 20% incline at times. We made it, no damage, but I’m not sure I’d like to run that gauntlet again. As we hoped, the road was repaired by the time we came to return. The beach was VERY much worth it.
Nafpaktos: Farther down the road still, the cute lively little town of Nafpaktos. Originally a small fishing village on the opposite bank of the southern Greek ‘continent’ of ‘The Peloponnese’. The little crescent-shaped harbour walls extend up sharply and inland, slowly developing into a Venetian castle on the hill. We climbed to the top (not an easy feat) and browsed around the fortifications of the castle. The chap in the ticket entry box seemed delighted to see a couple of tourists that morning, leaping from his seat also to wish us ‘bye-bye-enjoy Greece!’ That’s the second time a Greek has been very nice to an obvious tourist, I could start liking this pattern. As for the castle, well worth €1, the whole structure seemed to be more of a fortress than a castle, but it did give some great views of the town below.
We are also now beginning to associate the shrill of a two-stroke moto/twist & Go (whatever you want to call them) engine with any built up area, is seems as if every teenager in town has one, where ever we go & nobody wears a helmet, it’s not cool & it’s not compulsory if less than 50cc…bloody things! Back in town, students/teenagers dominated the cafe/bars, seemingly having nowt better to do than lounge about sipping ice-coffee, chatting up the girls. Fishermen down in the harbour were hard at work ice-boxing the hard-earned catch, which went straight onto a waiting moped back box and away to a local hotel or restaurant. Fish dominated most of the displayed menus in this little town and wood-smoke dominates the air. I’d spotted a delight on the map called ‘Beer-Mania’, surely I could get a real pint there?…we eventually found it …..it was firmly shut! Foiled again!!
Verdict: a great little town, the fortress at the top of the hill is a must do, take any left down any ally opposite the harbour and keep going up hill. Your thighs will tighten on the climb, but the view will be worth it, €1 will not break the bank and the little fella in the box will be so pleased to see ya’!
Now all we need to do is drive over the bridge (€13.50) and we will be into (or is it onto?) the Peloponnese, a great big lump of Greece with loads of Roman left-overs and apparently…great beaches.
n39.16229 e20.99362 Large car park east of Arta, perfect for a walk through town to the bridge. No services. Patchy WiFi.FREE
n39.13356 e20.58716 ACROGIALI campsite €18, Washing M/c required. OK camp.
n38.60290 e20.54930 Katsiki Beach car park. W/C.FREE
n38.38710 e21.82100 Nafpaktos, parking next to beach. Water at beach shower.Patchy WiFi. FREE (park as far from town as you can, (noisy dogs).
n38.15223 e21.36890 Prokopos lagoon, remote, nice beach, quiet. No WiFi. No Services.
Have a good week all…Wayne X