We rested in Momemvasia for a full day of rain, not heavy but almost non stop. It cleared in the evening allowing us to dine on the rock - alongside an English wedding party who were gathering that evening. The next day saw us retracing our steps across the peninsular to the small town of Gheraki. Another glorious ride through orange and olive groves, with mountains in front and also across the waters in the Mani. We aimed for Gheraki as we thought it would take away some of the pain of the next days ride back across the peninsula to Leonidio - a ride that Edward classed as his hardest of his trip. We found rooms in the town's hotel, the finding of the hotel though was time consuming. It would have helped if it had looked like a hotel, it would have helped if had had a sign outside saying it was a hotel and it would have helped if it had looked open. A man across the road, on his mobile, called out to us to wait and in less than 5 minutes a girl appeared to say €50 for the night (a sum larger than any we had paid outside Athens). The room was not bad and the view down to the plains of Skala was wonderful. We dined at a large restaurant, again with a wonderful view but wondered how they kept going financially - we were the only diners - but slowly it dawned on us, they were doing a roaring takeaway trade. The next day was special, although we had stolen a march on Edward it took us 3 painful hours to reach the pass over the top. The road was good but with each long zig it became a little steeper and with each long zag our estimate of where we would cross over changed. The Mountain to our right was1500m, at the pass we were only a couple of hundred meters shy of that. Whilsshattered we were in a world of our own, which we willingly shared with the odd Shepherd and his bell clanking flock. Exhaustion and exhilaration in equal measure. Three hours to cover under 8k. Just over the ridge at the village of Kosmas, which had many reminders of the Cypriot village of Platres in the Troodos Mts, we rested and each consumed a very large portion of a honey and nut cake. The descent the other side was more dramatic and breathtaking, also less demanding! For 13k I just went downhill. It was without doubt the most amazing days cycling Sue and I have experienced. On hitting the coast we moved north along a hilly coastline for about 12k and camped for the night. To our dismay the campsite Taverna had not opened for the season and the nearest village was, for us, an impossible distance away. True to the hospitality we have experienced so many times on this trip the owners offered to cook the same for us that they were preparing for themselves - we survived.
There followed a relatively easy day up to the Mycene archaeological site that we visited the following morning. Quite something, both the location and the remains from 3500 years before. The vision will stay with me. From there it was back down south to Nafplion, but I should mention here (Sue has
insisted that I do mention it) that on the way I lost my cool with my annoying wife who disappears off in front when I am navigator for the day and who frequently tells me which direction to go, either verbally or by default as she has already gone that way. On this occasion I arrived at a fork in our path to be told by my wife that we should take the direction to the right, whilst I knew this to be true I firmly insisted that we take the direction to the left. It only added an extra mile to our journey! We had a delightful late lunch in Nafplion and then moved on further 10k to camp near the small town of Vivar. Tiredness is becoming more of a problem for us and the site at Vivar had lovely views over a hill surrounded inlet so naturally we stayed for 2 nights. As has become the norm on our day of rest it rained, still we rested well.
The end is clearly nigh, we are now on the last finger, thumb, isthmus or whatever that the Peloponnese has, the next day saw us head off south, down to the end of that bit of land that would leave only a 40k journey left to take us to our finishing line of Porus. The day started with long climb in high temperatures and then a decent to a plateau where we regrouped, drank stupendous amounts of iced tea, iced coffee and water a packet of Orios. When we set off again it was to again embark on another a long stiff climb. We knew though that it was the last of the day but gathering clouds and rising humidity wore us down and eventually we were pushing more than cycling, finding numerous reasons to take breather. Then we had a 'falsey'. A falsey is when the hill hides its summit from you, what you see is not what you get, you feel deceived and become very disappointed. I was very disappointed and it had started to rain. Sometimes though things just come along in life. A pickup truck passed us by, stopped, reversed and the driver exited and asked if we would like a lift. Sue hesitated and started to speak -afterall we had nearly ahieved our goal without trains, buses or other devious means. I however had not a moments hesitation, my after all being that to spurn such a generous offer showed a lack of respect and understanding of Greek hospitality. In no time the bikes were in the back and were in the dry, cresting the summit and on our way downhill. Our saviours, as that is how I was viewing them, were 2 brother farmers from the local area on their way back to their lands. They were going our wayand whilst we had opportunities to disembark we did not take them. They were olive famers and told us that the olives from this region excel those of Kalamata, they have after all more sunshine than anywhere in the Peloponnese - it was still raining outside but I believed him. There follwed a discussion on the European elections, the Greek crisis, unemployment and most vocally the Euro. The driver Andreos Goutos and his brother did Greece proud. IF YOU READ THIS ANDREOS SEND A MESSAGE - AND THANK YOU TO YOU BOTH.
We have now been in Emioni for 2 days and are having a lovely holiday, late breakfasts, leisurely swims, beers, ice creams and late nights (nearly 11pm). Emioni is seviced by hydrofoils to local islands and to Poros and Pireas. The temptation to take the ferry has been high but has been resisted. After 3 nights in rooms here we are off tomorrow to a campsite along the coast and then the last 30k to Poros. I am now at 1300k - I have not added the pickup truck milage - it will be something when we are finished.
Our trip the next day was longer than we intended as the campsite we arrived at lacked direct access to the beach, lacked any other visitors and seemed to lack everything else. So -we carried on round the peninsula, up and over the top, a little bit of pushing, a little bit of rest, a little bit of moaning and in the heat of the day we passed round to the Saronic Gulf and our goal, Poros, was in sight!!
We have made it and now have another 3 nights here before we board our flight home. Quite a trip, it will be remembered, it is unlikely to be repeated and may result in an email of complaint to Edward. Seriously, although hard it was a wonderfuly memorable trip. Now to prepare for a return to life at home.