Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Days 109-111: Coast to Coast - Kalamata to Gythio via Kardamyli

From Kalamata we headed south down the coast and then over the hills to Gythio. En route we passed through Kardamyli, an idyllic pelopennese village. We fell in love with Kardamyli, it is quite an unspoilt (untouristed) part of Greece.

The first picture is of the town of Kalamata. From there we climbed a rather large hill, where we passed through a small village (second picture), at the crest of the climb we had this awesome view of Kardamyli (we also had a great feed of water melon kindly provided by a bus load of German tourists).

The 4th picture is the view of the coast south of Kardamyli. The next is of a small bay (near Stoupa) right by our campground - the water here was awesome!!!
Finally the last two pictures are of the barren hills on a big climbing day from Kardamyli to Gythio, we rode up through the smalll village pictured and the next photo is of the same small village after we had passed it.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Days 106-108: Greece is still great

Because I beat Carl at Olympia I let him win a round of 500 at the lovely seaside town of Kiparissia.
We have passed many lovely seaside villages like this one in Lembestena - lots of lovely water everywhere. It is very hard to keep biking because the water is so inviting that we keep wanting to jump right in!
En route to Methoni we found this cool place and were very tempted to stop here - Pilos is the third picture
Methoni is also on the sea (are you seeing the pattern??? ride, swim, ride, swim . .) and has this fantastic fortress.
From Methoni we headed toward Kalamata over a BIG hill (pictured below - looking back at the hill we climbed) - and we stopped for lunch at this lovely fishing village Koroni - see last 4 photos

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Days 103-105: Greece is GREAT

Our first day in Greece we started on our anti-clockwise loop of the Peloponese - our cycling guide book described these 14 days as "murderous hills and magnificent scenery".
From Patras we cycled south to Kato Ahaio (first picture shows the scenery) and found a lovely campground that had this bar/cafe at the base of it. We gave into temptation and dined at the camp restaurant under the shade of the 1000 yr old wild olive tree and enjoyed the first of our many, many delicious greek salads.
John - check out this roadside produce stall . . . . . . .
We stopped at Olympia to have a good look around - they still light the olympic torch here prior to each Olympics
Lining up for the 192m dash - Sandy won after using underhand tactics.
Once Carl stopped crying from losing the race he took this photo of the hippodrome . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Days 102 - Bari and ferry

Yassas from Greece!!
We rode from Matera to Bari and then caught an overnight 16 hour ferry to Patras on Tues 23rd. The photos below are from our ferry ride. We arrived around midday on the Wednesday and then headed off as you will see from the next blog . . . . .

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Days 100-101: Marvellous Matera

This visit was a real treat!! The first photo is en route to Matera and the rest are of the township and the Sassi. The Sassi are peasant homes carved out of rock cliffs - the families would sleep in these caves with a few animals and usually about 6 children (the smaller child would sleep in the bottom drawer of a chest and a hen and chicks might sleep under the matrimonial bed). The Govt cleared them all out between 1952 and 1968, so now tourists like us get to walk around the area and see inside a recreated home.

We've also updated our favourite Sicilian foods found at the bottom of this Archive.

Days 93 - 99: From the toe to the instep (foot of Italy)

Both along the Sicilian and Italian South Coast we encountered the Summer Holiday camping crowd! The camp grounds are huge and packed, lots of activity and extremely noisy! The first two photos are of Condofuri Marina beach - very very relaxing! We were here for the long weekend (The Feast of the Assumption) - there was live music and fireworks into the wee small hours - not so refreshing for tired cyclists!

The South Coast of Italy has beautiful beaches with crystal clear blue water. So lunch on the road is always a seaside event (next photo).

The next two photos are of Catanzaro, first looking up to the town and then the next morning looking back down towards it. Here we headed inland through the Sila National Park - we got up to about 1500m around Lake Arvo (next photo) were we stayed at Lorica on the lake edge.

The next day we had a fairly down hill day which got quite steep as we approached Congliano Calabro (Next 3 photos, the third is looking back up at Congliano Calabro and the hills we descended).

The last picture is of a billboard we have seen everywhere throughout Italy - seems that Terrestial TV has gone Digital.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Days 91 & 92: Mountains to the Sicilian Sea

One of the results of so much sun in Sicily is the very dry and sometimes barren countryside - this first photo is taken en route from Enna to Catania. It was a VERY hot day that day, so we were thankful that the climb to Enna the day before was rewarded by a more downhill ride to the coast!!!

En route to Catania is Mt Etna which you can see in the distance in the second photo. This mountain is very impressive and could be seen for quite a few days as we travelled past it and up the coast.

We have enjoyed all of the city gates, and Catania was no exception - this one was quite different to others that we have seen. We have also enjoyed VERY MUCH the Sicilian beaches - the water is beautiful. Photo 4 was taken from our campground - we had a little bit of sand and lots of rocks to swim off.

The coastal towns in Sicily were very very busy (and the campgrounds packed), and we passed many packed beaches, like this one we saw from on high en route to Messina. The last photo was taken as we left Messina on a 20min ferry to Reggio Calabrio in the south of the mainland.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Food in Sicily

We have had some great gastronomical treats in Sicily in terms of "specialities of Sicily" - Gilmo introduced us to lots of yummy stuff.

This first treat was breakfast on our first day in Sicily - it's called Arancina and is made of breaded rice/egg and is filled with either meat/funghi/spinach/cheese and deep fried.

There are some lovely sweet treats here too - on the right is a lovely cannoli with a ricotta filling, the left is cassata, with an almond cake in the middle.

The third picture is of a Prickly Pear tree? Well I guess it is a cactus, the fruit is sweet with lots of pips (and prickles on the outside). We saw some plants being picked - rather carefully - with thick gloves.

Lemon trees are proliferous in Sicily (4th photo is of trees near Catania), and from them they make yummy stuff! First on a hot day in Sicily this 5th photo is a taste sensation - it is called Granita and is frozen lemon/sugar/water/egg white (not always with the egg white). It would be similar to what we call a slushy in NZ but is far superior and not as liquid!!!! It is heavenly . . . . .
The next lemon derivative is Lemon Gelato (served in a lemon skin) and Limoncello, which is a lemon liquer which is served chilled, it aids digestion!

The final photo is of Brioche filled with Gelato - Yum! One of these is for Sandy (honest)!

A drink that is found in some parts of Sicily is Spuma (not pictured) - this is like a mixture of something similar to iced tea and fanta, and is very refreshing.