Thursday, April 10, 2014

Patras to Nafpaktos ~ A Greek Road Trip

We spent last night  in the largest city in Greece’s Peloponnese: Patras. This city with a 3,000 year history is the port for ferries heading to Corfu and Italian port cities; a university town of some  200,000 residents.

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"Highways' cut through towns in The Mani


The big city stay marked the end of our first two weeks in Greece; the first week spent travelling between small villages and the second in the village of Kardamili.
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The town of Leonidio, Greek Peloponnese

We’ve been both spoiled  and smitten with those small villages as the result of our experiences there. The people we’ve met in the small towns both warmed our hearts and made us welcome.

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A clever marker in the town of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) The Mani


Patras, was a shock to our slowed-down-small-town systems. “Pay me now” said the waitress at our hotel’s coffee shop as she served our afternoon cappuccinos.  Such words would never have been spoken in Kardamili and no eyebrows would have been raised had we sat for hours with those yet-to-be-paid-for coffees. 

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The Scribe enjoys a cappuccino in the Leonidio village square
 
In visiting Patras, we finally found a place in Greece that didn’t capture our hearts.  In all fairness to the city,there was a country-wide strike occurring yesterday so many stores were closed.  University students filled the very hip, upscale coffee shops that line the streets.

The town does have perhaps the most beautiful Orthodox Church, St. Andrews, that we’ve ever seen and some stunning neo-classical buildings like the renovated Hotel Byzantion in which we stayed (and will tell you about in a future post), but the city has been marred with graffiti and that, mixed with some empty squares and storefronts, gave some parts of the city a shabby feel.

So we moved on today driving across the striking Rio-Andirio suspension bridge that connects mainland Greece to the Peloponnese. We are now in Nafpaktos, a beautiful beach town that still has a stunning Venetian built harbor, castle and fortress.

We will be here for two nights then on the road again. . .back to Athens on Monday and off to Crete that afternoon.  Hope you’ll be with us!
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Porto Kagio - a town of five residents and we were the only tourists (more on that later)
The photos I’ve used in this post were taken during our first two weeks.  Linking up today with Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Traveler’s Sandbox. We finally have some good internet connection so bear with me if I bombard you with another post in a day or two!

20 comments:

  1. What absolutely gorgeous scenery. Interesting how one comment by one person can really put you off an area. You look very relaxed.

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  2. Hello Jackie and Joel:

    We are so sorry that, despite its extraordinary history of 3000 years, you found Patras to be something of a disappointment. But, as we are sure that you are aware, and have experienced before on your travels, this can happen. For totally different reasons we felt much the same about Weimar.

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    1. You are so right, some places pull at the heart strings and others don't for a variety of reasons. Who knows? We may go back one day and wonder why we weren't charmed with our first visit -- thanks for stopping by, your comments, as always, are most appreciated!

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  3. I've been wondering what you've been up to on your Greek odyssey. I'm loving that blue sky as Malaysia has been getting a lot of hazy days. Good luck on finding your next relaxing town (with good internet).

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    1. We have been amazed at the availability of internet these days and the nice thing, unlike in the US, is that hotels here still offer it for free! Thanks for stopping by~

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  4. I've been to Porto Cayo ...a wonderful quiet fish village. In summer there are more tourists ...

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    1. Olympia, so glad you've taught us how to say that name. We've been referring to it as Porto Kag-lee-oh and wondering why no one knows where we were. It was a beautiful stop. . .just a little lonely in this off season travel time.

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  5. It amazes me how the attitudes of people contribute so much to our experiences of new places, Jackie. I'm smiling how you were able to find beautiful and inspiring things in spite of everything. :-)

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    1. As you know, there is always beauty to be found if you take a minute to look for it or are sensitive enough to recognize it when you see it. Thanks for the visit, hope you are feeling better!

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  6. Hope she was just having a bad day. Still, no way to treat your guests.
    Good thing you have so many more heartwarming memories and stories, Jackie.
    Looking forward to Corfu. Enjoy!

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    1. It was probably because too many have walked away without paying. . .it is interesting to contrast and compare big city to village life, especially when it comes to the trust (and behavior levels) of people.

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  7. OK, so that last photo has me drooling. The perfect holiday photograph in my books. I most definitely will be staying around for the rest of your Greek sojurn. :)

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    1. Glad you are coming along with us Jan. Just wait until I start posting photos of the food. . .it will make your stomach growl! Thanks for the visit!

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  8. Hi Jackie! I'm with Leigh, the scenery is outstanding. It is a shock when you're asked to pay up front, but if the cafe has had a bad experience in the past we can all understand why. Enjoy the beach. You do look rested and relaxed!

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  9. Yes our experiences have all been so spectacular, that I kept wondering if I ever would have a place that slipped 'a bit' and this one did but even that doesn't mean we wouldn't go back again. . .just have other places we like more!

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  10. Wow, what a big city attitude Patras had! Even the rudest waiter in NYC wouldn't ask you to pay upfront. I just hope she was having a bad day. Nafpaktos sounds beautiful. Looking forward to read more about its beautiful beach and Venetian harbor.

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    1. Marisol, thanks for stopping by! And I do suspect our waitress was speaking sadly with the voice of having been taken before by customers. We have returned to the smaller cities again and are enjoying that warmth of the countryside village atmosphere.

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