Touching the past
Trip Start Sep 13, 2010
87Trip End Feb 02, 2011
The road wound up to the literal top of the mountain where this magnificent temple was erected by the "cult of Apollo". Apparently the ancient Greeks would pick a deity and become a part of their fan club, paying money to build and support monuments and participating in their festivals. This complex was home to hundreds of people in what was, and still is, a very remote area. The archaeologists have erected a canvas tent structure over the main temple area to protect it from the rain, ice and snow. They had a workshop on site with about a dozen stone masons or achaeologists working on restoration when we were there. We were the only visitors, except for the herd of goats that decided to graze through the site.
From there we had two choices, head back down to Andritsaina or continue over the mountains to the coast. Always interested in seeing new country, we chose the latter. It appeared that very few cars ever traversed the road as the shrubs were growing over the side, rock falls were scattered here and there and there didn't appear to be any habitation or villages for quite awhile. We would get encouraged when we could see the faded remnants of a center white line on the road...the road did apparently lead somewhere. After about 90 minutes I was almost at the end of my patience (what little I normally have), but Barb convinced me to keep going and very soon we found ourselves on the coast road at Tholo on the Kyparissiakos Gulf, back in the civilized world.
We traveled down to Kalamatos for lunch. Being a major port town, it had all of the services we needed. Good food, beer, internet, ATMs, etc. A relaxing two hour lunch break prepared me for the next mountain drive to Sparta. Sparta is the site of another monument, and Demetrios warned that it was a steep hard climb to reach it. At 1530 we decided it was too late in the day for a major hike, so we passed on Sparta and headed on to Momenvisa to stay for the night.
Now if it sounds like we were a little loose on the planning, let me clarify, we were very loose on the planning. Our good friend Demetrios at Kosmo car rental had circled sites and given us options. When we came to a crossroads, we made a choice. Momenvisa was a great choice! It is a walled mideival city on a rocky promentory in the Myrtoo Sea. Inhabited forever, it has been a walled fortress since around 800 ad, I think. Anyway, we pull into the town and start eyeing beachside resort pensions. But again, Barb, the patient one, said, "Let's drive out onto the point and see what the castle looks like." We are on this little road with the cliff on one side and the ocean on the other when we start having cars parked along the road, we come around the corner and the road ends with a gate in a castle wall. Way cool! So I park illegally (getting the hang of this Greek driving) and we wander in.
It turns out that the walled city is still being lived in and there are lots of lodging options. The first inn on the left had a great room for a nice price (80 euro). I reparked the car, legally this time and we moved in. The Byzantino Hotel was a part the old city construction, with wood beams and marble floors, the balcony looked out over the rooftop across the gulf and down the coast. Spectacular.
Barb and I bought a bottle of local red wine and prepared our appetizers. Sitting on the balcony we watched the sunset as the lights of the old city came on. This ancient Byzantine town has a lower section where the traders and craftsmen originally lived, an upper town where the gentried folk lived and a citadel where the king, caliph or top dog lived. After wine and appetizers, Barb and I wandered the old town within the walls. The next morning we plan to climb to the upper town in the morning.