Thursday 1 November 2018

Tour of the Peloponnese by bicycle by Leandro and Loredana

Leandro and Loredana, whom we have already met on their tour of Corsica, also contact us to share a wonderful travel diary. In 2007, the couple from Gradara embarked on this adventure (for those who have already cycled in Greece, they know that it is a real challenge) traveling the circumnavigation of the Peloponnese, a journey of 900 km which they themselves define as having "a thousand contrasts". The diary is very detailed and full of information and particulars, Cuboviaggiatore certainly does not want to make a summary for its readers and publishes it in its entirety. The story will then be divided into posts, relating to the individual stages, which will tell the daily exploits of Leandro and Loredana. Let's start with the Preparation of the Trip and the Introduction and then we will continue with the stages.

Travel diary edited by Loredana and Leandro


Quello che vi accingete a leggere è il diario del viaggio fatto. Non contiene nozioni di carattere storico-culturali sulla Grecia (sono appena accennate) ma si limita alla cronaca degli eventi giornalieri cercando di trasmettervi quanto più possibile le sensazioni e le emozioni che abbiamo provato unitamente alle situazioni che abbiamo vissuto, tentando, se possibile, di darvi l’impressione di averle vissute assieme a noi. Nulla di trascendentale, naturalmente, ma le tante situazioni in cui ci siamo trovati sono di quelle che “ti rimangono dentro” e, pur nella consapevolezza che quelle vissute in prima persona sono difficilmente esternabili, dà piacere raccontarle a chi le sa apprezzare.


At the end of the summer of 2006 we begin to think about the holidays of 2007. The first thought is directed to the island of CRETE on which we collect some documentation. The first thing that catches the eye is the fact that we would have to spend almost two days on the ferries for a single journey, so four days out of a dozen available would be far too many. Pause for reflection and then, some time later, returning to the subject, we begin to evaluate the area of ​​GREECE closest to us, the Peloponnese. After the first positive assessments on the eventuality, the first doubt: are we going there in a camper or not? The alternative would be the re-edition of the "adventure" of two years earlier, the tour of CORSICA by bike.

Two completely different situations. With our camper, the holiday would have purely tourist connotations with the inevitable and necessary historical-cultural nuances. The second possibility would be characterized by a decidedly physical-naturalistic aspect. The decision is evaluated and reflected for several weeks to then reach the conclusion: we do it by bike! With the camper we can always go back. Thus began the search on the Internet for documents and travel diaries of those who made the tour in that part of Hellenic land before us. We find several, one of these, done on a motorbike the year before by a couple from Veneto, is quite close to the route we hypothesized. We begin to outline the stages, their length and difficulty, we begin the search for hotels to stay along the route, we ask for documentation from the Hellenic Tourist Board, we become familiar with the most common terms of the Greek language and little by little we convince ourselves that we can do it. The conviction naturally derives mainly from the fact that physically we feel well enough and in conditions such as to be able to face a journey of about 900 km (in CORSICA it was 710).

Domenica 27 Maggio

Let's begin to set aside the things that will accompany us in this new adventure. The list is long and the expanse of chosen things makes us a bit apprehensive but we don't let ourselves be discouraged by about twenty kilos to carry around for about ten days in the bags and purses with which we will "decorate" our bikes. In this case the previous experience is of great help and comfort. In fact, as we did two years ago, we have prepared a booklet containing the list of things to take away and as they end up in the pile they are ticked off: a large list of hotels that are located along the route (regardless of where we plan to stay overnight) , maps of the route, some maps of the main cities that we will cross, a list of about fifty Greek terms and their meanings, blank sheets where we can take notes on a daily basis with the aim of drawing up the diary we will do (this you read).

Martedì 29 pomeriggio

We place the bikes in the car with the front wheels off. Tomorrow we will have little time because in the morning we both work, in the laboratory we have various things to arrange and to leave in such a way as to create the least possible discomfort for our colleagues.

Mercoledì 30 ore 14:00

We load bags, purses, backpacks and a lot of hope into the car, there is not even that pinch of madness that many have credited us with and we head towards ANCONA with our son. At 2.45 pm we are at the port, we reassemble the bikes to which we fix the bags and everything that has to come with us and say goodbye to Simone who reveals an evident state of amazement and perplexity in leaving us. We know this state of mind. It is the same we experienced, two years earlier, when we left the car in a garage in LIVORNO to head towards the port heading towards CORSICA. Everything we can count on in the next 12 days is under our butts. Simone will go home by car, two things that give much more security and peace of mind than our condition! We head to the ticket office where we buy the round-trip ticket with Open condition, i.e. with the possibility of choosing the day of return, since obviously we have no certainty of being at the port on a specific day.

At 15:10 we board the ship, place the bikes in a storage room under the stairs that they have indicated to us and then we hasten to leave the garages because the vehicles entering, particularly the lorries, release a considerable quantity of exhaust fumes and it is impossible to remain there long. We wonder how the load handlers do it all the time breathing that air! We go up to deck 9 where a ticket control officer, looking at them, "reproaches" us with a peremptory: "who snatched this!" (ouch, let's start well!), we tell him that it was his colleague at the ship's access ramp, so he calms down and lets us pass. We go up to deck 10 and take a seat in an environment whose furnishings suggest it could be a bar. There is no one and we have not seen any sign regulating access to the club so we settle down comfortably on the sofas, for the moment it's okay for us then we'll see. We are looking for newspapers, but there are none on board. At 16:00 we leave. We'll be on the ship for about 22 hours, let's hope we don't get bored. At 20:00 we have a self-service dinner: roast beef with generous portions of potatoes, 2 typical Greek salads, beer and tea: €28. At the end we move to the stern of the ship for an hour to watch the unmissable sunset.

At about 11pm we are at the height of the GARGANO, whose lights can be clearly seen on the coast. Even the full moon, towards the bow, illuminates the stretch of sea alongside the ship. Meanwhile the place where we returned comes alive, shortly after we discover that a disco! Partly for the smoke and partly for the not quite background music, we change places and manage to sleep for a few half hours on the armchairs in front of the bar on the lower floor then, around 2:00, we go back to our place. The disco has closed and so we sleep on the quite comfortable sofas until around 6:30, just when the ship begins to skirt KERKIRA (CORFU'). A couple of hours later we dock at IGOUMENITSA, site of the largest Greek commercial port, from which the main communication route towards south-eastern Europe and TURKEY departs (in fact, several trucks get off at ANCONA). Less than an hour later we leave and continue between islands, islets and the continent, the weather is good, the temperature is 28 degrees, only a few scattered white clouds, the sea is almost calm and crossed by many sailboats on a sea dark blue with streaks of very striking electric blue. Beyond ITHAKI (ITACA) you begin to see the northern coast of the PELOPONNESE and near PATRA (PATRASSO) you can distinguish the imposing structure of the RIO bridge. At 13:50 the ship docks with a slight delay and shortly after we are with feet and wheels on that land that we will tread for several days.

Stage by stage

Prima Tappa: Patra - Kratio (72 Km 31 Maggio 2007)

Partenza: ore 14:00
Arrivo: ore 19:00
Velocità media in bici: 19 Km/h

Seconda Tappa: Kratio - almiri (87 Km 1 Giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 07:50
Arrivo: ore 15:50
Velocità media in bici: 17,7 Km/h

Terza Tappa: Almiri - Nafplio (84 Km 2 Giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 08:00
Arrivo: ore 17:00
Velocità media in bici: 15 Km/h

Quarta Tappa: Nafplio - Leonidio (85 Km 3 Giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 08:00
Arrivo: ore17:30
Velocità media in bici: 15,5 Km/h

Quinta Tappa: Leonidio - Githio (88 Km 4 Giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 08:00
Arrivo: ore 18:30
Velocità media in bici: 13,3 Km/h

Sesta Tappa: Githio - Stoupa (59 Km 5 giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 11:00
Arrivo: ore 17:30
Velocità media in bici: 13,3 Km/h

Settima Tappa: Stoupa - Koroni (99 Km 6 Giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 08:30
Arrivo: ore 18:15
Velocità media in bici: 14,8 Km/h

Ottava Tappa: Koroni - Filiatra (88 Km 7 giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 08:00
Arrivo: ore 18:30
Velocità media in bici: 12,5 Km/h

Nona Tappa: Filiatra - Katakolo (113 Km 8 giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 08:30
Arrivo: ore 19:00
Velocità media in bici: 16,3 Km/h

Decima Tappa: Katakolo - Kilini (51 Km 9 Giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 08:00
Arrivo: ore 13:30
Velocità media in bici: 15,1 Km/h

Undicesima Tappa: Kilini - Tsoukaleika (66 Km 10 Giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 08:00
Arrivo: ore 14:00
Velocità media in bici: 17,2 Km/h

Dodicesima Tappa: Tsoukaleika - Patra (18 Km 11 Giugno 2007)

Partenza: ore 09:00
Arrivo: ore 11:00
Velocità media in bici: 9,0 Km/h


The purpose of our trip was partly to prove to ourselves that we could complete it without too much difficulty and partly to try to get to know this area of ​​GREECE, the territory, the people, their customs, the food, their way of living and the relationship with foreign tourists, even though we were a bit particular tourists. We believe we have managed to get to know this GREECE and these Greeks. We specify "this GREECE" because probably that of the Aegean islands has a different aspect, being mainly a tourist territory and perhaps also the continental one, bordering to the north with the countries of Eastern EUROPE and TURKEY could be different; We hope to get to know them better in the future. Surely the one we visited we did not know in depth (the means and the time available did not allow much), but we can certainly praise these people for the welcome and cordiality with which they welcomed us in the places frequented. In hotels and restaurants, we can say that they did it even beyond what was due in their role, and this was noticeable in the details and nuances of their behavior.

We have also perceived an idea of ​​life different from the one we are used to. Our frenzy, stress, selfishness, attention to detail, envy, careerism are contrasted by calm and essentiality. We seemed to understand that the important thing here is to live with dignity, everything else is superfluous and doesn't deserve too much attention and care. This is probably more pronounced in the south of the Peloponnese where there are small towns that seem almost sleepy because in the north, between PATRA and KORINTHOS, there seems to be more vigor, more vitality. Here, however, some of the "thousand contrasts" of the subtitle are evident. Along the roadsides there are many plastic and glass bottles, jars and various papers that clash strongly with the green of the olive trees and the blue of the sea and the sky. Strong contrasts are present throughout the peninsula. The neglect of many roads is coupled with the natural beauties; incomplete new buildings inhabited by… goats; stone houses, narrow and high, quite modest, built in magnificent panoramic places or a stone's throw from the sea; some hotels with a disproportionate price compared to the quality offered; new cars, very well-kept, and others very old, without lights and with illegible number plates; the high speed maintained by vehicles on state roads and the lack of any trace of an accident. Many other details are in evident contradiction with the environment, with the people and with history, which have often left us perplexed.

The trip turned out to be a wonderful experience, full of special sensations that you can probably only have traveling by bike. Different sensations from those that can be had traveling by motorbike or car with which, for example, one can much more easily change route, or go back to review something. By bike it is more difficult to miss the details: houses, vegetation, fauna, panoramas. The road and its surroundings can be observed meter by meter, and in the challenging climbs inch by inch, including many details that are only seen once. Going back, except in cases of vital necessity, is not foreseen and psychologically refused. Perhaps the beauty lies in this too.
For all the time spent pedaling, the mind was occupied only by what we were doing, leaving far away the problems that at home and at work, however small, engaged us on a daily basis. Thoughts were mostly aimed at hoping that beyond that curve the climb would end or that there was a nice shade in which to make a little stop. Another concern, if it can be defined as such, was often that the descent was not too steep; pleasant as it was, surely it would have been followed by a less pleasant climb.
The wish we make to those who have the opportunity to make a similar trip is to try, they will hardly be disappointed. We ourselves hope to be able to make another journey soon to discover another friendly land.

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