Main roads tend to get you places quickly. Time not being of the essence, we prefer the back roads. Then you get to see the Corinth Canal, and pull over and get out of the vans and take photos. We couldn’t have done that on the motorway.
You get to drive on a bit and stop at a beach for lunch on your way to Athens.
You get views like this:
On the final morning in Athens you drive round and round singing the praises of GPS-s who can lead you around one way streets. Our GPS cannot route us anywhere in Greece, and so we are left with treating it like a paper map, Rob trying to read it as we drive. You would not believe how many one-way-streets there are!
We leave Athens. By a back road, of course.
The countryside is spectacular. Are mountains always magnificent?
A rocky face studded with a variety of shapes and shades of green beckons us on.
We have another crest-the-hill-and-see-an-agricultural-patchwork-quilt-spread-below-us experience. Driving down into it we find many dark brown fields tilled, the harvest complete. Hectares more sprout cotton.
Directly ahead even larger mountains loom. We wonder if we will be crossing them. We will. Up, up and up, with one eye permanently on the temperature gauge, having run the radiator dry in the morning and almost disastrously overheating (discovered a new blinking light on the dashboard, but ten litres of water extinguished it!)
Nowhere near the top, but high enough for spectacular views, we find ourselves squeezing through a character-filled ski resort town, that begs us to stop and visit. Being barely two lanes wide, parking is out of the question in the village itself, but beyond the houses a roadside spot is both wide enough and empty, so we fill it.
Warmly welcomed to the village by an old man full of bravo-s and congratulations, he calls across the street to his mates about the eight children, and the altitude-induced chilly temperatures are almost alleviated.
The town, Arachova, is full of furs and kilims and cheeses and beautifully painted ceramics and olives and shirts and pizza paddles and oversized bags of dried oregano and linens and aromas that draw Rob in to more than one shop – even from the confines of the vans we had smelt this not-so-little-piggy on a spit. Further on wafts of pastries had forced through our now-closed-coz-it’s-cold windows.
Rob emerges from his first shop with gingerbread and cheesecake. Any wander which includes such delicacies and culminates in consuming steaming hot pastries is sure to be remembered with fondness!
No wonder we like the back roads.
PS Dear Charles, Look! A tennis court for Rob and a monastery for you! Imagine if you missed the ball.