What a surprise! This morning while taking a taxi to the monastery of Hosios Loukas. I saw a lot of anemones on the roadside. I asked my driver to stop on the way back. I climbed up the hill and took a bunch of pictures. Imagine my delight! I was in anemone heaven.
I arrived late and the ancient site is closed. I will be hiking on Mt Parnassus tomorrow and will see the ancient site on Sunday. Spring time in Greece is so glorious, the wildflowers are everywhere and are so beautiful. It is a terrific time to visit, less people and lovely weather.
This has been an extremely long travel day, left Kardamyli at 8.10am, arrived in Kalamata at 9.10am, waited 6-7 hours for bus to Patra. The trip to Patra took 4 hours and I'm finally here. I had dinner, ate some street food round the corner from the hotel which is next to the bus station. I have showered and am getting ready for bed. I have an 8.30 am bus for Amifssa, takes 2 hours. Then I change to bus for Delphi. Till then, goodnight.
That was yesterday. What a difference a day makes. It's raining today and I'm kind of homebound. I keep hoping the rain will abate for just a few hours so I can head down to the beach. I think I have my wish. It looks like it is clearing. Yesterday I hiked for 7 hours in a deep river gorge on a dried river bed, clambering over little rocks, large rocks and huge boulders, up the gorge, on the ridge and down again. I saw the length and breath of this area in one day. I went through dried scarab land and lush olive groves. It was so incredible, though hard. I kept telling myself, with each step I'm closer to the end, with each passing minute I'm closer to the finish line. It worked. I kept going and going for 7 hours and had a spring in my step all the way, sprinting to the finish line.
I did a 7 hour hike today, almost took everything out of me. First was a 3 hour hike in the dried river bed, climbing over large boulders, small stones and medium size rocks. That was hard but once I got in there, there was no going back. I had to go on and on, doing that for 3 hours. Then at some point I leave the gorge and climbed the steep embankment to leave the gorge, to walk on the top of the ridge for a few more hours. Finally to head down to Kardamyli. Even that was hard, clambering over rocks and more rocks, chased by dogs barking loudly. It was quite hellish!
Today is Greek Independence day and there was a parade in Sparti with people all dressed in their national costumes. It was so beautiful. I got emotional. Mystras is closed on Sunday but I went out there anyway. I took the taxi there, walked down the hill to take photographs. There are wildflowers everywhere. The best time to see wildflowers is the first 2 weeks of April though I am here at the end of May. It was raining a little but it didn't bother me. I walked the whole 5Km back to town stopping to take pictures. I happened upon this plot of anemones. What a find. I would have totally missed it if I were in a motorized vehicle.
For over 200 hundred years, Mystras was a thriving kingdom until the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Today on the steep hillside is a collection of ruined churches, some are in better shape than others. Some even retained their beautiful frescoes. This is an UNESCO world heritage site. I was here 10 years ago and it has always been my intention to return. The best time to visit is early to late Spring when the whole place is filled with wildflowers. This is one of the best places in the world to see wildflowers.
I left Corinth this morning, took the bus to Corinth canal for the bus to Sparti. No one understood me when I asked about Sparta. The ancient city was called Sparta. The new town is Sparti. Upon arrival in Sparti, I had a terrible lunch. I took off and headed for Mystra immediately after lunch. It was great. Just like I remembered it. The whole mountain was covered with all kinds of wild flowers and my favorite, the red anemone. It started to rain but it didn't dampen my enthusiasm. I had a great visit. I will head over there again tomorrow even though Mystra is closed. I saw some great olive groves with potential for great photographs.
I arrived late last night in Corinth. The town is ugly, concrete blocks built haphazardly. It is lacing totally of any aesthetic sense. It was a travel day yesterday, leaving London on an almost 4 hour flight to Athens, took 2 hours on the Suburban train to get to the Peloponnese and to Corinth. I was dead tired. I got up early this morning, took the bus to ancient Corinth. I remember I wasn't able to get into the site the last time I was here 10 years ago because the park closes at 3pm and I was too late. It is quite an extensive site, here are the remains of the ancient city that St Paul wrote 2 letters to. Both letters are in the Bible known as the epistles of 1st and 2nd Corinthians. What Corinth lack architecturally, it is splendorous in its display of wildflowers. They are everywhere in the fields, olive groves and roadside, blood red poppies, white Asphodels, yellow mustard flowers and daisies. It is quite a visual feast. It is a great time to be here for the wildflower displays.
The Hebrides isn't a place most people dreamed of going to. The Inner Hebrides is more popular than the Outer Hebrides. The Inner and Outer Hebrides is a chain of many islands which only a few are inhabited. Why go there? What's there? My mission in life is to visit unusual and quirky places How would the Hebrides fit into this category? It was the phenomenon of the Machair that drew me to the Hebrides especially the Outer Hebrides. The Machair are these wildflower meadows that explode in the Western shores of the Outer Hebrides every Summer that piqued my interest. As I search the few guidebooks on the Outer Hebrides, I underlined every line that said, 'Machair' and these were predominantly the places I stopped at. The locals are happy to point out the Machair to you. It is not a very well known detail of the Machair but I love wildflowers and wouldn't miss any place in the world where I would have such an all access pass to! Indeed, it was wild. I loved and enjoyed every Machair that I could get to. I want more and much more. There are plans to return. Be warned. If you are like me, it will be your undoing also! This book will help you plan and make your Machair experience a reality! Let me illuminate the challenges to travel to the Hebrides and how to overcome them and make it an enjoyable and successful experience.
This eBook is almost ready for publication. It details my 2 trips to the Hebrides, an outlying region of hundreds of little islands off the coast of Scotland. It is a fascinating place. I was asked, 'what's there?' to which I replied, 'nothing'. Only some of the many islands are inhabited by a very hardy stock of people. The empty spaces and the empty beaches makes for such an idyllic escape.