We are back home.
Our last day (before the travel day home) was superb. We woke up to the first cloudy skies since we had arrived. Before breakfast, we stepped out the door of the hotel and up into the little back lanes above the town where the fishermen live. I had glimpsed it the night before, making a quick trek while Gino nursed his sore feet with a beer down by the waterfront.
Gino was glad to be dragged up one more set of stairs and up and down a few more narrow alleys for one last breath of village Greece. It was another fairy tale village. Then breakfast and on the road. (The hotel brought us a carafe of what we thought was coffee, but turned out to be only hot water for INSTANT coffee! ERGH! We sought out a proper cappuccino before we hit the road.)
The drive was very pleasant — no wrong turns, great roads, a variety of scenery. We went through Sparta and Tripoli, then hit the autostrada.
Close to Korinthos we did see many more burned areas — entire hillsides scorched. We saw where the fire had come right down to the highway at one point and had picked up on the other side. Obviously, the main road had to have been closed while that was burning.
We shared the road with slow-moving tractors here and there. We noticed that in Greece, few people use their horns (with the exception of some absolutely insane city bus drivers), while in Italia horns are often used.
We passed roadside stands selling bags of potatoes and hanging strings of garlic. Men hawked bags of potatoes on the side of the autostrada, and as you approached the toll booths others were selling bunches of bananas! You could pay your toll and pick up a snack at the same time!
Successfully back in Athens, our little Aggie turned back into EuropeCar and our bags stowed at the airport, we took the X95 bus (instead of the Metro) back into the city for one last whirl. That was a wild ride! The driver drove through the city streets at breakneck speed, expertly missing (sometimes by an inch) a car door, a person, or another large vehicle. We had plans to meet Jan and Liisa for one last celebratory dinner, but had the afternoon to tear through the Plaka once more. We indulged in our last gyro and bowl of yogurt and poked around the flea market that spilled its junk and treasures into the streets. We laughed at seeing The Gap store right next to a little shop selling hookahs of all shapes and sizes.
Then we met up with Jan and Liisa and found a wonderful, mellow neighborhood taverna to share our evening meal. Jan ordered a wonderful selection of Greek specialties and we ate and ate, still leaving food since our stomachs could hold no more. Even including two carafes of their homemade wine, all of this delightful food for the four of us came to only 46 Euro!
After midnight, our friends walked us to the X95 bus stop and, after a flurry of goodbyes, jumped on for our final ride to the airport. Along the way, we saw billboards that read, “GREECE — Five Senses to Explore, One Country to Adore,” and “GREECE — There is Always More to Explore.” I’m sure they were put there for us.
Things we will NOT miss:
The coffee (Greece)
The cigarette smoke (ubiquitous)
Missing our dogs
Things we WILL miss:
The coffee (Italia)
The people (both countries)
Exploring the most incredible sights every single day
For those interested in reading more of our adventures in greater detail and (hopefully) improved eloquence over these off-the-cuff ramblings (often written in rooms so dark I could barely see the keyboard, or places so hot I felt like I was in a sauna), I will let you know when my blog is done. There will be pictures to accompany the stories.
Ciao until the next MelindaTrip.
Melinda and Gino
P.S. By the way, did I mention that every single thing and place we did and saw was WORTH IT?