Monday morning the weather man was predicting rain again, but as nothing had come from his predictions on Sunday we ignored it and went to plan B for the Roman bath search. This time we took the bikes and headed off down the same lanes, once we got to Arkoudi this time we carried on and low and behold just a mile or so down the road we were there. Was it worth two days to hunt it out? well maybe not, a very run down looking building, the actual baths fenced off and the smell of sulphur was as it always is – worse than rotten eggs. We persevered and had a wander round but there isn’t too much too see, it would seem that once upon a time it was a tourist attraction but its not been loved for some time. It’s hard to say whether the austerity measures have affected the maintenance or its just not somewhere people want to go, a shame as with a spruce up and a clean it could be an interesting and pleasant place to visit. Iain was fascinated by watching the sulphur bubble up to the surface but for me it was too much of a smell to stay around.
Killini Roman Baths
Next stop was to try the thermal mud baths as we thought we might treat ourselves, they were locked up and not a soul around. It looked like a big complex, several buildings which were mainly concrete looking eyesores but one lovely church just on the edge. There is a big hotel complex just outside the baths so we assumed its a seasonal thing and we missed out on a mud bath by a few months. Trying to find anything out about either the baths or the spa seems pretty impossible, tourist literature is not something that abounds here and even the internet seems vague, one report says it has never been used and another says 5000 people come a year to use the mud baths.
the only building not poured from concrete at Killini spa baths
Back to Akoudi for our picnic on the beach, our very own beach as we were the only people there for the hour we sat and ate. It is a little tourist hamlet, several small family run hotels, a shop or two, tavernas onto beach but not a one open. The locals who must run the businesses are milling around but it seemed like maintenance time as much cleaning, painting and repairing was going on. Its the only real tourist place we have seen so far, not sure it would be classed a resort but sure it would be a fantastic place for a quiet holiday in the summer months. A local was telling us that its very much an area for Greeks on holiday even in summer very few other nationalities come here.
Our own private beach for lunch
Stopping short of pedaling to Zakynthos over the water
On Tuesday it was Epiphany, as with most of Europe celebrated with a holiday, shops were closed but the tavernas in the village were open. Each time we have been in the village in the morning the sound of the Orthodox Priest singing has resounded around the village from the small church. It’s a very beautiful accompaniment to the village which looks as if nothing much as changed for many, many years.
As we walked through we were approached by three young boys, all under 11, who were playing basketball. In near perfect English they asked if we knew how to play the game and then asked if we were on our way to visit the church. Considering very few English apparently come this way the children here still obviously learn to speak English from a young age and do so incredibly well and use it confidently. It was time to sample our first Greek coffee so we headed for the busiest looking taverna. As we approached we were stopped outside by a table of three who insisted we join them for a holiday drink (achieved by much arm waving, gesturing and dragging of chairs). Whilst they were mixing wine with coke, water and some form of firewater we stuck to our choice of coffee. We then spent the next 40 minutes in bizarre ‘conversation’ with Stavros (no really he was) who only spoke Greek to Irinia, who spoke Greek and then German to Eddie, who spoke German and then English to us. They had obviously been at the drink for a good few hours before we arrived so conversation was somewhat diverse but probably the most entertaining interaction we have yet to have with any nationality. Stavros was as someone with that name should be for a Brit with a stereotypical view of meeting a Greek villager – a more charming, friendly and loud chap we would find it harder to meet.
Today we finally got around to visiting Chlemoutsi castle, which is visible from miles around and we have been saying we would visit since the day we arrived. It was built in the early 1220’s and is said to be the finest castle of the period, largely preserved in its original 13th-century state. Captured in 1460 by the Ottoman Empire it lost importance over the next couple of hundred years and was deserted for many years. As we drove into Kastro village the road up to the castle looked doubtful, even for our little 6 metre van. We erred on the side of caution and parked up in the village to walk up the steep hill to the castle. First thing we were shocked with was there was a lady sat in the ticket hut, if she saw anyone other than us today would be amazed. For €3 though it was worth the spend, there is an inner castle within the main outer walls, a small museum and everything there was also written in English so we could understand a bit about it.
From there we walked back into the village as Iain had spotted a bakery, once we he was fully armed with a supply of bread and cakes we headed down to the port to investigate the ferry crossings over to the nearby islands. I thought they were going to be cute little ferries with space for a few vans, not at all – only slightly smaller than the average cross channel ferry. The ferry for Zakynthos was in so we priced up a day trip, €100 return, which was a cheaper option than Kefalonia where they wanted €166 return – so that was the cheap ferry day trip idea blown.
Weather update, its getting colder again. The skies are blue with the odd cloud and the sun is warm but someone up in Northern Europe is sending an icy wind down and the last two days have become a bit chilly, to the extent that kite flying has ceased until warm winds prevail. We intend to move a bit further South tomorrow, not for the weather just for a change of scenery so we are heading to a campsite a couple of hours down the coast, The site we are on, Ionion Beach, is one of the best we have stayed on anywhere, being told by our British neighbours that this is the best one in Greece does make us wonder whether we should move on just yet. Then again what one person likes isn’t always the same as the next so fingers crossed we find somewhere as good if not better.
Kite flying before winds got too chilly