The entry from Albania to Greece is done in 15 minutes and we are already back in the EU. Shortly after the border we discover a beautiful bathing lake with a super campsite. There we stay for two days and enjoy ourselves. Except for a few anglers from the nearby village, no one disturbs our idyll.
Nearby is the Zagori region, an area with 46 small villages scattered in the mountains, some of which are difficult to access and often cut off from the outside world for days in winter. The whole area is a huge nature park which is crossed by the Vikos Gorge, which is 10 kilometers long and 600m to 1000m steep rock walls and has the officially certified Guinness Book of Records stamp, as the deepest gorge in the world. It is amazing how many "deepest gorges in the world" we have seen on our world trip so far.... Nowadays, the larger villages in the region are easily accessible via steep serpentine roads and are starting points for extended hikes. Also worth seeing are the historic arch bridges of Kipi, which are among the oldest bridge constructions ever. They were built by the guild of bridge builders and the load-bearing capacity only unfolded when the so-called "keystone" was set.
In the Greek region of Thessaly, a very special natural wonder awaits us with the Meteora monasteries, which can be found nowhere else on earth. In the 11th century the first monks settled in this area. In the late Middle Ages, around the 14th century, the monks began to build monasteries in places that were difficult to reach. Where paths and roads lead upwards today, the rocks were slippery at that time. The monks transported the material up with self-built elevators and ropes, and they used rope ladders to reach the construction sites themselves.
Already the approach through the small village Kastraki with the towering rocks in the background is an experience. We go there to a camping site and the next morning we go by bus into the middle of the grandiose spectacle. On the top of the cliffs, 24 monasteries were once built, in six of which monks and nuns still live today. The monasteries are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are often referred to as "floating monasteries" because they almost look like this in fog or low clouds. It is hard to imagine how it was possible to build such houses in this location more than 600 years ago with the possibilities available at that time. At the beginning of the 80's the James Bond movie "on a deadly mission" was filmed in the monastery of Agia Triada. On the second day Birgit & Albert, the future parents-in-law of our son Felix, join us with their camping bus and we spend a nice time together. The monasteries are definitely very impressive and we take three days to visit everything.
Our next stop is Delphi. Above a 200m deep gorge lies this ancient sanctuary that looks back on 5000 years of history. Once princes and kings made pilgrimages here to get the advice of the "Oracle of Delphi", and now also Karin & Manni. For eight centuries, the supposedly impartial oracle decided here on war and peace and on life and death. Every four years, twelve months before the ancient Olympic Games in Olympia, the Pythian Games in honor of the god Apollo were also held here from 582 B.C. until the Roman Empire. Large-scale excavations that lasted until the 1990s have uncovered an impressive site, the centerpiece of which is the Temple of Apollo, once worshipped as the center of the world. A tour of the entire site takes a good half day and in the attached museum with 14 halls, one of the most important in Greece, many priceless exhibits are on display. We are already in the morning at eight o'clock at the entrance and have the first hour everything to ourselves before then the first tour groups arrive.
We follow the coastline and recover two days from our sightseeing marathon at a small beach under trees and a nearby taverna that has everything Karin & Manni need, salad, feta cheese, olives, retsina, ouzo and space for the hammock.
Strengthened we continue to the Peloponnese over the big new bridge at Patras. At the Corinth Canal we make a short photo stop and then continue to Mycenae, one of the most important cities of Greece in the Bronze Age. Here we marvel at the remains of a complex civilization from 1600 to 1100 BC, ruled by the once powerful kings Atreus and Agamemnon. In the ruins of the Mycenaean upper city we can see the remains of the ring wall with the fascinating Lion Gate. The gate probably formed the main entrance to the former castle. It was built around 1250 BC. The building got its name from the two lions crowning the gate. Outside the castle complex is still the so-called Treasury House of Atreus, a very well preserved tomb.
In Nafplio we meet Birgit & Albert again and explore the city together. While the two ladies make a visit to the hairdresser, Albert and I climb the 1000 steps up to the mighty castle complex that towers unmistakably over the city.
The next days we stay together and relax two days on the beach near Gythio. Here is also a large shipwreck and offers beautiful photo opportunities.
Then our ways separate and we drive a mountain route that presents us with some challenges, especially when passing through towns. Once we reach the top, the asphalt ends and we descend to the sea via a gravel road with narrow switchbacks. On the entire route we see what frightening devastation the fire has caused here a few weeks ago. Burned out tractors or cars stand at the roadside and many houses on the mountainsides are burned out.
The next few days we move slowly along the coast to the north and make repeated stops at beautiful beaches with turquoise blue water. In Methoni we visit the impressive castle complex and go to a campsite for laundry with a very good taverna right by the sea. Here we meet Martina and Hans-Peter again, whom we met in Krk, and spend a nice evening together. A day later we arrange to meet Claudia and Achim from Holzkirchen whom we met last year in France.
Our next stop is Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympic Games. We borrow a pair of virtual reality glasses and take a trip back in time to ancient Olympia. At the various stops during the tour, the massive buildings become real and we can move around inside them. In the stadium we experience a race and at the temple of Hera we see how the Olympic fire of modern times is lit and carried into the world. A nice and highly recommended toy as an alternative to the IPADs that are also offered to explore the site.
We leave the Peleponnes by ferry instead of crossing the new bridge again. Unfortunately, for the next two weeks storm and rain is announced and it is warned of extreme storms with flooding. We really don't want to do that and book a crossing from Igoumenitsa to Ancona in Italy. On the way to the ferry we make a few stops at various beaches and in Lefkada, a very beautiful town on the way. For the last time we enjoy the Greek cuisine before boarding the ferry.
The trip to Ancona takes 24 hours and we spend the time in the cabin reading. Arriving in Italy we decide to make a detour to Venice. In Comacchio, which is also called Little Venice, we make a photo stop.
On the outskirts of Venice is a huge parking lot and part of it is reserved for motorhomes. Here we can stand three days and explore the city from there. With the public water bus we are in 15min at St. Mark's Square. Still missing the cruise ships that make up a large part of the crowds of visitors and so we can stroll around quite relaxed and enjoy the special flair of the city. Later, we are joined by Christa & Peter with whom we have already spent beautiful days in South America and Morocco.
Venice City Center
The Islands of Murano & Burano
On the way home we make a stop at Lake Garda and let the wonderful vacation end with an Aperol Spritz while watching a beautiful sunset.
The next day we go home via the Brenner Pass without any significant traffic jams. In the next few weeks, we are now preparing the shipment to South Africa and then in early 2022 we start the trip that we actually wanted to do from March 2021, but then we were stopped by the Covid pandemic. We are now looking forward to Africa and will of course report further.