Friday, 23 May 2008

Pilgrimage from Dafni to Porto Lagos 19/05/08

After a great sleep-in we don't get moving till 8:30. Knowing that it is only 7kms down the road to Avdira we are not too concerned. The plan is to get there, get some food, sit on the internet for a while, then walk another 10kms to another hot springs marked on our map. Sounds like a great day.

The walk to Avdira goes well and we are in town by 10am. Finding an internet cafe straight away we settle in. I watch in amazement as Sabine orders her third frappe (iced coffee) in as many minutes. She is keen!

By the time we finish on the net it's 13:30 and we are pretty hungry. Heading to the Mini-Mart to buy some cheese, ham and chocolate we then go in search of a bakery...but everything is shut :( So a restaurant it has to be...again we are out of luck! So far Greece has been great with the ease we are able to find food, but over the last few days the restaurants are wearing thin...

On the way out of town we spot a our first cherry tree with ripe cherries! Well, semi-ripe anyway. We can't resist. As it is hanging over the footpath, all the good ones are quite high up. Standing on the fence I reach up...

A woman comes rushing out onto her balcony yelling and screaming with her hands waving everywhere. Of course we can't understand a word she is saying but I'm sure it went something like...

"Get your filthy hands off my bloody cherries! Piss off you smelly beggars!!!"

But at this stage my filthy hands are already on my cherry and there's no way I'm letting go :) Hopping down from the fence I pop the cherry in my mouth, smile sweetly and in my best greek say "thank you". She continues to rant and rave as we start wandering down the road. She comes across as the type of person who sits at her window all day just waiting for the kids to come buy to steal her I'm glad all her effort wasn't wasted today ;)

The road east is dead straight. For the next ten kilometers there is hardly a bend and there is not much to look at. Pretty exciting stuff.

Finally we come across our spa complex but we are ten years too late, it's a ghost town. On this pilgrimage I have come across some pretty useless maps, and this one definitely rates up there. I think it was made in the time of Alexandra the Great and has never been updated. Some of the towns marked don't even exist, while the others aren't where they are meant to be. And to top it off the distances are only accurate to about a factor of 10! Absolutely useless!!!

So feeling a bit disappointed we continue walking...

Porto Lagos is 7kms ahead of us and is situated between a big lake and an inlet, looks like a perfect little tourist place. On the way there we even spot a sign for a yacht club so we are expecting something pretty ritzy.

Walking past a hotel coming in to town we um and are about whether to see if they have rooms or not. Deciding it's better to find a restaurant first, then get a hotel on the way out of town we keep walking.

The center of town consists of a cute little church and a single bar! Not what we are expecting at all. Asking at the bar if they have food we get the reply...

"Yes, pizza"

So pizza it is. Better than nothing :)

It's starting to get dark as we head off in search of a room for the night but within 200m we are out of town! Hmmmm, doesn't look like we are getting a hotel.

Passing a big warehouse we get waved in by an old guy sitting on the loading dock. He only speaks Greek but after finding out we speak English yells out for his daughter. She speaks perfect English and is quite amused by our journey. While we are chatting away the old guy runs into the warehouse and returns with some icecream! What a champion :)

As we are searching for a spot to camp I see a dirt road heading down to the lake. Looks perfect, but my torch suddenly spots a little snake in the middle of our path. It doesn't even flinch as I stamp my feet...maybe it is dead. I give it a little nudge with my boot....


Sabine cracks up as it charges me and sends me running down the road...yes, very amusing :) Second time in as many days I've almost been got. Seems a little dangerous in these parts...

The road ends in a perfect spot to camp but just as we are about to drop our bags an old guy appears out of nowhere to shoo us away. We aren't having much luck tonight!

Five hundred meters later we come across a church out in the middle of the lake, connected to the mainland by a bridge, and even though it's 10pm the car park is full. Looks like a pretty special place so we go to investigate...

Everyone is quite well dressed and there is the feel of a party in the air, I think we have just walked into a wedding! No-one pays us any attention as we find a seat and try to suss the situation out a bit.

Spotting a sign which signals this is a monastery a wave of hope wells up...maybe we can stay :) I find one of the monks and through a young guy translating explain what we are doing and ask if it is possible to get lodging for the night. He tells me that he is not from this monastery, but thinks it isn't possible as it is probably only OK for men. I ask if he can find out for sure and he agrees to go ask the Father who looks after the place. It turns out that the party is for St Nicholas, the saint the this monastery is dedicated to, and we have stumbled upon a pretty special party. Tonight there are two Bishops present!

After finding the Father he give us his answer...

"Sorry, it isn't possible...but if you like I can pay for you to stay at the hotel in town?"

He takes my hand as I way up his offer and I get goose bumps as I see the joy on his face. Here is a man making an offer not out of obligation or trying to impress anyone, but purely for the pleasure of giving. Looking in his eyes I can see a truly religious man. Thank you Father Niphon :)

Straight away we are ushered inside for a big feast before the monks find us a lift back to town.

The hotel is great and we are straight into the shower. It has been a seems even God was getting sick of the smell of us ;)

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