I drove again today. This time, the journey took me from Olympia to Kardamyli.
Driving. Oh, joy. Oh, bliss. But, it can’t be helped. In truth, it was mostly uneventful.
The Road to Kardamyli
Only two very minor problems presented themselves on the way too Kardamyli.
The first occurred when I stopped to pay a road toll. The toll was no problem. But when I stopped just long enough to pay the toll, without ever turning off the engine, Apple CarPlay decided to disconnect from my iPhone. Consequently, I no longer got navigation on the car’s screen or through its speaker system.
I couldn’t stop at the tollbooth to fix it because a couple of cars, and presumably their drivers, were waiting behind me. And the highway ahead offered no shoulders or turnouts I could use.
I asked Siri to reconnect me, but she told me she couldn’t do that while I was driving. What? If I wasn’t driving I could have done it myself.
I took the first exit and found a place I could pull over. After a couple of taps on my iPhone, it reconnected to CarPlay and I was on my way. Apple Maps then rerouted me back to the highway and I continued to my destination.
The other problem occurred at a fork in the road. Siri, speaking on behalf of Apple Maps, told me to go straight at that point. The two roads at the fork split off at equal slight angles to the road I was on.
I didn’t realize the dilemma, or even realize I was coming to a fork, until I was too close to it to have enough time to glance at the map to see which way to go without slamming on the brakes and risk having the driver following close behind ram into me.
If I can avoid it, I’d rather not test out how cooperative my credit card company will be in honouring the collision damage waver that comes with my card.
Of course, because I had only a fifty percent chance of getting it right, it was inevitable that I got it wrong. Apple Maps rerouted me on to the correct route via some one-lane, two way streets. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any cars coming the other way.
There was one other non-problem problem. I say non-problem problem because it didn’t cause any difficulties or inconveniences. It’s just that I took issue with the way Siri, still speaking on behalf of Apple Maps, expressed herself. I knew what she meant, bless her, but I thought she should have worded it differently.
At one point, Siri told me “go straight for 16 kilometres.” I think she meant “stay on this road for 16 kilometres.”
The road was almost all curves. Some of them were sharp. And some of them were hairpin turns. If I drove straight I would have, I was about to say died many times over. Of course, that’s nonsense. I would have died only once, probably within the first few hundred metres of the 16-kilometre stretch.
Wait. Maybe Siri did mean for me to go straight. On her own, she knows nothing about roads or where I am. She says only what Apple Maps tells her to say. Maybe Apple Maps is still trying to kill.
Had someone else been driving, allowing me to gape more rather than neurotically focusing on the road ahead, catching only glimpses of the passing scenery, I would probably gush over the drive to Kardamyli. The route took me by the coast at some points, through inter-mountain valleys at other points, and over hills and mountains at still others.
If I could, I would have pulled over often to take in the views. However, places to do so were exceptionally rare.
The road offered no shoulders. None. It had the occasional turnout. But, again, they were exceptionally rare. And they weren’t marked. Most weren’t far past curves so I didn’t see them early enough to slow down sufficiently to not spin out when pulling over and not get rear ended when I slammed on my brakes. No matter how beautiful the views, I didn’t think it was worth that.
I did manage to stop at one turnout. It delivered a breathtaking vista. I think there might have been more beautiful places to stop along the way if that had been possible. Then again, maybe it was a good thing I couldn’t stop at those points. There is only so much breath I can afford to have taken.
The funny thing is, when I stopped at the turnout, unlike at the tollbooth, I turned off the car and got out. Yet, this time, CarPlay remained connected and worked fine. Technology baffles me.
I got to my hotel in Kardamyli at about 1:30 in the afternoon. After checking in and depositing my luggage in my room, I walked down into town for a late lunch. For two reasons, I had a glass of wine with lunch. First, I needed to relax after driving. And, second, why the heck not?
“Walked down into town.” Did you catch that in the preceding paragraph? As with my hotel in Olympia, I’m in a hotel a fair piece up a small mountain/large hill from the main part of the town of Kardamyli. And, again as with my hotel in Olympia, my room has a small balcony with a great view. The view here looks out to the sea.
The sea is to the west. And you know what that means, don’t you? Sunsets over the sea, that’s what.
I’ve included two pictures from my balcony. I took the first when I arrived. I took the second at sunset. The sunset probably could have benefited from a few small clouds to pick up the oranges and pinks of the setting sun, but it was beautiful nonetheless.
You can envy or hate me now as you see fit.
The Path to Kardamyli
The road between my hotel and the main part of town is not a particularly direct route. It’s not horrendously long, mind you, but a crow wouldn’t fly that way. At least, I don’t think it would. But I didn’t see any crows and certainly not one going into town from my hotel.
Fortunately, the hotel offers a shortcut. A set of stairs leads down the mountain. The person at the front desk said there are about 130 stairs. The stairs lead to a path into town.
When I checked in, the person at the front desk loaned me a pocket-size flashlight to use during my stay. The reason for this is, the hotel lights its section of the stairs, but the hotel doesn’t own most of the path. Much of the part they don’t own isn’t lit. Hence, the flashlight.
Kardamyli is a small town, or maybe a large village. I should learn the demarcation between towns and villages one day. Not today, though.
It has one not particularly long main street with a few shops and restaurants. That road also serves as the main (only?) road into and out of town from elsewhere.
There are also a number of side streets, but it’s not a large number.
The front of Kardamyli, or maybe its back depending on which way you’re facing, is a long pebble beach on the Gulf of Messenia, a gulf of the Ionian Sea. Someone, or maybe a number of someones, constructed a number of balancing stone towers on the beach. I don’t know how long they’ll stay there.
Mountains rise up behind Kardamyli (or in front, depending again on your perspective).
All things considered, it’s an extremely pleasant, relaxing town.
What a ridiculous thing to say. How could I possibly consider all things? For all I know, the town might knowingly and eagerly host an annual convention of serial killers from around the world. If so, I hope it’s not while I’m in Kardamyli. But, regardless of when it is, I reserve the right to revoke my “extremely pleasant, relaxing town” review if the town does indeed host such a convention. It probably doesn’t. But you never know about these things.
Old Kardamyli sits a short piece up the hill/mountain behind the current town. Although, by the standards of the ruins I’ve seen on this trip, some dating well before the common era, “old” here is new. Old Kardamyli was constructed in the 17th century AD as a fortified position.
The buildings in Old Kardamyli have been partially restored and include a church, a workshop, a room where olive oil was pressed, and a four-storey tower with a defensive parapet. There’s also a garden area, a cistern and some defensive fortifications.
There is no charge to walk around, but there is a €2 charge for seniors to go in the tower (€3 for non-senior adults, suckers). People who know me know how much I like climbing towers to take in the views. For the benefit of anyone who stumbled on this journal and doesn’t know me, I like it a lot. (By the way, if you did stumble here through some serendipitous route, welcome! I hope you’re not too sorry you wasted your time here.)
The window on the top floor of the tower didn’t disappoint.
The Path Back to my Hotel
When I walked into town the first time, I forgot to do one thing. I forgot to look where the path came out into town. Nor did I remember the couple of points where the path branched off elsewhere. That wouldn’t be so bad if the path were marked. It’s not.
I came back from my first trip into town when the sun was still quite bright and had a while to stick around town before it had to leave to head below the horizon for the night. I went back to the hotel early rather than hanging around town until dinner mainly because I wanted to make sure I was back in time for sunset. So, wandering around trying to find the path was no problem. I took the flashlight, but had no use for it on the trip back up the hill.
But, for all my wandering, I couldn’t find the path.
I have three mapping apps on my phone, Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Pocket Earth. When wandering didn’t solve the problem, I asked Apple Maps and Google Maps for a route back to my hotel. Neither of them had the path and stairs on their maps. Instead, both of them directed me up the road, despite me asking for walking, not driving directions. I gave up and took their advice to follow the longer route, i.e., the road.
I’ve been using Apple Maps and Google Maps exclusively on this trip for reasons not worth going into. So I didn’t even think of Pocket Earth—until I got back to my hotel. Guess what. I’m waiting. Go ahead. Guess.
Yup, Pocket Earth knows about the steps and path. When I asked it to give me a walking route from my hotel to town, that’s what I thought it showed me. I thought wrong.
The route it gave me started at the top of the steps and was on the proper side away from the road. But as I walked down for dinner, I checked Pocket Earth to make sure it had me on the right path.
It didn’t. Not even close. The path down is easy to find. There are no options for turning away from the stairs. It’s one set of stairs all the way down. The path below does split off a couple of times, but it’s easy to see where the town is and head that way.
On the way back, however, the starting point and fork directions aren’t obvious. On the way down for dinner, I dropped a few pins on Pocket Earth’s map at key points in the hope I could use them to find my way back. (It’s much easier to drop and save pins in Pocket Earth than in either Apple Maps or Google Maps.)
Oh, that flashlight they loaned me at the reception desk? It didn’t work. Pressing the on/off switch a few times left me in darkness. Thank goodness cellphones have flashlights and I charged my phone before going to dinner.
Between the pins I dropped in Pocket Earth and my iPhone flashlight, I managed to find my way back using the shortcut path—a shortcut, that is, if you can find it.
When I got back, the hotel gave me a working pocket flashlight in exchange for the non-working one, but only after testing about three from their large supply that also didn’t work.
For dinner, I tried a restaurant very close to the sea. Just a small road and the beach separate the two. I had an outside table closest to the sea. That allowed me to gaze at a crescent moon shimmering on the water thanks to the cloudless sky.
That was a tremendous plus for the restaurant. The only one.
The restaurant never filled up to more than half full while I was there. In itself, that wasn’t a problem. But I think it wasn’t just a rare slow Saturday night tonight. I think it was because it’s the off-season. And I’m guessing that’s the cause of something that was a negative for the restaurant.
The server brought the rather large menu. He pointed to the partial column of appetizers on the front page and said they were all available.
Next, he opened up the menu to the long list of main courses, covering both sides of the inside spread of the menu. He then pointed to about four items and said that this, this, this, and this are available, but nothing else.
None of the available items would have been my first, second, or third choices.
I ordered a tzatziki appetizer and a beef main course. The restaurant prepared everything in advance, waiting for customers to come in. I know this because the food was on my table within 60 seconds of me placing my order, appetizer and main together.
Being fully made well in advance was fine for the tzatziki. It doesn’t suffer from sitting around chilling for a while. But I think the beef impatiently waited for a some time for someone to come along and order it. It was dry and not particularly flavourful.
Oh, well. If I counted right, I still have six more dinners to come on this trip. So, better luck next time. And there was that shimmering moon to enjoy.
One side note: I normally eat alone, but I had some dinner companions tonight. That’s a picture of one of them. I wanted a group shot but they stopped by my table only one at a time.
Yes, there are lots of at-large cats here, as there have been at every stop on this trip. Cats even roamed in a few neighbourhoods in the big city, Athens.
I swear, if Greece could find a way to tax cats it would be, by far, the richest country in the world.