South Peloponnese: A Taste of Things to Come
A couple of weeks ago my friend D. invited me to join him for a weekend-long escape at a small village in the southeast part of Peloponnese. He has a house there and he wanted to go take care of a couple of things, so off we went.
The village is called Reichia. It’s a tiny village amidst many mountains, not too far from the eastern seashore. It’s permanent residents do not exceed 300. It is a beautiful, picturesque village, with stone-built houses, narrow streets, a couple of basic food markets, a tavern, a coffee shop and not much else.
While D. was working his butt off…
I walked around the village, exploring the area and chatting with people. Honestly, there isn’t much to do, not to see. The village is tiny and it doesn’t take long to walk from one end of it to another. All around, all you see is trees, mountains, bushes and the odd sheep here and there. It really made me wonder what do people do here to spend their time, other than work and chat. I wondered even more so when I saw a number of younger people, in their early twenties, living there. I am used to having so much stimuli and so many options as to how to spend my time and what to learn next. I can’t even fathom what life would be like for me without the privilege of having a multitude of options.
One good thing about village life though, is the food. Healthy, quality ingredients at ridiculously low prices. We bought a huge bag of juicy oranges and they were delicious.
We also went to the local taverna-grill and ate till we dropped. I had lamb chops that just until a couple of days before belonged to one of the taverna-owner’s four-legged friends. That was some mighty tasty flesh!
One of the added benefits of this trip was that we had loaded our bicycles on the car and on Saturday we wanted to ride towards whichever direction looked pretty. Finding such an option did not prove to be hard at all, so we chose to reach the village of Kremasti. D. had never been there and it was only 25 kilometers away, so off we went.
The ride was indeed gorgeous. Whizzing through the mountain peaks, under a bright blue sky, constantly caressed by the sun’s gentle rays, we were loving it. Especially when riding down the hill, having the wind blow in our faces, this was all being very rewarding.
The journey was beautiful, fun and exciting, but as we rode into the distance, it started getting more and more difficult. After a couple of downhill stretches, the road began to follow an uphill direction that seemed endless. We kept riding and riding and riding and it never got any easier.
We took a couple of short breaks and looked back into the valleys we had crossed. We were amazed by how far we had ridden and how tough the ride was. Every time we thought the steep uphill would flatten somewhat, another turn towards the skies would show its harsh face.
Much pain and sweat later, we had finally reached our destination.
It is needless to explain how vocal we were about expressing our joy and satisfaction. I’m pretty confident our screams were heard all the way down the bottom of the valley. We had no illusions, however, regarding the level of ease of our ride back home. Granted, the long long LONG uphill ride we conquered was going to be a breeze, but the very steep downhill parts that loomed ahead were not the least bit welcome.
A few hours later, we arrived back in Reichia. Our butts ached and our legs were pounding, but the feeling of achievement and satisfaction outweighed everything else.
Sunday afternoon we drove back to Athens. During most of the drive, I had one solid thought going through my head. We had successfully ridden a very challenging 50 kilometer distance and I have now gotten a VERY good taste of things to come. I am both excited and terrified!