The first leg of our journey begins in Gerolimenas, which is on the tip of the southern peninsula. It’s over 4 hours away from Athens, so we planned on driving and keeping the car for the week while we explored the area. The big hurdle would be driving out of Athens and surviving. Turns out, traffic signals are optional (at least it seemed that way), as we found out when we tried walking across the street. Nancy was our designated driver. I’m not going to lie, both of us were apprehensive about her driving us in the city.
But first we had to get the car! Our rental car was six stops and a transfer over by metro. We thought about taking a cab but if we took the metro we could stop at the bakery that was next to the metro stop. There was no debate there.
It took awhile to get the car. There was only one guy working and he was also answering phones. Plus, people just do things slower in Greece. If you’re an impatient person, you shouldn’t be here. The good news is our rental car guy hooked us up with a bigger car, which is nice because try as we might to pack light, 4 people, 4 smaller suitcases and 4 loaded carry-ons, takes up a lot of space. The other good news is our car was facing the correct direction leaving the rental car agency. Nancy wouldn’t have to drive off of the sidewalk (where a lot of their cars were parked) into busy traffic and then make a u-turn. So with fingers crossed we were off and running.
Nancy was doing great. We all breathed a sigh if relief. Then we noticed the guy next to us making some signal at us. Turns out Nancy was driving down the street with her hazard lights on which goes with the fact she was driving below the speed limit. It was a good way to make sure they knew we were tourists!
While ducking and dodging cars, motorcyclists and bicyclists (they are insane riding in the middle lane of all of these crazy drivers) we managed to make it out of town without getting killed. Whew! The drive was cake after that.
Well, except when the exit we wanted suddenly showed up, Nancy hit her brakes and looked at the lane we needed to get over in, she neglected to look behind her, there might have been some squealing brakes and horn honking as we got over.
And except for the fact that we were on a toll road and went to the lane that we thought was cash only. It wasn’t. You needed a pass to get thru there and there was no one operating that toll so no way forward. We might have had to turn the hazard lights on again and back up and drive across 5 or 6 lanes to get to the correct lane (not by gradually changing lanes but turning the car and driving straight across those lanes).
Oh, and let’s not forget driving along a winding road and almost getting side swiped by an oncoming RV. They really don’t pay attention to road markings here. You see drivers driving in two lanes, the shoulder or over the center line a lot.
A couple of stops to ask for directions and a stop at Cash and Carry for a bathroom break (when you got to go, you got to go) and we were good to go. The scenery was gorgeous. Olive and fruit trees where everywhere as we drove and if you know me, you know how much that excites me. We also had mountains to drive thru so lots of tunnels. My nephews would have loved that and a gorgeous coastline.
Nancy did great for driving in a different country. I know I wouldn’t have been brave enough to do it.
We decided to make a pit stop at Mycenae.
By the time we got to Gerolimenas we were an hour or so late. I factored in 6 hours for a 4 hour trip (I know us), it took us a little over 7 but it was still light enough to see the beauty of where we were. This isn’t a party town, when you get here you get a feeling of peace. It’s so quiet and tranquil.
Well, it was before we got here. We’re staying at Kyrimi bed and breakfast. It’s the reason for this trip. My brother Andy does some work for Kostas and Linda the owners. All of the buildings here are stone and the town is right on the water. We’re so close to the sea we could probably spit in it from our balcony. We didn’t, we are higher class than that, ok maybe not. Gerolimenas is beautiful. We were oohing and ahhing and couldn’t believe we were staying here and Kyrimi is a jewel.
Once we were greeted by Kostas and Linda (so warm and friendly), we unloaded and headed out to the market to get some essentials, water, beer and wine. Before we left for dinner Su poured us all a shot of ouzo. I’m not a fan of black licorice and this has a strong anise taste to it but I’ve tasted worse (tequila) but the burn, wow, this drink will certainly put hair on your chest. No wonder Greek men are so hairy!
Kostas sent us off to dinner to this wonderful little restaurant at the edge of town. By the way, the town is so small we can walk it in less than 10 minutes and you know how slow I am. I’ve been wanting to eat octopus since I got to Greece. Everyone says it was a staple to their dining and fabulous. I have to say, I was disappointed. It was very tough to chew. What we did love was the garlic salad. It’s actually more of a spread that you scoop up with bread. It’s garlic and potatoes puréed together with olive oil and lemon juice. Amazing! We also loved our squid which was stuffed with cheese and tomatoes. I was a little leery of it since cheese and squid didn’t sound great but it was fantastic!
Ordering a whole fish is very popular here so we also ordered that. We had a Hunter fish. Our waiter said it’s only sold a couple of months a year and they rarely get it in. It sort of looked like it was related to a sardine because of the way the bones were. It was grilled to perfection and easy to debone. The meat was incredibly flavorful. To top off our wonderful meal we had excellent service. We will be going back there before we leave.
At night the village looks like a ride thru Disney’s It’s A Small World. It’s just surreal how beautiful and peaceful it is here.