Exploring a princely capital

Trip Start Jul 02, 2009
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Trip End Aug 03, 2009


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Friday, July 10, 2009

We headed to Andravidha to get a drink and a rest before tracking down the church of the Holy Sepulchre.  This was the church of the Frankish princes of the Morea, when they had their capital here in Andravidha in the thirteenth century; I had wanted to see it for some time. Andravidha doesn't show its princely past, being a pleasant low-key town which was bustling with a lively market. We were (as far as we could see) the only tourists in town! and after a short walk about we settled down for a drink at the bus station cafe.  As usual once off the beaten track the prices were incredibly cheap, and it was an excellent frappe as well.  Then we set off to find the church.

I'd gained no clear idea of its location in the town, making me suspect in retrospect that the guidebooks that mention it are based on report and not on first-hand experience.  We scoured the grid of the town for a while, and it was quite pleasant trolling around.  There were a great many stalls at the market, and it might have been one of those that does the rounds of the small towns in the summer time.  As we turned a corner I spotted an Orthodox priest, and I thought I would try asking him for directions to the church.  He was most obliging and precise in his directions, once we realised what we are after, and soon we found the church - just off the main plateia! It was good to see it as it was much bigger than I'd expected from pictures and generally more impressive.  It stands on a fenced-off lot with locked gates, so we had to admire it from afar.

Walking back towards the car, we spotted the post office and bought loads of stamps for postcards in its air-conditioned luxury.  We also picked up eatables and other provisions at a supermarket. Then we headed back to the campsite via Kastro, where we stopped for something to eat; the village had all the air of expecting a massive influx of tourists - just not today... so we ended up getting a couple of huge tiropittes and taking them back to the campsite.   

After lunch, the weather closed in quite surprisingly to become totally overcast.  Paul persuaded me nevertheless to go to the beach; he went swimming straight away and seemed to be having great fun in the rolling and crashing waves - but the grey sky and matching sea were a bit too much like an English beach for me.  It tool considerably bullying from Paul for me to venture in, but eventually I went and had to conceded that it was indeed rather splendid splashing about in the mighty waves, even if I did get eyes, ears and nose totally sea-watered.  It was actually warmer in the sea than out.

Special mention now of a heroic rescue by Paul, which requires a special mention in dispatches.  Walking back from the beach was fraught with peril, as the lively waves had totally licked up the narrow sandy path round to our section of the sand and we had to pick our way over a rocky section and through the water - leaving me with very wet, sandy and flappy trouser legs; I also had to carry towel, bag, and book tucked into bag.  Despair ensued when, on arriving at the tent, there was no book to be seen - clearly, it must have fallen out while I negotiated the walk along the beach.  Paul immediately and nobly volunteered to fo back and try to find it, while I prepared a tea as reward for his efforts.  Some few minutes later he returned in triumph bearing a very wet and sandy book, thrown back onto the beach where it had been being lovingly lapped by the waves.  However, it was still readable and turnable! and Paul's efforts must be noted with honour.

The weather cleared up later to make a balmily hot evening.  Pitches all around us filled up with young Greeks, no doubt taking a weekend away from the city.  Later on when it was a bit emptier - people having gone down to the beach - we played some recorder and harp at the tent and attracted the attention of various small beings, notably wee Jurgen from an adjacent pitch who brought along his little glockenspiel to jam along... Later on, Paul went back to the olive orchard to play louder flutes.  The weather had brightened up completely and it was a fine evening; we finished up at the bar for beers and I thrashed Paul at merels despite his over-confident talk.
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