Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Uphill in Greece #1

No, I’m not referring to their economic recovery, though I could certainly describe it that way.  This is my description of the eight-day sailing/cycling vacation my husband and I recently enjoyed in the Greek Islands. We decided that all roads in Greece only go up--never down. Other than right in the harbor of each island, there truly is no flat terrain.   

The Greeks built their khora, their main town, on the highest hilltop on each island.  That gave them a clear view of any approaching enemies and made attacks difficult. Today, it means if you want to see the scenery, you have to climb…and climb some more, and that is easier done in a taxi than on a bicycle. 

Our tour guides explained that the islands are actually a mountain range, which is why the water is so blue.  The islands are just the tips of the mountains, and the Aegean Sea is very, very deep, hence the unbelievable color.  

A few e-bikes were available for the trip, and a handful of folks rode those.  E-bikes have electric motors which give you a boost as you pedal.  The e-bikers were quick to point out that they still had to work, but the boost helped.  I do know they always passed me on the uphills, so battery power trumped my muscle power every time. 

The towns were charming with their white walls, marble paths and blue doors, and the views from the top were worth the ride…I think. Truthfully, I couldn’t always appreciate the scenery while I was cycling; I was too focused on getting my pedals to go ‘round and ‘round.  And the downhills required me to focus on the road so that I didn’t fly off the mountain into the sea--or into a goat herd.  (So, yes, we did go downhill.)

 

The 20 passengers on our sailboat included a mother and daughter from Switzerland, two women from England, a couple from Connecticut, one from Alabama and the rest of us from Georgia.  

One wife didn’t cycle at all and instead took a taxi to the hilltop--I mean mountain top--towns to meet us each day. Some might say she was the smart one. I didn’t ride the last day when an upset stomach kept me confined to the boat, and the Swiss daughter commented that she missed cycling along beside me being entertained by my sounds--my huffing and puffing and my comments like “sheesh, you’ve got to be kidding.” 

The Brits were a lawyer and a doctor, who had met on an earlier trip and continued taking annual vacations together. The doctor is married to a veterinarian with his own practice, who can’t take as much vacation as she can, so their vacation friendship works well.  

I was delighted to discover that the Brits grabbed beers daily when we returned from our ride and was happy to join them. They took to asking if I was ready for mine, when they went below to get theirs. There’s something special about drinking a beer called Mythos while in Greece. Don’t you agree? 

There’s plenty more to tell but too much for one blog, so expect a sequel.