Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bike Tour Day 11 - Zakinthos to Amaliada, and More Rain...

Before I launch into the events of the day, I wanted to add some perspective to the narrative - our guides Manolis and Patricia had been in touch with Experience Plus owner Monica, and the news was not good for tours in Italy and France running concurrently with our Greece tour - torrential rains had caused those groups to miss a great deal of the biking and sightseeing which is the heart of EP vacations.  Made us all feel very fortunate to only be dealing with occasional showers and cloudy, cool weather.

Today (Thursday, our penultimate bike day) dawned predictable cloudy but quite warm.  We biked the short 1K to our ferry that would return us to Killini and the start of the biking day.  We did a long but gentle climb of about 7K to the town of Kastro to visit their Frankish castle (1220 AD) - we could see it long before on the horizon:

Approching Kastro & the Frankish Castle

No one wanted to point out the increasing clouds and distant thunder that dogged us from the east.  We arrived at the castle and greatly enjoyed touring the interior which included a small museum.  The structure was very imposing:

June wanders through the inner court of the castle

The castle was destroyed in 1430 by invading Turks, who rebuilt it - and now the Greeks are restoring it with help from the EU.

Spectacular views through the second line
of defensive wall

Peter takes in the space and the history

But then there was that pesky storm - still out there and coming closer...

Yes, that IS a storm front approching us

As we started our descent from the castle and into the town of Kastro, the drops got bigger and the thunder louder.  We saw members of our group who left ahead of us coming back to town, and 5 of us found shelter in the first floor of an unfinished building when the heavens opened.  It was a total gully-washer that erased ALL of the chalk arrows laid out by Patricia for our ride - bummer.

So, Plan B once again.  Manolis took 5 bikers and all the bikes up to the lunch spot about 30K away.  Peter and I stayed in Kastro with Rick and Jeff, went into a local bar and ordered cappucinos - it was time to hang out, chat and unfortunately watch the rain end and the sun break out in full force, as good as it has been in over a week.  Oh well...we were picked up and brought to the lunch spot in Amaliada center, where we opted to skip eating and complete the ride, 12K to the Aldemar Olympian Village Resort - a sprawling, beachfront vacation resort full of Swiss and German families enjoying their fall breaks.  We made lemonade from lemons by getting into our bathings suits (also a first for the trip) and enjoying a dip in the chilly Ionian Sea and laying on the beach.  The resort is very classy!

Nifty architectural shot from our balcony
across the other room balconies

The pool and the blue trim make for a very
"Greek palette"

Zia, June and Jeff (at back) stroll
on the beach after swimming and lounging

Fantastic sunset skies over the Ionian Sea
from the balcony

A ghostly cruise ship looms out of the fog and clouds

We had an absolutely wonderful buffet dinner at the resort center - Peter and I agreed it was far and away the very best quality food we have ever eaten in a buffet setting.  So many choices, so little stomach capacity.  We have a later start tomorrow for our final day, a 45K bike to Olympia - we will have a private guided tour of the ruins and museum there and are really looking forward to it! 

As with every vacation, the time has flown, and we are slowly getting our minds around the idea that we will be back in St. Paul in a few short days.  Good night all!

1 comment:

  1. - tremendously beautiful and exciting trip. Thank you, so much for sharing with me/us. Your narratives were cleaverly well written and informative. I imagine myself enjoying at least 75% of your Greece adventure!Hey,in my world that's a significant endorsement!Eager to see you both whence you are at home and well rested