Tour du Péloponnèse, Part III

Image credit to Scuderia Triskelion

The second day of the Tour du Péloponnèse continued where I left off in this post – driving from the mountains of Dimitsana down to the coast on the Eastern side of the Peleponnese to Monemvasia. After passing through the village of Kastorion – where we paused for fuel for the car and a cheese pie for the driver – we descended towards the city of Sparta and the nearby ruins of the Byzantine city of Mystras. Mystras

Mystras

Now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mystras was once the capital of the principality that ruled the Peleponnese, with its heyday in the 14th and 15th centuries. Though the weather threatened during our stop there, we had a short but very sweet tour from our accompanying guide, and got to see several of the wonderful churches that dotted the Byzantine city.  Mystras

Mystras

Mystras

The dark clouds loomed, however, and as we were finishing the tour the clouds broke and most of us were soaked. We ran back down to the parking lot, where our cars were waiting forlornly in the downpour, and took an extra unplanned break at the cafe nearby, desperately imbibing hot drinks in an attempt to get warm. That was only marginally successful, but the team also shared with us the results of the rally-style regularity stage from earlier in the day. The father-daughter team driving the 1965 Panhard 24BT had come in first! (That was us, by the way..) So, despite being soaked to the skin and somewhat dreading the 70+ km drive to Monemvasia, Dad and I (and Pierre, the car!) set off in good spirits. At Mystras

Mystras

Leaving Mystras, we were among the few teams not to miss a tricky navigation point that involved driving into what looked –  for all intents and purposes – like a pedestrian square in the middle of a village. The road book said to turn, though, so turn we did, and managed to cut ahead of a lot of the pack. We only realised we had made up some distance later when we had pulled into a service station and six or seven cars that had started ahead of us, passed us again. Perhaps about 10km into the drive, the rain began again, and so commenced a somewhat terrifying battle between us and the windshield wipers and the condensation inside the car and between the two panes of glass in the windshield. At one point, the driver’s side windshield wiper simply fell off, and I spent a good hour methodically wiping the inside of the glass so dad could see – also while keeping my window open to minimise the condensation. Not terribly fun, but we survived.

On the road

On the road

Eventually we arrived at Monemvasia, where most of the rest of the group were waiting in front of the giant rock, and once we made it to our hotel inside the castle we were most ready for a glass of wine.

Approaching Monemvasia

Cars in Monemvasia

Cars in Monemvasia

Untitled

We settled in to our beautiful hotel, Malvasia, and enjoyed the view of the storm which was, by then, far enough away for us to enjoy it.

Dusk in Monemvasia

Food

Lightening in Monemvasia

Dusk in Monemvasia

And with that, the second day wound down. The third day of the Tour we woke up ready to tackle mountain roads up the coast to Nafplio, inspired by the dawn over the sea. Unfortunately, it was not to be for us, as dad and the slippery rocks had an unfortunate encounter that sent us back to Athens for knee surgery rather than to Nafplio with the Panhard. All in all though – we had a wonderful few days, and wish we could have gone on to the finish. Who knows, we may have won!

Monemvasia

Image credit to Scuderia Triskelion

Advertisements

Tour du Péloponnèse, Part II

Image credit to Scuderia Triskelion

Continuing on from where I left off describing our Tour du Péloponnèse, we left the Temple of Epikourios Apollo, 1131m up in the Arcadian mountains, for a 70km drive down the mountains and back up to the village of Dimitsana, where we would spend one more night with the team. After some aforementioned mechanical troubles, as well as some ominous clouds, we were  a little bit anxious as we set off, but we only had to make two stops, and zoomed through the regularity test section with precision.

Panhard 24BT

Our first stop was an unplanned encounter in the village of Andritsaina where we encountered two massive trucks attempting to navigate the narrow village streets. Miraculously there was just enough space for us to manoeuvre in and let them past, but it would not have been a good place for the car to decide it didn’t feel like starting. Had Pierre (the 1965 Panhard 24BT we were driving) been just a little wider, we might have had a not-so-amusing adventure.

Village driving

On the road

On the road

The second stop was also an interesting one – we met an ostrich. We were actually stopping for fuel, but the guy who owned the service station also kept an ostrich (‘Why?’ ‘For the eggs. They’re 2 kilos each.’ ‘Oh. What do you do with them?’ ‘We eat them.’ ‘….’) While giving Pierre a little bit of love, in the form of WD-40, we also met up with the Italian contingent of the tour – Enzo in his Fiat 850 Spider and Rosita and Antonella in their Porsche 356. Lovely cars and lovely people. They left us in the dust, of course, but we did make it home to Dimitsana where a lovely dinner with the group was waiting. During the evening, somehow Pierre was resuscitated and we were on track for another day of adventure.

Enzo and the Fiat

Untitled

The second full day of the tour began with clearer skies than the day before, ideal for just a little bit of exploration on our way from our hotel down to the ‘Parc Fermé’ where the cars spent the night. The village looked even more lovely in the morning light. (Spot the Alfa and the Porsche ‘blending in’ in their village habitat!)

Dimitsana

Dimitsana

Dimitsana

Dimitsana

Dimitsana

Dimitsana

Dimitsana

Dimitsana

From Dimitsana

We took in that incredible view while setting up for the day – our first stop would be Mystras, the Byzantine capital of the Peleponnese, and then onward to Monemvasia where we would spend the night. We also got the chance to check out the rest of the cars.

Waiting in Dimitsana

In Dimitsana

1974 Porsche 911s 2.7

In DImitsana

1967 Mercedes Benz 250SE Coupe

Cars in Dimitsana

1969 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior, followed by 1975 BMW 1502

Descending through the mountains, we followed the cars that had set off before us, and passed through villages where locals stopped to stare, open-mouthed (and many waved!).

Stemnitsa

On the road

On the road

On the Road

We stopped at one point for more fuel, as well as a sneaky cheese pie, and were reassured to find a number of our team members passing through at the same time. The whole adventure was much more fun when we weren’t left behind on a mountain side waiting for a mechanic. Lots more camraderie – and everyone cheered when we arrived, as the Panhard was definitely the underdog.

Untitled

Village

Panhard 24BT

Hello Pierre!

As we approached Mystras, the weather threatened and Pierre complained.. Did we make it? Stay tuned for the next installment..!

Image credit to Scuderia Triskelion