Thankfully I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken this exact cruise on the Norwegian Jade (ship, itinerary, and even the same Cruise Director and Captain) a year ago. That gave me a chance to see Olympia Greece. The ruins, museum and shops in the area. This time I wanted to see things that I hadn’t seen before, so I arranged to rent an automatic car and drive around. At least what should have been an automatic car, and it was an automatic car, just not the kind that I’m used to as while it didn’t have a clutch you had to shift gears in order to speed up. More on that little red devil later.
The Essence of a Map and my use of the word Catastrophe
We started out by heading outside and right across the street to the local car rental shop which I truly recommend. It cost €40 for the whole day and 4 of us rode in it. (Car rental contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) Add about €15 Euro for Gasoline (we were all over the place) and we were set! My plan was to see Chlemoutsi Castle, “J” wanted to see Mount Olympus and we thought of heading to Olympia as well but were told that since the Castle and Olympia were in two separate directions that was “not possible”. We found out that Mount Olympus was no where near us so we took the “essence of a map” that we were given and made our way to the Castle.
Ah the word essence is used here because the map is more like a partial map that gives you a general idea of the road you should take and then well, you’re on you’re own. If you have use of your smart phone while you’re away I’d recommend using it in order to save yourself driving around back and forth in the wrong direction. However if you’re up for a good adventure and enjoy getting lost with friends then take the ‘essence map’, good humor and start driving. The Greeks are warm people and will happily point you in the right direction so that you can find your way
Six year ago my mother and I went to Greece together and while on Santorini we rode with a Taxi driver that said “Catastrophe” with flair each time someone would do something on the road that he didn’t like, and so now it was my turn as I overtook cars “Catastrophe!”, as cars overtook me “Catastrophe!” driving my mates up a wall figuratively but thankfully not literally…until later.
After a bit…after a while we made our way to the Castle. The last few meters consisted of making our way up a one lane hill where I had to pull off into someone’s yard twice in order to let two cars down. We finally came to the very top and parked. At least I thought I parked. I put it in park and pulled up the parking break. “S the younger sister” and myself got out. “S the older sister” and “J” we preparing to, when…the car rolled back about 4 or 5 feet. I launched myself at it’s side (no I’ve no idea what that was supposed to accomplish) and thought “Oh my heavens NOOOOO”. It stopped after what seemed like forever but was probably 2 seconds. S&J got out looking startled and slightly shaken but not too bad considering.
Have you ever had something startling happen and then once it’s over feel the extreme desire to burst into laughter? Well for some reason that was what I felt like doing. To my credit I shut up, mostly because I valued my life but I didn’t not laugh yet for some reason out of sheer relief that was what I wanted to do!
Once we got over that shock we paid the €3 to get inside. That undoubtable was the best €3 spent on the trip! The old Frankish ruins were almost larger than life. You could picture what it might be like 1000 years ago when it was being used, and yet somehow you felt as if you were on top of and at the end of the world. We were the only 4 exploring the castle at the time and it’s easy to see why. There is no way a tour bus could get to the top and I’m not sure if even a small tour van could. If you’re going to Chlemoutsi you rent a car and drive. Which means while very worth seeing you don’t have to worry about tons of tourists being there with you.
After leaving there and nearly making it back to Katakolon “Aussie J” said that he reallllly wanted to see Olympia, and so with 2 hours left we head over the Olympia, where he and “S the older” took a quick 45 minute tour of the ruins and “S the younger” and I did some shopping for jewelry and grocery goods.
Just in case you’re wondering, yes we made it back to the dock on time…with 10 minutes to spare.
Video of Chlemoutsi Castle
All Photos Video and Written Material Copyright TravelXena.com 2012