Yesterday, while we were driving, Sarah said she fancied a pizza. It’s not that we don’t like Greek food, but that a change is a good as a rest. As it happened our reconnaissance of Mycenae before tucking Basil up for the night at the campsite, had revealed a taverna in the nearby village advertising pizza in bold fluorescent letters. So having settled in at Camping Atreus we toddled off for our pizza. Well we got what we deserved. The restaurant was clearly making an example of anyone unpatriotic enough to order pizza in Greece. Their offering was literally a shop bought pizza with some feta and pepper sprinkled on top of it! Lesson learnt.
We were up with the lark. I would have been up with the Scops Owl, but he kept his distance and his repetitive squawking was but a gentle accompaniment to my dreams. The idea was to get to Mycenae before the masses and at the same time find a shady spot for Mabel and Melek’s stay in Basil.
Mission accomplished. When we arrived, after a drive of only 5 miles, at Mycenae, we had our pick of the carpark. We again made Basil dog proof, we thought, and off Sarah and I set into Mycenae.
Mycenae is another UNESCO world heritage site. It is the excavated site of a palace complex for a people known as Myceans, who lived between about 1500 and 1200 BC. That’s right, over 3,500 years ago. Even before the very very ancientist of Greeks.
As you might expect there is not a lot left of Mycenae, but more than you might expect after 3,500 years. It is set on a hill, as most of these ancient settlements were, with the palace at the top. There is a very impressive entrance gate, known as the lion gate after the lintel with two carved lions. This is supposed to be the first example of carved monumental art in Europe.
As you work your way up the hill you can see below a well defined grave circle, from which many high ranking individuals and their grave goods have been excavated. Also there is a well preserved cistern, constructed out of huge blocks of stone, including a tunnel that leads 40 metres or so down to where the water once would have been stored.
The site has many explanatory signs which make clear that the complex contained two story buildings, drains and conduits. This is not clear to the casual observer, but the thought of having a drainage system so long ago is impressive.
Much more thought provoking than the site itself is the adjacent museum showing items unearthed from the site. A huge range of delicate, decorated pottery; exquisite gold jewellery; and a range of bronze axes and swords. The Myceans and their most refined skills, disappeared in about 1,200 BC. No one is completely certain why. Their palaces seemed to have been burned and it is probable that they were conquered, possibly by the very people who we now know as the ancient Greeks. Early archeologists even thought that the Myceans and their contemporaries the Minoans, were the subjects of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.
While we were touring ancient Mycenae much more prosaic matters were playing out in Basil. Sarah spotted from the top of Mycenae that a feral dog was prowling round Basil and she could hear Mabel barking. On our return it was clear that Mabel had lost her cool. The blind that goes over the window in the door was in tatters! Mabel also had made a meal of Sarah’s fake Crocs! Sarah is much more forgiving than me about the dog’s behaviour. I was seething. What we do now about blocking that window against light and nosy passers by when wildcamping I do not know. Also there is the question of whether we can ever again leave the dogs unattended in Basil. Again this is something that needs thinking about.
Earlier in the day, Sarah had expressed a wish to find a nice campsite and stay for 5 days so we could have some proper downtime without laundry and planning. After Mycenae we set off in search of such a place. I had two ACSI sites in mind, both close by. The first one, Lefka Beach, looked good on paper, but on arrival we looked around and didn’t like what we saw. Nothing specific, but the whole place was a bit shady. That is lacking in light, not run by the Albania mafia type of shady. We turned tail, much the the owner’s bemusement. That is the beauty of touring at this time of year. No need to book and if you don’t like a site, you know there will be plenty of space at the next one.
The next one turned out to be Iria Beach. It was much more to our taste. Laid back, with large pitches and maybe a little down at heel! It is ACSI and €17 a night, the beach is just across the road.
After lunch Sarah went for a walk with the dogs and returned to declare the beach “a bit shabby”! I have since been to have a look and compared to some of the beautiful beaches we have been lucky enough to cavort on this trip, I suppose it is not the finest beach. So whether we will stay our five nights time will tell.
One piece of news which I have omitted from the blog and which will only be of interest to family and friends, is that our son Sam and his girlfriend Jess, completed on the purchase of their first house last Friday. As soon as they had the keys we did a facetime for them to show us round. The stream of photos since show that they have already stripped the wallpaper in nearly every room! They intend to tackle any necessary jobs before they move in permanently.