Riddle: What has mountains, November temperatures in the 60’s, and affordable flights?
And off we went! Check, check, and check – the perfect place for my first NEMO GO FAR adventure. The Peloponnese peninsula offers breathtaking coastline, mountains, monasteries, cozy towns, and rich [with olive oil] comfort food. And, based on our interactions, truly welcoming, kind people…when we saw them. November in coastal Greece is desolate. This was great for buzzing from site to site, trail congestion, and wild camping, but we were definitely excited to see people when we reached larger cities like Nafplio.
All trips have their hiccups, and this time it was a technological failure. We were never able to get our EU SIM card to work. While this was a fairly serious problem for trip logistics (our Google map with saved trailheads and campsites was irretrievable), it also meant no social media scrolling, music, or podcasts. How did we do it? Well, we got WIFI at the airport and were able to save the maps, but as for the less serious complications…read on.
1. Challenging (read: treacherous) roads
I’ve been on giant buses on tiny roads in the mountains of Switzerland. I’ve also been in the back seat of a taxi with 4 strangers on the bustling (seemingly) lawless roads of Morocco. Somehow Greece still takes the cake. These roads are UNREAL. I’m not exaggerating when I say you are either entering a hairpin turn, mid hairpin turn, or exiting a hairpin turn. At. All. Times. Oh, and add this to the mix: you’re also at a 45 degree angle. So, needless to say, we spent most of our car time concentrating on avoiding carsickness, head on collisions, and tumbling off of a cliff.
2. Stunning views
The scenery on the Peloponnese peninsula is on point. And, contrary to popular belief, Greece isn’t just white buildings with blue roofs; these are really just on the islands. Rather, we found the Peloponnese peninsula to feature…
…snow capped mountain ranges
…row after row of olive trees
…quaint cobblestone towns
…farm land with sheep and cows
…beaches and coves
…and of course, countless ancient cities and ruins
3. Tired legs
When Fred and I plan trips, we plan them around exercise and outdoor adventure. Thus, the road trip-hike-run-eat-camp-repeat lifestyle lends itself well. Although we spent a portion of each day driving, we also hiked or ran every single day. And because we’re running or speed hiking, we can cover a lot of ground in a 24 hour period. I’m someone who struggles in museums and slow-paced tourist activities, so for me, a hike/run out to see three monasteries, followed by a drive through mountains and along the coastline is a perfect day. Bottom line: make your legs tired and chilling in a car seat will suddenly seem blissful.
4. Quality gear
Purchase or rent gear that creates a home away from home. I’ve come to prefer my sleep system to the standard hotel or hostel. I like the routine that comes with owning the same gear for years. Setting up camp becomes muscle memory, and the textures and smells that lovingly linger put me at ease. I’m asleep before you can say, “Siri, download a sound maker”.
5. Looney games
“Help! We’ve lost our minds!”
This may or may not have been shouted a time or two. This brings me to one of my favorite parts of this blog post:
Fred & Becca’s Greecey Car Games … Get it? Yeah, needs work…
- Factory or fire? See that smoke in the distance? Is it being produced by a factory or a brush fire? We saw both. Many times.
- Sheep or cow? See that road sign depicting a farm animal? Well, what is it? We saw both. Many times. And almost always guessed wrong.
- Will it charge? See that seemingly harmless dog? Is it about to viciously attack our MOVING car? I’ve never seen a dog bite and growl at the bumper of a moving car…until this trip.
- Is it open? See that gas station/restaurant/bar/store/campground/hotel? Are there any signs of life? I’d say on average we were 2 for 10 on this one. Turns out, November is very much the off-season.
- Will there be a toilet seat? This continues to puzzle me. We even read about it on other people’s travel blogs after. The majority of toilets in Greece do not have toilet seats. But the attachment point is very much there. So, my question is, do they remove them? Why?
The NEMO GO FAR Program encourages employees to #AdventureAnywhere and discover something new – like what it means to unplug.
So, when all is said and done…no phone? No problem.* Because when it comes down to it – especially when you’re exploring a new place – what’s right in front of you is what matters. If you’re mindlessly scrolling on your phone or listening to a podcast you can’t possibly be in touch with all your senses. Being phoneless forced me to turn my attention to the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of Greece. My eyes admired the elegant curvature of rural roads and analyzed olive agriculture. My nose savored the salty sea breeze and scrunched when damp socks refused to dry. My ears listened to the silly baas of sheep and the savage growls of guard dogs. My fingertips traced the contours of collected rocks and my bare feet tingled against the warmth of the windshield.
Be a champion co-pilot. In and out of the car. Be the person who points out the bald eagle, not the most recent meme.
*Just do yourself a favor and pack a trusty paper map for back up.