|Starting point: the beach in front of the hotel at Ancient Epidauros|
Monday, October 18, 2010
On the twenty-seventh of September Robin boarded the eight o'clock Athens bound bus at Koroni. Selina and Colin boarded the bus at the next stop, Linda, Bruno and I at the stop after that and, finally, at Argios Andreas, Karin joined us. We were an odd bunch; four men, three women, four Brits, a German, a Hong Kong Chinese and an Italian; our ages ranged from forty-nine to sixty-six and all we had in common was being currently resident not too far from each other in Messinia, the South West corner of mainland Greece, and that we all enjoyed a good walk. On Saturdays from October until May, we have occasionally strolled, with others, for between four and six hours around the scenic tracks and paths that abound in this area. On that Monday morning though, we were embarking on something far more ambitious; a stroll west from Ancient Epidauros, on the east coast of the Peloponnese, through mythical Argos and Arcadia and on through Elis and Messinia to the west coast.
We had neither a set route, trusting that one would evolve as we walked, nor any plans concerning how far we would walk each day or for how many days we might be walking. We had reckoned, guessed and estimated however that the total distance could be around three-hundred kilometres and that if we strolled west at an average speed of fifteen kilometres a day, we would need to be walking for about three weeks.
The two kilometre or so stroll, on level ground, from the bus stop to our hotel at Ancient Epidauros was my first experience of walking with a heavy pack on my back. By the time we had reached the hotel I was wondering why on earth I had become involved with this madcap venture and if any of my fellow walkers, most of whom I only casually knew, were having similar second thoughts.