From the Comfort Zone to a Castle
It may surprise you to learn that as a graphic designer who spends much of his time sat at a computer and whose hobbies include: sitting watching television, sitting watching films, playing videogames, blogging and relaxing, I don’t get too much exercise. It’s not all my fault and I always wanted to be more active but things always got in the way, such as: no-one wanting to accompany me, the schizophrenic British weather or the overall comfiness of the sofa. As a result of all this you could say that I’m fairly unfit but a better way to put it would be “biscuit fuelled panting machine.”
Of course being interested in everything and wanting to see as much as possible of the stunning Peloponnese region of Greece means that I needed to get out of my comfort zone or as other people call it ‘chair’ and go exploring.
Fortunately our hosts knew all the best walks in the area and were more than happy to take us along on their family outings. On the first full day we were there, Patrick and Heidi packed up a picnic and we all jumped in the van and went to the beach. The first thing I noticed about the beach was just how empty it was, despite it being a beautiful, clear day and hot for mid-November it seemed that no-one else in the vicinity had a yearning ambition to be pouring sand out of their shoes for the next few days.
Patrick told us that Voidhokilia Bay was one of the best unknown beaches in the world and that David Beckham had been there, despite the fact that I couldn’t give a shit where any professional footballer has ever been ever I could still see why everyone’s favourite ball botherer would want to spend some time there. It’s a beautiful beach surrounded by water on both sides, and is protected as an important habitat due to the two hundred and fifty eight species of birds that live there, there are also loads of ants but no-one cares about them.
Above the beach is Nestor’s Cave which is famous as the stone-hole from Greek legends where Hermes hid a load of cows from Apollo, I’m pretty sure that bit didn’t make it to the movie of Clash of the Titans as it’s hard to imagine crow barring a tale of a baby god making cows moonwalk into a film about the guy from Avatar fighting Liam Neeson’s Kraken.
Above Nestor’s cave are the ruins of a thirteenth century castle known as Old Pylos castle, and it was there that Patrick and Heidi suggested we take a walk to.
Now I don’t know what consists of a walk to you but what we did certainly doesn’t match my description. We walked certainly but mostly in a diagonal direction; we also trudged, ran, climbed, hopped, clambered, scampered and jumped over rocks. But the weird thing was I didn’t struggle, despite my lack of fitness, the fact that I was wearing flip-flops and muscles that would confound doctors by their sheer non-existence; I was fine, not as fine as Patrick and Heidi or their kids, who all strode up the mountain like it was a gently inclined strip of tarmac, but fine nonetheless.
We visited Nestor’s cave but unfortunately couldn’t see any recent signs of cow activity, although we still spent some time peering into the darkness and making weird noises to echo off the walls. After that we continued up to the castle and enjoyed the spectacular view.
The castle itself was quite interesting in the same way as any pile of rocks constructed in the thirteenth century is, you wander round, look at the rocks and think to yourself “wow these rocks were put here a long time ago”, and then what? Nothing usually, you try to be more interested but your mind still comes back to the fact that you’re looking at some old walls, you try to think of the people that lived there or the poor sods that built it, but it’s too abstract, you imagine labourers heaving huge bricks, hewn from the side of gigantic quarry but In the end your mind just pictures some raggy looking blokes pushing a brick up a hill.
But the view of Voidhokilia Bay was breathtaking; the bright golden semi-circular strip of sand set in the azure water seemed unreal, like a specially designed landscape for a sci-fi film. We explored the old walls for a while and did some more scenery gazing then set off back down to the beach on the opposite path, we saw a tortoise, it was awesome.
The beach itself was like a place that you see on TV in a programme about places you’ll never be able to afford to visit, I sat on the sand and felt the warmth of the sun invigorating me as I stared out to sea and enjoyed the picnic, I thought about what we’d be doing back home if we hadn’t decided to do something different and I came to the conclusion that my comfort zone, was perhaps the least comfortable place I could be.