Somewhere in this area I realized that it was already quite late. Approximately 20 kilometers, the Taygetos Challenge route approaches Kardamila a little, only to go back to the “second loop” after a while. It was 3 p.m., I had practically no chance to run the remaining 17 km before dark, and wading through the prickly thickets in the dark is not my favorite activity. I decided to shorten the route by turning directly to the last, 8-kilometer descent to the finish line. Almost due west, seeing better and better Kardamili below and getting the setting sun on my face. The prize was an almost two-hour long nature spectacle. More and more orange and red colors, the surface of the sea on the horizon, abandoned villages with crumbling buildings, lonely chapels on large stone platforms, a path taking turns on almost flat terraces and breaking through small, hanging walls. Kardamili’s houses stand out more and more clearly against the sky and vertical, soaring cypresses crossing the horizontal line of the sea and the ground. I finally stopped running, walked slower and slower, I wanted to be there as long as possible, see the great shield hiding behind the horizon, and then you can see that green flash. I had my 37 km, which is the same as the original route, despite the fact that I collected these kilometers by wandering off the route and visiting villages along the way.
Already downstairs I met the organizer of the Taygetos Challenge. He told me that he was not surprised by the enormous amount of bushes and stones. Already in the spring, they knew that the competition would not take place on the original date, so they did not clear the course of stones and cut bushes. It was the same with the fall deadline. So there was no one on the route that I wanted to cover for over a year and a half. In Greece, the paths overgrow very quickly if nobody maintains them and cleans them systematically. It seems that it is happening even faster in the Peloponnese. Running competitions therefore acquire here an additional, unexpected value.
Nafplio and the sense of traveling
After Kardamili, the pace of my bicycle trip not particularly fast, slow down even more. Once that the magical atmosphere of Mani drew me in more and more as I moved towards Cape Tenaro. According to Homer, there was an entrance to Hades there, and according to geography, the southernmost point of Europe. I realized that due to covid and lockdown, getting to the other two places where the running competitions in my plans are held may be very difficult. I also began to understand that I am a slightly different type of traveler. Unlike many of my friends, I am not driven by the constant need for news, going ahead and discovering new places. Rather, I prefer to enjoy what I have already discovered, wander around the streets of the cities I have known, tour them from different sides, look at them from different perspectives and come back to the apparently known places, discovering them again and again. Hydra and Methana will have to wait. I didn’t get there this time, they will be planned for the future. After all, when traveling, it is also important to be open to what is completely unplanned and accidental, not everything can be predicted. Just like the amazing city of Nafplio. I knew almost nothing about it, I didn’t even plan to go there, and in the end I spent over two weeks in it, in constant delight. It stole my heart … But that’s a completely different story.