Do you know the way to Patra?

You can plan and plan, but sometimes things just don’t work out.

Our bus to Patra from Delphi was inexplicably cancelled, so we just had to punt our way there. The guidebooks always say these inconveniences will happen, so be flexible. They just don’t know who they are talking to. Flexibility is only an abstract theory for us.

It was a lazy morning in Delphi, following a Friday that was so quiet dogs were parked in the streets. Delphi has a very humble bus station. It’s basically a window sill next to the cafe that sells the bus tickets.

We began there with a bus this morning that took us to the town of Itea – the port where ancient pilgrims to Delphi landed. At some point, Itea decided a nice tax on them would do wonders for their revenue stream. Lots of ancient complaining about that.

From there we caught a bus to Nafpaktos.

An hour and half of following the lovely Gulf of Corinth later, we arrived there with the hope of finding a driver amenable to taking us across the straits to Patra, but it wasn’t to be. (Don will expound on our transportation choices in more detail.) Nafpaktos seems like a lovely resort town.

We next caught a Nafpaktos city bus that took us to the ferry we needed. Miraculously, we arrived just as they were finishing boarding, and they were nice enough to wait a minute till we stumbled aboard with our luggage.

The ride across the narrows was lovely, as we were just under the beautiful bridge to and from the Peloponnese. It seems the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge is the world’s longest fully suspended cable bridge. From many angles, it looks like a lovely ship in full sail, leaving the Venetian ramparts on the Rio side.

When we landed in Antirion, our next challenge was finding a city bus to get us to Patra, but luck was once more on our side. We found a single taxi driver idling in the ferry parking lot, and he agreed to take us right to our hotel. What a wonderful man.

We are ensconced in a lovely hotel of the boutique variety (a very updated ‘hotel du charme’). So far, so good, though we are ready to go to bed at 7:00. Such wimps.

Don’s Food Corner

Months ago when I started planning this trip, I checked public transportation options, including the schedules for various bus choices from various starting and ending points. It turns out that those schedules were just loose approximations of things. Today, for example, I had expected that we would take a bus from Delphi to Patras, changing buses one time in town called Amfisa.

I had the web site schedule to assure me and I even got the people at the hotel in Athens to call and confirm the details. All was set. All was set, that is, until we showed up in Delphi on Thursday and I tried to confirm the details with the guy in the taverna who sold the bus tickets. No way, he said. There are no buses to Patra from Delphi on Saturday. I opened up my tablet and showed him on the web site the announced schedule. Not true, he said. I quickly emailed the bus company to get some clarification, hoping they would telephone the guy selling the tickets to set him straight. I’d WIN!

I never got an answer to my email from the bus company. But Friday afternoon, after the visiting the oracle, I tried to explain my plight to the desk clerk at the hotel. I whipped out my tablet and went to the web page with the Patra bus schedule. To my utter astonishment, the web site had been changed to match the information given by the Delphi ticket seller. I LOST!

In short, the two-hour direct bus from Delphi to Patra that runs every day EXCEPT Saturday (contrary to all reliable sources until the day before our specific Saturday travel date) turned into a four-hour expedition that involved three buses, a ferry and a taxi. We saw a lot of Greece, much of it very beautiful, and were able to mingle with many locals, many of whom obviously do not bathe every day, as their Roman Empire conquerors would have insisted on 2,000 years ago.

But here we are. It was an adventure. Lunch, however, was delayed until 4pm.

The lunch, at a nearby restaurant recommended by the hotel, was a mixed bag. We had the obligatory Greek salad, which we have now decided can be a staple meal choice when tomatoes are as beautifully ripe as they have been here in Greece. Then we tried an appetizer of goat cheese encrusted in sesame seeds, deep fried and drizzled with honey.  Yum!

Jo had a risotto dish that mentioned (in the English menu translation) mushrooms and chicken. But it failed to mention that red and yellow bell peppers would also be prominently featured. For Jo, bell peppers (or any other kind of pepper) are Public Enemy Number One. On the full spectrum of Jo’s food acceptance chart, schnitzel is on one end and bell peppers is on the other.

As you can see in the accompanying photo, Jo plucked every sliver of bell pepper and put it to the side. The pile kept growing. Unfortunately, the pepper left a little residual flavor behind. The pepper flavor, combined with a really heavy cheese sauce, proved to be too much after four hours on such a variety of human transport vehicles.

My dish was described as “fried pork and chicken.” I asked if that was like a kebab. The answer: Similar.

The result was not similar.  At first it looked like a deconstructed souvlaki sandwich with crispy flatbread instead of a soft pita. The pork and chicken, however, were swimming in a too-thick creamy mustard sauce, served on a shovel-like implement. This dish provided to be overpoweringly rich as well.

But just because the meal was too rich didn’t mean we passed up some ice cream on the way back to the hotel room. Oh no.


4 thoughts on “Do you know the way to Patra?

  1. As a fellow pepper hater, we all know that once those peppers hit the food and no matter how many you pick out, you can NEVER escape the yucky taste. However, I applaud your effort. Hope you packed your heartburn meds.

  2. What a wimp! Sister, I am ashamed of you, not eating your peppers! You will never have curly hair, or is that just crusts ? You are such a good story teller. We feel we are right there with you.
    Just realised, the house we can see from our hotel room in Garda is where Lawrence finished ‘Sons and Lovers’! June x

  3. Hope your view lends a certain air of romance to your holiday. Are you in your usual hotel? It’s fun to realize we can visualize you there, and mentally walk around town with you. If you feel a spooky presence, it’s us. (That ought to scare you.)

    P.S. Forget the peppers – I always wanted straight hair anyway

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