When you read this, I have left Lefkada heading out on the last leg on this amazing world-tour – riding south to take the ferry from Patra to Brindisi in southern Italy. As mentioned in my previous newsletter, I’ve wintered with my couchsurfing friend Sonia in her grandmother's house on the hillside above Lefkada town – a nice and fairly primitive house with stunning views of the Ionian Sea against the backdrop of several mountain ranges.
It was interesting to experience 3 seasons in a 3-months period. December offered a cool and dry late autumn with mostly sunny days and blue skies making it pleasant to be in the garden and biking around town. Around New Year, the weather changed radically and we suddenly had 10-15 cm snow and many consecutive days of frost. The house was not built for cold winters and it was often as cold inside as outside. The only heating sources were a woodstove and a fireplace however, to conserve wood fires awaited late afternoon, on the coldest days necessitating 3-4 layers of clothes even inside. Mid January, the temperature increased to 5-10C but not yet outdoor weather with mostly overcast skies and much of rain. Early spring came already mid February with mostly sunny days, so the garden came to life with birds, bees and lots of blooming flowers - though still a number of days with thunder, rain and even hail.
The grandmother – Ms. Poppi – is 85 years old and still going strong. She has come to Lefkada most of her life and was a bottomless well of information and stories about the island as well as on Greek mythology. A pleasure listening to and especially helpful when we did a daytrip around the island. A beautiful day that amongst other took us to the most southern point and the highest point at around a kilometre elevation. Enjoyable to go sightseeing at this time of year with little traffic and no tourists at pleasant 12-15C. The island comprises a diverse nature with cultivated mountain landscapes, pine forests, countless small villages and many beautiful white beaches with turquoise water.
A few days after arriving from Istanbul, the right half of my right foot became numb (like sleeping on the arm) and though it got better, it didn’t disappear. After a month, I went to the very run-down 1950s-looking public hospital in Lefkada. Incompetent doctors and although the external neurologist I was send to, seemed more competent, his tests were inconclusive. Some weeks later, I had my travel insurance set me up in a private hospital in Athens for a second opinion. A modern hospital with qualified doctors, but with no pain in my leg or back – or visible signs from the MRI scanning - there was no recommended treatment, so I can only hope it disappears as soon as possible. Being in Athens, I did some sightseeing amongst other the Acropolis, the old stadium and the parliament as well as several other monuments and churches. I remember being impressed when I visited in 1987, but this time I was disappointed finding the ancient buildings/monuments small and dilapidated. Probably more have happened with my perception than with the monuments, which confirmed my travel philosophy never returning to a place as the experience seldom lives up to the memory. A great experience was a daytrip to Delphi and Hosios Loukas monastery, both offering peaceful atmospheres at great locations with stunning mountain views.
All-in-all it’s been a good winter where I - besides reading, relaxing, reflecting and sightseeing – have spent a lot of time updating my blog amongst other adding three special sections in the horizontal grey bar at the top. After my last newsletters in 2016, several of you wrote to ask what motivates me especially in times of endless adversity, so I have written a special section on Motivation also comprising my reflections on societal norms and habitual thinking (conventional wisdom). Another section offers recommendations regarding Equipment and a Q&A new travellers section depicts some things to consider before heading out on the first big trip.
You can read much more and enjoy countless pictures and videos on my website:
Navigate through my travel description “Europe 2016/17” at the top of the dark blue menu bar on the left. You're of course most welcome to write in my guestbook and/or send me a personal message as well as referring people you think might be interested to my website - see options at the bottom of this mail.
I wish you and your family all the best - may you be as happy and fortunate in life as I am.
Many greetings from Michael