Neda's name isn't Croatian in origin. It's Persian. Translated, it means "Voice of God".
It's an unusual name, I have not met another Neda in my life. She pronounces it, "Neh-dah" and absolutely hates it when people call her "Nee-dah". She's okay with "Nay-dah" and sometimes gets "Nada" or "Anita", which is just bizarre.
I'm fascinated with her name. I have a million and one nicknames for her and from Google, I know that NEDA also stands for New England Dressage Association and National Eating Disorder Association. I also know that there are a couple of places in the world named Neda. One of them is just south of where we are, on the Peloponnese peninsula.
It's been on my To-Visit list for some time.
Neda doesn't really see what the big deal is and is just coming to indulge me.
The day starts off on a bad note
Neda has traded in cat pee on her seat for bird poop on her top case.
Off we go, out into the roads of Southern Greece!
15 minutes later on the main road south and we see our first sign:
Neda Tavern! We know we are on the right track!
The "D" in Neda is a delta sign in Greek. We turn inland at this point. We are at the mouth of the Neda River, which is the only river in Greece with a feminine name. We follow the Neda to her source on the road that runs alongside her. That was a weird thing to type out...
More signs point us in the right direction. I keep telling Neda to pose in front of the signs. She is pretending to be excited.
We quickly leave the asphalt onto a much smaller road. Red gravel crunches benath our wheels as we make our way through the semi-arid landscape of the interior. Where is this taking us?!
The gravel road descends down to the river
Hey, there's a Neda waterfall too. This just gets better and better!
Out in the wilderness
The downhill road ends in a cul-de-sac. We must journey on by foot, so we wrap up our belongings on our bikes under the covers
There's very little people around. I love this! We're out in the middle of nowhere in Southern Greece just because of a name on the map! We don't read Greek, but basically we follow any sign that has Neda's name on it. Can't go wrong with that!
The path leads along a gorge that was cut by the Neda River. The vegetation here is more lush than the road that we came in on, courtesy of the running waters.
Our hike is basically following the river upstream
In Greek mythology, the river is named after Neda, a nymph who saved the infant Zeus from being devoured by his father, Cronus. She delivered him to his guardians in the island of Crete.
It's a short 15-20 minute hike before we hear the sounds of a waterfall. The weather ever since we hit Southern Greece has been beautifully warm and the waters look so inviting!
AAAAHHHHH! Nooo!! The water is so cold! It must be single digits in here!
I dive into the frigid waters of Neda.
Edit: Upon reading this blog entry, Neda exclaims, "NOOOOO!! YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO WRITE THAT!"
Neda is cool, like ice. Her surface may look calm, but she is fed by the raging waters of a powerful waterfall...
We take turns jumping into the cold waters and then sunning on the rocks to warm up in the hot afternoon sun.
It's like one of those Swedish saunas: Out into the ice waters, back into the sauna
We see some people walking back from further on down the trail. There's more? They tell us that this isn't the real Neda waterfalls. there's an even bigger waterfall a little bit further. Okay! So we pack up our stuff and continue the hike.
The trail leads further into the thick, overgrown wilderness. Very cool!
Along the way, we run across what looks to be an abandoned church
Oh, maybe not that abandoned. The equal-armed cross on the left predates Christianity and is also called a Greek Cross.
It can be found in the top-left corner of the Greek flag.
Okay, shut up now, Dan Brown. We continue on our hike to try to find the real Neda waterfalls.
Found it! It's beautiful here!
There's only one other couple here and they've brought along a baby German shepherd. Of course, we make instant friends with it!
German Shepherd puppies are so cute because their heads are so big in relation to their bodies. They look like baby bear cubs
We spent the whole afternoon chilling at the Neda waterfalls
We didn't know what we'd find here, just followed Neda's name on the map. It turned out to be such an awesome, relaxing time. Hot, sunny weather and a lots of splashing around beneath a beautiful waterfall. I love these random, little detours on our journey.
Although there are quite a few hours of daylight left, I calculated how much time it would take for us to hike back to our bikes, ride out of the wilderness and then head back onto the main roads. We want to make it to Athens by nightfall, and it's quite a distance away. So we reluctantly wave goodbye to Neda and head out.
Back on the road, we start to get hungry for dinner. We don't find much along our route, but in one village, we saw someone cooking up a succulent pig. Our hunger gets the better of us.
We don't learn our lesson and we end up paying a lot for a pork roast dinner. It was a lot of food, though!
We keep forgetting to stock up on groceries for the trip. It's unnecessarily costing us a lot of money eating out. We have to get smart and snap out of it. I estimate how many filo pastries I can keep in my topcase... A lot, I think...
We're doing a bit of a cannonball run eastwards out of the Peloponnese peninsula towards Athens,
so we get on the toll highways. Speaking of expensive... :(
The road is smooth and fast and 200 kms fly by beneath our wheels in a blink of the eye