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Published: June 16th 2019
There's only one panoramic photo at the start of the blog but there are more photos below the text if you want to skip the diary details; and if you double click on any of the photos you will get an enlarged, clearer image. You can return to the text anytime.
Thursday 13th June: a big drive for a short rail journey? Strange as it seems that's what we planned to do as there's a railway from Diakofto on the Gulf of Corinth to a ski resort called Kalavryta up in the mountains behind Diakofto. Also, we both fancied taking a look at the Corinth Canal which cuts across the narrow isthmus that connects the Peloponnese with the rest of mainland Greece; which was just off the fast route to Diakofto. So we set off quite early (late morning) and headed north on the excellent Route 7 motorway that connects Kalamata with Route 8; the motorway that runs from Athens to the major port of Patras along the northern coastline of the Peloponnese. We made very good time as there wasn't much traffic and found our way to the eastern end of the Canal where there's a submersible
Heading north towards Corinth
,Clear roads and great scenery
bridge (it sinks to allow ships to exit the Canal). From there we had a good view along the 4 mile length of the Canal (completed in 1893), and of the road and rail bridges that cross over it at the high points (100m/300ft above the Canal). Then we went along to these bridges for a look down, also very impressive; and finally we went to the Corinth end to look at the Diolkos, an amazing ancient roadway that was built so that ships could be dragged across the isthmus. Parts of this track are still visible, as are the indentations left by the wheels of the carriages that carried the ships (I recommend that you look it up on YouTube under DIOLKOS 1500 Years).
Back to the motorway heading to Patras and to look for the exit for Diakofto where we were booked in for the night. This went without any difficulty so we had a look at the coast to see if there was any opportunity for a swim. The shingle beach and presence of sea urchins in shallow water just a few feet offshore put paid to that idea. So we stopped at a cafe for
Looking west towards the main road bridges
some refreshment before heading up into the hills above Diakofto to look for our hotel. The hotel was located even higher up than our hotel in Kalamata but with an equally dramatic view across the Gulf of Corinth. As dinner at the hotel wasn't available we headed back downhill to a taverna recommended by the hotel owner. Good call.
Friday 14th June: up early to catch the 9.05am to Kalavryta train. I'd reserved what were recommended as the best seats, behind the driver, in advance and we had a good view out of the front of the and to the sides. The journey which takes just over an hour is very spectacular, starting off into a very narrow gorge which continues for most of the journey before breaking out into open, almost Alpine, countryside. Kalavryta is a ski resort, although the slopes are a few miles out of town. We visited the local museum which is dedicated to the killing by the German army of nearly 700 of the male population of the village in 1943 as a reprisal for the earlier killing of some German soldiers: very sobering. We took the 12.43pm train back to Diakofto and then
View down from the road bridge. Bungy jumping available here if required
headed back along the motorway east towards Corinth before turning south to Kalamata. Quite a long day with lots of travelling but very scenic and interesting.
Saturday 15th June: our last full day. We headed south along the coast in the Mani, which is what this eastern side of Kalamta Bay is called. We wanted the visit the Diros Caves which are a top attraction. As the road was quite hilly and narrow it took us well over an hour to do the 35/40 miles to Diros, but the visit to the caves was well worth it. They are flooded but accessible by punt. Lots of spectacular stalagmites and stalactites, well illuminated and quite serene. The caves are quite extensive and the underground journey was over one kilometer. Afterwards we headed back to a pretty village called Lemini for lunch followed by a quiet hour on a nearby beach before heading back to Kalamata to pack up.
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