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Published: June 13th 2019
Reminder: the panoramic photos at the start of the blog change every 7/8 seconds and give a larger and clearer image than when viewed with the other photos. Also, 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..
Sunday 9th June: a quiet day after the hill climbing and heat at Epidaurus and Mycenae followed by the journey back to Kalamata. We drove down the eastern side of Kalamata Bay (or Gulf of Messinia to give it it's proper title) to a pretty little village called Kardamyli which is known for its very attractive and historic Venetian era houses; which make a nice change from the rather drab modern buildings we usually see. After a surprisingly different and very good lunch at a harbourside taverna we continued a few miles to look at Stoupa, another village further down the coast as it was supposed to have a sand beach. It did; and golden sand no less: the first we'd seen since we were in the far west at
Main St Kardamymli
No drab modern buildings here, it's all Venetian period or style and very nice too
Gialova. We didn't stop and headed back up the coast to Kalamata.
Monday 10th June: another big drive; this time to Monemvisia, south east of Sparti, and known as the Gibralter of Greece on account of it's appearance rather than it's strategic importance. We went the long way round to Sparti, via the motorway, and this time on the run south down towards Sparti we saw 3 cars heading, a threefold increase over our previous journey: it must have been rush hour. We checked in to our hotel, the Kinsterna a 5 star luxury establishment in the low hills beyond Monemvasia, then headed back to the new town, on the mainland, for lunch then out to the rock itself. A wonderful place and a real time capsule of Byzantine architecture. It's very small and has no roads just narrow passageways between the buildings, so no cars scooters or bicycles. It's been occupied since 580 AD with few visible changes. The utilities: electricity, water, drains, phone lines etc have all been hidden to preserve the ancient atmosphere; and very successfully too. Most of the building appear to be either shops, cafes, tavernas, hotels or guest houses; although some are private
Rocky coastline and shingle beaches
residences. Towering over the town and accessible only via a narrow zig zag path/staircase is the upper town and citadel, which are in ruins. Apart from the path the upper town is cut off from the rest of the rock by vertical cliffs: most of which are lined with battlements: all very impressive. As it was by now approaching dusk we headed back to our hotel for a swim, shower, change and to look forward to dinner as the hotel has a reputation for fine dining. We were not disappointed.
Tuesday 11th June. After breakfast Jane went to the hotel spa for a pedicure while I took a walk around the estate; then we had another swim before heading back to Monemvasia for a more leisurely look around. We climbed the path to the upper town and enjoyed the view over the lower town and surrounding area then descended, very carefully as many of the paving stones in the path were worn smooth and were very slippery. Lunch in one of the many tavernas and then back to the car, parked along the road leading to the town, and back to Kalamta.
Wednesday 12th June: another lazy day
doing very little. Just a short drive into Kalamata to look at the Archaeological Museum and the old town area. Followed by lunch and then back to the hotel to plan the next journey: up north to the Gulf of Corinth and the scenic Diakofto to Kalavryta railway - getting the tickets using the official (English) website was to say the least time consuming and frustrating but eventually successful and fully deserving the large beer afterwards.
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