Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Peloponnese, 2015

peloponnese_2015 Last year we went to the Peloponnese, and enjoyed it. So this year we went again. With some differences; Daniel was elsewhere; and this year we felt less obligation to go and see things, and were happier to relax. My public blog has some very minor notes on the economic crisis, which I won't repeat here.

 Instead, this will be a "photo essay", which is to say, I won't bother write many words. The map shows last years stops in red, and new ones this year in purple.

This year we started with three days, extended to four, in Gialova (West coast, between Chora and Pylos) which is where we ended up last year. Then to Mythras for two days; then a day apiece in Gythio and Stoupa.

Gialova


We stayed at "Zoe". We spent a lot of time between the cafe and the beach, reading and playing cards (mostly "hearts" and some "gops").

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Or watching Navarino Bay or Sphacteria.

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Or swimming in the sea or the pool.

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You get the point, I'm sure. We didn't do much.

Methoni


However, we did visit Methoni, which has an enormous Venetian / Turkish castle.

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Walking towards the "Bourtzi".

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The Bourtzi itself.

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I told you it was Venetian.

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Castle from Bourtzi.

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Old main square.

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Across the Taygetus


From Gialova we drove back to Kalamata (ignoring the comedy diversion to ancient Messene, which failed) and over the Taygetus to Mystras.

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There aren't many cafes en route. Grab one where you can. Note remains of force-driven water wheel.

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We found a nice green glade.

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In Tripi, Miranda was delighted to get a chip omelette.

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Mystras

Mystras is a Byzantine / Venetian / Ottoman ruined city overlooking the plain of Sparti. The ancient Spartans left little behind but a legend, so overlooking it is the best thing to do.

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Mystras is a large site, spread over several levels. We started at the top; achronistically, here's looking up. Wider view.

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Looking down from the upper (castle) to the middle (palaces).

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Somewhere in the middle with Miranda...

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Out into the misty hills.

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They still take their religion seriously. Most of the restored buildings are churches, which I think somewhat biases the appearance of the site.

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The eye in the pyramid wings. There are lots of murals, but mostly faded. If you like murals, take care to research beforehand where the ones you should look at are.

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View from the plain. I was trying to not take too many pix, honest.

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Gythio


From Mystras we drove down into Sparti, but didn't stop. There are a small number of antient objects nearby, but poorly signed.

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Through the olive groves...

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To the tholos tomb. You could argue this wasn't so exciting, but the setting made it.

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And so on to Gythio. Whose website helpfully says There are not realy mentionable ancient objects to be studied in Gythio... So, every visitor is free to enjoy just greek present life. Stereotypical boat pic.

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They had some lovely flowers. Name?

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In fact we were 4 km out from Gythio, along the beach strip. The grass was unreal, though actually real grass.

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Stoupa


From Gythio over the hills; skirting the south end of the Taygetos.

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Suddenly there was an enormous Ottoman castle. Don't stay in the car, its cooler up top in the breeze.

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Then Aeropoli. We spent most of the day in this taverna. Fried feta with honey and sesame was Miranda's favourite of the holiday; mine was aubergine; M's, perhaps, Greek salad.

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Aeropoli is pretty in the old bit:

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There was an exhibition of pictures. We bought one:

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Also a stairwell that might have been art. But probably wasn't. And a very stern goddess of victory. And the church probably had a Gabriel like ours on its lintel. You can buy old houses.

Then to Stoupa. Our appartment was unexciting but fine for a night. One last game of "hearts" overlooking the beach.

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Next day: the road back to Kalamata:

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Boring travel notes


If you're booking hotels or appartments on the fly, you're probably using booking.com or somesuch, and you'll discover that they're all along the coast, apart from a few at places like Mystras. There are none at ancient Messene. Which is  shame. I wish I knew of one there. What I'm trying to say is, if you want to stay in the interior, you'll need to plan it a bit and/or work harder.

In the summer, its hot. Really. If you think that getting somewhere at 10 will still leave you the cool of the morning, you're wrong. Even 8 am is likely to be really quite warm. The sea takes the edge off, of course, as does a breeze.

Mystras: we stayed at Mazaraki guesthouse: good views overlooking the plain of Sparti and over to the fortifications of Mystras. Mystras itself is a multi-level site; you get a choice of upper or lower gate. There's a fair vertical gain between the two which you do not want to do in the heat of the noonday sun. Or, likely, at all. We did upper one evening and lower the next morning.

Booking.com: note that the ratings given (e.g. "Exceptional, 9.5" for the Mazaraki) don't compare to star ratings for hotels; in my opinion, they're inflated.

The coastal road, Gythios to Stoupa, is slow. If you've going to Kalamata, the maps would rather send you via Tripolis :-).









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