Sunday 3 August 2014

The Peloponnese: Saturday

greece-map Our family holiday this year, inspired to some extent by me reading "A History of the Peloponnesian war" by Thucydides. And by us not having any better ideas. The Peloponnese is not the islands and its not Athens, its a somewhat unfashionable backwater containing delights like Mycenae. M booked us flights into Kalamata airport, a car, the first two nights stay in Dimitsana - which I and you had never heard of - and we took it from there.
Here's your handy helpful orientation map, and guide to the days:

  • Saturday: fly in to Kalamata, drive to Dimitsana
  • Sunday: the Lousios gorge and monasteries
  • Monday: drive to Loutrakis (coastal strip just N of Corinth); evening trip to Mycenae
  • Tuesday: Petachora
  • Wednesday: drive to Olympia via Patras and the bridge
  • Thursday: Olympia, and drive to Gialova / Pylos / Sphacteria
  • Friday: in place
  • Saturday: drive to Kalamata and fly out.
Far far more pictures than you could possibly want to see are on flickr.
Leave at 2:15, Gatwick parking and bus in no hassle, fail to get a coffee in the airport as the queue was too long and by the time we'd got it, there was no time to drink it; on the flight to pre-booked seats all fine (don't waste your money on speedy boarding), flight fine, I snooze all the way - I haven't been to bed, this being the last night of the bumps.

Flight say 3 hours, 8:40, and they are 2 hours ahead, so 11:40; and we're out of the airport of Kalamata at 12. There's a lady with a sign with our name which I wasn't expecting (and didn't see, but M did) for our Europcar hire, and we pick that up, and off we go. Into the interior.
Stop at Megalopolis for a cafe in the town square, and also buy somewhat randomly chickpeas, cheese and a nectarine to be going on with lunch; the cheese shop in particular being genuinely rural with not-for-show wooden tubs of feta. Roads initially good, becoming rural and mountainous later as we head up into the interior; we're in Arcadia which is perhaps not what you'd expect from the std classical allusions. Just outside Megalopolis is some architectural remains, which we decide to pass by.

Just before the village, at about 1, we're stopped by the police: there's a rally going on, and we'll have to wait (for either 15 or 50 mins, its not clear, but it turns out to be 15). It turns out to be the practice round for tomorrow: a variety of semi-homespun cars zoom round the corner, up to the start-line tent, wait (guy with starter flag, another guy with a wooden chock on a pole so they don't have to brake), then Go! And after 15 mins, so do we, into the village, narrow street, and find our hotel, park with some difficulty - we haven't yet got used to Greek-style "anywhere you like" parking.

Settle into the hotel, which is cool and has a shaded interior courtyard cool even in the heat of the day. I forget the rest of the afternoon and evening: we ended up eating without Daniel who was dead to the world; on a terrace (formally the town square, but invaded by the two tavernas nearby) overlooking the hills.

Here's a pic (actually taken on day of departure, but it didn't change much) looking northish. The main road is hard to see; look for the telegraph poles.

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