A Travellerspoint blog

Thursday 7th May – in transit over the mountains in the rain


Probably our longest and hardest day’s driving – to get from Gialova to the north Peloponnese to a town, Diakofto, with a special train that goes through and up a gorge to a mountain town. Unfortunately, not only were the roads a bit unreliable with some good pot-holes, but also it rained heavily for much of the afternoon when we were driving through some of the most dramatic countryside. Hard to look at anything but the road ahead, and not possible to stop – for both the rain and the road conditions. Went through some charming mountain villages (Stemnitsa and Dimitsina) which if we do return, would be worth more investigating.

Stopped at Dimitsana to visit the site of some restored water mills – they had restored a wool washing contraption, a grain mill, a tannery (fascinating) and a gun powder mill (unknown and fascinating). And there were other mills still on the site that had not been restored. Quite amazing – and the area had these all dotted over the countryside.
Arrived at Diakofto after a long day, booked in to our hotel – luckily only for one night as we later found out that the special cogged train that was to take us back up the mountain only ran on the weekends, so we couldn’t do our planned trip on it on Friday! And the town wasn’t worth staying in.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 08:57 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Wednesday 6th May – Ancient Messini


Drove relatively slowly due to roads and traffic to the mountain/hill side site of Ancient Messini about 60 km away that was mentioned in our guide book – but it hadn’t made it sound brilliant. Well, it was! Partly I guess because we hadn’t expected a lot, but it was very extensive and most of it recently excavated. And there were excavations going on at the site. It was mainly built in the C4th and C3rd BC with some later Roman additions. But you could see the structure of most of it, and see the row after row of fallen columns that were like they had been pushed over one after the other – maybe they had been? Highlights were a couple of theatres; one temple especially; an amazing stadium/gymnasium (which had to Jan’s great delight what seemed to be a row of toilet seats!) and a fountain/water supply. It was partly enhanced by a thunderstorm that rolled in and made it atmospheric (And wet) but we had to shelter under the shelter over a Temple. Got a bit wet at the end as ran back to the car, but we spent over 3 hours there and could have spent at least one more. Had a late lunch in the car with the hail from the continuing storm sitting at one of the enormous gates to Ancient Messini – there were 9 km of walls protecting the town – and this had been the main gate.

Ended the day very nicely and appropriately – first with a late arvo coffee in the main square of Pylos observing the locals and looking at the sea, followed by a walk out for a nice dinner in Gialova at a taverna overlooking the sea, eating grilled oyster mushrooms, stuffed squid and crisply fried fresh anchovies, washed down with 0.5 kg of local red wine.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 08:54 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Tuesday 5th May – Nestor’s Palace


Visited Nestor’s Palace, only 15 km away from our unit. Only excavated the palace part – so not a lot to see (relatively). Was a Mycenaean city from the C15th to C11th BC. Star of the show was a bath – slightly but amazingly like how it was found when excavated in the mid 1900s. Also visited the local museum, with some amazing finds including a gold cup.
Wandered into a few related Tholos Tombs where some of the finds were from – often located in amongst the fields of olive trees.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 08:51 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Monday 4th May – Gialova


Spent the morning and early afternoon walking near here – down at the lagoon and up to the next promontory where the older castle/fortress is located. The lagoon is famous for well over 200 birds, most of which are migratory and visit from Nov to March. So not many water birds around, although a few still to be spotted. There is a well sign posted nature trail, which was great as it introduced us to some of the plants we had been seeing and some new ones. It also had info about some of the local “regular” birds and that there are badgers and tortoises in the area. Didn’t see any of them, but saw a number of the birds and flowers including one orchid (we think). Walked around the lagoon to a famous beach – a small horse shoe shaped bay with sand, not pebbles, and a rocky entrance. From there it was a scramble up to Nestor’s cave – where it is claimed Hermes hid the cattle he had stolen from Apollo. Then from there an even bigger scramble and climb up to the old Castle at the top of the promontory. Was very run down but atmospheric, although again the plants were every prolific and one was nasty to Jan!

Saw one orchid - and as everywhere, snails - although they don't seem to eat the latter like they did everywhere in Crete.

Sunset from our balcony looking over the lagoon was pretty nice!

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:28 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Sunday 3rd May – Methoni


Christos invited us for a free breakfast in their café (we had said we’d do our own breakfasts) so we started with a Greek breakfast of fresh orange juice, yoghurt and honey, freshly hard boiled egg, fresh fruit, cheese, bread and a Greek coffee (in fact the coffee was the best we’d had in Greece so far).

Then given the weather was still looking fine, headed off to another fortressed seaside town about 12 km south of Pylos – Methoni (Мξθωνη). The Venetian fortress/castle was first built in the 1200s and as has many of the others, seen a range of landlords in the intervening periods, including in this area the Turks. Like the one at Pylos, this had a magnificent location – strategic militarily – but also beautiful in terms of how it overlooks the sea and islands etc. We felt at some stage someone in the township when it existed must have grown leeks or large spring onions – the place was overgrown with them! And no matter where you go, locals are there with their plastic bags picking their greens.

Had another picnic lunch overlooking the bay and castle. Back home for some work (both of us had some deadlines for sending material off back home for Oz’s Monday morning. Dave cooked a local meal – capsicums stuffed with rice and tomatoes accompanied by the first of the wines we bought from the helpful wine merchant in Nafplio – was to date the best red we had tasted in Greece – so we were pleased.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:24 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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