A Travellerspoint blog

Saturday 2nd May – Pylos/Gialova

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Pylos (Πύλος) is described by the Lonely Planet as one of the most picturesque towns in the Peloponnese – and it is.
After our normal breakfast of muesli, strawberries and sheep’s yogurt, drove the few km into Pylos and parked overlooking the sea in the middle of town next to the town square full of chairs and tables to drink and eat at. The main road (single lane) goes around the square – a bit like a roundabout. But people wander across the road and double park (hence holding up all the traffic) while they pop in to shop. No-one seems to get their knickers in a knot over all this though.
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Pottered in the shops around the square, and then wandered out to investigate the castle built by the Turks in the 1500s on one of the promontories at one end of the bay. Rather large, and the walls were in pretty good condition, along with one of the main bastions which had been used up until relatively recently in a number of ways, including as a prison (which was the case in some other fortresses/castles we had visited). Saw rather a large snake on the wall – which thankfully disappeared into a tree and down the wall.
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Shopped back around the main square for some food items we needed for lunches and dinners, including buying some versions of spanakopita and some very nice almond (we assume) sweet biscuits for lunch, which we ate in the car overlooking the harbour. Into Greek time for eating now – so lunch is usually at 2 to 2.30 pm.
Back to our self contained apartment on the hillside in Gialova – a small, seaside village next door to Pylos – for the afternoon. Walked down to the village for dinner. It was very busy as there are many Greeks here for the long weekend holiday – according to the owner of the apartments, Christos, many come from Athens, a town about which he was not very complimentary.

Weather note: The forecast for the week we were to have in this area had been dreadful – rain most days and temperatures only to about 17. Friday seemed to indicate this was to be the case, but Saturday was fine and mild – a cool wind, but we can cope with that. Overall the weather to date on the trip has been good – fine but cool. Had expected some warmer weather because when we visited France and Spain at the same time of the year we had experienced some fantastic warm weather, and we thought Greece was likely to be at least as good weather wise. But we can’t complain – the main issue is that the sea is so inviting for swimming and by our Oz (Melbourne) standards the water temperature so mild, it would be nice to have a swim. Of course the weather doesn’t seem to stop people from the UK and Germany swimming (or sunbaking naked)!

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:21 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Friday 1st May – Mystras to Gialova (near Pylos)

(Spring Festival/Labour Day)

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May Day is a public holiday in Greece (and most of Europe??). I like a country that has a May Day holiday. Dave had also read that in Greece people head out into the country for picnics and to pick wild flowers to make wreaths to decorate their houses – and they do. People having picnics, preparing BBQs and stopping by the side of the road (anywhere by the side of the road – on bends, narrow strips of road, etc) to pick wild flowers. They not only decorate their houses but also their cars.
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Dave had driven over the Langada Pass in his previous trip to Greece and remembered the scenery (and driving) as dramatic – and dramatic it was for the first part, then the clouds came down and the rain set in. No walking for us at the top of the pass (or at the bottom). Kept driving and on the downward part (the pass goes for quite some kms) it looked as if they had logged the pine forests. Hills/mountains completely desecrated with big logs cut, waiting to be transported. But as we drove on we noticed that what was left had been burnt and slowly a suspicion that what we were seeing wasn’t (all) man made destruction but destruction caused by fire. It is hard to know if logging was also part of the whole mess but fire had certainly caused much of it. Dave found the driving nowhere near as dramatic and hairy as last time – assumed the road had improved dramatically in the 30+ years – not a surprise.

Weather wasn’t great so ended up at a very cute little seaside village where we joined the many Greeks eating and drinking at the tavernas along the shore. One could get used to the long lunch overlooking the sea.

Scenery along the coast continues to be dramatic. The stretch of coast where we are staying tends to have Venetian and Ottoman forts built on the ends of headlands – and of course overlooking the blue sea. Where we are staying we have views of the bay of Navarino, which is nearly completely enclosed by headlands and islands. Evidently this was the site of a big sea battle (Battle of Navarino – part of the War of Independence) where the French, British and Russians fired on the Ottoman fleet and killed 6000 men. It seems they were only meant to show some muscle to scare the Turks but things got a little out of hand. Evidently George IV described it as a ‘deplorable misunderstanding’. Can’t beat the British to understate a situation. Anyway to our view - to our left we look across to the town of Pylos with a fort at the headland; and to the right little villages, a wetland area and another fort on the other headland.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 09:08 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Thursday 30th April – Mystras

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Travelled from Nafplio to Mystras – a couple of hours through mountainous country again, but the roads and traffic weren’t too bad.

Spent 5 hours walking around the Mystras site – spread over the side of a “hill”. It’s a Byzantine township/fortress established in 1249, and had some inhabitants right up until the 1950s. Gave a strong impression of what such a township was like, and of many of the buildings and dwellings, including toilets. There were numerous churches and monasteries, many of which still had impressive frescoes. Exhausted and missed lunch – looking forward to dinner in a local taverna.
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Posted by Jan_n_Dave 08:27 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Wednesday 29th April – Nafplio and shopping

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View The BIG Greek trip on Jan_n_Dave's travel map.

Instead of having breakfast in we bought croissants and take away coffee and took it to the harbour and sat watching the still sea and watching the people walk along the path by the harbor. Starting to get really in to watching people. One of the most noticeable things is the number of men carrying and ‘playing with’ worry beads – not the young but of the men over 40, most seem to have worry beads.
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Had seen a very nice jacket and jewellry our first day in Nafplio, made a return visit and Jan indulged. Visited a wine shop found as very helpful person who filled us in on many questions we had about Greek wine. Bought 4 recommended bottles from him and a half a bottle of retsina for Jan to try! (Later that day / evening – have just tried the Retsina!! What can you say – we won’t be buying any more. Although you could say it complimented the sweet red we bought in a plastic bottle the other day. Still seems to be quite a bit left of it!)

Walked around the point to the beach and sat watching the local (older) men taking the air and sea water. Seemed to be much talking, a dip in the sea, more talking and sunbathing – a lot of activity but little action. Also saw a diver emerge with 2 fairly small octopus which he then preceded to bang on the concrete path repeatedly with some force. Is this the way octopus are tenderized?

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 12:44 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Tuesday 28th April – Mycenae and Tiryns

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View The BIG Greek trip on Jan_n_Dave's travel map.

Spent the morning at Mycenae, along with many other tourists. From 1600 – 1200 BC Mycenae was the most powerful kingdom in Greece. The Mycenaens were ‘the dudes’ in this period and Mycenae was THE biggest and the best. The city (palace and town) is pretty amazing – and BIG and situated on the top of a hill with amazing views over the countryside across to the mountains.

Homer wrote about Mycenae in the Iliad and it’s where they have dug up some of the famous gold ‘stuff’ including the gold death mask. It is also the palace where Agamemnon was probably murdered by his wife. You can see the grave areas where they found many of the ‘treasures’ and walk into some of the tholos (bee hive tombs). And, there was an underground cistern (water storage area) so the town never went without water – very sophisticated. And so many tourists – and this isn’t even high season. Dave counted 18 buses but there were more arriving. But if you move away from the main areas there are very few tourists – bus loads of people really do stick together. Seems to be lots of groups of school kids – must be the time for school camp type activities. And the small museum was good and informative – and pretty empty of tourists.
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Rushed off to Tiryns which was on the road back to Nafplio. A bit disappointing really. The grass was so long that you could hardly see anything. In places the grass was up to my arm pits. Was pleased we had on long pants and had worn our boots. It was hard to know where you could go and many places were roped off – very frustrating as you could see handrails for stairs and paths that you couldn’t go on – and sometimes hard to get to cause of the grass. You couldn’t even walk around the outside. Dave remembered walking in the walls (which are seriously thick) and although we found one area where you could see the passage in the walls, there was no sign of where you could walk through any of it. Of course you may not be allowed to do this anymore but we weren’t the only ones trying to find the passages.
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The ruins may have been a bit disappointing but we walked next to an orange orchard – these are everywhere - and the air was thick with the smell of orange blossom. The perfume of the orange (and lemon) blossom is everywhere – as you drive along or pass by a house you can smell it. When we walk into the courtyard of the pension where we are staying the perfume of the orange blossom is one of the first things you notice – but next to or in the orange groves, the air is thick with the smell – to the extent that it sometimes takes your breath away.

Posted by Jan_n_Dave 12:41 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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