As our love of Greece grows with each day that passes and with each new experience we have, we continue to make our way around the Peloponnese peninsular. The first five weeks in this beautiful country have been spent travelling in tandem with our friends and fellow motorhomers Karen and Myles (of www.motoroaming.com). From perfect beachside spots to intriguing ancient wonders this country has some wonderful sights to behold.
With extended wifi opportunities being a little limited of late and us busy enjoying ourselves rather than gloating about our adventures our updates are a little behind, so here are our highlights from the last few weeks.
As the largest town in the Peloponnese I wondered whether tourism would have stripped Nafplio of all its charm, but it remains in abundance. The former capital of the country is a real jewel of the Pelopponese. The highly protected town boasts three medieval fortresses, two overlooking and town and the small island fortress of Bourtzi that once protected the harbour. The winding lanes of the old town hide a maze of restaurants and shops, but it’s worth stepping a few streets back from the main throng to find genuine Greek food without the full on target tourists brigade outside. Although there were motorhomes parked at the harbour right near the centre we chose to stay at the prettier location of Karathonas bay, a crescent shaped beach side with ample parking, (GPS 37.54441 22.82231). It proved to be a popular spot with motorhomes as several nationality’s gathered to spend a few days.
Practical Tip – The police visited this beach almost daily, however on the Friday gave some other motorhomes a notice asking them to not park there over the weekend or risk a 300 Euro fine. Personally we weren’t given a notice, maybe due to the fact that we didn’t have any chairs and tables out etc so were only parked not camped, but moved on anyway as didn’t want to risk it.
Just 29km’s inland stands the ancient Citadel of Mycanae. Mycenae is one of the most important archaeological sites of Greece. The fortified citadel is nested over the fertile plain of Argolis near with views beyond to the sea.Mycenaean culture dominated mainland Greece, during the late Bronze Age era circa 1600-1100 AD. Many archaeological sites, cemeteries, and Tholos Tombs of the era have been unearthed throughout Greece, and the discovered artefacts speak of people with a strong cultural presence, a centralised political system with a King at the top, with strong commercial ties to the rest of the Bronze Age Mediterranean centres, and a militaristic attitude. By visiting the museum first you glean a greater understanding of the timelines and amazing feat of engineering that took place when building the on-site structures. Mind blowing.
Practical Tip: Arrive early as car parking is very limited (most Greek sites open at 8am). This site was very busy even this early in the season, and the parking area is very small considering the amount of tour groups that arrive by coach. Once finished at the main site walk back down the hill to the tomb of Clytemnestra. (GPS for parking 37.729301 22.75582)
With us being advised to move from Karathonos bay for the weekend and temperatures predicted to be in the late 30’s we needed to stay by the sea so chose Mylo (GPS 37.55444 22.71971). I mention this place more for the experience it gave us meeting some of the locals rather than the place. Within just a few minutes of parking we were approached by a local Constantinos who proceeded to tell us the history of the local area and of the Greek language and mythology, returning later that day with some lemons from his tree and a sample list of some of the 36,000 words that he informed us exist in Greek that we would already know and use in our own language! Interesting stuff even though some of his info went a little over my head! We constantly mention the kindness of Greek people, this trait just seems to come so naturally to them, even when you don’t speak much of the language they will still stand and have a chat in Greek with you just to make you feel welcome! These were the last 2 nights we would spend with Myles and Karen before they made their way to Crete and we continued our journey around the Peloponnese. Although a little tearful our goodbyes are not forever as we hope to see our travelling buddies again somewhere on route.
Paul and I continued our journey south choosing beachside locations for the next few days whilst the temperatures remained higher than average. After a couple of days beachside, with clouds gathering we headed to a campsite at Leonidio to catch up on laundry (Camping Semili 37.149668 22.892508), unfortunately the clouds burst and washing had to wait until another time.
With more rain forecast we made our way to the Greeks version of Mont St Michel called Monemvasia (GPS 36.68724 23.04337). This hidden fairy-tale fortress is a maze of well restored cobbled streets dominated by the castle which overlooks the streets below. As a natural fortress, it was inhabited and soon became a strategic fortress claimed the Byzantines, Franks, Venetians and Ottomans. Neither museum-like nor artificially fabricated, Monemvasia is Europe’s only castle that has never ceased being inhabited. The central cobbled street running through the town always served as a main commercial stretch and now has small tavernas, cafes and shops offering souvenirs and traditional products. It is said that a total of around 40 churches existed in the past. There are now around 24, according to rough estimates, still an amazingly high number considering the size of the place.
When an Aussie describes the beaches as some of the best he’s ever seen, you bet they’re going to be good, so with the weather picking up we were drawn to visit this small island of Elafinisos and see for ourselves. At 19km² it’s one of the lesser known Greek islands and is the kind of place you’d go to completely chill out. The exotic beach of Simos, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, has fine white sand and emerald water, and a rare cedar forest that spreads out along the sand dunes. This really is a little bit of paradise.
Practical Tip: The ferry runs hourly (at this time of year) and takes just 10 minutes. Although you can take your motorhome over to the island (20 Euros) we decided to explore on foot this time (foot passengers 1 Euro). There is parking at the ferry port on the mainland, we spent two nights just down the track in a quiet location right on the sea shore (GPS 36.521168 22.974533).
Elafonisos and around
Keep smiling and stay safe everyone
Andi & Paul x