It will offer an opportunity to further explore the Peloponnese area, which I briefly flirted with a couple of years ago. It is the kind of media trip I especially enjoy. They’ve provided me with a car, some suggestions and set me free, with time and flexibility to have a good poke around the area.
It will be great to visit Nafplio again; the lovely town which I only scratched the surface of last time. More time will allow me to discover why it is a favourite destination of the Greeks. There are plenty of other fascinating places to visit and great activities planned, so it’ll be an exciting trip.
As I’m on my own, there’ll only be me tweeting, so the timeline will be a little quiet and it will be easy to follow my progress around the region. The hashtag will be #inPeloponnese so please follow along on Twitter and Instagram, I’m sure it’ll be a fun trip to enjoy.
Sunday, 14th July
am – Flying early with Easyjet to Athens, then collect a rental car before taking the 2 hour drive along the beautiful road to Nafplio.
pm – Check into Amymone a traditional Greek pension.
There are a few suggestions for how to spend my afternoon, including taking a walk through the ancient city’s narrow streets, soaking up the atmosphere. There will be an opportunity to enjoy some culture, with several interesting museums and wonderful architecture. The amazing views from the imposing Palamidi castle which overlooks the city will be too tempting; there are 999 steps however, so driving might be the way to go.
Alternatively, I can take a small ferry from the port to the wonderful Venetian fortress of Bourtzi, which guards the entrance to the port. Over the years this castle has been a fort, a shelter for the Greek government, a home for unwelcome executioners…..and a hotel! There are lovely city views from the island, the boat only takes 10 minutes, and costs just 4 euros.
Dinner at the Arapakos tavern Afterwards a walk along the promenade to enjoy sunset a glass of Greek wine should complete a great day.
Monday, 15th July
There’s an opportunity to take an early morning swim, at Karathona beach about 3km from the city. It requires a pleasant 45 minute walk along the sea front in the shadow of the cliffs, alternatively it’s easily accessible by a short drive. It might be worth checking #inPeloponnese just to find out if I got up in time.
Breakfast at leisure in the hotel.
am – Check out and head for the town of Mystras. Checking into Pyrgos of Mystra hotel.
Just 800m from the hotel on a rocky hill north of Taygetos, sits the Byzantine city of Mystras, a stunning ruin with huge historical importance. Because of its strategic location, the hill of Mystras was once a great natural fortress and in 1249 an imposing castle, built after the conquest by the Franks. The city grew throughout the 13th and 14th century as it gained more power and was home to several religious communities and churches. It has a long history and great emperors such as Constantine Palaeologus have visited. This wonderful monument is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must visit, so that’s settled then! Apparently walking through the ruined streets and largely intact religious buildings will put me right back in 1350 AD.
pm – I can find even more culture by visiting the Archaeological Museum of Mystras, and there will still be time to further explore the rest of the city.
Dinner in Tripi, Mystras.
Tuesday, 16th July
After another leisurely breakfast, I’ll be revisiting the village of Trypi, about 7 km from Mystras. This small village of around 300 people is famous for being the home of Kaiadas, the steep rocky ravine into which the Spartans used to throw their weak children and criminals. I’d better behave myself then.
There will also be the opportunity to explore the lovely Byzantine churches of Agios Theodoroi, Koimisi tis Theotokou, the monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos and the cave of St Nikon, who used to teach here.
I’m looking forward to looking around the village, surrounded by beautiful scenery and possibly a chance to try out some of the lovely hiking trails which originate here. There are also some excellent cheap restaurants, and it’s a good choice for lunch or at the very least a Greek coffee.
Dinner at Xenia in Mystras, and then I’ll have to find my own entertainment, what will I do?
Wednesday, 17th July
Breakfast at leisure in the hotel before departing for Kardamili, another 1.5 hours leisurely drive.
am – Check into Kalamitsi Hotel.
There will be time to explore the village at a relaxed pace, and maybe freshen up with a swim at Ritsa pebble beach and take a light lunch.
pm – If unable to break free of the relaxed mode I can just stick around the village or more likely take a drive south to the amazing caves at Diros. It is possible to take a gondola around the 3km cave system, experiencing spectacular formations and colours. The caves were inhabited from 4800 to 3200 BC, serving as places of worship in Paleolithic and Neolithic times. North of the caves, there’ll be another chance to explore and possibly a late lunch in the ancient town of Areopoli; named after the Greek God of War, Ares.
Dinner at the Kalamitsi hotel
Thursday, 18th July
A not so leisurely breakfast in the hotel before setting off early for an inland hike along the Viros Gorge, which winds towards the foot of Profitis Ilias, the highest peak in the Peloponnese. I can look forward to stunning scenery, with many interesting sites on the hike, caves, cliffs, monasteries full of frescoes and abundance of wildlife. In the village of Aghia Sofia, there will be great views over Kardamili, and hidden in the trees is the monastery of Lykaki. Built in 1570, the exterior is showing signs of its age, but descriptions of the frescoes inside confirm they are amazing with vivid colours, making the detour worthwhile.
The hike will take around 5 hours and when I return to Kardamili I’ll be ready to freshen up with a swim at Ritsa pebble beach.
am – After enjoying the most leisurely breakfast of the week, I’ll make the 3 hour return trip to Athens International Airport and fly back to Manchester with Easyjet.
The planned trip will be an epic adventure, please don’t forget to follow on Twitter and Instagram using the #inPeloponnese hashtag.