In 2010 we decided to return to Greece and explore the Peloponnese peninsula. After leaving Athens airport with our rental car we stayed the first night near Corinth. Not an auspicious start with a rubbish meal and horrible cocktails. Happily breakfast was delicious and afterwards we went to look at the Corinth Canal which was very impressive. Then we went on to Mycae to look at the ruins, museum and the famous Lion Gate. Then a 3 and a half hour drive to Monemvasia on the coast. We stayed at the Hotel Filoxenia for two nights. What a beautiful spot. We were on the other side of the causeway and walked over the next morning to the old part of Monemvasia which has no cars. We climbed to the top of the hill and to the citadel and replica Church of Sophia modelled on the one in Istanbul. If you do visit Monemvasia, climb the hill the views are magnificent.
Mycae Lions Gate
View from our room of Momevasia
View from the top of the hill
After Monemvasia we drove inland looking for the Lousios Gorge ending up lost and eventually in the small village of Dimitsana where we got a great room overlooking a valley. During our drive to Lousios Gorge and finally Dimitsana we stopped off at Mystras, once part of the Byzantine Empire. It is a lovely complex with a castle, working monastery, church and museum. I also had to do some Jedi driving managing to keep our wing mirrors. The photo below is when we finally found the gorge and crossed a small bridge to save going back the way we came and a shorter trip to Dimitsana from the Lousios gorge.
Taking a narrow shortcut
Some Greek wildlife
Ancient Olympia running track
View from our balcony at Dimitsana
Below are two reviews I did of Hotel Filoxenia the one at Dimitsana. Do not be put off by the negative reviews of Hotel Filoxenia we had no problems.
We then went on to Nafplio and stayed at the lovely Pension Eleni.
We then visited Olympus and on the way back to Athens visited the Epidaurus Amphitheatre.
Olympus running track
Debbie at Epidaurus
View of Epidaurus town from a cafe we stopped at for lunch
Debbie who is a trained opera singer also sang at the sweet spot in the amphitheatre much to the surprise and enjoyment of some of the visitors at the site. We then returned to Athens and dropped off the rental car at the airport. The next stage of our trip was not so nice after we took the metro to Athens from the airport were mugged by a gang of very large men and woman. When I say mugged they opened Debbie’s back pocket of her day pack and legged it with her handbag. No one was injured but Debbie’s handbag had in it her passport, credit cards and license. That is another story on how to get back home without a passport, which we accomplished without paying a cent on a Friday night when the embassy was closed.
Aside from the mugging it was a great trip exploring and getting lost in the Peloponnese and seeing some wonderful historic and interesting sights as well as spectacular scenery.
When I was working for the Holland House Youth Hostel in London in 1989 a few of us decided to go to Greece. Below is a photo of my boss and another of a few of us in the staff room.
The lovely Kari
The staff room
Our friends Julia and Alistair were already in Greece and we met them in Athens. It was still the time of the drachma and the queues to museums and sites were short. My mate Peter Aka Rabbit and myself flew out to meet them. In a previous post I talked about how I had a wee too much to drink the night before the flight and was not a well puppy. In contrast, Rabbit was showered, shaved and as clean as a whistle. I could only be described as hideous and it was not helped when we got on the wrong train and then when we changed to the correct train I dry heaved most of the way to Heathrow. Happily, the flight was not full and the kind stewardess took pity on me and gave me a row of seats where I slept most of the four hours. On arrival at Athens, even with my dishevelled unshaven appearance I was welcomed with open arms into Greece. Rabbit on the other hand was thoroughly searched. We then met Julia and Al at Omonia square in Athens and went to a nearby pension and polished off a bottle of Retsina or pine Dettol to the uninitiated. We then spent a lovely few days exploring Athens, the Acropolis, the National Archaeology Museum and had a particularly lovely meal at the rooftop Eden Restaurant. I found a photo of us eating a fish that was first put on fire in front of us much to the delight of Julia as can be seen in the photo and yes she was swearing.
Eden restaurant in Athens with flaming fish
Our next stop was Crete by a ferry called bizarrely The Festus. 12 hours later we were in Crete in the capital Heraklion. We visited Kinossos rebuilt by a mad Englishman using concrete. Rabbit picked up a piece of concrete here and as far as I know he still has it in Australia. I am not sure why he wanted a 100 year old piece of concrete. We stayed a few days in the lovely city of Heraklion which has a lovely waterfront to stroll along and you can see the castle. Down the road a bit at the city of Rethymno (thanks Julia my memory is not as good as it was) we had a bit wee much to drink one night and I ended up leaving my passport and wallet at the bar we were drinking. Happily Peter was in the bar till the bitter end saw my jacket as he was leaving and grabbed it. He staggered home and used my jacket to throw and hit the window to awaken us to let him in. I slept through all this but awoke thinking where is my money and passport and there it was on the chair beside me. While I was having a shower Rabbit decided that he needed to use the toilet which was above the shower, to give the ouzo from the night before a new home. Not a pretty sight. I am so glad I was wearing jandals. He then decided he wanted to dye his hair black or he may have done that in London according to his memory but then again we are both getting older and the memory does play tricks.
Rabbit being artistic
After a few days of enjoying the nightlife and sights of Heraklion we decided to go to Matala.
Matala is a small coastal town on the south of the island and it was deserted as we were there in November. I enjoyed the peacefulness of it after being on reception at Holland House for several months. Back then Matala was a small quaint town now it is still quite small and not as over developed as the bigger resorts. We were literally the only tourists there apart from a few other people and there was only one restaurant open. It became our regular along with a bakery in the mornings where I developed a life time love for spanakopita. There were some amusing incidents in Matala. One stood out. Myself and Al one night were feeling particular energetic and decided to climb the hill to get a better look of the town and surrounding scenery. I do recall an amazing blood red sunset and then we heard a swearing Australian accent and the silence broken by bells and sounds of goats bleating. Suddenly over a hill came a herd of running goats with Rabbit behind them like a shepherd from the past.
After a week or so we said adieu to Al and Julia as they continued on their return to New Zealand via Egypt and we returned to Holland House in London.