Friday, 11 April 2014

Holiday in the Peloponnese

The lighthouse at Cape Tainaron
The lack of blog posts for a couple of weeks is due to the fact that we have been on holiday in Greece (and then it's taken me a week to catch up with things).   We went with 13 friends from our walking group, and had a wonderful time.  It was planned to be a mixture of walks, history and nature - all organised by Gareth Trewartha of Naturally Greece.   There were spring flowers everywhere, and we saw birds on their migration north from Africa.  The weather was mostly lovely - sunny and warm, but not too hot.  (The exception was a hailstorm while we were visiting the temple of Apollo at Vassae - altogether a rather disappointing experience as the temple is now under a vast tent to protect it from the weather.)   We ate vast quantities of delicious food.   And Gareth taught us a bit of Greek on the coach journeys, so I can now say please, thank you, hello, good morning, and count to 20.  (Knowing some geometry helps with the counting - e.g. dodecahedron and icosahedron.)  I took lots of photos - here's a small selection with an extremely brief summary of what we did.

We visited Olympia first - walking to the ancient site from our hotel in the countryside a couple of miles away, through olive groves and orange orchards, and fording the River Kladeos (with the help of a pick-up truck from the hotel).  

The museum at Olympia is excellent, and full of amazing treasures.

Olympia Museum: from the Temple of Zeus
From there we moved on to Pylos (mentioned by Homer), where our hotel overlooked the bay (site of the battle of Navarino, 1827) and the island enclosing the bay (where the Athenians defeated the Spartans in 425 B.C.)

Sunset at Pylos
After Pylos, we went further south and stayed on the coast near Itilo, to visit the Mani, which is the finger of the Peloponnese projecting into the Mediterranean and culminating in the southernmost point of mainland Greece at Cape Tainaron.

A church in Areopolis.
We visited Areopolis nearby, which was once almost deserted, like many other places in the Mani, but now seems thriving.  And on another day we went south to Vathia, still almost uninhabited, and full of the defensive tower houses that are common in the Mani.  (Built by the Maniots to defend themselves from each other.)

A tower house in Vathia

From Vathia, we went even further south, and finally walked to the Cape and its lighthouse from the nearest habitation (a taverna, handily, where we had lunch).

After the Mani, we headed back towards Athens for our flight home, visiting Mistra, an amazing deserted mediaeval city, on the way.

All the week, we were seeing interesting birds, though I didn't manage to take many good photos.  Birds tend to move too fast - the little owl was easy because it was having a rest.

And some birds were actually chimney cowls (also easy to photograph).

We saw many lizards, but often just glimpses of them disappearing.  I found one that was enjoying the sun, and stayed put, before diving back into its hole in the wall.

A lizard on a wall at Mistra
And there were flowers everywhere.  Lots of orchids - I was told the names at the time, but I've mostly forgotten.  I will identify them again in time.

An orchid

Another orchid
Star of Bethlehem growing in steps at Mistra

There was very little knitting on the holiday, except for some interesting socks in the folk museum at Andritsaina  (not a good photo, because the light levels were low to protect the textiles, but good enough to show the colour-work).

A really wonderful holiday - we'd like to go back to Greece another year in spring.   


  1. Fantastic photos. Sounds like a really interesting holiday. Love the little owl!

    1. Hi Gillian - thanks for your comment. The little owl was very co-operative - he sat on his "front porch", not moving, while we all took photos, and wasn't bothered at all.


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