“You might be disappointed in my village – it is very small,” George cautioned about visiting the small Peloponnesian town high in the hills above his Hotel Byzantinon where he’d been born and raised; a place he still visits regularly to tend to his family home and vineyard.
“You should go to Fokianos. Drive straight through my village. . .follow the road for another 12 kilometers.”
With so much beautiful coastline, we pondered how we would know the picturesque beach George had proclaimed a ‘not-to-be-missed’ destination.
Up into the hills we went on the narrow little road (pictured above ) that pinched together at sharp curves, then stretched into gentle loops, and finally lead us straight through a little village that we hoped was George’s (the signs, you recall, were all in Greek).
Some kilometers beyond the village, as we rounded a curve, and just as George had promised, we saw Fokianos:
Our paved road gave way to gravel on its winding descent through ages old olive groves to the white-crescent beach.
On this April morning the normally busy beach was empty but for a half dozen fishermen.
Their muted conversation, mixed with the water’s rhythmic gentle lapping, and an occasional bird call was all that broke the silence.
George had told us that in summer the bay is often filled with yachts of the rich and famous, but on this morning, fishing boats at anchor were the only vessels in sight.
Two tavernas stood side-by-side on this otherwise unpopulated bit of paradise. Only one of the two on this ‘pre-season’ morning showed signs of activity. It was there we sought lunch.
“We’ve got a single portion of fish,” said the owner (who had grown up with George in the small hilltop village). It was the same dish he and a friend were sharing at a nearby table. We ordered cheese as well – the owner provided bread and olives. The dish, an octopus stew, served warm as is the style of Greek cooking, was perhaps the most authentic Greek meal we ate during our travels.
And we certainly had a table with a view from which to eat our feast. By now awnings are stretched over those skeletal frames, tables beneath probably filled with holiday makers, but on that day, the beach and the view was ours alone.
That’s it for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday. Don’t forget to stop by Budget Travelers Sandbox for other destinations.
If you Go:
Driving in the Peloponnese:
We picked up our rental car at the Avis office in Naplion. There were no requirements for an international drivers license. US license, passport and credit card (‘non-chip’ worked just fine) were all that was required.
Rental Cost: about $22US a day.
Regular unleaded gas: $9US a gallon (we were pleased this little guy got such good mileage!)
Greeks drive on the right-side of the road, like in the United States. They also recognize the need to drive slowly on their hairpin curves. The roads lacing the Peloponnese are in many places narrow ‘back roads’ twirling around curves and climbing high into the mountains (not for those with a fear of heights or amaxophobia, fear of riding in a car).
Fokianos: is about 33 kilometers (20.5 miles) south of the town of Leonido. Drive toward Plaka. After about 17 km of climbing, the road flattens and you reach a junction (where the road sign is in Greek). Go left (toward Pigadi and Fokianos). It will be an approximate 15 km more before you reach the dirt road to the beach. Note: the beach is about 25 km from the nearest gas station.