Sunday, August 10, 2014

Where Kalamata is More than an Olive

“The olive? . . . Isn’t that the name of an olive?” we’ve been asked when we start singing the praises of Kalamata.

DSCF2262Correct! It is an olive to be sure.

But it is also the name of the second largest city in Greece’s Peloponnese; a place that won our hearts this summer.
And Kalamata lends its name to this plump, blackish-purple olive sold in deli’s worldwide. The leaves, like the olives are larger than other varieties.  Kalamata olives can’t be picked green. They ripen in late November and must be hand-picked to avoid bruising.



DSCF0014
Early morning in Kalamata, Greece

Kalamata, with more than 50,000 residents, is a vibrant city offering festivals and musical events in the summer when tourists flock to its beaches and fill the dozens of hotels along the waterfront. It is a market town with a variety of stores, hospitals and medical centers. Its airport – with an increasing number of flights this year – is a gateway to this area of the Peloponnese.

DSCF0009 It is just a bit more than a three hour drive from the Athens Airport on a modern-freeway with toll booths and rest stops (with gasoline stations and restaurants) at regular intervals along the way. The freeway circumvents Athens so it is an easy-drive even for those on a first-time road trip.

 DSCF0276
You can't get lost on this road trip: the freeway from Athens ends at Kalamata. From here travels in The Mani are on two-lane roadways.

DSCF0218
Sidewalk cafes line the pedestrian-friendly city center
DSCF0216On the Greek “cute-o-meter” the buildings in Kalamata can’t compete with the likes of postcard perfect Santorini and Mykonos.

On the other hand those two islands weren’t leveled by an earthquake as was Kalamata in 1986. Of such a magnitude, it killed 20 people and destroyed 10,000 homes. Evidence of the damage is still visible on buildings in the downtown.




Amazingly its 13th Century Ayii Apostoli (Holy Apostles) church in the heart of the city’s historical district required repair but remained standing. It is said, that in 1821 The Greek War of Independence from Turkey was declared at this church.

DSCF0018
Ayii Apostoli Church
The town is built on the site of ancient Pharai - so old a place that it is described by Homer as subject to the kingdom of Agamemnon. There’s a long story surrounding Kalamata, its modern name, but the short version is that its from a miracle working icon of the Virgin Mary known as ‘kalo mata’ (good eye).

Unlike our visit here last spring when the streets were empty and the town seemed dead, the place was simply hopping with beach- and sun-loving tourists this summer:

PicMonkey Collage
Sun-bonnets and hats are displayed for sale throughout the town
While we spent our time in town working on tasks related to the failed home purchase, we still could enjoy the beach and marina before and after trips to the bank, government offices and other such destinations.

DSCF0214
Pharae Palace Hotel on Kalamata's waterfront
In fact, we stayed twice this summer at a hotel called Pharae Palace, where for 70-euros a night, we had an ocean-side balcony room and the price included free wi-fi (that worked!) and a lavish buffet breakfast – one of the best we’ve had in Europe served in its rooftop bar and restaurant, The Loft, a place that offered 180-degree views.

PicMonkey Collage
Views from The Loft
History buffs will want to visit its three museums: The Archaeological Museum of Messenia – where displays are divided into provincial regions; a Historical and Folklore Museum of Kalamata that highlights the town’s bygone days; and a free Military Museum (where all the signage is in Greek).

If You Go:

For more information: www.messinia-guide.gr
03332_mani_&pelo_inset_encarta

As always we appreciate the time you spend with us! And thank you so much for recommending TravelnWrite to others and sharing links to the blog on Facebook!! Hope your travels continue to be good ones whether actual or armchair.  See you back here again later this week.

Linking with:
Mosaic Monday
Foodie Tuesday

34 comments:

  1. What a lovely place to visit.. A nice view of the water, the hotel sounds great.. Another place to add to my bucket list.. Love the photos.. Have a happy week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks much for the visit - I enjoyed discovering your blog through the link up as well. And aren't bucket lists fun? Have a great week - see you soon in this blogosphere land,I hope.

      Delete
  2. I always like to learn of places I may never get to visit and Kalamata has much charm and history. Thank you for sharing about this town through your photos and also for joining me for Mosaic Monday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judith, again thanks for hosting Mosaic Monday and for the visit. Look forward to discovering a whole new world through the linkup.

      Delete
  3. Oh that was a nice getaway with a very nice review. I enjoyed reading and seeing the photos. (It's good to know the economy is better this summer.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Vee, there really are signs of recovery everywhere we traveled. A definite new sense of vibrancy in the air although it will take time to fully get back to where they were.

      Delete
  4. A wonderful post on Kalamata - I had no idea there was a city in Greece of that name!
    The kalamata olives are wonderful and I imagine the beautiful old gnarly trees are all over the country.

    The sunhats look lovely and I imagine you would need to wear one because of the fierce sun.

    Thank you for visiting my blog - what a shame I didn't know you when you came to Auckland - we could have met up - maybe there will be another time Jackie!

    I'm now following you - I love travel too and hearing about trips all over the world.

    Shane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shane, So happy to have you as a follower and so happy to have discovered your blog. One of my favorite things about blogging is the friendships I've made and what a joy when we finally get to meet face-to-face. Hopefully I will get back to Auckland or you will get to Seattle and we shall do just that!
      Jackie

      Delete
  5. What a beautiful setting for a town. No wonder you lost your hearts there! XO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a city that grows on you. . .kind of like a person that doesn't have a drop-dead killer beauty but whose personality is so rich that you are instantly drawn to him or her. Thanks for the visit - as always, it is appreciated.
      xo Jackie

      Delete
  6. Nice to feature places that aren't just the 'usual' spots. The numbers of tourists are getting so out of control in some places so that you can't even enjoy them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jane, We far prefer the lesser-traveled places and Greece's Peloponesse is certainly one of them. The amazing thing is that the Europeans do flock to its beaches in the summer but American's are missing the boat completely and heading to the congested Mykonos and Santorini's. A shame at what they are missing! Thanks for your visit - hope to see you back here regularly.

      Delete
  7. Beautiful, almost unknown by Americans. But I'm most intrigued with the home purchase you mentioned (and didn't link). I am late to the party on that one. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betsy, thanks so much for the visit. It seemed I had written nothing but tales of our home purchase, turned not home purchase and I was afraid my regulars might be thinking 'enough already'! Sorry, I didn't think about new visitors -- my tales appeared in back-to-back weeks in July if you make it back to the blog and want to see the 'dashing of daydreams'. Thanks much for your visit - hope you'll be back soon. I so enjoyed your blog!

      Delete
  8. A place named after an olive I love ... just gotta get there! It looks a stunning destination. I liked the fact that you said you couldn't get lost driving from Athens airport ... that's something that appeals to me when driving overseas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Driving in Greece has proven to be quite simple no matter where we are. The roads are often twisty-turney but certainly the drivers respect those sharp turns and usually go slow around them. I think you'd enjoy that!

      Delete
  9. It sounds so beautiful and inviting! Your photos are excellent too!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words about the photos, Marilyn, and thanks so much for the visit and the comment!

      Delete
  10. What a fascinating post Jackie. I have never been to Greece. But, that being said, we have just moved house in South Western Australia. We have an olive tree in the back yard. I'm now inspired to know if it's a Kalamata or not!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks! And thanks for the visit and comment as well. Let us know if you ever determine the type of tree you have and hope you'll come back again soon!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love the sound of Kalamata. In fact the more I read your posts the more I want to see the Greek Islands.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This sounds fantastic and right up my alley, Jackie! With the rooftop restaurant which I love anywhere to visit and eat at and the ease of getting there from Athens. I had never tasted a Kalamata olive until last year when I made a tapenade! Good post, our friend, and glad you guys had a good time! :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Jackie,

    Your hotel sounds like the perfect place to enjoy some of Kalamata's fine features, and the buffet sounds very satisfying, as well. My uncle is from this city, and he raves about its many earthy luxuries, the obvious, without a doubt, being the region's famous olives, and of course, the oil that they yield. Love the photo of the hats - unexpected and fun!

    Have a wonderful rest of the week!

    xx
    Poppy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kalamata is one of Greece's yet-to-be-discovered treasures without a doubt. Thanks for your visit - have a lovely weekend, Poppy! xx Jackie

      Delete
  15. Kalamata looks like a beautiful and economical place to visit. Thank you for the tip on the very fairly priced hotel - Pharae Palace. Your view was amazing. Thanks for the great information!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle, Kalamata and the surrounding Mani should be on every visitor-to-Greece's list. The landscape is absolutely breath-taking. Thanks for your visit!!

      Delete
  16. How intriguing to leave the big touristy places like Santorini to the tourists and relax in Kalamata with - what else - the best olives ever. Love your photos that took me on a visual tour of this wonderful place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Neva, I always appreciate your kind words and the time you take to visit TravelnWrite. We far prefer Kalamata to Santorini. . .but then, there is really no place in Greece that we don't like (but I bet you knew that from our recent posts!) Have a good week~

      Delete
  17. I have not been to southern Greece, Jackie, but your pics certainly make me want to go. I had not previously given thought to the exact place where the delish Kalamata olives come from, and. I now know much more about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was much like you Doreen - little thought given to where the olive comes from but now that I've been there, I love them even more. Thanks much for your visit -- wonder if anyone has consider a chocolate dipped kalamata olive? I bet you could find it if they did!

      Delete
  18. Our only visit to the Peloponnese was as a port call on a cruise ship. We did a day excursion to Mycenae --- I still get goose bumps. You're residence buying misadventure sounds like a real PITA. I'm glad that you still got to be annoyed somewhere so nice. We had a similar experience "rescuing" a relative from a hospital on the Costa del Sol in Spain. The "day job" was frustrating, but it was in such a lovely place, it was hard to stay aggravated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a silver lining to every cloud and in our case, the location and the wonderful people we met there certainly did brighten our time. Yes, it is difficult to be too frustrated or aggrivated in such surroundings. For one thing, in the scope of its history you realize what an insignificant blip you are in the big scheme of things. . . Thanks for the visit!

      Delete
  19. It must have been interesting to observe the seasonal differences since your last trip!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Kalamata is now much more than olives and figs after reading this very informative post, Jackie. Thanks for the hotel recommendation, too.

    ReplyDelete

So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...