Showing posts with label Greek hikes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek hikes. Show all posts

Friday, March 16, 2018

Greece: On the Road Less traveled ~

I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

                                      - Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

The Kalderimi less traveled
We set off one morning this week to explore a road less traveled. . .less traveled these days, anyway. Once upon a time this kalderimi. was the main thoroughfare linking two ancient villages in Greece’s Mani. Now, one of the area’s many hiking routes, it is carpeted with spring's wild flowers; the blooms soon to be replaced with summer’s sun-burned sepia soil and gray stones that make up its underlying surface.
‘In the former Ottoman countries, a kaldırım (Turkish) or kalderimi (Greek καλντερίμι or καλντιρίμι; plural kalderimia) is a cobblestone-paved road built for hoofed traffic. Kalderimia are sometimes described as cobbled or paved mule tracks or trails.’
                                                  -- Wikipedia

Lagkada's narrow road becomes the kalderimi
While many we know think we took the road less traveled just by moving to Greece, we‘ve but touched the surface of the Mani’s magic and mystery. It is outings such as this that will keep us entertained here for many years.

Lagkada village - Mani - Greek Peloponnese
This kalderimia was the original path between the villages of Thalames and Lagkada. The two are about a 20 minute drive south of our home. We began our walking ‘road trip’ at the village furthest from us, Lagkada, which is built amphitheatrically on the slopes of a hill.

Its history, according to some, dates back to the reign of Marcus Aurelius; a time when the Romans conquered the neighboring Thalames, which was on the major route between Sparta and the Messinian coast. The two villages are about two kilometers apart.

Lagkada, like many of the villages here, is populated with stone homes and Byzantine churches and punctuated with a few towers, for which the Mani is known.  The Kalamata – Areopolis ‘Highway’, a narrow two-lane paved road that replaced the kalderimi, bisects the sleepy village. The only signs of life on the day we visited were a few locals sipping coffee at the taverna across the highway from the Church of the Metamorfosi of the Soter; a church with murals said to date back one thousand years..

Scaffolding has recently gone up - restoration is underway at the ancient church
The kalderimi is now one of the many walking paths that draw hikers and out-door vacationers to the area in the summer months.  (Shhh. . .don’t tell them of its springtime beauty.)   We didn’t encounter anyone making for a much more pleasant experience than our memories of walking the paths between villages in Italy’s over-run Cinque Terre.

Cobblestones and wildflowers of the kalderimi
The stone surface is uneven and we could have used some hiking poles for a bit of balance, but did the walk in a half an hour with plenty of stops to 'ooh and ahh' at the flower bedecked olive groves we passed. We did wear shoes with sturdy treads although we could have used those with the no-slip soles.

Olive groves carpeted in wildflowers
There are organized hikes offered by companies in Kardamyli and our village of Agios Nikolaos but walks that follow the old kalderimia are quite simple and easy to accomplish on your own.

On the road less traveled
One of the best sources for Greek hiking opportunities we’ve found is the on-line Walkopedia. (By clicking on that link you’ll be taken to a list of hikes throughout Greece.)

Springtime in the Mani
Today marks a month since our return to The Stone House on the Hill, following our six-week sojourn to the U.S. We’ve spent the last four weeks ticking projects off our house and garden ‘to do’ list. As that list shortens our upcoming travel list is lengthening.When not welding a shovel or pitchfork,  The Scout’s been at work planning some new adventures. . .so hope you’ll be with us as we set out to explore Greece. . .

Mani wildflower
Where ever  the road leads you and yours this week we wish you a safe, happy, healthy journey. As always, thanks for the time you’ve spent with us ~

Linking this week with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Communal Global
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration
Best of Weekend

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Don’t Miss A Rocky Mountain High in Greece’s Mani

Sometimes those Greek tourist promotion folks focus too much on sun-kissed beaches, sailboats, sand and surf.

Plenty of sun and sea in Greece

Map picture
Greece does have more than its fair share of sea, sun, sand and surf but what is equally impressive and should call out to all visitors,are its mountains.

There are many unsung mountain ranges throughout Greece but now that we are part time ex pats, just south of Kalamata, in the Peloponnese we can attest to the striking beauty of the towering ranges that make up this expansive peninsula.

Of course, the Taygetos, that frame our area are our favorite!  (The Green on the map is mountainous areas).

PicMonkey Collage
Taygetos Mountain views
And since I told you about stones last week, I thought it time to pay homage to the source of those stones: the mountains that surround us. This is also an intended nudge to those of you planning trips to Greece to include some mountains in your explorations. Hint: in The Mani you can find beaches and mountains within minutes of each other.

Messinian meets Mountains - view from above our house
Quite frankly, the mountains were as much a selling point for this area as was the sea when we decided to purchase our Stone House on the Hill. One of our favorite pastimes is exploring the many tiny villages tucked away in those Taygetos Mountains that surround us.

PicMonkey Collage
In this area signs are in Greek and English
You understand – an appreciate – the small sized cars that most people drive here when you set out on the narrow ribbons of asphalt that twist and turn up the hillsides and through the gorges.

The road between villages - The Mani
While the road that links the villages is narrow – very narrow in some places – the route is an easy one as you encounter few cars and only a herd of goats or sheep and cow or two along the way.

Slow traffic ahead
Whoa Bessie!
No matter how often we make the drive, we never get tired of the ‘treats’ just waiting around each bend in the road – whether it be a sweeping view of the ocean that makes us catch our breath or a hidden treasure like this Mani tower and crumbling fortress that teases our imaginations with its history.

A Mani Tower
If driving doesn’t appeal to you, these mountainsides are also laced with hiking trails, many of them following the routes of goat and donkey trails that many in the villages will tell you were once the only links between them and the sea.

PicMonkey Collage
Some hikes can be done on the roads leading along gorges
Entrances to hiking paths are marked with signs in English and color coded markings along the way alert hikers to direction and difficulty of the route. There are no use fees or parking fees here.

There's a magic in the Mani Mountains
We can’t recommend The Mani Mountains enough.  Keep them in your travel plans if you are heading to Greece. After all Lonely Planet just named the Peloponnese as one of Europe's top, must-see destinations for 2016.

Again thanks so much for the time you spent with us today!  And a special thanks to those of you who’ve enjoyed the blog so much that you’ve shared it with your friends and families – it is always fun to hear from someone that says, ‘a friend recommended your blog’.

Hello to our new followers and those who’ve signed up to receive the blog in their inboxes. Come back next week when we’ll slow the pace a bit and savor Greece, the Greek way. And for those of you wanting to see how we use souvenirs to decorate, I am about to invite you in for a tour! 

Safe travels to you and yours~

Linking up this week with:
Mosaic Monday – 
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Crete: Hiking through History

From those iconic whitewashed buildings in the Cycladic Islands of Greece we told you about last week, we move south to the southern coast of Crete. The area is laced with hiking trails that wind up stark hillsides and through lush gorges – leading through the island’s ages-old history.

DSCF1275Many of those trails begin or end in Loutro, the small village where we stayed on Crete’s southwestern coast.

Some are what we consider  ‘soft hikes’ – those that don’t require hiking boots or other equipment and could be considered more ‘stroll’ than ‘hike’.

One of our favorite such stroll/hikes snakes along the hill – a backdrop to the village – and leads back more than a century ago; a time of Turkish occupation of this area. . .

The trail in April was lined with spring wildflowers and the hillside carpeted in greens.

Up, up, up the hillside, we left the village and its crescent-shaped harbor far below. For those in moderately good physical condition – the pathway with an easy grade (a hiking pole would be nice, but not required). Trail markers like those below are posted on rocks and signs along the route..

PicMonkey Collage

We’ve visited this area three times in recent years and the setting has remained as enchanting as the first time we saw it.


As you crest the hill you step back into a time of Turkish occupation – a time when the koule, or small castle, dominated the hill top. Back then this fortress was probably a hub of activity while nowadays only goats laze and graze among its ruins.

PicMonkey Collage

Sometimes we’d pass another hiker or two and we’d nod a greeting – no one wants to break the silence that envelops you here. . . it’s broken only by the hollow clang of the goats’ bells,the buzz of the bees and the rustle of leaves.


The remains of the Turkish koule are unattended – it isn’t a tourist attraction that requires security or entrance fees. Only those who hike between Loutro and Phoenix, as the neighboring harbor is called, are even likely to know it is there.


This area was once the base for Saracen pirates who were driven out by the Venetians and later the Turks drove out the Venetians.


The solitude here is so enveloping that just a short visit can refresh the soul and clear the mind.  I chuckle though each time I see this modern-day addition: a labyrinth. . .I guess it’s for those who need a kick-start in absorbing the solitude.


Hope you enjoyed our stroll through history – as always, your time is much appreciated. Hope to see you back here again soon!

Map picture
IF YOU GO:  Crete’s northern cities, Heraklion and Chania, have ferry connections to Athens and other Greek ports and airplane connections from Athens and other European airports. Buses, taxis or rental cars could be used to reach the southern shore.  Loutro, however, is accessed only by boat (there is a local ferry) or on foot.

Hiking: The trail we wrote about is part of the European long-distance path, the E4, a network of some 11 long-distance paths that stretch across countries in Western Europe and were developed by the European Ramblers Association (made up of walking groups throughout Europe). In Greece, it stretches across the Peloponnese and then takes up on this island. The Hellenic Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing established and maintains the trails. They also produce a multi-language pamphlet with information about the trails. 

Map picture

Linking up:
Travel Photo Thursday
Weekend Travel Inspiration
Travel Photo Monday


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