Showing posts with label Laconia Greece. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Laconia Greece. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kyparissi ~ One of Greece's Most Beautiful Villages

So picturesque is the village of Kyparissi that it has been included in the coffee table book, "The Most Beautiful Villages of Greece". . . yet, it might be one of the least visited destinations in Greece.
Parilia - from main the dock

Its relative inaccessibility is to blame (or thank) for the lack of tourists - for the time being. Unless you have your own private yacht or water taxi, the only way to get there is over a road one travel guide describes as 'one of the most frightening roads in Greece'.

A narrow route leads to this Greek treasure in the Peloponnese

The narrow winding road (with a few guardrails here and there) clinging to the face of the Parnonas Mountain range is currently the only land route into the village. Work that was started 20 years ago on another - reportedly less harrowing route, along the coast from the north -- has an estimated completion date of sometime later this year, 2016.

"Poppy" parked in the municipal lot across from the church

Thus in addition to being beautiful, the village remains refreshingly untainted by hordes of tourists.  There are just enough hotels and restaurants to make it welcoming but not enough to make it overrun with visitors.

Kyparissi from the road that leads to it

Our first spring road trip from our Stone House on the Hill in the Greek Peloponnese two weeks ago was to Kyparissi, (kip-ah-ree-see), about 3.5 hours drive to our east. Kyparissi is Greek for Cyprus and we were told the town's named for those tall, stately Mediterranean Cyprus trees so prevalent throughout  the Peloponnese. For you history buffs, it's the ancient sanctuary of Asclepius and was once called Kyfanta. Today's Kyparissi is made up of three villages, Vrissi, is the highest and you squeeze between its whitewashed buildings on the road leading to the two that share its crescent-shaped beachfront, Parilia, on the south and Metropolis to the north.

Greek breakfast buffet - most were homemade taste treats

The Scout had done his research and found us a family-owned 10-room hotel Paraliako, not far from the beach in Parilia. For 45-euros a night or about $50 US (as it is still low season) we had a room with a large deck and view of the water and it came with a huge buffet breakfast for two. Greek breakfast offerings range from fresh tomatoes and cucumbers to in season and canned fruits, yogurt, honey, jam, pastries, pies (filled with spinach and feta), hard-boiled eggs and cereals usually round out the choices.

Beach linking Pailia with Metropotis

Our hotel was located footsteps from a corner café that drew both coffee and wine drinkers, To Kafe tis Maritsela and by walking around the corner and just a bit further, we were at the beach.  We dined our first night at Trocantero, a restaurant, just across the street from the beach; a place owned and operated by Panagiotis "Bill" Volis who returned to this, his ancestral village, from Montréal where he's lived much of his life.

Another beach - this between Cavo Kortia and town

On the morning after we arrived, we set out early to avoid the ever-increasing spring-time heat in Greece and walked to the far end of the bay where crews are laying a final layer of asphalt on the new road.  It was on the walk we visited Cavo Kortia, a hotel/restaurant combination that drew us back for dinner that night and may be the place we stay next time we visit (although it would be difficult not to stay with Stella Vasiliou at her Paraliako again). 

View from Cavo Kortia restaurant toward town

Cavo Kortia, about a half hour walk from the center of town or a short 2-kilometer drive offers large, posh, spacious rooms - double the size we had in town - and this time of year the rate was 40-euro a night.  The owner was out working on a minor construction project when we stopped to inquire about the restaurant hours.  He insisted we sit down, enjoy the view and he served us coffee (which came with a plate of cookies) - and of course at no charge.  Yes, this is still unspoiled Greece!

The new road from Leonidion will pass Cavo  Kortia

Like so many areas of the Peloponnese the surrounding hillsides are laced with hiking trails. In recent years rock climbing has been drawing more and more outdoor sport enthusiasts to the town and a few years ago it celebrated its first Climbing Festival. Cliffs like the ones pictured below call out to climbers.
There are organized walking tours available - but we were quite able to cover a lot of ground without anyone showing us which way to walk.  A local resident, James Foot, an accomplished water color artist, often conducts week-long watercolor workshops. Those 'shoppers-off-all-things' among you might want to find another destination as the town has only a 'super market' that most would call a small grocery store and an even smaller store, a pantapoleon, which is Greek for a small store that sells everything -- everything but touristy kitsch and souvenirs, that is!
Two nights were just about right for the length of the stay, this time of year.  If we'd wanted some beach time, we'd have needed another night.
If you go:
Don't mix up Kyparissi in Laconia on the eastern 'finger' of the Peloponnese, with the town of Kyparrisia, which is on the west coast of the western most finger.
Paraliako, operated by Stella and Voula Vasiliou,, or Cavo Kortia,,

Again thanks for joining us on the road in Greece. We've got more tales so hope you'll be back with us as we explore more Greek villages. Thanks for all the comments you've been leaving for us and safe travels to you!
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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Greece: Takin' the High Road

Just so you don't think we've taken leave of our vagabond senses here in Greece with all the home and gardening projects at our Stone House on the Hill, I'm putting those tales aside this week -  and telling you about our travels. 

On the road in Laconia Peloponnese

As I've said in earlier posts, one of the reasons we wanted a home base on this side of the Atlantic Ocean was to give us a jumping off point to European destinations; trips that didn't start with a nine or ten-hour trip from the Pacific Northwest just to reach Europe. 

I took the photo of the map while our flight to Cairo three weeks ago was passing over Greece. It shows the 'hand-shaped' Peloponnese.  Our home is just south of Kalamata (on the left side of the middle 'finger' and Kalamai on the map) - putting us in an excellent spot for explorations anywhere in the region.

From here we can take no-muss, no-fuss Greek road trips throughout the Peloponnese and all of Greece for that matter. Pronounced pe-lo-po-nih-sos, this chunk of land lies to the southwest of Athens and was a part of the mainland until the Corinth Canal was opened to ship traffic - now a short bridge connects the two massive land parcels.

Our Greek road trips are a lot more spontaneous, inexpensive and simple when we aren't hauling a carload of suitcases packed in the U.S. Pacific Northwest for a month-long stay (and it doesn't take many to fill the tiny cars here).

"Poppy" our bright red rental car waits patiently while we gaze at the views
Our rental car is bright red, so we've named her "Poppy" - she matches the poppies that are currently in bloom all over the countryside. And with road trip temptations calling out from every direction: mountains, gorges, villages and cities, the most difficult part of a road trip is choosing which directions to take off on in Poppy.

Just up the road from The Stone House on the Hill

Last week we hit a lull in projects and while we await stonemasons, plumbers and other professionals, we decided to set out and explore.  An overnight bag stashed in the backend we headed up the hill on which our home is located to connect with the main road four kilometers away. We hadn't gone but two kilometers when we slowed for the first of many animals we were to encounter. These are the kinds of traffic slow-downs we enjoy.

Shipwreck near Gythio
Our destination was the eastern coast of the 'finger' to our right. It takes only 45 minutes to cross 'our' middle finger and from there we headed northeast along the coast.  Just outside Gythio town, on Glyfada beach there sits a wrecked boat, the Dimitrios. While the real story may never be known its tales come in two versions: first, it was carrying drugs to Europe when it was impounded and then abandoned and the other version was it hit poor weather and the crew abandoned the ship. Take your pick. Or make up a new one - it probably will work.

From there we left the coast line and headed inland through groves so laden with oranges and blossoms that we rolled down the car windows for the aromatherapy treatment - the air was heavy with the scent of blossoms.

Just as our 'middle finger' has the Taygetos Mountain range for its backbone, this finger, the Laconia prefecture, has the Parnonas Mountain range running its length. Our destination was the other side of that range, where we'd be in the shadow of Mt. Pardon, 1,839 meters, 6,033 ft. As the road began ascending the range in a ribbon of switchback turns, we couldn't help but wonder who had braved the sheer drops and craggy cliffs to build it.

Traffic was light  - we met very few cars - which is good as the road continued to narrow and climb the cliff face.  Every once in awhile the narrow ribbon led us to and through small villages tucked away in the hillsides. Sometimes, like in the photo below, it wasn't animals, but delivery trucks that caused us to pause. We couldn't get past on the tiny roadway. (When he finished, he backed up for us to pass.)

While we'd read about this route not being for the faint of heart, I have to admit that it really isn't one the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights should travel. . .

The heights made for some spectacular views as we climbed higher and higher, then began our descent. . .

. . .on a hair-raising 10 kilometer stretch of road leading us to a place where George Bush and Princess Diana have been, but likely not many mainstream tourists to Greece. Where were we heading? Well, that is the tale I will tell you in our next post.

Hope to see you back with us again and until then safe and happy travels to you and yours~
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This week we are linking with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration


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