Showing posts with label hiking in Greece. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hiking in Greece. 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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ios Island: History, Homer and Easy Hikers

On the island of Ios, with its hilly, rocky landscape, a history that dates back some 500 million years and a population of less than 2,000, is where we find ourselves this week. 

 Ios2014 005 

Tucked away between the more well-known Mykonos and Santorini in the white-washed Cycladic Islands of Greece, this island has an ‘in-season’ reputation of being a rocking, late night party place – a magnet for young travelers. In this off-season time it is quiet here – many stores and restaurants have yet to open  and its narrow streets are relatively empty – making it a delightful place to explore.

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The pathway to Homer's Tomb
Ios (pronounced EE-ohs) holds the distinction of  being Homer’s final resting place. His tomb is atop the wind-swept hill pictured above. He’s the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey back in the 8th Century, in case you’ve forgotten your Ancient Literature teachings. His resting place was documented by 5th Century writer  Heridotus, who traveled these lands and is considered ‘the father of history’. It is a ‘must visit’ on this island!

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From Left: Thomas, Christos, Jackie, Marlys, Michael and Joel

We decided on a whim to come here last week and where pleased to learn that travel’s serendipity was bringing two of our long-time favorite France-based bloggers, Michael and Marlys Schuermann of Easy Hiker to the island at the same time.  As an added bonus we met blogger Thomas Dowson, also from France who writes Archaeology Travel.

  Ios2014 002

For at least two years I’ve read Easy Hiker and been inspired to take so many of their recommended hikes, but never in a million years did I think I would ever do one with them. . .well, until yesterday when they invited us to join them. They were headed up that hill pictured above to visit those churches. So off we went and what a wonderful hike  climb, it was:

Ios2014 022

Ios is known for its churches – there are 365 on this island, one for each day of the year (some speculate there are more). Half of them are open to the public but most are private chapels – as were these four – and are open by invitation only.  As the other three writers were guests of the municipality, the invitation had been extended to look inside. The pathway though is open to the public.

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It was a series of paved steps that led up the hill and not as difficult as it had looked from below.

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So we all did what any travel blogger/tourist would do: snapped photos like crazy and exclaimed over the stunning vistas:

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It was one of those travel days that we’ll file away in the extra special file because it was filled with the best that travel has to offer: new friends, old treasures and great adventures.

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In case you are wondering, we did make it to the top, this photo is of the upper most church. The final portion of the climb was over open grass and dirt. . .

Thanks again to our fellow bloggers for including us on their outing. And thanks too, to Christos, who was the Municipality’s tourism representative who led us up the hill.  (He’s 72 years old, by the way!)
Linking up today with Budget Travelers Sandbox, Travel Photo Thursday.  As always the time you spend with us is most appreciated! Hope you join us this weekend when we will be. . .(check back to find out ;-)!)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

“Gorging” Ourselves in Greece’s Mani

We’d set out one morning during our stay in the small town of Kardamili to explore the surrounding countryside in this part of the Peloponnese known as the ‘Outer Mani’ .

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The two-lane paved road twisted its way through olive groves and wild flower bouquets up the hillside toward the peak of Mt. Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias). The mountain with an elevation of 7,897-ft (2,407-meters) is the highest mountain in the Taygetus range. The towering mountain is visible from miles away.

Pelop2013 080

What we didn’t realize when we started out is that we were headed to Exohori, the small hamlet that serves as a gateway to Viros Gorge (Gorge Virou), a stunning deep river gorge that runs  from the foot of Mt. Profitis Ilias to Kardamili (Kardamyli).

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While the morning’s light cloud cover obscured the mountain’s peak, it highlighted the contours that make up  this popular hiking area.

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The  map pictured to the left was posted at the beginning of the gorge trail showing just how many different directions you could explore. . .if you had  hiking boots (which we hadn’t).

So we set out on the wide gravel road to at least get a taste of hiking the gorge:

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As we walked we couldn’t but think of the history held in the heart of these mountains. The name Taugetus or Taygetos is one of the oldest recorded in Europe (it is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey).

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The trail beckoned us to walk just a bit further, then a bit further,  amid scenery that was a feast for the soul.

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However, on the off chance anyone was walking along and was too dense to recognize their breathtaking surroundings. . .someone had erected a sign in Greek and English – which made us laugh - to help them take note:

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If You Go:

Taygetos Location Map

The nearest airport is at Kalamata, Greece about 40 kilometers away, (click the link provided).

For accommodations, there is one hotel in Exohori, Hotel Faraggi that overlooks the gorge and it has rave reviews on Trip Advisor and The gorge views from its balcony are unbelievable! (It can be seen on the left cliff in the second to last photo.) 

A larger selection of restaurants and tavernas are found in ocean side Kardamyli  (click the link provided).

That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Nancie at  Budget Travelers Sandbox and Noel's Travel Photo Discovery which appears Mondays.


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