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Travel :Kalamata to Navarino Dunes Peloponnese, Greece.June 28&29,2021

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

BG -Israel to Athens Airport

The two and half hours,being covered with masks during the quite full flight to Athens, run surprisingly uneventfully.

Amazingly, it took only 15 minutes due to unexpected remarkable Greek efficiency, from embarking the plane, passing through Passport control, at where all health E-documents bureaucracy was shared, to picking up the fast unloaded luggage, and until stepping out of the arrival terminal.


The Israeli heat-wave followed us to Greece and also we were hit with a back -log at the car rental service. located outside the air-port.

David's expired International Driving license added to the rental's cost another 20 Euro per a day, which the agent refused to forfeit, and we refused to pay, unless the International license is updated.

So here is a handy tip should you find yourself stuck at a car-rental in a similar situation :


Google "International Driving license" and few companies will offer to e-mail you an instant license for a nominal fee depending for how long you wish it to be issued

( one, or up to three years) support@e-ita.org


Our certificate landed into the cell phone within 20 minutes wait, after using this link,

So despite the delay, we hit back the road, relatively after, only a short delay


Why the Peloponnese ?



Surrounded by sea on all sides the Peloponnese - a peninsula and geographic region in southern Greece, is an utmost popular area, offering amazing beaches, beautiful resorts and interesting archeological sightseeing, which attract many visitors in a normal year.

But this one wasn't, due to the pandemic, thus touring the region was a calm experience.



Historically, it has been the main field of action for Greece since the prehistoric times. Olympia, Epidaurus, and Mycenae. are the most important archaeological sites of Greece, Nafplion, Gythio, Monemvasia, and Pylos are attractive places to visit.


We decided to start our tour at the southern parts of the Peloponnese, and work our way up north.







From Athens Airport to Kalamata

The plan was to first tour the peninsula's southern attractions and then work our way up north, thus we headed straight to where the night was going to be spent at.


The two and a half hours drive, from Athens airport to Calamata - our first destination,

at the Peloponnese, were spent on Hwy E-94 to E-65 tall roads.

The fast road is sunk between medium height mountain range, passes Corinth bay then the scenery continues through natural woodland, display of vineyards rolling of hilly landscape, green patched of cultivated valleys, and numerous Olive trees groves, for which about every 15 km one has to slow down to pay the tall dues.


Kalamáta


A beach and chief port city of about 70,000 which lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf. in the south of Greece. It is the second most populated In the peninsula, after Patras.


The city got its world fame for its signature large, dark brown Kalamata olives -the region where these olives are grown, and which are known for their smooth, meaty texture,


The history of Kalamata begins with Homer who mentions Firai, an ancient city built more or less where the 13 c Frankish fortress - Kalamata Castle - stands today, and where the Old City Center and long tranquil bay water strip, right below it, are located.


The city was captured by the Byzantine, Venetians and Ottomans all leaving their unique architectural hand prints.


Other historical and cultural sights are:

the Ypapanti Byzantine church, -Protectorates

the Kalograion monastery, - silk work

the municipal railway park. - open-air museum

the Archaeological Museum of Messenia

the Folk Art Museum.



The town which stretches out along the bay and toward the mountains is quite charming but bears a seedy look to it.


The Central Market , was not that exciting on Tuesday, a day that, also most cultural attractions are closed, as the real Market action takes place only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Still it was worth getting fresh fruits at the several stores there operating all

week.

The long promenade along the pebbled beach strip holds many Cafes, Bars and Restaurants, almost all where empty, as the international and national tourists haven't yet returned.

Dinner was good at Ximenoma -Fish Restaurant in Calamata, with a shaded terrace overlooking the the beach strip


First night was spent at:

Pharae Palace Hotel Calamata - +(30) 2721094420-4

A modern facility on the beach promenade, where Breakfast is served on the 5th floor from where the bay views are much more appealing than the food itself.



Kalamata to Navaroni Dunes



The longer non-direct coastal road ride, along the South west gulf from:

Calamata via Petalidi to Koroni at the Southern tip, then driving West via Methoni and up North on the Navaroni coast to Pilos, where we ended the day at Navaroni Dunes, is a wonderful day drive.


Sea of Olive trees groves, rolling vineyards and green mountain peaks are the enchanting scenery, that juxtaposes against the bluish sky and seaside, as well as a landscape, dotted with red roofs of white houses, populating the quint small villages/towns we, passed through.


Methoni and Koroni were long prized jewels of the Republic of Venice.

Their castles flourished during the Venetian occupation from 1207 – 1500, developing into important stops for merchant ships traveling from the West to the East, as well as for pilgrims heading to the Holy Land.




The small towns worth a stop at are:


Koroni or Korone


About an hour drive from Calamanta , the picturesque seaside town of about 5000, is amphitheatrically built on a low-lying hill, below a Venetian castle, on the southwest peninsula of the Gulf of Messinia, reaching to the edge of the gulf.


Founded in ancient times, the Byzantines built the fortress in the 6th and 7th centuries AD, and it was also ruled by the Venetians and Ottomans,



Its beautiful stately homes are painted in light colours with characteristic blue or yellow windows. thei yards are filled with colourful flowers, and the narrow back streets are stone-paved..


Large number of churches, small port, wonderful beaches some long with fine golden sand and some smaller with pebbles, where windsurfing, swimming, sailing, fishing, jet skiing, or beach volleyball, are practiced.

The 13c Venetian Castle at the top of the hill, that was completed by the Turks in the 16thc. is also an attraction to experience.



Methoni - (Sand Beach)


Another enchanting small seaside port-town of about 1,200 residents, which is built next to its huge castle, where mainly low-rise buildings with ceramic-tiled roofs occupy the landscape next to it.

Some of the long sandy beaches in the area are important nesting sites for Caretta caretta turtles,


The enormous Castle of Methoni is one of the most important medieval fortress complexes in Greece,


The imposing castle occupies the whole area of the cape and the southwestern coast to the small islet that has also been fortified with an octagonal tower and is protected by the sea on its three sides. Its north part, the one that looks to land, is covered by a heavily fortified acropolis. A deep moat separates the castle from the land and communication was achieved by a wooden bridge. The Venetians built on the ancient battlements and added on and repaired it during both periods that they occupied the castle. (more on the castles)


Pylos /Navarino

This small picturesque seaside town of about 2500 residents Is the main harbour on the Bay of Navarino - a small, deep, and almost landlocked bay of the Ionian Sea.


Pylos has been inhabited since Neolithic times. During the Bronze Age (3000–1000 BC), the Mycenaean civilization developed, particularly in Peloponnese. Pylos then became the capital of one of the most important human centers of this civilization and of a powerful kingdom, often referred to as Nestor's kingdom of "sandy Pylos"

with remains of the so-called "Palace of Nestor" excavated nearby, named after Nestor, the king of Pylos in Homer's Iliad.

in the 1280s the Franks built the Old Navarino castle on the site. Pylos came under the control of the Republic of Venice from 1417 until 1500, when it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans used Pylos and its bay as a naval base, and built the New Navarino fortress


Battle of Navarino was the naval battle fought on in 1827, during the Greek War of Independence (1821–32), in Navarino Bay. Allied forces from Britain, France, and Russia decisively defeated Ottoman and Egyptian forces which were trying to suppress the Greeks

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Reduced tickets info for 3 days entry is valid for:

Archaeological Museum of Chora, Archaeological Museum of Messenia, Castle of Methoni, Castle of Pylos, Kalamata Castle, Palace of Nestor

Telephone: +30 27630 31437 Email:efames@culture.gr

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To be continued...