At the last days of year "2013", we decided to say goodbye making a small trip to Peloponnese. Due to christmas holidays, with family and social obligations complicate those excursions. Stratos and I were able to get away from these, to enjoy the last part of the year. The weather, despite the rain of previous days, was on our side by giving us an incredible sunshine. If we exclude the low temperature, it resembled a spring day! Stratos came from Agrinio while I came from Athens and our meeting point was at the junction of Diakofto. Our coordination was impressive as we arrived with less than 10 minutes difference.
Our initial destination was Kalavryta. It was a pleasant route, with comfortable driving and without so much traffic on the road. Unfortunately, the little snow that fell the previous days has adversely affected tourism in Kalvryta, which is considered one of the most popular winter destinations of Greece. We followed the route, into a beautiful landscape, until we reached to the main square of Kalavryta. City's characteristic is the station of rack railway Diakofto- Kalavryta. Some people were to the main pedestrian walkway, where there are many shops, restaurants and cafes, which were beautifully decorated. We went to one of them, to enjoy a coffee next to fireplace overlooking the train station. The time passed pleasantly inside the warm environment but we had to continue our trip.
So, we made one last walk of the pedestrian walkway and we left Kalabryta following the signs to Patra and then to Lagovouni- Kandalo- Priolithos. The road was almost deserted but comfortable in driving and the breathtaking views of the mountains made our journey more enjoyable. Initially, we spent a plateau and slowly we went up to the altitude junction of the Forest Kleitoria. We turned right to the Park, in a narrow mountain road at an altitude of more than 1000m, which offering us a unique panoramic view of the area. We encountered picturesque villages without special tourism development (almost nonexistent) and without residents.
One of the most beautiful villages that we encountered was Aroania. Suddenly, it appeared in front of us, behind a bend of the road, built on the side of a mountain with the houses made by stone, impress us. We moved through narrow streets and we saw a small sign for Alestaina which we followed. We turned left, in a narrow street, which made us doubt if, we were in the right direction. After a while, we saw a small church, where we made a short stop to enjoy the view. Continuing, the downhill road passed through the Hovoli and it ended at the junction of the road Levidiou - Pyrgos. What we thought, it was to visit Ladon Lake so, we followed the signs to Daphne - Ladon Lake. The landscape was still spectacular, with full of high evergreen trees. In Daphne, we followed the road to Ladon sources, as we had not any specific plan, we decided to visit them. We felt that it would be one of the most beautiful and the most easy approach points of the river. We did not do wrong, so after 4- 5km we arrived at the point where the rafting begins. It was for us, the most suitable spot to enjoy traditional pie, which was made by Stratos mother!
The time was 4pm and we had plenty of miles to get to Doliana, where we would spend the night (if we could find available accommodation). For this reason, we changed the route and we moved around the Ladon lake. We would travel southeast to Vlachernas - Levidhion and from there we will cross the Arcadian plateau until Tripoli and Doliana. So it happened...
From the point that we were, a short (about 1 km) dirt road led us to the provincial network to Levidhion. The route was comfortable enough and after we crossed Vlachernas (following the signs to Athens) soon, we arrived at Levidhion. Shortly before the main square, we found the signs to Nemea - Kandila. We were on the plateau, which a large part of it converted into farmland. Soon, we were at the junction to Paleopirgos - Tripoli and after a few kilometers on the node to Picerno. Looking at our map, there was a road right after the village, which leading to the Saga. We thought arriving there, we could get closer to the tunnel of Artemisiou and from there we would follow the freeway to arrive sooner to the final destination of the day.
So, we continued until we arrived in Picerno, which is built on the foothills of the mountain. There is no particular architecture regarding buildings but impress their hillside position, giving us a beautiful view of the plateau of the Arcadian plateau. We drove through the narrow streets of the village until the cemetery, where ended at a dirt road. Shortly before, our decision was to continue to this path but somebody local informed us that the road (20km) was under very bad conditions, with many large puddles by the rain of the previous day. Immediately discouraged us and we returned by the same route to go to Tripoli.
We drove to a beautiful flat route and we passed outside from the archaeological site of ancient Mantinea. We can say that he has become better known by the church of Agia Fotini, which stands out for its architectural style.
It was almost dark and the cold became more and more noticeable but fortunately, we had already arrived in the beautiful village of Ano Doliana. There, we visited a traditional artistic cafe - named "Oneirologio". The owners, George and Vicky are friends of us. When they saw us suddenly rejoiced too much and they offered us coffee, which was the best drink for us at that time!
Making a phone call in the Dasiko (=Forest) Chorio (=Village), which is located directly above the Ano Doliana, we found an available room to spend the night. We relaxed and enjoyed the company of our friends. Around 10am we went to eat at a restaurant a few meters below and then we went to a wooden house of the forest village. Along the fireplac and the snaps, which Stratos had brought with him we sat until late, chatting about the route of the day... a trip without program...!
THE NEXT DAY
found us restful in the Dasiko Chorio of Ano Doliana. Inside the wooden house, despite the heat from the radiator and the fireplace, in the evening we felt the cold from outside, demonstrating the decrease of the temperature. We packed our stuff and we went to "Oneirologio" to meet up with our friends. We drank our morning coffee and we decided on the continuation of our journey.
We were thinking of going to Nafplio, where there is a friend Giorgos Z., but we talked with him on the phone and he explained us that due to work commitments he could not meet us. So, we changed our plans and we decided to move further south in order to spend the night in a village outside Kalamata. About 12:30am we started, following the mountain path leading to the "heart" of conditions Parnona. When we passed the village of St. Peter's, with the impressive churches, we took the direction Tzitzina (Polydrosso), etc. In essence, we followed a lonely road through a forest of firs, reaching an altitude of 1500m. In some sunless places, the road had caught ice and we should have a special attention!
After about 30km, we arrived at the picturesque village that produces cotton. We crossed the narrow streets, towards the Megali Vrysi (=Great Fountain) and Vresthena. We were surrounded by a stunning landscape across a small sign for "Moni Rematianis". A narrow alley of 1500m, in good condition, leading to the desert but very well preserved monastery. Arriving we left our motorbikes in a small flat of the road and we went up the stone steps which leading to the entrance. The monastery dates since 15th century but it has withstood the rigors of time. Characterized as a cruciform church with a dome registered and a large part of the decoration is in very good condition. Watching the dome gives us the impression that it follows the topography of the rock on which it is built. Features wing with seven cells. We enjoyed the building and the landscape from various aspects of the monastery.
We continued our journey in the same pattern until Vresthena, where after this the landscape has changed and there were mostly tall oaks. Passing through the village Vresthena, towards Sparta, we saw the sign for Monastery Vresthenitissas. Having good impressions from the previous monastery we decided to visit this monastery since it not abstained over 1.5km. We ended on a low hill, where within a cluster of cypress and pine was the church. The monastery dates since14th century according to the murals that decorate the interior of the church. With the fall of Constantinople established the Diocese Vresthenis, with headquarters Vresthena. In the early of 19th century, the Monastery of Our Lady had three cells, stables for the animals, a house within the enclosure (which apparently was the residence of the bishop) and a water source. The monastery was burned and destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha in July 1826. This disaster led the monastery to a rapid decline, until the mid of 1930 where the monastery remained half ruined. In 1833, by applying the law of Otto by abolition of the monasteries, the monastery had fewer than six monks and the Virgin Vresthenitissa dissolved completely. Unfortunately, recorded and further damage due to the landslide. Finally, it renovated for a second time in the early 20th century, when it covered with lime many of the frescoes.
We left the monastery and after a few kilometers we met the national road Tripoli- Sparta, where we intended to visit Mystras. At the entrance of the village realized that the time was 5.30pm, so we postponed our visit. We continued to Kalamata through Taygetos mountain path, as it was still day. This route impresses everyone who crosses it! The view of the cliffs, the lush vegetation of pine trees and firs, the comfortable road surface and the natural tunnels are some of the features. This road, at the most part of it, is the same as that which leads to ancient Sparta. At the highest point was the tourist booth of Taygetos. There, we made a quick stop for coffee, before we take the road to Kalamata. The landscape became increasingly different with the presence of fog around!
Later in the afternoon, we arrived in Kalamata, at the western coast of the city, where there is a small port. There were many restaurants, where we chose one of them to eat something. Somewhat thus ended our small excursion to Peloponnese... Somehow we said goodbye to 2013 and we welcomed the New Year of 2014...!
We wish you a Happy New Year with many mostly safe, long or short road trips...!