We welcomed 2015 with very cold and snowfall in almost all of Greece. Something with the weather, something with our obligations forced us to wait patiently for the first opportunity to "inaugurate" the new excursion period... The proposal / occasion for a trip came from Thessaloniki and especially from Achilleas that proposed to visit us to make a journey together. Unfortunately again the professional obligations have prevented this, so Giorgos Z. from Nafplio was not able to come.
On Friday we have an appointment in Athens. Based on the weather forecast for the weekend, I thought it was better to visit the Peloponnese ... but what path we would follow;;; The truth is that this region of Greece is one of the most frequent of our choices, so the "unknown" routes and destinations are now minimal. After thinking I got the idea of the south-eastern side of the Peloponnese and in particular the area of the mount Parnonas destined Monemvasia.
We decided to wander in Parnona, get to Leonidio and from there via the route of the Mari village to reach the Port of Gerakas and come in Monemvasia, calculating the distance close to 450 km. Due to the fact that most of the route was mountainous and provincial, we decided it would be better to spend the night in Ano Doliana (180km.), to reduce the distance and to have the opportunity to enjoy the journey, while we would visite our friends George and Vicki to our familiar hangout place "Oneirologio". So it was...
Friday afternoon we depart from Athens Stratos, Achilleas and I (Manolis). We ride fast and with a lot of desire we arrived at 9.30pm at the Arcadia village where George was waiting for us. This time we chose to stay in the village in the hostel "Tholos" which was very close to "Oneirologio" to be more relaxed.
The weather did not remind close to spring and the temperature barely managed to reach 5 points. George threw wood in the stove and the "Oneirologio" hosted us until late discussing our experiences from the last trip abroad and more!
The next -Saturday- morning came with a bright sun! We woke up relatively early and went directly to George to enjoy our coffee. At 12 came Sakis with Diana, to continue together.
The paths leading to Monemvasia are many. First you can choose to wander on various routes of Parnona, or go near the coastline or through Sparta (following the main road). We therefore thought to lead to a path we had not chosen earlier -at least a big part of it. We started following the tortuous path to the big village of St. Peter, with two large churches to dominate the center. We crossed it and after having crossed the iron bridge on the outing, we traveled 1-2km to the intersection Monastery Malevi - Kastanitsa. Heading with easterly course, we continued in the same street pattern, enjoying the ride.
Shortly before the village of Platanos, we made a stop at the point where the path starts on the gorge of Lepidi. This is a small canyon of incredible natural beauty that dominant element is the tributary of Vrasiatis. The turquoise waters create small waterfalls, while following the path encounter points that you can admire the big waterfall formed on the mountainside. George Z. had mentioned that there is a passable road (relatively short distance) leading close to the waterfall ... We left this visit as "legacy" for a future trip to the area.
We stayed for some time in the area and our cameras "caught fire"! But we had some way to go, so with a heavy heart we continued our journey. In the small village of Platanos, we stopped for a while, nevertheless it really worth a better visit!
After passing the village of Sitaina, our next destination was the beautiful, traditional village of Kastanitsa. The road approaching the village offered an impressive panoramic view. We stopped to enjoy. Kastanitsa is one of the oldest villages of Parnonas. Until our days the traditional stone houses are kept in good condition, while blanched white with lime walls, wooden balconies, roofs of slate and bold colors on the windows make them unique!
A few kilometers after Kastanitsa we found ourselves at the intersection for Prastos. We followed the path leading to the entrance of the village. Somewhere there we were on a steep dirt road. We spoke with the guys that their bikes were not for the dirt road, two of us go to check the route, thinking that the road would soon be asphalt. Our aim was to get to St. Peter and then to St. Basilios, then to go to the Monastery of Elonas and to Leonidio.
We quickly realized that the road was gravel until Agios Basilios. The guys who had entered in the village succeeded after much effort to find someone, who told them about the state of the dirt road to the next village. He said that it is likely that we will have enough mud and possibly snow!
We believe, therefore, that it was better to return to the last intersection that we met leaving Kastanitsa, and continue for San Andreas. The helical path led us to the coastal route of Nafplion - Leonidion, giving us the opportunity to enjoy the incredible views of the Argolic Gulf!
The road was better and we started to ride faster went up, as we realized that the night and the cold would catch us. Arriving in Leonidion the signs guided us to Poulithra, we continued along the coast. After Poulithra the road climbed altitude and the view of Myrtoo Sea became increasingly impressive! After Pyrgoudi and to the village of Kounoupia the path crossed a plateau, offering a more variety in our trip.
In the village of Mari we made a stop at the small waterfall. The time had come to be clothed even better, as the sun was down and the cold became more noticeable, the temperature does not exceed 10 degrees. This village was the last of Arcadia, shortly after we got in Laconia.
Unfortunately it began to darken slowly and we began to move more rapidly as we could not enjoy the scenery. After 50km we arrived at the port of Gerakas, having essentially gotten dark. We were unlucky - having not calculated the change in the plans of route - and we could not see the beauty of the area. The Port of Gerakas is a unique natural harbor, not visible from the side of the sea, because of the curve and its narrow entrances. It is known as "The Greek fiord." A small picturesque village located on the north bank of it.
From there we continued for 20 km. to find ourselves in the narrow strip of land that connects the mainland by the impressive rock of Monemvasia, the "Greek Gibraltar" as it is characterized by many guests! The truth is that one of our discussions on the route was whether we would meet many people in Monemvasia and almost always ended that due to the season and the weather, maybe ... we would be alone ... But the reality was different...
Arriving at the gate of the castle city of Monemvasia, we met several parked vehicles. We parked and unloaded our stuff, and made sure to find accommodation within the castle. Passing through the gate, I felt that we are entering another era. The castle charms with its cobbled streets, Byzantine churches, the stone mansions and the passage of the high arches. It is the only example of Greek medieval town, well maintained unchanged. Many Venetian buildings retain their original décor and their balconies which overlook the sea.
The name Monemvasia, comes from the narrow strip of the land that connects it to the mainland and is the "only gate". It is said that it was built by King Minos, and over the centuries passed various conquerors: Spartans, Slavs, Arabs, Franks, Byzantines, Venetians, and Turks... Influences from all these peoples, have created a unique effect!
After arranging our stuff, we started doing a walk, following the main cobblestone street. Crowds had chosen Monemvasia for visiting and relaxing, as we met several small bars. We chose one of the 2-3 available restaurants and we tasted local delicacies. This is how the day ended...
Our Sunday morning found us drinking coffee on the balcony of our room overlooking the sea ... Really amazing! Observing the area, there were moments that you forgot in which era you were...
The particular day we had no plan... but even if we had something in mind, we had to postpone it, as the weather was getting rough. However it was not possible to leave Monemvasia without we did a morning walk and visit places we had not seen the previous night. Having as a guide, a tourist map that gave us the owner of our hotel, we wandered the streets discovering beautiful corners with impressive churches, traditional houses and places with incredible panoramic views. We went from the walls and approached the lighthouse located at the easternmost point of the rock. We decided to visit the Upper Town, but the reconstruction work in the area changed our plans.
At 12.30 we left, following the route Molai - Sparta. We moved on quickly, despite the fact that it was raining, as the road was pretty good. Although initially we thought to take a walk by the wreck of Gythio, ultimately we preferred to postpone it due to the rain. So we continued to Sparta and from there to Tripoli.
Shortly before Tripoli, we said farewell to Sakis and Diana, who continued to Athens, while we called our friend George Z. in Nafplio and decided to visit him! So we followed the road to Astros –at first- and at the village of Stadio, we headed to the Steno village, where we actually found the old National Road Tripoli - Argos in the serpentine path called Kolosourtis, with excellent view of the Argolic Gulf.
Giorgos Z. awaited us at his house, where we had the opportunity to talk and joke. Above all, we were able all to be together and give the next travelling rendezvous ... hoping for a short time!
Happy travelling new year to all!