Our trip to Greece was not intended to be exhaustive but eclectic, including visiting a number of unavoidable ancient sites, the discovery of beautiful scenery and a Hellenic week lazing on the beach. We crossed Greece from June 16 to July 2, 2012, in the heart of the heat wave!
Arriving in Athens, we are directly involved in Volos, before the turn of the peninsula of Mount Pelion. We were seized by the diversity of landscapes, from the industrial port of Volos to small coves along the west coast through the resort’s ski Agrioflekes, the jungle of apple orchards near Makrinitsa, villages with ancient houses decorated with earthenware. The highlight of this tour of Pelion Agia Kyriaki was a small fishing village at the tip of the peninsula, lost in a setting combining islands, sea and sky.
We then left for the amazing site of Meteora, made of breathtaking natural rock upon which are built Orthodox monasteries from the 11th century. The site attracts a crowd of tourists, particularly countries of the East, but is worth the detour. We found a home in Kastraki, a small village less touristy than Kalambaka, starting point of classical hits. There are only 6 active monasteries who are visited, so we admired the monasteries Varlaam, Holy Trinity, Agio Nikolaos Anapafsas, Agios Stefanos Roussanou and the Great Monastery (most interesting). The chapels often have very rich Orthodox icons and art, but we were disappointed not to feel more spiritual.
Starting at Delphi, we stopped in the charming seaside town of Galaxidi, hotel galaxies that we recommend. The site of Delphi, although in ruins is superb thanks to its setting of olive trees and beautiful hills. Unfortunately, like most other major Greek museums, museum of Delphi were closed for repairs due to the financial crisis. We made a detour to the beautiful monastery Ossios Loukas, late Byzantine style and rich gold mosaics and marbles.
After visiting the fort of Nafplion and the pleasant town of the same name, influenced by the Romans and the Turks who attacked over the centuries, we continued to two great ancient sites: Tiryns, attributed to the Cyclops and the necropolis of Mycenae with its famous gate to the lions, the tombs of Aegisthus, Clytemnestra, the Treasury of Atreus and the secret tank which is accessed through a dark staircase and slippery. After a week devoted to Greek culture, whether ancient or orthodox, we agreed a week of relaxation in Koroni. This small town in in southern Peloponnese, adjoins to Kalamata, an industrial city known for its olives and its football team.
Koroni is a charming little town typically Greek, with houses painted in white and blue shutters, adorned with flowers planted in pots with feta, olive and fig trees. The white citadel worth seeing and the beautiful beach is sparsely populated. You need to see the countryside, villages and Vasilisa Finikounta. From there we made a break to climb Mount Taygetos and to visit the site of Olympia, in ruins, but very large and impressive, and that of the former Messina, free access that extends over a huge area surrounded by walls wonderful.
This was indeed a great trip to Greece and my next trip will be to Las Vegas. These are nearly diametrially opposed places, the Ancient World on one hand versus the modern rush from our most modern world on the other hand. Enjoy.