Hiking on the Mani peninsula
October 26, 2016
We're in Kardamyli, a small town which doesn't have much in the way of tourist attractions: no sandy beach, not much in the way of ruins, a tiny museum. The two roads in are a pain, hairpin curve after hairpin curve. Few hotels. Yet the same people - mostly Brits but also a smattering of other northern Europeans - return year after year for weeks at a time, filling the many apartments in the summer months. Why? Because Kardamyli is in a beautiful and remote spot, hemmed in by a range of tall mountains to the east and the deep blue Mediterranean to the west.
The regulars are like the Austrian woman we met while hiking. She comes for the hiking, the warm sea, and the friendly laid-back atmosphere (though I'd say Greece in general seems pretty laid back).
We spent the morning hiking to the tiny village of Petrovouni, then to an old church, the Aghia Sophia, and finally back down to Kardamyli for lunch at a seaside cafe. Tough life, eh? It was a pretty easy hike, part cobblestone scramble, part traffic-less country road, and part old stone pathway. Lots of flowers blooming - bougainvillea do really well here - and olive trees. The stone path we hiked on dates back to ancient times when the only way to get to Kardamyli was by walking or boat. I think the road into town is a pretty recent development.
The photos show the countryside which is mostly green forest, largely olive trees. In the second photo is Mount Taygetus at 2400m. (Mystras, which we visited yesterday, is just on the other side of the mountain.) Supposedly it appears in the Odyssey though I've yet to encounter it. Other photos show a couple of churches, a typical new-construction house (the simple but elegant architecture is a relief to my eyes from the over-wrought design seen in north America), and the final photo is of schoolkids practicing for the Oct 28 (No Day) parade. They were in the middle of the highway, blocking traffic a bit, but no one seemed to care. It's all pretty mellow here.
Would love to stay longer in Kardamyli, there are lots of tempting hiking trails all along the coast, but we allowed just long enough to get a taste. Tomorrow is a travel day: we are off to the big city which I expect to be a shock after the series of wonderful small Greek towns we've seen. I didn't expect this: Greece is giving Italy competition for top spot on my list of favorite countries.
Trails are well marked, by color and pattern
The coast north of Kardamyli
Band practice in middle of hwy