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Admiring the Arcadian Gate and walking atop the 2,300-year-old wall at Ancient Messini

Circuit wall at Ancient Messini Greece

A segment of the 9.5-kilometer-long stone wall that was built in 369 BC to protect the ancient city of Messini. We walked sections of the circuit wall between three of its lookout towers. 

 

Arcadian Gate at Ancient Messini

The circuit wall was built with two gates — one on the east side of Ancient Messini and one on the west. This toppled stone lintel is a striking sight at the western portal known as the Arcadian Gate.

 

Arcadian Gate at Ancient Messini

The Arcadian Gate has two entrances, each at opposite ends of a large circular courtyard. This is a view of one of the curved walls inside the courtyard.

 

Ancient Messini archaeological site

Part of the extensive archaeological grounds at Ancient Messini, which is described as “one of the most important cities of antiquity” in a listing on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites webpage.

 

buildings at Mavromati village

Mavromati is a small village that overlooks Ancient Messini from the lower slopes of Mount Ithomi. We stayed here for one night during our brief visit to the area in May.

 

Wall walking:  Suffering from jet lag and lack of sleep after a 9.5-hour overnight flight to Athens, we didn’t expect to see or do much during the first day of our vacation in the western Peloponnese region of Greece in late May.  We definitely didn’t anticipate walking around a village and historic sites for a few hours in hot temperatures and blazing sunshine. But since we had less than 24 hours to see Ancient Messini, we resisted the urge to take a nap in our hotel room, choosing instead to explore as much of the area as we could while our energy and enthusiasm lasted.

Our early afternoon arrival gave us an opportunity to wander the quiet streets of Mavromati village, admire the unique design of the Arcadian Gate, walk along sections of a two thousand year old fortification wall, view parts of the Ancient Messini archaeological site, see an historic monastery, and enjoy the fresh air and countryside before tucking into a delicious Greek dinner at a taverna near our hotel. We didn’t have enough time or stamina to visit all of the area’s fascinating attractions, but we enjoyed everything that we did get to see — and loved every minute of being back in Greece. 

Please continue reading on page 2, where you’ll see more photos of the impressive Arcadian Gate, circuit wall, and Ancient Messini.

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Countdown to Kefalonia

The beautiful landscapes and scenery on Kefalonia look tremendously inviting even in winter, as this short film by Yiannis Prassadis reveals

 

Finally going: Kefalonia has been on our bucket list for quite some time, but we have never been able to fit a trip there into any of our past island-hopping holidays — largely since we were usually travelling in the Aegean or Dodecanese regions of Greece, too far away to conveniently slot any of the Ionian islands into our vacation schedule. We kept expecting that we would devote one entire holiday just to see Kefalonia and some of its island neighbours, but it never happened.

Notions of visiting Kefalonia were rekindled this past January when I discovered the Explore Kefalonia — Winter video (posted above) while working on my blog articles about snowfalls and severe weather conditions in Greece.  

I was captivated by the video scenes of beautiful coasts and landscapes, and that led me to start watching more Kefalonia videos, almost all of which were filmed during the summer tourist period, rather than during the off-season winter months. Those videos, in turn,  made me conclude that we had to bump Kefalonia higher up our “must see” list of places to visit sometime in the next five years.

 

 

I never thought for a moment that we might get to Kefalonia as early as this year, but when friends invited us to join them on a road trip in the western Peloponnese this spring, and asked if we would like to go to Kefalonia from there, we couldn’t pass up the golden opportunity.

We will be on the island later this month for almost a full week — clearly not long enough to see all the fascinating places and attractions that have intrigued me so much in the videos. But if we do wind up loving it Kefalonia as much as we have enjoyed so many other islands, we’ll return another time to get to know it better.

Now it’s just a matter of contending with the steadily growing anticipation of finally getting there. With the countdown to our flight to Greece in its final days, we won’t have to wait much longer.

Below are three of the videos I enjoyed watching during the winter, never realizing that a trip to Kefalonia would be in the cards for us so soon.

 

James Brook published his Kefalonia  video in October 2016

 

Greg Stachura released his Amazing Kefalonia video last November

 

Island Paradise was posted last summer by Buytheticketandgo.com

Views of Viotia

This film by Sheep Productions includes aerial views of some of the scenic towns, lakes and mountain areas in Central Greece’s Viotia region

 

Introductory visit: If all goes according to plan, we will be spending several days in the Central Greece region of Viotia during the final leg of our upcoming trip to Greece. 

Truth be told, I had never heard of Viotia (also often spelled Boeotia) by its name until very recently, though I have long been aware of some of the top attractions in the area — including the UNESCO World Heritage site of Delphi, Mount Parnassus, and the town of Arachova.

But then the Viotia from Above video was brought to my attention, and after studying a map I realized we could arrange to spend two or three days in the area en route from Central Greece to Athens.

Viotia from Above runs just over two minutes and shows scenic drone views of two towns (Livadeia and Arachova), Kria Springs and Yliki Lake, the countryside at Lafysti, plus Mount Parnassus and Helikon Mountain. 

 

Viotia region of Greece

The Viotia region is highlighted in pink on this Google map

 

After watching that clip, I found My Unique Arachova (below), a video posted by the Aegli hotel in Arachova. It runs for two and a half minutes and shows scenes from the town and surrounding area; mountain biking and skiing at Mount Parnassus; mountain and landscape scenery; and an aerial view of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Together, the two films enticed me into adjusting our travel plans so we can pass through Viotia after a road trip in the western Peloponnese and a visit to Kefalonia island.

 

 

While won’t be doing any skiing at Parnassus, it seems clear there will be plenty of other things to keep us happily occupied in and around Arachova and Delphi — and anywhere else we might get to in Viotia. I’m sure we will wind up wishing we had considerably more time to explore the region more thoroughly, but our short stay will give us a taste of what’s there (and I’ve already been told by several people that the local food is divine) and what we will be able to see during a return visit on another holiday.

In case the videos pique your own interest in visiting Viotia,  you can find some helpful general information on the Viotia page of Greece.com.  Also worth a look is the article Arachova: A Cosmopolitan Greek Mountain Experience from the travel, culture and gastronomy website Greece Is.

 

You’ll see scenes from the town of Arachova, Mount Parnassus, Delphi and other places in Viotia in this video by YouTube contributor aegli-arachova.gr

 

A timely Greece travel guide

Sunday Times Travel Magazine May 2017 cover

Greece gets cover treatment in the May 2017 issue of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

 

Cover glory:  It may have been an omen, or simply serendipity, but whatever it was certainly happened at a good time.

When I popped into a local newsstand the other day to browse reading material for our upcoming flight to Greece, a photo of a beautiful Greek island beach instantly caught my eye.

At first glance I thought it was a picture of Zakynthos island’s world-famous Navagio beach (also known as Shipwreck Beach) that graces the cover of the May 2017 edition of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. But after taking a closer look once I got home, I realized it’s a different beach altogether. Surprisingly, the magazine’s editorial page doesn’t identify the location — the photo states only that the image was photographed by Giovanni Simeone of SIME/4 Corners.  But after a few minutes of Google searching, I discovered that the picture captures a small cove a short distance down the coast from Navagio. 

With that little mystery solved, I took a quick peek through the magazine’s cover feature — a 24-page “Total Guide” to Greece. 

 

 

“Whether you’re after a jam-packed family trip, an indulgent break with friends, or a romantic laze on a step-back-in-time island, we’ve got your Greece right here,” the guide’s introduction pledges. And it certainly seems to fulfill its promises. 

Among the guide’s dozens of destination profiles, tips and suggestions are articles describing:

♦  The ideal island-hopping break (to the Argo-Saronic islands)

♦  3 ways to feel remote

♦  The ideal active holiday

♦  5 ways to get off-season summer sun

♦  A girly break on Santorini

♦  The ideal crowd-free Athens break

♦  Our favourite scrummy seaside lunches

♦  The ideal family-friendly resort holiday

♦  Our favourite epic historic sites

♦  Our favourite beaches only the locals know

♦  2 ways to visit a great little city

♦  The ideal timewarp trip (to Kythira), and

♦  Our favourite white sand beaches (Navagio ranks #2 on the list, right after Crete’s Balos beach, which I profiled in two blog posts  last year: Escape to Crete’s exotic Balos beaches and lagoons, and Escape to Balos Part 2).

The guide provides plenty of additional information and helpful advice, and is packed with photos of beautiful and inspiring sights and scenes.  See if you can pick up a copy at your local news outlet. Sorry, but you can’t borrow mine — I’m not letting it  out of my hands!

The 10 things we loved most about Nafplio — in photos

Photo montage of Nafplio sights

 

Photo gallery: In my previous post, Falling for Nafplio, I described some of the elements and attractions that make the eastern Peloponnese port town of Nafplio one of our favourite places in all of Greece.

That report was packed with pictures, but since I had dozens more that I wanted to share, I have gathered many of them here to further illustrate why we enjoy Nafplio so much. I have grouped them into the 10 specific sights, features and attractions that we consider our favourites:

♦  the Old Town

♦  the scenery and views

♦  the waterfront

♦  the Arvanitia promenade

♦  the coastal path to Karathona beach

♦  the three castles: Acronauplia, Bourtzi and Palamidi

♦ the beaches and swimming spots

♦  the food and wine

♦  the hotel we stayed at, and

♦  Nafplio’s convenient location for daytrips to other places in the Argolida region of the Peloponnese.

 

 

There are far more than 10 reasons why Nafplio is worth visiting, of course, but I will leave them for you to  discover and experience yourself.  I’m certain there will be plenty of things you will like about Nafplio besides those shown in our pictures.

Photo montage of Nafplio sights

 

Please click on the link below to see the photo sets on page 2.

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