Tag: Peloponnese (page 1 of 8)

Nafplio’s scenic seaside walks: The Arvanitia promenade and the Karathona beach path

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Greece, Peloponnese, Arcadia, Nafplio, coast, seaside, walkway, promenade, trail, Arvanitia, Arvanitia promenade Nafplio, Nafplio coastal walkway, walkway, path,

The Arvanitia promenade is a stone-paved walkway that winds along the seaside from Nafplio’s historic Old Town to Arvanitia beach 1 kilometer away

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, trail, path, coast, seaside,

The sand and dirt path to Karathona beach begins near Arvanitia, and meanders southward along the Argonic Gulf coast. The walking distance between the two beaches is roughly 2.7 kilometers, about a 30- to 40-minute trek.

 

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Boats docked in the north corner of Karathona Bay. From here, Karathona beach extends nearly 2 kilometers around the bay. It takes half an hour to walk from this spot to the south end of the beach.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, church, Greek Orthodox church, Agios Nikolaos Church,

A separate, third trail leads from Karathona beach to Agios Nikolaos church, which sits on a windy slope above the sea. It’s a pleasant, short hike that’s worthwhile if you reach the south end of Karathona Bay and wish to view more coastal scenery before your return walk to Nafplio.

 

Wonderful walks:  Nafplio is commonly called “one of the most beautiful towns in Greece,” and rightly so — its historic Old Town is one of the prettiest places we have seen during our travels to more than two dozen islands plus a wide variety of places on the mainland and in the Peloponnese. 

With its picturesque alleys, lanes and streets, charming old buildings, impressive public parks and squares, myriad monuments and historic sites, and an extensive selection of restaurants, bars and shops, Nafplio is fascinating to visit, whether just on a daytrip or for several days or more.

Though the town itself is lovely, one of the features we personally love most about Nafplio is the surrounding natural scenery — an exhilarating expanse of rolling hills and mountains, rugged rocky peninsulas and shorelines, and captivating sea colours in the bays, beaches, coves and harbours that indent the  Argolic Gulf coast.

Walking is the best way to observe and savour the marvellous scenery, and Nafplio boasts two wonderful seaside paths that rank among our favourite coastal walks in all of Greece — the Arvanitia promenade, and the footpath to Karathona beach. We make a point of walking at least one of the paths each day we are in Nafplio.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Acronauplia, Acronauplia peninsula, coast, seaside, Argolic Gulf

Aerial view of the Acronauplia peninsula’s south side. The Arvanitia promenade can be seen at the base of the rocky cliffs and is partially visible where it snakes through the line of trees above the shore. The walkway ends at a square above Arvanitia beach (bottom right).

 

The Nafplio Old Town is positioned on the northern slopes of Acronauplia, a thumb-shaped peninsula that juts into the Argolic Gulf (a body of water between the Arcadia and Argolida regions of the Peloponnese). The Arvanitia promenade begins at the Nafplio waterfront area known locally as The Shore, and curves around the western tip of Acronauplia, hugging the base of imposing steep cliffs covered in wide swaths of prickly pear and other cactus plants. The walkway ends at Arvanitia Square, a walking distance of approximately 1 kilometer.  The town’s popular sunbathing and swimming spot, the stone and pebble Arvanitia beach, is a short downhill walk from the square. 

The footpath to Karathona starts a mere stone’s throw beyond the Arvanitia beach entrance. As it meanders south, it passes above several coves and secluded inlets as well as the pebble and stone strands known as Neraki beach. The path is a favourite route for local residents to power walk, jog, cycle and exercise their dogs. At a casual pace, it takes about half an hour to walk the 2.7 kilometer distance to a small harbour at the northern tip of Karathona beach. 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, Karathona Beach, beach, coast, seaside

Beach view from the south side of Karathona Bay

 

Karathona is an exceptionally wide and gently curved beach that stretches nearly 2 kilometers — almost as long as the path from Arvanitia. While it has several sections organized with beach chairs, umbrellas and bars, there are plenty of wide-open spaces in between.  There is another small harbour at the southern end of the beach, along with several houses and Agios Konstantinos Church.  Across the road and parking area behind the houses is the starting point of yet another coastal path, this one a short, narrow trail that leads up and over a hill to the small whitewashed church of Agios Nikolaos. It takes less than 15 minutes to hike to the church, with superb views of the gulf and the mountainous coast of Arcadia throughout the trek (followed by excellent views of Karathona Bay and beach on the way back.)

Strolling the Arvanitia promenade is often suggested as a “must-do” activity for Nafplio visitors, and we certainly agree. But we recommend that walking enthusiasts also make the invigorating hike to Karathona and onward to take a quick look at Agios Nikoloas Church.  These walks offer a great opportunity to get some exercise and fresh sea air while enjoying the tremendous views of coastal landscapes and the Argolic Gulf.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolis, Nafplio,Bourtzi castle, castle, fortress, bay, sea, Banieres, coast,

From the Arvanitia promenade, walkers can view two castles: the Bourtzi sea fortress, seen from a lookout spot above the Banieres swimming area …

 

Greece,Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Palamidi castle, castle, fortress, mountain, peak,

… and the massive Palamidi castle on the peak high above Arvanitia beach, seen as evening sun casts a golden glow on the mountain

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Argolic Gulf, bay, sea, coast,

Both walking paths overlook alluring turquoise waters in the Argolic Gulf …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Argolic Gulf, Nafplio, Karathona, coast, cliffs, landscape, mountain, seaside,

…  exhilarating coastal landscapes …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Argolic Gulf, sea, bay, coast, mountains,

… mountains in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese to the west …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Karathona, coast, seaside, shore, sea, bay, cove, water, Argolic Gulf,

… pretty bays and quiet coves along the rugged shoreline …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Arvanitia, Arvanitia beach, beach, seaside, coast, sunbathers, swimmers, sea,

… organized beaches, like Arvanitia, which offer bars, restaurants, lounge chairs and umbrellas …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Karathona path, beach, Neraki beach, Neraki beach Nafplio, coast, seaside, sea, water,

… and quieter beaches, like Neraki, with no facilities (or crowds)

 

Please click on the links below to continue reading and to see many more photos of the Arvanitia promenade, Arvanitia beach, the Karathona path,  Karathona beach, the trail to Agios Nikolaos Church and of course the church itself.

Page 2 contains some general information about the walking routes, as well as photos of the Arvanitia promenade.

Page 3 features photos of the Karathona footpath and Karathona beach.

Page 4 has pictures of Agios Nikolaos Church and its access trail.

 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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Where to dine, drink and shop local in Kyparissia’s Old Town

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Palia Agora in Kyparissia

Street view of Palia Agora, where a selection of scrumptious mezes topped off our enjoyable visit to Kyparissia 

 

Fab food & drink: Take us to a town or village with sensational views and scenery, and we will probably like it. If there are archaeological sites, or historic buildings or places close by, we will certainly like it even more. Picturesque streets and interesting architecture?  Beautiful beaches, majestic mountains or scenic seasides in the vicinity? A relaxed setting and laid-back atmosphere? Those are guaranteed to tick off even more boxes on our “like” list.

But a destination won’t completely win our hearts if we don’t go home with fond memories of restaurants and cafes. (We’re not foodies or wine snobs by any stretch of the imagination, but we do like to eat, we love good coffee, and we enjoy sipping some nice wine as well.) Since Kyparissia has many of the characteristics that make us happy on holiday — plus really good food and drink in particular — we couldn’t help but love our short visit there in May 2017.

What impressed us on the food & drink front were three places we discovered in the charming Ano Poli (Old Town) district of  Kyparissia:  a shop selling a wide range of local food items and other Made in Messenia products, a comfortable cafe-bar; and a delightful estiatorio – mezedopoleio. Conveniently and coincidentally enough, all three establishments were located  just a stone’s throw apart on Eleni Chameri Street, the main road of Ano Poli.

Here’s a closer look at each:

♦ Palia Agora

 

Palia Agora restaurant Kyparissia

Palia Agora’s beautifully decorated bar and dining room 

 

A late lunch at Palia Agora was the highlight of our afternoon in Kyparissia. We took one of the tree-shaded tables in front of the restaurant and ordered wine and a selection of cold and hot mezes (small plates perfect for sharing),  then sat back and relaxed while our meal was prepared. The local wine was delicious, and the food was amazing. In fact, it was one of the best meals of our spring 2017 vacation. Some of the standout dishes included the grilled pleurotus mushrooms, local sausage, pork slices accompanied by potatoes and pieces of oranges, the fava with olives and onions, and cheese balls rolled in chopped pistachios. Equally impressive was the friendly and efficient service. We would go back to Kyparissia just to have another meal here, the food was that good.

Not surprisingly, Palia Agora is ranked as the #1 restaurant in Kyparissia by TripAdvisor, and it recently received the 2018 Gold Award for Quality and Taste from the leading Greek gastronomy website estiatoria.gr

You can read over 200 customer reviews, and see more than 100 photos of the restaurant and its tasty dishes, in the Palia Agora listing on TripAdvisor.   There are dozens of additional photos on the Palia Agora Facebook page.

 

Palia Agora restaurant Kyparissia

The grilled pleurotus mushrooms (left) were divine.  Also tasty were the cheese balls rolled in chopped pistachios, and served with a salad and  pita. 

 

Palia Agora restaurant Kyparissia

From the restaurant’s Facebook page, a photo showing the Palia Agora sign, entrance and part of its streetside dining area

 

Palia Agora restaurant in Kyparissia

If you visit Palia Agora for a meal but sit outdoors as we did, make sure to take a peek inside the restaurant to check out the lovely decor and the interesting interior design details, like the light fixture above. 

 

♦ Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar

 

Algorithmos cafe bar

Street view of Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar, which occupies the ground floor of this beautiful building on Eleni Chameri Street

 

Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar in Kyparissia

In addition to its streetside tables and indoor seating area, Algo-rithmos has an open-air balcony out back, where customers can enjoy views of Kyparissia and the sea

 

We stopped at Algo-rithmos for two coffee breaks during our walkabouts through the Old Town and to the Castle of Kyparissia. We sat at one of the tables out front, next to the street, both times, but we could have chosen to sit inside or on the town- and seaview veranda at the rear of the building had we preferred.

Though we only ordered coffees and tea, the cafe has a full bar serving beer, cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. Snacks and light food dishes are available, too. The shop interior is cozy and comfortable, with an eclectic interior design (there’s a bicycle, musical instruments and several bookshelves mounted on the walls, and a stack of hardcover books suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the room.)

The service was friendly and prompt, and we liked the music that was playing.

You can read more about the cafe-bar in the customer reviews posted on the Algo-rithmos listing on TripAdvisor.

 

Allgorithmos Cafe Bar in Kyparissia

This image, which Algo-rithmos provided for its listing on TripAdvisor, shows part of the cafe-bar interior

 

♦ Messinia Gi

Travelling shopaholics won’t find many stores to browse in Ano Poli, but they will find it worthwhile visiting  Messinia Gi, especially if they like to support regional artisans by “shopping local” for food, fashion accessories and other items to give as gifts or to take home for personal use or souvenirs.

Messinia Gi boasts an extensive selection of food, beverage, fashion and souvenir products made either locally or in the  Messenia region.  Food items on offer include sweets, healthy snacks, honey, packages of handmade pasta, olive oil, olives, herbs and spices, nuts and many more. General merchandise includes jewellery and other women’s fashion accessories, personal care products, and ceramics. (You can view dozens of photos of the shop’s seasonal and regular merchandise in the albums and posts on the Messinia Gi Facebook page, and see additional pictures on the Messinia Gi listing on TripAdvisor.

We picked up postcards and several local food items to bring home for friends and ourselves, including jars of delicious figs stuffed with nuts, while our friends walked out with several bags containing what looked to us like enough food to prepare a week’s worth of meals once they returned to Athens.

The pleasant young lady who was minding the store was very helpful in explaining the contents and sources of the various food items we were considering, and in making suggestions for products to try.  

If you’d like to take home some tastes of Messenia, be sure to visit the shop while you’re in or near Kyparissia.

 

Messinia Gi shop in Kyparissia

If you visit the Old Town, you’ll find a vast variety of local products at Messinia Gi. The made-in-Messenia items make great gifts or personal souvenirs.  This photo of the storefront is from the Messinia Gi page on Facebook.

 

Messinia Gi shop in Kyparissia

Local product displays are shown in this photo that Messinia Gi management provided for the shop’s listing on TripAdvisor. Below is another photo of the store interior, also from its TripAdvisor listing.

 

Messinia Gi  shop in Kyparissia

 

An afternoon at the Old Town and castle in Kyparissia

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Kyparrisia Castle

Houses on the hillside below the ruins of the Castle of Kyparissia, which was built during the 13th Century

 

Impressive introduction: On the fourth day of our May 2017 road trip through the western Peloponnese we discovered another charming town to which we will have to pay a longer return visit sometime: Kyparissia.

We had scheduled Kyparissia for just a sightseeing stop during our drive from Marathopoli to Katakolo, yet within minutes of stepping out of the car we were already wishing we could stay longer than just the afternoon. 

That strong first impression came from the quick realization that Kyparissia has all the key features and characteristics we find particularly appealing in a small Greek town: beautiful scenery and views; a castle and lots of old buildings that convey a strong sense of history; plenty of intriguing lanes and streets to wander and explore; picturesque buildings and interesting architecture;  inviting places to have coffee, dine, and do a bit of browsing or shopping; and a comfortable “I feel at home here” ambiance.

However, with fewer than five free hours before we would have to hit the road again, we knew we were only going to scrape the surface of all that Kyparissia and its surrounding area have to offer. Still, we enjoyed everything we did manage to see and do in our limited time, and we were glad we had included the town as one of the stops on our journey. We would consider Kyparissia to be a “must see” destination for anyone undertaking a driving tour like the one we did through the western Peloponnese, and we think it definitely deserves more than a quick look around.

 

Kyparissia main street

When we arrived at El. Venizelou Street in Kyparissia in late morning, clouds above the nearby mountains suggested we might get rained on. But most of the clouds cleared away, leaving us with bright sunshine all afternoon.

 

Kyparissia former National Bank building

We’re drawn to old buildings, whether derelict or restored, and we found the facade of the former National Bank building — now a historic landmark —  right across the road from where we parked the car upon arriving in Kyparissia

 

a building in Kyparissia

We found this once-elegant edifice near the National Bank, and spotted many more charming old buildings throughout the town

 

Upon arrival in Kyparissia, we parked briefly on El. Venizelou Street in the lower town so we could have a look around and check out a few of the shops. The road was lined with a mix of commercial and residential buildings from different architectural design eras, including elegant old buildings, some of which — like the former National Bank — were in derelict condition, and others that were either in excellent shape or appeared to have been painstakingly restored. They gave us a sneak peak of the wide variety of building design styles and construction periods we would soon encounter in Kyparissia’s Ano Poli, the historic hilltop Old Town, where we had planned to spend most of our time.

Our next stop was Eleni Chameri Street, the main road in the Old Town, where we found on-street parking close to the Memorial of the Fallen. The war monument is situated in a small square with amazing views that include the Castle of Kyparissia off to the right, and the entire town below, extending all the way down the hill to the sea.

 

Kyparissia Old Town

A view along the Eleni Chameri Street, the main road of the Ano Poli / Old Town district of Kyparissia

 

Kyparissia panoramic view

From the square where the Memorial of the Fallen monument is located, visitors can see the Castle of Kyparissia (upper right) and the town below

 

From the memorial we walked to the Castle of Kyparissia, located at the opposite end of Eleni Chameri Street. We strode through the open gate (there is no ticket booth at the entrance) and climbed steps and trails up the hillside to see what remains of the ancient fortress. Apart from the external fortification walls, only a few stone buildings still stand on the site — but none are open to the public.  It doesn’t take long to wander around and explore the grounds, but the castle is worth a stop, especially for its wonderful views of Kyparissia and the surrounding area.

 

Kyparissia Castle view

Kyparissia Castle has excellent views of the upper town  …

 

Kyparissia Castle view

…  the lower town and the sea to the southwest …

 

Kyparissia Castle view

… and the lowlands, mountains and Messenian coast stretching to the north as far as the eye can see

 

After our castle hike we returned to Eleni Chameri Street and made a beeline for Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar, where we sat in the shade at one of the tables out front to have coffees and rest our legs.  Refreshed from our coffee break, we all set out on our separate ways to explore the Old Town and vicinity. There was little traffic and only a few people out and about, so the neighbourhood was exceptionally quiet and peaceful. It was nice not having to jump out of the way of passing cars and trucks, or jostle past other pedestrians, while observing the scenery and taking photographs.  The place is probably bustling during July and August, so we were glad we got to enjoy the town’s scenic streets and lanes without hordes of tourists teeming about.

 

Kyparissia Old Town

The Old Town’s streets and lanes are lined with a fascinating mix of meticulously maintained houses …

 

a church in Kyparissia

… a few beautiful churches …

 

a building in Kyparissia

… and numerous derelict or dilapidated buildings bursting with charm, character and — in many cases — tremendous renovation potential

 

We regrouped back at Algo-rithmos for another coffee break a couple of hours later, then did some souvenir shopping across the street at Messinia Gi, a store which carries an extensive selection of food, beverage, fashion and souvenir products made locally in Messenia. After more walking around, we all agreed it was time to call it quits on sightseeing, and find a nice spot for lunch. We chose Palia Agora, which is located just a few doors down the street from Messinia Gi, where we sat outdoors and enjoyed a variety of delicious mezes. I will tell you more about Messinia Gi and Palia Agora in a separate post.

The fabulous meal brought our brief Kyparissia visit to an end on a high note. We reluctantly piled back in the car for the drive to Katakolo, where we would spend the night before heading to the port at Kyllini to catch a ferry to Kefalonia. We’ll go back to see more of Kyparissia another time. We’ve got to — it’s exactly the kind of place where we enjoying spending vacation time.

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2, where I have posted more photos of the Old Town and castle, as well as a video of the castle and its views. 

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A Paris icon in the Peloponnese

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Eiffel Tower in Filiatra

The 26-meter Eiffel Tower replica at Filiatra  was a surprising sight we encountered during our road trip in the Peloponnese

 

~ updated on August 4 2018 ~

 

Oh Mon Dieu!:The most memorable “Stop the Car!” moment of our road trip through Messenia happened while we were driving through the small town of Filiatra, en route from Marathopoli to Kyparissia.

As the car moved along the clean, tidy streets, passing attractive stone houses and some cute small homes, we were chatting about where we might want to stay if we ever had an opportunity to spend all or part of a year in Greece. I remember commenting that Filiatra looked like a nice, comfortable and quiet place that might be suitable — based on what we were seeing through the car windows, at least.

Then we turned a corner and saw an Eiffel Tower looming up ahead.

 “What the … Is that what I think it is?” I blurted. “Pull over! We’ve got to check this out!”

 

Eiffel Tower in Filiatra

This Google Streetview image shows the Eiffel Tower replica in a wedge-shaped parkette at the northern entrance to Filiatra.

 

Whenever we’re on the road in Greece, we see a lot of surprising, interesting and exciting sights. However, most of the time it’s jaw-dropping scenery that suddenly pops into view, a picturesque church in the middle of nowhere, a crumbling castle or a beautiful old building, or a herd of sheep or goats gathered on the highway. We’ve seen plenty of unusual sights, too, but never anything like an Eiffel Tower — and we certainly weren’t expecting to see one on this particular morning. (It had not been mentioned in any of the travel materials I had read before our holiday.)

But there it was, rising from a landscaped parkette near the northern entrance to Filiatra on Highway 9.

 

 

We parked the car and got out for a few minutes to take photos, but it wasn’t until we were back home that I was able to do some online searching to find out why the town has a replica of the iconic Eiffel Tower.

Information was rather sparse or roughly translated in the sources I discovered, but most said the replica was the creation of Harry Fournier, (originally named Haris Fournarakis), who had grown up in the area but later moved to the USA to practise medicine as a surgeon. After a successful career in the States, Fournier returned to Filiatra and put his artistic talents to work, sculpting his mini Eiffel Tower in the 1960s. (He also built a fairytale castle in the nearby village of Agrili.)

Fournier’s creation isn’t a true replica, however, since its design differs in a few major details. As an article on the Wonders of the World points out, Fournier used light grey metal to construct the tower, which he shaped “a little too long.” Fournier also placed the second floor of his tower too low, compared to the original, and changed the shape of the third floor. But to a tourist driving by, Fournier’s version looks like a convincing, shorter copy of the real thing (his stands 26 meters, while the Paris landmark soars over 300 meters high).

 

This slideshow was posted to the Greek Reporter news and events page on Facebook on August 4 

 

 Here are some of the photos we took of the Filiatra Eiffel Tower:

 

Eiffel Tower replica in Filiatra

 

Eiffel Tower replica in Filiatra

 

Eiffel Tower replica in Filiatra

 

Eiffel Tower replica in Filiatra

 

Filiatra Greece

The small town of Filiatra is located roughly midway between Marathopoli (middle left) and Kyparissia (top left). If you’re driving through the area and want to take a look at the Eiffel Tower replica, you’ll find it at the northwest edge of the town along Highway 9.  You can’t miss it if you’re driving toward Filiatra from Kyparissia — the tower is visible from a distance outside the town.

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