August 24: Our Favorite Places in Greece: We have been in Greece for more than a month, and as we depart, I thought I’d share our favorites from the Hellenic Republic. Bet you can’t guess! They are not what we expected.
I’m a bit delinquent in writing posts from our journey through Greece. We have been here over a month, and I am writing this first Travel Byte as we sit in the Athens airport lounge, about to depart. First, we were too busy exploring. Then too busy planning the next parts of our trip. Then too “Zen” as we enjoyed our final stay, soaking up the sun.
What do you mean “Favorite”?
What has been our favorite? That depends! The mythology and archeology were fascinating – more than 4,600 years of history. Hiking provided stunning views of mountains and the sea. Running and swimming the Peloponnese coast was phenomenal. And most of all, the people were friendly and generous.
Oh, and the food. The food! Tomatoes from roadside stands, better than we’ve ever had (except from Grandma and Mom’s gardens). Those tomatoes with cucumbers, onions, vinegar, olive oil and feta to create a Greek salad – simple, but sooooo good. And new favorites like Kleftiko, moussaka, and souvlaki. And of course, fresh fish on the coast, and lamb and cheese in the mountains.
Oh yes, it has been a wonderful trip! Without further ado, Our Favorite Places in Greece, 3, 2, and 1.
This tiny village in the Zagori region is high in the Pindus mountains, at the head of the Vikos Gorge. MP is literally at the end of the road – only donkeys beyond this point (and we did see a few). We stayed at the Pinocchio Hotel with hosts Kostas and Olga, and it was wonderful. Cool, no mosquitos, and views for miles and miles.
The water here is famously good – if you buy a bottle anywhere in Greece, it is likely to be “BIKOS” (Vikos). It comes from underground springs and is very, very cold at the source. We waded in one river… it was too cold to swim!
This area is famous for its stone bridges, built 200-300 years ago near the end of the Ottoman occupation. Each was sponsored (funded) by a wealthy local for their village. The architecture was amazing – high dry-stacked arches spanning the river, with little mortar. We spent an afternoon “bridge-spotting” with far too many pictures to post here!
I hesitate to share Kardamyli, as we kind of want it all to ourselves! This tiny village on the Mani peninsula is the perfect place to slow down and soak in Greece. We stayed at Hotel Liakoto for four nights, and wished for more. It was a “vacation” from our trip, where we did almost nothing. Every morning, we would have Greek coffee (Jean made in our room). Then she would swim at the little rocky public beach 30 meters from our room. The water was clear, full of fish, and the beach uncrowded. I would run before joining her to cool down. Then we would swim in the hotel pool. Afternoons we would read or research a bit. Or nap. Later we would decide where to go to dinner. It was wonderful!
We made new friends from Cambridge, England (Steve, Rachel and son George) whom we hope to visit later in the trip. They have been coming to Kardamyli for 10 years, and were generous to share their company, insights and wine.
Next year we will be back to Kardamyli. To the same hotel, same room.
Ah… Nafplio. It is a beautiful, small city about 2 hours from Athens at the top of the Argolic Gulf. This is our favorite place in Greece. The city is a bit touristic, but with plenty of locals. We swam every day at Paralia Arvantias beach – rocky, warm and full of fish. We hung out at the far end, were retired locals met each day to swim and gossip, far from the bar and beach umbrellas.
The town has interesting history, with Venetian fortifications, the first capital of Greece, and patriots of independence all part of the story. Nearby are impressive archeological sites like Mycenae, Argos and Epidavros, all of which we explored. Our friend from Charlotte, Christine Melissaris, and her daughter, Dani, were in town and we met one evening for dinner. We talked, laughed and forgot to take a selfie!
Our home was Pension Marianna, run by the four friendly Zotos bothers (Petros, Titus, Panos and Kostas) and their family. We highly recommend. Again, we will return to this city, this hotel and even to a specific room.
More of Our Favorite Places in Greece
There is much more to post about Greece. Archeological sites, museums, hikes, food and more. These may have to wait until we are home! We have too many things to see and do as we travel to keep up with posts! It’s not a terrible problem to have 😉