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Trip List by cruciangirl

The Peloponnese

28 Feb 2008  Just spent 10 days there
4.0 of 5 bubbles based on 2 votes

Places to see, eat , shop and stay

  • 1. In General...getting around

    After reading several guide books and some online sites I was a bit apprehensive about driving in Greece. Luckily the owner of our hotel in Monemvasia recommended driving and we will always be thankful we did. First of all, yes, one needs to be as careful driving in Greece as anywhere else. There are some roads, over mountains through small villages that give new meaning to the term "switchback" but in general we had excellent driving conditions.The roads were far superior to many of ours here on Long Island in NY and we found everything with absolutely no problem due to the excellent signs. Perhaps some of this is due to the infusion of cash from the EU (certainly the news roads being built are a result of it) but whatever the case,with a map and a car we had freedom and fun. If we decided not to stop to see something we didn't and if we saw something that looked interesting we stopped. We stopped for photo ops and bathroom breaks and meals when we wanted (though we carried some snacks and water just in case.) We were able to change plans according to the weather and we were able to see so much more. We rented our car from Avis in Athens-right across from Hadrian's Arch and found the rates to be very reasonable (for 7 days with unlimited mileage we spent $270/176 euros) The car we had was a Volvo s40 and I (still) think we had better gas/petrol mileage than here in the US. For 988km we spent 60 euros. Note: If you are American and do decide to rent ask for petrol at the station as gas means bottled gas and not many stations have it. Indicating the pump if the attendant does not speak English (rare) also works. So, whereas I would recommend waking and the metro in Athens, a car is the way to go-at least in the Peloponese. One other note though-if you have a fear of heights planning for more time en route so you can take the major routes is porbably advisable. We drove from Nafplio to Tripoli over the mountain and had no problem (my husband is acrophobic) but the road from Monemavasia to Neapoli was tortuous for him and the longer way around would have been a better choice.

  • 2. Nafplio/Nauplion

    As the guide at the link says the entrance to Nafplio is anything but impressive. It is when you make your way through the modern end of town and turn right on Amalias Ave, head down to the old part that you undertsand the attraction of Nafplio. This town is not however a Greek village. There are United Colors of Bennetton and Columbia Sportswear stors as well as many upscale shops of all sorts. But, it is a charming town with small streets that are more like alleyways where cars frequently park right in the middle and you can walk along with balcomies above and a beautiful coriche alng the expansive waterfront. The main square/platia is Syntagma/Constitution and sourrounded with small cafes and restaurants. There are plentiful resaurants as well along the waterfront. Go down to the harbor at sunset for beautiful views of the Bourzi and the water an enjoy a stroll or sit at a cafe and people watch. As with everywhere we went in Greece we felt VERY safe and our son (12 years old) was able to play without us having to watch his every move- a welcome relief from the states! Nafplio is a great place to stay as well if you want to see the sites at Mycenae, Argos,Epidavros, Tiryns or Lerni as all are within an hour away.

  • 3. Pension Omorfi Poli
    Pension Omorfi Poli, Nafplio, Argolis Region

    Our stay in the Peloponnese started at this nice pension in the old part of Nafplio. If you are driving it is a bit hard to find but when you come in to town on Amalias Street you will pass a school and the first right is Sofroni St. The Folklore Museum is across the street (and closed in Feb.) Drop off your bags and then park about a block away at the harbor-the area is extremely safe at all hours, though the parking gets crowded during the day. The rooms are spacious, though the bathrooms are small (by American standards). Note: In Greece don't flush your toilet paper down the toilet but put it in the trash bin instead. The beds are the only negative about this place and when we visit again I plan to take a small SOFT travel pillow. We had our 12 year old son with us and had a 3 person room. Our room opened onto a balcony over Sofroni Street with great views down the other streets. The room was light and warm (in the winter) quiet. You receive a small card that goes in a slot to turn on the electricity. There is a small fridge and large closet. Breakfast is included and is served in the delighful breakfast room. The walls are covered with vintage photos and posters and the breakfast is delicious-cheese, ham, rolls and bread (fresh from the bakery next door) homemade marmalade, fresh fruit and juice, fresh milk and coffee or tea. The Omorfi Poli is also a restaurant on the street along the harbor and they will give you directions if you want to go-dinner does not start there until 7:30 pm however. (There are other restaurants serving earlier in the evening) The staff at the Omorfi Poli is very accomodating and speak English. We needed an extra reading lamp for our son and it was in our room when we returned from dinner after asking on our way out. Note: You do need to leave the card on the door if you wish your room to be cleaned.

  • 4. Palamidi Fortress

    The 2nd day we were in Nafplio we'd spent the morning at Epidavros and I wanted a nap in the afternoon. My son and husband set out to climb the 999 steps to the fort but only got 2/3 up when people coming down told them the site had closed. The next day we decided to drive up and my son and I would walk down (good decision since there is a lot of walking up and climbing in the fort when you have a kid with you) When you drive you actually go around the hill and come in from the east so don't be concerned if you think you are going the wrong way-as with all the roads we used the signage is good and you simply follow the signs up. The parking lot is quite large. The alternative is to take a taxi. Entrance to the site is 4 euros. The views of Nafplio are stunning and when you get to the top of the fort on the south and east sides you can see the mountains of the Pelponnese-then look down at the incredible colors of the water below. There are tunnels and dungeons and cisterns to explore, a small chapel (St. Andrew's) and views everywhere you turn. In February the entire ground was covered with wild flowers and trees were coming into bloom. If there is someone to drive the car back down, or if you took a taxi up, I would recommend the walk down-the steps are fine and you can rest along the way. If you are there in the summer, I would highly recommend a hat and/or sunglasses and water. Then head to get an ice cream at Antica Gelataria. In the winter, spring or late fall going up a any time of day should not be too hot-but layer since it can be cool and windy in some spots and sunny hot in others, at the top. In summer I would think early day or late afternoon would be the only times it's not so hot you'll want to spend the whole time in one of the prison cells just to stay cool.

  • 5. Antica Gelateria di Roma

    After climbing up and down the Palamidi Fort's 999 steps, my son and husband found this place and enjoyed the ice cream so much they took me the next day. Handmade in the store by the husband, Marcello, with cones made by his wife,Claudia this place has more flavors than Baskin Robbins-13 types of chocolate to begin with. You can sample those you might want though you may end up wanting all. The store has lots of other items and food but the ice cream is worth the trip to Nafplio even if you are not staying there.

  • 6. Spiros Restaurant

    On the left in the viallage of Mikines or Mycenae is a taverna called Spiros. Spiro will tell you what he has to offer that day although he is willing to prepare anything you wish as well. The day we were there he had dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) that were the best I had in Greece, moussaka which was also good and several other items we did not order. My son asked for lamb which he grilled within 15 minutes and was very good. There was only one other (local) couple there when we were-the weather was cold and it was late for lunchtime (2pm) but I ould recommend this place. Spiro will explain to you what dishes are and his house red wine is good.

  • 7. Ancient Mycenae/Mikines

    We stopped at ancient Mycenae (locally known as Mikines) on our way from Athens to Nafplio. It was the day after the snowstorm in Athens and still quite cold so the site closed early. We only haabout 10 minutes to roam the ruins and no time to see the museum but we did get to spend some time at the Treasury of Atreus/Tomb of Agamemnon before entering the site. It is well worth seeing with the usual excellent signage, spectacular views of the Argolid plain and pondering the ancient times.

  • 8. Epidavros

    We drove from Nafplio to Epidavros in just over 1 hour. The roads were good but a new straighter road is being built and is visible along much of the ride. You pass through small villages and one large one, Ligourio, where we had lunh since none was available at Ancient Epidavros also called Asklepios. If you drive make sure you follow the signs for the archeological site (all archeological/ancient sites are marked with signs which are brown with a yellow border and are well placed and in English) and not Nea Epidavros or Palea Epidavros. The first site to see is the amphitheater and if you are there in the summer for one of the festicals be sure not to miss it. You can stand on the stage and whisper and the people at the top of the steps can hear you. Our son had bought a theater mask and tested this and it worked. Be sure to climb to the top for the views and to appreciate how far down the stage really is. Head from there to the museum which is small but contains may interesting artifacts including ancient medical tools. Then head over to the Santuay of Asklepios. There is a lot of renovation being down and the new pieces being built are over on the left. Wander through the site and then you can walk down to the stadium where the foot races were held. Entrance is 6 euros and give yourselves at least 3 hours to see it all. It's an easy walk and you can take your time to see the site.

  • 9. Ancient Nemea and the Nemean Wine Road(and the wine!)

    One must give credit to the Univ. of California at Berkeley for this site. Since 1971 they have been spearheading the effort to renovate it and have done a wonderful job. If you are driving take the road toward Nemea and follow the Archeological signs (brown with yellow) but be careful-the turn off actually looks like you are going into someone's driveway so believe the sign when it points right and you see nothing but a small house. Start in the museum at the entrance to get an idea of what Ancient Nemea looked like and see all the artifacts that have been recovered. There are several excellent books available-in several languages and a few for kids as well. There is also a VERY friendly little dog who is adorable but does have a penchant for trouser legs. Then head out to see the ruins which are well marked with good signage. Severalof the columns of the Temple of Zeus have been rebuilt and several more are in the process of being rebuilt. There is an ancient grave with the skeleton still in it as well. After walking around, and if you drove, get back in the car and head back out to the road, turn left and follow the signs to the stadium. You will have to show your ticket and then walk down to the stadium and through the various ruins. The area is filled with olive trees and quite shady and although we did not need it with February cool is probably a relief in summer heat. After leaving the site drive along the Wine Road and pick up some o the excellent Nemean wine from one of the stores. I was told that Skouras is the best but we were there on a Sunday and only found one roadside place open. What we got is very good. And when I say good, it rivals the best of the wines from France, Australia and the US. There are some that are fruity but others much drier.

  • 10. Lerni/Lerna House of Tiles

    When we left Nafplio we decided to drive around the bay and up over the mountain to Tripoli. It was only on the way I happened to come across a mention of Lerni?lerna in a guide book just as we came to the signs for the site of the House of Tiles. It took us about 45 minutes to tour the site but it was fascinating. The ruins that have been unearthed range from Neolithic times to the early Helladic period and all are marked. Our son was disappointed not to have seen the springs that in mythology were considered one of the entrances to the Underworld but another time... It's 2 euros and on the road just after you pass the Myloi train station before you turn right to head up to Tripoli.

  • 11. Monemvasia-The Destination and 2 places to go while there
    Monemvasia, Monemvasia Municipality, Laconia Region

    Wonderful-is only one of the superlatives that comes to mind when I think of Monemvasia. When we were leaving, after 3 days, I remarked that it is one of the few places I have been in life that seems to benefit one physically, mentally and emotionally. While the climb through the Kastro and up to the Citadel is invigorating it is not too difficult and you have ample opportunity to rest as you take in one spectacular view after another. There are 40 churches in this small area so if you are in need of spiritual rejuvenation that is available as well. But, it is the sheer beauty of this place that is at once restful and stimulating. Our first night we ate a delicious meal at one of the restaurants on the Kastro. Prepared to our desires we had grilled lamb pork and several delicious local specialities, including khorta a dish of greens that is excellent. On our second night we watched the full moon rise over the water from the terrace of our hotel. Then we walked to the Gefira for an astoundingly good meal at the Traka Restaurant. Then at 11 we went to a bar in the Kastro where local musicians performed and sang. We left at 2am with the party still going strong and just after our waiters from the restaurant had come to perform into the wee hours. Or, if it is rest you crave, simply wile away your time wandering the little alleys, sitting on the wall and reading or contempating life as you stare into the sea. Climb to the top for sunsets that will redefine your idea of what a sunset can be (and I was raised in the Caribbean so I have seen many a beautiful one.) Monemvasia can recharge your batteries no matter how they have been depleted.
    If you drive and are staying in the Kastro dro off your bags at the gate and then go park your car. In the summer, this may mean driving back down almost to the causeway as parking goes all along the road. Your car is safe and we left our lrge suitcase in ours for our stay.
    NOTE: Because neither of these two places have a website I am including them here.
    RESTAURANT: One is the restaurant Traka which is located just to the right as you leave the causeway entering the Gefira or mainland portion of Monemvasia. We had lunch outside under the canopy (the house white wine is excellent) and dinner that night inside. An array of dishes, all delicious, filled us while the waiters fulfilled our every need. There is a children's playground across the street on the water where your children can safely play if they get bored sitting. The Saturday farmer's market is also right there.
    BAKERY: The other place is a great place to grab a bite if you do not want a large meal midday. It is a bakery called Kamarinos. Located on the side of the Bank of Greece building it's in the Gefira where the road divides. We had the ham and cheese pizza and the Welsh Rarebit brioche and our son had a sausage roll everyday. Prices are reasonable (there were 1.5 to 2 euros each) You can also buy fresh baked bread for a euro and drinks are also available as well as some sweets.

  • 12. Monopati Apartments

    Our plan to visit Monemvasia started with our choosing Monopati Apartments as a place to stay. From the first inquiries via email, Isabelle, the owner, provided us with information about Monopati, Monemvasia, car rental vs. bus travel, Athens-you name it she was able to make recommendations. Isabelle and her husband Christos are an interesting and engaging couple who moved here several years ago. They will make you feel welcome and impart their love of this beautiful place as well as welcoming you to this place of solitude. From our arrival, when we met at the gate and then shown our apartment with a kitchen stocked with basic supplies and dishes, 2 bedrooms and a nice bath, a sitting room and a terrace, through our 3 days there we enjoyed every minute. If you crave time alone, they will leave you to yourselves-available if you need them. If you want recommendations they will make them and if you want to have your breakfast on their terrace with them and hear their stories, you are welcome there as well. Having looked forward to finally enjoying a vacation where I did not have to cook I eagerly partook of this meal. Coffee or tea (from Isabelle's extensive selection), bread, cheeses, fresh yogurt, local honey and a variety of home made (by Isabelle) preserves had me eagerly awaiting my morning meal. Isabelle is Swiss and if she has recently visited her family she may even have a selection of Swiss cheeses but the local Greek ones are also excellent. The other apartments may be used as a single (double bed with soft down duvets and pillows) or combined with the unit below for a family of 4. Isabelle has been redecorating and the colors bring solitude and light to each area. There is a terrace off the single unit with awesome sunrise views and plans for another terrace for the lower unit. There is an array of reading materials available for the times you might simply want to sit and rest and no TV. They do however have access to the internet, should you need it. The rooms are clean and bright, the bathrooms immaculate. They can make recommendations for restaurants and give you information about the entire area and all the ones they gave us were excellent. This place was better than going home and far more relaxing. While there another family was there with us and our son was able to play with their kids They roamed around the Kastro without a moment of worry for the parents. The only age group that might not be appropriate are very small children as the footpaths are rocky and there are stairs in the apartments. Note: the water in the Kastro is limited, both obtaining it and in wastewater. Please observe the rules about no paper in the toilet and taking a shower without wasting water. I have stayed in places all over the world and I have to say that this stay was far and above my favorite of any...I truly felt rested and invigorated when we sadly left.

    There is a review at www.superbgreece.com just type in Monopati Apartments and Monemvasia

  • 13. Malva Gallery

    The gallery is located on the left as you enter the Gefira-just across from Traka Restaurant. The owner, Manolis Grigoreas, is a charming man whose work is in England and now also in Los Angeles. His orginal pieces are beautiful and varied and reasonable, but he also has posters of some pieces which are ridiculousy affordable-our son found a cat poster for 10 euros. Look at the selection at the link above and if you like his work don't miss a visit to his gallery.