And here we were, with no plan in Greece. After almost two days of driving, we’re here in Halkidiki. The nearest peninsula was Kassandra, with it’s beautiful resort Sani, luxury villas and wild beaches. Stunning views. Wandering through the pine forests of Kassandra, on top of the hill we found a cozy place to eat – Metoxi restaurant, where we had our first greek souvlaki and frappe.
The wi-fi in Greece is wonderful and you can use it in any restaurant or cafeteria for free. This is how we found our first place to stay – Iris apartments in the city of Fourka. A wonderful place with terrace, see view and private beach. Pure paradise…
We tried to go for a run along the beach in the morning, but he morning heat and the vine from the evening before made us stop, and just enjoy the walk in the city. So another day without a plan, still recovering from the journey. So we decided to drive along the coastline of Kassandra. More stunning views. We visited the famous Golden beach, so crowded place. The fun fact is that you can drive the car as near to the see as possible, you can park right on the shore. Time for lunch, and we had our best gyros ever.
Driving further along the coastline, we stopped in Kallithea to visit the Temple of Ammon Zeus. The ruins of the temple are integrated in the modern architecture, right on the beach. As it was almost 2 PM, the administration asked us to leave, because it‘s time for „siesta“. Ah, the life in the south…
It‘s time to leave the paradise, because our journey in Greece is just beginning. The list of things to do is long and the heat is not energizing at all. Next on the plan was mount Olympus. Of course, that was a total fail. We tried to drive as high as we could according to the navigation. We drove around 3 hours until we realized, the navigation is getting us nowhere. Don’t make the same mistake, don’t trust navigation blindly. To hike the mount Olympus, you have to go to the village Litochorno, and from there the hiking starts. As we lost lots of precious time driving in circles, we decided not to go back to the mountain. Next time Olympus. We were not ready for you this time.
The mood was far from perfect, but we moved further. Next stop – Meteora. Wow, such a magical place. It’s hard to find the words describing the views and the feeling of being there. Let the photos talk.
As the day was not the best for us, it continued. We weren’t able to visit any monasteries, because we came here too late. Also the heat was unbearable, and the stairs literally killed us. So we had a serious discussion while drinking ice frappe, should we go deeper to Mainland Greece, or should we turn around and spend the rest of time on the beach. We just couldn’t imagine going south and exploring cities when the temperature is 40 degrees. But the decision was made that we skip Delphi and go straight to the Athens.
The highway to the Athens was really expensive. But our travel through the half of the country lasted only few hours. It was already dark, when we reached Athens, then we took just a small ride through the city center, but the traffic was insane, so after seeing the Acropolis at night, we turned around to the hotel to rest.
We started our tour in the Athens early in the morning, when the temperature hadn’t reached its top. The line to the Acropolis was still short at 10 o’clock, but it got much longer in a few minutes. The ticket was 20 EUR to the Acropolis territory, and 30 EUR day ticket including other nearby Temples. When the temperature reaches 38 degrees, it’s about time to climb to the Acropolis. And there are almost no shades on top of the hill. The Parthenon looks magical, especially when you think how long it goes into history. But for skeptics (me included), it’s just another ancient ruins. The view of the city from top of the hill was dull and grey, only few ancient buildings stand out.
Just a few steps from the Acropolis, there lies a hill of Mars. You can take quite cool pictures of the Acropolis from this small hill. All these ancient buildings are surrounded with the fence, along this fence it’s possible to take a stroll without missing all main ancient buildings and the famous flea market. The market is full of everything that you can imagine with the reasonable prices. Walking further, you’ll find Plaka with it’s tiny streets and café’s. The perfect place for lunch. And so we did.
Further along we walked to the park, which is called “National gardens”. Not the most stunning park we have seen, but it was an oasis of shades and greenery and small basins of water, everything that was necessary to survive that heat, as we walked from tree to tree, from bench to bench…
The last spot we were willing to see was the temple of Zeus. As the temple area was fully exposed to the sun, we didn’t risk exploring it closer (such a crybabies, melted in the southern sun…), we turned around to our hotel, for a little bit of “siesta”.
After that, we had our best restaurant experience in Greece. In southern Athens, almost near the sea there is a restaurant called “Psaromezedes Antonia”, the restaurant of fish and seafood. We found it on Tripadvisor with good reviews and decided to try it. And boy, what an experience it was… First of all, there were no menu in English, so the waiter just offered us some popular dishes like prawns and squids, later we just watched what other customers are ordering and asked to bring us “those salads”, “those fishies” J after dinner they gave us the dessert – pana cota, for free! As it was a 3 hour long dinner, after eating everything we waited for the check almost half an hour, the experience was the the best ever!
Next day we go deeper and deeper into the Mainland Greece. The temperature of 36 degrees, became normal to us, we got used to it was easier to walk in the middle of the day. Our target was Pelloponesse peninsula. Unfortunately, we didn’t find where to stop near the Corinth canal, so we saw just a blink of it while passing through. And it was really stunning. As Corinth is one of the oldest cities in Greece, it was worth to wicit the ancient Corinth – the ruins. On top of the hill there was Acrocorinth, the place where ancient greeks prayed for the goddess Afrpdite. This was one of the most powerful fortress in Greece. As I’ve mentioned before, ruins are ruins, when you see quite a lot of them, nothing surprises you, but the feeling of walking on the land where important things happened thousands of years ago is empowering and surreal…
Next stop – Nafplio, the first capital of modern Greece. This city must be added to all of the itineraries around Mainland Greece! Wow! Second thing after Meteora that surprised us so much. The city is clean and cozy, with lots of small shops, cafes and gelateries, the castle on top of the hill, and the prettiest promenade.
The main spot of the city is the castle of Palamidi, 999 steps lead to it to the top of the hill, where you can witness the wonderful views of the city and the see. Unfortunately, we didn’t risk to climb the hill in the midday heat. Well, maybe next time…
Bourtzi castle, or Nafplio see tower, is the Venetian castle built in the see, which can be reached only by boat. It had a history of being a jail, now it is a luxury hotel.
And of course, the beautiful promenade, with the view of the bay and caffeterias, where you can relax with stunning views of Nafplio. Here we decided to have gyros and ice cream. Mmmm… J
We drove a long way to our next place to stay – the village of Koroni. We had to leave the highway near the Kalamata, and the last 30 kilometers were slow and winding. The place, where we stayed at was worth all the difficult driving to it. Xenia’s Zeus rooms is a guest house right on the beach. We’ve got the room wit a terrace straight to the beach, literally, just 2 steps to the water. We planned to stay here for 3 nights. The view from the terrace was not only to the sea, but also to the ruins of one of the Venetian castle. For the first cozy evening we went fishing on the pier, and watched the beautiful sunset.
I have to mention, that its difficult here with the supermarkets… You can only find here quite expensive mini-markets, local shops. The nearest Lidl is 30-40 kilometers away in the city of Messina.
The early morning in Koroni starts with fishing and sunbathing. That’s what I call a vacation. After the lunch we went to look for the waterfalls of Peloponesse, the place in deserted Greece, with the concentration of few lakes. We’re going to the lakes, to the water… And somehow no one thought about taking the swimsuits 😀 Oh well… It was quite a long and rocky way down hill from parking to the waterfalls, but when we reached the waterfalls, the small fresh oasis, it was like a totally different place from deserted Greece. My husband dived in with whatever he was wearing, and it was such a magnificent experience.
The plan was to visit more villages on the same route, but the heat, which reached 40 degrees, was unbearable, so we returned for the siesta. In the evening, we decided to explore the nearby castle of Koroni. In Greece, you can go wherever you want, on the barriers of the hills, on top of the castle ruins and other unprotected places, everywhere is a sign “beware, it’s dangerous to go further”, but you can go if you wish to risk. And you can go everywhere in the Koroni castle – to all the basements, tunnels, caves and slopes.
One of the best things to do in southern Europe and Meditteranian sea is snorkeling. More than half of the beauty hides under water, so GoPro camera is necessary for our next trip. After doing this best thing, we left to the other side of the peninsula, the village of Methoni. It‘s famous for another Venetian castle. This castle is more preserved, so we explored i more, and the entrance had a cost, but it‘s worth it.
The next day we left the paradise, and drove back to the north, we neded jus a several more days here in Greece, with this wonderful weather. So after watching the sunrise, and photographing the sleeping Koroni, we drove back to the Thessaloniki region.
The highway through all of the Greece is long and expensive, from Thessaloniki to Kalamata and back, we paid around 100 euros. We wanted to stay in Paralia, because of the long and beautiful beaches.
But when we drove there, the city was so loud and crowded, with no parking, that we drove further. We found a small calm village called Markygialos, we stayed in the hotel Achilion, with a view of the see. Again J We stayed here our last couple of nights just relaxing, eating, fishing and sunbathing… We left Greece on the first day of rain and bad weather. What a wonderful vacation it was.