961-964: Mani Peninsular

962 – Sunday 21st January 2018:  A Splendid but Solitary Walk
Late arising at our Kalamata bivouac…so no run or showers – it’s only been 3 weeks – oops – 3 days since our last shower! Hands up those motorhomers who shower every day – OK, no hands show?  Good!  The nice marina security man helped us to fill with water.  To Kardamili – I was still nursing the ‘boycold’ so I reclined and K+O walked to the castle, museum and gorge – see the wonderful views….
Overnight at Ag Nikolaos – on the beach (again) – lovely picturesque harbour.  Would have been a good dinner out spot, but not much point when poorly.  The dry day became a wine day – purely medicinal!  A kooky bar with lots of good chat and OscarSociety admirers….. 
Kardamyli:  The lair of the Troupakis family.  The Tower house hamlet turned museum.  Info in English explained how the Maniot families were loyal to blood rather than community.  Feuds would last years.  Local prisons has to keep them apart in separate wings. Feuding was generally over the inadequate land – the mountain range down the spine of the peninsular falls to a narrow strip before the sea cliffs.
Relief stone of the family from the tower 1787.

The Towers were built and maintained by the extended families.  Towers grew in height so the feuding families could catapult the neighbouring ones. Cease fires during crop harvesting and women were not targetted.  As a result of these battles the peninsula was never completely subjugated under foreign rule.

The Mani hamlets had their own olive presses (this was the main income generator of the area until tourism) and this one had a forge.
The Tomb Of Dioskourroi:  2-3BC.  A twin tomb carved into the rock.
Fab views of a fab coastline.
The hamlets’ roof tiles were made of local clay.

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Ag. Nikolaos:  Our overnight carpark … think Jez is having an identity crisis and wants to float on water.
Ag Nikolaos is described as Outer Mani’s most photogenic harbour … we’d agree.

963 – Monday 22nd January:  Going Under and South

Am – K ran and I walked Oscardog….onto Aereopoli for a walk and coffee – a chill and bracing wind – hot coffee and cake.  Former stronghold of one of the feuding Mani families, but here that the Maniot uprising against the Turks was declared.  
Pyrgos Dirou Caves. One of largest and most colourful in Greece.  Boat ride – how low can we go?  No hard hats – we were bobbing up and down all the time, folded in half – but it rivals the Potsdjayna Caves in Slovenia – of 2+ years ago…the colours are quite stunning. Oscar waited patiently (?) in Jez…..
Fabulous drive down the coast to the most southerly point of mainland Greece – remote and – yes – very quiet….hunkered down for the evening.  No light pollution so again amazing stars.
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Areopoli: Another feuding family stronghold, but was renamed after the war of independence as this is where the Maniots united and declared war on the Turks.

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The bell tower of the Taxiarchon is the highest in the Mani.
IMG 9637The wind was seriously biting, so we sheltered for coffee and a shared orange cake.
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Dirou Caves … wow as soon as you enter.  A 20 min boat ride followed by a walk.  We had the caves to ourselves.  If only the chap punting us had broken into “Just one cornetto!”
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The caves were known about from 1900, but not systematically explored until 1949.  Now routes of 14,700 metres have been charted.  The tourist route is 1500m, the first 1200 being by boat.  The grand opening of the caves was in 1967 after 6 years of work, including linking the natural caverns with tunnels.
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P1150735Vatheia on our route south:  dramatic location with deserted and restored Tower Houses.

Cape Tenaro: as far south as you can go.  This is the chapel of Asomati constructed from the stones of an ancient temple of Poseidon.
Our spot … our bottom to the wind with seaward views.
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As the eldest of 3, I had to share this with my parents and sibblings … my sister’s answer is unprintable!!   She said something that rymes with “Rollox”!!! 

 964 – Tuesday 23rd January:  The Furthest Point

How long can I drag out this ‘boyschilly’ thing?  In boarding school, I would have been turfed out of Matron’s bedrest room…the boys loved to be ‘turfed’ by Matron….make of that what you will!  Her bedside manner was – appealing – nothing to do with her big b**b**s, at all…  Back to the script before I get smacked around the gillies for being ‘off-topic’…   K did her pilates early while Oscar watched from a tethered position – he does like to join in – especially for the ‘horizontal round-the-tummy’ position – (so do I).  The views from our overnight are quite something, again…  We broke bread and walked to the most southerly point in the mainland – lighthouse – where we had the obligatory ‘selfie’.   A cave nearby is another mouth to Hades, not sure where exactly and not about to risk life and limb to clamber around the rocks. 
The wild flowers are rather beautiful here – spring is just around the corner…
As K will fly from Athens to see her daughter, we must quite reluctantly now travel north – but we will certainly return to this area – probably in late February/early March.  We really like the Maniot architeture … cuboid stone and flat grooves … some are modern but still really attractive.  Great walking area and coast … 
In recent years, we’ve had a dream – well several, actually…. To sell one of our modest properties in Brizzle – and buy in Euroland. (K’parents – Diane and Grahame think we’re mad – well we are). First it was going to be Scotland – then Portugal – then France. Now – Greece – of course!  If this is madness – we quite like it. Much more ‘bangs’ for our bucks in Greece – it might happen… watch this space!  
North to Gythio – well, a beach nearby – for a wilding.  A famous shipwreck beached and now for the tourists….  this demands another poetical quote…
“And now the storm blast came and he
was tyrannous and strong
he struck with his o’er taking wings
and drove us south along
the ship drove fast, loud roared the blast
and southward aye we fled”
Coleridge, again – the poor Mariner should not have shot the albatross – but that’s another tale….just watch out for mariners with crossbows!
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Cape Tenaro.
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Looking back to the car park and Jez.

IMG 9713The lighthouse at the point.  We’ve been watching numerous ferries and freighters sail by.

IMG 9719We woz ‘ere.

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We’ve seen wild orchids for a few days now, but today’s sunshine brought our small red and pink poppy look alikes along the road.  We’ve been told the Spring flowers here are quite a sight.

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As well as Hades Cave, the church with the stolen temple stones, there are Roman remains with mosaics.  A local museum was shut.

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Just 5 km N of Gythio is our overnight spot.  The Dimitrios accidentally ‘docked’ here in 1981 and has become a bit of a tourist attraction.  Our overnight is a car park just below the pic.

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And Gythio in the background, which we may come back to, as we did not have time to wander here.

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Chilled!  Both of us.



10 thoughts on “961-964: Mani Peninsular

  1. Nice to see what you’ve beenup to! You seem to be camped exactly where we did in Ag Nicholas.

    We are now at Nea Anchialos, small harbour and a small but interesting site.

    We are wending our way slowely northwards, will leave Greece on 20th have had to keep all our plastic bottles as we are going to empty all water tanks for the run through Bulgaria and Romania!! Should be fun, back to old time camping?

    Next time you come to Brighton do look us up.

    Sue, Mick & Becki


    • We often fall in love with places but we did really like it, just not long enough there. Hopefully will find time to come back. Crete for 2 months from end March, as the crossing is so expensive with a dog, that we won’t put into the ferry kennels.
      You are not posting as often on this trip!?!


  2. Time to let go of the man cold James. Too much fun to be had out there. Shirley has just flown off to chilly Scotland – very strange in this van with two sleeping pooches. It’s quiet! You’re winning us over to Greece and the other day we were won over to the idea of Morocco – how exciting!


    • J is fully healthy now, just muscle wastage after two weeks. Needs to get match fit or won’t keep up with me!
      Well, as of two hours ago and several hundred £s lighter, we have booked to go to Crete for two months from March. All the signs were there … people kept saying how it was motorhome heaven and Spring is the best time to go. Bought a guide book last weekend … so then it became a given.
      Fancy Morocco too … just the queues at campsites puts me off. Don’t want to have to pre-book.
      Hugs to S and a speedy recovery and return to you. I known when J is absent, Day 1 spring clean the van. Day 2 big walk to get physically tired. Day 3 miss him like hell.


      • Crete! Fabulous. We’re heading back to the UK in April to try to make a decision about the next step re. house. Will email when we know more. Loving the lifestyle in the van. x

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Aahh, happy readings. James, you may give the appearance of a prickly pear but I find you refreshingly open and clever. Kat, you are the glue. We are young(around the 50 mark) motorhomers and hope to cross paths with you guys at some time to enjoy some company and wine.


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