Thursday, 28 November 2013

Greece - southern Peloponnese (1)

If there is any one thing that struck me about the Peloponnese it is the mountainous geography of the area. Not merely hilly neither Alpine style mountains but somewhere inbetween those two. The road twists and turns all through Greece but more so here. Seldom do we engage 4th gear in Fifi the motorhome and only once did we even get to 6th gear which was on a short stretch of 20km motorway just outside Kalamata. Journey times of course increases, 40km will take one hour and more to cover in your average 3.5 ton motorhome.

Winding our way south the first town of interest is Kardamilli, narrow main thoroughfare as is the case in many Greek towns, a central square with a Greek flag and the bust of some local hero prominently displayed. Tavernas with locals sipping Greek coffees are busy and Fifi the motorhome never fails to draw attention as we navigate through small towns. We parked and had a look around but could see no suitable space for an overnight stay. I recalled a turn off to a hotel just outside town and decided to investigate. Look what view came our way! We stayed two nights. Joan cooked us the second lamb casserole from the meat we bought in Athens, which was suitably washed down with a Chianti bought at Lidl's.

Overlooking Kardamilli

More twisty roads brought us to Stoupa which according to the Rough Guide (kindly donated to us by Rick and Kathy) has a British ex pat contingent. We looked around and walked around but heard no English and thought we'd move on to Agios Nikolaos after filling Fifi's tank with fresh water from the public faucet outside the church. Fifi's tank holds 130 liters of water which can go almost a week if carefully used.
Agios Nikolaos has a long narrow area for parking along the sea front, where a sea wall has been built to prevent the soil / sand / gravel being washed away. Like many coastal areas where expansion have taken place,  roads and buildings have often been built too near the sea and even on the rocks, resulting in further coastal degradation. In Europe this is frequently the case, with limited suitable land along its coasts resulting in ever more pressure on coastal areas not suitable for development.

Development or coastal degradation? Agios Nikolaos above and Gerolimenas below. How desperate must one be to put a taverna extension on the 'beach' or literally building on the rocks? And look at the state of some of it.
The small fishing harbour and town of Agios Nikolaos is pretty though. We walked it twice and photographic opportunities are plenty. In summer the village is closed to traffic allowing the whole central area to become one large pedestrian zone.

Fishing harbour Agios Nikolaos

Sunset over the Ionnian Sea

The Peloponnese has a rugged and to-be-explored kind of beauty. We have learnt to look beyond what seems like degradation and over-development. Then too, we need to remind ourselves that we are in Greece and not in the UK where planning permission would have curtailed many developments and expansion seen here.
We hastily moved further south when I awoke one morning to the sound of water on the side of the motorhome. The wind had been blowing all night and had increased in strength blowing the water over the sea wall. The time was 6:00am and the spray on the side of the 'van was enough incentive to pack up and move, in under 15 minutes. We had our first coffee in a supermarket car park on the main road. It was only then that I recalled the midnight Skype conversation by an American talking to his granddaughter from the tavern nearest the 'van. The USA is some eight hours behind Greek time hence him talking to her early evening USA time .... the joys of camping .... yes, I endured the whole 75 minute conversation he had with all and everyone in the house. I almost got to know them.



  1. Greece is slowly sliding into the sea to the South West. Movement has been up to 4 metres in a hundred years. This is the opposite of orogeny but is as formative on the local landscape. Slip faults about which makes the entire countryside extemely mountainous.

    1. Most informative. That being the case many properties will then disappear in decades to come. As for the mountains, it often reminds me of the area from say Gordon's Bay, Hangklip, Kleinmond and Elgin southeast of Cape Town.

  2. The areas you mention are parts of the Cape Fold mountains - caused when South America broke away from Africa - however it was not a clean break and the two continents slammed into each other repeatedly "frommeling" the mountains up to 2000 km away.

  3. Here's a map showing just how and how fast Greece is flowing into the sea: