Greece. Thousands of islands scattered all over the Aegean and Ionian Seasâ€¦ doesnâ€™t sound much like a road trip? Wellâ€¦ we tried exactly that and it turned out pretty fascinating. We decided to hire a car exploring the Peloponnese starting from Athens. Our route led us further down south to the island of Elafonisos. True, at least one island must be on our list.
Before climbing behind the wheel we spent a few days in Greeceâ€™s capital Athens – mainly to relax and to catch some Greek city lifestyle. It was also the first time we tried to book our accommodation via Airbnb â€“ a good decision. Our host Photis and his HISTORIC Centre Hip Maisonette Studio Gem welcomed us sweetly. Perfect location, super host and best value for money. Great hospitality was something that continued all throughout our trip; however, about Athens city I heard some stories ahead with the consensus to better spend the holidays on an island or the countryside. Of course the city has its gems too, not to forget the beautiful ancient Acropolis, which we admired from the distance only. Too crowdie – for which reason the distance view seemed a way better decisionâ€¦
Once near the Acropolis, take a walk at the Mouseion Hill: a lovely preserved nature â€˜islandâ€™ in Athensâ€™ centre, perfect for a hike. You may get a glimpse of the Philopappos Monument in a beautiful parkway, and from the distance you will also get to see the harbour of Piraeus. A nice place for a break and distance-sightseeing. I would have loved having a bottle of wine and some snacks with me.
Packed with those impressions we were ready for our long-waited road trip. Even though we decided for the car, we craved for getting closer to the sea passing by Piraeus. Indeed the landscape was nice to watch, but traffic was horrible. After far more than one hour slow-moving traffic we finally reached a low traffic road and the driving wind cooled us down again. From Athens to the very south tip of Peloponneseâ€™s eastern shore it takes a few hours.Â After several coffee breaks and passing by olive and citrus orchards, small and larger villages and towns, including Sparta, we reached our first destination â€“ the small and lonely ferry place opposite Elafonisos island. It wasnâ€™t high-season, lucky us, so nearly no traffic and hardly someone waiting for the transfer of the 15 minutes ferry connection. We were even unsure if we waited at the correct place, but a very friendly and quite talkative Greek guy made us feel more comfortable weâ€™re doing the right thing.
A short ferry trip later we landed on Elafonisos island â€“ a small piece of land, but known for one of Greeceâ€™s beautiful beaches: the Simos Beach. Very excited, but also a bit exhausted from the long ride we were seeking a shower and a cold drink first, before we inspected the small village, where we found our sunset place directly at the seafront in a small beach barâ€¦
Next day we started with a breakfast on our terrace and a furry visit from Lare – the house cat. Since Lare got bored of us quickly after we fed him he strayed further to catch some more food at the neighboursâ€™ terraceâ€¦ accordingly, we had no longer important business at the apartment too. Time for heading to Simos beach.
White, sandy with turquoise water â€“ the promise was kept easily. Likely because of the off-season too, there were almost no people around and the cosy sunbeds were for free and very inviting to spend a whole dayâ€¦ and so we did. Since there was no beach bar we brought some snacks and wine ourselves. Itâ€™s truly an impressive and quite virgin beach scene. At least I like to keep those off-season images in mind.
Back at the village we ended the day in a small seafood restaurants directly at the harbour â€“ we watched the fishermen coming back from their work place and selling their catch at the shore. Like in a fairy-tale village far away from the busy life.
Fully recovered and almost a bit bored, just as planned, we were ready for a hike on Peloponnese mainland. We left the island, and on the way back with the ferry we had the unique honour watching two ocean turtleâ€™s swimming just a few meters away from the boatâ€¦ Sorry, NO PHOTO, but this great experience Iâ€™ll never forget. According to Stefan this was also the begin of me spotting ocean turtleâ€™s for the rest of the trip â€“ he had to convince me several times that Iâ€™m kind of obsessed staring into the sea ,)
Then the hike. It started with an off-road ride with a non-off-road car. Letâ€™s say, it was interesting at least. The hiking trail lead us along the seashore again, very romantic and stunning panorama included. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the trail, but this is what it looked likeâ€¦
Starving from the three to four hour hike we took the off-road back to another small village to have lunch and our next stop â€“ Monemvasia, a medieval town where we checked in Villa Diamanti. The hosts, an elderly Greece couple, welcomed us very heartedly and showed us around the house. I would like to mention that this apartment was one of the cosiest Iâ€™ve ever been. The location couldnâ€™t be better â€“ just 10 meters from the sea and a great view towards the rock formation of Monemvasia, which was also reach-able by a walk in around 15 minutes. We decided for an apartment out of the medieval town, because we were not sure about the tourist-traffic inside. We found out later the day that we were right doing so and not booking an overpriced room directly there.
Next dayâ€™s sunrise, first thing we did was going for a morning swim and a breakfast. After that the trip to the old town. I have to admit, I forgot my camera and decided not running back; instead enjoying the moment there â€“ sorry, but I guess the stress would have been at the cost of the beauty of the moment. Instead I like to show you the delicious food we had on that day…
Almost ten days on Greek roads we had to face our last stop on our way back. Spontaneously we decided for the city of Nafplio. After some research it seemed to be a good place with lively nightlife. Turned out the city has a lot to offer like the Palamidi Fortress, where you can catch a nice view over the city and the small Bourtzi Castle, located on a small island. Certainly, there are also some small beaches around with great beach bars. For the sandy beaches we had to drive a few kilometres out of town and ended up around Tolo village. Breathing the salty air for a very last time before heading back to Athens airport. And so we ended our journey, Greece by car, with the good mind-set that we spared plenty of places sprinkled all over the sea, still on our bucket list. Waiting for explorationâ€¦
Cheers with sunbeams.