With Orthodox Easter this weekend and with many places consequently closed. We’ve take the very decadent option of staying in a campsite for the past 4 nights. It’s been well worth it!
We arrived in the little town of Kalogria, somewhat hyped by the flamboyant descriptions in the local tourist guide. To quote:
A few kilometers from Kalamata, almost 42km. The beach is an oasis in the wild landscape of Mani. It is truly beautiful and it is hard for someone who has visited it to be able to forget it. It is a beach with green blue waters, that on seeing it captivates the traveler and makes him believe that he is on a paradise on earth. The impressive beach has cool and almost frozen waters since four of the springs of Taigetos end in its sandy seabed.
On arriving here on Wednesday afternoon we were less than impressed. The sky was grey, the visibility hazed in smoke and mist. This was made worse when, on occasion, it drizzled red mud, leaving the windscreen an opaque mess. A huge weather system over the Sahara has blown dust as far north as Belgium. Here, further south, the effects are quite dramatic, with the snow covered peaks turning ochre, vehicles looking like participants in the Paris-Dakar, and our moods slightly inhibited. The weather remained pretty much the same on Thursday, Friday the weather cleared, Saturday was a ‘Wow – so this is what they were talking about’, Sunday was, well, Sunday – more below, and now it’s Easter Monday, and we’ll eventually get back on the road. We’ve never spent three nights anywhere, so this has been a novel experience.
We are camped at Camping Kalogria – a very friendly site in a park that has been left somewhat to nature – draw your own conclusions. We are directly opposite the house owned by Niko Kazantzaki who moved here in 1917 and met a local character by the name of George Zorbas as foreman in his newly acquired coal mine. So who are all these people? Well, this is the basis of ‘Zorba the Greek’. Don’t plead ignorance on this. This is ‘Eat Pray Love’ for the Pre-Millennials (aka ‘The Selfie Generation’) …
We took the opportunity to cycle to the next town of Agio Nikolaos, along a very well-maintained coastal cycle path. Breakfast on the harbour consisted, for Niki, of pancakes and about half litre of honey – no skimping on sweets in this country.
Sunday we strolled down to the beach at 10:00am (dawn is late in Greece …) beset by aromatic smoke. The tradition on Easter Sunday is that everybody has spit roast lamb. Yes!!! Lamb on the beach with ice cold beer.
As it turned out, however, this didn’t happen. Our very nice neighbours (hi Rus & Juliet) informed us that our campground was putting on a free lunch – the owner was most offended when inquired of the price. We, of course, got there very late. Nevertheless, the manager and his crew gathered up lamb, tzatziki, roast potatoes and red-dyed eggs … and glasses of wine. What a pleasant afternoon spent with people who may well have been strangers, but, given the time, turned out to be a joyous group of friends.
So, it’s been a lazy few days, a little out of our character, but thoroughly enjoyable for all that. Our plan for today is to head off to the parking lot at the Diros Caves, hoping that the recent rains which resulted in shortened cave visits would be a thing of the past – time will tell.