History, beach time, heat, and more yummy food.
We were sad to leave beautiful Nafplio but also excited for the 3.5+ hour drive to Monemvasia. We decided to take the scenic route which wound around the coastline and up a huge mountain of nearly 4,000 ft. The monastery built into the giant rock was remarkable.
We stopped at the top of the mountain in a little village for coffee and a snack. DD#1 was little car sick from all the switch backs on this narrow Greek road. I gave up the front seat and she hung in there.
We continued on through the mountainous countryside in awe of all of the olive trees surrounded by rock walls. There were almost as many orange trees. We were excited to see Monemvasia in the distance. It is a hidden city which is behind this massive rock. There is a narrow causeway connecting the rock to the mainland.
We had a casual lunch on the mainland before parking on the narrow causeway. We were excited to have booked a hotel within the hidden city, also known as the Monemvasia Castle.
This place reminded us of Mont St. Michel in France, without the hordes of tourists. It was a maze of small streets with a looming abandoned upper town towering above us on the giant rock. It was hard to stop taking pictures.
We found an escape through the town's walls to the rocky beach below. We hoped to swim but the water was too rough.
We decided to hike up to the upper town around 7pm because the rock was in the shade. We saw some giant spiders and fascinating ruins up there. It would have been fun to have a scavenger hunt up there!
Like everywhere in Greece, there were friendly cats roaming about.
We went to a somewhat touristy place for dinner before I took a night walk. Most of the town was well-lit for a dark stroll but I had to use my phone flashlight a few times.
When we awoke in the morning, we heard extremely loud wind! It almost sounded like the nearby ocean was going to overtake the town! The nasty ashtray on our outdoor table fell off and broke. When we finally went to investigate, chairs were tipped over and pieces of plants and sand were blowing all over. Apparently, these sort of winds are normal for Monemvasia. After our filling buffet breakfast, we trekked to the lighthouse at the edge of the rock and were nearly blown over.
We really enjoyed Monemvasia and suspect it will become a more popular destination in the future. We hauled our suitcases out to our car and traveled more windy roads to the ancient Byzantine city of Mystras. The churches and architecture were astounding. I remember reading about the Byzantine Empire and was fascinated seeing this spread out city built on a steep hill up close and personal.
We were hot and tired but I insisted on hiking to the fortress at the tippy top of Mystras. The rest of my family patiently waited.
We stopped at a nearby taverna for some yummy Greek food. Grape leaves, Greek salad, and more.
We had nearly two more hours of driving on more windy and narrow roads before arriving in beautiful Kardamyli in the Mani Peninsula. This area of the Peloponnese felt almost deserted with little traffic and open space. The surrounding mountains were larger and greener than I imagined. I could tell that we were really going to like this region. We were even more excited when we found our hotel had double balconies. Once facing the ocean, and the other the pool and mountains. DH and I were already scheming about how we could move here or at least spend some significant time in the future!
Our first day in Kardamyli seemed like it was in slow-motion. We swam in the pool, in the ocean, and back in the pool again. We had coffee, freddo cappuccinos and espressos (cold) like the locals, saw the historic Old Kardamyli and poked into some shops. I am so happy to be staying here for three nights. It really is a vacation from our vacation.
I love how easy it is to have dinner right on the beach. There are many open tables and the menus are not expensive. We sat out on the beach this afternoon and had local microbrews delivered to us for 2.5 Euro each. I keep pinching myself at how affordable and easy everything is around here. The locals are friendly and no one seems to be in a hurry. The Greek attitude certainly seems contagious among the many British tourists who frequent this area. We are eager for more low-key adventures tomorrow.