Peloponnese – The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I thought it would be a good idea to sketch where we have all been. Because it’s hard to imagine if you’ve never been there. That’s why I took a screenshot of our Polarsteps

Polylimnio waterfalls

In our case we left the first western ‘finger’ of the peninsula to the right in favor of the Polylimnio waterfalls. Apart from our trip to the gorge in Glyki, we had actually always stayed on the coast until now. It was time for something different…

You have to walk fifteen minutes to these waterfalls from the parking lot. Then it is skillful and/or careful scrambling over the rocks to get to the most beautiful parts. Meanwhile, we are mid-November and the water is just ice cold, but I believe that this place is a small private paradise on earth in the summer. Although I fear that many tourists will also find their way here…

Nevertheless, this spectacle produces beautiful images in combination with the autumn colors present.

The middle finger of the Peloponnese

After some ominous claps of thunder and the arrival of gray clouds settling in between the mountains, we quickly returned to Nigel. Surprisingly, the cloudburst did not come and we continued our journey. We cut off the coast through a piece of inland towards Kalamata. There we spent the rest of the day and night on a straight stretch of coastline. Nice weather, but otherwise there was nothing special, except for a few idiots who came to terrorize some German campers in the middle of the night with loud music a little further…

After a two night stop in Oitylos, where we parked on a pier in a pretty bay and had dinner in a fish restaurant, we arrived at the very bottom of the middle finger of Peloponnese, which is also the southernmost point of the Greek mainland, islands so not included. This region or peninsula of a peninsula is called ‘Mani’. Just before that extreme point you will also encounter the village of Vathia …

Almost forgot, but before we arrived in Vathia we saw a remarkably barren peninsula from the bus. This caught our attention so much that we drove up and explored…

The specific structure and arrangement of these rocks give the peninsula a rough character
You can see how the peninsula stands out in the green landscape
This would be an old castle with a Christian church attached to it
We found this ruin. It looks like a Roman villa with underfloor heating

After the intermezzo above we arrived in Vathia. An old village where hardly anyone lives. For some Greek reason there is an abandoned basketball court, the concrete slab of which is half crumbled on the mountainside, overlooking the village. An ideal parking space for us… And now pay attention to the history lesson!

Vathia is famous for its distinctive tower houses, built from local rock, which dominate the hilltop on which the village is located. Dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, these tower houses are unique examples of Maniot architecture, which emerged during the region’s period of constant hostilities and blood feuds. The Ottomans and Egyptians jointly tried to reconquer the Mani region. This was the response to the revolt in the region – and all of Greece – against the Ottoman occupiers. This revolt was initially successful, but due to mutual quarrels between villages and families, the occupier was able to launch a counteroffensive. In the end, the Ottoman-Egyptian alliance lost out.

Thus, the history of Vathia is steeped in the struggle for independence and the unique culture of the Mani region. Although the village is now mostly deserted, the stone tower houses have been preserved, and some have been restored to give visitors a glimpse of traditional Maniot life. These houses were built like miniature fortresses, with few windows and high walls to protect the inhabitants from attack.

Vathia – with rain coming

The view from Vathia is nothing short of spectacular. Due to its location on a hilltop, the village offers panoramic views of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, the surrounding mountains and the rugged Maniotic landscape. The combination of the culture, the mix of dilapidated and restored houses and the fantastic view make this small village a regular stop for tourist tours and gives it a green frame on the Michelin map. By the way, do you want to see more of Vathia? I filmed more than took photos.

We were able to drive a bit further south, and walk one last bit to a lighthouse and reach the actual southernmost point of Greece. Here too we found old ruins, with a still fairly intact mosaic. To conclude, some pictures of this walk:

Where is Nigel ?

In the next post we will visit Sparta, the birthplace of King Leonidas, known from the movie 300. Unfortunately, fate struck there, after a year and a half of carefree travelling…

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