Back to Greece


Aerial view of the Acropolis (click to enlarge)This year, 2018, we spent a family holiday in Greece during the last week of June. We all flew in from London, Bucharest, Abu Dhabi and Almaty to have a week together in a location we had not visited as a family before. We had an excellent time visiting Athens and relaxing for the week at the Costa Navarino resort in the Messinia area of the Peloponnese.

Temple of Athena Nike (click to enlarge)We spent a full day visiting the key sites: the Parthenon, the Plaka area where we had lunch, the parliament for the changing of the guards, the Panathenaic Olympic stadium and the temple of Zeus. As I have reported on a similar visit to just Athens three years ago I will not elaborate further.

Canal of Corinth (click to enlarge)The day after visiting Athens we took off by car to Costa Navarino in the Messinia area of the Peloponnese. While on the highway we took a small detour to stop at the old bridge over the Corinth Canal which cuts through the Isthmus of Corinth. It connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. Already since antiquity rulers had dreamed of digging this canal to avoid having the sail around the Peloponnese. Yet, it took until the late 19th century for the canal to be dug. But it never was a commercial succes. While just over 6 kilometers long it was barely over twenty meters wide, too narow to let any commercial shipping through for too long. In addition the steep walls continuously eroded and had pieces of rock falling down at one time blocking the canal for a period of two years. And then in the 2nd World War retreating Nazi troops set off explosions to create more landslides to block the canal and blew up the bridges above and dumped locomotives in to it. Today it’s a tourist attraction.

Costa Navarino (click to enlarge)We spent nearly a week at the unique Costa Navarino resort. The Costa Navarino resort is the brain child of Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos who was born in the village of Diavolitsi, in Messinia, southwest Peloponnese. After growing up in Messinia, Captain Vassilis went to sea, gradually working his way up to master. When he finally came ashore in 1974 after 21 years, he established Costamare Shipping Company, which quickly expanded and today is one of the world’s largest containers owners/operators. His vision had always been focused on preserving, promoting and giving back to the land of his birth. His vision for Costa Navarino involved a bold and forward-looking development of high-end sustainable accommodations and facilities that would allow guests from all over the world to explore the natural beauty, history and traditions of his native Messenia, while at the same time creating jobs that would enable Messinians to stay in their homeland or even return. He definitly succeeded in making his vision come to life and have many enjoy the beauty of the region while staying at the resort.

Messinian food (click to enlarge)One activity we thoroughly enjoyed as a family was the experience of Authentic Village Cooking. We had the chance to discover traditional Messinian cooking with the help of local women using regional techniques and fresh ingredients. The best part of it all was that we had the opportunity to enjoy the food we prepared. The location is just great a beautifully restored old home overlooking the bay.

Voidokilia Half Moon Beach (click to enlarge)The area around the resort has plenty of sightseeing to offer. One particularly attractive feature is the Voidokilia “half moon” beach. It’s barely a few kilometers from the resort and has calm beautiful turquoise waters. The beach is presumed to be Homer’s “sandy Pylos” where Telemachus was welcomed by King Nestor when searching for his father, Odysseus.(Wikipedia)

The cave of Nestor below the castle (click to enlarge)Above the beach is Nestor’s Cave and above this are the ruins of thirteenth-century Frankish castle (Old Navarino or Palaiokastro). The Cave of Nestor is where, according to mythology Hermes had hidden the stolen oxen of Helios, whereas according to Pausanias (36.2) it was the place where the cattle of the king Neleus were kept .(Wikipedia)

Thrasymedes Tomb(click to enlarge)Overlooking the beach at the north eastern end is the tomb of Nestor’s son, Thrasymedes of the Mycenaean period (1680–1060 BC) with Neolithic finds at the same site showing occupation as early as 4000 BC. The tomb has been excavated. The tholos is 5 meters wide and its floor is covered with pebbles. It contained about 7 burials. Among the movable finds of the (otherwise looted in the past) tomb count arrow heads, necklaces made of carnelian and amethyst, two Mycenaean pottery vessels etc. The first use of the tumulus (pithos burials’ phase) dates to the Middle Helladic Period whereas the prime time of the tholos tomb was the Mycenaean period. Around the tomb were found Late Classical and Hellenistic votive tablets as well as a small model of an altar, which points to some kind of hero or ancestors’ cult. (Wikipedia)

Last Updated: 01-09-2018

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