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When you tire of Agios Nikoloas, continue along the coast road and you end up at trachila. It's a wonderful place, it's tiny harbour set amongst the rocky shore and swimming is from rock platforms. No beach here, just fantastic, old fashioned Greek hospitality (or it was in the 1990's) at the local tavernas. We always patronised the establishment at the end of the village, by the sea. We never officially ate here, but every time we ordered a beer, a plate of anything that was going at the time was automatically served. This was usually some small fish, real chips, olives, bits of meat etc. We watched the local tomato man call, sit down, discuss his wares for an hour, have a plate of food and a drink or two,sell a few tomatoes and finally be on his way. What a wonderful life!
Trachila is the last port of call before entering Laconia. There were a couple of places offering rooms in the 90's. We stayed in Granny's spanking new apartment, above a kafeneon, I think. Whilst cooking our dinner one night, the whole wall of tiles peeled off in the steam and fell in a heap. Well, we howled, as well as falling in a heap ourselves. I can still picture granny's face now when we showed her what had happened. A bit of bad workmanship, I think!!!!I just hope it remains a small, uncomercialised village and doesn't fall in to the tourist trap too soon.
Returned here in May 2008 and thankfully nothing much had altered. Still a delightful, peaceful little harbourside village.
Now have a Trachila page.
Updated Jun 19, 2008
Or it's proper name: Kastro ton Paramythion. This is an amazing sight, quite hard to believe your own eyes!! It was built by Harry Fournier in the 1960's, a one time poor Greek boy who left for America and became a famous surgeon. Once he had made his fortune, he returned to his homeland and built the castle for his family to live in. He based it on Disneyland's Castle of the Fairytales
We had passed this place only on the main road,many years ago and I really wanted to see the castle properly. In fact, I have had a very long conversation with the owner, Haris Fournakis (Harry Fournier)'s son over the telephone. He was very pleased to read of my entry about the castle on Virtual Tourist and told me that he had been brought up in the castle and had many happy memories of the place. He also told me the castle is now closed for renovation which was going to cost millions.
We firstly drove to Agrili to get a view of the castle from there, then turned back and drove down one of the two rough driveways, through fields full of water melons, right up to the castle. We followed the signs for parking off to one side. We were the sole people here, it was eery.
A 40 foot high Poseidon's horse and Athena seem to guard the castle. I reckoned the horse was the Wendy house as there was a door in it. What a place!!! All around are statues and childlike paintings, all quite unbelievable but somehow evocative, knowing this is a creation of one man.
Definitely worth a look.
North of Filiatra on the west coast.
Updated Sep 30, 2007
Follow the road from Mavromati, passed the museum and the entrance to Ancient Messini and you will come to the Arcadian Gate and some of the best preserved parts of the 9 kilometre Messenean wall. This was built to protect the city and the ancient route to Megalopolis. What amazed us is that today's modern route to Meligalas and Zerbsia runs straight through this ancient gateway. How many times do locals travel this route, sparing a thought for why it is there?
The gate is quite a spectacle, a huge circular opening with one of it's massive lintel's lying at the angle it fell, who knows how long ago?
The wall is built from enormous slabs of limestone, quarried from the slopes of nearby Mount Ithome. Thirty forts guarded the wall at strategic points and one or two can still be seen. You think Hadrian's Wall (England) is impressive, well think again. This wall far surpasses Hadrian's and again, work is still being carried out here. Who knows what else will be uncovered?
Updated Sep 26, 2007
We felt we owed Ancient Messene a re-visit, as excavations are still ongoing.
Our original plan was to set off reasonably early in the day, before it became too hot but in the end, we made this trip one cool, wet afternoon. It's about an hour and forty minutes drive from Gialova which we did in torrential rain. Roads were flooded and visibility poor but strangely, when we reached Mavromati, where Ancient Messene is, it wasn't raining, nor did it look as though it had done much. Just goes to show, as this place is in the mountains, the weather is very unpredictable.
From the village of Maromati, there is a car park looking out over the site but it was so misty, it wasn't worth lingering here so we continued to the site, the steep access road by the museum now surfaced since our last visit.
It's free entry, amazing ,as it's a vast site, with loads to see and more being uncovered annually.Work is ongoing.
In 371BC, the Messinians, after being freed from the Spartans after 350 years of their ruling,decided to act swiftly. They built 9 kilometres of massive fortified wall and the new city of Messene in apparently 85 days in a truly magnificent attempt to keep the Spartans at bay. It worked, the Spartans were held back time after time. The city retained it's independance until the Romans gained the city, shortly after 183 BC.
It is a magical place, make sure you see the whole site. You enter near the theatre and move down to the Agora after passing the foutainhouse. You then think you've seen it all, but no, keep walking and follow the track. You arrive at a superbly reconstructed stadium and gymnasium, the jewel in the crown,as it were. From here, you can see that work is still going on. I just couldn't get over how huge an area it covered.
There are a few officials who follow you about and blow a whistle at you if they think you are up to no good!!!I was about to walk on newly planted grass so was whistled at!!!
Make sure you visit, it's little known but gradually, people are being made aware of this site.
Updated Sep 26, 2007
A refreshing change from Messinia's glorious beaches is the walk along the Polimnio waterfalls. This is an oasis of green trees set amongst the milky green mineral pools in the river. The largest fall is at the top.
The walk takes about half an hour and takes you across some uneven ground, so make sure you wear sensible shoes. It's not a difficult walk but can be slippy if it has rained, be careful. The river pools are quite a sight, not what you expect to find in Greece, and are named as lakes on the notice boards. It would have been interesting if there had been some information along the way but never mind.
We spotted fresh water crabs in the river, something I didn't know existed. They were even walking up the road!!!
Swimming is allowed in the pools, be warned it can be tricky getting out as there are no beaches, just rocks to slither down or jump from.
Parking is either in the coach park, (long trek down) or at the bottom of the very steep, loose surfaced road. This is very limited and it means you have to do a hill start on gravel. Not good when you have a car parked right behind you!!
For more info, look at my Gialova page.
Updated Sep 25, 2007