|We've been in Greece a fortnight now, and most of that time has been spent at the beach in Finikunda. It's so lovely and relaxing there, and the days have turned into those syrupy, languid ones where time just oozes by, where everything smells of sunshine, and where you can't quite believe how much time you can spend just sitting doing not much at all.
However, we have managed to drag ourselves away for a bit of an explore of the southern Peleoponnese. Going to get a bit technical here. There are three sticky out bits a sticking out the bottom of the Peloponnese. We are on the left hand one, at the beach, but our first trip out was to the middle sticky out bit: the Mani peninsula. This landscape is very disctinct from the rest of the Peloponnese; it's more rugged and barren, but not as much as I was led to believe from speaking with our fellow travellers. It's famed largely for an architectural construction unique to this part of the world; square towers are absolutely everywhere on the landscape and were built to show the importance of the family. Sometimes there are tens of these towers in a single village, sometimes there is just one lone tower standing on a hill, each time they are quite magnificent, and reflect the separateness of the Manoit people, who are proud that they have never been invaded.
The tiny wee churches are just gorgeous, placed almost randomly it seems, and with such intricate decoration for such small places of worship.
The landscape is awesome, definately some of the best we've seen down the west coast of the peninsula. We decided we'd do some free camping here as it's so easy and there are no sites anyway. Best night was a little cove we found off down a lonely track. Level ground, right by the beach, and with the water still warm enough for having our bath in the morning. (Although the water was a bit rougher here, making for some undignified ablutions).
We also visited the most easterly of the sticky out bits, as we wanted to visit the town of Monemvasia. This is a town built on a rock, joined only to the mainland by a causeway. It used to be properly joined but was separated by an earthquake at some point. The town itself is built on the far side of the rock, and is completely walled (yes another one), and so you don't get a real look at it until you walk through a doorway in the wall and emerge into the town itself. The fact that no vehicles can get into the town has meant it has been beautifully preserved, and it is an absolute stunner. There is an old fortress and church on the top of the rock, an upper part of the town, and the lower town. It's about 70% occupied and there is a lot of work going on to replace any "new" buildings, with authentic stone buildings. Although it's gorgeous, it's small and it felt quite claustrophobic to me, so while I was delighted to visit, I don't think I'd like to stay there in one of the hotels.
Much more lively, if not quite so pretty, is the new town on the other side of the causeway and it had a nice enough harbour for us to stay in overnight, although it was one of the windiest nights we've had in the van and therefore one of the worst night's sleep.
We also treated ourselves to dinner out which was very exciting! Souvlaki all round, a couple of beers, and goodnight Vienna.
The only problem was that it was here we realised that we'd left one of the passports back at the Finikunda site, which meant we had to come back. Damn.