The bus station is a small office just on the outskirts of Gythio town. There are tables and chairs where you can sit and wait and the man in charge is very helpful. I asked him if he knew if there was such a thing as a map of the all the bus routes for the Peloponnese – his wry smile said it all! He told me however, that wherever you want to go the bus will take you! Well I’m not so sure of that as we found out in Monemvasia. What I did deduce (and also observe on previous bus journey’s) that the bus will generally make a bit of a detour as part of a requested stop to villages that may sit just off a main highway. Oh the mystery of the KTEL bus service! So far it has been fantastic.
It is a short journey from Gythio to Areopolis and when we arrive we disembark at the bus station which again sits just on the edge of the village.
We are staying at the Mani Hotel – a really nice family run hotel at the entrance to the village. It is run by Eleni and her husband with help from her Mama. They also have another hotel in the next village Limeni.
Areopolis is a very pretty village though its traditional stone tower houses gives it an austere feeling. However, it has to a certain extent been ’boutiquified’ (as I call it) with several cool bars that really come into their own at night are decorated with upcycled furniture, cushions placed on stone walls and candles and lights strewn almost anywhere they can be.
Formerly known as Tsimova, the town was renamed after Ares the God of War to mark its role in the War of Independence against the Turks. On 17th March 1821, a banner was raised and allegiance sworn under the motto “Victory or Death” by the various Maniot clan leaders assembled. They then marched to Kardamyli and on to Kalamata. The seven-year struggle had begun. One of the hero’s of the War of Independence and the last Bey of the Mani, Petros Mavromichalis (Petrobey), has a tribute made to him in the form of a striking statue in prime position in the main square. The Greek flag on one side and the Maniot flag (Victory or Death) on the other. It was here in the square where he raised the flag.
You will not struggle to find a really good restaurant here especially one that offers some unique Maniot specialities. The first restaurant that we try is Vasiliki which sits right next to the church Agio Taksiarhes with the impressive bell tower. This is an absolutely fabulous meal in a really lovely setting. Horta and orange salad to start and pork tenderloin with braised figs and potatoes on a bed of paprika cream cheese for me and roasted goat with artichoke hearts for Peter. 10 out of 10!