Gythio is small and can mostly be visited on foot but we decide to head over to Valtaki beach to visit the Dimitrios Shipwreck. It is just 5 kilometres North East of Gythio though along a main road. Because of this we walk to the square to pick up a taxi to take us there.
The beach is empty and it’s a beautiful beach too – long and narrow made up of golden sand. I must admit I am here just for the shipwreck which I could see from a bit of research I did that it is very photogenic. It doesn’t disappoint. Whilst here we stroll along the length of the beach and take in the surrounding scenery. Apparently there are several stories about how the Dimitrios shipwreck came to be grounded here – all very interesting theories. This is what Wikipedia says:
We didn’t think to ask the taxi to come and pick us up but close to where it dropped us off is the Glyfada Beach Bar and Restaurant who kindly phone for a taxi for us.
Now back to Gythio town to explore further. We start by taking the street Laryssiou behind our hotel which can also be accessed close to the memorial park – you will see the sloping path starting by Piazza Cafe. The further you climb the better the views of the port are. From Laryssiou you can take any number of steps that will take you higher into the village. This is a photographers paradise. Martha from our hotel had told us that because many of the grand mansion houses weren’t easily accessible, they had fallen into a state of dilapidation, but this is what makes the town so characterful.
We stop just before we reach the next village of Mavrovouni as it begins to get quite hot but this is a really good walk to do. You get wonderful views over the port and also Kranae Island which is where Helen and Paris where said to have stayed before departing for Troy. We will explore there later. By the way, on the other side of taped off fence is a sheer drop – not the best defence against falling! 🙂
One particular grand building takes my eye. When you look up from the port you can’t fail to miss it. Upon closer inspection, despite its grand facade, looking through the partially boarded up windows you can see that the entire building has collapsed within. Floorboards and ceiling joists hang as if suspended in mid air and you can see skylight through the windows.
If you take the steps up the side of the building the back is even more interesting – there are 5 doors also partially boarded up but very close together. I can’t imagine what this building may have previously been but obviously one of great importance taking into consideration its location and stature. When I asked Martha later if she knew, she said that she thinks it may have been related to the olive oil industry. Another source tells me that they were apartments. I will have to investigate further!
We descend from the upper village via probably the steepest set of steps I’ve seen in Greece – not great for my vertigo. However, it brings us close to the beginning of the causeway that leads to Kranae Island which we had seen from above. There isn’t much here. Firstly you will see the little church of Agios Petros. If you stand in front of it and look over to the town you will catch sight of the snow capped Teygettus mountain range – such an amazing backdrop!
A little further down the islet you will see on the left the Tzanetakis Tower built in the Maniot style and which houses the Museum of Ethnology – unfortunately it is closed.
At the end of the islet of Kranae is the Lighthouse of Gythio which was built in 1873 and now is home to the Mani Maritime Museum also unfortunately closed and it looks like it is undergoing renovation. It’s a lovely walk though.
We are told that there is a small ampitheatre in Gythio and we set off to hunt it down. Despite there being a few bits of signage, it isn’t really a major destination to visit – a small unkempt site that probably deserves a bit more care and attention. Nonetheless – we found it located next to an army base on the outskirts of the new town.
If you’re wandering around the harbour of Gythio you will no doubt see the this many times photographed site of octopus tentacles hanging on a line next to some tables with checkered table cloths. Despite 90 Moires being one of the busiest taverna’s in Gythio, if you stop to photograph this scene you are sure to be ‘accosted’ by the taverna owner – but I don’t mean accosted in a negative way. He’s a very charismatic chap who seems to have the contract for the coach tours visiting Gythio. Later that evening we decide to eat there – it didn’t look too busy when we arrived but in no time, several coaches of tourists arrived. 90 Moires still manages to maintain a very good service with excellent food. I’m unsure what to eat so I am invited into the kitchen to meet the chef. Beef stifado is recommended to me – one of my favourites and this is what I have. Peter has lamb with artichokes finished off with some complimentary halva.
We finish the evening with a stroll around the port – not another soul there!