Today we decide to hire a car. Although my trips are usually wholly reliant on public transport it is great to be travelling with a member of the family who is brave enough to drive in Greece and has got that whole driving on the other side of the road thing down to a fine art!
We start off by walking down the Kali Strata, taking time to absorb the character and beauty of the old mansions. This place is a photographers paradise! I notice the old engravings scratched into the steps and wonder what they mean – some are dated from the 1960’s and have a simple drawing of a house – others just dates and a few words that I can’t read.
The Kali Strata – depending on which route you take can be up to 500 steps and definitely appreciated much more on the downward path!
We pick up a nippy little compact car and first of all head off to South of the island to visit the Panormitis Monastery. Firstly we stop off to admire the view over Gialos – which is magnificent! From here we can see the cluster of windmills on the ridge of the Chora and over to Pedi Bay. Also you can see the uniformity of the traditional paint colours of the houses. This is stringently monitored by the local council and really adds to the visual impact of these neoclassical style houses.
As we neared the Panormitis Monastery, we stopped to take in the view over the bay which was absolutely stunning. Next to the roadside we noticed some kind of military bunker complete with what looks like little periscopes.
As we drive down to the entrance of the monastery we are greeted by a large sign of rules and regulations to adhere to. The no nudism symbol has been scratched out completely – even a stick figure could potentially offend!
Just as we approached the monastery the Agios Nikolaos ferry was arriving. Luckily we were able to nip inside before the larger Panagia Skiadenia arrived after which the harbour was deluged.
It was a great place to people watch – pilgrims and tourists alike. An entourage of Greeks had come to the monastery as photo opportunity for their baby’s christening. A large laminated photograph of the baby had been placed on an easel as a centre piece to the group photograph of the family. Mother was complete in red ballgown and professionally applied makeup and had command of both a photographer and videographer. I do wonder who was meant to be the star of the show.
The monastery is set in a beautiful little harbour – a change from being high up a mountainside.
We decide to head off around the coast and our next stop is Marathounta beach. We don’t stay for very long – just long enough to stroll along the beach and watch the goats interact with the visitors.
Our next port of call was Toli beach. From the top of the cliff we could see a line of newly planted palms indicating the route down the narrow, stony track. Toli has a little taverna with free sunbeds. The water was very clear and we decided to stay there for the rest of the afternoon.
After a lazy afternoon we headed off back towards Gialos but took a detour over to Nimborios Bay. We parked the car and walked around to the little harbour – one of the starting points for the water taxi’s. I think we were too tired to go back to our respective hotels and change for dinner so we decided to eat at the only little taverna there – the Metapontis Taverna. At first it was difficult to see who was staff and who were guests at the taverna. Various people greeted us and eventually a man brought us menu’s. When we asked about the fish, a lady was summoned from the kitchen and through her broken English we were able to order a wonderful spread which we finished off with fantastic baklava!
As the sun began to set, we reluctantly returned the hire car back to Gialos and then stayed a while to enjoy the relative post day trip tranquility of the town.
Tomorrow is my birthday and we are going on a boat trip.