For awhile last year, I was posting a look back at past travels every Wednesday. Life got in the way and I stopped doing it, but I figured I’d start back up again. Today’s post is from my graduation trip to Greece in the summer of 2008. You can find the rest of my Greece posts here.
Do you remember where you were on Mother’s Day, 2008? I remember where I was – traveling around the Mani Peninsula in Greece, making stops in the tiny towns of Kastania, Gerolimenas, and Gythio before winding up at the medieval fortress of Monemvasia for a few days.
Our first stop, Kastania, was a super tiny town (Wikipedia tells me it has a population of 423); we dropped in for a few minutes to visit a couple of its churches. This brings me to one thing that amazed me about Greece, and amazes me about Europe in general – the abundance of churches, even in the smallest of places. And often, even in these tiny towns, the churches are surprisingly beautiful and ornate. Pretty cool, if you ask me.
From Kastania we traveled to Gerolimenas, a coastal town, for a delicious seafood lunch that included super fresh squid and anchovies. We also walked along the rocky beach for a bit, but it was crazy windy and not the best time for lingering along the shore.
Our next stop was Gythio, the port town for ancient Sparta. Our tour guide told us that the island just off the coast of Gythio was the location where Paris and Helen spent their first night together en route to Troy, so…I guess that’s an illustrious claim to fame?
We ended our day of town-hopping in Monemvasia, where we stayed for the next two nights. Monemvasia is mostly known for being home to a medieval fortress – think of it as the Greek Mont Saint-Michel, if you will. We hiked to the top, stopping to take in the beautiful views along the way.
As we climbed, it was also fun to look down onto the gorgeous blue waters, the reddish brown roofs of the town, and the winding pathway:
Near the top, we found a church with a pretty spectacular dome:
At at the very tip top, gorgeous views of the surrounding waters and towns:
Like I said above, Monamvasia strongly reminded me of France’s Mont Saint-Michel. The difference? Mont Saint-Michel is packed to the brim with tourists, while Monamvasia was much sleepier. Both offer spectacular vistas and lots of history, but Monamvasia boasts a peacefulness that can’t be matched.