|Posted by Alexandra S on February 15, 2018 at 5:50 PM|
The very first time I visited Mani, I have to confess I was in a rather restless and hopeless state of mind after having faced yet another failed attempt to achieve a goal I had worked really hard for. The Universe was clearly sending me signals and it was high time I listened.
Sensing my disappointment, my friend Stamatis suggested we take off for a couple of days and visit our friend Konstantinos who would occasionally spend time at his summer house... or should i say his tower, at Oitylo.
Mani is accessible from both Athens (by car or regional bus) or from Kalamata. Kalamata, a rather significanltly-sized town in the Peloponnese (about 70.000 inhabitants) is a great starting point for many intriguing adventures. The International Airport at Kalamata also facilitates access from other countries too. Nowadays, from the nordics, I would recommend AEGEAN Airlines (www.aegeanair.com) as a very good and safe option reaching Kalamata airport.
Built on a hill overlooking the bay, Oitylo is a history-laden village. According to Homer during the Mycenaean Age this town used to belong to the Kingdom of Menelaos and took part in the Trojan War with its ships.
Descending from Areopoli down the mountain side, in a little bay with deep blue coloured sea and the stone built houses, literally hanging from the rocky slopes, you will encounter a magical place called Limeni. Don't miss the chance to have a coffee-break or lunch and indulge in the soothing surroundings in absolute stillness.
After about an hour of basking into the sun, we made our way to one of the most extraordinary and magical locations in Greece, in my opinion at least... The Caves of Diros.
A secret underground world, divided into three caves, 4km away from the town of Pyrgos Dirou. The caves Spilaia Glyfada or Vlychada, Alepotrypa (meaning foxhole) and Katafygi are all in their own way beautiful and of rare archaeological value. At the Vlychada cave you will enjoy a 3,100m. tour of which only 300m is on dry land whereas the rest of the excursion involves embarking on a boat. The boat trip will take you through several beautiful chambers with enchanting Greek names such as the Crossroads of Nymphs, the sea of shipwrecks etc.
After the ongoing research at the cave of Diros to date, the total length reaches 6.500 meters, yet the final length is still unknown... one more of the beautiful mysteries of nature.
Upon exiting the cave, we proceeded exploring the surrounding region. I'm not sure if words would even be enough to describe the intense joy one draws from the surrounding landscape, while at the same time achieving an utter sense of inner peace and strength, so I think I would let the pictures do most of the talking here...
Although it's been many years since I visited Mani, there were certain features that stood out from other places I had been to. First and foremost, one can not and should not expect the kinds of beaches they encounter on many Aegean or Ionian islands. The beaches one finds in that area of the Peloponnese are rather unique in the sense that they are mostly hidden away and one ought to have the appetite to explore (by car preferably) and then settle on a beach they feel an attraction towards. Not one beach is exactly the same and that is what makes Greece so unique. In Mani, specificallly, most of the homes are old towers, allowing for a completely different sense of style for those seeking that extra something in their holiday.
It is one of those places you turn to in order to escape the world.
I sincerely hope you include the Peloponnese and its jewels in your bucket-list. And when you are there, make sure you check out the following: Kalamata, Methoni, Koroni, Pylos, Olympia, Kyparrisia, Monemvassia castle and Elafonissos Island.
Curious already? Check out www.mythicalpeloponnese.gr and www.visitgreece.gr
(Photo Sources: In order to provide a more complete image of the Mani experience, I needed some more photographic material I did not possess from my last trip to Mani. The photos which are not mine have been credited accordingly).