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  1. Clare

    Day 6: Messinia

    Today was the day we planned to see the site at Ancient Olympia, where the original Olympic games were held every four years from 776 BC to 393 AD. The archaeological site is not far away from our apartment, so we set off for a short walk through the village towards it straight after breakfast. There are lots of Olympic-related things in the village, including this museum of the Olympic games at the bottom of our street (which looks like it may have seen better days!). It didn't take long for us to get to the site and find the ticket office. There were a few people standing in front of it, I assumed buying tickets, so we stood behind them. As they moved away, however, we realised that they had actually been reading a notice which was stuck on the front of the ticket booth. This is what it said: Oh dear A strike was not on my list of possible things which could go wrong! We walked towards the site anyway, to see how much we could see without a ticket, but everything is behind high fences so this was the closest that we were going to get. How frustrating!! We wandered around Olympia a bit more, but there isn't a lot to see here when the main attractions are closed. We found a small botanical garden to stroll through, but that was all. Luckily we had the car, so we weren't stranded in Olympia all day with nothing to do! We went back to the apartment to consult our Peloponnese guidebook and decided to drive around one of the southern fingers of the peninsula: Messinia. The area around Olympia is comparatively flat, but as we progressed further south the landscape became more mountainous again. We passed through small towns like Kyparissia (above), which had a ruined castle on the top of a hill, and Filiatra which, for reasons which are completely unclear, is home to what appears to be a replica of the Eiffel Tower!! We were driving towards a seaside village called Gialova, which the guidebook had said was really pretty. Sure enough, once we arrived we found that it was There was a nice promenade alongside the sea... ...and a beach which looked quite sandy. There were some beautiful views out to sea. We chose a restaurant right by the water's edge I had a spaghetti bolognese, while Tim decided to be adventurous and try some Greek food. We've got no idea what this was called, but it consisted of meatballs, mashed potatoes and cheese, all baked in the oven. Not far from Gialova is the larger town of Pilos. As we began to descend down towards it, we had some great views of the coast. When we arrived, we managed to find free parking down by the harbour and went for a stroll around. It was a colourful little town, stretching up the hillside. From the main square we had a view up towards the town's church tower. I wasn't expecting us to see much of the sea on this holiday, so it was an unexpected bonus to be here Before too long, we were driving off up into the mountains again. Every so often we got glimpses of the sea on the horizon. Our ultimate destination was a town called Koroni, which the guidebook had said was one of the prettiest in the region. The steep narrow streets were a bit challenging to navigate and park, but Tim managed it A series of steps led down towards the sea. We followed more small streets towards one of the town's churches. This was the church of St Dimitrios. Eventually we made it down to the seafront. From here we could see up to the town's second church, on the top of the hill. We didn't feel energetic enough to climb up there, so we enjoyed more views of the sea instead As we walked around the harbour we got a good view of Koroni castle, which was once a Venetian fortress. It was a really pretty location It was late afternoon by this point, so time for us to think about driving back to Olympia. We'd travelled much further than we thought, so we had nearly 100 miles to cover before we got back to the apartment. All in all it was a fun day and really nice to be able to spend some time by the sea, even if it wasn't quite what we had planned for today!
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