Greece ~ Monastiraki
Going to Greece on holiday? Go where the Greeks go.
When Gregor turned 21, we celebrated by going to Greece for a week. I had first promised him this trip when he was 7 or 8, so it was a long time in coming but it was worth the wait.
We were going to be in Greece for a just one week, but I planned an ambitious route that took in some key places we wanted to see. It was a route that would take us from Athens to Thermopylae then on up to Kalabaka (to see the monasteries of Meteora), down to Delphi, across to Monastiraki and then onto the Peloponnese; a visit to Epidauros and then a night near Corinth before heading back to Athens for a few nights. The journey was just over 1,000 kms and looked like this:
Can you spot the odd one out in that list? It’s Monastiraki. The other places are all destinations that have a big tourist draw but humble little Monastiraki is just a small coastal village. I chose it because it happened to be a good stopping point for us after a full day in Delphi and en route to the Peloponnese and Epidauros. It was a lucky find: Monastiraki turned out to be the prettiest place we stayed, as well as one of the friendliest. (Although, to be fair, we were shown nothing but friendliness throughout our trip to Greece. Apart from that one old guy in the Garage Shop that tried to short-change me…But never mind that now.)
We arrived in Monastiraki at the end of the day. Our Air BnB contact wasn’t picking up and we couldn’t find the apartment but knew it was close to the restaurant so we parked up. The restaurant was half-full but totally relaxed; groups of locals drinking, dining on seafood and chattering animatedly. We were made welcome by the owner’s son, who also helped us out by contacting the Air BnB guy. Whilst we waited for him to reach us, we had a drink and watched the sun set over the Gulf of Corinth, looking across to the Peloponnese and listening to the convivial hum from the restaurant. (You can click on the images to enlarge them.)
It turned out the apartment was about 30 seconds’ walk from he restaurant, in a small street behind it. It’s the one with the light on, above the greenery in the first picture - top floor. It was a two-bed apartment and it cost £30 for both of for the night.
We ate at the restaurant - the simplest and freshest of seafood - and drank an ice-cold bottle of wine while reminiscing about our experience of Delphi. It was such a lovely evening and it has become one of my best memories ever.
In the morning we went exploring. Monastiraki is a small village but it has lots of nooks and crannies and it took as about two hours to potter round it.
No swimming off the harbour wall. though… #seaurchins #nothappening
As well as the harbour area (where we’d eaten the previous night), Monastiraki has a sweeping bay with a pebbly beach, which would be perfectly safe for swimming. There’s also a beach-side restaurant there, where we enjoyed a freshly-prepared breakfast with what has to be one of the best scenes in the world: a 180-degree view of the Gulf of Corinth with the mountains of the Peloponnese in the distance.
Inland, the town had some lovely architecture and a charming, slightly shabby-chic feel. This is a place where Greeks come on holiday and it was out of season - the Greeks are not on holiday until August - so everywhere was quiet.
When you have no prior expectations of how a place will be it makes it all the better when it turns out to be fab. Monastiraki was a really good place for us to catch our breath in between two history-dense Classical Greek sites (Delphi and Epidauros) and it was unspoiled, unhurried and unpretentious. It’s a working fishing village with just a handful of restaurants, a couple of shops, and enough to see to keep you content for a few days’ R&R. We only had one night there, unfortunately, but we both loved it.
Driving out of Monastiraki, heading for the Peloponnese via the Rio/AntiRio Bridge (just visible in the 4th image below), we stopped for gas. It was the wrong kind of gas - that’s another story for another day - but we did get to enjoy a glorious view back towards Monastiraki. It’s one of the places that I’d somehow be disappointed if I never saw it again.
Where have you been to on holiday that you’d be sorry not to see again? That you’d like to return to? Do you go back to the same place/s all the time or is life too short and places too numerous to repeat anywhere? I suppose I do both! My go-back-all-the-time place is Puerto Andratx, partly because my Dad lives nearby and partly because we love it there and it’s easy. You?
The Tripographer’s notes
Unslumping level? 10/10
Would I go again? Yes - at least, I’d love to!
Best time to go? June or July.
Best for? Air B&B, R&R, stunning views and kind, helpful locals.
Top tip? Order seafood in the restaurants - it’s been caught and landed only yards away. (And Monistiraki is also the name of an area and tube station in central Athens - don’t get them mixed up!)