Peloponnesus

To say Greece started with a bang would be an understatement. We arrived off our 18hr ferry ride in the afternoon having made friends with a travelling German artist to whom we offered a lift to her hotel and ended up having dinner and drinks, a kind of mini van party.

Sehr Gut

The following day we had a quick explore of Patras before being shown the nightlife by Nicos and Laura. Thanks guys we had a great night! The day after that we were treated to a Greek feast by the Askounis clan and had a free reign of the baby pics haha Yorgos!

The famous steps of Patras haha!

Indeed!

So we left Patras on Sunday night suitably impressed by the seaside scenery and lively nightlife, still slightly hungover, stuffed and armed with cheese pie, oil, wine and the obligatory bag of lemons! Talk about a welcome to Greece!

Lucky I guess because we had a packed itinerary dreamt up by the subject of said baby pics so we had a lot of ground to cover. Heading south along the west coast of the Peloponnese mission 1 was to score some Greek waves but not before visiting Ancient Olympia. We parked up for the first night by Voidokilia, an amazing horseshoe beach that set the tone for the whole week, amazing landscapes, parking spots right on the water etc etc the pictures speak for themselves.

The perfect spot next to...

the perfect beach...

Greek waves!

Setting a PB at Olympia

The following day we went to check out Methoni and the waterfalls at Polilimnio before ending up at Kardamyli on the Mani peninsula for another sickeningly awesome sunset… at this stage we were already getting stressed about having to leave haha.

Methoni

Polilimnio

Creepy caves of Diros

Making our way round we visited the Caves of Diros – kind of spookily pretty, unfortunately hardly any pics as the boat kept moving too fast – and on to Monemvasia, a tiny island with an ‘impenetrable’ castle sat on top, very impressive.

Sunrise at Monemvasia (a rare early start)

Next up was Mystras, another crazy Byzantine castle. These guys really liked to make their enemies climb…that night we stayed in Nafplio, a pretty big seaside town with a collection of forts.

Mystras

Nafplio looking good

After a bit of a lazy start we headed south to get the boat to Hydra, playground of the rich and famous and apparently a lot of expat Brits and Americans at this time of year lol! Unfortunately got caught out by the boats finishing early out of season but we managed a stroll around and a very nice lunch and had a chilled out evening in Ermoni instead.

Hydra

Ermoni

The final stop on the peninsula before we headed for Athens was Corinth… i.e. the place from Corinthians and the inventors of the Corinthian capital (boring architecture reference!) which has some cool ruins but a far better museum.

Corinth

So far so amazing for Greece… our only wish is that we had more time and our only issue is that all the Greek accents are making us miss our friends in London!

South East Italy

From Maratea we headed to Matera. Yes, confusing I know.

We mentioned stary folk last time, well now it’s getting hot (for us) like low 20’s and we’re in shorts and t-shirts so the stares are definitely intensifying….a lady even held herself and shivered at us the other day. Weird!

A gorgeous gorge, Matera

Matera, actually turned out to be really cool. Formerly the embarrassment of Italy, a malaria ridden slum, according to our guidebook it’s been tidied up and now the ‘Sassis’ are a maze of little winding streets. After exploring these and grabbing a coffee we drove round to the other side of the gorge for some great panoramas of the the town and a look inside some ‘less developed’ caves.

Cave church thingy

After Matera we had a very quick detour to Ireland for a very important wedding before our last few days in Italy. Our mission was to get to the stiletto of the boot so off we headed towards Lecce via Alberolo which has some crazy pointy houses. These are randomly dotted all over the countryside in this part of Puglia, but in Alberolo there’s a whole town’s worth.

Pointy Houses, Alberolo

Alberolo

Roman Theatre Lecce

After reaching the end of the heel and grabbing a few photos we made our way back up to Gallipoli for our last tastes of gelato, coffee & pizza. Gallipoli turned out to be a little unexpected gem, with a cool old town set on a peninsula and a well looked after new town on the mainland. Of course we also had one more Italian sunset which didn’t disappoint!

The end of Italy!

A last Italian Sunset, Gallipoli

Now we’re off to Greece to start the final, long, last leg back to the UK. Time flies!