West of the sun
The west is usually where the sun sets. In Greece it is the Ionian Sea. That, in the guise of a white cow, Io fled – the mistress of Zeus and the priestess of his wife Hera from a giant gadfly, sent by a deceived wife. Sometimes you think about it, sitting in the evenings on the balcony, seeing off the crimson sun and driving off almost silent mosquitoes. Such thoughts reassure a little – size does matter. However, the comparison is not getting any easier. It becomes easier from the fine wine and the incomparable aroma of the Mediterranean.
Here, on the outskirts of the Peloponnese, the everyday life of the locals is more dynamic than the islanders. It seems that life itself in the absence of tourists forces them to leave their homes, move somewhere and do something. Although they usually move to the nearest cafes and taverns and they do there what they are supposed to do.
But all the same it pleases the eye and soul. Then you somehow feel like a foreigner – a person who turned out to be “far from home”, watching people who are busy with their daily activities, and interest in you can only be shown if you express your will.
Sunsets are not the only entertainment that guests of this region can afford. The long coastline from south to north is equipped with first-class hotels with excellent beaches and relying for such geographic delights, the Aldemar-Grecotel championship.
Is it boring to bask in the sun? Olympia is located 20 kilometers from Pyrgos, one of the largest sanctuaries of ancient Greece in the Peloponnese, where the Olympic Games were founded and held for many centuries. Moreover, the antique stadium is open to all lovers of running. No kidding! You can really run through the most ancient stadium in the world and unnoticed by the servants and visitors of this open-air museum to break laurel branches and make yourself a champion wreath. There are many branches here – despite the historic fire at the beginning of our century, which burned hundreds of trees on the slope of Kronos, Olympia is still immersed in greenery.
The black dog, having caught sight of the approaching train named Nibbler (surprisingly, this nickname was given by locals to the train, not to the dog), crawled lazily from the cool rails to the platform. Passengers plunged into the cozy chairs of a small car and took out cameras, anticipating an unforgettable show.
The train “Nibbler”, or rather, the locomotive, was not accidental: in addition to two rows of wheels, it is equipped with a third, middle, row of gears that, clinging to the central toothed rail, are able to pull out the train on the steepest climbs. But, oddly enough, all over one of the most scenic railways on the planet – the narrow-gauge railway Diakofto-Kalavrita, I did not notice steep climbs. Unlike sharp turns. Most likely, to overcome these particular difficulties, local trains equipped them with “teeth”. However, what a joy it is for photographers who do not have space behind the driver’s back – to “click” the train out of the car window when it snakes through the rocky gorge of Vouraikos and bursts into the tunnel with a short warning beep.
When you hear the first dial tone, you think that this driver takes care of your safety, so that you do not break either the device, or, even worse, your head about the sharp rocks that suddenly appear in centimeters from the open window. But then you realize that the “train driver” first of all thinks about those travelers (most often tourists) who, having overcome a one-way way on wheels, return back along the Voura river with backpacks and, occasionally, go on rails to get around difficult part of the hiking route. They are right – this is exactly the way to travel! The terrain is extraordinarily beautiful! High cliffs, mountain streams, waterfalls, stalactite caves and lush green valleys – all this passes by for an hour when you are comfortably sitting in an air-conditioned car. In the train of the only train railway in Europe, connecting the sea and the mountains – Diakopto and Kalavrita.
The city with sad glory, today’s Mecca of Greek ski tourism, in December 1943, Kalavryta was completely destroyed by the Nazi occupiers. In memory of the events of those years, on the outskirts of the city, on the top of the hill, where almost the entire male population was shot, a memorial was erected – there are annual celebrations on December 13, and in the center of the city, in a building on the site of a school burned with locked women and children , a museum of the Holocaust.
In the same period of insane war, the monasteries closest to Kalavryte suffered from the punishers: the monastery of Saint Lavra and the Monastery of Mega Spileon, which were looted, burned, and their monks were brutally murdered. Now both monasteries attract a large number of pilgrims and tourists.
The Mega-Spileon Monastery, located 10 kilometers from Kalavryta and built in a giant arched recess of a cliff, contains ancient Christian relics, old printed editions, manuscripts, and frescoes on the walls.