A road trip to Mistras
Road tripping has something adventurous. Driving through a less known part of a country. Exploring and looking for a new exciting perspective and experience the country the best you can. Peloponnese definitely is the best part of Greece to do so. Driving through nature, small picturesque villages with the most friendly people and enjoy the local food treasures.
We began our last part of the route and started driving into the mountains and nature to Nafplio avoiding the toll roads and highways. The winding roads through the breathtaking green mountains. After every turn the scenery looks more beautiful than the other.
The roads are in good condition to drive and lead you through the mountains of Taygetos. Along the way, you will pass a number of small villages. Some not bigger than a few houses built up the mountain hill. We stopped for lunch at one of these small villages. a small cosy restaurant full of locals. Always a good sign!
As it was Sunday the whole village came out for a big lunch. They prepared a lam in a wood oven and a simple pasta dish with tomatoes and chicken. We decided to go for the lamb, combined with a crispy Greek salad and a carafe of tasty and local wine and some water. Delicious simple food cooked to perfection.
It is customary to share your food in Greece. We love this tradition and are happy to eat by it. Food needs to be eaten together and shared among each other. It is also a great way of tasting several small dishes instead of one big main course. For only 15 EUR you devour total a perfect lunch and a great experience of local traditions.
Along the way to Nafplio, we stopped to visit the abandoned city Mystras (or Mistras). An amazing spectacle only by being there. Located on a steep hill of the Northside of Mount Taygetos, it is a remarkable sight. The town feels like walking in a film set of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings.
An almost entirely preserved medieval Byzantine town that used to have almost 20.000 inhabitants. Now completely abandoned. An exciting place for some abandoned photography in a ghost city. The fortified town served its purpose as a capital of the Byzantine province of Morea in the 14th and 15th century. The city has left abandoned in the late 19th century by the founding of modern Sparta a few km next to it.
At the top of the hill the remains of the fortress of Villehardouin’s castle are situated. Whoever in ancient time used to live here had a great position to overlook the area for enemies. It will give you a wonderful view of the landscape. The town has several churches, a small palace and a monastery. All located on the slopes of the hill in the narrow streets of Mystras.
Back then, walking on the road of the old days must have been a real pain. The way down to the monastery gives you a definite feeling of how heavy it must have been to carry around products and all kinds of materials along the pebbled roads. Only horses would have been able to go up and down, however not with a chariot as the streets are to narrow and have stairs along the route.
Take your time to visit the town of Mystras. Approximately three to four hours is a good idea if you want to take a look around in the upper and lower town. For the lower town, it is also possible to take your car to the lower gate. It is quite the climb, but well worth to exercise around in this ghost town.
Mystras – Ticket 12 EUR – open from 08:00 – till 19:00 (or until 15:00 from November until March)
A short drive of 1,5 hour from Mistras took us to our final destination Nafplio. Or actually, just 2 km outside the village in a wonderful Air BnB. A very spacious apartment with a view over the mountains. A real feast to stay after a long and impressive day.
The area of Mystras and Nafplio is a sincere treat to drive through and make regular stops to feast your eyes. A must visit when you are in the area or to put on your list for your trip trough Peloponnese.
Our next blog will be about the romantic city of Nafplio. Because we missed last week blog post this will be online Wednesday. Be sure not to miss it.
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Lots of Love from Angelique and Carlo.
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