These are from a visit to The Mani peninsula in Greece in 2003. If you ever wondered why Greece was having so many problems right now with their status at the EU you just need to visit the Peloponnese in which the Mani sits at its southern tip. It is a relaxed, uncluttered place, has a wonderful population that responds positively to the English like no other place on earth. Planning authorities seem not to have ever discovered it and the law means the family and not some faceless official.
Based on the west coast at Kyparissos, there are numerous small villages to explore at your leisure as well as the extensive rugged coastline. It is a naturalist’s paradise with many freshwater outlets and miles of deserted sandy beaches to explore. After stopping for a few minutes at one inlet I saw a kingfisher and a swimming grass snake(Natrix natrix). No waiting endless hours for nature here. The swallowtail butterfly, sand lizards and gekkos are all in abundance.
Further along the coast lies Gytheio near which lies a splendid turtle beach. Choose the right time of the year and experience the turtles returning to the sea at night. Look for the rusting shipwreck and you are there! Gytheio itself is a great place to stop off to watch the local fishermen and take the sun on the harbour front amongst the many boats and nets. The nearest airport is at Kalamata. It’s also a military airport so do not expect too much in the way of services. From here the Mani is some 2 to 3 hours drive through the mountains.
Here is a great review of the Mani where the late travel writer, Patrick Leigh Fermor, called home.