All of Greece in one day- exploring the Peloponnese
The car screeched to a standstill. It had to be on the back seat. No, it wasn’t there.
‘You didn’t leave it hanging on the back of your chair up in that last village, did you?’ Alex asked.
You know that heart-sinking moment when you realise something to be true? My laptop, containing all my work notes, my contacts, and the text of my latest novel, was now hanging on the back of a chair at a taverna some thirty kilometres behind me, up the winding and wonderful gorge that runs from Leonidio on the coast, writhing its way past the precipitous Eloni monastery, where we had stopped to listen to the monks chanting, their voices echoing down the valley, to the charming mountain village of Kosmas which was cool even in the middle of August. At least I hoped it was still hanging there…
‘It will be gone.’ I slumped in the dust by the side of the road.
‘You have forgotten you are in Greece’, Alex replied.
My spirits lifted a little. It is true that people of Greece seem to have different mentality than those I am used to, but are they really so different?
To this he replied, ‘Get in!’
Until that point the holiday had been amazing. So often we had ‘done’ the islands but this time we decided to explore Peloponnese a little.
Living just outside of Nafplion we had been guilty of ignoring what is on our doorstep, and this summer with only a few days free we decided on a road trip down the east coast past the outstanding ‘island’ of Monemvasia which was separated from the mainland by an earthquake in 375 AD, and joined again by a bridge built in 1972.
Having taken our time we arrived late the first day in Monemvasia’s adjoining mainland town of Gefira, but we managed to find a small clean hotel run by Eleni, a very friendly local woman. Just €55, and no need to book in advance.
The most breathtaking views accompanied breakfast on Monemvasia next morning, with the shimmering sea spread out before us.
The most breathtaking views accompanied breakfast on Monemvasia next morning, with the shimmering sea spread out before us. Yachts bobbed like toys as they floated past on the dazzling, glittering still water below and breakfast gradually turned into lunch. Later we explored the tiny ancient town and met an old lady who was sharpening her scissors on a stone by her front door. She pointed us up the hill to a tiny cave-church, where an icon had appeared many years ago. A miracle.
After Monemvasia, our journey took us through coastal towns and agricultural villages, and up into the mountains. Every climate and terrain seemed to be represented in that one area of Greece. We found deserted beaches of fine yellow sand that stretched for miles and reminded me of Crete, and mountain villages as green and as lush as Corfu in the spring.
We took the roads that looked interesting and everywhere we were met with hospitality and new sights.
We spent the following night on Elafonisos, a tiny jewel of an island just a few hundred yards off the southern tip of the Peloponnese, which is relatively undeveloped, and as charming as any of the Cyclades.
On our return journey we paused in the mountain village of Kosmas for a Greek salad and to savour the cool of their August, the main square wet from the morning rain and it was here, so comfortable was I with my surroundings, that I left my worklife-in-a-laptop.
The crawl back up the gorge in our battered and ancient Fiat seemed painfully slow and every minute my belief that all my work was lost settled deeper into my bones until we pulled up under the spreading plane tree by the church of Agioi Anargyroi and I saw, quite clearly, that the taverna was now empty, and my laptop bag was not hanging from the chair where I had left it.
‘You see, it is the same the world over’, I said.
‘No, this is Greece. Why would they want what is not theirs?’ Alex retorted. ‘Go in and ask.’
‘There’s no point.’ I slithered from the car, all the rest that the holiday had offered now replaced by a familiar tension in my neck. I’d spent months writing my latest book, and, foolishly, kept no backup.
The restaurant was now closed, but as I neared the inner courtyard I saw the family, who only an hour previously had been serving, were sitting round a table eating.
‘Oh lady!’ A teenage girl let the spaghetti slip from her lips as she jumped up from the table. ‘Lady, you left something.’ And she darted across the room, returning with my life in a bag, and was even apologetic.
‘You’re not going to believe this’, I said as I climbed back into the car.
‘Ah but I do. This is Greece’, my partner replied. With a smile I clutched my laptop to my chest. My work was safe and all I had to do was unzip it and log on and I wondered, just wondered, if I could leave it unopened, keep driving, continue exploring – just for a few more days.