Tag: Peloponnese

Reasons I love Stoupa

Mention Stoupa as a travel destination and most people will just look at you blankly. Only once, in the 18 or so years I’ve been raving about it, has anyone known where I was talking about.

In fact, mention mainland Greece to most people and they look slightly confused. “Whereabouts?” they’ll ask. Not many people have particularly good Greek geography, so if it’s not the capital Athens, or perhaps Halkidiki in the North, then most people won’t recognise it. My response of “in the Mani Peninsula, in the base of the Peloponnese mountains” usually elicits a vague acknowledgement and little else. In fact a work colleague told me this year that I’m the only person he knows who’s ever holidayed on the mainland.

I feel for Stoupa right now

It’s heavily serviced by Thomas Cook flights from the UK, and many of the accommodations have an affiliation to TC too. Because the accommodation owners get paid at the end of the season, there’ll be many who will have worked the summer season for nothing; at least until the financial mess can be sorted and creditors paid.. For a small village which needs to make the majority of its money in the summer in order to survive the quieter winter, that’s a heavy blow.

Some of the reasons I love Stoupa are reasons that others would find to dislike it. It isn’t fancy. There are no luxury hotels. Nothing is higher than two storeys. Apartment decor tends to be rustic, mismatched and basic. Bathrooms rarely have baths. Shower cubicles may not have a curtain, or a hook for the shower attachment. If it’s true that you go on holiday to experience something different then, for us, Stoupa is it.

Sunbleached cars and battered mopeds are the only (occasional) traffic that you see. Taxis are as rare as hens teeth. Electricity cables drape precariously from telegraph poles to houses. There are only a handful of shops. on the one main street. It takes no more than 10 minutes to walk from one end of the village to the other.

Cats wander freely amongst handpainted restaurant tables and wooden chairs. Wine is ordered by colour and quantity, not by grape or the bottle (it’s approximately 6 euros for a litre of very drinkable local wine – what’s not to like?!) Food is traditional and home cooked – no haute cuisine here. The most tender meat, the reddest tomatoes. tear and share bread with olive oil, seafood, tasty potatoes . Oven baked, freshly grown and always delicious.

There is no “picture perfect” backdrop of white sands and palm trees

The mountains are rugged and imposing; often clouding over with ominous blackness that rarely reaches the Stoupa coastline but provides a dramatic vista as you swim in the cool blue sea. The coast line is craggy in places. There are no water sports, just a few small boats and pedalos to hire. The stone buildings don’t have the curb appeal of Santorini’s white architecture, for example; so often portrayed in articles about visiting Greece. The silvery grey leaves of the olive trees look arid rather than lush. It’s beautiful, but not an Instgram dream, and it’s all the better for it (I didn’t see one selfie stick in the whole time we were there).

I love Stoupa not in spite of all these things, but because of them

These are the things that make it so inimitable to me. It feels real and authentic. It’s not showy or trying to be something it isn’t. It’s solid, dependable and welcoming. It isn’t exciting, yet I get so excited at the thought of going, precisely because I know what to expect. This goes against the grain for me when it comes to travel, because I love the thought of exploring new places and seeing more of the world, but there’s something about this little village that just has my heart.

Oh, and did I mention the sunsets?

I think that the Thomas Cook situation has opened a lot of regular visitors’ eyes about how precarious the livelihood of some of the accommodation owners is, and I think it will change how people book in the future. We booked directly with the apartment this year and will do so again in the future. I only hope that another airline picks up the Thomas Cook routes so that Brits are still able to visit and holiday amongst the Greeks, Germans, Dutch and other nationalities who love it as much as we do. While both BA and Easyjet currently operate flights from the UK, Thomas Cook was by far the biggest operator; flying probably a thousand people each week to Kalamata airport.

Have you got a favourite holiday destination that you love to go back to? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

21+

Nature photo challenge – day 7

I’m going to cheat a little bit here, with two photographs. Ok, technically three. They are from the same destination though, and I really couldn’t choose between them as they all give me all the feels, so ner.

Both of them were taken at my favourite holiday destination on Mainland Greece. Stoupa is a small coastal resort at the base of the Tygetos mountains on the Mani peninsula and is quite possibly my favourite place on earth. I first went there about 15 years ago with my Dad, and returned many years later with my husband. I didn’t expect him to like it as it’s so quiet, but he was immediately besotted with it’s quaint charm, slow pace of life and amazing food. So much so that we went twice within 6 weeks!

The sunsets there are stunning. The contrast of the sky against the dark coastal rocks is just gorgeous.

There’s no better way to start an evening in Stoupa than sitting in a bar with a cocktail and watching the sun descend; turning the sky amazing shades of yellow, orange, red, indigo, violet and inky blue, before ending in the blackest of blacks due to lack of light pollution. During one trip the moon which followed was blood red for the whole week, which was eerie and fascinating and exciting, all at the same time.

This second picture was taken on the coastal path as we walked from Stoupa to neighbouring village Aghios Nikolaos.

Stoupa to Aghios Nikolaos

The blue of the sky, the darker sea glistening under the sun and crashing in white foamy peaks against the rocks and the cool sea breeze is the epitome of being alive. It’s like an instagram filter has been placed over your eyes and brought everything into super HD quality; the blues, the greens, the sandy path, the dusty pebbles, the black rocks, the pale mountain peaks. Along the path is the occasional house with white washed walls and tumbling pink bougainvillea. It makes me feel so relaxed yet so alert, all at once. Magical.

And that’s it! The end of the 7 day photo challenge. Thank you so much to Terri-Louise at TouLou89 for nominating me, I’ve really enjoyed it. So many memories, happy thoughts and things I’d forgotten.

For my final nomination, I invite anyone who’s reading and would like to get involved. Do let me know in the comments if you take part so I can check out your posts!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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