We’ve spent a wonderful few days free from tourists in Monemvasia and wild camping in Laconia.
On a recommendation from our neighbours whilst wild camping in The Mani, we travelled just a few hours to the peninsula of Laconia. Confident that tonight we would be able to find a place to sleep on a beach they had pointed out to us on the map, we went first to Monemvasia.
Monemvasia is one of THE sites to see in Greece, a 6th century, Byzantine fortified town hidden on the sea facing side of a small, tall island separated from the land by an earth quake in the 4th century and now rejoined by a causeway.
The fact that it is one of the main historic sites would normally mean that we would avoid it and look only from a distance, having experienced that it is not easy to actually ‘see’ such places when they are blanketed in brightly coloured tourists taking snaps at every vantage point. However with the lack of tourists we had seen so far and that it was remarkably free to enter, we thought it was worth a look.
We first did our bit to boost the Greek economy again by stopping for lunch at a Trata, a nice little taverna in the mainland part of town, Gefyla, (bridge in Greek). Here we enjoyed, what we judged to be, the best Tyrokafteri so far, fresh red peppers mixed with the strong feta cheese, and a wonderful, huge plate of Fava (thick puree of yellow split peas) oh yes and a couple Mythos beers in iced glasses of course.
During our delicious, long and lazy lunch from where we could see the causeway across to the island, we observed very few people. So full and energised, we walked the mile or so across the causeway and around the headland of the island to where the ancient town hid hanging on the cliff on the seaward side.
The red roofed stone houses, clustered close together above the rocks, are a beautiful site however, on entering, it all gets a little confusing. This ancient town has been restored to such an extent that it is difficult to imagine what the town would really have been like before the cobbled alleyways where lined with very stylish, modern bars, expensive restaurants and shops busting with souvenir merchandise. If it was a normal, working, living town then it would be a very cool place to live and though we did see evidence of a few fishermen living within the walls, the town has been restored in the most part for tourists and is a very surreal place. During our visit we were lucky in that Monemvasia was relatively free from tourists though of course financially this cannot continue for the business owners it allowed us to see more of the ‘real’ town.
We came, we saw, we debated a lot whether it was the right thing to do to rebuild the town in this way or to preserve the ruins as history had defined them. It was a debate we had many times around different sites and whilst we never actually resolved our confusion, the sites just held in time, as they are today, were the ones that made us feel more comfortable.
Still debating, we drifted off and changed our focus to the west, to the quieter and wilder part of the peninsula where our Mani wild camping neighbours had suggested was a large, sandy open beach in Laconia where we could camp for the night. When we arrived in the early evening, only a dozen souls where scattered along the length of the beach. Promising.
Although the beach was a beautiful and quiet spot, a rough track at one end of the beach tempted us to explore further, on foot to start with. At the end of the track to our delight, we found an absolutely secluded, empty bay with crystal clear waters, facing the sunset.
We switched the van to 4X4 mode and set off, disappearing ‘through the wardrobe’ again for two extremely beautiful, peaceful and relaxing nights in our hidden wild camping oasis in Laconia.
Like our secret place on Lefkada we don’t want to say exactly where this idyllic place is but if you head to the west side of the Laconia peninsula and explore the bays away from the villages and towns, you are sure to find your own special, secret cove for a day swimming or possibly wild camping.