Thankfully in mid-October the roads were at times utterly empty, in July and August I suspect driving around the Mani is completely stressful. If you do have the confidence to bring your gleaming hulk of metal here, then you will rediscover the excitement of driving, and in those rare moments when you can glance away from the road you will glimpse scenery that has to be some of the most beautiful in the world. Gill kept snapping away as we drove along. In the best tradition of the TV chef, here are some views from the cab we took earlier.
|Empty roads through the mountains|
|Hairpin bends to make Muriel's eyes water|
|OK until you meet the Stavros the bus driver hurtling towards you...|
|Mountains and olive covered headlands - The Mani coastal scenery|
|Agios Nikolaos - utterly gorgeous.|
|The fishing fleet|
|Illy coffee - yay!|
|Watching the boats come in...|
|The time from boat to market...|
|...about 45 seconds..|
In Crete, the North and South coasts, though only an hour or so drive apart have a different climate: in the north, green with patches of eucalyptus forests, to the south, barren garrigue. Something similar seems to happen on the Mani; Whereas the west facing coast is rocky, reminiscent in parts of northern Corsica, the east coast is gentler, with more pasture and a few small river valleys; it's a more forgiving looking landscape altogether. This is the Mani's charm, it is epic in scale, but subtly varied, it thrills, without being overpowering. Breathtaking is overused to the point of cliche so far as scenery is concerned, but I challenge you to drive along this peninsula without the occasional involuntary gasp.
|The roads winds through limestone garrigue with cloud topped mountains above.|
|At times it is arid, reminiscent of Cap Corse|
|Other times the shingly coves, whitewashed builsings and sage green hills ate pure tourst brochure Greece|
|The east coast has a gentler, wooded aspect.|
"Very varm, gut, gut, 24 degrees!" Herr Snorkel enthused.
"I will jump in tomorrow." I boasted.
"Me also," Herr Snorkel informed me, "Maybe we jump in both!" (Hearty Germanic chuckle).
|Beyond the harbour, up a lane of bougainvillea...|
|steps lead down to a rocky pool|
|Why did I leave my snorkel at home?|
|Lunch stop at Neo Itlion|
|A relaxing afternoon on the beach|
|followed by a swim|
|A rare experience - swimming through a ribbon of light towards the full moon.|
|dawn mist across the bay|
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