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Southern Pelion > where the finest beaches are May 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Mainland.
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If you want fine beaches on the Greek mainland, southern Pelion is your best route away from the tourist trail

We had just arrived in paradise. It was the view from the terrace of the villa that swung it for all of us. It took in the blue expanse of the Pagasetic Gulf, framed by green and grey hills, its water ruffled by a slight evening breeze, with arrowheads of wake marking the return of fishermen to the harbour.

We had arrived at Pelion, one of the more unspoilt parts of mainland Greece. A peninsula that lies on the east coast, it is about halfway between Athens in the south and Thessaloniki to the north and overlooks, on its seaward side, the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos. Compared with much of coastal Greece, it’s quiet.

If not untouched by tourism, it has relatively modest visitor numbers. The countryside includes lush, forested, mountainous slopes near the northern end of the peninsula, and drier, rocky hills in the south that become green with olive groves. Here, the folds of coastline hide secluded sandy coves, the odd house, some fishing boats and a taverna.

Our villa was a two-storey, whitewashed affair, lived in by the owners for some of the year. It was simply furnished and decorated in pale colours with antique rugs lending an air of comfy, understated chic. And it was robust enough to cope for all of us.

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Our nearest village, the charming but faded Horto, was a mile or so south. Milina, a mile or so farther along the coast, seemed to have grabbed what local glory was going. The street that ran along the seafront was lined with slightly garish cafés, tavernas and shops selling ice cream and espadrilles, but you could walk the length of it in a few minutes.

These villages were originally the ports for local hill hamlets and are still joined to them by paved paths known as kalderimi, great for walking. The routes from Horto to the market town of Argalasti were unclear, but Milina has two paths to Lafkos, a fine Pelion hill village with narrow streets and stone, slate-roofed houses. The main square is shaded by two huge, ancient plane trees and the high fronts of the surrounding cafés.

Not far from where the cafés is one of Lafkos’s main draws, a wood-fired bakery, now a rarity. The shop has a wrought-iron canopy to keep the sun off customers eating their pastries outside. It was a poorer day when we didn’t buy our lunch here; the spinach and feta pies were succulent, the bread was warm from the oven and the proprietor liked us. 

The walk home was along the paved track. Halfway down is a small church which, though closed for spiritual refreshment, had built into its back wall a shady bench, and beside that a spring. From this shady spot it was easy to imagine the generations of errand-runners who had charged up and down this path carrying shopping home or breathless messages down to the fishermen.

A similar walk can be made at the tip of the Pelion peninsula between the small hill village of Trikeri and the relatively unspoilt Ayia Kyriaki, a small fishing village with a working boatyard. Reward yourself on the way home with a swim in the bay.

On a two-week holiday somewhere new there is always a worry that one may have missed the most unspoilt beach or the best preserved monument, or that you may have inadvertently chomped through lunch in the local equivalent of the Athenian GB Corner’s. Anyone lucky enough to make friends with our next-door neighbour in Pelion would have no such anxieties.

John was a retired company executive and, over a drink, he spread out a map of Pelion and in under half an hour had guided us to all the places most worth a visit. The rather classic Mediterranean charms of southern Pelion are contrasted with the countryside farther north. The central spine of the Pelion peninsula increases in height as the peak of Mount Pelion is neared. Here the variation between the coast and the inland countryside and villages is even more marked than it is farther south.

In villages such as Kissos, there is a distinctive local architecture, the best examples of which are the tall merchants’ houses with their overhanging upper floors and elaborate wood carvings around the doors and windows. Here, we were often the only visitors. That was not the case in more famously pretty hill villages such as Milies, but it was as much fun to walk in busy squares as it was to potter in peace among the narrow cobbled lanes of Neohori and Argalasti.

The best way to visit Milies is to take the small-gauge train from its terminus on the coast. The railway was completed in 1903, and once ran between Volos and Milies, its narrow trucks carrying olives and other goods from hills and farmland to the markets and ports below. After the war, it began to fall into disrepair. Now the line has been restored from Ano Lehonia to Milies, and trains run twice a day. The belle époque station buildings reflect the Italian heritage of the engineers and era of its construction and the carriages are smart, varnished wood and the windows are without glass. At the hill-top terminus the locomotive is readied for the descent to a turntable, powered by nothing more than the shoulders of the driver and the fireman.

On the other side of the hill, down on the coast, are some of the Pelion’s best beaches. They face the Aegean and are wilder than those on that face the Pagasetic Gulf. Those towards the north of Pelion, such as Damouchari and Mylapotamos, are busier because they are nearer to Volos, and are backed by pretty villages.

Farther south the beaches are good, too, and as far as we could see, mostly empty. Even at Potistika beach, home to the good Climax restaurant, which looks bohemian but is surprisingly pricey, we shared the place with about four others.

Comments

1. pelion - May 15, 2007

Apartments “Felitsia” are situated in Agios Ioannis – Pelion only 10 – 15 minutes away from all the beaches around the area and only 3 minutes away from the central beach and village of Agios Ioannis. It is also only 25 minutes away from the ski centre in Chania Pelion. Operates all year long !
Each and every Apartment is very spacious and includes: Fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, autonomous central heating, television, telephone, safe and hair dryer. The apartments have big balconies with splendid and great view to the Aegean Sea and the beaches.
In the exterior just outside the apartments “Felitsia” you can find a very beautiful garden, where you can enjoy your breakfast, as well as a big family swing. At the apartments you will also find spacious private parking.
Apartments “Felitsia” is a relaxing and quiet accommodation for your vacation.

To contact us:
Apartments “Felitsia”
Agios Ioannis – Agios Dimitrios – Pelion
Telephone: (+30) 24260-31580
Mobile 1: (+30) 6972 264 819
Mobile 2: (+30) 6932 252 976
E-mail: info@felitsia.gr
Webpage: http://www.felitsia.gr

2. grhomeboy - May 15, 2007

Thank you for your comments!

Knowing the high quality of services, provided by the owners of Felitsia, I would really recommend Felitsia Apartments to all our readers and future Pelion travellers and visitors, either locals or from abroad. Your stay with them would really show you what Greek Hospitality is all about!

George (aka grhomeboy)


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