February 1st 2010

By Chris Hague, The Wayfarers' Co-Founder and host of the Greece Trip One difficulty of which I was immediately aware on my first trip to Greece was choosing from menus. The English translations were, to say the least unappetizing as, for example Boiled Greens – something reminiscent of 1950 school dinners. So it was a revelation on my following trip a year later when Greek friends introduced me to the real Greece and its delicious food. They ordered boiled greens at every opportunity. In Greek it is called Horta, fresh leaves of every variety collected from the hills and mountains served hot or cold with a drizzle of olive oil and it became my very favourite dish. Then there was Stuffed Eggplant called Papoutsaki meaning ‘Little Shoe’. And Gemista (stuffed vegetables) both freshly oven baked and served with a variety of small dishes – this makes a welcome lunch following a long morning’s walk in the lush countryside of the Kelami valley near Sparta. The Peloponnese is blessed with salads, vegetables and fish the year round and locals demand freshly prepared seasonal food. Village people were always welcoming to us wherever we went. Several occasions during our walks when stopping off at a bar or café – we would be invited to drinks by locals who were always curious to know where we had come from and how much we liked their countryside and churches. The Peloponnese lends itself to the determined and inquisitive traveler. Scant public transport and underdeveloped roads pose a challenge but the rewards are to escape the herded tourist areas – to discover Mycenaean relics for oneself and explore a myriad of tracks and byways in a landscape filled with past civilisations, is an experience that lingers on. I could never tire of looking at Mistras from the foothills some 2/3 miles distant where you have a perfect perspective of this ancient town clinging to the steep mountain, reminiscent of an imagined landscape from Lord of The Rings. Close to the sea shore near Monemvasia in Lakonia, I enjoy leading people to discover in the nearby fields massive building blocks fitted together Inca style, once the foundations of a vast settlement where people thousands of years ago had fished farmed and traded. Quality of wine in this region has no doubt improved since those days but the pretty river valleys, arid mountains and the vivid green of the hills and byways remain the same. The memorable sight at the end of my trip was a fine perspective from the sea of Monemvasia – this massive hulk of rock joined by a causeway has a fortified village at the southern tip and one wondered what terrors were in store for past generations at the sight of approaching ships from the west. A Note About the Author: Chris Hague founded The Wayfarers in 1984 jointly with Michael West. He has traveled the world and loves nothing better than sharing the joy of discovery of a new place on foot. As The Wayfarers' Co-Founder, Chris has pioneered many of our new walks and still leads and hosts Walks. Walking vacations and tours in Greece

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