The Argoli Peninsula, towards Nafplio.

    From Minty’s Our Travels map.


    Minty and I spent most of our working lives in marketing roles with banks, insurers and hotels.

    For us a symposium was something that cost you a fortune to attend and where you listened to over inflated egos quoting wildly exaggerated data regarding their latest fancy pants campaigns.

    To read the Greek definition of symposium made it seem a whole lot more attractive. Sign us up.

    Our kind of symposium. Except the only men bit.

    The Argolis.

    Last week we left you in the pretty harbour village of Korfos. Already we were pleased to be on the Argolis peninsula.

    Twenty miles down the coast we pulled into Epidaurus and our joy reached a new level. The road was steep, generally a rich green, dotted with orange groves (we’re picking and eating every day now) with views over the Saronic Gulf and the islands of Methana, Agistri and Egina. The Greek effect has kicked in today in a way that it hasn’t since Lefkada. Even the much loved Pelion and Sithonia didn’t match this. And better still, development is light, people live in the towns, and so there are always places open.

    New Epidaurus, a few miles up the road, is the site of the best amphitheatre in Greece. It’s also where my solo performance of Harry Safari’s “St Just Ladies Song” entertained tourists from the world over.

    The small amphitheatre at Epidaurus.

    Here in the coastal village bearing the same name there’s a smaller theatre off to the south of the prettiest harbour we’ve come across in a long time. There are plenty of people about a few places open. Most of our Christmas fresh food has now been eaten and so we’ll have a New Year’s treat tonight.

    Eating out.

    It would be boring to recount all of our meals out. The interesting bits are generally the situations rather than the food.

    In Epidaurus The Acropolis restaurant probably heaves with guests for much of the year. Last night its sole Wanderer customers were overseen by Waiter (52), Chef (59) and The Other Guy (65). The Other Guy (65) just sat there, petulant in his coat, trying to be glued to his phone, except that it was plugged into a socket a tad too far away. He wanted to lean back in a nonchalant fashion, but couldn’t quite see his screen when he did so. Chef (59) insisted that, due to our presence, The Other Guy (65) went outside to puff on his fags. The Other Guy (65) was unimpressed.

    Tonight. Taverna Agio Gitikon. The old boy is alone in his kitchen. The fire is lit, but it’s colder inside than out. The football is on the TV. Loud. Each time Minty fettles the fire old boy comes to check. The horror of having a woman touch HIS fire. Later his very own woman comes along. For a while they sit back in the freezing kitchen, but eventually they join us huddled around the fire. The great dinner cost us €19, including a litre of wine.

    (Holy?) Trinity. Church. Pub. Van. Taverna Agio Gitikon.


    Methana, once an island, is attached by causeway to the Argolis.

    And it is utterly stunning.

    When the sun shines and the beauty kicks in Greece delivers a delight that few places can match, and my god it’s delivering today.

    This place is only about three hours from Athens, and yet it’s underdeveloped and an empty rugged space where the olive trees do their own thing. Views across to Pireaus and the island of Poros below us. The still sea surrounds us, reflecting evening light. Hardly a car goes by.

    There are few people here, but most of the homes look lived in. There’s no sand, and the pebbles are volcanic red, I guess that deters folk, and if that works then it’s good by me.

    This is the first place that has tempted me on this trip. Tempted me to stay for longer than a passing visit. To take up residence, become immersed in the language and… (I was going to say culture, but for blokes that means spending an unfeasible amount of time in a café nursing a drink).

    Oh the joy of seeing an old couple go by riding on one of these…

    Open top motoring. Daily driver.

    What makes a great beach?

    It’s subjective.

    I have had the good fortune to sit on many of the special beaches of the world, and often I contemplate what lifts a particular stretch of sand from good to great. Here in Greece many of the beaches combine white pebble with the clearest deep blue sea you can imagine. Fish glitter and leap. The beach is often bathed in sunshine from dawn to dusk. The day regularly draws to a close with a sunset the like of which many people may not see for a whole year. And yet for me few of these beaches can hold a candle to the likes of Gwenver and Pedn Vounder.

    I am hugely biased towards Cornwall even though I contemplate living here in Greece.

    I have to have reason for such a statement.

    Perhaps it’s connected to challenge and rarity. When the sun shines on Pedn Vounder you embrace it, you make the most of every moment. You swim no matter how cold the water. You snigger at the nudists. Or join them.

    The moment stays with you. And you know that when you’re older it’ll be but a memory because it’s so stupidly difficult to get to.

    There was a winter when I’d go to Gwenver every morning, and swim unless the waves were raging. I still remember the thrill. Gwenver is easier, but it’s still a struggle.

    Winter sun on Gwenver.

    The incredible beaches of Greece delight me every time, but I’m now confident that I won’t forsake the rugged beauty of the far west of Cornwall for this place anytime soon. I only have to flick through some winter photos from West Penwith to know that the decision is right.

    Faded Glory. Methana.

    Methana town was once a thriving spa. There’s a warm sulphurous pool with many deco style buildings, exciting experiments in early concrete curves, softened by time and faded blue shutters.

    Roadside spa. Rotten egg stench for free.

    Once glamorous hotels plead with passers by to dig deep and invest in restoration. Take my imagination working alongside a thirty year old with significant wealth and boundless enthusiasm and it could be a winner. Tens of millions are needed to bring this place back onto its feet, but once there nothing should stand in the way of its success. What a shame I’m fifty five and only have the cash in my pocket.

    Faded glory aching for love. Methana town.

    The inter-island ferry pulls into the dock and instead of a blast of its whistle it treats the town to a few lines of Perry Como’s “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. Strange. Delightful.

    Vegan January?

    I refuse the dreadful combination word that’s banded about right now. Just as I fake vomit at the mention of staycation, or chillax. I even retched typing the terms.

    Until now I’ve had no problem with people wanting to avoid all animal products, but as I consider it more I wonder if many are actually defeating the morally driven aims they seek.

    On the radio a chef talks of using an agave plant syrup to replace honey. That got me thinking. If pollinators are under threat, and that threat threatens our food security, surely bees need all the help they can get. No one will bother with bee keeping if we stop buying honey.

    Greek bees challenge Steve the Vegan with natural sweet delights.

    I support the call for everyone to drastically reduce the amount of meat they eat, but I no longer expect us to cut it out altogether.

    My thoughts run deeper, but this is a travel blog with digressions so let’s move on.

    Red cabbage and big tomatoes. What’s new?

    Red cabbage. The Wanderers started buying red cabbage in Romania and enjoying its crunch in salads. Great. But in these parts they tend to sell cabbages that are bigger than a giant’s head and we weren’t getting through ours fast enough.

    Recently I’ve added shredded red cabbage to dahl. Bingo! The colour boost is exciting, and the new texture takes the dahl up a level. Now there’s never any cabbage left.

    Big tomatoes. The Mediterranean Diet and all that. There are always tomatoes in the fridge. You can buy them for peanuts anywhere in Greece. What’s exciting is cutting them. We’re all used to slicing tomatoes, sharp knife required, but these big fellows need hacking, cut them into chunks. Beef tomatoes, some call them beef tomatoes, and I understand why.

    Zucchini Balls. On Epiphany in a great Methana taverna we ate our first zucchini balls. Wow. Taste explosion. Little soufflés of courgette and feta. Light as air. Irresistible. We then noticed that every table in the (packed) restaurant had ordered them. To Steki (that’s what it’s called). Up a side street. Brilliant.

    Epithany lunch at To Steki.

    Galatas and Poros.

    Scruffy little Galatas looks across the swimmable channel to beautiful Venetian Poros on its eponymous island.

    In summer a score of water taxis ply the straights and five ferries ensure that the next boat is only minutes away. Today there’s a queue of cars on the island waiting for ferries that can’t leave port due to the raging sea driven on freezing 50 mph winds from the north.

    Of the opposing towns Galatas is the winner.

    Poros, less than half a mile across the water is hugely expensive, heaving with tourists, and has all those inconveniences of island life that we consider romantic until we try to live with them. And it has to look at Galatas.

    Seemingly down at heel, honest, rough and ready Galatas has none of the above but gazes admiringly at its pretty island neighbour.

    Gazing across the chop to Poros.

    Leonard and Marianne*.

    My unintended mentor Debra Hepburn introduced me to Leonard Cohen decades ago. It was deeply unfashionable to love the troubadour when most of my music purchases were rock of a gothic persuasion, but I was hooked.

    Cohen spent many years living with, parting from, and then returning to his muse Marianne Ihlen on the then barely known island of Hydra.

    Sheltered behind a tiny cliff top church, we’re looking across at it now.

    Gimme Shelter. Hydra in the background.

    There’s only one town, and a scattering of other houses.

    There are no cars.

    In theory at least there’s no development allowed.

    It sounds like paradise to me.

    Had the weather been favourable we planned to visit, but that north wind is still gusting, keeping the temperatures down in single figures.

    It’s calling me. I hope we’ll be back.

    Later we’ll listen to So Long Marianne, and Minty will weep.

    For now though, this stretch of the Argoli (see Amanda’s Our Travels on the web site for the map) is perfect but for the weather. Tiny sandy beaches. Minimal development. A rhenium sea shattered by occasional glints of crystal beneath the watercolour sky. Islands behind islands as the distance fades mountains to grey.

    Leonard as we saw him. Still handsome (thanks NME).

    More food.

    There I was feeling good about our simple uses of red cabbage when suddenly Minty ripped up the rules and reinvented the food game.

    We don’t eat meat in the van. Until last night.

    As I slumbered between Instagram and Evan Davis my mate worked her magic to produce a Moroccan inspired chicken in ras el hanout marinade, served on saffron rice with a red onion and barberry dressing. On a miniature two ring burner. In a van. Food photography is a lot harder than it looks and we didn’t try to capture this delight on film (or in pixels) so you’ll have to believe me that it was delicious and beautifully colourful.

    Porto Cheli.

    Go to Porto Cheli they said. Take it easy among the luxurious restaurants and bars as you gaze across the yachts of the rich and famous.

    We know we’re in the wrong place when we see helipads and adverts for personal security.

    The villas here are all gated and many top their high walls with razor wire. Why? Greece is possibly the safest country in Europe. Security is self perpetuating. The more people have, the more their neighbours want.

    Our stop was brief.

    Our relief came within a few miles and we’re now writing and reading in another winter idyll called something like Ververonta Beach. Roads are gated. Footpaths fenced off. The villas are huge. And of course, they’re empty.

    But, they’re all behind us.

    Not a gated villa in sight (from this angle). Ververonta Beach.

    ArchieVan has the sparkling sea on three sides and looks out across the Argolic Gulf, the small sea separating the Argoli from the rest of the Peloponnese. Ten miles across the water the snowy mountains of Arcadia glisten. Alongside us the long green needles of the contorted Aleppo pines shine in the winter sun, there’s a hint of retsina as their sap warms for the first time in weeks.

    Retsina scented Aleppo Pines in the sunshine.

    Chilli Dog?

    Early in the morning Polly pulls herself from her pit to shiveringly protest that her heat mat and luxury bed are not enough to protect her old bones from the 2 degree cold. I lift her so that she can see the two Greek dogs sleeping alongside the frozen puddles outside the van. She snorts her derision.

    Cold? Not me.

    Waking early. Waking wonderful.

    The rising sun pink tinged the snowy mountain across the water. Deep shadows exaggerate the crags that will disappear as the light increases.

    There’s a sparkle to everything.

    It’s going to be a good day.

    *If Leonard Cohen interests you and you haven’t seen the film Words of Love then I urge you to watch it.

    Clutch? Clutch what?


    The titles of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and George Monbiot’s Feral appear to create a strong link between these two. They are very different books, one an adventure, the other a manifesto, yet the second goes some way to explaining the lure of the first.

    Wild. Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl is thrown into a personal maelstrom by the death of her mother. She leaves the husband she loves, gets involved with dodgy men and hard drugs, then decides to tackle the utterly punishing c.3000 mile Pacific Crest Trail, with barely any experience. It’s brutal, dirty, honest and occasionally beautiful, and I suspect far more impactful than the film based on her story.

    Feral. George Monbiot. This was a big surprise. Monbiot writes of landscape with the beauty of Robert MacFarlane or Simon Sharma, yet intertwined with the kick-ass arguments of an environmental activist. His case for selective wilding of Britain is compelling and importantly acknowledges the need for land to work for people and profit. His thoughts on what inspires the most contented office worker to read gruesome murder tales, or a comfortable CEO (D?) to tackle the hardship of the Artic ring true and make the connection to Cheryl Strayed’s adventure.

    Puff. Fish as bird.
    ArchieVan. At home where he’s parked.
    Ermioni. Argolis.
    Abandoned pumps. It’s easier to waste from the mains.
    Make hard lemonade.
    A favourite view of home. The Cape from Porthledden.
    While looking for a photo I found this curiosity from Manchester.

    14 Replies to “The Argoli Peninsula, towards Nafplio.”

    1. Gillian Cooper says: Reply

      Hi guys
      Another very interesting blog
      KC where do you get all your info from and all the details about each place must take you hours to sort and write
      Hope when you have time you will turn the all into travel books nothing like this is published
      Nothing much happening at the moment
      Beth has had a baby girl who is very gorgeous only a week old and VpBeth is as glamorous as before looks like she was born to be a mum
      Cold and windy at the moment
      Stay safe
      Hugs and hugs to PP luv her picture in the blog she is a very gorgeous girl
      Luv D&G💕💕🍷🥃🍸

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Thanks Gill.
        It takes hours! But now and then we arrive at a place where we’ve been before and look back over a post, or we just read about what we did a year ago and all the effort is worth it.
        It helps us understand where we are too. I wouldn’t want to merely pass through a place rather than at least try to understand it and the history.
        We’ve been lucky these last few days with glorious sunshine. I had my first swim of the year today too. It’s easy at the moment, but it’ll gradually get colder from now until April. I guess I’ll have to go in regularly so that I don’t notice the change too much.
        Always great to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to write.
        Love KC and The Wanderers.

    2. gillian cooper says: Reply

      Hi Guys
      Another interesting blog
      Where do you get all your info from KC must take you ages to compile
      Hope you put all the blogs into. A travel book sometime
      Nothing much going on here
      Cold and windy
      Stay safe
      Hugs and more hugs to P P luv her latest picture
      Luv D&G

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Two comments on one post! I’m honoured.
        I’ve responded properly to the first one. I guess you had some sort of message to say it didn’t land properly.
        Best wishes. Kelvin.

    3. Rachael Smart says: Reply

      Merely an annual visitor to Cornwall, twice if I’m truly blessed, I can’t help feeling solidarity with your loyalty to the place. It has a rugged and bone possessing magnetism all of its own that is hard pushed to better but articulating what that essence is remains the tricky thing. Particularly liked reading of the oranges and tomatoes, the land giving back in this beautiful log. Stay safe.

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Some of the oranges are sweet, sweet, sweet.
        Some so sharp you choke as the tart juice hits the back of your throat.
        The two best starts I got were being brought up in Cornwall, even though it was Redruth, and being given the jobs that earned the money to buy a bike. Once I had wheels I was off. I was drawn west all the time, then when a friend moved to near St Just I knew where I wanted to be.
        It’s poor, down at heel, has problems that most think are confined to cities, yet I’ll keep going back.
        We have big plans for a couple of cabins. But you’ll be old by the time I get them built. I’ve already started sneaking in the thought that we don’t need to go back to Cornwall in October, perpetual travel is far cheaper than living in a house.

    4. Gosh, we used to have a lovely little rat as a pet when our daughter was a teenager. Looks like the little on has been reborn as a lemon!!

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        I was impressed when you pre-empted me with your Leonard Cohen quote “There’s a crack, a crack, in everything” “It’s where the light gets in.”
        Then I reincarnate your rat!
        It’s all rather prescient.

    5. Angela and Martin says: Reply

      Hi Amanda and Kelvin,
      all the best for 2020 and greetings from the Far West. We’d like to send you a photo of the old stony (not stoned) guy overlooking the coast near Nanquidno with Cape Cornwall in the background, but it looks like you can only send text messages here. Take care and keep on blogging !
      Angela and Martin

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Happy New Year!

        I hope we’ll see you in the winter when we’ll be back in Cornwall.

        Best wishes. Kelvin.

    6. Thank you for another good read 🙂 Love to the Chilli dog from the hardy terriers!! x

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        The street dogs are hard as nails, but most are sweethearts too.
        You mustn’t let your guard down, every now and then there’s a nasty one as I have learnt to my cost.
        There have been so many candidates for a space in the van!
        Cheers. KC

    7. What an amazing trip ! You truly are a gifted writer, I could literally feel myself travelling alongside with you. Loved the pictures too.



      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Thank you Tantely.
        I’m delighted you took the time to read it.
        I enjoy the writing and hopefully in many years we’ll read the blog and remember the things we’ve done.
        I hope we’ll see you later this year.

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