West Messinia for the first time … having in mind pictures of historic castles, naval crafts, hotels of high standards and olive groves that descend to magnificent beaches with one of them standing out! It’s the star of Messinia, “Voidhookilia” beach!
The 55 km route from Kalamata to Gialova, where our hotel was located (Thanos Village, tel. 2723022115 – two-room apartment / for 90 euros / night for the 3 of us) were covered in one hour. A hard road! And the highly inclined road up the hill to get to the apartment, compensated us with the wonderful view to Navarino Bay, Pylos and the Gialova lagoon.
Gialova is a seaside settlement near Pylos, that has been developed lately. It has a large, well organized beach with shops, cafes and bars. It is ideal for families with children. To get to Gialova from Kalamata-Pylos, turn right at the new junction of the road, a few kilometers before Pylos, following the relevant signs. Climb the road, looking at the Costa Navarino Golf facilities on your left. At the end of the road, you follow the right course and you will soon find yourself entering Gialova.
What’s worth visiting in the area? A morning visit the Nestor palace at the hill of Upper Eglianos, 17 km north of Pylos, which is now open to the public! A network of metal walkways suspended from the new protective shelter improves the experience of visitors by allowing them to explore the palace from above. The palace is a fascinating Mycenaean complex with warehouses, the large rectangular “throne room”, the stairs, the vaulted tombs, its apartments. Walking around in the shade! (Open hours: 8.00 – 15.00 – Cost: 6 €) In the nearby village of Chora Trifyllias, at 4 km, you can also visit the museum with the findings of the archaeological site (open until 15.00).
On your way back, choose to visit “Voidokilia”! . A perfect omega shaped beach, as if it was designed with a protractor, with dunes around and turquoise waters … A worldwide famous spot that resembles a swimming pool when the winds are still, while when windy it turns to a Hawaiian beach! Provide yourself with water and coffee at Petrohori (mini market just at the turning for Voidokilia which offers iced water) or in the last canteens 1 km before the beach) since constructions in the area are prohibited. There are no umbrellas and deck chairs, so take something with you to be protected from the sun. Opposite the beach, there is the rock with “Palaiokastro”, the forgotten castle on the top and the cave of Nestor. The view from the top is breathtaking! We avoided the difficult climb (20′). Wouldn’t be a wise choice with a child in the heat. An other issue is snakes! If you will, first ask about the status of the path!
At the back of Voidokilia, a narrow strip of land separates it from the Gialova lagoon (or else Divari), a unique wetland (protected area), integrated into the Natura 2000 network, with more than 250 bird species finding shelter here! Then another strip of land and there is the bay of Navarino. Right here is the long, sandy beach of Gialova, the Golden Beach . There is a beach bar and a waterski center. As long as the winds were blowing, they did not stop working! Windsurfing, water skiing, paragliding …… Those who love walking, can take the way from the “Golden Coast” to “Palaiokastro”, “Voidokilia”, then the lagoon and back to the “Golden Beach” on foot! More info here: http://travelphoto.gr/voidokilia-paralia/#map
Back to Gialova in the afternoon, which has lately evolved into an organized seaside “suburb” of Pylos, with tavernas, cafes, bars. And even camping sites, accommodation, car and bicycle rentals, … real estate agencies and so on. A nice sunset site as well!!! For tasty food choose tavern “Spitiko” (tel. 2723022138). We ate “pork tenderloin with coriander and wine” and other dishes for 43 €. Try “Elia” (tel. 2723023503) for delicious yoghurt and a 44 € bill. Both are located on the beach pedestrian street with tables near the sea.
If you are staying in Pylos stroll around the beautiful narrow streets of the town and the very picturesque harbor. Amphitheatrically built, offers a wonderful view of the bay, where in 1827 the famous naval battle took place, as well as its islands, Sfaktiria, Tsichli Baba (Fanari) and Helonaki, a rocky island in the middle of the bay. You can visit them on a boat.
You will come across beautiful, neoclassical and traditional stone houses, with a beautiful layout, around the shady central square with the perennial plane trees and the magnificent monument of the 3 Admirals (Kodrington, Derigni and Heiden) head of the allied fleet. The exquisite house-museum of “Tsiklitiras” (an Olympic medalist) stands out on the coastal road. There is also an Archaeological Museum. Many taverns and cafes around the square. (We suggest: the “Myrislles traditional” bakery, “Platanos” cafe and sweet shop “Krinos”, all at the square). The highlight, however, is the Niokastro that “watches over” Pylos from the top of a hill to the south of the town, with the Metamorphosis Church in the center (formerly a mosque), the hexagonal Acropolis and the cells around its yard. If you go up to the “terrace” (there is a small staircase to the west), you will not be thrilled by the terrific view of the entire castle with the bastions, the Bay of Navarino and its islands. You can watch two videos, one about the shipwrecks and one about the naval battle. Don’t miss them! (Visiting hours: daily, 08.30-20.00, tel. 2723022010, ticket 6 €). Choose to visit it early in the morning before the sun heats up.
http://www.pylos-nestor.gr/portal/index.php/2012-05-30-18-07-54/d-e-pylou the official website of the municipality
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz1s9g8xHRM video messinia