Greece. Hellas. Graecia.
Visiting the Hellenic Republic has been on my mind long before Grexit fears and decades before life with an obsessed and ancient idiom quoting archaeologist*. Ever since I was a child and my parents handed me D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths as a consolation prize for their trip to Athens, I've imagined languid days of oracles and island hopping, afternoons of Athens and Acropolis, and meetings with those who do that ouzo oh so well. And to spite those recent headlines of crisis, reforms, protests and chaos [which made people ask me if visiting Greece was safe- yes it is], it was time to pack the overnight bag for a flight to Kalamata.
The Destination: The Romanos , a Luxury Collection resort, invited me to Costa Navarino, a small Peloppenese beach area and of course, I said yes for several reasons. First for the relax-and-do-nothing vibe that I desperately needed- The Romanos is a village unto itself of private beaches, boutiques, restaurants, golf courses, swimming pool and spa. Beautifully hued of soft, muted tones and pedicured with rosemary plants , the visual aspect alone is peaceful, add in olfaction (you got it, the rosemary) and audition (birds, cicadas, crickets) and it is paradise, even without the pampering of itsIonian Exclusive experience. And as much as I appreciate a digital detox, I also love when a hotel just gets it technically and logistically-- from an excellent, salon-quality blow dryer to easy, fast wifi. The Romanos charmed me with WhatsApp (did I really just write that?)- you know, the message app that all high schoolers love. Once I added The Romanos in my contacts, I chatted with Xanthi about Greek salads, opening screen doors, locking myself out of the room and butler service pick up.
The second and equally important reason for a quick weekend getaway was that I wanted a little history with my Ionian sun tan, and there is no doubt that blue waters of theBay of Navarino have seen it all- sea-faring ancient explorers [Odysseus, perhaps], medieval crusaders, armadas and warships. Greek Independence sprang from the Pelopponese with the 1827 Battle of Navarino as key to ending Ottoman rule and establishing an independent Greek state. In Pylos and on islets throughout the bay are memorials and commemorations to the battles and the allied forces (French, British, Russian) who fought with the Greeks, while looming above Pylos is the 16th century Neokastro castle, an Ottoman fortress overlooking the bay. I took a spin around the bay, enjoyed a dip in the cool waters, walked through the castle and then looked for Nestor's cave at Voidokilia (belly of the ox) beach.
All in all, I had a tiny dip in Greece, which reminded me what I had put on the back burner* in these past years. So I've already called the girls and we're planning the next getaway to Athens for more history and food, and a bit of contemporary art. Remember, it's just a flight away.
*Let's just blame the Professor for side-tracking an earlier trip to Greece with his Roman obsessions.