My first “real” tour outside Athens… or, how I lost two kilos in a day

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As many of you know, in 2012, after coming back from my long trip in Latin America, I decided to work in the tourism industry. I realised that my greatest passion is showing people “the Real Greece”. I like showing visitors what I like (and some things I don’t necessarily like) about “the real” Athens and Greece. The whole concept is to make people feel like locals for a few hours, or a few days – though it’s probably impossible to avoid all tourist sights and activities.

So I got involved with a few alternative tourism companies, like Alternative Tours of Athens, Dopios and, most importantly, Circle Adventures – we’ve done about 25 tours with the latter and going strong! I also launched “Real Greek Experiences” to offer travel advice and walking tours in Athens – website coming soon.

I’ve done many walking tours in Athens now – it’s something I will never get tired of, as there is always something new to see, and I simply can’t get enough of people’s reactions when I help them discover the hidden corners of Athens or a dish / dessert / drink that they wouldn’t know how to ask for. However, I hadn’t really thought of organising tours outside Athens – other than with / for my lovely English boyfriend.

But, a few days ago, I had an offer from another company to take three people to the Peloponnese. Rather short notice. Including archaeological sites. And lots of driving. And a rather tight schedule to places I hadn’t been for years.

Yikes.

My lovely English boyfriend is not only a writer and a blogger, but also an driver (an exceptional one, too). So it was just natural to ask him to drive us there – and as he loves a challenge, and a road trip, he didn’t hesitate one minute. It was also natural (well, half-natural) to ask my father to lend us his BMW, though I hesitated a lot before asking – that was something I had never done before!

But there you go, if you don’t ask you don’t get, and we did. Besides, renting a car proved to be a lot more difficult than we had originally thought – lots of tricks and hidden costs there!

So there we were, driving the BMW on our way to collect the clients, and needless to say I was nervous. When were the temples in Olympia built? Where did we have to turn after Tripoli? Who had designed that temple whose name I couldn’t remember? Having a GPS that doesn’t work in English wasn’t exactly helpful either (my lovely English boyfriend hasn’t managed to grasp our complicated language quite yet).

Tell you what, these were the loveliest people ever. An American couple from New Orleans, and one of their four daughters, with plenty of interesting stories to share and lots of questions about Greece! Within 10 minutes I had forgotten all my initial stress, and was enjoying the ride!

After driving around a lovely highway, a scenic route by the coast, and among several village houses, we arrived at the Ancient Site of Olympia. For those who like ancient Greece and are interested in archaeology, this site is an absolute must-see. Lots of history, amazing landscape, and rather few tourists…

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On the next day we started off by stopping on the beach at Kyparissia area. This, in my opinion, is one of the loveliest beaches in Greece, and possibly the longest one. There was noone else there, and I would have loved to go for a swim – but I’ll have to wait for July, when we’ll be back in the Peloponnese!

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Then we went on to visit a winery. This was not just ANY winery, it was Kalogris winery, in Kapsias village near Tripoli. It’s a family winery run by super-friendly people – they make about 11.000 bottles of wine per year, and two of them are named after the daughters, Kiriaki and Tatiani! We got to taste everything, while listening to rock’n’roll music – needless to say we all bought a few bottles, which we had to cram under our seats as the boot was completely full πŸ™‚ Obviously the driver had to pass on that one – so I owe him one…

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Our next stop was the first capital of modern Greece, Nafplion. Arguably the prettiest city in Greece (my other preferences include Ioannina and Chania), but also one of the most touristy ones, Nafplio sits on the coast and it’s a mix of beautifully restored houses, elegant touristy shops, blue sea and nice little cafes. Given the Venetians stayed here for a while, it also has a somewhat italian atmosphere. And lovely Italian icecream! We also found a weird church where, for the first time in my life, I saw an icon of the Holy Spirit (a dove) as well as an icon of God…

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Our last stop was the Ancient site of Corinth. After Olympia, I found this one to be less elegant and less interesting, but it might have been because I was getting tired. I did, however, manage to get a pic with my lovely boyfriend, who I guess I can call Dave from now on πŸ˜›

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Note: I’m standing on my toes. Those northern Europeans are tall!

After visiting Corinth, it was time to go back home. But first we had to take our lovely guests to their hotel in the middle of nowhere, and then return the car to my parents, while trying to squeeze our stories from two days in about a half hour as we were both knackered.

Weight next day: 49.9 kilos! All that stress and running around came with a price! Time for more ice-cream!

I loved this trip, and I can’t wait for more to come!

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About Vanidio

I was born in Athens, Greece, and left at the not-so-tender age of 27 to go to London for a master's degree - or, rather, to go experience the city. I worked there for a while, and after four years I decided to move back to Athens, and got a really boring job with a decent (more than decent) salary. In December 2011 I took a year off work, and travelled to Latin America, Europe, Greece and the Middle East. When I came back, I spent quite a bit of time trying to fit in and organise my "normal" life - or decide that I don't really want a "normal" life. At that time, travelling was more important to me than almost anything else... And then things changed a bit, as I got an offer from a foreign company to organise tours for foreigners in Athens. Dream coming true? Yes! We've done a few tours so far, and hopefully more are coming... let's see! And then things changed even more, as I met a nice, handsome foreigner through one of these tours. And we are now living together, and planning our next trips together :) Life is strange, isn't it!

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