Off The Beaten Track - Methana!
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
As I mentioned in my last blog post, Inspiring Foodie Destinations, our second stop on this year’s June “road” trip was Methana; an off-the-beaten-track volcanic peninsula in the South-East Peloponnese.
Upon arrival with the ferry boat from Aegina Island, I got the eerie feeling that I was stepping into a kind of undiscovered magic that offers its visitors unique tranquility and relaxation. It’s not often that you arrive at such an empty and peaceful Greek harbor in early summer and when I think back, it felt bit like an encounter with a ghost town!
There were no locals or cars in sight until our arrival at the Akti Hotel, a neoclassical manor house where we were staying . . . and the only noise we could hear was that of the departing ferry!
At the hotel, we were greeted by a friendly housekeeper who showed us to our lovely room and when I asked her where the locals were hiding she explained to us that many lived elsewhere and came back only for the main summer holiday season (July/August) together with their families and tourists!
With the beautiful weather and no crowds, she ensured us that we had opted for the perfect time to visit and we were bound to enjoy discovering some of Methana’s highlights which, as we soon found out, included; bathing, hiking and an abundance of meals with fresh fish at reasonable prices . . . as well as impressive lava domes and craters, age-old man-made terraces, archaeological sites, tiny fishing villages, thermal baths, and amazing views of the surrounding Saronic Gulf.
As we were a bit tired after our early start from Athens and our visit to Aegina, we decided to check out the town and took a stroll alongside the seafront . . . past a few hotels, restaurants and cafés (that were pretty much empty) to the small peninsula of Saint Anargyroi where a church stands on top of some remains of the Cyclopean Walls of the 6th century BC much older ruins that we decided to visit the following day . . . ending up at the boats moor located a short distance from the well-known neoclassical Thermal Baths at the entrance of Methana (when arriving by car from the mainland) that were built in 1930 but were unfortunately closed down in June of 2017 after seeing massive drops in visitors since the 1960’s.
Nowadays, the wellness tourism revolves around the tendency to care for your mind as well as your body. One of the ultimate goals of a wellness retreat is to be able to apply a newly cultivated feeling of mindfulness to our daily lives. I guess the healing powers of the sulfuric thermal springs of Methana known since ancient times weren’t enough to live up to these new standards and demands. I believe however, with determination, sustainable financing, programming and modern marketing tools, Methana has the potential of becoming a popular eco-friendly, all natural wellness destination . . . once more!
On our way back to the hotel, we decided to stop for a drink and a meze at one of the seafront cafés which turned out to be a great idea. Apart from our drinks, we were served one of the best no frills quality meze plate I’ve had for a long time . . . that allowed simple local produce to shine and was the picture-perfect accompaniment to a stunning sunset and the environment surrounding us!
The following morning we got up extra really early and headed towards the secluded Limniona beach, 1.5 km walk from the hotel. This sandy beach is surrounded by volcanic rocks and is considered by many as Methana’s most beautiful local beaches with emerald colored waters and a bar that apparently offers great tasting cocktails throughout the day. We had planned to swim but on second thought we decided it would be nicer later in the day with a bit of sunshine and returned back to the hotel where a delightful homemade breakfast awaited us . . . served and made to order by one of the hotel owners.
The personalized breakfast plates were outstanding and oozed of freshness and taste. Ours included eggs cooked any way you liked, yoghurt and fresh fruit, home-made jams and still warm bread (just out of the oven) as well as freshly brewed coffee served in a thermos . . . just the way I like it.
After a relaxing breakfast we were ready to explore and walk some more . . . and then swim in the cool clear seawater at the centrally located Methana beach area . . . before returning to the hotel where we were greeted by really friendly goats that had decided to leave their pasture and check out the town!
Throughout our stay we were amazed by the rare serenity of the place and even for lunch, at a seafront tavern just a few steps away from the Akti mansion, our only companion was an adorable cat who was thrilled to join us for some fishy delicacies that we enjoyed together with fried zucchini sticks and steamed greens that were simply gorgeous!
In the late afternoon it was time for more exploring and we drove to the small fishing village of Vathi on the southwest side of the Methana peninsula, 7km from Methana town. As this small village is one of the main mooring places of the Saronic Gulf we saw quite a few sailing boats and small yachts anchored at the pier of the small harbor, a few steps away from a line of picturesque taverns.
I had been told that these taverns offered plenty of fresh fish from the local fishermen but the food I saw being delivered on big trays directly to the yachts didn’t look too exciting . . . mainly large plates of dull looking pasta . . . which I think made me a bit biased.
Thus, instead of staying in the village for a light dinner, before returning to Methana town for another no frills meze plate, we walked around the harbor and its vicinity and were disappointed to see lots of garbage scattered around the area which overshadowed much of the location’s appeal . . . that looked so nice from afar but lost some of its charm up close!
Having said that however, I already look forward to another visit to Methana as I loved the Akti mansion and its friendly hospitality and there is plenty more I want to see in the area . . . including the volcanic crater of Kaimeni Chora, and the hill of Palaiokastro, close to Vathi, where you will find the Ancient Acropolis of Methana.
Most importantly, for those of you looking for tranquility and relaxation, Methana is an ideal off-the beaten track destination that is easily accessible . . . and a place where simple food and a close contact with nature prevails!
Next stop Epidauvros and Napflio . . . .