This Time Last Year – Part 10: Corinth to Kalamata

Part of a series of posts that cover my travel to Greece and the USA in April/May 2016.

April 27 2016 – Corinth to Kalamata

It’s time to farewell Corinth and head south like Allied soldiers did in their race to get to the evacuation beaches in 1941. We will be travelling fast on a comfortable KTEL bus from Athens to Kalamata that stops at the bus station opposite the Prime Isthmus Hotel. The bus is almost full and our seats are taken so we cannot sit together. I don’t have a window seat. I cannot take photos.

We pass neatly manicured vineyards at Nemea – I lament that this is the second time I’ve been to Greece and missed out visiting wineries here. Vineyards and plains are a welcome relief in the hilly mountain terrain. I marvel at the geology and the vivid red rock in places.

Arriving in Kalamata I wonder how the bus can get through the narrow streets, but the drivers are obviously used to bending their buses around the tightest of places.

We transfer to the  No.1 route, which takes us past the Battle of Kalamata memorial. “Look,” I say to Tom and Rowena. The man selling model sail boats is still there.

The Battle of Kalamata memorial

We are staying at Hotel Ostria in Navarinou, the road that runs alongside the beach. It’s a little closer to the port than Hotel Flivsos where Neil and I stayed last time, but the view over Kalamata Bay is just as incredible.

After freshening up we meet in the lounge by reception. Tom spots an article in the newspaper. It’s written in Greek but the reference to the Battle of Kalamata 1941 is clear. He asks the Greek American owners of the hotel, “How do we get in touch with these people?” We leave it in their hands.

Meanwhile we need to find some lunch and its food on the beach once again, this beach, however, more poignant than ever. We can’t imagine what I was like 75 years before when the place was swarming with Allied soldiers waiting for evacuation.

I order a glass of wine. Here, like lots of little beachside tavernas, it’s the house red or the house white.  I ask if I can have a wee taste. ‘Yes,’ they say. I order the rosé.

Lunch overlooking Kalamata Bay

I take Tom and Rowena to the Railway Park where the Battle of Kalamata memorial stands at the southern entrance. Once again the carriages are a poignant reminder of the terrible jourmey our Dads had to endure.

Back at the hotel it is good news. We are to meet the journalist, but it turns not one journalist but historians too. They are interested in our story, our homage to our fathers who lifes were shattered here. We arrange to meet up the next day.

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