No place in Greece holds the same transcendent raw energy as that found in the deep, dark woods of Laconia, nestled on the southeast of the Peloponnese, Greece. This is a mystical land of austere natural elements that are intricately interwoven with the stern constitution of its inhabitants, and the Doric presence of Mystras: The Byzantine town, whose castles stand tall, perched on cobblestoned paths, gazing over the city of Sparta from high above on the archaic mountain of Taygetus.
It is a crisp winter morning and I am ready to take in everything this land has to teach me. I have decided to wake up at dawn and get the best out of my traveling companion, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé, a star-seller that provides the ultimate inspiration for long drives along lost highways... As I settle into my comfortable seat, I let the multifunction steering wheel deliver everything I need to the palm of my hand. All I have to do is make my way through the curvy roads that embrace the 100 km of the mount of nymph Taygete, from the veins of the river Evrotas on the north, till I reach my holy grail, the fortified old town of Mystras, or Myzithras: The Byzantine Despotate capital that proudly sits next to the ruins of ancient Sparta, once home to King Leonidas and his brave 300.
Driving Through The Woods of Euphoria
Produced by Yatzerland Ltd, 2018
Directed by Costas Voyatzis & Dimosthenis Grivas
Camera Operators: Panos Manolitsis, Emmanuel Armoutakis | Production House
Composer, Video Editor: Dimosthenis Grivas
Project Photographer: Elias Joidos
Driver: Costas Voyatzis
Car: Mercedes C-class Coupe
Location: Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece
A film powered by Mercedes-Benz Hellas S.A.
This sure isn’t a touristic hotspot, nor a place that you just come across, located amongst fir and black pine, castles, churches, and secrets, at an altitude of 2,400 metres, by simply following a lifestyle fad. Exploring the land that infused the Spartans with unmatched inner power, where intellect flourished and Christianity found roots, I find a gem hidden deep inside a green blanket of trees. Euphoria Retreat awaits to let me in into its unique world of holistic healing treatments and state-of-the-art diagnostics by metabolism guru, Dr. George Leon. I stroll around the grounds discovering a wellbeing destination that can only be compared to international, awarded spas. High tech meets nature in an immaculately designed environment. As I marvel at the pristine aesthetics I can feel the same transformative energy that turned around the life of the owner, Marina Efraimoglou: A woman whose cancer diagnosis at a very young age led to healing paths that, ultimately, changed the way she looks at life. Finding this ideal spot in mystical Mystras after a decade-long search was, for her, an important quest. The soul of any place of healing is, Efraimoglou says, more important than the amenities or treatments offered. Speaking of treatments, I cannot get enough. After a full session in which I enjoy the elements of Hippocratic medicine combined with Chinese philosophies, I realize the ultimate goal of the retreat, to become one’s own healer. Taking in the beauty of nature as it unfolds around the Spa terrace, I know I will get an excellent night’s sleep, probably the best I have had in years _the air quality here is astonishing. Gazing at the morning mist, I enjoy a breakfast of organic produce, including local fruits, olive oil, herbal teas, and therapeutic nuts and seeds, and I am ready to reunite with my trusty road companion.
But before I embark on the three-hour return journey home to Athens, I have one last stop to make: The Dimitrios shipwreck which stands in all its rusted, composed glory right here, where it has resided since the winds brought it in in December 1981, to the shallow shore of Valtaki beach near Gytheio, the old port-town of Sparta. All the stories about this wreck - stories of ghosts, tales of misconduct and financial mischief masterfully elude me. All I care about is the meaning of all of this, how the chosen last home of this wreck since it was set free of its anchor is this place, where it can watch time go by in a scenery that seems to respect the silent, insular way of the land. All are welcome here; everything is private and, at the same time, shared with the generosity that only nature can ultimately dictate.