A few weeks ago, I turned off my WiFi and embarked on an introspective road trip in the lavish, new Mercedes GLA 220d down to the very centre of the Peloponnese - through both Messenian and Laconian Mani - to end up at the southernmost point of mainland Greece, Cape Tainaron. As I drove out of Athens, I felt the excitement and yearning for a few days of exploration. And the fact that I was doing so while ensconced in one of the most luxurious SUV's on the road today only made my spirit of adventure soar even higher!
Nearly three hours later - which, felt faster than that thanks to my comfortable surroundings, including the crystal clear sound system that accompanied me at full blast - and after passing through the overhanging mountain road on Mount Taygetos, I arrived at my first stop - the enchanting, seaside town of Kardamyli. The ancient roots of this secluded stop rest in ancient days: Homer even mentioned it in The Iliad as one of the seven cities that King Agamemnon would give to the hero Achilles if he were to marry one of his daughters. I may not have encountered ancient heroes during my brief stay, but after strolling through the cobblestoned old town I thoroughly relished the rejuvenating coffee at Aquarella. After the car received its own pit stop, at the nearby gas station, I was ready to hit the road once more.
Directed and Produced by: Yatzerland Ltd.
driver: Costas Voyatzis
car: Mercedes GLA 220d
camera operators: Panos Manolitsis, Emmanouel Armoutakis | Production House
post production : Alexis Patsis | FEEL ME Productions
edited by: Stathis Avgoustatos
color correction: Dimitris Karteris
music by: Kauf - Key To Life (Ambassadeurs Remix) - One Half (modified from its original version)
photographer: Elias Joidos
locations: Southern Peloponnese, Greece (Tripi, Kardamyli, Trachila, Limeni, Gerolimenas,, Vathia, Marmari, Tainaron)
Special Thanks to Kostas Zouvelos for the hospitality at Tainaron Blue Retreat.
A film powered by Mercedes-Benz Hellas S.A.
The road to Trachila - with the red stone mountain on one side and the cacti and brush covered cliff over the sea on the other - was perfectly picturesque and I found myself pausing at regular intervals to capture the incredible views with my camera. Arriving in Limeni later on, I was welcomed by images of old fashioned kaikia and their weather aged sea captains dotting the harbour.
Driving along the coastal road to scenic Gerolimenas, I was struck by the wild landscape that possessed everything that makes Greece, well, Greece in the summertime: an arid countryside bordered by the cooling, lapping sea. While dreaming about making another pit stop with the Mercedes and making my way onto any one of the deserted beaches and wading into the waters, I decided to press on. Vatheia was calling!
If Greece is well-known for drawing in an abundance of tourists to its islands during the summertime, Vatheia is the definitive antithesis to that. Here, among the wild flowers and shrubby rolling hillside surrounding Vatheia proper, rise clusters of abandoned, rough hewn stone houses, towers and churches, all prime examples of the Mani region's 19th century architecture. Once a booming settlement, wandering around its stone ruins, with the hot sun shining above and the cicadas singing their repetitive tune all around, one gets the feeling that they are truly the last person standing on earth. I found myself wondering what it would have been like to call one of these towers "home." I soon got to find out…
Tainaron Blue Retreat. What can I say about it other than, "Incredible!" This converted 19th century stone tower is surrounded by olive trees and stunning views of both the southernmost slope of Taygetos Mountain and the sparkling sea. Stone hewn inside and out, I truly felt as if I had taken a step back in time to this tower's heyday, whilst still being cocooned in an abundance of modern comforts and conveniences. This was going to be my enchanting "home away from home" for the next couple of days while I further explored the environs - and ultimately the perfect spot to unwind and disconnect.
Reenergized from a rest, and a fragrant cup of Greek coffee while overlooking the stunning vistas of the Tainaron Blue, I soon found myself back in the driver's seat…
After parking my four wheeled companion, a short boat ride later, I eventually stood next to the lighthouse at Cape Tainaron, the southernmost point of the European mainland! With the Messenian Gulf to the west, the Laconian Gulf to the east, and one of the deepest points of the Mediterranean just off the coast in front of me, I took a moment to relish the gently blowing breeze being swept up from the radiant blue sea. No wonder this spot was the location of so many ancient myths and legends - it was named after the son of Zeus, after all - and has played host to several ancient Greek temples - unsurprisingly, one of them to the god of the sea, Poseidon - as well as Byzantine churches.
To say that there is something special about this land would be an understatement. I have to admit that it's moments like this one that make me very proud to know that this is the land that flows through my veins. And as I climbed back into my Mercedes GLA, I found myself already planning the next road trip I'll take us both on. After all, it's really true what they say - you can't get enough of a good thing.
Now… it's your turn to take off too! Turn off your wifi, step out of the digital world, and put away your cell phones for a few days. It’s time to relax and unwind as you recharge your mental and physical "batteries" for the next season ahead. Yatzer is going on vacation too but we're looking forward to catching up with you again in September and we hope that your summertime adventures are as wonderful as our own!