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Getting There & Getting Around

Messenia, Kalamata & EnvironsGetting There & Getting Around

During the time I have lived in my Messenian village, tourism has developed from a mere trickle to a stream but, so far, Messenia’s beauty remains largely unspoiled, while standards in accommodation and facilities have been upgraded to comfortable levels. From May to October, European visitors can fly by charter from a variety of cities direct to Kalamata. Those people visiting from the Americas, however, might well decide to fly direct to Thessaloniki, as there is now a connecting Olympic flight from there to Kalamata: the shuttle flight between Athens and Kalamata is, alas, long gone. But for those people arriving in Athens, the approach to Messenia by road has a great deal to recommend it. For those who do not wish to drive—and Greek roads and driving habits have daunted many an intrepid spirit—the bus service is now fast, comfortable and efficient.

The Kifissos Bus Terminal (Tel: 210 5233810/5134293) is easily reached via the E93 bus service from Athens’s Spata Airport. (Turn right out of the airport doors: ticket boxes and points of departure are clearly indicated. The journey takes approximately 50 minutes and, at the time of writing costs 3.20 euros.) There are usually ten buses per day to Kalamata, and two of these are express. The road out of Athens is an unattractive stretch of oil refineries and light industrial squalor that goes on for too long, but relief comes in the form of dazzling seascapes, which eventually change to breathtaking views of barren, rugged mountains. (One needs to invent new vocabulary for Greece, but all too often one has to seek refuge in cliché: well, this writer does.)

The aforementioned town of Tripolis is on a plateau, and soon after departure from there, the bus begins a winding descent through maquis-covered mountains. Once past the Arcadia-Messenia border, the road becomes almost ruler-straight as it bisects the Messenian plain, dividing the olive-groves for which the area is famous. Kalamata, the southernmost city in Europe, lies waiting at the end of the four-hour journey.

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