Ever eat those delicious black olives in your Greek salad? This is where they come from. Those olives are called Kalamata Olives, so there you go!
A beautiful city, large and lively. Driving on the main road we saw numerous, bustling stores, cafes, shops, restaurants, office buildings, etc. People were walking everywhere and the traffic was just like any other modern city – snarly and endless. And just a few blocks away, the entire length of the city is hugged by a coastline perfect for swimming every day!
Kalamata has a large marina and port – very busy as it is the largest city in the Peloponnese after Patras. A number of cultural events and sights are located here, famously the Maria Callas Alumni Association of the Music School of Kalamata and the Kalamata International Dance Festival. For those in the know, the Greek dance Kalamata originated in this city too!
The beaches here are endless. You have a wide variety of places to go for a dip in the sea; most of them are in front of cafes/restaurants, so the tables and chairs, umbrellas and beach cots belong to them. In some cases, you pay a nominal fee – but in most, you just order a soft drink or a meal and you are good to go! It’s fun to watch service people maneuver around cars as they cross the street to get to the beach for their orders and then have to get back with their drinks and food!
We stayed at my cousin’s place – where we stayed a few years ago as well – plenty of room and warmly received. We had a great bonding over three days. Elaine and I are first cousins – we both live in the USA, but on different coasts! We spend our time together here lingering over breakfasts, taking short drives or walks mid-morning with a stop for lunch and some shopping, having a siesta each afternoon and then, and dinner at the shore!
One morning we drove to the site of the Ancient Messini about 12 kilometers outside the city. These are the ruins of the large classical city-state of Messini This site has been excavated and partially restored. It is open to the public and we saw a number of people coming and going here. It has also been used for various cultural events held often in these parts of Kalamata. We stopped for lunch nearby overlooking the valley below and admiring the beauty of it all.
At the far end is the kastro…the fortress which hosts a restaurant with an absolutely amazing view of the city below, especially the vast shoreline that spans the entire city from top to bottom on the western coast. The lights, the traffic, the people – a bundle of energy till the early hours of the morning!
The rocky hill fortress known as the kastro was home to its own Acropolis which was founded by a mythological figure called Faris. The city, then, was Farai…and this was mentioned by Homer in the Iliad, which comes as no surprise once you see the beauty of the kasto and Kalamata.
We just love visited big cities like Kalamata after the seemingly endless drives up and down mountains and turning into every tiny lane to get to out of the way little villages – it is such a positive statement that exploring Greece has given us a real insight not only to its geographical beauty but to it’s beautiful people as well.
Retire well, Helene