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Delicious food, friendly locals and
beautiful beaches are just some of the experiences visitors to Stoupa in Greece
Stoupa is a village on the coast of the southern Peloponnese in the historic region of Mani.
My family and I flew into Athens from Bristol
and hired a car. It is an easy 2.5-hour drive down a deserted motorway to Kalamata and then a further hour to Stoupa. The 43 km drive along the coast from
Kalamata is breathtaking. The craggy ridges, pine clad gullies and imposing
mountains make the hour-long drive a pleasure - unless you are of a nervous
disposition and fear the sheer drops off the narrow, windy roads.
Stoupa remains unspoilt by tourism. There are
scatterings of stone built houses with the majestic backdrop of the Taygetos mountain. Most visitors stay in self-catering
accommodation although there are a handful of small hotels. Some have pools but
the beaches are just a stone’s throw away.
Sun worshippers have the choice of two sandy
beaches. The town beach, handy for the shops and tavernas, and Kalogria beach
which is my favourite. It is breathtaking with powdery white sand leading to a
shallow turquoise sea. Taking a dip in the sea is an experience. Lurking under
the warm water are icy cold springs which can be a shock when you unknowingly
swim over them. For those who need shade, tamarisk trees nestle at the back of
the beach. Lunch is a pleasure with the choice of three authentic tavernas and
a couple of bars.
I have been visiting Stoupa for over 20 years
with my family and it hasn’t changed - apart from the sun bed situation. Many
years ago there was a war between sun bed suppliers. It led to a late night
fight on the beach and police confiscating all the sun beds. These days it is a
very organised affair and sadly, the number of beds on Kalogria has tripled.
Each supplier has been allocated their own area and the set-up reminds me of
buying an airline seat. First class, business class or economy. A pair of beds
with plump mattresses and an umbrella on the waters’ edge cost 25 euros a day,
the middle range beds at 10 euros a day and, at the back of the beach you will
find economy with basic sun beds at seven euros a day.
We visited the last week in September and the
temperature was exceptional around 32 degrees. It is a great time to go and
popular with the more mature - mainly Brits but some Germans who are not averse
to getting their kit off. This caused great amusement on the beach when a
‘mature’ topless woman, in her 50s with
bright pink hair, approached a young beach waiter at very close quarters - the
look on his face said it all.
One of the highlights of Stoupa is its
incredible sunsets - a perfect time to have a pre-dinner cocktail - the 360 bar’s roof terrace is highly
recommended. It can be difficult to decide where to eat because there is so
The beachfront, home to many tavernas, is
closed to traffic in the evening and is a great place to people watch. I was
intrigued by the village boys who sat on the beach wall every night playing
computer games - a few girls tried to distract them but to no avail. I was also
pleased to see an old friend was still around. An ancient parrot outside
Katerina’s supermarket. This year he had a new friend. An elderly gentleman who
sat alongside him, eating nuts and constantly talking to him.
It was great to see that 20 years on some of the tavernas, including two on Kalogria beach, are still being run by the same families - it is like visiting old friends.
One of the most authentic
family restaurants is the Five Brothers offering great-value home cooked food
from local ingredients. The majority of tavernas treat diners to a surprise
with their bill. This varied from donut like cakes drizzled with syrup, to half
a carafe of Rose, a shot of Oozo or a cinnamon liquor, Rakomelo which was so
good I purchased a bottle to bring home.
One of the joys of strolling back to our
apartment in the eventing was the scent of honey and almonds which was
heightened in the evening.
Stoupa is a second-home to our family. The perfect place for a relaxing holiday away from the hustle and bustle of many holiday destinations.
Flights are cheaper into Athens - Bristol to Athens £119 each included two hold bags - Kalamata Airport is nearer however.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Sunvil
for holidays in Stoupa.
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