Travelling within the Peloponnese Page 2 (see Greece train map)

The plain that stretches from the Ionian sea to the mountains is covered with vineyards, making it hard to believe that during the 1940s the region was known as a malarial swamp. Riding the early morning trains during harvesting season (late August to early October) one gets to enjoy the grape pickers and their camaraderie, and during the rest of the warm months, the train is full of passengers going to and from the Patras markets, carrying herbs, fruit, and whatever. The morning local or express from Patras to Pyrgos gives foreigners a far different experience of Greece than do the eastern trains to the archaeological sites, an experience of rural life that extends onto the trains that get people in these areas to and from their work.

The Ionian Islands via Kylini

Kylini was once the main port of the Frankish Morea (the old name for the Peloponnese, which means, 'mulberry tree'). It was also the seat of government records and of the mint. It was destroyed in 1436 by the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine Dragatsis. The 13th century castle of Clermond is here , built by the builder of Mystras (Geoffroy de Villehardouin) to survey the straits between the mainland and Zakynthos, and is considered the finest Frankish fort in Greece. There are beautiful views from the ramparts of Clermond to Zakynthos, Kefallonia, and Ithaca (Ithaki) and regular ferries can take you to those islands from this port.

Pyrgos is a junction station for Katakolon and Olympia. The population of this market town is around 25,000, and one of its most attractive features is its beautiful railway station, designed by the Bavarian architect, Edward Ziller, who is noted for the Athens University buildings on Panepistimiou, for the neoclassical railway station in Olympia, and for inspiring the Pyrgos market building, later reconstructed as a museum. The railway station has a nice terrace café with vines where you can sit and watch the action on the train platform.

The port of Katakolon to the west from Pyrgos is a 24 minute trip, with five or more trains a day; the same number for the sanctuary of Olympia to the east, which takes about 36 minutes. You can takes buses from Pyrgos to the mountain villages of Arcadia and to the city of Tripolis. In Katakolon is a famous family winery established in 1860, and which has gained international praise in more recent years-the Ktima Mercouri winery. Visits are by reservation only: Telephone-26210 41 601. A half hour walk from the Katakolon beach are the remains of ancient Pheia, near Aghios Andreas church. In ancient times, the independent city-state of Elia, was able to profit from the fame Olympia with the aid of this seaport.

Pyrgos-Olympia, though through trains for Katakolon-Olympia operate in the summer (only one in winter); most travellers will change trains at Pyrgos for Olympia. The train ride to Olympia is a beautiful one through the lush green countryside of Elia (province/prefecture), with the train passing over the Alpheos River and its tributaries. This is the river which, according to legend, vanished beneath the sea to emerge elsewhere (some versions say that it re-emerged in Sicily).

The Peloponnese by Train page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

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