Holiday in Stoupa and Tolon - June 2002
We arranged this holiday through our local travel agent. The Holiday operator was "First Choice" and the Airline was "Air 2000". We flew from Manchester to Kalamata and both flights took off and landed during daylight (but only just). This is important to us as it doesn't make for a good start to a holiday if we land at 3am.
This was a two-centre holiday and we arranged a hire car in advance. With hindsight this was a bad move and I'll tell you why:
The only car we could get was a Renault Twingo. This was a fine little vehicle - economical, easy to drive and ideal for the *very* narrow roads of Stoupa and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, I'm used to a high-powered automatic so trying to operate a gear lever with the wrong hand while driving on the wrong side of the road was quite tricky. In addition, the Twingo did not have air conditioning and you *really* need this in summer! Laughingly, it was equipped with a canvas sun-roof - as if any sane person would want to open that when the sun is beating down and it's over 30'C in the shade! We didn't use the car *every* day.
The final drawback was that we had to drive from the airport in darkness when we arrived. In addition, we had to make a very long drive back again on the final day. So, with hindsight, it would be better to use the free coach to get between the hotel and airport and hire a car as needed. The choice of car would be better and the overall cost probably lower. I'd get a Hyundai Accent automatic but note that an auto may be double the cost of a manual gearbox car!
At the time of writing, the average cost of unleaded petrol is 0.70 Euros per litre - a LOT lower than in the UK!
The picture (right) is the "road" to our "Costas" apartment!
We did not attempt to get the car down the narrow road to our apartment. Instead we parked it 100 yards away in the hotel car park (a dirt field with shady trees).
The nice thing about having an apartment instead of an hotel room is that it had a fridge (for keeping bottled water cool) and cooking facilities.
A washing machine was all we missed!
Note that, as is usual everywhere in Greece, we were not allowed to put paper down the toilet. It has to be put in a pedal bin instead. This takes a bit of getting used to but the bin is emptied every day (and the bedding is changed, too - just like an hotel).
The picture (above right) shows part of the "Costas" or "Kostas" apartment complex. Our room was at the rear, overlooking a barbeque area and an olive grove. The only noises we ever heard were insects - especially the "titziki" bugs which make a continual, loud, "grrrk, grrrk" noise during the daytime.
Drinking water direct from the mountains is available from a tap 200 yards uphill on the main road. We refilled our bottles and put them in the 'fridge. This water is crystal clear, perfectly safe and tastes lovely.
Above is a panoramic view of the very nice beach at Stupa. If sunbathing is your thing then look no further. The water is very shallow and safe for swimming or simply paddling. Note that water from the mountains flows underground and emerges out in the bay - so you may be swimming in warm water then suddenly hit a point where it's freezing cold!
Below is another view from the opposite end of the bay.
At this end of the bay is a restaurant which is up a flight of steps, next to a fish restaurant. The food is traditional Greek and absolutely superb.
It's on the right. The messy looking blinds are actually wind shields which are very useful on the occasional evening when it's windy. A lot of functional things in Greece look quite untidy and "home made". You get used to this after a while.
Hotel Soleil in Tolon
We spent our second week in Tolon which is roughly equidistant from Stoupa and Athens.
The hotel is set back from the road and sits between two other hotels - one of which is an empty shell which may never be completed.
The hotel Soleil itself has an unfinished top floor. This is not unusual in Greece and serves a useful function in keeping the inside temperature a little lower than it would otherwise be. This photograph was taken from the beach, just across the road.
Inside, the hotel is really nice. It's tastefully decorated, clean, spacious and the facilities are excellent. All rooms have a balcony and TV set. Air conditioning can be controlled precisely by a remote control handset (available for 5 Euros per day at the time of writing and worth every cent!) The toilets did seem to tolerate small amounts of paper (but don't tell anyone!)
Behind the hotel, down the narrow entrance way on the left, there is limited parking room for about 5 vehicles. But there's also room for three small cars at the front (you can see one in the photo) and there's plenty of room for parking outside (except Sundays).
There's a lovely swimming pool on the right in front of the breakfast room. It's cleaned early every morning and includes a paddling pool for children. There's a deep end for diving.
To the left of the breakfast room is a large reception area and there's a bar to the left with plenty of seating inside and outside. Meals and sandwiches, pizzas etc. are available all day from lunchtime to midnight; drinks all day.
Vagellis takes care of the reception area and the general management of the hotel. Beautiful Maria usually looks after the bar area while other staff take care of breakfast and room service. Vagellis and Maria speak excellent English but are happy to help you with your Greek, too!
Tolon has dozens of eating places and the food is more "anglicised" than that in Stoupa. Some people will prefer this "chips with everything" food (but we didn't - we preferred the food in Stoupa).
Food is generally quite a lot more expensive in Tolon than in Stoupa. There are lots of shops selling all sorts of goods and it's quite easy to drive or catch a bus to nearby Nafplion. The roads in the area are quite good by Greek standards - much better than those around Stoupa which is fairly well "locked in" by sea and mountains - but that's one of Stoupa's attractions.
Tolon receives hundreds of visitors at the weekend - especially on Sundays. It's not uncommon for partying to continue on the beach until the early hours of the morning. This can be a problem if you are a light sleeper. We found that the restful hiss of the air conditioning helped to mask most of the noise.
We'll add information, about the places we visited, on other pages.