I do not know what it is about Greece…but it gives me this comfortable sense of belonging. It may be the fascination with Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey that embraced me when I was little, or just my perennial obsession with secluded beaches and clear blue gulf lines that always make the right pitch for my summer holidays, but I never could stay away from the undeniably beautiful Greek scenery. Tsagarada is this charming little village in the heart of Mount Pelion, and it was its seclusion that, of course, lured me into spending our 2015 summer holiday here. As with all holidays, finding the right place to stay at is a chore. In this respect, I like to call myself “a boutique girl on a budget”. This means that I always search for boutique stays at the most reasonable of prices, which is, maybe, the most tiresome of all experiences. By stiving to accomplish the perfect balance between the quality of the accommodation and its price, I always seem to end up in a crisis of some kind. However, this year, I came across this wonderful guesthouse that somehow persuaded me even more into choosing Tsagarada, Pelion as our holiday destination.
The “Amanita” Guesthouse is a jewel in the heart of the mountains. It has this miraculous view of the Aegean Sea, as if it were safeguarding its beauty. Drawn by the charm of the Pelion Mountain, the owners of this enchanting guesthouse, bought what ruins remained of it in 2002, and restored the building to its original, traditional form. It took them four long years to erect the walls of the lovely guesthouse stone by stone, but one can see from the moment they arrive, that the authenticity of this place is breathtaking. The “Amanita”Guesthouse has five rooms and an apartment, so be sure to book it in time if you fancy it as much as I did. After a long debate over which room to book, we opted for the upper floor “Dydimoi” room. It is a bright, small room suited for couples, with a charming view of the mountain. If you are expecting anything more in size from this room, than the pictures from the website reveal, I believe it is better to come to terms with one of the bigger rooms they have to offer. However, if you target a good night sleep, the enormous bed in this room is absolutely wonderful to cuddle and rest in.
After a sixteen hour drive, we arrived at the “Amanita” Guesthouse at about 8 A.M. The owner, Mr. Filaretos was already waiting to greet us and immediately showed us to our lovely room. Thinking that we must be hungry from the road, he also invited us to breakfast, which was unexpected, but surprisingly wonderful. The breakfast at “Amanita” is something else, that I can tell you. It is a grand proceeding that can last no little than one hour to enjoy. It all starts with something sweet, that you can also save for last, coffee and orange juice. Then comes the salad: a fresh mix of garden grown vegetables, sprinkled with olive oil and aromatic herbs. The salad is followed by a small apetizer, which can be either minty zuchinni flowers, surprising mushroom soup, traditional cheese rolls or anything else that comes out freshly cooked by Mr. Filaretos himself. The main course is a big omelette, with wild mushrooms and herbs. To cap it all up, there is Greek yoghurt and home-made jam to further entice your taste buds. This rich breakfast should be able to keep you from worrying about food for a rather lengthy while. It usually lasted us until about 6 P.M. to start getting hungry again.
On our first day, we went down to Fakistra beach, and I can tell you, hats off, that it is not a lazy stroll to get there. Taking the car would have been more appropriate, I believe, but after such a long drive to get to Tsagarada, we desperately wanted to stretch our legs. So, we decided, to go down to the beach by foot. It took us approximately 40 minutes to get to the path, that seemingly provided a “virgin” route to the beach. It took us another ten to fifteen minutes to get to the Fakistra beach on this uniquely “undomesticated” path. However, both the descent to the beach and the actual beach itself, are nothing but marvellous. We didn’t sunbathe or swim here, as we believed it too rocky and wild for our particular taste, but Fakistra beach can be joyous to the ones that like it a little bit rough.
Now, Limnionas Beach, on the other hand…I have only one word to describe this beach…GORGEOUS! We would have opted for this beach each and every day of our holiday, except, it literally poured in Tsagarada for two entire days we were there, and…as getting to Limnionas Beach involves a rather intricate version of an unpaved road, we were not entirely keen on leaving Tsagarada with a damaged car. However, a sunny day and a sip of courage should get you there, all the more so as, I believe, you should at least see Limnionas Beach before you leave Tsagarada with an incomplete Tsagarada, Pelion holiday experience. The beach opens up in a wide heavenly blue gulf, but it is, beyond the rocks to the left, that you experience solitude and actual paradise.
Tsagarada is especially famous for its Mylopotamos Beach. It is a wide, pebbly beach, separated in two by a gorgeously sceneric rock. If you take the steps on the right of the beach all the way to the top, you will find this simple restaurant that serves delicious seafood. You will enjoy a decent meal while experiencing magnificent views of the Aegean sea.
After the two day rain, we caught a little bit of sun and we decided to go to the town of Agios Ioannis, half an hour drive from Tsagarada. However, we made a little detour, having that we could not have left this place without getting to see Damouchari, the small harbour that hosted an entire dance scene from the spectacular movie called “Mamma mia”. And, yes, the harbour is wonderful, but it is the small town of Damouchari that is truly amazing. It has these narrow streets and vintage restaurants that are impossible to resist.
Agios Ioannis, in the nearby from Mouresi, is a little seaside harbour. If you like seafood, this is probably the most suited place to come to. As Tsagarada is more of a mountain resort, the menus there rarely consist of seafood. However, I had the veal with “rice like” pasta in the oven at Aleka’s Restaurant in Tsagarada and it was delicious. All things considered, we are a couple that enjoy their fish and seafood. As they say: “When in Greece…” Although it was the end of the season, the “To Akrogiali” seaside restaurant in Agios Ioannis had a rich menu, and lots of seafood that we could enjoy, while perpetually gazing at the endless restlessness of Aegean Sea. If you’re aiming at something fancy, I don’t think Mouresi is the ideal place to find it, but I do believe that the Greek experience must be more traditional than fancy to be fundamentally genuine. That is why I try to leave ” fancy” behind and go with comfortable when I’m in Greece, and I never regret a minute of it. The usual meal in Agios Ioannis and Tsagarada will cost you about 30 euro per couple, and it does come with lots of wine and complementary desserts.
People I recently talk to, seldom discuss beauty. Sometimes I think that we are so corupt in triviality that we forget imagining ourselves in the midst of beauty. Breathless…that is the word I would use for Plaka Beach in Mouresi. There are three beaches on the coast of Mouresi that you can choose from: Papa Nero, Agios Ioannis and Plaka Beach. You most probably won’t locate it on your GPS, as it is rather incognito, but you also don’t need to. When you have reached the town of Agios Ioannis, go into the harbour and pass the rocks. This is where you will be left at an awe by the breathtaking length and beauty of Plaka Beach.
See…Tsagarada. Roam up and down the mountain of Pelion. Go dancing on the coast’s remote beaches, make bathing naked, your own little secret. Embrace your significant other while witnessing the last gleaming rays of the sun sink into the Aegean sea. Do it in June, July, August or late September. I, for one, prefer the end of the season. You get low prices, the summer remnants of an extremely warm sea and lonesome beaches that become unusually “private” in the afternoon.