E-type Rep Event Reports

10th E-type & XK Meeting Gytheio Greece 6-7 October 2018

The 10th Greek XK & E Type Meeting attracted 10 gorgeous Jaguar ready to explore the mountains and the coasts of Peloponnese. Except of the pleasure to drive them, the reason is that the weather in October is still very sweet in the south of Greece and the sea temperature incredibly warm.

170 km or 105mi away from Athens we reached the enchanting Arcadia region. Leaving the main road we started enjoying the hairpins on the hill climb leading to Moni Varson, a Monastery founded in 1089 and rebuilt in 1597 after being devastated several times during the Ottoman occupation.

Once arrived at 1000 m above the sea level, we experienced a rare feeling of peace and immensity. The only sound we heard was the whistle of the wind while our eyes were bewitched by the peaks of the mountains playing hide and seek with clouds at the end of the horizon.

 

Due to a long history of invasions, almost all the oldest Monasteries in Greece had to be difficult to reach. To reward the courageous pilgrims were coming on foot or horseback, the Monks or the Nuns use to greet them offering fresh water and traditional sweets. We were pleased to find out that that traditional hospitality still continues nowadays even though we arrived thanks to the “horse power” of our Jaguar engines!

 

 

 

Father Arsenios described us the struggled history of the Monastery during the 400 years of the Ottoman occupation while the Monks, risking their own lives, persisted to secretly spread Greek culture teaching to children and hiding precious books and patriots.

 

The Greek war of independence started in 1821. Τhree years later in 1824, the death of the poet and leading philhellene Lord Byron at Messolongi in central Greece aroused a huge feeling of sympathy and condolence throughout Europe convincing the Western Powers to pay more attention to the Hellenic struggle for freedom. In October 1827, the British, French, and Russian fleets, on the initiative of local Greek commanders, attacked and destroyed the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Navarino. This was one of the decisive moments in the war of independence. Later, a conference in London in March 1829 proposed an independent Greek state and by the Convention of May 11, 1832, Greece was finally recognized as a sovereign state.

 

This could be another of the innumerable reasons why we feel proud and free when driving our British classic Jaguar cars in Greece.

Refreshed by the breeze and comforted by the warm coffee offered by the Monks, we continued our “pilgrimage” through the mountains to reach 97 km/ 60m later one of the most famous UNESCO sites in Greece: the Byzantine city and fortress of Mystras built in 1249.

Just next to the fortified town and lying among centennial olive trees we arrived at the majestic Mystras Grand Palace Resort & Spa, a brand new luxury five stars hotel created to experience the world at a slower pace, surrounded by wild Mediterranean nature, history and myth. http://www.mystraspalace.com/en/

Hippocrates, the first and most important physician in the history of medicine should have been be amazed by the incredible phenomena appearing to all our drivers: all wives have noticed a symptom of a rare contagious disease that can only be diagnosed by parking a Jaguar: all husbands, no one excluded, mysteriously start one after the other to clean the windscreen from bugs while they don’t feel the same urgency when home windows are dirty!

Luckily after having sipped a “healing” aperitif at the pool bar all symptom and consequences were quite forgotten.

Our relaxing “therapy” continued at the Prive’panoramic Palataki Restaurant at the first floor we were pampered by their impeccable hospitality and our taste buds by the gourmet creations of the Chef.

Only 49km /30mi of panoramic winding roads separated us from the blue crystal sea in front of Castello Antico http://www.castelloantico.com/ an environmental sensitive hotel built on the wild pristine beach of Mavrovouni near Gythio. This beach is protected because the endangered Caretta Caretta turtles choose it to lay their eggs. During summer, the hotel guests have the unique opportunity to attend the hatching of the eggs, helping the baby-turtles to survive avoiding birds attack until they safely reach the sea.

As caring parents control their children sleeping using “wireless baby monitors”, we left our big cats under the shade of the Camera Controlled parking allowing them “gossiping” about the driving skills of their masters or the lubricants brands they prefer for their “belly”.

 

Our belly needed also the right “lubricant” so we walk until the beach bar to have a sunset drink and then a reinvigorating beach stroll before our fish-dinner.

On Sunday morning the early birds were running on the beach or swimming while someone was checking the 50 shades of grey of the sparks. “To enrich or not to enrich the fuel mixture? This is the problem!”

 

We suffered a little looking at the gate of Castello Antico in the “rearview mirror” but we knew it was only a goodby until next April when usually we can enjoy our first spring swimming in the south of Greece.

 

The first destination of the day was Gytheio so we pointed our leaping cats in the direction of Kranae: a small island connected to the mainland only by a 150 m swathe of land that looks like a ribbon floating on the sea.

 

This beautiful gem is a mythical location: according Homer, when Prince Paris of Troy abducted beautiful Helen from Sparta on their journey to Troy, they spent their first night in Kranae (Iliad, III.445).

Gytheio is a stately town standing centuries over the clear sea of the Laconian Bay . The cosmopolitan atmosphere, the perfect weather and a variety of leisure choices gave to this place a name that in Greek language means the “Earth of Gods”. The alleged founders of the city are actually mythical: Heracles and Apollo, and Castor and Pollux who frequently appear on its coins.

 

In 455 BC, during the First Peloponnesian War, it was burned by the Athenian admiral Tolmides who besieged the city. When later was rebuilt, Gytheio became the headquarter of the Spartan fleet.

 

In 219 BC, Philip V of Macedon tried to capture the city but without success.

 

In Roman times under Cesar Augustus, Gythium was a major port and it prospered as the porphyry, the local purple dye and the rose antique marble were very fashion in Rome.

 

Since then Gytheio developed into the foremost export center of Laconia especially for the oranges, olives and extra virgin olive oil and now is a marvelous port for “peaceful invaders” as cruise tourists or our crews.

 

Our Jaguars liked to “smile” to tourist’s mobile phone’s selfies and appreciated also standing in front of the beautiful traditional Tzannetakis tower built in 1829. This tower belonged to the Governor of the Mani Peninsula and General of the War of Independence Tzannetakis Grigoraki, which now serves as the Historical Ethnological Museum of Mani.

There is another Greek and British connection between the owner of the Tzannetakis tower and another personality: the famous book chronicles “Mani” by Patrick Leigh Fermor relating his travel around the Mani peninsula ended exactly in the town of Gytheio. This poetical travel guide was translated into Greek by a Navy Captain named Tzannis Tzannetakis while he was exiled in prison by the military junta of the colonels.

 

Many years later this Captain became Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic and decided to donate his great grand-father fortress to the Greek State.

 

The territory of Mani is quite the same as Fermor described it in 1958: “apparently inhospitable and isolated due its harsh geography but at the same time permeated by a wild and untouched beauty. The Taygetus mountains run down the middle of the peninsula, limiting most settlements to small villages on the slopes or in rock towers near the coast”.

Our personal travel book could not have being completed without visiting the native town of Leonidas, the warrior king of Sparta and the unique Olive and Olive Oil Museum built by the Piraeus Bank Cultural Foundation http://www.piop.gr/en/diktuo-mouseiwn/Mouseio-Elias-Kai-Ellinikou-Ladiou/to-mouseio.aspx 24‐P1290184

This particular indoor displaying and outdoor living museum shows through the ages how the olive tree holds pride of place in the economical and social life of Greece. The first evidence of its presence in Greece is found in the volcanic rock of Nissyros and Santorini where 50000 years old fossilized olive leaves has been discovered.

 

Nothing from this tree ever goes lost or thrown away: the wood is used for timber, tools and vessels but also for architecture and furniture as it is the most durable wood. The mythical club of Herakles was fashioned by olive wood and in Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus used it as “the great club of the Cyclops” to blind Polyphemus.

 

The olive leaves were used not only as fodder for the animals and padding for mattresses but also for a political reason: in Ancient Athens and in Syracuse in the Sicilian Magna Graecia, the name of a candidate for exile was written on an olive leaf.

 

The olive fruit is used as food and to extract the oil but from the kernel is obtained kernel oil, fodder, fuel and soap.

Olive oil is precious in nutrition for vitamin E and K, Omega 3 and 6, iron, anti inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It is not strange that in antiquity it was considered as the best medicine for health.

 

To tell all the truth, in Byzantium, boiling olive oil poured from towers and castles was not so healthy for the enemies but considered a terrible defensive and offensive weapon.

Olive oil was stored in clay pots and spread as a balsam by warriors or athletes moreover for thousands of years was used as the only source of light for lamps.

 

Our museum visit was incredibly interesting and multisensory even because they kindly prepared a light snack under for us the olive trees!

 

This was not the last surprise for us: exactly in front of the museum the local brand 300 Spartan offered us an oil-tasting to learn how to compare different qualities, textures and the best matching with meals of their “golden liquid treasure” http://300spartan.gr/en/.

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