Our first stop the next morning was Meligalas, another ordinary little town with a violent history. We had our breakfast coffee in an ultra-modern coffee bar, all brown vinyl, shiny chrome and loud music. We suspected nothing of past horrors, but as we walked on, we came to an enormous concrete cross, towering over a cemetery. This was where members of the pro-German Security Battalions and other collaborators were killed by the left-wing resistance at the end of the war. The details of the massacre are hotly contested. Neo-fascist Golden Dawn supporters still hold a memorial event there every year.
We were now walking through the plain, with mountains on either side. It was pastoral country, with the sound of pickers in the olive groves all around. A pick up passed us with three sheep in the back, and we stopped to watch a newborn lamb struggle to its feet and start to suckle. We crossed the railway line again, then found a farm track, shaded by bamboo, leading along the Pamissos river. The sea couldn’t be far away.
By mid afternoon, we were only ten kilometres or so from the coast, but the weather was rapidly worsening. We stopped in Aris, another of the small towns of the Messine plain, and ate honey biscuits while we contemplated what to do. Getting back to the comforts of our village home was too easy: we didn’t have to think long. We hopped on a bus, and arrived back in Verga in torrential rain. Lani welcomed us with supper and a blazing log fire.
The route: Mostly dirt tracks, with occasional stretches of tarred road or railway track. Flat, easy walking, a little monotonous at times. No waymarks, and no good map, but not hard to find the way. Water at the towns. Kilometres: 24. Ascent: 223m. Descent: 236m. Map: Peloponnese road map, preferably a photocopy of the Anavasi 1:50,000 one.
Facilities: No accommodation but the small towns (Meligalas, Valira, Aris) have shops and cafes, and there are regular buses to Kalamata.