Mediterranean Garden Society
Optional post-AGM tour to Pelion, 21 to 24 October
The Pelion Post-AGM tour is fully booked. If you would like to put your name on the waiting list, please email Sue Wake at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The photo at the top of this page is a view from the south eastern side of Pelion (Photo Jorun Tharaldsen)
This tour will be a mixture of sophistication and simple charm, a reflection of the 24 traditional villages of the Pelion peninsula in Central Greece. Mount Pelion and its foothills (which extend south to the Sporades Islands) are bordered to the east by the Aegean Sea and to the west by the Pagasitic Gulf. Volos, from where Jason and the Argonauts set out on their adventures, is the nearest town and is close to the important Neolithic sites of Dimini and Sesklo.
Monday 21 October
We depart from Athens at 08.30. We make a stop at Thermopylae to view the memorial to the Spartan general Leonidas, commemorating the battle in 480 BC which changed the course of Greek history. There will be time for coffee and a snack.
After traversing the massive beech woods on the eastern side of Pelion we stop in Kissos for a late lunch of fasolada (bean stew) before visiting the garden of MGS member Doris Schlepper in Tsagarada, a collection of beautiful stone-roofed houses set in chestnut woods around four village squares, high above the sea and beaches below. Here Doris has created a spellbinding garden full of the sound of running water and birdsong. Doris will offer coffee and home-made jams and spoonsweets.
We then travel along the wild Aegean coast before turning inland towards our destination of Lafkos where the Lagou Raxi Country Hotel will be our base for the next three nights. The Welcome Dinner will be at the hotel.
Tuesday 22 October: Gardens, Antiquity, Olives and Traditions
We visit first the east-facing garden of member Vida Chung and her husband Vito. This garden, on a human scale, is a delight and an inspiration. For much of the year it relies on foliage in shades of grey and green and on its organic artworks, rather than on floral display.
We shall have coffee in the garden before driving to the village of Promyri where we shall meet a young Greek organic olive oil producer who will explain the cold pressing process he uses and give us a tasting. We then drive down to the Aegean (with spectacular views of Skiathos island and maybe even of Alonissos).
After a generous mezedes-style lunch at a taverna in the tiny fishing village of Katigiorgis we shall visit the south-west-facing garden of MGS member Rudi Zelenka, created on rocks above the sea in a series of steep terraces linked by pathways.
On our return to Lagou Raxi before dinner our local dance group will give a performance taken from the rich dance traditions from around Greece and the music that accompanies them.
Wednesday 23 October: Village ways
Stone medieval paths (kalderimia) stretch around the car-free village of Lafkos and further afield to neighbouring villages and the sea. Before we set out for our village tour a Committee member from the Friends of the Kalderimi of South Pelion will speak and show slides. This group has, for the past 10 years, opened and signposted the old stone paths which were used daily before the building of asphalt roads in the 1960s. We shall walk into the village to catch a glimpse of the gardens and shaded courtyards. We can peep over garden gates and fences and will be guided to one or two gardens opened to welcome MGS members. The trail will include a welcome at two local museums, the church, the historic kafenion and baker and a local cheese-maker. Lunch will be taken in the plateia (square) at a local taverna.
After lunch there are three options:
Participants will then meet back at the hotel for an evening wine tasting and an exhibition of botanical paintings by Maggie Niagassas who will show her awarding winning series of six studies, Autumn Fruits, Seeds and Pods from the Kalderimi of South Pelion, Greece, along with other works. The Farewell Dinner will be at the hotel.
Thursday 24 October
We depart the hotel at 10.00 for the charming Pelion Orchid Centre in the small village of Kerasia (Cherries) near Volos, where we shall meet the Founder and Director, Dr Dimitris Oikonomidis. Pelion boasts 54 species of native orchids of which one flowers only in the autumn. You may be lucky enough to see some during your stay in Pelion – if not, then Dr Oikonomidis’ talk, slide show and stunning macro-photography of spring orchids will be a more than adequate compensation.
On our way back to Athens we shall make a short stop at Kammena Vourla, by the sea. Bearing in mind that some members of the group will need to be back in Athens for earlier flights we shall divide into two groups and those who have time will visit Poulimenos, a succulent and cactus nursery, before returning to Athens.
Cost and accommodation
The cost of the optional post-AGM tour to Pelion, not including accommodation, will be 165 euros per person to include coach travel to and from Pelion, welcome drink, excursions and garden visits and three lunches. Accommodation will be at the Lagou Raxi Country Hotel on a half-board basis (bed, breakfast and dinner included). The total cost per person will be 110 euros for a triple room, 127.50 euros for a double room and 162 euros for a single room. There is also a stayover tax of 1.50 euros per room per night which should be paid on departure. These prices cover three nights’ accommodation, full breakfast and three evening meals including the Farewell Dinner. Menus will feature traditional Greek dishes and there will be vegetarian and gluten-free options. Please contact the hotel to enquire further and to make a reservation.
To book your place at the AGM and on the tours in the AGM programme click here.
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