5th Meeting XK & E-type Clubs Greece – 4-5 June 2016
Greece has a lot to offer in any season and even more driving an open roof XK or E Type on the sunny roads of Mantineia wine region and through the wild Mani peninsula in the Peloponnese.
During our 5th joint meeting our group was formed by five XK’s and five E Types with 10 crews of friends ready for fun and new discoveries. We started visiting “Agia Fotini” the most incredible Orthodox Church in Greece right in front of the ruins of Ancient Mantineia.
Agia Fotini is a weird blend of architectural styles from Ancient Greek Temples with Egyptian Isis influence, Byzantine elements, Paleo-Christian symbols and mythological pebble mosaics that guide the visitors in a time machine. The result of this experience is a fast transition from the Twelve Gods of the Olympus to Christianity.
The girls of our company got so impressed by this vision that were magically transformed in graceful priestesses of the temple and modern caryatids with sunglasses.
The guys instead felt the Dionysian influence of the Ancient Mantineia site at the opposite side of the road so we decided to continue to our next destination for the “sacrifice”: 6 bottles of different excellent biological wines offered by the multi awarded Spiropoulos Winery. http://www.domainspiropoulos.com/
We parked our cars near the vineyards and we had a tour inside the aging and bottling area to arrive at the wine tasting room.
The Spiropoulos family has a long experience in treating the Moschofilero wine variety since 1860. This wine grape with roses, lemon blossom and bergamot aromas has a pink skin with spicy flavor and good acidity that make this wine the perfect pairing for summer meals. In fact it is considerated the most popular white variety in Greece.
After having tasted an excellent red Agiorgitiko we had the pleasure to discover also the freshness and the elegant flavor of the sparkling rose’ Ode Panos accompanied by local organic products: a delicate sheep and goat biological feta with a delicious olive tomato salad.
This was the ideal way to treat our senses and fill our cars with some very good bottles in order to have the energy and joy to continue our trip to the south of the Peloponnese in direction of the Mani peninsula.
This part of the Peloponnese has incredibly remained pure and wild as it was two centuries ago.
A treasure made by of Byzantine churches, Frankish castles and most of all stunning landscapes between the two deep tones of blue : the sky and the sea.
The isolated aspect of this beautiful area is combined with the independent nature of its inhabitants that built many tower houses and fortified family dwellings from the period of the Ottoman occupation of Greece.
Driving on those winding roads and enjoying nature and the stunning views of this particular region made us forget the stress and the problems in our daily life. We felt lucky to share this crazy passion for our cars and every moment spent toghether.
The prize someone receive arriving in Karavostasi is the best fish restaurant of the area: “Faros tou Pantelis”, a family tavern that offers every day only super fresh treasures of the sea.
The very friendly owners Dimitra and Pantelis reserved a special place for our Jaguars in order to let us appreciate the sea view and the shiny curves of our feline cars.
We were so ready to choose our living fish and lobsters and enjoy our lunch by the waves.
A very tasty and extremely rare type of crustacean, particularly appreciated in Greece, is the Kolohtipa (Scyllarus latus). It is so rare that there is not even a common name for it in English, but ‘Mediterranean slipper lobster’ would be the closest denomination. This precious gift of the sea is so rare because it is very sensitive to pollution. This means that its presence in the south of the Peloponnese and in Milos Island is the living sign that the sea water there is really pristine.
It is one of the largest types of crustaceans of the Mediterranean and its flesh is considered even more refined, sweet and succulent than that of lobster. It is prepared in much the same way as lobster and it is even more tasty with spaghetti.
Completely relaxed we started again to our last destination of the day: the amazing Petra & Fos Boutique Hotel in Karavostasi Itilo http://www.petrafoshotel.com/ , a unique location made expressly to appreciate the pleasure of living on this earth.
Simple feelings there become strong emotions, for example looking at the miracle of the sunset in this peaceful silence can fill your soul with sweet memories and a sparkle of burning passion.
Our “babies” were quite ready to sleep but we left them one near to the other in order they had the opportunity to exchange gossip about their mechanical improvements, some new electrical fan for the Greek summer, special oil for high temperatures or their new whitewall tires.
I think some of us heard them purring so we moved towards the infinity pool to enjoy the happy hour drink looking at the sunset
The morning sun in Mani is so intense that wash everything with an incredible white light.
Aza had her first espresso at 7.30 to capture the incredible morning light, to enjoy a “private” pool and the calm before the engines would have started to roar again.
Nothing can prepare you to these emotions: the sense of infinity and peace, the feeling that you are lucky to be alive and nothing else is more important than “here and now”.
Our cars now are completely awake because the sun leaves cutting shades on the rocks and some of our group has started to check their oil and water (even Jaguars need breakfast!)
We left this paradise on earth with the promise to come back again.
Our bonnets decided to point in the direction of Mystras, the world famous Unesco site.
Mystras was built as an amphitheatre around the fortress erected in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William of Villehardouin ruler of the Frankish Principality of Achaea. Reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks and the Venetians. The city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the breathtaking medieval ruins, a Monastery and a museum standing in a beautiful landscape.
The municipality of Sparta welcomed us in the Guinness World record “Camera Museum Takis Aivalis” : the world’s largest private collection of cameras.
Mr. Panagiotis Aivalis started collecting in the middle of the 1940s, when his father brought him a small Kodak 1A pocket camera of 1923 from America as a gift. This gift started his life time “obsession”.
Being in America, his photography career begins and his personal collection grows.
In 1967 he returns to Greece with more than 300 cameras, including 6 American military air cameras. He started to buy them in all states and repair them by himself when damaged. Later on, Panagiotis broadened his purchases from other parts of the world, such as Holland, France, Canada, Italy enriching his own personal collection with anything relevant to photography. All cameras are second-handed having their own certificate. Now among the 1000 cameras. Only few of them are brand new.
This collection is mainly based on the evolution of the 20th century cameras, addressing mainly the amateur user. One of the oldest cameras is a Kodak N2 Plico of 1885 whereas a great variety of cameras, typical examples of their date, brand name and type follows. Among the brand names, we can see Kodak, Agfa, Ansco, Argus, Coronet, Zeiss Ikon, Leica, Bilora, Dacora, Ferrania, Minolta, Ilford, Yashica, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Mamiya, Polaroid, Zenit, Gomz, Practica, Fed, Lomo together with the huge air cameras, heavy pieces that were used in the past by the American army to make maps or to take pictures of enemy areas.
The collection includes wooden cameras, lens
es, negatives, gun cameras of military aircrafts but also German, Russian and Japanese mini-spy cameras used during the second world war, small curiosities that have inspired the creation of the 007 James Bond filmography.
At the end of our interesting visit, we switched off our modern and fast obsolescing digital cameras and switched on our forever classic engines to reach the near Xenia Café in front of the Byzantine site of Mystras and have a fresh drink under the shade of the trees.
After so many Kilometers and nice experiences we were ready for our last destination just after the Corinthos Canal on the road that goes to Epidavros. We stopped at the best fish restaurant of the area: Taverna Kavos 1964. http://kavos1964.gr/?lang=en This beautiful place by the waves has become a “gourmet pilgrimage hot spot” from the early sixties (from the glorious era of our beloved cars!)
Waiting for our fish to be cooked and refreshed by the sea breeze, we presented our new Belgian couple of friends (living in the island of Lefkada in the Ionian Sea) with a Jaguar Heritage gift and the copies of the E Type and XK Gazettes signed by Philip Porter.
Having now filled our senses with so many landscapes, history, wine, food and enjoyed the beauty of our cars with the warm friendly atmosphere created between us, we promised to meet each other very soon for other exciting discoveries.