Neopolis, in the southern tip of the Peloponnese, is the launch point for Kythira. Other options for reaching the island include taking a short flight from Athens, or a late ferry from Piraeus. After what felt like a hundred hours of flying just to get to Athens, I couldn’t fathom the thought of getting on another airplane, so I had initially planned on taking the ferry from Pireaus. The ferry, however, would have docked in Kythira around 1:00 am—an impossible time to find a room if you haven’t planned ahead and don’t already have a reservation (ahem). So Neopolis it was.
Aye, but here’s the rub: you can’t get to Neopolis without a 7 hour bus ride through the Peloponnese. For some reason this seemed really cool to my sleep-deprived brain. I’ve taken buses through Greece in the past, but never when suffering so acutely from fresh jet-lag, compounded by 30 hours without sleep.
For the entire 7 hour ride to Neopoli, I struggled to stay awake for fear I might rest my head against the stranger sitting next to me and drool all over his shoulder. But I failed in my struggle; I failed so miserably. Every stop—and there were plenty—would jar me awake. Confused and slightly incoherent (I blame it on the dramamine), I badgered my seat mate with questions: “This must be Tripoli?”, “Are we in Sparta?”, and finally, after an exceptionally long snooze — “Is this America?” Apparently the red earth and olive-laden slopes of Lacedaemonia bear a striking resemblance to Interstate 110 in L.A.
If you aren’t fluent in Greek, traveling by bus can be a challenge. The bus makes frequent stops for coffee breaks and such, but you’re never really sure why or for how long. When we reached Sparta, everyone got off the bus, all the luggage was unloaded, and we waited an hour or so before piling onto another bus. In a time when all of life’s mysteries can be answered with a few taps on a smart phone, this was a welcome detour into the unknown.
Neopolis, it turns out, is a friendly and humble town, and a great place to spend a few days recovering from jet lag. It even has a beach recognized and rewarded for its cleanliness. I liked its low-key, easy going ways. If you find yourself in Neopolis, make sure to call Eleni at the number in photo below. She’ll set you up in a studio for a great price and provide a trove of information on sites in the surrounding area, like the cave at Kastania and the castle of Agia Paraskevi.
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